Tuesday, January 31, 2006

David Quinn jumps ship

I heard about this a while back but had forgotten to note it. The Daily Mail will launch its Irish Version on February 6 with a speculated print run of 100,000. David Quinn joins the Associated Newspapers stable as the social affairs editor leaving the social and religious affairs correspondent portfolio he held for two years at the Irish Independent.

Given the losses faced by Ireland on Sunday in the past year, Associated Newspapers seem to have money to burn. An advertising campaign to run throughout the month of February is tipped to cost €1,000,000. Will the campaign be as nauseating as the new ads running on UK channels for the Daily Express?

Podcasting Sunday Brunchstyle

If you have not heard it already, have a listen to a beta version of Sunday Brunch hosted by Richard Delevan, with Mick Fealty of Slugger O'Toole, and Gavin Sheridan where the recent epic debate between Sicilian Notes and Mental Meanderings is mentioned. (And it was a lot more than handbags at dawn!)

By the way a readers guide to the debate is helpfully provided by Dossing Times.

Eilis O'Hanlon gets a mention in the podcast also. More about Eilis later this week in Maman Poulet's new project Spot the Anti-Gay Group.

(Or spot the group who does not favour gay marriage and gay people are ok if they stay in the closet away from the children, or sure there aren't many of them anyway and they should be happy they don't live in Nigeria!)

Monday, January 30, 2006

And today we are thankful for (not)

Eilis O’Hanlon thinks Irish lesbians and gay men should stop moaning – we are lucky we don’t live in Nigeria or Poland. She says there is no discrimination here and no anti-gay movement. Guess she did not read the submissions of the various groups in the appendix of the Oireachtas report. Or read the media reports of the bashings, or the story on gay teachers in Ireland.  Oh and she forgets about section 37 of the Equality Act 2000 and the other anti-gay pieces of legislation passed in the past 2 years by this Oireachtas, put forward by our current government. Am publishing her article in full here…we might think of a few things to tell her between the lot of us.

Irish Dafydds and partners have little to protest about


Sunday January 29th 2006
Sunday Independent
SPOKESPERSONS for Irish gay rights groups increasingly sound like they're drawing their inspiration from the "only gay in the village" in the BBC comedy show Little Britain.
A committed "homosexualist", Dafydd perpetually wanders around his home village of Llanddewi-Brefi in ever more ludicrous rubber outfits, shouting slogans, determined to take offence at the most innocuous remarks and to find prejudice where none exists, only to find that he is, much to his indignation, entirely accepted and tolerated by his neighbours. His baseless persecution complex is summed up in the classic line: "I couldn't possibly get on a bus, I'm gay." Maybe it's a Celtic Fringe thing.
Irish Dafydds were at it again last week following the much-anticipated publication of the Dail committee report on the Constitution, which advocated keeping the constitutional definition of the "family" as one based on marriage between a man and a woman unchanged.

It was a bit of an anti-climax since most of the committee's findings had been revealed in advance, but the gay rights lobby did their best to sound newly outraged anyway, with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network in particular saying that the proposals would result in "a huge divide being created in Irish society, between families protected by the Constitution and those with limited or no protection".

The Equality Authority even demanded that transsexuals be given civil partnership rights too, whilst Senator David Norris declared: "We are in a ridiculous situation now that gay couples have more rights in Paisley's Belfast than they do in Bertie's Dublin." That's telling 'em, Senator.

Away from all this entertaining knockabout brouhaha, though, what exactly is the situation for gay couples right now in Ireland? Well, they can't get married or register civil partnerships, that's true, but now that the report has been cleared out of the way it's everybody's intention, including that of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice and most of the rest of the Dail, to legislate to allow them to do so in the near future and to extend the legal and financial protections given to married couples to same-sex couples as well.

And even if they didn't want to do it, the EU would eventually make them fall into line anyway.

And that's it. The extent of the quarrel which gay Ireland has with the attitude to civil partnerships among the denizens of straight Ireland is that A: it hasn't happened yet, and B: there might be a few footling legal differences in the way gay couples register their unions as opposed to straight couples.

To which, the obvious answer is A: it will soon enough, and B: so what? Excuse me if I'm missing some huge homophobic discrimination here, but is that really all gay lobbyists in Ireland have to moan about?

It's not even as if there's much by way of opposition to the idea of civil partnerships in Ireland, either politically or in society at large. In laidback Australia, rallies organised against similar proposals for gay union brought thousands on to the streets.

How many would turn up in Dublin to march against civil partnerships? A couple of hundred? The Catholic Church itself may murmur a few protests but they're not going to create that big a fuss.

Bishops in glass houses are learning not to throw so many stones, after all.

Meanwhile, across the world, there are millions of gay people who don't have to imagine prejudice, like bus-boycotting Dafydd and his Irish followers, but who live with it every single day. It's only a few years since the Chinese government removed homosexuality from the official list of mental illnesses, but China's estimated 40 million gay population continue to suffer persecution.

In the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh earlier this month, there were widespread protests against "perversion" when a lesbian couple wed in a local temple, which continued outside the hospital when one of the women attempted suicide.

The Nigerian government has recently taken steps to ban gay marriage, with the information minister calling gay sex "abominable" and President Obasanjo adding for good measure that it is "unBiblical, unnatural and definitely unAfrican".

Poland's President has called Gay Pride marches in his country "sexually obscene". The Estonian parliament recently ruled it out too. And it's unlikely the new Islamic fundamentalist Hamas government in the Palestinian Authority will be rushing to enact gay marriage law any time soon either.

In America, the debate really is hotting up right now too. Only last week, Pennsylvania became the latest to join the list of states which have either banned, or plan to ban, gay partnerships and to define marriage solely as that between a man and a woman when the so-called marriage Protection Amendment Bill came before the local Senate.

Virginia also passed similar laws, which will now go to a referendum in November. Conservative groups, such as the American Family Association, have rallied to the cause. It's a big deal. It swings states electorally. It can decide who gets to the White House.

Where is the equivalent movement against gay rights in Ireland? The fact is, there isn't one. The only opposition is scattered and intermittent. It may be true that there's a level of homophobia buried deep inside traditional Ireland, but it's not stirring, it's not being activated, it's not finding expression in any meaningful way, it's not going to decide any elections, so what exactly are the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network et al fighting against? The possibility of a few crank calls to Liveline or letters from nuts in the local newspaper?

US Democrat Frank Pistella, quoted in the Beaver County News (no sniggering at the back now), says of the campaign against gay unions in Pennsylvania: "I see I tas nothing more than an effort on the part of some people to create an issue where, I n my opinion, one should not exist."

It's the same in Ireland, only here the situation is reversed. Here the non-issue is being peddled and exploited by gay rights activists. They're running round like headless chickens trying to take on opponents who don't exist and pick fisticuffs with people who aren't seeking a fight in the first place. One thing's for sure. Dafydd would be proud.

Eilis O'Hanlon

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bloggers going Dutch

20 US bloggers are going to Amsterdam with blogads.com and Holland.com. Details are available here of how it is organised and what the bloggers have to do in return for the freebie. Well well Bord Failte are you reading – now that might be a better use of some of your vast budget? And if any country wants to invite me to do likewise I am very open to offers.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Twenty Silk Cut (Purple)

Tonight (for one night only – well maybe) Maman Poulet brings you Twenty Silk Cut (Purple), smoking in smoking rooms in Dublin bars. Maman Poulet knows that she’s no Twenty Major so accept my apologies already. However it’s Friday, my body hurts, I have not had a decent nights sleep all week and I feel like a few rants.

  • ‘Wayne on suicide watch’ screams tonight’s headline in the Evening Herald. Of course he’s on suicide watch no thanks to the antics of the Herald, Sun, TV3, The Star and numerous other outlets this week. Mental Meanderings sums up perfectly on the role of the media in this affair.

  • Anyone else do the Euro Millions lottery tonight and then think ‘I hope to f**k I don’t win it?’ I so do not want the Dept of Social Welfare employees looking up my files during their coffee breaks.

  • Village Magazine now pays John Waters to write a column for him. (him was a typo but you know it fits so I’ll leave it there!)   Its bad enough reading him in the Irish Times each week but then we get Fintan O’Toole or Mary Raftery or Fionnuala O’Connor or someone else to ease the pain. But Village does not provide us with someone to read who is pro-woman, pro-family and pro-choice never mind someone to counter the subtle homophobia which emerges from Waters writings and appearances in recent years. Well I won’t be helping Village pay Waters wages until they hire another columnist and maybe if you are doing the same you can tell Vincent Browne.  

  • A headline on RTE’s website tonight made me snort tonight. ‘Tánaiste receives report on Neary's activities’.  Ah yes those ‘activities’ which included many un-necessary hysterectomies, lies and deception and the refusal of a caesarean and cancer treatment to a pregnant women with cancer in 1983 amongst other acts of butchery. (read a column by Fintan O’Toole posted by GUBU a few years ago.) So RTE sub-editor and others who use the word activities (maybe even the person who wrote the Government commissioned report who may use the word) these are not activities like playing golf, going for a swim or the like. Women’s lives have been ruined by this man, please pick another word.

  • Speaking of homophobes, Robbie Fowler has been signed by Liverpool FC on a free transfer. I suppose I should be grateful they did not pay any money for him. I would though suggest that Stevie Gerrard does not bring him out with himself and Peter Crouch on their next night out.

  • Finally what is it with smoking rooms in Dublin bars. Twice this week I have been in a pub that has had smoking accommodation which must be skating very close to the wind in terms of compliance with the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002. And I’d nearly prefer to be out shuffling in the cold because do you think I could enjoy the nicotine whilst I tried to figure out how the feck the pub owner got away with it?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Move along....

Several people have come to Maman Poulet tonight searching for information on a Fianna Fail gay councillor. Well you won't find anything here. I know Malcolm and think the Echo and the Sun's coverage has been despicable. However if you agree with me you can email him and send him some support - you'll find his information on the Fianna Fail website. (not going to provide a direct link in case of spam/crap etc.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fed up, pissed off, moving on?

In the 1980’s and even the early 1990’s many lesbians and gay men left Ireland. Oppression, stigma, and the appalling economic conditions were amongst the reasons people took the boat or the plane to anywhere but here. Those who were diagnosed as being HIV positive moved to the UK mainly in order to seek better care, respect and anonymity at the height of the AIDS pandemic and panic (government advertisements warned tourists not to bring AIDs home from their holidays – ‘cos of course no one had sex here or Gay sex.  You needed a prescription for a condom and in latter years find a chemist who would sell them to you. AIDS was a threat from abroad)

Migration amongst lesbians and gay men is well known, people leave the small town in search of the big lights, the gay bars and the end of looking over ones shoulder. Moving to London or New York or other queer metropolis brought a chance to explore ones identity, to leave behind the church, the squinting windows and the homophobia.

Today I met a friend for coffee, J is in his early 30’s, not politically active, a young person who’s life has been based in Dublin and who has enjoyed the freedoms that have come about in a modern Ireland. He does not know what it was like to be criminalised and indeed knows little about HIV and AIDS beyond the practise of safer sex.  He does not know anyone who is HIV+. He is out at work, out to his family and in a relationship for 3 years sharing a house with his partner, both of them in good jobs with great friends and family support.

J was very down today. And he was angry. And he was thinking of packing his bags and heading for anywhere but here.  Whilst many of us did not believe that the All Party Committee on the Constitution report on the Family was going to given same sex couples much hope, we did not think that it would be so explicitly discriminatory either. I think most lesbians and gay men are used to being ignored, and used to seeing sexual orientation included in policy (even if that policy really means nothing and has no teeth). But it was very clear today that this committee were haunted by queers. The majority would love to have ignored us. First they don’t recommend that the constitutional protection on the family based on marriage be changed to be more inclusive. And then they recommend that heterosexual couples who cohabit have a presumed protection just by living together (or possibly register) whilst same sex couples would have to register.  Again they fail to see same sex unions as anything more than property owning, pension paying, nominatory facades. They don’t see our relationships as ones to be nurtured, supported and cherished for the love that exists. It’s merely a matter of money, contracts and shutting some of us up. Those of use with children or who wish to have children are ignored and the rights of our children are disregarded.  

It could be years before any protection of same sex relationships is introduced. The Equality Authority and Equality Commission of Northern Ireland yesterday published a report citing the gulf that now exists in the equal treatment of lesbian and gay couples north and south of the border. Bertie and company don’t get same sex relationships, they don’t understand anything about lesbian and gay identity, they just know that they don’t want to give us an inch or equality. The crumbs they offer we should be grateful for.

Economics are not the only reason to keep people at home and happy.  Better education standards, the impact of globalisation increased expectations and now the pull of equality and respect will change the dynamics of the push and pull factors that effect lesbian and gay migration.

And who’d blame J for giving up and going elsewhere. He is lucky to have the where-with- all to do so, and he knows that. But he also knows that he wants to have respect for his relationship, respect that he does not see coming from any political party including the traditional supporters of lgbt rights.

I was pissed off enough myself today and could offer him no succour, sorry J, maybe tomorrow? And we need to tell people we are pissed off too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What did he mean by 'I hope you go'?

GWB on Brokeback Mountain (needs speakers and may not be worksafe depending where you work!)  I have not seen it yet either but that’s another story!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

And soon on the red carpet (if not walked into it)

For 2 hours before the major awards ceremonies the US TV companies broadcast the entrances of the stars. At last weeks Golden Globes, E! launched a new team to present the comings and goings, who wears what and who designed what.

Star Jones has been replaced with Isaac Mizrahi, an out gay fashion designer (nope I had never heard of him either). And his debut has hit the headlines. Instead of just cooing over the dresses and the performances that had brought about the nominations, Mizrahi went that bit further

The Observer reports that Mizrahi focussed on underwear, handbag contents and relationship strengths.

I wanna know about the underwear you've got on,' he announced, before making a lunge for her ample bosom. 'I just wanna feel it. Ooh, ooh, oh, I just love that!' When Johansson protested, he simply shot her a little-boy-lost glance. 'I'm just taking notes,' he said.

The fun did not stop there. While other celeb interviewers looked on lamely, Mizrahi went straight for the questions that really matter. 'How much of your hair is real?' he inquired of Sarah Jessica Parker. 'You know who loves redheads?' was his ice-breaker with Marcia Cross, flame-haired star of Desperate Housewives. 'My dog!' Developing before our eyes was a very real Dennis Pennis.

Watching a repeat of the programme last night I did not take much notice of Mizrahi until he interviewed Charlize Theron and berated her for her choice of characters in her films to date. Theron was stunned into silence when Mizrahi referred to her Oscar winning performance as a 'scary dyke with bad teeth'. This comment brought complaints from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

E! responded by saying that Mizrahi was the last person one could accuse of homophobia. Why because he is a gay man? No gay man has every uttered a homophobic remark his life then - ah come off it. Maybe if GLAAD named it as lesbophobic Mizrahi's employers would take more notice. The odd lesbophobic remark from gay men is of course nothing new to Maman Poulet (and indeed it operates both ways). However I think Theron did play a scary looking lesbian in the movie (and it was a great performance) , a character whose sexuality was completely blown out of proportion indeed to highlight that straight women would never commit such a crime. (Oh pull the other one!)

And GLAAD might be better off highlighting the mysogny in Mizrahi's performance and questioning of women which did not focus on their talent or intellect but of course only on their looks or lack of them.

The organisers of the Oscars have indicated that Mizrahi's direct interviewing approach may not be welcomed at their ceremony next month. If I were Mizrahi I might be on the look out for scary looking avenging lesbians and their friends.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Some F words

The Carnival of the feminists (Number 7) has taken place. Every few weeks I check in and it is a wonderful journey through feminist blog entries of the past month through a very wide variety of subjects. Each month a different blogger (this month it’s Lauren @ Feministe) takes the task of putting together the list from her own surfing and recommendations from other blog readers.

Posts that tickled me this month included Blakademic’s entry on the L word and how race is portrayed on the show through a white/other binary. Comments on the entry have also dwelt on the issue of male identified butches in lesbian culture. This is something that has been on my mind for the past year or more, in particular the way in which many butch women are now seen as male identified and as FTM and that the L Word and other media outlets are not presenting women identified butches. Now I know they have not all disappeared but it is interesting to see the way in which male language and identity has taken over a lot of butch discourse if one could call it that.

See this article on celebrating the Year of the Butch by Sarah Leavitt for further discussion (not mentioned in the Carnival but something I happened upon myself yesterday) and I will come back to this issue sometime soon. I am currently saving episodes of the L word series 3 for an L word night, I don’t like what I am hearing so far in the reviews I have read!

Also listed on the Carnival is a post by the Countess on how sex can prevent the common cold, not just any type of sex according to the Countess but ‘hot screeching monkey sex’.  This gem emerged from a Swiss scientists immunology research in case you were wondering.

And yes yes yes! (no I am not having hot screeching monkey sex!) But A post by the F word on the Observer’s Woman Magazine that launched last Sunday. What the feck are those editors thinking about launching such rubbish – glad to see I was not alone in despairing.  

Friday, January 20, 2006

Corrections, Clarifications and Curiousities…

An update to the European Parliament vote on homophobia. Ozren on Gaire posted here that there was an amendment tabled before the vote on the resolution.

There was a previous vote, on whether the phrase
ensure that same-sex partners enjoy the same
respect, dignity and protection as the rest of society
" should remain in the resolution. (See below for context of the
phrase.) On the vote about that point, Liam Aylward, Brian Crowley, and Seán Ó Neachtain voted
against including the phrase in the final
resolution. Once they lost that point, though, they did support the overall motion, with that phrase in it.

Article 2 of the resolution reads [The European Parliament ...] "calls on Member States to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are protected from homophobic hate speech and violence and ensure that same-sex partners enjoy the same respect, dignity and protection as the rest of society".

This is very interesting given the remarks of Bertie Ahern yesterday in India and the report of the APOCC and the clear message being sent to lesbian and gay led families

On those remarks, GLEN have been quick to clarify on a number of message boards that they have not told Bertie Ahern that the only issues that gay couples are concerned with are those of a fiscal and taxation nature and that groups did not want gay marriage. So which lesbian and gay groups have told Bertie that gays don’t want marriage? Or even more curious for me which groups have been hitting on him regarding fiscal and taxation and property matters to the expense of human rights, commitment, families, parenting and immigration. Or is that just his interpretation?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cluck cluck cluck....drumstick anyone?

So a majority of members on the  All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution (APOCC) decided not to recommend changing the definition of the family in the Irish constitution. They decided to leave the definition of the family as being based on marriage due to fears it could lead to a divisive referendum on gay marriage.  Huh?

There are 77,000 cohabiting couples according to the last census and 150,000 other families headed by a single parent and 1,500 same sex couples. So all of those groupings are not going to be families because of a threat of gay marriage and a divisive debate. According to coverage of the issue on Today with Pat Kenny (real player required - first 25 minutes of the show or so) the committee were presented with up to 20 different definitions of the family and not one of those could be used?

Have to say if I was a lone parent or a heterosexual couple cohabiting (raising children or not) I would not be much amused at the chickening out by the FF, FG, and PD members of the committee. Does this make the One Parent Family payment illegal? Are families led by widows and widowers now not families any more? If I were a TD I'd be worried, Mary Harney had to back track on remarks on lone parents a number of years ago, imagine going canvassing in many urban areas next year and being accosted by the many people who are members of these 'non-families' or have family members who are never going to be 'familied'.

This divisive referendum 'would fail' according to Bertie speaking from India. RTE keep calling the issue 'single sex' unions? That’s a new one on me linguistically. Whilst I don't favour the referendum route either (and indeed many scholars challenge the fact that a referendum would be needed in any case) surely some wording could be arrived at that removed marriage and respected the very many family forms in Ireland.    

Final thoughts on a busy blogging day

  • Well I don’t know where Mary Lou or Gay Mitchell were during today’s votes, but they do not seem to have been present during the other votes held today either so not going to read much into it either.  Kathy Sinnott’s opposition was no surprise given the nature of the funding and support she received during her campaign from pro-life and other organisations.

  • It has been a very busy day on Maman Poulet today and thanks to those who emailed or commented on the updates I provided here and elsewhere. I must now pay tribute to Andy at Ukgaynews for his coverage of the debate and resolution. The proceedings at the European Parliament get so little coverage in the UK or Ireland and there has not been much coverage on the wires or MSM regarding the vote or debate. Maybe we will see in coming months more effects of both the resolution and the renewed motivation it will give the intergroup of MEP’s who work on LGBT issues.

  • Both Sicilian Notes and Realitycheckdotie have blogged about their opposition to the resolution and indeed legislation that protects lesbians and gay men and prevents what they term free speech.

  • TV3 had a report tonight on a ‘serial’ attacker of gay men in Dublin city centre. Two victims of the same attacker have come forward and required hospitalisation. The Gardai believe that there are probably more people out there who have been attacked by the man in question and are calling on them to come forward in complete confidence.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Resolution on Homophobia - How Irish MEP's voted

The European Parliament Vote on the Resolution on Homophobia took place earlier today. The Resolution was passed by 468 votes in favour, 149 against and 41 abstentions.

I have checked the Result of the roll call votes available here and here is how the Irish MEP’s voted.

In favour –

Liam Aylward, Brian Crowley, Sean Ó Neachtain, Eoin Ryan  (FF)

Prionsias De Rossa (Lab)

Simon Coveney, Avril Doyle, Jim Higgins, Mairead McGuinness (FG)

Marian Harkin (Ind)

Kathy Sinnott (Ind)


Not found to have voted (Absent?)

Mary Lou McDonald (SF)
Gay Mitchell (FG)

Blogbridge - save me from my info overload

I downloaded Blogbridge last night and am teaching myself about RSS feeds and all sorts of things…If I don’t appear in the next few days a search party and oxygen might have to be despatched to South West Dublin.

European Parliament debate and resolution on Homophobia

Tomorrow the European Parliament will vote on a resolution on homophobia. (posted below) During the debate on homophobia which took place in the European Parliament yesterday there were no contributions by  Irish MEP’s. Michael Cashman who is the chair of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on lgbt issues made an impassioned speech regarding the debate and issue and you can read it here (half way down the page.
I will post up how the Irish voted on the resolution below when I get the data (it’s a pity I only got this now as we might have been able to launch a mini lobby of them to let them know how we feel!!) This resolution can be amended.

pursuant to Rule 103(4) of the Rules of Procedure, by
–  Alexander Stubb,on behalf of the EPP/ED Group
–  Martine Roure and Michael Cashman (PSE) on behalf of the PSE Group
–  Sophie In't Veld, (ALDE) on behalf of the ALDE Group
–  Kathalijne Buitenweg, Jean Lambert, Monika Frassoni, Elisabeth Schroedter and Raül Romeva (VERT) on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
–  Giusto Catania, Jonas Sjöstedt, Vittorio Emanuele Agnoletto and Roberto Musacchio (GUE) on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group
replacing the motions by the following groups:
–   EPP/ED
–   PSE
–   Verts/ALE
on Homophobia in Europe
The European Parliament,
  • having regard to international and European human rights obligations, such as those contained in the UN Conventions on human rights and in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

   -  having regard to European Union provisions on human rights, and notably to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as to articles 6 and 7 TEU,
-  having regard to article 13 TEC entrusting the EU with the power to adopt norms aimed at fighting discriminations based on, among others, sexual orientation, and to promote the principle of equality,

   -  having regard to Directive 2000/43/EC and Directive 2000/78/EC prohibiting direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation,

   - having regard to the  Article 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights that prohibits "any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation",

   -  having regard to art 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

         a)      whereas homophobia can be defined as an irrational fear and aversion of homosexuality and of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people based on prejudice, similar to racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism,

         b)      whereas homophobia manifests itself in the private and public sphere through different means such as hate speech and incitement to discrimination, ridicule, verbal, psychological and physical violence as well as persecution and murder, discrimination in violation of the principle of equality, unjustified and unreasonable limitations of rights often justified on grounds of reasons of public order, religious freedom and the right to conscientious objection,

         c)      whereas a series of worrying events has recently taken place in a number of EU Member States as widely reported by the press and by NGOs, that have ranged from banning gay prides or equality marches to leading political and religious leaders inflammatory/hate/threatening language, police failing to provide adequate protection or even breaking up peaceful demonstrations, violent demonstrations by homophobic groups, introduction of changes in constitutions to explicitly prohibit same-sex unions,

         d)      whereas at the same time a positive, democratic and tolerant reaction has emerged in some cases from the general public, civil society and local and regional authorities that have demonstrated against homophobia, as well as from the justice systems redressing the most striking and illegal forms of discrimination,

         e)  whereas same-sex partners in some Member States do not enjoy all of the rights and protections that married opposite sex partners do, consequently suffering discrimination and disadvantages;

         f) whereas at the same time more countries in Europe are moving towards ensuring equal opportunities, inclusion and respect, and provide protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation,

         g) whereas the Barroso Commission has declared its commitment to ensuring respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the EU, and has set up a group of Commissioners responsible for Human Rights;

         h)  whereas not all EU Member States have introduced in their legal order measures to protect the rights of LGBT people, as required by Directive 2000/43/EC and Directive 2000/78/EC, and are fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and promoting equality,

         i)   whereas further action is needed at the EU level as well as in the Member States to eradicate homophobia and to promote a culture of freedom, tolerance and equality among their citizens and in their legal order,

1.  Strongly condemns any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation;

2.  Calls on Member States to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are protected from homophobic hate speech and violence and ensure that same-sex partners enjoy the same respect, dignity and protection as the rest of the society;

3.  Urges Member States and the Commission to firmly condemn homophobic hate speech or incitement to hatred and violence,  and to ensure that freedom of demonstration – guaranteed by all human rights treaties - is respected in practice;

4.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in all sectors is prohibited, by completing the anti-discrimination package based on art. 13, either by proposing new directives or by proposing a general framework, to cover all grounds of discrimination and in all sectors;

5.  Urges Member States and the Commission to step up the fight against homophobia through education – such as campaigns against homophobia in schools, universities and in the media - as well as through administrative, judicial and legislative means;

6.  Reiterates its position with regard to the “Year 2007 - Equality for All” that the Commission must ensure that all the forms of discrimination referred to in Article 13 of the Treaty and in Article 2 of the Decision establishing the Year are addressed and dealt with equally, as mentioned in the European Parliament's report the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and the Council on the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All (2007) - Towards a Just Society and reminds the European Commission of its promise to closely monitor this matter and to report to the European Parliament;

7.  Urges the Commission to ensure that all Member States have transposed and are correctly implementing Directive 2000/78/EC (Establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation) , and to start infringement proceedings against those Member States that fail this; in addition, calls on the Commission to ensure that the annual report on the protection of Fundamental Rights in the EU includes full and comprehensive information on the incidence of homophobic hate crimes and violence in Member States;

8.  Calls on all Member States to take any other action they deem appropriate in the fight against homophobia, sexual orientation discrimination and to promote and implement the principle of equality in their society and legal order;

9.  Welcomes steps taken in several Member States recently to improve the position of LGBT people and decides to organise a seminar for the exchange of good practices on the 17th of May (International Day against Homophobia);

10.  Reiterates its request that the European Commission put forward proposals  guaranteeing the freedom of movement of Union citizens and their family members and registered partners of either gender, as mentioned in the European Parliaments´ resolution on the Future of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice of 14 October 2004;

11.  Calls on Member States concerned to finally fully recognise homosexuals as targets and victims of the Nazi regime;

12.  Asks its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and to the Governments of the Member States and candidate and applicant countries.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Irish Migration, Race and Social Transformation Review

This announcement caught my eye today...

The Irish Migration, Race and Social Transformation Review (IMRSTR) has gone online at http://www.imrstr.dcu.ie/ . We would like to take this opportunity to invite contributions for the first issue that will be out by spring 2006. Submission deadline for the first issue is the 28.2.2006. For further information please go to http://www.imrstr.dcu.ie/authors.html.

Given the areas of interest of this new online open access journal and the people involved I would think this might be of interest to bloggers. The social transformation of information and media which is occuring by the expansion of blogging in Ireland and indeed the issues covered in Irish blogs would make for many an interesting article.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Four Meme

Morgan tagged me for a meme

Four jobs you've had in your life:
Student Nurse
Clerical Officer in County Council

Four movies you could watch over and over:
The Sound of Music
The American President (?! Its on every year and I seem to watch it every time)
Go Fish

Four places you've lived:
Walthamstow, London

Four TV shows you love to watch:
Channel 4 News
West Wing
Saturday Kitchen

Four places you've been on vacation:
(This is hard as I rarely go anywhere on an actual holiday but have travelled to lots of places!!!)

Four websites you visit daily:
Sapphic Ireland
UK Gay News
The Guardian

Four of your favorite foods:
Marks and Spencers Orange Chocolate
Indian Food in most of its forms

Four places you'd rather be:
New York

I am not going to bother tagging 4 people as from what I can make out only two of those I tagged the last time answered. But as I was tagged in revenge I must tag Damien!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Who's balance is it anyway?

Kevin Sharkey's appearance on the Late Late Show tonight seems to have irked RealityCheckdotie.

Sharkey was a guest on the show talking about his intention to bring an action to the European Court of Human Rights claiming that his rights are being infringed due to the inability to register same sex partnerships or marry. I am sure Mental Meanderings and others can talk about the advisability or potential for such a case.

Realitycheckdotie does not believe Kevin should have appeared on the show without 'someone providing an alternate point of view'. I wonder which alternate point of view would that be? The groups and organisations who misuse/fabricate statistics about lesbians and gay men and our relationships? Those who actually promote discrimination? The groups who do not condone discrimination but don't want rights given to lesbians and gay couples anyway? Or maybe the groups and organisations who represent no-one but made up a name to get on TV and claim to balance things? Ah sure why not bring in the groups and organisations who support murder and assault or incarceration of lesbians and gay men also while you are at it, TV researchers can find anyone these days to make a point.

Its funny after years of being taunted, ignored, beaten, humiliated, thrown out of our homes and our jobs, dying due to government inaction on HIV/AIDs, taking our own lives or engaging in acts of self-harm, forced into marriages to keep everyone else happy and lying to ourselves and others etc etc that when someone appears on TV to talk about the fact that his rights are being infringed and document his reality that there are calls for 'balance'?

I no longer appear in media discussions with people from groups who oppose lgbt rights, who fabricate statistics and who promote hate. Media platforms are not given to BNP representatives to incite hate against ethnic minorities in the UK and I don't believe that they should be given to anti gay groups either. I believe media outlets have a responsibility to ensure that the debate on civil partnership and lgbt rights in particular is one where lgbt’s do not have to defend their existence or right to life, and equality because of some bible bashers obsession with talking about back passages (Late Late Show 1989 and many other times subsequently.)

This is not balance when the 'other side' is one which seeks to deny rights to other individuals on the basis of hate speak (no matter how beautifully or condescendingly it is phrased). The other side in this debate could in fact be those lesbians and gay men who do not wish to register their relationships or have their identity and sexuality challenged by those seeking registration and/or marriage. Now that would be really interesting and balanced.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Click and sign and support the campaign for Cervical Cancer Screening

This is one of my hobby horses (oh yeah I have many) but Ireland's lack of a free national cervical screening programme is putting women's lives at risk. The Irish Cancer Society are currently campaigning for such a service and I will leave it their appeal to tell you what you should do if you wish to support the campaign. (and please spread the word and get all family members involved in supporting it) Thanks.

Ireland has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in Europe and while we know screening saves lives, Ireland has no national screening programme. The Irish Cancer Society is lobbying Government to urgently implement a free nationwide screening programme for cervical cancer. CLICK HERE to support our campaign. In the meantime, [women] please visit your GP or family planning centre for a regular smear test, if you're aged 25 years or more. Screening detects cells in the cervix before they become cancerous or spread, and this allows for successful treatment. For further information on cervical smears and/or cervical cancer, call the National Cancer Helpline on Freefone 1800 200 700

It never really happened? It wasn't that bad?

This week saw a rare public hearing take place at the Commission to inquire into Child Abuse. This Commission is charged with investigating abuse of residents in institutional care in Ireland in the 20th Century.

Given that we are not 2 months over the release of the Ferns report it is interesting to observe attempts by Catholic apologists to try and distance the church and religious orders from responsibility for the abuse.

On Tonight with Vincent Browne last night, Breda O’Brien and David Quinn attempted to explain away the litany of institutional abuse with what I can only term the ‘Ochon Ochon O’ theory. This is where we are reminded that Ireland was poor, miserable and depressed. There was no money to mind children, there was only 1 adult in charge of 30 children/inmates/residents. It was a dark dreary country, so no wonder children were being beaten and abused. I was waiting for the claim to be made ‘sure weren’t they lucky to be in there anyway’.

However Quinn and O’Brien continued by continually querying the reports of abuse and testimony that have been given. Another guest on the programme was Mary Raferty, the producer of States of Fear and co-author of Suffer Little Children. These are noted as the programmes/text which comprehensively documented some of the abuses committed, cover-ups by church and state and laid down the many questions that needed to be asked.

She was continually interrupted by Quinn and O’Brien and there was also a sneer thrown at her that she had had access to data that others had not. Well she is a leading authority on institutional child abuse in Ireland so one would expect her to have had access.

Colm O’Gorman (always so calm and collected) argues that the more that we argue about who is more responsible for the abuse that was suffered by those placed or taken into institutional care, the further away we move from discussing what actually happened.

You can listen to the show here; it is worth the effort as it shows that revisionism in all its forms is alive and well. And the secrecy of the Commission and the Residential Institutions Redress Board continues to assist the abusers and their organisations in querying that it ever happened at all.

He shoots, he scores, he sings

So Peter Crouch has been egging Stevie Gerrard on to sing at a gay nightclub for £5,000? What Crouch did not know was that Stevie is a regular and well known at the club. The Daily Record of course reassure us that Stevie is engaged so there is nothing to 'worry' about with regards to the England midfielder. (Hat Tip: SR (get thee back to the thesis! but all footie tip offs are welcome and we'll make a soccer fan of you yet!))

Monday, January 09, 2006

Rounding up the response

Richard Delevan has an excellent round up of the days media coverage of the O'Rourke incident and carefully analyses O'Rourkes response to it (and also illustrates the reason more people are listening to Newstalk 106).

Definitions and juxtapositions

The Professor of English (Hiberno English) at UCD, Terry Dolan, will be wheeled out before long to define the origins of the phrase 'worked like blacks' before the day is out. On Today with Pat Kenny, (will update with the link later) Senator O'Rourke has explained her use of the phrase and said that it probably not appropriate in todays usage. However callers to the show and O'Rourke have said that the phrase comes from the west of Ireland in reference to blacksmiths at the end of a days work or when referring to coal miners in similar circumstances. And now of course there are accusations of 'Political Correctness gone mad'.

Now I would much rather blog about the fact that Longford/Westmeath constituency will be one of the more facinating to observe in the next general election. There are 7 oireachtas members competing for 4 seats in this redrawn constituency. Willie Penrose TD. (Labour) Mae Sexton T.D. (PD), Paul McGrath T.D. (FG), Peter Kelly T.D. (FF), Donie Cassidy T.D. (FF), Senator Mary O'Rourke (FF) and Senator James Bannon (FG). Donie Cassidy has lost about 25% of his constituents in the reorganisation of the constituency.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Oh Mary!

Just the type of media debate you don't want. In her victory speech in Athlone tonight Mary O'Rourke commented that her election team 'worked like blacks'. You can watch it here.
This from the Aunt of Conor 'Kebab' Lenehan. No amount of 'I just mean they worked very hard.' is going to wash here at all. Cue many Fianna Fáilers joining Anti Racism campaigns to distance themselves (not). Expect many accusations of Liberal Dublin 4 meeja bias or something... and cue calls to Joe on Liveline...

Changing times

Having not left the house today I have been unable to pick up a copy of the new look Observer. I do like the new Guardian but it feels a bit cheap at times (well yes I do buy it more frequently because it is cheaper than Irish Newspapers and is a much better read). By cheap I mean the print and picture frequently bleed over the end of the pages and the paper does not look like it has been cut properly.

Anyway today I have been reading the Observer online. You can read the Observer blog here which charts the final hours before going to print. I don't like the new masthead at all.

And if they mess with the Observer food monthly I will definitely not be a happy camper. More anon no doubt when I get a print copy in my hands.

The campaign starts here?

Some months ago Fianna Fáil were trumping a new policy which would increase the numbers of women to contest for seats in the next general election. This must not apply to the constituency of Longford/Westmeath. Tonight Senator Mary O'Rourke faces a selection convention for the last seat on the Fianna Fáil ticket (Sunday Tribune, reg. req.) Two other candidates have been selected automatically by head office. Donie Cassidy, the person to whom Mary O'Rourke had lost her seat in the last General Election in the Westmeath part of the constituency and Peter Kelly from Longford. (Am I alone in saying Peter who?)

There were claims that Mary was shafted in the last general election by selecting two candidates from Westmeath and now it seems that 'head office' is trying to shaft her again in having a selection convention for only one of the places on the ticket. She has been a strong leader of the Seanad and not averse to calling for the Government to be held to account particulrly on rendition flights and Shannon's use by the US government. Having had the chance to watch her take the order of business in the Seanad on a number of occasions I felt that she has tried very hard to indicate that she is not for retiring and has the pulse of the nation a lot more than many of the senior figures in the other house. Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, a local councillor and taxi driver is the other candidate and is also from Athlone so no doubt being a convention delegate for the past few weeks has been very interesting with calls from the Senator or the Boxer. Listening to Mary on the radio this morning she was as ever up for the task. I do hope she gets selected and then the real fun can begin in terms of the campaign for the seat.

In terms of the election campaign more generally plans are afoot for an Election 2007 blog. You can find it here. It is hoped that it will be a combination of cross posts from Irish bloggers and original pieces solely written for the Election blog itself. Given the explosion in blogging and message board debate in the past year or more it will be an important medium in debating the issues and also the wonderful quirks of an Irish General Election.

I am a election junkie and the next election is likely to be the first one since 1992 that I will not be actively involved in so I am more than willing to sit alongside as the hurler in the ditch.
RTE News....
FF convention votes for Mary O'Rourke
08 January 2006 19:21

A Fianna Fáil election convention in Mullingar has chosen former minister, Mary O'Rourke, as a party candidate in the Westmeath constituency in the next General Election.
She defeated a challenge in the Athlone area from local Councillor, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran by 48 votes to 39.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Sad news

No not a post about Sharon much to Richard Waghornes chagrin. But I am very saddened to read that Tony Banks is gravely ill in the USA. He is one of the more amusing and honest UK politicians and was sports mad and not afraid to say things that got him a lot of column inches, sometimes ridicule and frequently a few laughs. He was a Chelsea fan, a long time before the Russian arrived and a passionate animal welfare supporter.

Friday, January 06, 2006


George Bush spent some time with some grown up politicians today - former US secretaries of state and defence.

Pat Robertson says that Sharon had his stroke because he was 'dividing Gods land.'

Have a look at the Lib Dem blog aggregator to see what Liberal Democrat bloggers make of Charles Kennedy's admission to a drink problem and leadership election strategy. The first place I turned to when I heard the news today was Technorati to see what bloggers were saying. Interesting self reflection moment there. Oooer Michael Lenehan is worried at the development of blogs (and what a whine!).

Ian Dale comments on the role of ITN's chief political correspondent and former Lib Dem press secretary, Daisy McAndrew. A case of the minder turning assasin? I wondered where she came from when I saw her commentating on the ITN news during the party conference season.

Liverpool sign talented Dutch defender today. He's not bad on the eye either and I think a few of the girlies like him (and a few of the lads). All I want to know is if he'll help keep a clean sheet.

Yes I will be watching...

There is no point having one of those 'I am not going to watch it this time' moments in this house when if comes to Big Brother or I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. I am now watching most of my current affairs tv online or early in the morning as a documentary or news bulletin does not get enough 'lets watch this' votes.

Celebrity Big Brother started tonight. And I have always had a soft spot for Michael Barrymore so knew I would be tuning in to see how he was. And then Jodi Marsh turned up and I thought this might be interesting given that she is supposed to have an opinion or two about things. But then in stepped George Galloway. I lost it altogether when he appeared. Please let him be the first one out....pretty please. (George versus Paxman on UK election night can be viewed here if you have not seen it yet.)

I was going to say I won't blog about CBB but that could be futile never mind dangerous if I don't have somewhere to vent about George....and yes I agree with Mental Meanderings on Faria . I still don't get how a man who does the dirt on his partner gets lauded (and they might have an open relationship for all we know) whilst 'the other woman' (Faria) gets booed like she did tonight.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

So lowly....

Ok its not quite as funny as the Numa Numa song but this version of Madonna's 'Hung Up' provided some light relief this evening. (Hat Tip to Dennis who should blog!)

By the by the wikipedia entry
on Numa Numa makes for interesting reading on this internet phenomena.

So long farewell...

One of the (few?) noted anti-gay Fianna Fáil TD's has announced his retirement from public life. Noel Davern, a former Minister for Education and Minister for State for Livestock breeding and Horticulture has served as a TD for Tipperary South for 36 years and will not contest the next general election.

Davern had stated his opposition to legislation granting partnership rights to same sex couples and was one of the more vocal opponents in Fianna Fail during the discussions leading to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993. However he was convieniently out of the country on Oireachtas business when the debates took place in Dail Eireann. It was hard to find a vocal opponent to decriminalisation in Fianna Fail but Davern was public about it.

I will however most remember the portrayal of Davern in Scrap Saturday as the none too bright Minister for Education. I wish someone would put those tapes online somewhere!

Ah memories of Saturday Mornings staying in bed until 11 and wiping tears of laughter away.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Yeah you pay our bills, but that chicken you just ate is still ours.

So you are in a restaurant, a paying customer, eating your food, assessing what is on your plate which you are paying for, tasting it, digesting it etc. etc. As a food blogger you take a picture of it. The chef comes out at the desert stage and tells you not to take pictures.

Jason at DC Foodies then received a letter from the restaurant's lawyers.

I think this is what is called a cease and desist letter. What made me laugh out loud was 'The food and contents of the said restaurant are propriatary and confidential.' Now does this say more about the ego of the chef or the impact of food bloggers and blog restaurant reviews??? What next, menus that combust within seconds of being read? Or better still that the Maitre d' using that rope Wonder Woman uses to make people remember and forget things before leaving the restaurant.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year...same old

The legal recognition of marriage reflects the social commitment which husband and wife make for the good of society and for the procreation and education of children.

Archbishop Sean Brady, the Roman Catholic Primate of All Ireland, reminds us that the church have not gone away, (you know). Speaking during his Christmas Eve homily he focussed about the undermining of 'the family'. This is of course the family as interpreted by the RCC. Archbishop Brady spoke in Armagh where civil partnerships for same sex couples are now legal and efforts (if any) of the Catholic Church in restricting rights were not successful. The report of the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution on the family is due for publication later this month and the impact of the church's lobbying efforts will be evident in the majority report. (Whether there will be a minority report remains unclear.) There are many other possibilites for the lobbying to continue.

Meanwhile others are speculating on the meaning and significance of the phrase 'adoption rights' when spoken about with regards to same sex relationship and legal recognition. It seems that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell, mentioned adoption and immigration issues in his recent statement on the issue for the first time. Given that we do not know the policy of the lesbian and gay lobby on the matter and there has been no consultation by those invovled in lobbying the Minister, we don't know what the Minister means. Will the rights of non biological parents be included? How long is a piece of string?