Friday, May 24, 2013
Photo Of The Week: FEMEN Mock Notre Dame Suicide
Yesterday a member of the Ukraine-based group FEMEN went topless at the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral and posed with a toy gun pointed at her mouth. The demonstration mocked the Tuesday suicide of anti-gay activist Dominque Venner at the same location. The message on the woman’s chest reads: “May fascist rest in hell.”
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Canada Changes Rules On Gay Blood Donation
The Toronto Star reports:
Canadian Blood Services is lifting its controversial lifetime ban on men who have sex with men giving blood, but serious restrictions mean few gay or bisexual men are likely to start offering up their veins.“We do not anticipate that this will bring a large number of gay men forward to the donor pool,” Dr. Dana Devine, vice-president of medical, scientific and research affairs at thefederal blood donor agency said Wednesday.That is because the long-awaited new policy recently approved by Health Canada reduces its restriction on accepting blood from men who have sex with men from indefinitely to five years, meaning potential male donors who have been sexually active within the past half-decade are still effectively banned.“What we’re asking people to do is bear with us as we work through this process,” she said.The new policy coming into effect this summer will replace the existing screening criteria, which excludes potential male donors who have had sex with another man even once since 1977 — the year HIV began spreading rapidly throughout North America.The lifetime ban is part of the legacy of the tainted blood scandal of the 1980s, when thousands of Canadians were infected with HIV through blood transfusions.Dr. Robert Cushman, director general of the biologic and genetic therapies directorate at Health Canada, said Wednesday that science and technology — particularly the ability to test rapidly and accurately for HIV in blood — has advanced to the point where an indefinite deferral is no longer necessary.“The evidence was overwhelming that there was really no significant change between a five-year … deferral and an indefinite deferral,” said Cushman of the decision by Health Canada to approve the new policy suggested by Canadian Blood Services.Ironically, the decision to go down the road to asking Health Canada to approve a change in policy grew out of an Ontario Superior Court decision in September 2010 that upheld the ban.The ruling said giving blood is not a constitutional right on par with marrying and that there is epidemiological evidence to support the notion that HIV and other sexually transmitted infections are more prevalent in homosexual and bisexual men.The judge nonetheless said there was not enough evidence to support an indefinite deferral period that grows longer with every passing year, and Canadian Blood Services began working quietly to make the change.Reaction from critics of the lifetime ban was mixed.“Any identity-based deferral is fundamentally opposed to the Canadian values of equality and non-discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, said in a statement Wednesday, arguing a five-year deferral is just as discriminatory as a lifetime ban.NDP health critic Libby Davies called the policy change a step in the right direction.“I think they should have gone that little bit further and really based their policy on behaviour rather than sexual orientation,” Davies said.Doug Elliott, a lawyer who represented the Canadian AIDS Society, which intervened in the 2010 Ontario court case that paved the way for this change, nonetheless applauded Canadian Blood Services for its courage on a sensitive issue.“I recognize the fact that given the prominence of the tainted blood scandal in the Canadian psyche and the fact that we still have many people who are living with the effects of that horrible series of events, it’s difficult to manage change in this are in Canada. It just is,” said Elliott.Elliott also said the key to getting the gay community on board with the change to a five-year deferral was a commitment to continue reviewing it as new evidence and technology emerges, something which Devine said Canadian Blood Services plans to do.Devine said the agency will be collecting data on any change to the number of blood donations that test positive for infectious diseases — all blood being tested before it goes to hospitals — as well as closely monitoring whether anyone becomes infected from a blood transfusion.Liberal health critic Hedy Fry, noting other developed countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia have reduced their deferral periods to one year, argued the evidence is already out there.“Canada does not have to reinvent the wheel,” Fry said.David Page, executive director of the Canadian Hemophilia Society, which supports the change, has long argued that HIV, which can be detected easily and relatively quickly, is now less of a concern than emerging sexually transmitted pathogens that could strike a similarly devastating path through the gay community.Page also believes it will be new technology able to deactivate viruses from fresh blood products, not data on incidence rates, that could open the door to different screening criteria.
France: Traitor Of The Republic Dominique Venner’s Suicide Note
An anti-gay marriage kook shot himself in the head inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Even Catholics went “WFT?”.
“I believe it is necessary to sacrifice myself to break with the lethargy that is overwhelming us. I am killing myself to awaken slumbering consciences.” - French anti-gay marriage activistDominique Venner, from the suicide note found near his body at the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Venner’s suicide remains headline news across France today and the ruling Socialist Party has issued a denouncement of his action. Party head Harlem Desir: “The bill has been approved and opponents of marriage for everyone need to understand that it is now the law of the republic.”
RELATED: The BBC has more on Venner: “Venner was once imprisoned for activities with the Secret Army Organization (OAS), which opposed Algerian independence in the early 1960s and tried to assassinate President Charles De Gaulle.”
United Kingdom: House Of Commons Passes Gay Marriage Bill By 366-161 Vote
The Huffington Post UK reports:
MPs were encouraged to be “proud” after the government’sgay marriagebill easily cleared the House of Commons on Tuesday evening.
However,David Camerononce again failed to convince the majority of his own backbenchers to back the legislation and had to rely on Ed Miliband’s support.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received its third reading by 366 votes to 161 - a majority of 205. Early reports suggested around 133 Tories voted against the bill with 117 voting in favour.
Culture secretary Maria Miller, who had the difficult job of piloting the bill past through the Commons and past more than half of her own backbenchers, said the party should be “proud” of bringing in gay marriage.
“We will look back on the passage of this bill as we now look back on the introduction of civil partnerships. We will be in no doubt that equal marraige is right and we will be proud that we made it happen,” she said.
Miller’s message may well have been aimed at several Tory MPs who voted against civil partnerships when they were introduced in 2005 - but have since changed their minds.
Recognising the wounding split the bill has opened up in the party, she added: “Let us make equal marriage possible because it is the right thing to do, and then, let us move on.”
Having secured its third reading the bill will now be scrutinised by the House of Lords - where opponents of the bill hope to still be able to kill it off.
David Cameron has come under intense pressure from backbench MPs and grassroots party activists to drop the bill. Former Conservative cabinet minister Norman Tebbit told the prime minister he had “really fucked things up” by changing the law on marriage as it would open up the possibility of a lesbian queen and fathers marrying sons.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow equalities minister, said MPs should be pleased they were able to deliver “joy” for gay couples who wanted to get married. “No one has any excuse to ditch or delay this legislation,” she said.
In February, 136 Tories voted against the bill’s second reading while 127 voted in favour. In total the bill passed 400 votes to 175 - a majority of 225 - but it needed Labour and Lib Dem support to overcome Tory opposition.
Highlighting the necessary role Labour played in getting the bill through, Cooper encouraged anti-gay marriage Tory MPs to “stop talking abot the anger and start talking about the joy”. And she dismissed objections that gay marriage would in any way impact on heterosexual couples.
“The idea that two brides tying the knot says anything about their neighbours next door is simply ludicrous,” she told the Commons. “It’s not a definition its a discrimination.”
Writing for The Huffington Post UK on Tuesday, Ed Miliband said Cameron was being pushed around by his “backward” MPs.
“This week we have watched the prime minister looking desperately over his shoulder at the MPs behind him over the issue of same-sex marriage,” he said.
Former Tory police minister Nick Herbert, the leading pro-gay marriage backbencher, said the bill “will do no harm but a very great deal of good by celebrating love and commitment”. He added that his Tory colleagues who opposed the move would be shown to be wrong in time, just as those who opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality had been.
Fellow Tory Charles Walker, who supported the bill, enthusiastically told MPs: “I didn’t come into politics to be defined by what I am against, I ame into politics to be defined by what I am for.
“Tonight is a good night.”