Dutch government returning gay refugee to his death in Iraq

This video says about itself:

9 October 2016

Sarjon, a gay Syrian refugee, reacts to commentary by Donald Trump and Fox News.

From Dutch regional broadcaster NH Nieuws:

Homosexual asylum seeker from Alkmaar must return to Iraq: “I will definitely be killed”

Thursday, May 18, 2017 | 07:19

ALKMAAR: Sahir, a homosexual asylum seeker from Iraq living in Alkmaar, will be returned to his country of origin. At the end of 2015, he fled to the Netherlands with his boyfriend. That boyfriend may still remain, but Sahir supposedly is ‘not gay enough’.

At the end of 2015 Sahir and his partner Mushtak fled Iraq, because Mushtak’s brother had violently attacked him after discovering the relationship between Sahir and Mustak. …

The Dutch refugee housing organisation COA sent them together with a number of other homosexual refugees to a joint apartment in the refugee center in the Picassolaan in Alkmaar. There the men felt safe in anticipation of their asylum application.

Bad news

But then Sahir got bad news. After waiting for eighteen months he must return to Iraq. …

Sahir now fears the worst: “I will definitely be killed in Iraq”. …

“The decision was that I’m not a homosexual and that I can live in Iraq,” says Sahir. He suspects that the IND does not believe him because of his appearance. “If men do not wear makeup or nail polish, they are [supposedly] not gay”.

LGBT Asylum Support has launched a petition to request attention for homosexual asylum seekers whom the government threatens to return. Also during the boat parade of Alkmaar Pride on 27 May attention will be paid to this refugee group.

If Sahir, returned forcibly, will not be killed by Iraqi homophobia (which increased disastrously after George W Bush 2003 ‘humanitarian’ regime change invasion of Iraq); then he may well be killed by ISIS (a result of Bush’s invasion), or by Donald Trump‘s, or the Turkish government‘s, or the Dutch government‘s, or other NATO governments’ bombs on Iraq; all of them killing civilians whatever their sexual orientation.

Polari, language against homophobia

This video says about itself:

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia 2015

15 mei 2015

A short film celebrating the work Diversity Role Models has done to challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools since IDAHOBIT [International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia] 2014.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Polari: the language born from prejudice

Wednesday 17th May 2017

On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, PETER FROST remembers a once secret gay dialect

HOMOSEXUALITY was illegal in Britain until 1967. No wonder many gay men chose to avoid making public their sexual orientation.

One way was to adopt a secret language with which to communicate with other gay men. It’s what linguistic scholars call an anti-language.

Over history many stigmatised subcultures have developed their own secret languages. Examples of this are the rhyming slang and backslang of Cockney London.

Gay men and some lesbians adopted their own anti-language. It was called Polari. Strong influences in the language were Parlyaree, the Italian-derived language used by travelling entertainers, fairground people, costermongers and beggars.

Polari drew on many other tongues including Italian; Spanish; Yiddish; Occitan — a language in its own right, spoken in southern France and now almost killed off by the French government language police — various Gypsy languages; backslang; Cockney rhyming slang as well as various slangs used by circus folk, canal boaters and sailors.

Other strong input came from Cant, the secret age-old language of thieves and outlaws and an ancient pidgin language of Mediterranean traders and seafarers played its part too.

Before we take a closer look at the Polari language, let’s look at one word that isn’t actually Polari at all.

How did the use of the word “gay” for homosexual become so ubiquitous?

Some claim it has its origins around the 12th century in England, derived from the Old French word “gai” meaning happy, joyful, carefree.

By the mid-17th century, the word had gained an additional meaning — addicted to pleasures and dissipations. Still its main meaning was happy.

By the 19th century, the word “gay” was being used for a female prostitute or a man who used prostitutes. The phrase “gay it” meant to have sex.

Even with these new meanings, the original definitions of happy still remained widespread.

Around the 1920s and 1930s, however, the word started to gain a new meaning.

“Gay man” no longer just meant a man who had sex with a lot of women, but now described men who had sex with other men.

By 1920 gay men were using the word to describe themselves and by the 1950s it was so widely used that it started to drive out the other uses of the word gay.

Now let’s get back to Polari. It flourished in the years between the 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde and the 1967 Sexual Offences Act.

It was a kind of code which enabled one gay man to identify another, allowing them to express themselves publicly without fear of arrest or reprisal and providing a vocabulary for talking about gay sex and sexuality.

It was particularly well known in London and was often associated with chorus boys who danced and sang in West End theatres, and among male prostitutes who worked around Piccadilly and Soho.

Another Polari stronghold was among merchant navy sailors, particularly those working as stewards on liners and cruise ships. Gradually Polari spread to the wider gay community.

Polari was a necessity in a world where homosexuality was stigmatised by law, medicine and religion. It was a way to express yourself without making your sexual orientation too public. Dropping the odd Polari word into a conversation was one way of working out if another man might also be gay.

One indication of Polari’s value in a world where homosexuality was illegal was the number of names for the police. They included “Betty bracelets,” “charpering omi,” “sharpy” and “Hilda handcuffs.”

By the 1970s, the much healthier atmosphere of gay liberation politics encouraged many gay men and lesbians to come out and be proud of their sexuality.

Polari was popularised in the 1960s by the BBC radio comedy show Round the Horne. In sketches two gay actors, Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams, played Julian and Sandy, two camp out-of-work actors who used Polari.

BBC brass either missed the point or, more likely, looked the other way. Today Polari is experiencing a minirevival due to recent stage shows of Round the Horne.

You can find entire films on the internet with Polari dialogue. There is a Polari app for mobile phones that gives instant translation.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have even published a Polari translation of the Bible on the internet.

Here are a few examples of Polari with translations. Try them for yourself.

Bona to varda your dolly old eek! (How good to see your dear old face!)

Vada the dolly dish, shame about his bijou lallies. (Look at the attractive man, shame about his short legs.)

Can I troll round your lally? (Can I have a look around your house?)

Here is one from the folk who produce the Oxford English Dictionary: Nellyarda, zhoosh the riah, titivate, schlumph your Vera down, and palare that omee for the bevvies because I’ve nanti dinarli.

Here is a translation if you need it: Listen, style your hair, make yourself look pretty, drink up your gin, and talk to that man to get a drink because I’m skint.

A few Polari words have entered mainstream English but I’m not sure how people would react if they knew the origins. “Camp” meaning effeminate comes from the abbreviation Kamp: Known As Male Prostitute.

Even better is the popular “naff,” meaning rubbish. Gay men first used it to judge and then reject a potential partner. It is well-known as Princess Anne’s favourite judgement.

I wonder if she realises it is an abbreviation for “not available for fucking.” Sorry, Your Royal Highness.

Here is a short glossary of Polari words so that you can start to speak it yourself:

– Bona: good.

– Cake the eke in slap: apply makeup.

– Carsey or khazi: toilet.

– Dolly: pretty, nice, pleasant.

– Drag: women’s clothes.

– Fantabulosa: wonderful.

– Jarry: food.

– Joggering omee: an entertainer.

– Kaffies: trousers.

– Lallies: legs.

– Lattie: room, house or flat.

– Lattie on wheels: a taxi.

– Mary-Ann: a gay Catholic man.

– Naff: bad, drab.

– Oglefakes: glasses.

– Omi-polone: homosexual.

– Polone: woman.

– Palone-omee: a lesbian.

– Riah shusher: hairdresser.

– Zhoosh the riah: style your hair.

– Strillers omee: a pianist.

– Shietel: a wig.

– Schlumph your Vera down: drink up your gin.

– Vada/varda: see.

If you practise a bit I am sure you will turn your spoken Polari from naff to fantabulosa.

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning freed, worldwide celebrations

This video says about itself:

Collateral MurderWikileaks – Iraq

3 April 2010

Wikileaks has obtained and decrypted this previously unreleased video footage from a US Apache helicopter in 2007. It shows Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh, and several others as the Apache shoots and kills them in a public square in Eastern Baghdad. They are apparently assumed to be insurgents.

After the initial shooting, an unarmed group of adults and children in a minivan arrives on the scene and attempts to transport the wounded. They are fired upon as well. The official statement on this incident initially listed all adults as insurgents and claimed the US military did not know how the deaths ocurred. Wikileaks released this video with transcripts and a package of supporting documents on April 5th 2010 on http://collateralmurder.com.

This video material on war crimes in Iraq was given to WikiLeaks by whistlebloweer Chelsea Manning.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

LGBT groups to celebrate Manning‘s release

Wednesday 17th May 2017

THE release of WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning will be celebrated this evening at an event to mark International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Ms Manning, who will complete her transition out of prison, was handed a 35-year sentence in 2013 after sending classified information on war crimes and corruption to WikiLeaks.

Over 100,000 people had signed a White House petition calling for transgender US army private Ms Manning to be released.

Former US president Barack Obama heeded the call and commuted her sentence to May 17 just before he left office in January this year.

Events to mark Ms Manning’s release will take place in at least 15 cities across the world including Berlin, Dublin and San Fransisco.

Campaign groups Queer Strike and Payday have called on supporters to gather at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London at 5.30pm this evening to celebrate “the ultimate victory of a seven-year campaign.”

Peace News will be holding a party from 7pm at Housmans bookshop in London.

The FBI has arrested a federal contractor suspected of leaking a NSA report. [The Intercept]

NSA WHISTLEBLOWER’S PARENTS: WE FEAR FOR HER SAFETY “My biggest fear in all of this is that she’s not going to get a fair trial, she’s not going to be treated fairly, she’s going to be made an example of,” Billie Winner-Davis, Reality Winner’s mother said. And here’s what we know about Winner. [HuffPost]

Pride festival in Hull, England

This classical music series of videos features work by LGBT composers.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Unite boosts Pride event

Friday 12th May 2017

HULL’S first ever national Pride event will be sponsored by Unite the union, which has given a donation of £17,000.

The city will host the event as part of its 2017 City of Culture celebrations on Saturday July 22.

The union will sponsor the march — costing £12,000 — and jointly sponsor the LGBT Sinfonia Orchestra to the tune of £5,000 when it plays in Hull the same day.

The event will be the first time all of Britain’s 70 Pride festivals have united in a single national event highlighting issues affecting the LGBT community across the country.

Dutch schools should teach about LGBTQ equality, parliament decides

This video from the Netherlands is called Canal Parade ~ Gay Pride Amsterdam 2015.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Parliament: punish schools that do not teach about LGBTQ equality

Today, 17:17

Parliament wants the government to punish schools that do not teach their student awareness about equal rights for LGBTQ people. The entire House of Representatives, with the exception of VVD,

Main pro ‘free enterprise’ Big Business party


Fundamentalist Protestant homophobic party

and FVD,

Small far right misogynistic party, inspired by British far rightist Roger Scruton

supported a motion to that effect by Socialist Party MP Van Dijk.

He wants schools that consistently refuse to bring sexual diversity to the attention of students to get financial penalties or administrative action taken. Van Dijk thinks the information contributes to the fight against discrimination.


According to the Inspectorate of Education education about homosexuality is not given on 20 percent of all primary and secondary schools, while this is mandatory since 2012.

Parliament also wants lessons on acceptance of gay people to be required in secondary vocational schools. About forty percent of these schools do not do that now.

United States rainbow flag creator, RIP

This 2010 video from the USA is called History of the Rainbow Flag with Creator Gilbert Baker.

By Nicole Chavez, CNN in the USA:

Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker dies at 65

April 1, 2017

Gilbert Baker, the designer of the iconic rainbow flag, has died.

In 1978, Baker sewed a multicolored flag that became the symbol of the LGBT community across the world.

Baker, 65, died Thursday in his sleep, said Cleve Jones, an AIDS activist and Baker’s longtime friend. He died in New York City, the medical examiner’s office there said.

A vigil in Baker’s memory was planned Friday evening under the rainbow flag in San Francisco’s United Nations Plaza. The banner could be seen flying half-staff from the balcony of Mayor Ed Lee.

“Gilbert was a trailblazer for LGBT rights, a powerful artist and a true friend to all who knew him. Our thoughts are with his friends and family. He will be missed,” Lee said in a statement.

Baker was born in Chanute, Kansas, and joined the US Army as a medic. He arrived in San Francisco about 1970 to work at an orthopedic hospital where Vietnam veterans underwent skin grafts and amputations.

The CNN article omits that Baker also designed flags for demonstrations against the Vietnam war. It is said that Gilbert Baker’s inspiration for the rainbow flag came from an earlier peace flag.

Jewish Dutch poet Jacob Israël de Haan, theatre play

This February 2017 video is the trailer of the Dutch theatre play Salaam Jeruzalem, by theatre organisation De Nieuw Amsterdam, about Jewish Dutch author Jacob Israël de Haan.

On 25 March 2017 I went to see this play in Leiden.

Jacob Israël de Haan (1881-1924) was from an Orthodox Jewish family. He broke with that religion and became a socialist journalist. In 1903, he collected money for the children of railway workers who had been sacked because they had gone on strike. He was also a gay rights pioneer, writing novels like Pijpelijntjes. He is seen as a predecessor of Amnesty International. Because of his activity, inspired by a meeting with exiled Russian anarchist Kropotkin, against human rights abuses in pre-World War I czarist Russian prisons; jointly with socialist poetess Henriette Roland Holst.

De Haan himself wrote poetry as well.

This video shows some of his 1919-1924 poems.

He had contacts in the Dutch literary avant-garde around De Nieuwe Gids magazine. And he wrote works about laws; he was a Legum Doctor.

De Haan’s experiences in czarist Russia made him aware of the evils of anti-Semitism. That contributed to De Haan’s re-conversion to Judaism. He also became a Zionist. In 1919 he emigrated to Palestine, then a British colony.

In the video at the top of this blog post, one of De Haan’s poems, written in Palestine, is recited. It is (my translation):


Who in Amsterdam often said, “Jerusalem”
And was driven to Jerusalem,
He now says with a dreamy voice:
“Amsterdam. Amsterdam.”

As the poem shows, De Haan had become ambivalent about emigrating from Amsterdam. Zionism as practiced in Palestine turned out to be different from De Haan’s lofty ideals when he had been in Amsterdam. De Haan became an advocate of negotiating with Palestinian Arabs so that Jews and Arabs might live together peacefully.

That made him an enemy of the Zionist paramilitary organisation Haganah. On 13 June 1924, Haganah fighter Avraham Tehomi murdered De Haan, as ordered by Haganah commander Itzhak Ben-Zvi (later the second president of the state of Israel). A crowd of 5,000 people attended De Haan’s funeral in Jerusalem.

Left Zionist Moshe Beilinson reacted to the murder:

The flag of our movement must not be tarnished. Neither by the blood of the innocent, nor by the blood of the guilty. Otherwise – our movement will be bad, because blood draws other bloods. Blood always takes revenge and if you walk down this path once, you do not know where it would lead you.

A line from a De Haan poem is inscribed in the monument in Amsterdam for LGBTQ people murdered by the 1940-1945 German nazi occupiers of the Netherlands. The line is ‘Naar vriendschap zulk een mateloos verlangen’; ‘Such a boundless desire for friendship’.

A review of the play is here. Another review is here. And here.

There are five actors in the play. Two of them play Arab music. Egyptian Dutch actor Sabri Saad El Hamus plays both De Haan and, at the end, an Arab singer. Ludo van der Winkel plays the cynical antagonists of De Haan; like Arnold Aletrino (named in the play only by his pseudonym Sam from De Haan’s gay novel Pijpelijntjes), the older fellow author who betrayed Jacob Israel when Pijpelijntjes caused a scandal in homophobic public opinion. And P.L. Tak (named in the play), newspaper chief who sacked De Haan because of Pijpelijntjes.

Randy Fokke plays both De Haan’s wife and Carry van Bruggen, De Haan’s sister and also a famous Dutch author. Carry van Bruggen never got over the murder of her one year younger brother.

This English language video is about De Haan.

In the play, by Dutch playwright and director Gerardjan Rijnders, there are several allusions to happenings after the death of De Haan; including recent ones. When talking about De Haan joining the marxist Dutch Social Democratic Workers’ Party, actors say: ‘the predecessor of the Dutch PvdA labour party … or what is left of it’. In the recent 15 March 2017 Dutch elections, the PvdA went from 38 to 9 MPs because they had been junior partners in a right-wing coalition government. The play also mentions French playwright Jean Genet’s solidarity with Palestinians in the 1980s. This is followed by a xenophobic, Geert Wilders-like rant by Ludo van der Winkel.

The play includes a theory about right and left halves of the human brain, supposedly linked to the origins of religions. It is unclear what this has to do with De Haan. I think it is one of the weak sides of this interesting play about an interesting person.