Gay rights, gay activism and our queer lives have grown and improved so much since the dark days of the Sixties and with so many freedoms, legal protections and developments with the likes of gay marriage and PrEP we often write that this is a great time to be gay, Lesbian or Trans etc. With the grown-ups back in the American White House and hopefully ‘ Make America Hate Again’ a thing of the past and the vaccinations bringing us out of the worst pandemic of our lifetimes it feels as though we are on the verge of a naturally generated reboot…..As if some divine being like Tom Of Finland’s ‘Kake’ is switching his computer off and on again to get a more productive reset. Hopefully this is a great opportunity for the queer community to make gains as our Pride season which after missing a year comes back to life hopefully but what should we be focussing on. We constantly hear that Prides are now ‘too commercial’ ‘lost their protesting routes’ ‘all about chem fuelled parties, big name artists on stages and floats/lorries of Banks, financial institutions and public authorities all wanting to be seen as LBGTQ+ friendly for the credibility on the day and then doing fuck all about it for the rest of the year. Yet there is loads to still protest about, campaigns which need attention, charities after a year of difficult fundraising needing help and plenty to get that Stonewall protest spirit back – we just need to be laser focused and aware of the big issues and 2021 is the perfect opportunity for that and it needs each and every one of us to bring our A game.
Here is the personal 2021 checklist of writer Paul Stag:
1 ASIAN DISCRIMINATION.
#StopAsianHate – Asian gays face huge extra homophobia/hate and Covid 19 or the Chiiiiinah virus as Trump called it has poured fuel on the fire. If you get a chance to support online or march/attend, then please do as your Asian buddies are having a tough time. For more information see our extensive interview with the First Asian International title holder on our website.
2 THE OLYPMICS.
The Olympics this year are in japan and they are not great on gay rights and have a relative absence of LBGT+ protection and laws. They should be forced to do better when the Worlds spotlight is on them as LGBT+ people lack many of the same legal protections as their heterosexual peers, with gay marriage outlawed and sexual orientation and gender identity not protected by national workplace or housing laws.
3 THE WORLD CUP.
Which of course brings us to the upcoming World cup in football or soccer as our incorrect American friends insist on calling it. The most watched sports event in the World for reasons presumably down to grubby little envelopes of cash for former boss Sepp Blatter is next year in Qatar -that well known footballing nation…doh!, that is too hot to even play in…double doh!. Homosexuality is banned in that country which follows Sharia law (similar to what ISIS was keen on in a more extreme way). For consenting gay men, it is a 3-year prison sentence and the death penalty for liking ass is still on the books. Gay marriage or civil partnerships and even campaigning/protesting for gay rights (or even having a beer) are as welcome as a hard knee in the bollocks on the penalty spot in the opening minute. Whilst they are in the spotlight let’s get that pressure on.
HIV is back in the conversation thanks to the Worldwide TV hit ‘It’s a Sin and if it starts picking up awards then it will stay there. 40 plus years on and still no cure whereas Covid got a cure in 10 months (Scientists will say that the 2 are not comparable which they aren’t) but the ease of funding, political will and the breaking down of barriers to a vaccine development for the latter has been noted. As is the fact that as today 90 Million have died of HIV whereas Covid has under 3 Million fatalities……Gay lives do matter.
5 GAYS IN THE MILITARY.
We have had a lot of success with this since the outright ban with serviceman being dishonourably discharged and kicked out, losing pensions, careers, rank etc whereas nowadays largely since the Millenium (later in the States) it is now accepted in theory. Yet acceptance is only half of the story. similar to a lot of Police forces homophobia is rampant in these institutions. On paper from Russia, to Israel, through Western Europe over to North America it is legal to be gay and serving for your country yet in practice it is very much a different matter. LGBTQ+ are regularly overlooked for promotion and made to feel like second class citizens. In the Israeli military over 50% of gay servicemen had experienced homophobia often repeatedly. It often manifests itself in psychological or physical (beatings/rape) which is very hard to stomach and LBGTQ suicide rate is high. Take Russia for example up until 1999 being homosexual was a ‘mental disorder’ a reason why you could not serve in the military anyway. Under social pressure they said yes but with more caveats than gay men at a cocktail bar in happy hour their generals were not welcoming going on record as saying ‘Gays could join now but they may get beaten !’. in 2010 Putin said Gays could be in his military then 3 years later he sanctioned that assessment of all new recruits’ mental health should be done that asked them about their sexual history and that they be physically examined for ‘certain types of tattoos, especially genital or buttock tattoos and piercings that would indicate a homosexual orientation’.
6 THE NEW ANTI GAY HOTSPOT.
The newest entrant in the hall of gay rights shame who should feel the full force of LBCTQ+ ire is Senegal. The retarded African nation has like many others no gay rights and no police protection or interest. Djamil Bangoura, the brave founder of the Senegalese LGBT+ advocacy group, Prudence+, is currently recovering from his seventh shocking homophobic attack….let’s hammer that home QUEER BASHED 7 TIMES FOR SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF GAYS. According to the 2013 Pew Global survey, 97% of Senegal residents believe that homosexuality is a way of life that society SHOULD NOT accept, a figure that has not changed over the prior 10 years.
7 TRANS IN EUROPE & 8 TRANS IN NORTH AMERICA.
Which brings us to a huge area being that of trans rights and the existence of TERFS and such popularly thought of ‘hate groups’ as the LGBAlliance or ‘Lets Get Bigoted Alliance’ as they are sometimes referred too. Basically, our Trans brothers and sisters are under massive continual attack from several sides. The use of toilets in some American states, the attempts to get the ‘T’ removed from LBGTQ+, bans on them serving in the US military by Trump (repealed by President Biden on just his 5th day in office), women feeling as though they have no identity taken away by Trans or trans competing against women in sports, adoption, Anti-Trans groups being supported and financed by right wing religious (dictionary definition : unbalanced people not living in this Century) etc etc. A massive area but simply we must help Trans folks in every way we can whenever we can and call out the hate when we see it especially online and complain if we see it in mainstream media.
9 LBGTQ+ & ASYLUM SEEKERS.
In December, five U.S. LGBT+ rights groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging changes to the country’s asylum rules that they claim will effectively bar LGBT+ applicants fleeing persecution….this is some bad shit. Britain is also planning changes to its asylum system, which will penalise people who do not make immediate claims when entering the country. Rights campaigners say this could impact LGBT+ applicants who often do not declare their sexuality or gender identity on their initial application.
10 CONVERSION THERAPY.
It is unbelievable that this is still a subject that we have to write about.. Why in 2021 is this Victorian almost neanderthal practice still a thing. Being Gay is a sickness that can be cured by shock therapy and loads of other twaddle….really?, you see that big shining object up in the sky that is a plane it cannot hurt you this is the 21st Century you fucking thick as pig shit cave dwelling assholes. Germany only just last year banned it and it is hoped that America will go the same way (20 states ban it whereas 30 still rate it as a medical procedure…go figure!). Britain, Israel and Mexico are among those currently mulling bans, but why mull just get out of the dark ages and do it – Are Graham Norton, Ricky Martin, Elton john, Neil Patrick-Harris etc sick and need curing….hardly?.
11 – THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
Give us strength. The body that spent decades telling all their African & developing World followers to not use condoms right through the AIDS crisis until recently as it was against the drivel written in a 2000 old fictious book has very little credibility left. Yet they still think the World needs to hear their old-fashioned views. Just in March of this year the Vatican took time out from abusing and covering up endless alleged priest paedophile cases to come down wholly against same-sex unions with the Pope himself leading the charge against all LBGTQ+ people.
12 THE CARIBBEAN.
An eternal hotbed of homophobia presumably as they are all getting too much sun and it is affecting their thinking. Cuba since the decline in influence of Castro (he must have loved having a Gay district named after him) has been the one bright light, but the rest is almost as bad as Africa and The Middle East with attitudes to gays without the default ‘We Are Muslim’ defence. Things are looking up as Decriminalisation proceedings are expected to be filed – or have been filed – in the remaining jurisdictions that outlaw gay sex throughout those beautiful but homophobic islands. A final ruling by Britain’s Privy Council, the final court of appeal for many Caribbean nations, on same-sex marriage in Bermuda, was delayed from December until later in 2021 but fingers crossed and this should also follow through in St Vincent and Dominica. Yet the biggest problem has always been Jamaica and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will rule on the extent that hate filled island is in violation of the American Convention on Human Rights in terms of its buggery and gross indecency laws.
13 MALE RAPE.
Male Rape is now a serious thing, it has always been their but now is being reported, followed up on and acted on. Yet there is still massive stigma and Un reporting by victims. It is a problem in general society and the workplace which has come to the fore under the #MeTOO movement. It moves up a massive gear in the student/fraternity and hazing worlds and becomes massive in the prison arena. Figures show that men are 5 times as likely to be raped whilst incarcerated than women prisoners. Then of course there is the theatre of war where male rape has existed since Roman and Viking times and is just a prevalent today. In the recent Syrian war for example started in 2011 the male detainees experienced endless sexual abuse such as being forced to sit on a broken glass bottle, getting their genitals tied to a heavy bag of water or truck, or being forced to watch the rape of another detainee by the officials.
14 GAY FREE ZONES.
We have covered the First and largest of these by authorities in Poland in a previous AT feature still available online but basically the politicians looking for someone to blame have turned from migrants on to the gays with the full backing of the eternal gay enemy, religion. This has now spread to Hungary who are more right wing than Thanos or Voldemort presenting Fox News in the Sean Hannity slot and are lapping it up setting back gay rights in both those countries severely with Russia looking on as if a light bulb has been switched on in Putin’s closeted head. Both are member of the European Union and that body in March 2021 declared the entire European Union an “LGBTIQ Freedom Zone” in response to the backsliding of LGBTIQ rights in some EU countries meaning Poland and Hungary….will it work, will they listen, watch this space.
15 MARRIAGE EQALITY.
Denmark was the first to allow same sex marriage way back in 1989 quickly followed by Norway and Sweden and since then the movement has been entirely in one direction through landmarks in the USA, successful referenda in Ireland etc but our work is not done as there are many Countries still to see the rainbow light. Mexico, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Estonia and Venezuela should all go our way this year. Switzerland should finally ratify theirs and Malawi under a great forward-thinking leader is looking good but let’s keep the throttle down on this one Worldwide.
16 PrEP & PEP.
Are wonderful scientific inventions which have saved almost certainly Millions of lives over the last decade from predominantly HIV. One is a tablet you take if you have accidentally had unsafe sex whilst inebriated or a condom burst etc whilst the other keeps you alive if you are HIV positive until hopefully you are 100 years old or you can take the pill to prevent catching it in the First place whilst enjoying bareback sex. It still stuns us that there is such a lack of knowledge on these topics in the gay world so educating and getting the word out through such great organisations as Jason Domino’s ‘Porn For PrEP’ where leading International gay porn stars use their high profile to educate anyone that will listen. Less publicised was the other development 10 years ago in Hep C treatment which was an even harder disease to cure than HIV if contracted and also was caught through bareback and extreme sex. In consequence the medical profession has given us all the tools we need to have whatever healthy sex we choose to partake in we just need to keep getting the information out there especially to new young gay men.
We were going to give Saudi Arabia a kicking here but recent events have meant we need to aim attention to Iran. Basically, if the catholic church has a chequered history with gay rights then the Muslim religion is still in the starting blocks. This is an issue for many of the countries with the most work to do on LBGTQ+ topics but the Middle East has long since been a no-go area for us queers…..if you as much as look at a man you are likely to be thrown into a pit and stoned, tossed from a rooftop or put in prison for longer than Hannibal Lecter or Patrick ‘American Pscycho’ Bateman would get. Iran is seriously anti-gay like the whole region except the wonderful gay oasis that is Tel Aviv, but Iran is very big on torture which they do to trade unionists, democrats, feminists, religious/ethnic minorities and of course anyone that is LBGTQ+. In February a UN report declared Iran’s electric shock ‘cures’ on LGBT+ men and children are indeed ‘torture’ and not a medical procedure or cure at all. There are calls from them to be banned from International conferences and events and the queer world need them in their sites.
18 HATE CRIME LAWS
This is an often-overlooked area where ‘hate crime’ sometimes gets focused on racial, Jewish/Religion or feminine issues and LBGT rights are left over on the side and we should work to ensure that we are always included even if sometimes other areas of hate have more of the spotlight. Italy is mulling hate crime legislation that would specifically protect LGBT+ people from discrimination, with campaigners in Central America pushing Belize to follow suit. Britain’s Law Commission is set to report on a consultation into whether to place the five current protected characteristics of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender status on an equal footing. This sort of thing applies to each and every territory and if you don’t know your countries status on ‘Hate’ and your politicians’ positions then find out and get active.
An old favourite of the last decade when the authorities in the former Russian territory went ape shit at gay people who were made to feel about as popular as Meghan Markle at Queen Elizabeth’s next birthday party. The wonderful Rainbow Railroad group was set up and always needs help and support from the International gay community (as indeed do many other LBGT groups across Russia and former Russian territories). Why you should be concerned and protesting? – In 2017, it was reported by Novaya Gazeta and human rights groups that Chechen authorities had allegedly set up CONCENTRATION CAMPS, one of which is in Argun, where gay men are interrogated and subjected to physical violence. It got worse on 11 January 2019; it was reported that another ‘gay purge’ had begun. Chechnya needs to be top of the gay radar for a while yet.
20 DECRIMINALISATION OF SAME-SEX RELATIONS
We started on this earlier but it is so important and at the centre of every LBGTQ+ persons existence that we need to return to it. Work is being done by endless campaigns around the globe to make liking another man not a crime. Like gay Marriage above this is a gradual unstoppable tide that has been covering the World too slowly for 50 years and those 70 odd countries who still want to lock us up for simply having a wank over a picture of Dolf Dietrich’s asshole or Rocco Steeles knob we need to keep pressurising and made to feel out of step and are living in the wrong era. This year battles are expected to be fought over gay sex bans in Kenya, Mauritius and Singapore with the latter’s ruling any day now. Last year we saw fantastic developments in territories like Bhutan and Gabon in decriminalising same-sex relations. The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and Lesbians are on Sri Lanka’s case whereas the recent Ugandan elections in January did not see any change to gay sex laws that come with possible life sentences, so Uganda is still about as progressive as The Flintstones.
We have achieved so much but there is so much more work to be done. Of course, there are more issues than those above who equally need our and your attention. So, whether you are at a physical Pride or a virtual one this year get your own Stonewall campaigning spirit on – yes party, yes have a drink and laugh but let’s keep the pressure on all or any of the above that you feel strongly about. Your LBGTQ+ brothers and sisters of many types and in many territories are fighting for one tenth of what you may now be taking for granted and are counting on you and to be honest it is your gay duty to the trailblazers of the past who fought for your freedoms that you now greatly enjoy every day. Get active, join groups and campaigns or ask others what you can to do help. Follow our biggest and best campaigners such as Peter Tatchell online and stay ahead of anything new coming out of left field at us queer happy folk. If you are in a position to do so donate, if you have a role, voice or fetish title then use it and be fucking loud. Know your facts, find out what is going on (if you want us to cover anything let us know), get inspired by our amazing gay fetish History but most of all do something and do it NOW and let’s make 2021 the most progressive and best year for Gay rights since a transexual and drag queen threw a couple of stones at a homophobic Policeman outside a New York bar window 52 years ago starting the entire Pride movement. We have come so far but the journey is far from done.