A letter to religious people on the eternal struggle of good vs evil.

The battle is eternal, you are right about that, but its not the battle you think, you are not the protagonist in the most important cause in human history, you are just a lowly soldier marching to the beat of fear, of ignorance and hate.

Sometimes the darkness wins some battles, when everything good we’ve achieved is brought to ash, stories of that are woven through our mythology, the Flood, Babel, Atlantis, the Fall, Ragnarok, even Sodom and Gomorrah. Your storytellers have always tried to make it out that they are stories of punishment, of victory of good vs evil, but they can’t hide what they really mean.

The stories are not about destruction and punishment, they are about change, death and rebirth, which is a very human concept.

When the first city fell, if your ideas had their way, we would have never thought about learning or progress again, but within a hundred years of each other Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley civilisations blossomed into life. Even when you destroyed Rome, less than 2000 years later, using a shoestring calculator and hydrogen/oxygen deathtrap this little fallen species visited another world.

There will always be the ignorant, the fearful, and sometimes they might find ways to bring us down. But for the next 1000 generations, anyone who can build a telescope and look up into the sky, will see a flag flying there, left by a people who took the forbidden fruit and went to the stars with it.

Who let the religious zealots back into Parliament?

Yes that was meant to be a provocative statement, because I’m actually surprised that religion is being given any credence in 21st century Britain. This is the post-religious age, and while personal faith is wonderful and supportive to so many, it has no place in the House of Commons. Yes I know that there are members of various faith communities within the House of Lords and that will probably continue but thankfully they are mostly harmless.

heaven or hell, its your choice

Keep this out of government

I remember a few years back when Tony Blair after he left parliament formally converted to Roman Catholicism, and half the country looked up and thought that as well as all his other crimes, he’d pulled a fast one and been a religious nut, as well as a megalomaniacal war criminal. We look at parliament and see all the corruption, backstabbing and good governance and don’t react, but a religious zealot making a speech and its scary and wrong.

I know that there are many LGBTQIAPPQA people of various faiths out there, who I’m sure are preparing to leap to defend faith and religion, honestly there’s no need, I’m not talking about purging religion, I just want it kept out of where it does not belong. We currently have MPs defending the right of fundamentalist christians to hate calling for inquiries into whether treating a clear and unreasonable prejudice is okay, provided its cloaked in a religion.

Its not about freedom, its about discrimination just as bad as those in the BNP, just as self-righteous and just as disgusting. I’m categorically not condemnation of all Christianity, because where Christianity is in Britain its so progressive and compassionate, unlike this pre-reformation styled position found in the fanatical fringe.

David Cameron and no-one important

Walk the walk David, Not Just Talk the Talk

You can look back to Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of the Wolfenden Report, supported the report, saying

“There is a sacred realm of privacy… into which the law, generally speaking, must not intrude. This is a principle of the utmost importance for the preservation of human freedom, self-respect, and responsibility.”

These haters are hypocritically applying levitical law, picking only the laws that they want to hear, ignoring the shellfish, slavery, stoning, and sumptuary laws among others. You don’t get to object to being gay without objecting to slavery being the will of God.

The fact that the EHRC is even considering such a move, let alone Parliament entertaining an inquiry is a sign that the tories still have a problem with homophobia that they claim to have purged. Its time for David Cameron to step up and quash this support for hate.

God can’t bully me any more

I’ve been talking to a lot of right wing christians recently as part of trying to respectfully communicate the idea that we are wonderful normal people who just want our basic human rights.

However for the most part it does not go down well, and I get told that I’m going to hell.

Here’s my latest videoblog response.

There is a symbol that gives us hope.

It started out scribbled some time in the 1930s with almost an afterthought just a tacky label for a supposedly two dimensional character in a children’s comic book. An “S” for Superman, essentially a god fallen to earth, distant from us and unreachable. Over time that character got fleshed out, to this idea seen across every modern incarnation, one of hope and inspiration from Ka-el, last son of Krypton, and Earth’s finest champion, who leads not by strength, but by the idea of justice, truth and the real american way.
the superman s
I know I’m a bit of a comic book and superhero geek, and I’ll freely admit that without needing to resort to torture. There is something so powerful about that symbol that inspires hope even when he’s a fictional character. I know that each and every one of you gets a tiny tingle of something warm when you see it. There’s all that mythos and idealism wrapped up in it.

I remember an Elseworlds story set in which the puritans never fell from power and reached across the world with their tyranny. A very different Bruce Wayne sets out to be Batman, to fight for justice, and he finds the corpse of Superman, who of course had never had the chance to fly in this world, but even his kryptonite poisoned remains still was a symbol of hope.

When I was looking for a rainbow flag picture to form the basis of our new site banner, I came across a beautiful shot of a rainbow flag. It wasn’t just any rainbow flag, it is the giant flag that flies proudly above the Castro, day in and day out. It seemed a good omen, and a good sign to put at the top of my blog.

There was a time when we didn’t have our symbol of pride, in fact our only real symbol was the pink armbands the nazis put on our wrists in the death camps. But in San Francisco that changed, we knew we were not something dark and evil, but something wonderful and glittering. The rainbow showed our diversity, our richness and our origin in the light. It is our symbol that helps inspire us and keep us strong. Maybe we don’t have superheros, and maybe our heros are just as flawed as us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to make things better.

I wish there was a real superman, just as honorable and incorruptible as the comic book one. He never betrayed the idealism the way that Captain America or Iron Man did. He never looked down on those he flew above. I suppose its delusional to talk about him as if he’s a real person, but then again its not that different than religion. If I have to believe in something that’s impossible I’d rather believe in the child who fell from the stars and was a real savior, rather than someone who just claimed to be the only savior.

However we make our own gods, our own beliefs, and our own inspirations. that flag is our hope, our god, and our guiding light.

In Rainbows

Marriage Equality in the UK – A Rising Issue

I’ve seen it reported in US media from time to time, that same sex marriage exists in the UK. It doesn’t. What exists in the UK is a segregated system of sexuality based apartheid. If you’re straight, you can get married, and if you’re LGBT, you can have a ‘civil partnership’. However, the issue of marriage equality is now emerging into UK public consciousness.

A civil partnership is largely like a marriage in terms of its legal effects, but it is not a marriage. In fact, it was deliberately stripped of any and all emotional or spiritual connotations entirely. A marriage in the UK is binding from the point that vows are spoken, and yet, a civil partnership is created instead from the signatures on a legal contract. A straight couple who hold a religious or spiritual faith may choose to incorporate elements of their beliefs into the ceremony. They have the option of making their marriage special in their way, and to honour their love and commitment in the manner most meaningful to them. LGBT people do not have this option. For married people, adulterous behaviour is grounds for divorce if they so choose -the same is not true of civil partners. Even if these differences did not exist, the law makes clear that a civil partnership is not a marriage. Marriage equality is what was sought, and the UK gave LGBT people something less. They deliberately segregated gay and straight people, and effectively said that gay people should not be afforded the right to get married or celebrate their love and commitment in anything that resembles a personal, spiritual way, and so creating a greater and a lesser form of partnership. In fact, this discrimination is so firmly entrenched that transsexual people, if married, must actually divorce only to then obtain a civil partnership in order to have their personal details officially corrected.

Ever since the Civil Partnerships Act recieved Royal Assent in 2004, there has been a cry for full marriage equality. A cry which is finally beginning to be heared across all three major political parties, with the Liberal Democrats having even gone so far as to make marriage equality a matter of their party policy… and well they might, as marriage equality in the UK is a very popular move to make. Opinion polls show a consistent majority in favour of equal rights and an end to the discrimination. Sadly though, the politicians are slow to practice what they preach.

Currently, the Government is faced with an opportunity and with pressure to end this discrimination as stipulated by legislation passed last year.  The legislation makes very clear that no religious institution opposed to same sex partnerships would be required to perform them or to allow their places of worship to be used for them.

Many Liberal Democrats will no doubt be quick to claim any extention of LGBT rights towards marriage equality as a sign of their success and moral standing in Government. However, it should also be noted that the provisions which call for the change allowing LGBT people to involve their religious beliefs in their civil partnerships comes from an Equality Act, written last year under the leadership of a Labour Government (the self same act that effectively rolled back some of the rights of transsexual people, and decided that LGBT bullying in schools should not be specifically remedied). The implementation of the law allowing for this positive step towards marriage equality has in fact been delayed for a year by the current government. The fact is, when it comes to LGBT rights, none of the political parties have a particularly good record when it comes to actually fighting to do something about it -some worse than others, the worst, sadly, being the party leading the current Government!

Even so, this is a remarkably important step forward, at least in its potential, and it should be considered as such. The consultation undoubtedly will involve many churches vehemently opposed to marriage equality. These churches are worried that with the key difference in the ban on religious components to civil partnerships being removed, there would be no real reason not to call them marriages – and rightly so, because they’re right! However, there is no word from the Government on whether Civil Partnerships will be changed so that they may be referred to as marriages… it’s not really even on the agenda. The Government has simply suggested that it might think about it some time. The question is whether it is right that LGBT people who wish to be able to recognise their beliefs in a ceremony marking their partnership should be able to… and if their beliefs (or those of their church) allow for this, is there any fair reason why they should not be allowed to? No. There isn’t.

The right wing press is predictably spinning and overblowing the comments of church leaders to suggest a fear that they will be forced to perform gay marriages. It’s as predictable as it is tiresome. Left unchecked, extremist churches and right wing mariage equality opponents may well water down any eventual positive step towards marriage equality, or block it altogether. This should not be allowed to happen – at least not without firm opposition to such underhanded and homophobic intentions.

Fellow No More Lost writer Gemma, in her recent piece about France’s failure to ensure mariage equality, notes the way that the energy of the movement was lost following a homophobic court ruling in 2004. Reading her article, and noting the lack of widespread opposition to marriage equality, I have to wonder why. It seems to me that an explanation may be that unless related to an oppositional religious group, most heterosexual people aren’t exceptionally bothered by marriage equality, given that they don’t really have much cause to think about it and it doesn’t effect them.

For that reason, and that reason alone, as the issue of marriage equality enters the UK public consciousness, and as the right wing press spews out it’s typical homophobic propaganda and lies about the reality of what’s going on, it’s more important than ever that we make our case. It is more important than ever that we make ourselves heared. It is now more important than ever that we, LGBT people and our heterosexual allies, ensure that the public at large have more information than just the usual nationally disseminated lies and propaganda, and that the public consciousness of the issue also forms around an understanding of the wrongs and impacts that marriage INequality gives rise to.

Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

Bishop of WinchesterAnybody that recognises the title of this article will instantly realise that it’s about to illustrate something ridiculous. Fittingly, it comes from Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail”; the Holy Grail, in this case, being the ‘right’ sought by some Christians to discriminate against LGBT people. It’s a cry all too familiar in the US, and recently in the UK alike, where those facing laws preventing the enactment of bigotry in the name of religion scream out “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”, which is no less ridiculous from these religious figures, public servants and so-called ‘pro-family’ groups than it was when it came from Michael Palin’s Dennis, the infuriatingly awkward peasant in The Holy Grail.

As reported by The Telegraph, a UK based tabloid newspaper with a conservative bias, the Bishop of Winchester (the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt) chose the day after Christmas to deliver his gift of wisdom to the nation on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World This Weekend’. Namely, that he notes that “The Human Rights Act is protecting the rights of minority groups while encouraging judges and politicians to discriminate against Christians”. Could he be complaining of a “war against Christmas”? Perhaps, but no. Instead, he warns us that “the death of ‘religious literacy’ among those who made and administered the law had created an imbalance in the way in which those with faith were treated compared to sexual minorities.” By sexual minorities, of course, he means gay people. Once again, a religious figure is effectively complaining that the refusal to allow Christians to discriminate against gay people is, in fact, discrimination against Christians.

There is a temptation here to pick apart his argument statement by statement – while it may sound reasoned on the face of it, it’s absolutely jam packed full of straw men. Instead though, lets go for the jugular – those things that are pretty much universal in such claims, and that which forms the basis of his argument.

Firstly, there are LGBT Christians too – and so by definition, “sexual minorities” and “Christians” are not separate, disparate groups. Support of the human rights of “sexual minorities” does not and cannot mean discrimination against Christians.

Secondly, there is an argument that people of strong faith should be able to realise their faith and live it rather than simply pay lip service to it. This is actually a very strong argument, with one flaw; where does it say in christian scripture that Christians must interfere in other people’s lives, be dismissive of gay people or refuse to provide them with services, push their beliefs onto other people, refuse to “love thy neighbor” because that neighbor happens to be gay or insist that gay people don’t make good parents? Sure, a person of conscience must of course act by their conscience – but what informs it? Certain Christians believe that God insists that man should not lie with man, but since when are genuine Christians the enforcers of Gods law rather than its adherents? A person who believes that gay sex is wrong according to their faith can live and realise that faith by not having gay sex. It’s that simple. Christian scripture actually warns against pronouncing judgement on others!

Finally, of course, there’s the issue of Human Rights itself. These are rights that each human being has by virtue of being human. Inalienable rights stemming from one’s existence as a human being. It seems to be that those that wish to create a right for the religious to discriminate against LGBT people (the right never existed in the first place – more of a wrong that was allowed to happen) either don’t understand the concept of Human Rights, or believe that they should be defined in accordance with their personal religious beliefs – it’s a little bit crazy when you really think about it.

No Reverend, religious literacy doesn’t have a place in lawmaking, except in laws directly relating to religion. Laws that public/secular services must be provided on a non-discriminatory basis do not qualify as laws directly relating to religion. They may, however, go some way to righting the wrongs of those few religious people who practice bigotry, mean spiritedness and hate in the name of their religion.

God doesn’t make mistakes? What about George W Bush?

I’m not a fan of George W Bush, I consider him a war criminal and guilty of many crimes against the American people however this has nothing to do with his failings as a president.

One of the biggest claims for opposition of trans issues by the christian right, is that God doesn’t make mistakes. If God makes you physically male, and neurologically female, or physically female, and neurologically male, then that was not a mistake and you should just accept it.

Are you freaking kidding me, what about George W Bush, who was born with a clear deficit, known as A-L-C-O-H-L-I-S-M, a condition that means he has to avoid alcohol to avoid irrational uncontrolled self destructive abilities, and thats a minor situation.

What about someone who was born with a hole in their heart, wasn’t that God’s perfect work? or someone born without fully functional lungs. Surely God would be offended by correcting his perfect handy-work.

There isn’t a real debate going on here, a real debate has valid arguments on both sides. However on the one side you have a body of medical and psychological evidence showing that gender identity disorder is a real medical problem with a viable practical cure involving therapy, hormonal treatment and surgery. On the other side you have people who want to deny that and hide themselves behind religion not for a good reason, but simply because the idea of trans people scares them and makes them feel uncomfortable.

So next time some ignorant bigot says to you, you are violating God’s design, ask them whether God’s perfect design included George W Bush’s alcoholism…