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There are increasing movements forwards with legislative battles with our rights – a new trans bill in Canada, marriage equality in Britain, France and various parts of the US, municipal anti-discrimination laws in various cities and even a battle in the Ukraine which was rather surprising. Of course, it’s not all going forwards everywhere, far from it, but there’s a lot of excitement.

 There’s also a sense that “zomg we’ve nearly won” primarily from straight allies, coupled with a sense of “the GBLT rights movement has moved so quickly!”

 I have to burst the bubble on both. Starting, perversely with the second one.

 The whole idea of “the GBLT rights movement has moved so quickly” is based on that pervasive myth that we only appeared in 1960 and that the first piece of GBLT activism was Stonewall. Both of which are wrong. GBLT people have existed as long as people have existed – and we have been fighting for centuries. The first attempted same-sex marriage in the UK happened in 1680 and Molly houses were a fixture of the 19th century. France decriminalised “sodomy” after the revolution, Germany had, in the 1920s had a vast amount of pro-GBLT activism

 And this is from a frankly extremely amateur view of history since I make no claims of being a historian. But even the most cursory search finds not only our existence the earliest times but a centuries old battle against persecution. To call the GBLT rights movement a young or a new movement is to spit in the face of these people who fought – and who died – and who straight history has long forgotten. We have not moved quickly, it has been a long slow fight that has been denied so long that it’s only recent victories for basic LEGAL PROTECTIONS that have finally accelerated.

 Now addressing the first point. Winning these battles means we win the SIMPLE part – and not close to being done. The COMPLICATED is, in many ways, only just beginning.

 Firstly, let’s be clear that SIMPLE doesn’t mean EASY, nor does it mean UNIMPORTANT. It makes we know pretty much exactly what to do and, in many ways, how. I know how to walk to London. One foot in front of the other isn’t complex. Walking that distance in this weather would be arduous, painful and an incredible feat – Simple but difficult.

And achieving equality under law: Hate crimes protection, anti-discrimination protection, marriage equality – are extremely difficult, powerful achievements – and they’re simple. Simple because we know exactly what has to be done – the law has to change and we know how that is done. Difficult to do, but simple in terms of process

And important because these form not only essential tools, but also a foundation. It’s an impossibly powerful message of inequality when the laws treat us as lesser citizens; it’s a loud message. It’s hard to get people to listen to you demanding acceptance, respect and challenging hate when the law of the land is roaring “ACTUALLY! HATE THESE FOLKS! HATRED IS FINE! TOTALLY LESS THAN YOU! LESS CITIZENS! ACCEPTABLE TARGETS, GET THEM HERE!” It’s a foundation and without it, building anything is going to be shaky


But a house isn’t finished when a foundation is built and nor will our battle for equality be finished because we have full equality in law. Law and practice, society and culture are often very separate. If you need any greater proof just consider the fact that these legal rights we’re fighting for? Other marginalised groups already have them – and they’re still marginalised.

 On this foundation we need to fight institutional oppression. We need to change professions that are deemed to homophobic to tolerate us (or more than a few token members). We need to tackle bullying – adult as well as child. We need to tackle family acceptance and positive messages so more kids aren’t raised in self hate and familial rejection. We need to remove every single temptation to be closeted – not the closet, forcing us all to be Out is never right – but remove the motivation to being closeted in the first place. Conversion therapy needs to be banished into the past, the DESIRE to change needs to be seen as alien and weird. We need to remove the negative connotation, we need to banish slurs from the language, we need to have “gay” stop being a synonym for “bad.” We need inclusive portrayals, not be considered an afterthought or obscene, we need healthcare that acknowledges our needs, we need workplaces that have more than just policies, but co-workers and bosses and customers who won’t try to drive us out. Neighbourhoods that don’t blink to see us among them. We need a world were institutional cissexism and heterosexism doesn’t constantly fence us, drive us out or police us. We need religions that won’t preach homophobia and transphobia as morality. We need a world without hate, without contempt, without derision. We need so much more (this list went on so long I’ve had to delete huge chunks to keep it manageable), things we will not achieve by laws, things we cannot achieve by laws (but policies can certainly make a difference) but things that will rest on a foundation of those laws.

 We need a world where we are as loved and respected and accepted and included as straight, cis people. Only then will we have won

 And that? That’s going to take lifetime upon lifetime to build.

 This isn’t really something even the most optimistic of GBLT people need telling – we live our lives, we know what will and will not change, we know how we’re oppressed, we know how we’re attacked (in fact, straight people telling us what we should and should not be focusing on need to shut up, really, they do). But I’m increasingly getting the feeling that many allies are expecting to down tools and say “yay we won!” and then be really really shocked when we don’t stop fighting.

 So let’s celebrate the victories and progress we’ve made and are making – because they’re definitely worth celebrating – and then dive back in the trenches, because we’ve got a long war to right.


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The reason he can’t be deported to Jordan is because the “evidence” used to prove that he’s a big bad dangerous terrorist was obtained by torture. I.e. it is not “evidence”. Or, to put it another way, there’s no evidence (real evidence) he has done anything wrong and

If the Jordanians can provide guarantees that he won’t be tortured or executed and his trial will be fair (no “evidence” from torture since that pretty much instantly destroys any pretence of justice) then the ECHR won’t block his deportation. Simple as.

The reason why he’s not in gaol in the UK after being charged with terrorism offences or other bad/naughty crimes is because we have fuck all evidence with which to do so. If we did, we’d have done it and would now be having smug politicians on the television saying how wonderful their anti-terror strategies are. Thankfully I am spared the urge to punch my television screen.

Or, to put it another way, the only reason why this man isn’t in prison here or in Jordan is because, legally, locking people up because the people in charge say “he’s a bad man, honest” is not advisable, ethical, moral, or even remotely sensible. As and when sufficient assurances are received from Jordan then the deportation can happen and everyone can kindly unknot their twisted knickers, please.

And to the Tories and their sympathisers whining about “sovereignty”. Kindly cease your whining, it’s giving me a headache. The court is preventing us from including torture in the application of “justice”. If the court is stopping us aiding, abetting, consenting or approving to torture then I will gladly kneel before it in a kinky kinky harness and call it “Sir”

Frankly, I’m embarrassed that we require the intervention. When we grow up and act like a civilised nation, perhaps the court will treat us like one. Until that time, the court sending us to a corner and telling us "no" seems quite reasonable. And kinky. I seem to have got distracted somewhere along the line, but my point stands.
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So it seems over in the US we're seeing a change on how rape is defined to actually include a lot of rapes it had previously ignored. The new wording now reads:

The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

I’ve read a lot about this and how important it is. It has made changes that have been well examined and talked about at length and in great detail which is wonderful to see – especially the removal of the necessity of “force” which previously was present and excluded so many rapes.

But another thing it has done is actually acknowledge that men can be raped.

This is vital and doubly vital for gay men because there is a pervasive idea that gay men cannot be raped. After all, we want sex all the time right? A gay man is a raging sex driven monster that leaps at any and all possibilities of sex, right? So how can we be raped? If we always want sex with men (and remember, it’s any men all the time, no matter what, who or when) then how can we possibly be raped? Surely we not only always consent but are always ultra ultra eager, right?

Yeah, it should be laughable – but it remains that an ultra-common response to a gay man who has been raped by another man is “but you’re gay!” And that most certainly extends to law enforcement.

Even rape within a gay relationship – and all relationship rapes are poorly understood at best – is faced not only with the idea that gay men always consent to sex all the time, but also a pervasive belief that our relationships are entirely sexual, that sex is the only reason we’re ever with another man (and if sex is the only reason we’re together, and we always want sex, how can there be rape?). Added in the prevailing belief that our relationships cannot be happy, loving or anything other than miserable (another element that makes it nigh impossible to have any acknowledgement of domestic abuse) and any kind of reporting or acknowledgement is fraught.

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So, Michigan has passed a “bullying is bad but bullying GBLT kids is a-ok, here's how to do it” bill (there's a vid at the source featuring Senator Gretchen Whitmer doing a splendid and emotional slap down of this fuckery).

Basically, it's a law against bullying – unless totally justified by religion! And that's not coded language at all, is it? Afterall, it's not the exact same excuse that bigots are using to undercut everything from marriage equality to discrimination laws, is it? But the religious have a right to hate! How can you possibly oppress their hatred!?

So, if you're a vicious little arsehole bullying GBLT kids until they kill themselves, this law won't stop you. And if, by the slightest possible chance, you do actually find a teacher who is willing to act against your vicious homophobia and transphobia, don't worry, just claim the Bible (or religious text of choice) says you can be a vile little bigotry and the law gives you an instant loophole! After all, the right of hateful religious types to drive us to our graves is far more important than the rights of GBLT youth to, y'know, live.

This is a classic example of straightness taking the reigns and how we're so quickly cast aside.

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Another bad news round up - as ever, very upsetting and triggering.

They're hard to read and ye gods they're hard to right - but they're important. Always to remember that it never stops, it hasn't stopped it isn't changing - and remember to make sure the blood is dripping from the right hands - no matter how much they play the victim or pretend they are not part of this hatred.

This is the cost of hate speech and discrimination.

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So, there have been a few cases now and I feel moved to rant... err, I mean comment.

During the eternal meandering of the proposition 8 trial it was revealed that judge Waker was gay. And the haters were up in arms, frothing and furious! We can't have a gay judge decide that case! He'd be biased! How can he possibly be fair!? The whole case must be scrapped and re-decided with a fair (straight) judge!

And then we have a case of a gay prison inmate on trial for attacking a prison guard – the prosecution is quick to remove a lesbian from the jury. Uh-huh

And of course, they're not isolated cases, nor for that matter, are they limited to one country. It's not limited to one marginalisation for that matter. There's a pervasive idea that to be unbiased you have to be privileged. Simply because we are GBLT, we are inherently biased. We cannot be trusted to be fair, to make reasoned decisions, to be anything other than self-serving and selfish.

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Yesterday was long and involved with 2 cases that promise to frustrate and irritate – and tell me that someone(s) among the local police have far too much dramatic flare.

I have case 1 that basicly involves a lot of late teens-early 20s guys who had a skinful and met another group of same. Words Were Exchanged. Then considerably more than words were exchanged. *yawn* Bread and butter stuff, right? Except for some reason I'm being presented with charges for organised crime and gang activity. *side-eye* These guys quite literally couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery

We also have a lovely attempt to prove drug dealing apparently managed by taking all the illicit substances they ALL had (that is both sides of the fight), pooling it into one and declaring that it all belongs to one person. *sigh* Oh and yes Mr. policeman, you were right to blush when I just stared at you when you declared “but they all said it wasn't theirs.”

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After threatening to kill Larry King, Brendan McInerney came to school, with a gun and shot him.

Threatened to kill him, planned to kill him, arrived armed to kill him, then killed him. Or, to put it another way, text book pre-meditated murder.

The defence? Larry's demeanour and clothing (he sometimes wore women's clothes) and highly dubiously alleged “come ons” so enraged, disturbed and horrified Brendan that in a fit of calculasted murderous planning he committed pre-meditated murder. Or, to put it another way, the gay panic defence.

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Another depressing round up of bad news.

I think it's important to spread these, not just so we can see that this stuff happens and how damaging it is but I think it makes a point to bring them together - that this crap happens everywhere, literally and the common themes and links between them

As ever, divided by category

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So, as I said before, the EHRC is still looking to support homophobia in the European Court after our local courts already decided that homophobia was bad and wrong. The EHRC disagrees.

Because they have faced a lot of fury from gay people who, y'know, expect an equality body NOT to champion homophobia, they have now announced a consultation.

Yes, I kid you not. This "Equality body" is actually having to consult to see whether they should support homophobia or not. I'm just going to repeat that because really it's hard to believe. The EHRC, a supposed Equality body, is actually consulting the public to see whether it should support homophobia or not.

How wrong is this?

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I read this article about how grossly unrepresentative the judiciary is and I'm having a think

I am torn. Which seems odd. After all, the judiciary is grossly unrepresentative. It is extremely white, extremely male and, (though not mentioned by the article since we often fall through the cracks when discussing discrimination and representation) extremely straight as well as being overwhelmingly cis and able bodied..

Until relatively recently, to be a judge you had to be married. Sound bemusing? It was a rule brought in in the 1970s to expressly prevent gay people becoming judges. It was openly admitted that that was the reason for the rule.

When I left law school, the judiciary wasn't on my mind. In fact when I went to law school I knew it would be impossible. I also chose my law school on the understanding that I wouldn't be a judge and I would have little chance becoming a barrister if I wanted to be an openly gay man. I cynically – and realistically – assumed these doors would be closed and didn't try waste my time dragging at a locked door that would be so unlikely to open for me.

There have only ever been 2 openly gay judges in the High Court. One of whom has now moved off to the various echelons of EU law.

And we know that because of the various blinkers of privilege, this nearly all super-privileged judiciary is going to have big freaking holes in their understanding. We've seen in decisions and in processes that marginalised people of all stripes tend to get a rawer deal in the courts than the privileged, ye gods we know that.

So, why am I torn?

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As in, the gays can't get married because we don't make babbies! And they're not a homophobe, they're just thinking of the babbies (can we have "think of the children” added to the list of ridiculous phrases that automatically get you labelled homophobes – like “I have gay friends?”)

Ok, my first and last post on this particular fuckery, because it's beyond self-evident and anyone with a moment's thought and half a brain cell in their heads should be able to work this out

New post, make with the clicky clicky
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So, Christian therapist, Lesley Pilkington, the woman responsible for this mess has been found guilty of malpractice by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy

And this is important, oh yes yes it is.

Not just because she is an evil, dangerous woman who has the ability to hurt people when they are at their most vulnerable. Though we do have to stress just how dangerous she is and how much she can hurt people. People go to a therapist when they're hurting, people come to her when they're fragile, when they're hurt, when they're in pain, when they're afraid – and she exploits that. She adds to that, she furthers any damage, any hurting and perpetuates it and encourages it to last longer and go further. I don't exaggerate when I say this is a very evil woman doing an utterly evil thing.

New post on the blog click click to read the rest
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Anyone following British politics will see we’ve been having a drama llama about giving the vote to prisoners. Currently, while in prison you have no voting rights. A prisoner took this to the European Court of Human rights that has turned round and said “that’s wrong. Fix it.” Parliament has voted against fixing it – again showing that our system of no judicial overthrow of rights violations is a broken and dangerous one.

I think prisoners should have the vote, for several reasons.

Firstly, democracy is a fragile thing (it’s also not a perfect thing. The will of the people is all well and good, but far too often the people are bigoted, foolish and down right self-destructive). There are many ways you can break it – with fear, with ignorance, with prejudice, with a media that is unfit for purpose and failing in its duty and with ridiculous electoral system that makes “will of the people” an almost comic claim. But one of the prime and classic ways to break a democracy is to disenfranchise people.

If you want the will of the people, then you need to allow the people to vote. All of those capable of doing so need to be able to do so.

Now I know many people are saying “I don’t want people like that deciding who runs the country” and I have to say, firstly, that they could hardly do a worse job than we do. Secondly, that their few and widely spread numbers are hardly a massive demographic. And thirdly – that argument has a very poor precedent.

There are a lot of people I’d rather have no say who runs the country. I don’t want ignorant fools who have done no research voting. I don’t want bigots voting. Heh, I’d be quite content if Tory voters didn’t vote.

Not letting people vote because we don’t like them is… nervous-making. Even if dislike of a group is universal, even if dislike of a group is reasonable – it’s still nervous-making and not exactly ideal for a democracy.

In addition I think we have to consider that prisoners are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It seems odd to claim, but it’s very true. The general populace does not care whether prisoners are abused – in fact, stories of prisoner abuse are regarded with malicious glee far too often. We relish in the suffering of the incarcerated. Every aspect of their lives is subject to the whims of the government authorities in a way that the non-incarcerated cannot even imagine. They are utterly controlled and helpless before it.
This isn’t a campaign against imprisonment – but, like any vulnerable group (I’ve said before that I vote because, as a marginalised person, who controls the government is a serious matter if I want my rights upheld) prisoners have an extreme vested interest in having their views heard and listened to by the powers that be. We cannot successfully have a prison system – let alone a just, ethical and moral prison system – run by people who have no reason to listen to the prisoners themselves – or who are driven to listen to the “make them suffer” right wingers but not those who will live in those conditions.

Some people will argue that losing the vote is part of the punishment of committing a crime. As I have previously said when talking about the death penalty, I do not see the point in punishment for the sake of punishment.

If you are going to deny someone of their rights then I want a reason why. Because they’re RIGHTS and should be treated with respect.

“They deserve it” isn’t a reason. It’s meaningless, a buzz word and part of the desire for revenge

Vengeance isn’t a reason – not an ethical one. “We want them to suffer because we hate them” is not moral position, no matter how justified that hate may be. Nor can hate be a position on which we base our laws or legal system – making people suffer because we want them to hurt cannot be a defensible legal position.

Now, the commonplace reasons for us imprisoning people is to:

  1. Deter both the criminal specifically and criminality in general

I think we can all agree that “ooh I lost my vote” isn’t going to stop anyone committing crimes

  1. Protect society from dangerous criminals

Hence why we incarcerate people away from the population at large. Again, a vote is not the most lethal weapon ever devised.

  1. Rehabilitation

Hah, I don’t know why I include this since it’s usually a gesture at best. But, again, denying someone the vote doesn’t seem to be a good way to get people on the straight and narrow – quite the opposite in fact since it means people likely to vote for various half-way schemes etc, cannot.

  1. Ensuring someone doesn’t profit from their crimes/gain advantage through criminality

A somewhat nebulous, philosophical reason. Basically, someone should not have an advantage due to breaking the rules. Punishment exists to ensure they are not advantaged in anyway by their criminal actions. Again, vote? Doesn’t really fit here

I could go on but I think I’ve made a point. The practical reasons for punishments don’t really justify denying the vote as well. I still await a concrete reason why I should be happy about the disenfranchisement of prisoners.

On a practical level we also have to consider the very real fact that the prison and justice system are both very prejudiced. They couldn’t be otherwise since they are products of an already prejudiced society. Marginalised people are far more likely to be convicted of crimes, are far more likely to be targeted by law enforcement and are far more likely to receive longer and more severe sentences. Even crimes themselves, we’re usually far more lenient with regards to traditionally “white collar” crimes than we other crime.

Denying the vote to prisoners inherently helps to disenfranchise the poor, the lower classes, minorities and the marginalised – because the system already disproportionately targets these people for imprisonment.

So, prisoners with the vote? Sparky says yes.

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Legal Aid has already been cut to the bone. Already vast swathes of law have to be entirely privately funded, no matter how vital it is. The pernicious culture of “no win no fee” has already dragged the law into the gutter far too often.
And now it is being cut further The full paper is here

These cuts are deeper than Legal Aid faced even under Thatcher in the 80s. The Tories & Lib Dem are going further than even Thatcher dared.

Let us make no mistake what this means – this is a direct and vast assault at the weakest and most marginalised people in society.

First, dispel the lie of “litigation culture.” That’s typical disinformation from the ConDemnation on par with “we didn’t know what the economy was like!” in terms of empty, facile and pathetic excuses.
Personal Injury law – an essential area of law that is much maligned and has been dragged through the mud back and forth is hardly ever covered by legal aid. This is where all the wrongly named “no win, no fee” agreements come in. So, no, don’t let them spread that lie – this isn’t about people suing you because they hit themselves with a hammer (as if PI has ever been about that).

But hey, while we’re here they’re hitting that as well.  See, to pay for the “no win no fee” cases, currently your lawyers will recover their costs from the other side. So, if you’re awarded £5,000 in damages, you win that and the other side pays for your legal fees. After all, what’s the point of winning compensation if you then lose it all paying the lawyer?

Well, the Tories and Lib Dems would much rather that be the case. So if, for example, your employer runs a death trap of an establishment, maims you and leaves you unable to work for several months – well, the EMPLOYER shouldn’t pay for your legal costs – no, you should. Which likely makes your case much less worth pursuing. So the employer is much more likely to get away with running a death trap of a work place – and if they do get caught they won’t have to pay nearly as much.

I’m sure they’re loving their Tory friends for this. Maybe the Lib Dems are trying to make new friends, or they’re too busy trying to find were their principles have disappeared to

But I digress – another time that would be enough for disgust and outrage. But the Tories and Lib Dems have done better – by gutting what legal aid help you can get – and it’s quality.

Legal aid is for family law, it’s for the criminal law, it’s for housing law and debt advice and employment law, education law and welfare advice.

It’s, in short, for the poorest and most vulnerable people in society desperately trying to seek justice in a world that sues them.

And the first thing they’re doing is trying to cut how much legal aid is actually paid – by about 10%

Most of my work is legally aided. Nearly all of it. And, y’know what? My firm gets a fraction for my work than it does for privately funded work. A SMALL fractions. It’s already barely profitable to take legally aided cases already. Now? I don’t even know if my firm will keep me on – or can afford to keep me on – if these cuts go through. I don’t know how many firms will bother with legal aid – many already won’t because it ISN’T PROFITABLE.

Get that? It already DOESN’T PAY. It is ALREADY regarded as something of an albatross by my – and many – firms. It is getting to a point where it is not worth my education to do this work.

What effect do you think this will have for availability of legally aided lawyers? And how good they’ll be? Do we even need to describe what the knock on effect this will have on the justice system? If you can’t afford to pay – you won’t be represented – or won’t be represented properly. Already I have to cut corners, I can’t go above and beyond unless I do pro bono – I often cannot give a case all of the attention it deserves without working for free.
And that’s already. And it’s going to be cut.

As to the specific cuts – including just not covering areas at all (near complete cuts unless literal life limb or homelessness is in the offing)

Landlord jacked the rent? Running a slum? Imposing horrendous conditions, violating your privacy, denying any accommodation for the disabled? So long as they’re not actively evicting you, it’s cut!

  • well you better be able to pay for your own appeal. A nice give away to Tory supporting landlords isn’t it?

The massive welfare cuts have left you and your family on the brink? Perhaps you need to be appeal? Perhaps your disability has been doubted or denied? Perhaps you have been denied or refused welfare through mistake or malice or incompetence

  • well you better be able to pay for your own appeal. Which, of course, you can’t. Another stealth welfare cute right there

Need advice on debt? Has a predatory bank or loan shark screwed you? Need to know what legal options are open to you to get out from under the thumb? Need to find options to avoid bankruptcy? Need to see if “payment protection” or loans are missold and contain lies?

  • well there’s no citizens advice for you! Hope you can pay for that advice – maybe your bank will give you another loan to try and sue it? Ah the banks thought that the corporation tax and even more gutted “bank levy” (oh how laughable that is) would be enough give away to them? Pish posh, the Tories and Lib Dems think they deserve more opportunities to screw their debtors!

Getting a divorce? Can’t take the verbal and emotional abuse? Stuck in a loveless marriage? Just completerely loathe each other?

  • well, unless there’s domestic violence, you better be able to pay for it yourself. Tory and Lib Dem Family values right there. You will stay shackled to your spouse no matter how it destroys your mind. Divorce is a luxury for the rich

Been victimised, need help from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority? Need legal help on discovering what you can claim while traumatised, injured and hurt?

  • better be able to afford that help yourself! And whether even applying for aid will be worthwhile if you have to get legal help to do it

Been assaulted, falsely imprisoned, maliciously prosecuted or harmed by someone’s criminal negligence? Well you could bring a tort against them but…

  • that’s right, you need to be able to pay for it. Or rely on more “No win no fee” – except even those are being gutted.

And, of course – if you are fired, if you are driven out of work, if you have a hostile work environment?

- you better have a deep enough wallet to cover be able to fight it.

Hey and this is just the beginning. There’s proposals for COMPETIVE rates as well – including in criminal law and gods’ alone know what else. The general funding for legal aid is being so hevaiuly cut as to reduce any and all access across the board.

Perhaps this is why Lyn Featherstone was read to dismissively hand wave all the legislative victories we’ve pushed through to try to protect equality – because she knew that soon the very tools of enforcing them were going to be gutted.

If you undermine the justice system then all the laws, all the principles and policies – they don’t mean a THING. All of them are only as good as their enforcement, they’re only as good as the power to put them into effect, they’re own as good as their ability to be used and people’s knowledge of them. It is the justice system, the law, the lawyers that put make these tools, these protections useable.

The Tories & Lib Dems together are working to destroy the very concept of justice.

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There has recently been a kafuffle in Germany (I think) where a HIV+ woman is facing criminal charges for knowingly sleeping with men without protection.

Now, the reaction has been something along the lines of “ZOMG throw the book at her! No, throw the whole damn library at her!” and I can understand that, I had the same reaction myself

Let us not forget that AIDS is a terminal, chronic disease. Despite the increasing ignorance around the subject, no it cannot be cured. Yes it will be there fore life and yes, it has a significant chance of killing or being a contributing cause to the death of the sufferer. Yes, with modern medication someone with HIV/AIDS can manage it for a considerable length of time and live much longer lives than was previously expected – but it is still not something that can be remotely underestimated or something that can be handled with too much caution.

So, in that light, yes. She (and, indeed, any other HIV+ person who knowingly has sex with someone without protection) has done something reprehensible in the extreme and severely damaged and jeopardised other people’s lives. In these circumstances, she should most certainly have used protection. And, some are arguing, she should have disclosed her HIV+ status.

And now that’s why the merry train of my thoughts hits a great big, thick concrete wall. Because it’s all well and good saying that a HIV+ person should disclose their status, but that’s rather blinkered from the realities of society.

Let’s be frank, despite desperate attempts at education, people with HIV/AIDS are often treated like modern day lepers*. We still have an inordinate amount of people who live in terror of HIV/AIDS and believe silly things like it can be caught off a toilet seat or by sharing cooking utensils etc etc etc. Very few people accept that HIV/AIDS is spread by bodily fluids and that it has a very short lifespan outside the human body.

Someone who publicly admits their HIV/AIDS status is often going to take shit for it. They may be shunned. They may be ostracised. Many friends may drop them. Family may be more hesitant. And sex partners are certainly going to be leery. And I’ll put my hands up on this one, it’s not fair and it’s not right but I know a part of me is going to flinch if I learn a lover is HIV+

Demanding disclosure ignores the shit that HIV+ people take. In our society with the current stigma that exists, I can’t 100% get behind the idea that a HIV+ person has to disclose under any situation, not until that stigma is reduced.

Which brings to the alternative – protection should be used. ye gods it should be used. And a HIV+ person who KNOWS they are HIV+ should most certainly be using protection (and that doesn’t just mean condoms. You can catch HIV+ from oral sex – especially if you swallow). Knowing your status and not using protection? Well, yeah I’m reaching for that library again. I can’t excuse what the original person or any other person in this situation does here. I can make an argument about disclosure, but not using protection is much weaker.

But it brings in a related point. A lot of people, shockingly but unsurprisingly, don’t insist on condoms despite not knowing their partner’s status (and again. their word isn’t enough. And no, that doesn’t make them a liar – a sizeable portion of the people out there living with STDS do not know they have them). This, again, can be awkward for a HIV+ person insisting on protection (though much much less so that disclosure) because it isn’t demanded every time. Worse, some sexual partners pressure, push and bully so they don’t have to use condoms – I know, I’ve been there. I even had one very ex-ex who put a condom on, waited until I wasn’t looking and took the damn thing off. Sometimes someone will, for whatever reasons, comply with what their lover wishes even if it’s against their better instincts (and I‘ve been there as well). It’s not always simple.

I think we need to change our assumptions. We need to approach our sexual partners with the assumption they DO have an STD unless we‘re extremely sure they do not (again, by testing – not because they said so.) If they cannot prove to you they are disease free, then assume they are not. That doesn’t mean run to the hills (nor does it mean run to the hills if you find they AREN’T disease free) it means take precautions. It also means that we should not tolerate those who resist wearing protection

If we’re willing, prepared and just plain SENSIBLE enough to approach our sex lives with this degree of intelligent caution then whether someone is HIV+ or not or whether they have disclosed or not becomes a moot point – and then maybe we can avoid the idea of criminal charges for GBH or manslaughter or murder for HIV+ people who had sex with someone else. But, with all this, I think we also have to see the shades of grey that are all over this, before we reach to our libraries and start throwing those books.

*Actually, treating lepers like lepers is several kinds of wrong. Not only does no-one deserve such condemnation and ostracism, but leprosy is hardly the most contagious of diseases, in fact, I think it’s primarily hereditary than communicable, but don’t quote me on that.
sparkindarkness: (STD)

Proposition 8 – it has been overturned.  And Judge  Walker’s ruling, from what I’ve read of it, is a thing of beauty. Yes yes it is.

The singing, dancing and general leaping for joy in my RSS is a thing of joy to behold.

Naturally it will be appealed – but in that lies some hope itself. A beautiful step forwards – keep on hoping.

Let the partying commence!

And review again why the trial was almost comedic Such a wonderful summation

In fact, let’s have more of that :)

Hmmm sweet sweet schaudenfreude. Where’s that pie recipe? Nom nom schadenfreude pie.

In Mexico, Mexico City’s gay marriage law was also being challenged in court – and it reached all the way to Mexico’s Supreme Court.

Which upheld the law Oh I love the smell of justice in the morning.

Justicia has been smacking ‘em down lately :)

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Argentina has signed and enacted their gay marriage law Another step forwards, another victory :) Nations that don’t recognise our marriages are looking increasingly more pathetic with every victory won. And another reason for me to do my happy dance.

Following up from the disgraceful way that Sonoma County, California, treated Clay Greene, the surviving partner of Harold Schull we finally see some degree of justice. The country will pay $600,000 in compensation, the home $53,000. There is no way that anyone could adequately compensate Clay Greene for what they did to him – but it’s something and some confirmation that what was done to him was wrong. Perhaps best of all, the county is retraining their workers – hopefully they’ll have a clue, an ounce of compassion and some basic human decency next time.

In Maine a gay man has won a discrimination suit against his employer, Express Jet Airlines that passed over him for promotion because he was gay. Congratulations to him, I know from experience these cases are damned hard to prove (at least if your employer tries to be at least a little subtle about it)

Similarly, in New Zealand a school has been forced to pay compensation to a gay sports coach they fired… for being gay. In addition the board members of the school will attend courses that will hopefully give them a clue.

In France, a gay man who was forced to pay inheritance tax on the home he inherited from his deceased partner has been reimbursed. This is the problem with half measures and patchwork laws about marriage – because people are so desperately concerned about us terrible gays sullying their precious precious hetero marriage.

Arizona, as I previously mentioned, decided to revoke the benefits it had given to same-sex partners working for the state – along with the protections and anti-discrimination provisions they had won as well. While it still remains bvery very wrong, a judge has ruled that deciding to address a budget shortfall by specifically targetting partners of gay employees but not straight ones is wrong (who’d have thought)

There’s a lot of bad out there – but there are victories. Victories we need to hold on to and remember – because we will win this, damn it.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Well, unexpected and well worth celebrating. After celebrating what the UK Supreme Court did for gay asylum seekers, we see another court in the US give a wonderful surprise by declaring DOMA unconstitutional. Not once, but twice..

Both judges came to their decision through summary judgment (which is legal speak for the judge picking up the case and saying “this is such utter bullshit I don’t even have to listen to you to make my decision!”)

This judgments AREN’T saying that all states have to allow same sex marriage (sadly).

But they are saying that the Federal government can’t refuse to accept couples that have been married under state law. So, for example, if a gay couple has been married in Massachusetts, the federal government has no business turning round and saying “no, they’re not really married.” I understand this is a 10th Amendment issue (don’t ask me, American law is not my thing but I understand this is the Amendment that says “unless it‘s expressly states to be the Federal government‘s decision, it‘s the state‘s decision.”). So the federal government cannot treat a legal same-sex marriage from a state that legalises same-sex marriage as anything less than a marriage and cannot force the state itself to treat same-sex marriages as less than opposite-sex marriage. It cannot force the state to discriminate.

Of interest as well in the fuller details of the case is the many other things the judges didn’t accept such as refusing to accept that banning same-sex marriage benefits children, that allowing same-sex marriage serves as a disincentive to marry, etc.

‘Tis a step in the right direction, yes yes it is :)

In other legal victory news, the island of Sark (that is one of the semi-autonomous British dependent islands around the British Isles) has finally bought a clue and equalised the age of consent for gay and bisexual men to 16 to bring it in line with heterosexuals, lesbians and bisexual women.  This follows Guernsey doing the same in March and the Isle of Mann catching up in 2006 (but then, the Isle of Mann still had sodomy laws in place in 1992). Well, islands, welcome to the 21st century. Took you long enough.

Sadly other British dependencies – Bermuda, Alderney and Gibraltar – still seem to be maintaining separate age of consent for gay and bisexual men.


sparkindarkness: (Default)

April 2015

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