Stop Hate 2000 Newsletter November 26, 2007

Quote of the month: “Gender rules and sexual conventions, in contrast, enforce cookie-cutter sameness onto the body of youth by cultural cops posing as teachers, parents, counselors, social workers - and friends.” Editor’s Note: Molding Youth, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Issues in Education, Vol. 4 (2), 2007 available from Haworth Press.
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Amnesty International does an excellent job of highlighting problems around the world. Some of the problems Amnesty highlights are due to prejudice and discrimination. Amnesty International is organizing an online action on behalf of Native American and Native Alaskan women. The purpose is to online action is to help Native American and Native Alaskan women obtain access to sexual assault forensic examinations conducted by Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. Amnesty has an online form a person can complete, so an email can be sent requesting action.

Unfortunately, Native American women are not the only women who are at risk. According to Amnesty International, violence against women “global health, economic development, and human rights problem of epidemic proportions . . .” Amnesty reports that the worldwide rate of women being abused, beaten, or coerced into having sex is “at least” one in three. You can learn more about violence against women on the Amnesty International web site.

In September, Amnesty International reports that gay rights activists protested outside Nicaraguan embassies and consulates in over ten countries. The protests were over Nicaragua’s sodomy law.

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Many people have been following the activities of Fred Phelps and his church, Westboro Baptist Church. The church gained infamy by picketing and protesting at the funerals of gay people. Some members of the congregation have continued to catch media attention for protesting at the funerals of United States military personnel. The family of a fallen American serviceman launched a lawsuit after some members of Westboro Baptist Church protested at the funeral of their loved one. The family was awarded $11 million dollar for compensatory and punitive damages. According to a Time/CNN article, some members of the church "smiled as they walked out of the courtroom, vowing the verdict would not deter them from protesting at military funerals.

The protests at the funerals of fallen American soldiers appear to be at least partially homophobic in nature. The Westboro Baptist Church web site has a schedule of funerals the congregation is planning on attending. The church is planning on picketing the funeral for Army Sgt. Jeffery S. Mersman scheduled for November 21, 2007 in LaCygne, Kansas. Under the schedule of Jeffery Mersman's funeral, the church writes, "You have thought it meet to take part in vain traditions (Christmas, holidays), worship dead bodies of soldiers, the military, the flag, and to command God bless you, and to say 'It's OK to be Gay.'"

Many people of faith have moved to distance themselves from the actions of Westboro Baptist Church. Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. In a November 2007 article, Richard Land indicates there are reasonable limits to freedom of speech. Land takes the position that Fred Phelps’ protests should not be protected under the First Amendment. Land describes the protests at American servicemen’s funerals as “verbal terrorism.” Land’s article appears on the Baptist Press web site.

Our hearts go out to those families who have suffered emotional pain and distress due to the protests of this congregation.

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In September 2007, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran spoke at Columbia University. In a CNN article he is cited as saying, “In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country." Additional information about the Columbia University speech can be found in a New York Times article. You can see this portion of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech the YouTube video system.

In Iran it is illegal to engage in homosexual activities. Sex between two men, or between two women is not legal. Making homosexual relationships illegal does not eliminate homosexuality. Trying to legislate homosexuality out of existence is like trying to legislate brown hair or blue eyes out of existence.

In reality, there is a gay community in Iran. Unfortunately, the visible queer community is very small, because it is persecuted. You Tube has a series of three videos, Inside Iran’s Secret Gay World. The videos were shown on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation earlier this year. Some content of the video could be disturbing. We urge caution for those who are sensitive. The documentary videos discuss the gay rights movement in Iran. This news documentary contains footage of gay life in Iran. One of the leaders in the Iranian gay rights immigrated to Canada to avoid arrest and persecution. Inside Iran’s Secret Gay World discusses some of the ways Iran deals with gay people, including execution and sex change operations. The social marginalization faced by Iranian trans-identified people is also discussed in the news documentary.

Video one,video two, video three. The entire documentary can be seen on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation web site.

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Bisexuality is not well accepted. Many straight people feel anybody who has an attraction toward members of the same gender is gay. There is a tendency for gay people to feel bisexual people are not being honest about their sexuality. Some gay people feel those who identify as bisexual are really gay people who have not fully accepted their homosexuality. Biphobia is common inside the straight and the queer communities. A You Tube video titled “Bisexuality for Dummies” describes bisexuality and discusses bisexuality and some of the struggles bisexual people face.

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A few stories we’ve been following appear below:

• An Advocate article states Italy has an advertising campaign to reduce homophobia. The advertisements show a photograph of a baby, wearing a wristband that identifies the baby as a homosexual.

• Elton John performed in Casper, Wyoming. During concert, Elton John paid tribute to Dennis and Judy Shepard, the parents of college student Matthew Shepard who was murdered for being gay. An article about the performance can be found on the Casper Star Tribune.

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Interesting internet videos on topics related to hate follow:

ABC News story about bullying. The video interviews experts, who explain some of the causes of bullying.

National Anti-Bullying Week - A United Kingdom youth posted a video about the National Anti-Bullying Week, which is in November.

• You TubeAnti-bullying video. This video has photos and headlines that point out the problems of bullying.

The Terrible Impacts of Bullying, contains part of A Five News item about school bullying.

Gay Bashing - a My Space video dedicated to the victims of hate crimes. Warning, this video has graphic content some people may find disturbing.

Kick a Bully’s Ass - You Tube cartoon video about the problems of school bullying.

Anybody with news about hate crimes or discrimination is welcome to email us.

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