Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Big Brother Train Wreck

Latest revelations coming on top of racism in a previous series surely point to the fact that in daily life we try to maintain small courtesies and civilities and this generally holds. The concept of Big Brother is to stoke up good TV. They do this by creating an environment that is not too good for humans (confinement, manipulation) for taste and decency to disintegrate at a rapid rate.

It's a clear recipe for TV brawls, insults, bullying, racism, tears before, during and after bedtime, spitting into people's face and so on and so on - the worst excesses of human behaviour portrayed for our enjoyment, a formula for cheap TV and lots of advertising and sponsorship revenues.

The whole programme is an affront to dignity - both that of the viewers and the poor deluded participants.

Leading evangelical condemns failure of leaders on homophobia

I find this from Mark Russell (Leading Anglican and CEO of Church Army) well said and so quote (reported on ekklesia).

Original story (Riazat Butt from the Guardian) and Mark Russell's website is here.

I know many bishops in England who do not agree with everything other bishops say, or do not agree with some of the things they have done, but are committed to being together, to pray together, and to seek to demonstrate Christian love to their flocks. I commend them for their leadership and Godly example. It is in marked contrast to some bishops at GAFCON who refused to condemn violence against gay people in their home countries. Quite honestly that is disgraceful, it sullies their cause, and is totally un-Christian. You cannot justify violence in God's name. Period. To the eternal credit of Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, he condemned the violence when the african bishops refused. Those who perpetrate violence against gay people in Africa now can use this silence to justify their behaviour. Christians must speak up and say this is wrong.

The irish novelist Brian Moore once said there are 2 hidden kinds of lies in the world. The lies of silence, where good people do not speak up when wrong is done, and the lies of truth, where lies are told so often they pickle into truth. We need as Christians to speak up against these lies when we see them.

Whatever your views on Christianity and sexuality, violence against gay people is wrong, and homophobia is wrong. Jesus died for all people whether straight or gay, and he loves everyone equally.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's here!! (almost)

Harriet Harman today launched the government's plans for a new equality bill.

Some of the media reaction has been a little hysterical, to say the least.

The bill seems to me to be quite balanced and sensible (and needed). Seems there are proposals to incorporate public sector prcurement and a unified public sector equality duty across all equality strands (albeit a streamlined 'duty' - I am sure this will attract some comment and indeed oppostion).

There still remains a few details to be resolved like statutory recognition for equality reps in the workplace and representative action.

On the whole I think it has the potential to be a really good, landmark bill. There will be huge opposition to it, not least from the ranks fo the Tories who are already lining up to oppose it.

It has the potential to do that very rare thing - actually send out a powerful message to society over the next generation that we value equality and diversity.

Link here to Harriet Harman in Parliament (including early opposition from Tory backbenchers as well as general cross party support from other parties).

Excerpt from an exchange with John Bercow:

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): Although her statement meets with denunciations that are as furious as they are predictable from Members of the Taliban tendency, may I tell the Minister that her statement is right by those who have long suffered discrimination, and right in the interests of the country as a whole? Will she confirm that the equality Bill will contain robust measures to tackle homophobic bullying and to deal equally robustly with the gender pay gap among part-time workers in the public sector, and that the legislation will be on the statute book by the summer of 2009?

Ms Harman: I think that I can confirm all those points to the hon. Gentleman, and I thank him for his question. He has proved that not all Conservative Members are still stuck in the stone age. Given his comments, I would say—although I would have to reflect on the matter with my colleagues—that he ought to be regarded as an honorary member of the sisterhood.

During exchanges the Govt also gave assurances that the Govt would be supporting the new proposed horizontal EU Directive .

Statement of support from Stonewall here.

Article in Pink News explaining the importance of the public duty including sexual orientation.

Links to the document outlining the plans can be found on the Government Equalities Office website.

Today is Equality Day

Long awaited details of the Govt's Equality legislation due to be announced - not sure where though (parliament, press?).

Any way I'm sure the press will pick it up whenever it happens.

Will be interesting to see what happens to equal pay, procurement, representative action and the public duties to promote equality.

This is a mega block buster Bill that (hopefully) will last - if well drafted - over a generation.

From the Times of 23rd June:

The equality laws in England and Wales are an impenetrable thicket. There are 35 Acts, 52 statutory instruments, 32 codes of practice and 16 EC directives — 116 pieces in all covering 4,000 pages. If laid end to end, the Equality and Human Rights Commission points out, that would be the length of ten football pitches or height of 243 double-decker buses.

It would take about two-and-a-half days and two nights to read all the documents. Not only is the law inaccessible, it is out of date. It is also confusing and inconsistent. There are three different definitions of direct discrimination and four of indirect discrimination.

So, as the European Commission points out, an employer might be liable for harassment in one scenario; but not liable for exactly the same behaviour in another. The burden of proof will shift to the employer in some circumstances, but not in others. And if an employer instructs or pressures a member of staff to discriminate, he or she may be liable — but may not be.

From BBC today on Harriet Harman's interview this morning.

Ireland proposes Civil Union Bill

After a long gestation (the Bill is part of the government's coalition agreement as well as in the manifesto of most parties) Ireland's govt finally issues its draft Bill.

It's quite an extensive Bill and seems to mirror the approach taken in the UK with Civil Partnerships.

There appear to be two main differences - one good, the other not so good.

The good thing is that both same and opposite sex couples are given some legal protections on an equal footing. Bad news is that (allegedly - I confess to not having read the draft Bill) in some respects it falls short of marriage.

For one thing it appears not to cover parenting rights - a serious omission.

May be this can be rememdied in the Bill's passage or if not, remedied through a future Bill.

Reaction from GLEN (largely positive) here.
More about the Irish Labour Party's support for Civil Unions here.

I get it now....

Least I think I get it.

The Heinz ad isn't actually supposed to be a same sex couple at all. It's a New York Deli man acting as Mum and therefore kissing everyone including husband and that's the joke.

We don't know what the complaints were - they were probably from both sides of the argument.

The delicious irony is the pickle (probably Branston, HP or Tesco's own brand) that Heinz have manouvred themselves into.

Being an American company they can't issue a press release saying the ad was not a good representation of a same sex family - they'd end up with a US Christian boycot (the US market is bigger), they can't become a Stonewall champion - same reason.

It's a rather delicious irony but does at heart show they lack LGBT sensitivity to put the ad in the first place and I wouldn't like to be the Ad Agency that created the ad right now!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beans meanz Biggots

I took the solgan from an article I read somewhere from Stonewall's Ben Summerskill - it's all over the net so I don't think I'll add any links.

Louise has blogged that she's none too keen on the ad any way.

From my view that's as may be but the reasoning of Heinz is that a few hundred homophobic protestors are to be listened to in preference to all of Heinz's LGBT customers, their freinds, relatives and so on.

I'm actually none too keen on such boycotts but in this instance Heinz has acted in such a way as to legitimise homophobic speech and to devalue the principles of equality that a respetable company should uphold.

If I consumed any Heinz products (their beans have an unfortunate effect on me as do their competitors') I would boycott them.

I will make sure whn in the supermarket that I execrise my choice not to purchase from Heinz in the future.

I have also (again I don't usually do this but have on this occasion) signed the petition on this matter and would encourage others to do so.