Zonta Women of Achievement 2017 – Award for Social Impact: Recognising the LGBTIQ community.

EQUAL GROUND is proud to announce that our Executive Director Rosanna Flamer-Caldera was awarded the Zonta Women of Achievement Award for Social Impact last Sunday night the 17th September 2017 at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.  Since 1985, the Zonta Club 1 of Colombo has actively sought to celebrate women who have excelled in their respective fields and have contributed towards national development.

Upon receiving the award Rosanna acknowledged that “this is not simply a win for me and the past seventeen years of my work, but it is a milestone in my career to know that the LGBTIQ community has been recognised as an important part of society, solidifying that our communities’ issues are just as paramount as any other marginalised group in this country.”

 

With the work Rosanna and EQUAL GROUND has been doing, the LGBTIQ community has reached a point of recognition that would have been controversial ten years ago. We are now beginning to see slowly but surely, that the tides are changing. Businesses and mainstream society are beginning to see that it is time to accept and support the LGBTIQ community.

Rosanna’s had this message to share on receiving the award; “I am dedicating this award to every LGBTIQ person & any kid out there who has faced some form of verbal, physical or emotional harassment – stand tall, bow down to no one and know that you create the path you take.  There are opportunities and options available, always.  Even if it feels that your world is on fire and you feel helpless and cornered.  It is up to you what you make of the situations that are presented to you. Take every stone that is thrown at you and build your castle, one stone at a time. It is what I have done and continue to do, every day!”

Zonta சாதனைக்கான பெண்கள் 2017 – சமூக தாக்கத்திற்கான விருது:   LGBTIQ சமூகத்தை அங்கீகரித்து இனங்காணல்

EQUAL GROUND அமைப்பானது எமது நிர்வாக இயக்குனரான ரோசனா பிளேமர் கல்தேர (Rosanna Flamer-Caldera)  சமூக தாக்கத்திற்கான Zonta சாதனைக்கான பெண்கள்  விருதை  17 செப்டம்பர் 2017 ஆம் திகதி ஞாயிறு இரவு சின்மோனன் கிராண்ட் ஹோட்டலில் (Cinnamon Grand Hotel) பெற்றார் என்பதை அறிவிப்பதில் பெருமையடைகின்றது. 1985 ஆம் ஆண்டிலிருந்து, கொழும்பிலுள்ள ஸொன்தா குழு 1 (Zonta Club 1) ஆனது, தமது துறைகளில் சிறந்து விளங்கிய மற்றும் தேசிய முன்னேற்றத்திற்காக பங்களிப்புச் செய்துள்ள பெண்களை சிறப்பித்து கொண்டாடுகின்றது.

விருதை பெறுவதுடன் ரோஸானா அவர்கள் இது வெறுமனே எனக்குரிய வெற்றி அல்ல, கடந்த பதினேழு ஆண்டுகள் நான் செய்த வேலைக்குரிய வெற்றி அல்ல, ஆனால் LGBTIQ சமூகம் சமுதாயத்தில் ஒரு முக்கியமான அங்கமாக அங்கீகரிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது என்பதை நான் அறிவது எனது தொழில் வாழ்க்கையில் ஒரு மைல்கல் ஆகும், இந்த நாட்டில் ஓரங்கட்டப்பட்ட ஏனைய குழுக்களைப் போலவே  நமது சமூகத்தின் பிரச்சினைகளும் மிக முக்கியம் என்பதை இது  உறுதிப்படுத்துகின்றனஎன தனது கருத்தை வெளியிட்டார்.”

ரோசன்னா மற்றும் ஈக்வாள் கிரவுண்ட் (EQUAL GROUND) செயற்பாட்டின் காரணமாக, LGBTIQ சமூகம் பத்து ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்னர் சர்ச்சைக்குரியதாக கருதப்படக்கூடிய அங்கீகாரத்தை இன்று சுமூகமாகப் பெற்றுள்ளது. நாங்கள் இப்போது சிறிய ஆனால் நிச்சயமான மாற்றத்தை காண்கின்றோம். வணிகங்கள் மற்றும் பிரதான சமுதாயமானது LGBTIQ சமுதாயத்தை ஏற்றுக்கொள்ளவும் ஆதரவளிக்கவும் வேண்டும் என்பதை உணர்ந்துள்ளன.

விருதை பெறுவதுடன் ரோஸானா அவர்கள் இத்தனையும் குறிப்பிட்டார்;

நான் ஒவ்வொரு LGBTIQ நபருக்கும் இந்த விருதை  சமர்ப்பிக்கின்றேன். மேலும் எவ்வகையான வாய்மொழி, உடல் அல்லது உணர்ச்சி துன்புறுத்தலை எதிர்கொண்டுள்ளவர்களுக்கு கூறுகிறேன்; நிமிர்ந்து நில்லுங்கள், யாருக்கும் அடிப்பட்டு நடக்காதீர்கள், நீங்கள் செல்லும்  பாதையை நீங்கள் உருவாக்கிக் கொள்ளுங்கள். வாய்ப்புகள் மற்றும் சந்தர்ப்பங்கள் எப்போதும் உள்ளன. உங்கள் உலகம் பற்றிக்கொண்டிருப்பதனால், நீங்கள் உதவியற்றவர்களாக உணர்ந்தவர்களானாலும் அச்சூழ்நிலையை   மட்டுமே உள்ளது. உங்கள் மீது அறியப்படுகின்ற ஒவ்வொரு கல்லையும் எடுத்துக் கொண்டு, உங்கள் அரண்மனையை கட்டிக்கொள்ளுங்கள். அதனையே நான் ஒவ்வொரு நாளும் செய்தேன், தொடர்ந்து செய்துகொண்டிருக்கிறேன்! “

 

Zonta Women of Achievement 2017 – ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ විවිධ ලිංගික අනන්‍යතා සහිත හා ස්ත්‍රී පුරුෂ සමාජභාවීය අනන්‍යතාවලින් යුතු ප්‍රජාව  වෙනුවෙන් සිදුකළ දායකත්වය ඇගයීමේ සම්මානය.

ඊක්වල් ග්‍රවුන්ඩ් ආයතනය සාඩම්බරයෙන් යුතුව දැනුම්දෙන්නේ අපගේ විධායක අධ්‍යක්ෂිකා රොසෑනා ෆ්ලේමර් කල්දේරා මෙනෙවිය ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ විවිධ ලිංගික අනන්‍යතා හා ස්ත්‍රී පුරුෂ සමාජභාවීය අනන්‍යතා සහාත ප්‍රජාව වෙනුවෙන් සිදුකරන කාර්යයන් වෙනුවෙන් සම්මානයෙන් පිදුම් ලැබූ බවයි. 2017 සැප්තැම්බර් මස 17 වැනි ඉරිදා දිනයේදී සිනමන් ග්‍රෑන්ඩ් හෝටලයේ පැවති කාන්තාවන්ගේ අභිවෘද්ධිය වෙනුවෙන් වන සොන්ටා (Zonta) සම්මාන උළෙලේදී මෙම සම්මානය ප්‍රදානය කෙරුණි.  සොන්ටා එකමුතුව 1985 වර්ෂයේ සිට ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ කාන්තාවන්ගේ අභිවෘද්ධිය වෙනුවෙන් සහ සමාජ සංවර්ධනය වෙනුවෙන් ඔවුන්ගේ දායකත්වය හා වටිනාකම ඇගයීමට ලක්කරන සංවිධානයකි.

 තමන් ලබාගත් සම්මානය පිළිබඳව අදහස් දක්වමින් රොසෑනා ප්‍රකාශ කරන්නේ “මෙය මාගේ හෝ මා විසින් පසුගිය වසර 17ක් තිස්සේ විවිධ ලිංගික අනන්‍යතා සහිත ප්‍රජාව වෙනුවෙන් සිදුකළ කාර්යයන්ගේ ජයග්‍රහණයක් පමණක් නොව අප ප්‍රජාව සමාජය තුළ වැදගත් කොට්ඨාශයක් බව සමාජය විසින් හුනාගෙන ඇති බව මෙන්ම ආන්තීකරණයට ලක්වූ අනෙකුත් ප්‍රජාව මෙන්ම විවිධ ලිංගික අනන්‍යතා හා ස්ත්‍රී පුරුෂ සමාජභාවීය අනන්‍යතා සහිත ප්‍රජාවද සමාජය තුළ සුවිශේෂී වන බව හුනාගෙන ඇති බවට ලබාදුන් තක්සේරුවකි.

 අප විශ්වාස කරන්නේ රොසෑනා සහ ඊක්වල් ග්‍රවුන්ඩ් ආයතනය විසින් සිදුකරන කාර්යභාරය වර්තමානය වන විට සෙමින් සෙමින් වුවද සමාජගත වෙමින් පවතින බවයි. පසුගිය වසර දහයක පමණ කාලසීමාව සලකා බලත්දී පැවැති අභියෝග හා  ප්‍රජාවේ අයගෙන් මෙන්ම සමාජයෙන්ද අපට එල්ලවූ අභියෝගවලට පිළිතුරක් මෙම සම්මානය මගින් සපයන බවයි.  ව්‍යාපාර ක්ෂේත්‍රය, විවිධ රජයේ ආයතන හා සමාජ ආයතන දැන් දැන්  සමරිසි, ද්විරිසි, සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා තම අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නභාවී ප්‍රජාව පිළිගැනීම හා ඔවුන්ට සහයෝගය දැක්වීම වෙනුවෙන් අවශ්‍ය වෙනස්කම් සිදුකරමින් පැවතීම අප විසින් සිදුකළ කාර්යයන්වල සතුටුදායක ප්‍රතිඵල වේ.

 තම සම්මානය ලබාගැනීමෙන් පසුව සමාජයට පණිවුඩයක් ලබාදෙමින් රොසෑනා පවසන්නේ ඇය විසින් ලබාගත් මෙම සම්මානය කායිකව, වාචිකව, මානසික හා විවිධ ආකාරයෙන් හිංසාවට ලක්වූ වෙනස්කම්වලට ලක්වූ, සමාජය තුළ නොසලකා හැරීමට ලක්වූ  මෙන්ම තම අනන්‍යතාවය වෙනුවෙන් අභීතව පෙළගැසුනු සියලුම සමරිසි, ද්විරිසි, සංක්‍රාන්ති සමාජභාවීය, අන්තර් ලිංගික හා තම අනන්‍යතාවය ප්‍රශ්නභාවී ප්‍රජාව පුද දෙන බවයි.. ඔබගේ මුළු ලෝකයම ගිණිගෙන ඇතැයි ඔබ විශ්වාස කරන විටදීත්, ඔබ තනිවී ඇතැයි ඔබට දැනෙන විටදීත් අවස්ථාවන් හා විකල්ප සෑම අවස්ථාවකදීම ලැබිය හැකිය බව විශ්වාස කරන්න. ඔබට මුහුණදීමට සිදුවන සෑම සිදුවීමකදීම ඔබ ක්‍රියාකරන ආකාරය වෙන කාගේවත් නොවේ. එය ඔබේමය.  ඔබට එල්ලකරන සියලුම ගල් පහරවල් එකතුකරන්න. එක් එක් ගල එකතුකර ඒවායෙන් ඔබගේම මාලිගාවක් සාදාගන්න. ඊයේ දිනයේදී, අද දිනයේදී හා විවිධ ලිංගික අනන්‍යතා සහිතවූවන්ගේ අයිතිවාසිකම් දිනාගන්නා තෙක් අවසන් නොවන මාගේ සටනේ හෙට දිනයේදීත් මා කරන්නේ එයයි.

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JOHN KEELLS HOLDINGS PLC – THE FIRST SRI LANKAN LGBTIQ INCLUSIVE COMPANY

PRESS RELEASE

Colombo, Sri Lanka 21st January 2016

JOHN KEELLS HOLDINGS PLC – THE FIRST SRI LANKAN LGBTIQ INCLUSIVE COMPANY

EQUAL GROUND’s strategic plan since its inception in 2004 has been to educate and sensitise the general public and our own LGBTIQ community on the normalcy of sexual orientation and gender identity, using a Human Rights platform to press for changes not just with the people of Sri Lanka but also with the Government, the Judiciary, the Media and the Corporate Sector, to name a few.  Over the course of several months in 2015 & 2016, EQUAL GROUND sensitized members of staff of John Keells Holdings PLC, as well as the staff of Renuka City Hotel.  The ongoing program for Corporate Sensitising has reaped dividends.

EQUAL GROUND is proud to announce that John Keells Holdings PLC becomes the first Sri Lankan Company to accept and commit to non-discrimination in the work place for persons of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

EQUAL GROUND is committed to creating avenues in which Companies such as John Keells Holdings can successfully sensitise and educate their staff on the importance of accepting Diversity in the workplace.  As such, since October 2015, EQUAL GROUND commenced awareness sessions to sensitise staff of John Keells Holdings PLC on sexual orientation and gender identity.       The successful execution of these sensitising trainings on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning persons (LGBTIQ) lives and issues has led to change in this corporate organisation – a leader in the business sector dedicated to providing a safe and inclusive workplace for its employees.

“Keells has always been about equality and diversity in the workplace and we have always encouraged women, ethnic minorities and others to be a part of our Company.  Including Sexual Orientation and gender Identity is just a natural progression for us.  It’s the right thing to do,” said Ajit Gunerwardene, Deputy Chairman of John Keells Holdings when asked why he was so open to this Corporate Sensitizing project pioneered by EQUAL GROUND.

John Keells Holdings PLC has a long history of advancing social change: it has taken initiatives in empowering women towards the eradication of violence against women, prevention of child abuse and child labour, the prevention of HIV / AIDS through creating awareness, and embracing a diverse workforce without discriminating on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender including different sexual orientations and gender identities.

The trainings conducted by EQUAL GROUND explains the legal and social challenges people with different Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities face in Sri Lanka in the workplace. An estimated 10% of people worldwide are estimated to be LGBTIQ, which amounts to approximately 2.2m persons in Sri Lanka.

“We are certainly pleased and excited by John Keells Holdings PLC committment, in not only sensitising their workforce on LGBTIQ issues but also making it a Human Resources policy to encourage LGBTIQ persons to work at John Keells Holdings without fear or discrimination,” said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Executive Director of EQUAL GROUND speaking on this groundbreaking decision by John Keells Holdings.  She further said: “We are committed to encouraging more and more businesses to do the same as John Keells Holdings PLC.  Embracing diversity and encouraging all persons to be their best and give of their best in the workplace only enhances Sri Lanka’s economic growth and will not have the shortcomings that many persons are so fond of pointing out, all be it erroneously.”

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE

In 2009, Witeck, the US communications company and Harris Interactive, the market researcher, found the estimated spending power of the LGBT community to be £81bn in the UK and $712bn in the US.  By 2013 this figure in the US was over $800 Billion.

It also suggested that 78% of the LGBT community, their friends and relatives would switch brands to companies known to be LGBT-friendly.

The UN urges companies to come forward with safe, fair and accepting policies including LGBTIQ people. Reluctance to do so currently costs India US$32bn p.a. and Sri Lanka an estimate of US$128m p.a. To put this into perspective, Homophobia costs our country the 2014 equivalent of our aviation industry. Tackling homo- and transphobia is not only a social cause, but also makes Rupees and sense (Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited, (2015). Annual Report 2014. Katunayaka. Ministry of Finance and Planning, (2010). Annual Report Mihin Lanka 2008 Sri Jayawardenapura,  Sri Lankan Airlines, (2015) Annual Report 2013-2014 Colombo).

 

American Bar Association to States: Eliminate all legal barriers to civil marriage

Today, the American Bar Association’s (ABA) House of Delegates passed a Recommendation urging all state, territorial and tribal governments to “eliminate all of their legal barriers to civil marriage between two persons of the same sex who are otherwise eligible to marry.”

The Recommendation was sponsored by the National LGBT Bar Association, several entities within the ABA, including the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and the Commission on Women in the Profession, as well as various state and local bar associations.

The National LGBT Bar Association would like to thank John T. Hendricks (the LGBT Bar’s delegate to the ABA’s House of Delegate), Jaime Todd-Gher (our delegate to the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession), Skip Harsch (our representative to the ABA’s Council of the Young Lawyers Division), Jason S. Gibson and Lousene Hoppe (our delegates to the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division), Mario Sullivan (a past delegate to the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division), and all those in the ABA who helped make this possible.  On behalf of all our members, thank you for your hard work on this issue.

courtesy ABA

“Free the Buggers”- Britain & the Wolfenden Report

September 06, 2007

“FREE THE BUGGERS”–Britain & the Wolfenden Report

The following article was written for Gay City News — New York City’s largest lesbian and gay weekly — in whose new edition it appeared today:

Britons this week are observing the 50th anniversary of the earth-shaking Wolfenden Report, the recommendation by a government committee that set the UK on the road to decriminalization of homosexuality.

All the major respectable dailies have published a series of retrospective pieces, and the BBC is marking the 1957 Wolfenden Report’s birthday by programming an entire week-long cycle of broadcasts under the rubric “Hidden Lives,” portraying what it was like to be gay in Britain in the 1950s. (UPDATE: My friend Andy, the editor of U.K. Gay News, wrote me today that “there have been hundreds of complaints received by the BBC over this gay programming.  Most have come from USA and Canada ‘Christian taliban’ websites which have been urging their  ‘failthul’ to complain about the programmes, helpfully providing the link to the BBC’s compalints website.”)

Among the BBC’s offerings this week are a new, full-length docudrama portraying the 14 members  of the Wolfenden Committee struggling with their consciences toward what the producer of the film calls its “radical conclusions,” and the moving film “Breaking the Code,” starring Derek Jacobi as Alan Turing, the mathematical genius who played a major role in World War II by breaking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code, but was later persecuted for being homosexual, arrested, and forced to undergo male hormone treatments. Turing eventually committed suicide by eating an apple laced with cyanide.

What did the Wolfenden Report say that was considered so radical at the time?

It recommended that “homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence.” It found that “homosexuality cannot legitimately be regarded as a disease, because in many cases it is the only symptom and is compatible with full mental health in other respects, adding: “The law’s function is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation and corruption of others. Not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour.”

In the autumn of 1953, British gays were the victims of what they called “The Great Purge”  – a massive police crackdown on homosexuals in which nearly 5,000 same-sexers were arrested in

the ensuing months – on charges either of “gross indecency” (the same law under which Oscar Wilde was imprisoned), solicitation, or sodomy. This represented an increase of 850 per cent over the arrest rate for homosexuality in 1938, just before World War II.

The Great Purge, which took place at the height of the Cold War, was provoked by the defection of the diplomats Guy Burgess (left), a notorious homosexual, and Donald Maclean to Moscow, and in the climate of the day homosexuality was virtually equated with treason in the minds of the police. (The outrageous Burgess, when posted to the US a couple of years earlier, had been warned by his Foreign Office boss, “Guy, you must remember that in America there are three taboos – Communism, blacks, and homosexuality.” To which the insouciant Burgess replied, “Oh, you mean I shouldn’t make a pass at Paul Robeson!” A famous African-American singer and actor,  Robeson, of course, had already been blacklisted for his closeness to the Communist Party.)

In the Great Purge, one could be arrested for sitting on a park bench in a known cruising area, or because one’s name had been found in the address book of some other gay arrested. There were a number of such “address book” trials, on charges of “conspiracy” to commit “gross indecency,” roping together people who had never met each other.

The Fleet Street press had a field day with all these arrests, and even if gays managed to get off with only a fine, their names, addresses, and employers were printed in the newspapers, and their lives ruined.

There was a backlash against the Great Purge when the establishment became disconcerted as many of its members, including the aristocracy, became victims.

Shortly after receiving a knighthood in Queen Elizabeth’s coronation honors list, Sir John Gielgud, considered Britain’s greatest Shakespearean actor , was arrested on a charge of “importuning” another man. On the charge sheet he described himself as “Arthur Gielgud, 49, a clerk, of Cowley Street Westminster,” pleaded guilty, and apologized. He was fined £10. He had followed the usual gay practice at the time of giving a false job description in the hope that the press would not pick up on the incident.

Had Gielgud been bolder, he might also have given a completely false name, following the example of another famous actor, Alec Guinness , who arrested on a similar charge escaped the sort of humiliating press coverage Gielgud received by giving his name as “Herbert Pocket,” the Dickensian character Guinness had played in David Lean’s film version of “Great Expectations.”

Rupert Croft-Cooke, 50, a novelist, playwright, biographer, travel writer, and book critic of The Sketch, was arrested in his home with his Indian secretary and two Royal Navy cooks he’d picked up, prosecuted for “gross indecency,” and sent to prison for nine months.

Edward John Barrington Douglas-Scott-Montagu, known as Lord Montagu, 27, third Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, an old Etonian and ex-Grenadier Guards officer best known for his vintage car museum at his historic Hampshire home, Palace House at Beaulieu, was arrested for “gross indecency” with two teenage Boy Scouts.

In a sensational week-long court case, Montagu was tried together with his cousin, Michael Pitt-Rivers, and Peter Wildeblood, the 31-year-old diplomatic correspondent of the Daily Mail. All three defendants were convicted. Pitt-Rivers and Wildeblood were sentenced to 18 months in prison, and Lord Montagu was given a year.

As the Great Purge continued, the Conservative Party government appointed a   Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution. Named to head it was Sir John Wolfenden , a private school headmaster and veteran of government committees on education and youth.

Other members of the Committee included a consultant psychiatrist, the chairman of Uxbridge magistrates court, the vice president of the City of Glasgow Girl Guides, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, a professor of moral theology, a High Court judge, a Foreign Office minister, and the Conservative MP for Putney.

The government did not know, at the time of Wolfenden’s appointment, that his own son, Jeremy – later a journalist and British intelligence officer in Moscow – was gay. After being named to head the committee, Wolfenden wrote to his flamboyant son insisting “1) that we stay out of each other’s way for the time being; 2) that you wear rather less make-up.”

The Wolfenden Committee deliberated for three years, meeting in private on 62 days,

on  32 of which they interviewed witnesses. Concerned about the sensibilities of the secretarial staff dealing with the material, in internal memoranda they referred to homosexuals as “huntleys” and prostitutes as “palmers.” Huntley and Palmers were well-known biscuit-makers.

When the Wolfenden Report recommending decriminalization of homosexuality for consenting adults over the age of 21 was finally released in 1957, the press was, for the most part, outraged. Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail called it “legalized degradation,” and thundered, “Great nations have fallen and empires decayed because corruption became socially acceptable.” And Lord Beaverbrook’s Evening Standard snarled, “Freeing adult males from any penalties could only succeed in intensifying and multiplying this form of depravity.”

It would take another 10 years, an heroic effort by the gay campaigners of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, and a Labour Party government under Prime Minister Harold Wilson, before adult same-sex relations were partially decriminalized.

When I asked ex-pat British journalist Christopher Hitchens , who was writing about politics for the left-wing weekly New Statesman at that time, about the 1967 decriminalization vote, he told me that “the man who doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves for it was Wilson’s Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, a very right-wing social democrat. Jenkins, who was heterosexual, didn’t care about nationalization or economic matters, but he was deeply committed to three things – end the death penalty, free the buggers, and liberalize the laws on divorce and abortion.”

Hitchens added, “There was tremendous opposition from the Labour members of Parliament representing the miners. In fact, Matthew Coady, the New Statesman‘s parliamentary correspondent, wrote a famous article for the weekly in which he denounced the miners’ MPs and detailed the widespread homosexual conduct in the coal mines. And, in fact, any miners’ MP who claimed he didn’t know that many of the lads down in the pits were having it off with each other was telling the most gigantic fib.”

In the end, the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 went only so far.

As the British daily The Guardian pointed out this week, under it “the maximum penalty for any man over 21 committing acts of ‘gross indecency’ (which included masturbation and oral sex) with a 16- to 21-year-old was increased from two years to five years. Same-sex relations were also legal only in private, which was interpreted, as gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell says, as being ‘behind locked doors and windows and with no other person present on the premises.'”

Crucially, as The Guardian went on to point out, “While sex may have been legal, most of the things that might lead to it were still classified as ‘procuring’ and ‘soliciting.’ ‘It remained unlawful for two consenting adult men to chat up each other in any non-private location,’ Tatchell says. ‘It was illegal for two men even to exchange phone numbers in a public place or to attempt to contact each other with a view to having sex.’ Thus the 1967 law established the risible anomaly that to arrange to do something legal was itself illegal.”

The situation remained tenuous for more than two decades. Tatchell’s research shows that in England and Wales in 1989, consensual homosexual relations between men over the age of 16 resulted in 3,500 prosecutions, 2,700 convictions, and 380 cautions. Between 40 and 50 men served time in prison.

“Most alarmingly,” Tatchell  wrote, “1,503 men were convicted of the gay  consensual offence of ‘gross indecency’ in 1989, compared with 887 in 1955. In other words, there were over one and a half times more guilty verdicts in 1989 than in the mid-1950s when male homosexuality was still totally illegal and Britain was gripped by a McCarthyite-style anti-gay witch-hunt.”

Another decade and a half would pass before the reforms of Tony Blair’s government would allow British gays to feel reasonably free from persecution.

For a full portrait of British gay life in the ’50s and the Great Purge, see the autobiography of Purge victim Peter Wildeblood, “Against the Law,” republished this year in London by Weidenfeld.

 

Sinhala Newspaper Divaina calls for action against homosexuality in Sri Lanka

DIVAINA – Sunday 02nd , September

Writer: Mithra Sri Karunanayake.

The article written in the Sinhala newspaper Divaina features a one page spread on homosexuality and effeminate men and the problems they face as they get older. The writer goes on to speak about the number of them that are into commercial sex work to make a living. The article goes on to make some damning accusations against the Gay organisations operating in Sri Lanka and of the gay community in general.

 

The writer says that instead of being against homosexuality in Sri Lanka, there are several organisations and societies in Sri Lanka who are working to promote it. He goes on to say:

 

§ These organizations are strongly working in towns and are organizing parties in five star hotels and clubs to expand homosexuality in our country.

§ Foreign funds are flowing to these organizations to expand and improve homosexuality in Sri Lanka.

§ Behind the guise of World AIDS day some people have worked to improve homosexuality. They have given condoms to people and they are working to protect Homosexual rights. The organisations are Companions on a Journey, International lesbian and gays institute (ILGI) and international gays and lesbians Union. (IGLU) (where the writer got a hold of these phantom organisations one never knows!)

§ These NGO’s are working only to expand homosexuality around the world.

§ As a Buddhist country, we have to think whether these things are suitable for our country.

§ We can’t expect a solution from Christians who are protesting to get permission to getting married in the churches.

§ The Bible says having sex with a man like a women is a very bad sin; unfortunately, they are still unable to understand this.

§ We have to take action immediately like in Hebrew history where two cities Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because this is where homosexuals live.

Our Health Minister puts both feet in his mouth – way to go!

In just one stroke, and in less than half-a-minute, Sri Lanka’s minister for health care and nutrition, Nimal Siripala de Silva, wiped clean all that the AIDS champions had been advocating for at the 8th ICAAP here this week — with what critics called his irresponsible and most awkward statements.

“I don’t want people to think I brought all of these people here (for the congress) to promote lesbianism and homosexuality. There are many nice women and handsome men in Sri Lanka,” he pointed out. “People in South-east Asia practice good sexual behaviour with single partners.” And then, much to the horror of all those present, he went on in the same insulting manner: “When the western world was living in jungles, we were leading a civilised life.”

But these remarks were not made out of the blue – they were his attempt at a rebuttal of the rapporteur general Jeff O’ Malley’s remarks about the absence of condoms at a conference meant to highlight ways to curb HIV and AIDS. “Where were the condoms? Don’t congress participants have sex?” Malley’s comment was completely misconstrued by the health minister, many here said.
Perhaps he had no clue that there was a higher percentage of men who have sex with men, drug users and sex workers than ever before among the 2,426 participants at the ICAAP, which ran from Aug. 19 to 23.

read full story at http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/colombo2007/currentNew.aspx?new=962

What exactly is MSM?

Men who have sex with men (MSM) is a term used to classify male persons who engage in sex with other males, regardless of whether they self-identify as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual. the term has been in use within the public health discourse since 1990 or earlier (Young, R M & Meyer, I H (2005) The Trouble with “MSM” and “WSW”: Erasure of the Sexual-Minority Person in Public Health Discourse American Journal of Public Health July 2005 Vol. 95 No. 7.)The term is intended to reference a particular category of people as a risk-group for HIV, and is considered a behavioural category. As this label can only be reliably applied where the sex of individuals is unambiguous, this term should be avoided for transsexuals, transgendered individuals and intersexuals, except in cases where it is clear that they engage in risk behaviors similar, or equivalent to the risk behaviors of unambiguous men having sex with unambiguous men. Since risk factors can and do vary between cultures, the application of this group should also be avoided in cases where this specific risk behavior is no longer a significant category for the contraction of HIV or other STDs.

MSM groups include:

  • Sexually active gay males
  • Bisexual males who are sexual active with other males.
  • Men on the down-low
  • Glory holers
  • Sex workers (commercial or not)
  • Female-to-male transsexuals, who engage in sex with men
  • Males who engage in sex with transgendered individuals, or transsexuals with behaviors similar or equivalent to other MSM
  • Transgendered individuals, or transsexuals who engage in sex with men with behaviors similar or equivalent to other MSM

MSM as a construct

As a risk category, MSM are not limited to small self-identified and visible sub-populations, such as gay men and male sex workers. ‘MSM’ and ‘homosexual’ refer to different social identities. ‘MSM’ refers to the sexual relationships between men, whether or not they identify with same-sex sexual desire. ‘Homosexuality’, however, refers to more than the sexual relationship and may extend to broader relationships with the same sex, i.e. lifestyle, sexuality, etc.

In their assessment of the knowledge about the sexual networks and behaviours of men who have sex with men in Asia, Dowsett, Grierson and McNally observed that using MSM as a category does not always work. From the material they have reviewed there is not any clearly identifiable group of men who can be labelled MSM in any of the countries that they investigated.

“The literature reveals that there are no socially or self-defined groups of men that fit into an overarching category of MSM. What the review shows is that there are just men!! Fishermen, students, factory workers, military recruits, truck drivers, and men who sell sex, and so on: all these categories of men are to be found in the studies and programmes reviewed.”

There was no similar traits in all of the MSM population studied other than them being males, and engaging in sex with other men.

Non-exhaustive list of people who are not MSM

  • Any woman, including post-operative male-to-female transsexuals, regardless of any other factors
  • Men, including female-to-male transsexuals, who engage in sex exclusively with women, regardless of any other factors
  • Any intersexual person, who does not engage in risk behaviors similar or equivalent to sex between MSM, regardless of self-identity, genital appearance, or social assignment.
  • Any transgendered or transsexual individual, who does not engage in risk behaviors similar or equivalent to sex between MSM, regardless of self-identity, genital appearance, or social assignment.
  • A man who is raped by another man
  • A man who participates in a sexual act with another person; unknowing that their partner may otherwise satisfy some particular individual criteria typically asserted to be exclusive to males (for example: genetically, a woman with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome; genitalia: a pre-op transsexual; gonads/hormones: transgendered individual)

MSM and HIV/AIDS

In many developed countries AIDS is more prevalent among MSM than among the general population. In the United States, MSM accounted for 49 percent of new HIV diagnoses reported in 2005. In some Western cities, more than one in ten gay men are infected with HIV. One reason for higher prevalence is that engaging in receptive anal intercourse carries a higher risk than other forms of penetrative sex. Critics charge that political correctness has led to the association of MSM and HIV being downplayed.

Thanks to Wikipedia