British LGBTQ solidarity with Calais refugees

This video from Britain says about itself:

Calais Solidarity Trip (11) – Solidarity

28 September 2015

On the ferry back to Dover, Rachael talks about a powerful part of the trip for her – talking to the people in the Calais camp about the refugees welcome solidarity marches which happened all across the UK and the world that same weekend.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

LGBT activists take on May to show solidarity with Calais refugees

Monday 23rd November 2015

LGBT activists took on Theresa May this weekend in a show of solidarity with migrants outside the Home Office as tougher checks and border closures come into place after the Paris shootings.

The Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) protest came less than 24 hours after a British Muslim was prevented from entering France on an aid convoy to Calais.

A drag impersonator of the Home Secretary and masked versions of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ukip leader Nigel Farage and London Mayor Boris Johnson also attended the event.

“Everybody knows diversity is disruptive to a cohesive society,” Ms May’s impersonator told the booing crowds.

LGSM spokesman Morten Thaysen said: “In the wake of the Paris attacks we’ve seen xenophobic and racist violence rise across the UK and Europe.

“We’re here to show that we must stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees, not close our minds and our borders. Blaming terrorism on refugees is like blaming the floods on gay weddings.

“The attacks in Paris are created by the same violence that many people are fleeing and our response should be to open our borders to the people freezing in Calais rather than demonising migrants.”

The rally came after a member of refugee aid group London2Calais was barred from entering France on Friday evening after being flagged as a “threat to national security.”

The activist, who asked to remain anonymous given the allegations, was the only non-white and Muslim member of the convoy and the only person to be stopped at border control.

It was not the first time that members of London2Calais have been harassed by border authorities, who held up the convoy for several hours in August and subjected activists to aggressive interrogation as they tried to return to Britain.

However it was the first time the British passport holder, who has worked in the Jungle refugee camp for the last six months, has been refused entry.

In a statement, the group said: “This is apartheid Europe in action. The constant harassment and intimidation of London2Calais by British and French authorities will not deter us from bringing solidarity.”

A second trip was completed successfully on Saturday, delivering vital materials to build bread ovens in the camp.

The Jungle was ravaged by a fire on the same night as the Paris attacks, leaving over 200 people without shelter.

Its cause was not thought to be suspicious.

Visiting the Calais camps made us ashamed to be British. The levels of support from British people were heartening, but why can’t the government do more? Here.

USA: REP. ALAN GRAYSON: WHEN AMERICA TURNED AWAY MY GRANDMA “There is a reason why my Mom was born in Canada. Her parents, my grandparents, were refugees from Eastern Europe. And America wouldn’t let them in. So they took a right turn, and ended up in Canada.” [HuffPost]

‘2015 IS NOT 1938’ “The faces of the refugees are different. The languages they speak are different. The places and killers from which and from whom they are fleeing are different as well. But the refugees’ anguish and despair, their fear and sense of abandonment, are very much the same. ” [HuffPost]

What the annihilation of Kobane means for Syria’s future.

Examining the new atmosphere for Syrian refugees that live in Michigan.

Japanese government homophobia, local LGBTQ rights support

This Japanese language video says about itself:

Japan Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward accepts applications for recognition of LGBTQ couples

28 October 2015

Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on Wednesday began accepting applications from same-sex couples for recognition of their relationship.

The first such program in Japan, it grants recognition of same-sex partnerships as being “equivalent to marriage.”

The first to apply on Wednesday were a female couple, local residents Hiroko Masuhara, 37, and Koyuki Higashi, 30.

“Administrative procedures pose hurdles for same-sex couples, but I was happy because ward office staff welcomed us,” Higashi said.

Couples need to submit notarized documents that prove their relationship is based on love and trust. Shibuya Ward will issue certificates from Nov. 5.

Today, 5 November 2011, Ms Masuhara and Ms Higashi have received their certificate. This video in Japanese is about it.

Dear Koyuki, dear Hiroko, I wish you a happy life full of love together! And let us hope that the present homophobic right-wing Shinzo Abe government in Japan will be gone soon.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

First ‘relationship certificate’ for LGBTQ couple in Japan

Today, 17:11

A district of Tokyo has put a step toward recognizing homosexual couples. They can in Shibuya request a “relationship certificate”. Two women, Hiroko Masuhara and Koyuki Higashi, are the first couple in Japan that has received the document.

The two women see the presentation of the document as an important signal towards LGBTQ people in Tokyo. “I hope this is not just a step forward for Tokyo, but that all of Japan will become a better place to live,” said Higashi.

Better society

Shibuya is known in Japan as a relatively liberal neighbourhood with many foreign residents. At the train station was a large billboard that read: “We support Shibuya, pursuing a better society with a certificate, respecting men, women and diversity.”

The initiative in Shibuya has been immediately followed in the adjoining district of Setagaya. There also the relationship certificate was introduced after the announcement of Shibuya.

The government is not legally bound by the document, but it is hoped that the certificate will give LGBTQ couples the same social status as married couples. In addition to its symbolic value, the document according to Japanese media also has a practical purpose: it could help LGBTQ couples to simplify procedures in hospitals and in the rental housing sector.

In Japan, only heterosexual couples can marry. The Japanese constitution stipulates that a marriage can only happen if it is a straight marriage. Higashi and Masuhara say they are still dreaming of the day when equal marriage will be accepted in Japan.

This video, in English, says about itself:

Japanese LGBT Group Claims Not Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Violates Human Rights

8 July 2015

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations was asked to investigate the Japanese government’s non-recognition of gay marriage as a human rights and constitutional violation.

‘Stop anti-transgender discrimination in the Netherlands’

Transgender symbol

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

COC [Dutch LGBTQ organisation] wants to ban anti-transgender discrimination

Today, 01:09

The COC wants a legal ban on discrimination against transgender people. The organisation in a letter calls on Minister Plasterk to regulate that.

The COC reacts with the letter to a study by the Netherlands Transgender Network (TNN), involving 351 transgender people. Nearly half of respondents faced verbal or physical violence over the past year.

They were, among other things, threatened, sexually harassed or their belongings were destroyed. The discrimination is so specific that the COC thinks that the current ban on discrimination based on sex is inadequate.


According to the TNN transgender people have already adapted their behaviour. “About 80 percent opt ​​for safety and therefore remain at home,” said TNN president Corine van Dun in Nieuwsuur TV show.

Moreover, their psychosocial situation is bad. “Two thirds of transgender people are lonely, a quarter even strongly so,” the letter says. “More than 20 percent have ever attempted suicide, which is 10 times more than average.”


According to the COC in politics there is widespread support for an explicit ban. The minister is said to be positive as well. According to the COC Minister Plasterk promised to the COC in 2013 political support for a ban on anti-transgender discrimination, but a legislative proposal has still not been submitted yet.

In the Netherlands, there are an estimated 390 000 transgender people.

U.S. GOVERNMENT: HIGH SCHOOL VIOLATED TRANSGENDER STUDENT’S RIGHTS “Federal education authorities, staking out their firmest position yet on an increasingly contentious issue, found Monday that an Illinois school district violated anti-discrimination laws when it did not allow a transgender student who identifies as a girl and participates on a girls’ sports team to change and shower in the girls’ locker room without restrictions.” [NYT]

British gay Muslims against Islamophobia and homophobia

This video from the USA says about itself:

Bernie Sanders & Keith Ellison Call Out GOP Islamophobia

1 October 2015

Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison called out the homophobia of Republican presidential candidates. Donald Trump said we have a Muslim problem in this country, while Dr. Ben Carson asserted that he would not vote for a Muslim president. These are inherently bigoted statements, and we break down why Bernie and Keith are 100% right.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Gay Muslims break down barriers

Thursday 22nd October 2015

Activists urge unity between communities

GAY Muslims took to the streets of east London yesterday to launch a new campaign calling for unity between LGBT and Muslim communities.

A group of activists stood outside Whitechapel station — an area with one of Britain’s largest Muslim populations — in an attempt to “build bridges” between the two groups.

Campaigners told the Star their traumatic experiences in seeking acceptance from their families.

Others held signs stating: “Gays and Muslims unite. Love all not hate.”

Event organiser Peter Tatchell said gay Muslims had contacted him about the campaign in a bid to open up discussions with locals who may be homophobic.

He told the Star that the campaign attracted “mixed responses” but that the activists prefer to have open discussions rather than keeping them “behind closed doors.”

A Muslim man aged around 50 stopped to talk to the campaigners and it soon turned into a heated debate.

He told campaigners: “If I am a Muslim, it does not mean that I hate gay people. Many Muslims do not approve of homosexuality but we would not hate them.”


The 23-year-old physics student grew up in a ‘radical Islamist family’ in London

His Pakistan-born parents taught him that gay people are “disgusting and evil” and should be killed.

He has not spoken to his parents or his four younger siblings for around 10 months after they discovered that he was gay last year and put him through “exorcisms.”

The street campaign is “absolutely important” to him as there is Islamophobia within some LGBT communities and also homophobia among some Muslims. Racism is another negative factor.

He said: “In order for us to deal with these three weak points, we need to stand together to fight bigotry and hatred by having open discussions in a civilised manner.”

Mr Ahmed, who prays daily and fasts at Ramadan, said that he considered himself an atheist before reading works by progressive Muslims and now refers to himself as an “agnostic Muslim.”


Took part in the street campaign in memory of his fiance Naz, who killed himself two days after his strictly religious family confronted him about his sexuality.

Dr Naz Mahmood, a successful owner of three clinics, ended his life last year aged 34 after telling his mother that he was gay and planned to marry after being in a relationship for 13 years. She told him to find a “cure” for his sexuality.

Mr Mahmood-Ogston told the Star: “We want to build bridges between two groups that are considered to be diametrically opposed.

“Some people feel that you cannot be Muslim and gay. You cannot choose to be gay or not because I believe gay people are born gay.”

Chinese lesbian student sues government about homophobic textbooks

This 11 November 2013 video is about the Hong Kong LGBT Pride parade.

From the BBC today:

China: Gay student sues ministry over textbooks

A university student is suing China’s education ministry over academic textbooks that describe homosexuality as a “disorder”, it’s reported.

Chen Qiuyan launched the legal action after she found the books in her university library, some of which suggested gay people could be “cured” with electroshock therapy, Xinhua news agency reports. A court in Beijing has accepted the case, which calls for the textbooks to be removed. “Homosexuals are already under great pressure,” says Ms Chen, who filed the case under an alias but has since spoken to US media using her real name. “Additional stigma from textbooks will cause direct harm. The ministry should bear the duty to monitor and supervise such content.”

Ms Chen, who studies at a public university in southern Guangdong province, had been consulting the library books after feeling confused over her own sexual orientation. “I thought textbooks must be authoritative,” she tells the New York Times in a telephone interview. “After reading them, I was terrified. I was even more afraid to admit that I’m gay.”

China stopped categorising homosexuality as a mental illness in 2001, but dozens of textbooks published after that time still describe it as a “disorder”, Xinhua says citing an investigation by a regional NGO. Last year, a Beijing court issued a landmark ruling against a clinic offering “gay conversion therapy”, the first case of its kind in the country.

Ferguson solidarity women, after marriage, four years in jail?

This video is called Ferguson protest leaders get engaged & apply for marriage license at St. Louis City Hall.

These two women, now married, Alexis Templeton and Brittany Ferrell, have been featured on this blog before.

Alexis Templeton and Brittany Ferrell

From SheWired in the USA:

Love Through Activism: Two Ferguson Protesters Get Engaged

Alexis Templeton and Brittany Ferrell proclaimed their love with a marriage proposal at St. Louis City Hall.

By: Trudy Ring

December 17 2014 6:22 PM

Love has blossomed through protests: Two women active in the protests over the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., are engaged to be married.

Alexis Templeton, 20, and Brittany Ferrell, 25, met in August at demonstrations calling for police accountability after Brown was shot to death by a Ferguson officer. Both are Ferguson residents and students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, but they didn’t know each other previously. In an interview with The St. Louis American, Ferrell recalled when she first saw Templeton.

“She had on an UMSL shirt,” Ferrell said. “I was like, ‘Oh, hey.’ I embraced her just because she was there. You hug people and you welcome them, especially in a time like that.”

Their attraction to each other grew quickly. Templeton’s sister, Bre, said she learned about the relationship in mid-September. “Alex came up and sat with my son and she fed him,” she told The Huffington Post. “She was like, ‘Dude, I got a crush.’ I was like, ‘OK, that’s cool.’ And she was like, ‘No, I got a crush on a girl.’ I asked her how she felt about it and she said good. I asked her if she wanted to talk about it and she said no.”

Templeton and Ferrell discussed marriage in private Monday night, then made a public declaration Tuesday at St. Louis City Hall. “One hundred and thirty days ago, I fell in love with somebody and her 6-year-old mini me,” Templeton said to Ferrell in her proposal, in front of friends, strangers, and media, the American reports. “I didn’t expect you to want to be with me … other than fight on the front lines with me. You have every single piece of my heart.”

And now, today.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Ferguson protester faces four years’ jail over charges of kicking SUV

Brittany Ferrell accused by St Louis police of causing $5,000 damage to car as driver forced her way through demonstrators at Michael Brown anniversary

Jon Swaine in New York

Thursday 13 August 2015 02.09 BST

A protest leader in Ferguson, Missouri, could face up to four years in prison after being charged with a felony for allegedly kicking a vehicle as it ploughed through a line of peaceful demonstrators who were blocking a highway.

Brittany Ferrell was accused of causing damage worth more than $5,000 to the SUV as its driver forced her way through the group, which had gathered on Interstate 70 near Ferguson during events to mark the anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a police officer.

Ferrell, 26, was charged with first-degree property damage, which is a class D felony in Missouri. She was also charged with trespassing and disturbing the peace, according to Bob McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for St Louis county, who oversaw the grand jury inquiry into Brown’s death. Ferrell was released on a $10,000 bond on Wednesday.

Ferrell’s wife, Alexis Templeton, was charged with misdemeanour assault for allegedly punching the driver through her vehicle’s window, and misdemeanour charges similar to Ferrell’s for alleged trespass and disturbing the peace. Templeton, 21, has also been released.

The charges prompted a furious reaction among the wider Black Lives Matter protest movement. Brittany Packnett, an activist who sat on President Obama’s White House taskforce on police reform, said several demonstrators were struck by the vehicle.

“Feet don’t cause $5K worth of damage to cars,” Packnett said on Twitter. “McCulloch meant ‘drive over’, not past. They were almost hit.”

Soon after being released on Wednesday Templeton was defiant. “I’m not worried & y’all shouldn’t be either,” she said on Twitter. “We gon get free whether they like it or not!” She urged St Louis county police department to “quit lying”.

The two women are the co-founders of Millennial Activists United, an activist group that grew out of the demonstrations in Ferguson last summer. They married in December 2014 after months of protesting against the deaths of Brown and other people killed by police.

They were arrested the day after the rush-hour highway shutdown, which took place on a “Moral Monday” of civil disobedience, when they went to inquire about dozens of other people arrested during the protest action.

From in the USA:

Aug. 12, 2015 2:07 pm

The News Guild this afternoon condemned charges brought against two Washington-area journalists stemming from their brief detention while covering civil unrest in Missouri last year, joining the chorus of news organizations and journalists who have also voiced their concerns.

The charges, brought by St. Louis County against Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post, came nearly a full year after the pair were arrested in a Ferguson, Missouri McDonalds amid protests against the police in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing.

Lowery and Reilly have been charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer and have been ordered to appear in a St. Louis County court. They could be arrested if they refuse.

In the statement, the News Guild President Bernie Lunzer called the charges “a gross abuse of power” and a “vile assault on the First Amendment.”

Edward Fitzpatrick: From Missouri to Iran, press freedom under attack: here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today about Ferguson:

PARAMILITARY vigilantes took to the streets of the US city of Ferguson on Tuesday as protests against police violence began to wind down.

Right-wing libertarian militia the Oath Keepers patrolled the streets of the racially divided city for a second night in a row, even as police outnumbered peaceful protesters.

The group, which purports to protect the US constitution, was first seen in the small hours of Tuesday on West Florissant Avenue, the centre of protests on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar criticised the arrival of the militia, whose members openly carried assault rifles and handguns, as “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”

But Missouri Oath Keeper leader John Karriman said that police had approved their presence.

“We checked in with law enforcement when we got here, we told them what we were doing and who we were with,” said Mr Karriman.

“We walked up and they came over and we shook hands and smiled. We said we’re here to protect Info Wars,” referring to far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s website.

“They nodded and said: ‘Good on ya, just, if you would, please don’t walk through us’.”

Rexdale Henry, 53, a Choctaw activist, died on July 14 in unexplained and suspicious circumstances in the Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Miss. He was being held for unpaid traffic fines, a minor misdemeanor charge: here.