Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Michael goes missing

Last week Michael McDowell told everyone that there was no need for emergency legislation.  I have no problems with the judgement today – in that the judge was simply doing what the Supreme Court told her was what she had to do. McDowell should have known better – he said last week there was no question of anyone walking free – well he’s wrong!

All politicians have failed here – this was warned about 17 years ago.

Mr. A goes free, you think the circumstances around that case were bad – wait till you hear about Mr. B and the crimes he committed under a law that no longer exists.

Links later when they are uploaded to the RTE website. McDowell is not available for comment today – the minister for bluster goes to ground.  

Monday, May 29, 2006

Mondays bits and bobs

  • Scott Long, the director of the LGBT programme at Human Rights Watch has been blogging Pride in Moscow for the Washington Blade.  Moscow Pride did not pass peacefully - there was a lot of violence and many arrests – more lgbts than nationalist thugs. Scott has not written anything since before the march – I am trying to track down where he is (I know him about 12 years).  

UPDATE: A posting from Scott after the parade detailing what happened and the arrests and injuries can be found here

(oh did I as a blogger just write about a blogger? What should I do in atonement?)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Wrapping up the conference blogging

Ooops the live blogging sort of stopped when the questions and answers session began. Apologies but that’s when it got a bit more interesting.

Several people in the audience took the opportunity to address the chairperson of the working group, Anne Colley and ask her questions about the way the group works, if they could make submissions and if the group would be gender proofing its work. (That was me with the last one!)

Anne Colley had not thought about gender proofing and thought that it would happen – especially as the Equality Authority were there!

It’s really clear from this that the working group members think that men and women are the same and that the proposed legislation will affect us equally. Sorry but many laws don’t affect men and women equally – and gender proofing is required of all areas of government policy – including this one. Indeed if there is no recognition that we have different roles due to our gender, identity, culture and reality then lesbians will again lose out.

One very interesting point to note was the one made by a lesbian teacher. She pointed to the fact that if she did register her partnership that she would be setting herself up for a problem with her employers as the Employment Equality Act gives religious bodies (who control 90% of the schools) an opt out to applying equality in their workplaces. One other delegate did point out that nobody can be sacked for being gay or lesbian – but as lesbian and gay teachers are more than aware your life can be made intolerable if your workplace does not support you. How will lesbian and gay teachers be able to have themselves protected in terms of their relationships and their right to work?

Little did I think when I began live blogging this morning that I would witness the Ancient Order of Hibernians (did we know they were in Ireland before this) abusing the Minister for Justice with water, copies of the constitution and shouting.

I learnt a lot about the way the UK Civil Partnerships Legislation works in the UK, how the Spanish LGBT movement accepted nothing less than equality. I observed two other international legal experts speaking so eloquently about partnership legislation and how it should be tackled in the Irish system because we have the chance to get it right the first time.

It was well worth attending but could have been a lot more participative, especially if this is the only consultation that the working group are going to do with the population that their decisions will be affecting.

Judge Idol!

Oh Baroness Hale….I think I have a new idol…Stonewall UK might be populated by middle class property owning people and hence were not worried by all the lesbian and gay people who lost out in UK who were on social welfare and lost out when the new civil partnership law came in.

Never a truer word was spoken your ladyship!

Will somebody think of the children?

Continuing my live blogging of the Conference on the Legal Status of Cohabitants and Same Sex Couples….

Lunch was grand altogether – due to smoking break before hand I ended up at a table of those who don’t know each other – but it was enjoyable.

All morning you’d think there was not a child in the country parented by a cohabitant/cohabitee or a same sex couple.  This was of concern to many of the female delegates – one of the guest speakers even hinted at the possibility of leaving childrens issues separate to any proposed legislation on providing rights for cohabitants and same sex couples.

Baroness Hale is righting this situation with her paper – where she is talking about the unique situation of where the UK got the situation right the first time in the Civil Partnerships Act. She feels that some of her judicial colleagues still don’t know how lesbians and gay men make babies…

Constitutional issues

Eilis Barry, Legal Adviser from the Equality Authority speaks, much of the ground she was to cover has been spoken about already by the Minister and the CEO of the Equality Authority.

She does cover the UK and the impact of the Good Friday Agreement.

Most of the crowd are reading their delegate packs. Where I have received yet another copy of the EA report on Implementing Equality for Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals…

Eilis is not as pessimistic about the exclusionary nature of the Irish Constitution – marriage is not defined in the constitution…how many times do we need to hear this before the Minister ‘hears’ it.

Eilis and many others await the ruling in the Zappone/Gilligan case for further clarification…

They did that there but don't do it here....

Kees Waaldijk is now talking about the fascination of people in whether couples have sex or not. We don’t need inspectors in the bedroom

Don’t make the mistake of Belgium of including brothers and sisters in the legislation. (YAY…pity minister had left before this point could be made)

This is very good list of don’t do this like they did here….I hope people are listening!!!

We need better seats for this...

So the tea break is over and its back to sitting passively.

The international speakers are excellent, Claire L'Huereux Dube was wonderful and got a huge round of applause especially from the women! She defined feminism just in case any of the lads had forgotten what it meant.

Kees Waaldijk from the Netherlands is talking about the European Values Study and how people feel about living next door to queers – he is obviously going to move on to talk about why we should bring in a law. He thinks we don’t need to follow other laws that have been brought in elsewhere – we should just change marriage laws here to include all.

Is it time for tea yet?

Claire L'Huereux Dube, Judge In Residence, Laval University, Quebec is speaking now.

Ah a feminist, a plain enough speaker for a lawyer, a democrat, a breath of fresh air.

The Gardai have been in to take a report, whether the demonstrators were separated fathers or Ancient Order of Hibernian types I am not so sure. There was a bit of ‘why are you giving our children to the homosexuals, Minister’ going on, so its hard to establish exactly which side they were on. A bit of waving of the constitution and tearing up of papers and throwing about of a jug of water. McDowell seemed quite happy about it all.

Down the back a member of the Mother and Child Campaign was videoing the brouhaha…so maybe they were AOH types.

Anyway the show went on….

My request for wifi access was treated with welcome, and indeed the Equality Authority person knew what a blog was!

Where there will be time for audience participation in this conference I am not sure…I fear we might have to wait until the end and of course what happens here is that everyone goes home early and people don’t want to say much because they feel they are delaying everyone.

We shall see.      

Update: So the AOH is now over here…it was them demonstrating ….

Where there is the Minister there is a demo

There is someone else with a laptop down the back of the hall, not sure who he is but I don’t feel so lonely…until I get to read his name badge.

So the chairperson makes her opening address, invites the minister to speak and all hell breaks loose. On the way into the conference I spotted members of the Separated Fathers Association, the Mother and Child Campaign and Youth Defence.

McDowell opens his mouth and  up pop the fathers group, members of which are dotted throughout the room and they start shouting. 10 minutes of loud noise ensue, slow handclaps from the queers and others. The sign language interpreter and the Deaf attendees had to move to the back of hall for a while.

McDowell, says that constitutional change is not needed as marriage is not on the agenda for same sex couples. And the Irish Human Rights Commission report last week backs him up in this regard…would think the authors of the report would have  a thing or two to say about that.

McDowell says he does understand GLEN’s views on the matter of gay marriage but he has to operate in a different context.

Anyway the crowd here is mixed, legal types from universities, members of lgbt groups from around the country, government officials, members and staff of  political parties, a priest (here with an lgbt group!)

A little bit of live blogging?

Today I’m attending a conference entitled: “The Legal Status of Cohabitants and Same Sex Couples”, at The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Kildare St, hosted by The Equality Authority in conjunction with the Working Group on Domestic Partnership of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and GLEN.  

Attendees/Speakers will include:

- Rt. Honourable Baroness Hale DBE, the UK's first Lord of Appeal in Ordinary,
- Claire L'Huereux Dube, Judge In Residence, Laval University, Quebec.
- Beatriz Gimeno Presidenta de la Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales y Transexuales (FELGT) (España)
- Drs. Kees Waaldijk, Universiteit Leiden,

Today I am going to pretend to be an uber cool tech blogger and try to live blog the conference. Well do some dispatches anyway! Cue lots of questions from civil servants – ‘What’s a blog? You can’t do that!’ Etc. etc. I don’t own a Nokia Communicator or Treo or anything so it’s me and my Dell trying to look inconspicuous.

This conference aims to inform and shape the debate and also assist in the considerations of the working group which is charged with providing legislative options for domestic partnership. Don’t look now but I think this might be consultation!

Will Michael McDowell be there to open it? Will he tell us yet again that gay people don’t want marriage? And how about Dr. Kennedy?


Thursday, May 25, 2006

35 going on 13

I was thinking of starting a separate blog recently to chart a change in my life as it might prove an interesting exercise for myself in terms of keeping a journal.

But given keeping one blog in broadband free land is nearly impossible, two would be horrendous. As the odd reader I get might notice this blog is anything but themed anyway.

Also as I don’t know what is ahead of me, a separate blog might be a huge project and bring expectations which I may not meet because nothing really might happen. Anyway I digress.

I remember a post on Sinead’s blog last year which rang a few bells in my head. It was about infertility/potential infertility. While I am infertile and have always known that, it has never been the issue for me that it might be for many other women. Firstly there is a genetic disease in my family which although I now know I could not pass on as I don’t have the gene, procreation was always ruled out in my head until I knew I was gene free.

And as a lesbian woman having children was not always an option I thought about or thought possible when I was younger. Many lesbians do have children or do want to have a family. Bearing a child was never something that appealed to me even if it were possible, I have always run around looking after other people’s kids and wanting to be there for children who don’t have parents/guardians.

Finally the other medical conditions/disability issues in my life have always come first and I put the reproductive/pubertyless issues to one side in a bid for survival.

So the discourses on infertility have never actually applied to me or I have chosen not to take part in them. My ovaries never woke up when I was 11/12/13 and infact I have been in menopause for approximately 24 years. I have only really realised/verbalised this in the last few months as various consultants have considered it an important issue to address as I have osteoporosis and other medical conditions as a result.

Not experiencing puberty did have a huge impact on my teenage years. For a long time those who know that I have never had a period kept telling me how lucky I was and that I should not regret missing out on them. But puberty is an important marker in defining ones gender. It took until I was 18/19 for me to realise that I was a woman and that if my bits were somewhat different to other women, they were still female. I do have some understanding of the experiences of those with gender identity issues, but I did not spend too long confused about this when lovers and other important people in my life confirmed who I was and what I was at the end of my teenage years.

During the year long investigations which I have recently undergone to establish the cause of the premature ovarian failure/early menopause my gender identity has again come under scrutiny. I had a chromosomal analysis which indicated that I am female. Having lived my life as a woman for this length of time it did come as somewhat of a relief that I was right. I don’t wish to offend those who have gender identity issues, it just was something that I didn’t think applied to me.

So now at 35 I am going to experience puberty for the first time. I have begun a course of treatment, the side effects of which are uncertain. I have been told I might have the spots and periods, I may grow taller (!), my bones will either grow stronger or at least stop getting weaker if I mind myself, and my genitalia may become more defined. Then there are possible changes to my energy levels, a relief to the insomnia, different types of mood swings etc, libido (nope, no blogging about the libido I promise!). The treatment increases my risk of cancer, stroke, and other issues, but I am no more at risk than any one else for it and the damage not having working ovaries is more of a risk to me than the ‘cure’.

The various GP’s and consultants I was referred to on this matter when a teenager or in my twenties could have sorted all this out then. I don’t know why it was not addressed but my sexual orientation and disability probably had a lot to do with them not addressing it and me not pushing the issue. It can’t go unnoticed that it takes 2 different female consultants, a female endocronological registrar and a female GP to finally tackle this issue with me and do the investigations and support me through it.

I won’t be turning this blog into Maman Poulet 13 and three quarters, but I do think that what I have experienced is interesting from a queer perspective. If I was heterosexual, married or wanting to marry, my reproductive health would have been a priority for both me and my medical team. It is only being addressed now because it is now very damaging to my health not to do something. However the journey will be about a lot more than stronger bones and that in itself will be something to think about and maybe blog about.

Web 2.0 langer style?

I’m not a tech blogger and did not even know what Web 2.0 meant until yesterday! There was an explanation on a podcast somewhere and a light went on in my brain going ‘oh so that’s all it means!!!’

Anyway I love the sound of knives being sharpened and Irish tech bloggers and others are getting ready to rumble as someone claims to be trademarking Web 2.0 and is threatening the IT@Cork people who are organising a conference on the area and using the phrase in the title. Ah he knows not who he is threatening… and how come the Irish government did not get a similar cease and desist letter for the Enterprise Ireland conference? Or did they throw it in the bin too like I think the IT@Cork people should?

David Quinn returns

David Quinn returns to the Talbot Street fold, was it Myers joining that swung it? What went wrong at the Daily IRISH Mail?

Vincent Brown spent some time this evening on his show trying to find out why and how much the offer was as David was a guest on the panel. David was doing his ‘defend the church when they have been digging themselves in a hole this week’ thing.  Brother Gibson’s evidence this week at the Commission to inquire into Child Abuse, was this weeks hole digging that needed defending.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bashing the bashed

I saw this article when it was first published and wondered what planet Casey was living on – but then it’s the Talbot Street planet – of the Sindo variety where they think they are hip and trendy with their column by an out gay writer on all things camp and pink and happening in Ireland. Generally this weekly column tries to make out that everything is rosy in the garden and if you think things are not rosy being gay then you are the one with the problem and not the homophobes.

Dermod addresses Donal Casey’s  lack of understanding of the nature of homophobic violence here. I would like to see those groups working on the issues address the rubbish propagated in the Sindo piece and also the medias lack of awareness and interest in homophobic violence which Dermod highlights.

Donal thinks he knows everything because he is gay and he writes for a newspaper – a paper that does not have a great track record on reporting on lesbian and gay issues – I suggest he goes out and meet some real gay people rather than the cocktail set he hangs out with. As someone who has been attacked physically on two occasions due to my sexual orientation I know the difference between thuggery and getting the crap beaten out of you because you are queer.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Checking in

Still no Broadband, little access to news or other interesting sites, I have been reading books (yes it’s a bit strange!) and watching a bit of ER and West Wing  - only 4 episodes left!

I was finally able to order Broadband on Thursday so the clock has started and we’ll wait and see how long it takes to get it!  In the meantime blogging will be light and very frothy.

  • So summer began on Thursday – well for some people it did anyway. Big Brother began and no matter what I say I will end up watching it.  Why is the first person with a disability to appear on BB somebody with Tourettes Syndrome? The Ouch Blog will be monitoring both BB and media reaction to Pete and his disability.

There might be a few others with disabilities on BB7 that we don’t know about yet. My Cripdar is quite active.

  • Finland and Lordi to win Eurovision 2006 – ah they were rather good at what they do.  And maybe we could start a meme to illustrate to Mr. Kennedy why every song is not a cry for love.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Moving House and losing my reason!

I now live in a land without broadband, its not a nice land! I moved house yesterday, a trial in itself (Moving companies are the business though - how they got that lot into their truck and did not break a thing even given our crap packing I will never know. I hope the lads enjoyed the few pints from the well deserved tip!)
Trying to order new broadband - now I just mean order not even wait for the order is a nightmare. However to cancel the old line was a delirious sweat inducing nightmare of another variety altogether.
Advised by estate agent that I should close the account altogether and leave new owners to open their own account. So I cancelled the call provider account on the old landline and the broadband and then went to Eircom and tried to close the account on the landline itself. No can do says Eircom as the Broadband is by another provider and we can't close. Well I did close it says I. Well we can't see that. So back to my BB provider I go. Confirm its closed and they say this should appear on Eircom's records fairly quickly.
Back to Eircom and 1901 and that silly voice prompt rubbish. It's not understanding me as I become more exasperated 'Are you still there' says the voice on the other end of the phone. Yes says I. Eventually get to the moving house section again. Explain to live voice at other end of phone that I want to close the line, have done everything that they asked me to do and please can you now close the line. 'Oh that will take 10 working days for the instruction from your broadband provider to come to us - this is why we advise you take two weeks to cancel the service before you move.'
But why should I do without broadband and a phone line for two weeks before I move? It is bad enough that I was not able and am still not able to order the service in my new address. We transferred the phone line into our names on Tuesday. However we cannot get an account number - it can only be sent by post. No account number and no broadband. If we go for a provider other than Eircom they will stall the process even further. Well Eircom will be losing all the business from my house very speedily when they eventually deign to send me the account number by post.
This is competition? This is customer service? This is Ireland of the modern technology, digital era etc. etc.? My arse it is.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

May 9th

Loins are being girded or swaddled this morning at Cruiskeen Eile, the Colonel is coping with the commute to DNS (Da North Side). Kevin Myers column is not available for free on the Irish Indo website...do we think that this is a sign of things to come?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Loin Cloths to the ready?

Thinking about my earlier post on girding loins, I googled and found this perfectly accurate explanation.

'I conclude that loingirding is a gendered activity. Men gird their loins because they are embarking on some strenuous male activity, fighting, running, travelling or showing off. Women could gird their loins as easily as men, and it would not be unfeminine to have a belt in one's wardrobe. But social gendering excludes loingirding from among typically female activities.'

With thanks to David JA Clines

Please note this is not my attempt to initiate a men versus women debate etc. Just getting a bit Etymological for moment! Come on CE! Pity we could not have organised a live blog of the interview or a drinking game or something!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Kevin Myers - Was He Pushed?

Was he pushed or did he walk? He's on Tubridy Tonight saying that he can't talk about the circumstances which led him to leave the paper.

Maybe one too many of his columns were spiked?

I guess that the Cruiskeen Eile folk must be girding their loins or whatever they gird in preparation for May 9 and his first column in the Irish Indo.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And some wonder why we need to march with Pride?

Last Friday in Krakow marchers in a parade for tolerance were attacked by fascists and others including a right wing youth group with ties to the government of President Lech Kaczynski.

You can see footage of the march and the attacks here (it’s about 10 minutes 27 secs into the bulletin)

The march is part of a weekend of activities held by a lesbian and gay group in Krakow. I attended the festival last year and the march was called off as it was only a matter of weeks following the death of John Paul II.

Across Eastern Europe lesbian and gay rights marches or pride celebrations are banned or prevented from occurring due to a lack of police protection. This years march was allowed but so was the counter demonstration and the scenes of riot police dividing the two are chilling. Last summer there were manyreports of violence or opposition to lesbian and gay marches and festivals. This summer seems to be no different. Moscow in particular is heading for conflict over plans for a pride parade with the Mayor having banned the march and human rights officials and activists throughout Europe calling on him to change his mind. Many of the countries who are banning marches and festivals or not providing protection to lesbians and gay men are signatories to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and have assigned to uphold other human rights defences. Putting these into practice seems to be a problem.

So if you were thinking twice about going on this years Pride March whereever you are because it does not really matter any more, think a third time. And if you ever wondered why all those queers have to walk down O'Connell Street or main street of City X or Town Y, making 'a show' of themselves, well the bans and the opposition elsewhere might show you some of the reasons why.

(Photos from Gazeta.pl)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Enumerating a Hidden Ireland

I’ve been very struck in the past few days listening to the stories of census enumerators on Liveline. Archived shows can be heard here for the next 7 days.

There are frequently pieces debunking notions of consistent or relative poverty in the Irish media and the blogosphere. The massive undertaking that is the conduct of National Census has give us a more qualitative illustration of the dichotomy that exists in Irish society.  Whilst I am sure the survey results themselves will provide for interesting analysis it is the things that happen or are seen when the call to the door is made that are catching public attention.

What census enumerators are reporting are tales of the hidden Ireland. Houses without electricity, heat or running water or houses in such poor condition that they should be declared unsafe. Older people living in these poor conditions where they don’t meet or talk to anyone from one week to the next and are very often living in fear of anyone calling to their house. Postmen are also calling talking about the situations that they encounter when delivering mail.  

Enumerators also highlighted the situations observed involving immigrant workers living in poor conditions, 10 to a house and the employers who move workers on when they find that enumerators are calling. This situation is not just in rural areas but in cities also. Others living in private rented accommodation or very old houses that they can’t afford to maintain are also calling in talking about the vicious cycle of poverty that they find themselves in.

Now enumerators can do very little about this, they just take the cup of tea that’s offered, try not to look around at the poor living conditions and get their form filled in. They have talked about the hospitality from those who have nothing and the hostility from the gated communities a half mile down the road.

What of Bertie’s call to active citizenship in all this? Callers trying to provide solutions to the situation have indicated that neighbours commuting 3 or more hours a day to work are too exhausted to call in on their elderly or disabled neighbour to offer friendship or assistance. And the fact that people don’t know their neighbours anymore must contribute to the isolation also? Gardai not knowing or living in their patch, postal services being cut back and the professionalisation of charity work and increased pressures placed on health and social services all contribute to the fact that these situations are not seen or talked about publicly. The statistics produced by the CSO or the ESRI will also not reflect the poverty experienced in this manner. And the people effected are unlikely to vote – but maybe those who feel powerless to help will?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy BADD

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD).  I heard about it on the latest Ouch Podcast from the BBC. Matt and Liz seem to be causing a bit of a hoo haa over their first podacst and aim to continue to raise hackles if the second one was anything to go by. (Ah blagging stuff for free ‘cos you’re a cripple – there is a tale or two to be told there!)

I rarely blog about disability except here, here and here. However it’s as important in its impact on my life and identity as my sexuality and probably even more so as I live my disability with each step and breath and maybe being a lesbian with every second one ;-)  In fact I suppose as I don’t do a heavy amount of personal blogging that many readers might not know I have a disability.

The title Blogging Against Disablism is a bit of a mouthful and indeed in Ireland we rarely use the term ableist or disablist when referring to the structures in society that limit the participation of disabled people. Access and handicap are still words being used today. Goldfish, who started all this off, said that the language police are on holiday for today in blogging terms – she asks for a Language Amnesty and I for one am happy for oblige. I often struggle for the right words myself, in print or verbally so today I’m going to relax.  

Disablism rather than my disabilities effects where and if I work, where I live, who I love and how I love. Going out and staying in and where I go on holiday. The message set by BADD is that disability is more about the able bodied and their reactions and intentions that what my body is able to do.

One of the things I note from reading some blogs/journals by disabled people is the (welcome) change in being comfortable in talking about pain or other effects of disability. In the early days of the social model of disability the removal of pain (and I mean pain in a very broad sense here) as a discourse was very noticeable.  Many of us were going round being supercrips. Angry at the state, even angrier at the medical and social systems that provided us with services, but don’t mention the war – or the fact that you were exhausted, in pain and did not feel like getting up out of bed or were not able - because you should pull yourself together and continue to be brave, and live up to able bodied expectations.

The O2 Ability Awards however continues this discourse of supercrips with vignettes of Mary who returned to work following a brain tumour with the support of her employer and smiles her way through every day being fulfilled. But more significantly we now get Company XYZ who win an award for ‘investing in people’ when in fact they are actually obeying the law and getting a nice prize and free PR for being good to cripples.

Disability and Disablism in Ireland is still wrapped up in the language of charities (now known as service providers) these days. We’re all being enabled, mentored, supported and assisted. Disabled people are still the problem to be helped rather than the environment that excludes us. I don’t think Irish society sees Disablism as being as ‘bad’ as sexism and racism (and yes I don’t think Ireland Inc. sees them as being really ‘bad’ either.)  If you get a job or a ramp or a wheelchair you are seen as lucky rather than equal. The words reasonable accommodation in equality legislation are ones which we should be grateful for rather than angry at. Well I don’t have the solutions to ending disablism but it would help a lot if people recognised its existence in the first place!

And for the day that is in it a few bloggers with disabilities that are worth having a look at.

I am not aware of many Irish bloggers writing about disability or disablism – Jenny McCann is one that I discovered through Knackered Kaz. If there are others let me  know in the comments.

In reading other blogs participating in BADD I came across Lady Bracknell and yes she does look a little bit like me I think!  See  her excellent post for BADD.  Falling of My Pedestal has some provoking writing on pain, discomfort, and invisibility and mainstreaming.

The BBC Ouch blog is an excellent resource for news and views on disability. It’s a pity that BBC’s programming on disability issues is so minimalist these days.