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Beyond equality: Why equal rights is not enough

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By Peter Tatchell

Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation

 

Equality is the mantra of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights. South Africa, too, has an equality clause in its constitution. A laudable aspiration, but it’s not enough. Although equal rights is a step forward, it represents a lack of imagination, confidence and vision.PeterTatchell

Over the last half a century, Britain and other European nations have made great strides by repealing discriminatory laws and providing a wide range of legal protections for women and minorities. Starting with laws against racial and gender discrimination, we’ve gradually seen equality legislation extended to secure similar protections on the grounds of disability, religion and belief, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. In South Africa, all of this is enshrined in the constitution, and various rulings of the Constitutional Court have further cemented our rights.

But hold on. Equality is important, but it isn’t the panacea that many advocates claim. Equal rights for LGBT+ people, for example, means parity within a pre-existing framework of values, laws and institutions devised historically by and for the heterosexual majority. Equality within the established “straight” system involves conformity to their rules. This is a formula for assimilation and incorporation, not liberation.

Although getting rid of anti-LGBT+ discrimination is an important and commendable goal, it will not resolve all the problems faced by queer people. Some of our difficulties arise not from homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, but from the more general erotophobic and sex-negative nature of much contemporary culture, which also harms heterosexuals. These destructive puritanical attitudes are evident in the censorship of consenting adult sexual imagery, the inadequacy of sex education in schools and the criminalisation of sex workers and consensual sadomasochistic relationships in the UK and many other European countries. Equality with these restrictions hardly amounts to emancipation.

Equal rights is essentially about accepting the status quo and winning equal treatment within it. But who wants equality within a fundamentally flawed and unjust society? Surely the real prize must be to transform society, not merely secure equal rights within the confines of what exists? For true human liberation, we need a visionary agenda beyond equality – an agenda to change society from what it is, to what it could be.

Giving everyone equal legal protection against discrimination is just the first step. We also have to ensure these laws are effectively interpreted and enforced. There’s no point having good equality legislation if, for instance, employers don’t ensure equal opportunities and stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace, or if police don’t crackdown on racist attacks, sexual violence and anti-LGBT+ hate crime.

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Tunisia gets its first queer film festival

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Tunisian LGBTI rights activists can celebrate their success in organizing the country’s first Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival.
Tunisia’s first ever film festival celebrating LGBT communities opened on Jan. 15 in defiance of the country’s laws that prohibit homosexuality.tunisia
The four-day “Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival” showed twelve short and medium-length films produced in Tunisia and across the Middle East and North Africa.
The event was organised by Mawjoudin, Arabic for “We Exist”, a Tunisian non-governmental association which defends the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
It is the first event of its kind in Tunisia and the organisers say the “festival conceives of itself as audacious”.
The films “speak of sexuality, identity and gender affiliation,” Senda Ben Jebara, a member of Mawjoudin, said.
“Through this festival we would like to give a space to queer people in general in order to escape a bit from social pressure, and also to identify with something, find a means to express ourselves,” she said.
“We are trying to fight not only in the courts but through art.”
Ben Jebara said the messages which the festival would like to get across are that “we are different but we exist and differences are welcome”.
Mourad, a 21-year-old festival-goer, said the film fest “helps to strengthen the LGBT community and brings together people who are considered different”.
Gay rights activists have emerged from the shadows in Tunisia since the revolution in 2011, but their position remains precarious in the North African country’s conservative Muslim society.
Article 230 of the penal code includes a punishment of up to three years in prison for homosexuality and young men are regularly detained and prosecuted.
An online radio station catering for the LGBT community, believed to be the first of its kind in the Arab world, started broadcasting in Tunisia on December 18.
But [that radio station] Shams Rad, which was set up by LGBT rights group Shams and promotes “dignity, equality”, is now facing legal procedures aimed at shutting it down.

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Condoms can be cool again kids!

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By Bruce J.Little

 

Fewer guys are using condoms these days, and there are a few reasons why this is not a good idea. Some guys that are HIV-negative are taking PrEP and feel that they no longer need condoms to prevent becoming HIV-positive, and other guys just prefer the sensation of condomless sex. But here’s the clincher: Having sex without a condom puts you at risk of more than just HIV.topbottomdogs

Now, there is a solid argument about how much better it may feel to have sex that is skin-to-skin, but maybe we just need to see this in a new light. Perhaps we should make barebacking (condomless sex) the goal (exception) but not the rule, to minimise putting ourselves and others at risk. Maybe if we can save this very intimate and vulnerability causing way of having sex for special occasions. Occasions that we have prepared for and when we know the health status of our partner for sure.

Even if you are on PrEP, you need to have been taking it as prescribed for at least ten days for it to effectively prevent HIV transmission, and even then, you are still vulnerable to other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes and hepatitis. Many guys who have these STIs have no symptoms at all. You wouldn’t be able to see that they have it.

The prevalence of STIs and the fact that they have not been treated effectively is what has caused dangerous drug-resistant strains of these infections to become very common. It’s bad enough to have an STI, but to get an STI that is persistent and very difficult to treat is even worse.

Good old-fashioned condoms and water-based lube is still the best way to protect yourself from unwanted STIs.

When you hook up with someone that you know little to nothing about, it’s not worth taking the risk and having unprotected sex with him, because chances are that he may not even know that he has HIV or an STI. 1 in 6 HIV-positive people have no idea that they are positive and the number of people who have other STIs, but have no idea, is much, much bigger!

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Mr Gay World 2018 to take place in Knysna

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The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival has proudly announced that it will make history by hosting the 10th edition of the Mr Gay World competition in Knysna in May 2018.

This will be the third time that South Africa has presented the prestigious event; a world first. It will also be the second time that the contest will be held during the Pink Loerie, Africa’s biggest LGBTIQ+ cultural festival.MGW2018
Eric Butter, President of Mr Gay World, revealed that three other cities had expressed interest in hosting the next Mr Gay World, but “when the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Knysna 2018 came forward I couldn’t have been more overjoyed.”
He explained: “The 10th Mr Gay World marks a milestone and is very important for our organisation. We have worked with the team in South Africa twice and it has always been a great pleasure; they have the very best work ethic and they always deliver a world class event.”
Butter added: “We also decided on South Africa because we wanted the international community to support the rebuilding of Knysna after the devastating fires in June by incorporating it with the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Knysna 2018.”
Since the blazes ravaged the region, the Pink Loerie organisers have played an active role in raising funds, sourcing material assistance and bringing awareness about the crisis in order to bolster the local community.
This was acknowledged by the Executive Mayor of Knysna, Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who thanked the festival for its efforts. She and the Knysna Municipality also enthusiastically welcomed the town’s hosting of Mr Gay World 2018 as a further boost to its recovery.
“I do not hesitate in throwing my support behind this initiative and categorically state this event carries my full endorsement,” said Bouw-Spies.
“With the added benefit of hosting Mr Gay World, the 2018 Pink Loerie will, without a doubt, lure more visitors to our legendary LGBTIQ+ festival and beautiful area.”
Bouw-Spies continued: “Greater Knysna will receive much-needed national and international exposure, proving to the world that we are most definitely ‘open for business’ despite the terrible tragedy of the recent fires.”

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Sleep your way around the world

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With our weak rand, travel, particularly international travel is a very costly pleasure. This is not so much because of the cost of the ticket, though a return trip to Cape Town in high season can cost over R4000 whereas a ticket on the same dates to Rome or Bangkok is around R7500. The bigger problem is once you are there, where are you going to stay as accommodation will cost a whole lot more? Because of this a lot of people are turning to groups like Queer Couchsurfers on Facebook, and they report that this is the way to travel. Where else can you find free places to stay when travelling around the world, or even at home in SA? You may even get a shag into the deal!Manonbed
There is www.misterbnb.com which has over 10 000 hosts in 130 countries around the world, and www.staywithfamily.com .They arrange home swaps or sharing for the gay traveller and have 4000+ members around the world. On the homeswapping side there is www.homearoundtheworld.com ,which offers not only home swapping but also hospitality exchanges, room exchanges, house sitting, couch surfing and even vacation sharing, so you can avoid those single supplements that can make travel for single people so expensive. And www.crashpadder.com has now apparently added an LGBT group to their site. Anyone out there with more info in this line, please send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can share it with others who may be interested.

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