Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter – January 24, 2006

Stop Hate 2000 wishes you and your family the very best for 2006. The Canadian federal election kept one of our volunteers very busy. Another Stop Hate volunteer donated a few hours to the election. The election is why the letter is coming out late.

One of our volunteers read an article from Associated Press that appeared on the Billings Gazette web site. Sexual interest responses among animals are thought to be triggered by pheromones. The Associated Press article reports on a scientific study. The study exposed straight and gay men to the chemicals thought to be in human pheromones. The study that found that gay men respond different to the chemical than straight men. Gay men responded to the smell of the chemical like straight women. According to the article, this is support for the theory "that sexual orientation is not learned." Regardless of the cause of homosexuality, gay and lesbian people should be treated with as much respect as straight people. The findings may help people better accept gay and bisexual individuals.

Disturbing reports continue to come out of Iran. Recently, a volunteer forwarded an article about a gay man's treatment in Iran. There is a short reference in a November Amnesty International article about a gay Iranian named Amir. According to the Amnesty article, the police tortured Amir. He was sentenced to 175 lashes, 100 of which were immediately administered. He was threatened by the police with execution, so he left Iran in July of 2005. Many gay news groups have articles about Amir. His arrest and torture touched a nerve in the international queer community. The PageOneQ web site has an article about the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization asking for assistance from North American activists to help end the persecution of gay people in Iran. The article discusses how Iranian gay people are treated and discusses Amir's case. The article has a graphic photograph of Amir's injuries. Probably the most detailed information about Amir can be found on Doug Ireland's web site. The article describes in detail the torture Amir experienced and has graphic photographs of Amir's wounds. The article is so detailed and graphic that we strongly recommend caution. Those who are bothered by graphic news should not read the article.

Another Stop Hate 2000 volunteer found an article about the home of two gay men that was tourched in Lakeland, Florida. According to the article, one of the men found his mail box was hit with shotgun pellets. They returned home to find their mobile home burned and the words "die fag" painted on the front steps. The men also report having been taunted by teenagers. The Newsdesk article also looks some at the reported rates of violence and harassment against queer people. According to the article, the rate increased by 26 percent increase during the last half of 2003.

Brokeback Mountain, a romantic movie about two cowboys, has been nominated for nine awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. We can hope this movie about two men who love each other will change public attitudes toward gay people. More information about the movie can be found at the PlanetOut and the New York Times web sites.

This winter saw the conclusion of a Swedish legal case that pitted freedom of speech and religion against the value to reduce hate crimes. In a sermon, a pastor is reported as saying homosexuality is a "cancerous tumor on all of society." An article can be read on the Planet Out web site.

While the pastor was acquited, the pastor had an ethical obligation to take into consideration both the spiritual and emotional needs of gay people in his sermon. Based on the comments he is reported as having made, that does not appear to have been done.

An article, "Racism: Nature of the Beast," by Brian Knowles, appears in the January 2006 edition of the Bible Advocate magazine. Knowles makes the point that we naturally prefer to be with people who share our view and values and we tend to discriminate for people who are like us. This natural tendency can become problematic when we start to think of others as being inferior or when we do things that could harm others. Knowles says that racism denies the equality God granted all humans at creation.

"When it comes to intrinsic human worth, we are all utterly equal." There is no such thing as a master race. While the article is not written about religion, sexual orientation or gender identification, the principle applies there. There is no such thing as a superior sexual orientation or a superior gender identification. All humans, regardless of race, religion, tribe, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identification are equal. Religious convictions should not be used to justify hatred and discrimination. Sound religious beliefs promote love, not hatred and discrimination.

"Racism with its attendant evils and abuses, continues to flourish because people with low values and great power make it happen." Racism, tribalism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and transphobia exist when people who have power choose to abuse that power and to take advantage of people who are weaker and more vulnerable members of society.

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