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thepinkhumanist Published quarterly by the Pink Triangle Trust – a registered UK charity Issue 1, Volume 4 MARCH 2014

THE LUNACY OF YOWERI MUSEVENI:

Ugandan President describes anti-gay Bill as ‘fascist’ ... then signs it into law – page 3

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Also in this issue: Yemisi Ilesanmi launches her book Freedom To Love For ALL: Homosexuality Is Not Un-African!, p8. Is Russia being unfairly demonised over its anti-gay legislation?, p10. Outrage as India recriminalises homosexuality, p12. Why did Michael Cashman MEP, newest patron of the Pink Triangle Trust, cut his Visa card in half? , p16 Cover photo of gay rights activist Yemisi Ilesanmi courtesy of the Peter Tatchell Foundation

some lucky bugger but to supplicate themselves before God. Hutton became all moist at the crotch last month when a fellow fundie began posting comments on his blog, commending him on all the good work he was doing for The Almighty. The first read: “Dear Mr Hutton, I continue to draw inspiration from your blog and really do admire your patience with the atheist doubters. I could not do what you do! I have printed out your ‘view of life’ and have put it on my cottage wall. You’d be surprised how many visitors have commented on it and how many have gloried over the whole of the text. It really has struck a chord. “Our local priest is very traditional and doesn’t always embrace homilies, but the Parish Secretary – and my friend – Dorothy, showed him this one and he became very enthused. I half wonder if it will pop up during his sermon on Sunday. “I suspect our rural lives here are quite different from yours, and probably less sophisticated, but we share a passion for the Lord. “I hope you don’t mind my sharing these simple thoughts.” She then wrote passionately about someone called “Jason” who went miraculously from gay to straight after handing his heart to Jesus: “I would like to tell you a bit more about Jason’s story, Mr Hutton, if I may. I won’t name the village in Ireland where I live so as not to identify him. The atheists who read your blog and say homosexuals can’t change should read this. “Jason lives with his parents in a small cottage in the village. He used to travel to Cork to meet men and have relations with them. He never felt happy and used to get very upset when he recalled his activities and shared his feelings of self-loathing with us. I By BARRY DUKE would meet him and his mother in the tea-room in the village and ’ve said it frequently in the past, and I’ll say it again: Chrishe would share his load (of guilt) with us. tian fundamentalists are dimwitted to at least a factor of 50. “He had worked in the local confectionery factory for some years The latest – and the funniest example of how truly clueless packing fudge for export and seemed to enjoy his job, then it all these imbeciles can be was provided by a Baptist evangelist came crashing down. His life was in tatters. He attended church in Kent, Bob Hutton who runs a sorry excuse for a blog called The occasionally but his mother, some other family and friends and I, Gospel Truth. Hutton’s writings comprise mainly rejoicing in the persuaded him to seek the Lord’s guidance more solidly. post-mortem punishments he believes will be meted out by his “He did so, and through prayer and self-discipline he changed and vengeful, invisible friend to non-believers and – in particular – to no longer has lustful feelings about men. His life is back on track “sodomites”. and he has a new job and new hobbies. He is now He is best known for gleefully “coffin” up coman active attender at church, and has become a ments on the death of well-known atheists. top member of the choir. As I said before, he is Example: “News has come through of the death even thinking of joining the priesthood. So to all of actor Peter O’Toole. It is well known that this the atheist doubters – it can work.” Hutton’s supperson was an atheist (fool – Psalm 14 V1) and one porter added: “I don’t know how you can stand all hopes that, before he died, he came to his senses these rude atheists sending you unhelpful comand repented of his unbelief while accepting Jesus ments, Mr Hutton. I think you’re doing a grand job as his personal Saviour. spreading the word of the Lord. All my best from “It is possible even for wicked men like O’Toole Bob Hutton has also claimed the Ireland.” to repent on their deathbeds; however, it is rare – pardon granted to the late Alan The writer was Doreen Potts (Mrs), and the good most people die as they live, without Christ and Turing will serve no purpose ‘as he lady would undoubtedly have continued sending heading straight into the torments of Hell. Hutton messages of support but for the fact that is now in Hell’ “Last month I wrote an article about a number a frequent visitor to the Freethinker blog revealed of famous atheists who proudly boasted about their folly but have that Potts was, in reality, the nom-de-plume of one who was merrily passed into eternity and found out that they were wrong all along. leading the naïve, godly retard up the uphill gardener’s path. O’Toole can be added to that list. This man lived a particularly sinI have no idea who authored the messages, but this I do know. ful life and was known as a ‘Hell raiser’; he blatantly rejected God Doreen Potts was a character in an acclaimed, laugh-out-loud book in the way he lived but has now had to give account to the God called The Potts Papers, written by someone the deranged Hutton he denied for that debauched life. Another such vile person was absolutely detests, long-time gay rights campaigner and now PresiOliver Reed who was also a known drunkard and died ‘in action’ dent of the National Secular Society, Terry Sanderson. during a drunken bout.” The moment Hutton realised that his prissy, piss-poor little Hutton, one of those faith-heads capable only of spitting the blog had been defiled with references to “fudge packers”, “teaword “love”, is also a keen believer in quack “gay cures” and prorooms”, “cottages” and “glory holes”, all of Doreen Potts’ comments vides unsubstantiated accounts of how, after collapsing into the were removed. Poof! And they were gone! My one regret was that arms of Jesus, gays he knows (never identified) have set aside their I was not around to see the look on this twisted defect’s face when sinful lives. Now when they fall to their knees it’s not to fellate he realised he had been thoroughly hoodwinked.

The Pink Humanist

opening lines

Doreen Potts, ‘fudge-packer’ Jason and an evangelist called Bob Hutton

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The Pink Humanist

Uganda’s new age of darkness

Museveni’s madness

The Pink Triangle Trust adds its voice to the chorus of condemnation that followed the signing into law of a bill that carries even heavier penalties for gays

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n signing into law a bill harshening penalties for those arrested for being gay, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, pictured right, made ludicrous claims that gay people give each other worms through sex, and that people are only gay because they have sex for money. A report exposing Museveni’s gross ignorance was published by Pink News shortly after the UK LGBT Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) joined hundreds of organisations around the world to condemn Uganda’s judicial hysteria and hatemongering. Museveni said he had taken the decision to ratify the law after taking advice from “scientists”. PTT Secretary George Broadhead pointed out that, although “much has been made of the influence of American Evangelical Christians in bringing about this legislation, other malign religious influences seem to have been totally ignored”. In a statement issued after the law was passed, Broadhead said: Mbale, the Rt Rev Patrick Gidudu, asked Ugandans and political “When the legislation was first mooted in 2012, The Uganda Joint leaders who are against the Bill ‘to seek God, repent and renew Christian Council, which includes Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox fellowship to save the country from God’s wrath’. bishops, called on parliament to move it forward. Top religious “Significantly, Ugandan scientists reported that people did not leaders from across the country asked Parliament to speed-up the choose their sexual orientation, that homosexuality was not an process of enacting it to prevent what they called ‘an attack on the abnormality, that homosexuals had always existed in Africa and Bible and the institution of marriage’. that current attitudes to homosexual“Speaking after their annual conferity in Africa were largely a result of ence organised by the Uganda Joint Far from being the birthplace of Muslim and Christian missionaries and Christian Council (UJCC), an ecumenicolonial powers.” evolutionary man, Africa has cal body which brings together the This, said, Broadhead, raises an imporAnglican, Catholic and Orthodox returned to the land of dinosaurs tant question: “What scientists did the churches, the bishops resolved that evangelical Christian Museveni consult – Paul Cook, commenting on the the Parliamentary Committee on that led him not only to sign the bill Gender should be tasked ‘to engage Freethinker blog into law, but also to utter a series of the House on the Bill which was now nonsensical statements?” at committee level’.” On signing the bill, which imposes Broadhead added: “At the end of December 2013, the Anglican a 14-year jail sentence for first-time offenders and makes it a Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Stanley Ntagali, said ‘In criminal offence not to report someone for being gay, Museveni Uganda, there are so many injustices like child sacrifice, domestic questioned why gay men “failed” to be attracted to women, deviolence, drug abuse which are now a big issue in our schools . . . I scribed them as “mercenaries” who have sex for money, expressed want to thank Parliament for passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I horror at the idea of oral sex and claimed that he had “listened to want the world to understand what we are saying. Can you imagine scientists” as a basis for his claims. your son brings another man at home for introduction?’ He also said that there was something “really wrong” with gay “Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira commended MPs for passing the Anti-Homosexual Bill, but asked them to object the proposed (Continued on p4) law to legalise abortion describing it as murder. The Bishop of

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The Pink Humanist

Museveni’s madness Kenyans wear masks to preserve their anonymity while staging a rare protest last month against Uganda’s anti-gay laws at the Uganda High Commission in Nairobi. (Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP)

people, and that he is “prepared” to be on a collision course with the west over the law. He said: “I have failed to understand that you can fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man. That is a really serious matter. There is something really wrong with you.” He added: “Homosexuals are actually mercenaries. They are heterosexual people but because of money they say they are homosexuals. These are prostitutes because of money,” he said. Referring to the “scientific” opinions he received, he said: “No study has shown you can be homosexual by nature. That man can choose to love a man . . . is a matter of choice. After listening to the scientists, I got the facts. Can somebody be homosexual simply by nature? The answer is no.” Describing oral sex as a “culture”, and the mouth as an “address”, he went on to say that it was “engineered for kissing”, and that the mouth was not meant for oral sex. He said: “One of the cultures that we detest is oral sex. “It is not healthy. You can contract STDs. Blaming the West for the presence of gay people in Uganda, he said “arrogant and careless Western groups” had been “coming in our schools and recruiting homosexuals into homosexuality and lesbianism”. “Initially I have not paid attention to it because I was busy with the immediate issues of defence, security, electricity, the roads. “When finally, when I concentrated my mind on it, I distilled three problems: number one, those who are promoting homosexuality and recruiting normal people to it. Secondly, as a consequence of number one, many of those recruited, are doing so for mercenary reasons. To get money. In effect, homosexual prostitutes. These mercenary homosexual prostitutes have to be punished. Just like those who are recruiting them. “Number three, homosexuals exhibiting themselves. Exhibition of homosexuals, advertising yourself that you are homosexual.” Concluding, he addressed critics from the West who condemned the law. They included Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Foreign Secretary William Hague, EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton and US President Barack Obama. “I advise friends from the West not to make this an issue because if they make it an issue the more they will lose,” he said. “This is social imperialism. To impose social values of one group on our society.

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“I would advise Western countries, this is a no-go area . . . I don’t mind being in a collision course with the West. I am prepared.” Writing in The Observer on February 23, 2014, under the headline “Why Africa is the most homophobic continent”, David Smith said that Africa’s new war on gay and lesbian people “is a war marked by political opportunism, biblical fundamentalism and a clash between cultural relativism and universal human rights. “But it is also a measure of conservatives’ anxiety that every day more and more African homosexuals are coming out and losing their fear. “Western liberals eager to see the best in Africa must face an inconvenient truth: this is the most homophobic continent on Earth. Same-sex relations are illegal in 36 of Africa’s 55 countries, according to Amnesty International, and punishable by death in some states. Now a fresh crackdown is under way.” In January, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan signed into law a bill criminalising same-sex “amorous relationships” and membership of LGBT rights groups. Shortly after, Gambian president Yahya Jammeh declared: “We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.” Also in January, The United Nations AIDS Task Force announced its plan to legally challenge Malawi over the country’s laws criminalising homosexuality, according to The Christian Post. On March 17, UNAIDS, the Malawi Law Society and local human rights organisations, will petition a high court to overturn the southern African country’s law on homosexuality by ruling it unconstitutional. The groups will also challenge the convictions of three gay men who were placed behind bars for their sexual activities back in 2011. Being convicted of homosexual activities carries a 14-year prison sentence in Malawi. The controversial law has strained relations between the country and the rest of the world. Malawi’s harsh treatment of gays first came to public view in 2009 when two men were arrested and charged with public indecency for getting married. The men were later pardoned by late President Bingu wa Mutharika after pressure from the United Nations and other countries. David Smith claimed that the “hate-filled bile” of politicians such as Yahya Jammeh, is spewed “because they know they will strike a popular chord in swathes of Africa. Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time on the continent is likely to encounter a warm, friendly, decent human being who will stop them short with an

outburst of homophobic prejudice. Newspapers, TV and radio notions of culture that frame homosexuality as an “un-African”, often fan the flames”. alien behaviour foisted on the continent by western imperialists. He added: “So it is in Uganda, where a tabloid once published Seen through this prism, a strike against gay and lesbian people is photographs of dozens of gay people under the words: ‘Hang a strike against colonialism and in favour of African nationalism them’.” A similar headline appeared last month on the front cover and self-worth. of Red Pepper: “Exposed: Uganda’s 200 Top Homos Named”. “Yet as the scientists’ report noted, homosexuality has existed Homosexuality, wrote, Smith, was already a crime there, but the throughout human history. Anthropologists found an ethnic new legislation, rushed through parliament in December, broadens group in central Africa where it was customary for a male warrior the scope of life imprisonment for a range of “offences” including to marry a teenage boy and celebrate victory in battle by having suggestive touching in public. sexual intercourse. On January 18, the Associated Press reported that Yoweri Musev“In many cases, the very laws being imposed so zealously were eni had held a meeting with US-based rights activists and, on the introduced by the European empires that carved up and plunphone, with South African retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, who dered Africa.” drew a comparison between the legislation and racist laws under “Prior to western colonisation, there are no records of any Afriapartheid. can laws against homosexuality,” said Peter Tatchell, the veteran Museveni “specifically said this bill is a fascist bill,” Santiago Canhuman rights and gay rights campaigner. “The real import into ton of the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Africa was not homosexuality but homophobia.” told AP. “Those were the first words that came out of his mouth.” Tatchell, who twice tried to arrest Zimbabwean president RobThen something changed. A ert Mugabe over human rights month later the president, under abuses, added: “The colonial nardomestic pressure mainly from ratives of racism and homophobia religious groups, announced are very closely intertwined. It’s that he would sign the bill after one of the great tragedies of receiving a report on homosexuAfrica that so many people have ality from a team of “medical exinternalised the homophobia of perts”. But The Observer obtained that colonial oppression and now the report, entitled “Scientific proclaim it as their own authentic statement from the ministry of African tradition.” health on homosexuality” and Kapya Kaoma, an Episcopal said “it is far from the bigots’ priest from Zambia, and religion charter that might be expected. and sexuality researcher at the “Homosexuality existed in US-based thinktank Political Africa way before the coming of Research Associates claimed that the white man,” the report states. politicians tend to “blame the “There is a spectrum of sexual gays” to distract attention from behaviours. Some people are less their own failings, casting them as fixed in one form of sexualthe enemy within. Catholic priest-turned-politician Simon Lokodo ity than others. Thus sexuality Mugabe peppered his speeches is a far more flexible human quality than used to be assumed in with praise of Adam and Eve and denunciations of homosexuals the past. Homosexuality has no clear cut cause; several factors as animals while electioneering last year. are involved which differ from individual to individual. It is not a The share of the sub-Saharan Africa population that is Christian disease that has a treatment.” climbed from 9 percent in 1910 to 63 percent in 2010, says the Pew But Simon Lokodo, a Ugandan politician who is the current State Research Center. Minister for Ethics and Integrity in Uganda and a former Catholic Kaoma said: “Religious fundamentalism is strong in these counpriest argued that the most important conclusion is that there tries. That provides the militant reaction to LGBT rights. One of is no definitive gene for homosexuality. “It is a social style of life the fears for fundamentalists is losing grip of the country; they are that is acquired,” he said by phone from Uganda. “They chose to told they have lost grip because of the gays. They say, ‘We don’t be homosexual and are trying to recruit others. The commercialiwant to lose Nigeria or Uganda just as our brothers lost America sation of homosexuality is unacceptable. If they were doing it in to the gays. If it means killing, we will kill’.” their own rooms we wouldn’t mind, but when they go for children, He said homosexuality was a rare point of convergence for that’s not fair. They are beasts of the forest.” Christian and Islamic hardliners. With chilling conviction, Lokodo set out why he believes the Smith pointed out that US evangelicals have been accused of state should interfere in the choices of consenting adults in turning their attention to Africa and whipping up homophobia private. “Homosexuality is unnatural, abnormal and strange to our with lurid stories about child molestation, bestiality, rape and cultures,” he said. “It has no output whatsoever; it only does damdeadly diseases. age and destruction. You cannot have a right to be a sick human Kaoma reflected: “In America the conservatives are losing. In being. There is no right in homosexuality. It must be cured.” Africa they are winning and the progressives are on the retreat. After the bill drew criticism from Barack Obama, Lokodo accused People are not paying attention to how world religions are taking the West of trying to “blackmail” Uganda. “When I heard the US advantage of globalisation. saying they will cut aid, we said fine. Will they be comfortable Those opposed to gay rights can connect very easily with if we come to America and started practising polygamy? HomoAfrican groups opposed to gay rights. In the past they had to sexuality is strange to us and polygamy is strange to you. We have travel; now they send an email and share tactics. Conservatives divergent views.” argue that gays are out to destroy ‘traditional family values’; as David Smith continued: “Promoters of the bill in Uganda, which Africans encounter fast-changing values, this language sounds gained independence from Britain in 1962, appealed to populist very attractive.”

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The Pink Humanist

News from around the globe

US survey shows a sharp turn in favour of gay marriage

A SURVEY published in the US in February this year indicates a significant shift toward acceptance of LGBT communities across the entire religious and political spectrum in every region of the country. The findings were released by Robert P Jones, Chief Executive Officer of the Public Religion Research Institute. The PRRI survey shows a startling change of attitude in a relatively short space of time. “Only the issue of marijuana looks anything like this in terms of rapid movement in favourability,” Jones said. Overall support for same-sex marriage jumped 21 percentage points, from 32 percent in 2003 in a Pew Research survey to 53 percent in 2013 in PRRI’s survey. During this period, gay marriage became legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia and the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act whichblocked federal recognition of legally wed gay couples. Since 2003, the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America opened their doors to gay bishops and clergy, even as most other major US denominations kept their teachings against homosexual behaviour intact. Yet over the decade, PRRI found, the number of people who say same-sex marriage is against their religious beliefs dropped, from 62 percent to 51 percent. Within specific groups, the drop was less dramatic but still apparent: • For white evangelical Protestants, the number fell from 84 percent to 78 percent. • Black Protestants, down from 66 percent to 61 percent. • Catholics, down from 65 percent to 53 percent. • White mainline Protestants, down from 59 percent to

45 percent. Overall, most people (51 percent) say sex between adults of the same gender is morally wrong. Still, 43 percent – and 56 percent of millennials (ages 18-33) – say it is morally acceptable. Even so, “support for legality outstrips moral acceptability in several religious groups”, said Jones. For example, 47 percent of white Catholics find gay sex to be morally acceptable, “but 58 percent of the same group say they favour allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry”. Meanwhile, religious leaders’ continued preaching against homosexual behaviour is driving some people out of the church doors, Jones said. PRRI found people perceive three major religious groups to be “unfriendly” toward LGBT people: • The Catholic Church (58 percent) • The Mormon church (53 percent) • Evangelical Christian churches (51 percent) Among those who say they left their childhood religion and now have no religious identity, nearly one in four (24 percent) say their church’s negative teachings or treatment of LGBT people was an important reason they left. That rises to 31 percent of millennials, damaging churches’ ability to bring in – and keep – young adults, Jones said. At the root of change is a personal connection to someone who is LGBT. The number of Americans who say they have a close friend or family member who is gay or lesbian rose from 22 percent in 1993 to 65 percent today. Again, millennials lead the way: 71 percent say they have a close friend or relative who is gay or lesbian.

Oxford will host the World Humanist Congress 2014 in August The World Humanist Congress, held every three years, is a unique event bringing together humanists from over forty countries under the auspices of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. This year the British Humanist Association will host the event in the beautiful and historic city of Oxford from August 8-10. The BHA is committed to making this year’s Congress the largest, most inclusive and most successful yet. The theme of this year’s congress is freedom of thought and expression – two of the most vital human rights, drivers of progress and enlightenment now as in the past. Yet they are two of the rights most under threat in today’s world. You can register to take part in this vitally important event by visiting http://whc2014.org.uk/

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The Pink Humanist

Diver Tom Daley takes a stand against homophobia in Russia British Olympic diving star Tom Daley is reportedly planning to boycott a diving competition in Moscow later this year over anti-gay laws in Russia. According to a Daily Star Sunday report in February, a source said that the 19-year-old Olympic medal winner is withdrawing from the FINA Diving World Series out of principle, despite the fact that it could affect his world ranking. The source said: “Tom decided to boycott the Russian competition due to their despicable treatment of gay people. It’s something he feels really passionately about. “He knows it could lose him ranking points and money

News from around the globe

but he wants to take a stand, even if it is just a small one. The last thing Tom wants to do is bring his sexuality into his diving. But he does feel a bigger responsibility to be a role model now since coming out.” In a five-minute YouTube video last year, the British diving bronze medallist, and star of ITV’s Smash, revealed that he had been in a relationship with a man since spring 2013. It is claimed that Tom’s teammates and his boyfriend Dustin Lance Black a ­ ll support his decision. The FINA Diving World Series – which is a competition ­circuit that stops in six countries – is set to take place in Moscow on May 2.

Newcastle mural starkly highlight’s the plight of Russian gays This striking mural in Newcastle city centre is one artist’s protest against Russia’s antigay laws. The Russian Government last year introduced laws which prohibit the “promotion” of homosexuality – a move that it has fuelled a surge in homophobia in the country. A Channel 4 Dispatches programme recently highlighted how LGBT people were being hunted in the street and viciously beaten. Newcastle-based Chris Fleming, who is known by his tag ID4a, said he hoped to draw attention to the issue with this emotive image on Scotswood Road in the city, close to the city’s gay village, known as “the pink triangle”. It shows a gay man restrained and pushed face-down to the ground by what appears to be a neo-Nazi thug. Their figures are intertwined with the fiveringed Olympic symbol and a quote from the Olympic Charter, which reads: “Sport does not discriminate on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.”

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The Pink Humanist

Freedom to Love for All

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ast August on her YEMMYnisting blog (motto: Proudly Feminist, Proudly Bisexual, Proudly Atheist) Yemisi Ilesanmi wrote: “Sexuality rights remain a controversial issue in many parts of Africa; it is not just a controversial issue but also a taboo subject. Many countries in Africa still criminalise homosexuality. Sodomy laws remain part of the criminal laws thereby making it legally possible to persecute sexual minorities. “For example Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana all have laws under which homosexuality can be prosecuted. In South Africa, where the constitution recognises same-sex relationships, gays and lesbians are often attacked, molested and persecuted for their sexual orientation. Many African societies do not provide enabling environments to discuss sexual orientation issues. Homosexuality has been condemned by many African leaders as Immoral, Un-African and a ‘White man’s disease’. “In Nigeria, lawmakers are resurrecting a version of a widely condemned anti-homosexuality bill. [The bill has since passed into law]. Nigerian lawmakers in a bid to rally popular support needed a scapegoat and the LGBT community provides an easy target. Poverty, corruption, unemployment, lack of security and the growing menace of terrorists groups like Boko Haram are some of the many problems bedevilling Nigeria. “Rather than focus on these urgent problems, Nigerian lawmakers decided instead, to come in a ‘straight’ mass orgy of corruption to bully the gay minority; a cause always guaranteed to provide the otherwise unpopular lawmakers cheap, majority support. When will they stop discussing who is sleeping with whom and start making laws to move this underdeveloped, oil rich nation forward?” In her book, Freedom To Love For All: Homosexuality is not Un-African, Ilesanmi takes a critical look at Nigeria’s “Jail the Gays” bill. In this interesting collection of her articles on Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition bill, she makes a brilliant case for

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Nigerian human rights campaigner Yemisi Ilesanmi sets out to prove that homosexuality is not a ‘White man’s disease’, as many claim LGBT Rights as human rights and effectively debunks the myths surrounding homosexuality in Africa. She also raises concern on what she termed “The deafening silence of Nigerian Human rights activists on the homophobic bill”. Here are some excerpts from her book: “I wonder why it is not considered politically incorrect to ask if Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals or Transsexuals have equal rights as heterosexuals. If we are agreed that no one should be discriminated against, why are we still debating if Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals are entitled to Human Rights? Last time I checked LGBTs are people too! Well, debate is good because in some countries like Nigeria, many are yet to be convinced that Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals are actually human beings.” “Sodomy law is a foreign import; it is a relic from the colonial era which former British colonies inherited. The law, like most old colonial British laws, had a very high religious influence, the name of the law itself points to its biblical origin. Britain has since repealed sodomy laws in its homeland. Unfortunately Nigeria and many other African countries still cling to this antiquated law and many now think it is an original, home-grown, African law.” “There are many things that could be said to be ‘UnAfrican’, for example, laws allowing women to inherit land or criminalising female genital mutilation could be said to be Un-African. Also, giving women the right to vote or participate in public debates was considered Un-African in some African societies. We must also not forget that Christianity, Islam and their attendant festivals like Christmas, Easter and Ileya are all UnAfrican; these, not homosexuality, are the real Western imports” “Unfortunately, neo-colonialism and mental slavery continue in Africa through the heavy influence of evangelical missionaries who, having lost ground in their western countries to Equality Rights Acts, have now invaded African churches and are inciting mem-

The idea that homosexuality is a ‘White man’s disease’ is not confined to Africa. Last month this sign was put up outside the Atlah Worldwide Missionary Church in Harlem, New York, by Dr James David Manning, the pastor at the church bers against homosexuals. These evangelicals are also sponsoring bills against homosexuals in African countries; some of these churches are particularly from the USA.” “It is sad that African leaders have created God in their own selfish, corrupt and bigoted image. Oh, wait a minute; Africans have actually lost the gods they originally created. This new god Africans so reverently quote is actually the precious god of their colonial masters. Africans now revere and understand this imported god more than the original owner. Why are Nigerian religious leaders so backward? I suspect ignorance and hypocrisy play a role in their primitive stance on equal rights for all. They purport to come in the name of love yet spew so much hate”. “The legacy of colonialism should no longer be confused with cultural authenticity or national freedom. As Africans, we should learn about our history beyond what was fed us in missionary schools” “I am an African, I am bisexual, I was bisexual before I ever met any white person or stepped foot on any European shore, does this make me a fake African?” “I am proudly African and I am mystified whenever I am accused of “promoting and defending European sexual perversity” (whatever that means). In fact from various historical paintings on ancient Africans walls, our ancestors enjoyed homosexual relationships, affection and love. This was one reason why colonial administrators immediately imported sodomy laws into our constitutions; they imported homophobia because they thought our free loving ancestors were barbarians who freely indulged in same-sex loving.” “Every Nigerian deserves the same right as every other Nigerian, irrespective of class, sex, race, gender identity or sexual orientation. Consensual adults do not deserve to have their love criminalised.” “‘Ungodly’ seems to be all we hear from ineffective African leaders. Obviously corruption, dictatorship, human rights violations and wars are not deemed ‘ungodly’ in Africa. Africa is indeed a ‘godly” continent blessed with “godly” leaders!”

“Africans now defend the same holy books that were used to justify the slavery, exploitations and indignities suffered by their ancestors. Many religious Africans now use the ‘holy’ books to justify the oppression of members of their own society. Even when the original owners of the religion inform them that the book has been updated and some parts are no longer applicable, Africans still insist that it is must be applicable because it says so in the book they were given. How pathetic.” “LGBT rights are human rights. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are humans and are therefore entitled to ALL Human Rights; let no politician, religious leader or any bigot tell us otherwise” “For how long shall innocent lives be the victims of ignorance, hate and power? Policy makers, religious leaders and politicians seek to make laws and statements that discriminate against lesbians and gay and portray sexual minorities as less than human.” “Western countries have ‘almost’ succeeded in separating sexuality and reproduction; where having sex is entirely separate from the decision to have a child but in most parts of Africa, fertility is intimately bound up with identity as a woman or man. You are not truly a man until you have fathered a child; and the fathering of children is a key expression of virility. Also, an African woman is not considered a ‘real woman’ until she has experienced childbirth. Therefore the idea of a sexual relationship de-linked from producing children is perceived as unnatural” “With a dangerously growing seven billion world population, how can legalisation of same-sex marriage suddenly wipe out all humans as claimed by Pastor Adeboye and some lawmakers? Sadly, this nation is held spellbound by political and religious leaders who are averse to education and scientific knowledge. To move forward, Nigerians must emancipate themselves from mental slavery.”

• Freedom To Love For All: Homosexuality is not Un-African (paperback) is available from Amazon. A Kindle edition has also been published.

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The Pink Humanist

Should we go easier on Russia?

Western leaders stand accused of ‘counter-productive Russia-bashing’

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ith the eyes of the world on the Sochi Winter worldwide protests in support of Russia’s LGBT commuOlympics, Russian authorities pretty much nity, and a Dispatches documentary on Channel 4.” kept a tight lid on anti-gay rhetoric durHe added: “But while Western opponents of the Kreming the event last month, writes GEORGE lin’s law may have noble intentions, their criticism has BROADHEAD. There were no reported incidents of far too often been both hysterical and hypocritical. Conserious neo-fascist attacks on homosexuals of the sort demnation has also at times resembled hate speech, as seen in Moscow and St Petersburg at recent Gay Pride in Hugh Laurie’s recent suggestion that Russians have events. (The photo above shows a homophobic thug nothing whatsoever of value to offer the world. Laurie’s punching gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev during outburst was mild, however, compared to statements by an unauthorised gay rights activists’ rally in central Stephen Fry and Jay Leno, who have both likened the Moscow.) Kremlin’s law to Nazi persecution of Jews.” However, there were some arrests, and a violent Bennetts said he had no wish to defend Putin or the attack on the feminist band Pussy Riot by a Cossack hateful anti-gay comments being made by Russian polimilitia with whips and pepper spray. ticians and celebrities, “but a sense of perspective is in Prior to the Winter Olympics, Russia, yielding to exorder, especially if critics want to claim the moral high treme pressure from the Orthodox Church and vicious ground”. right wing extremists, enacted legislation prohibiting He concluded: “No country likes being lectured to, esthe “promotion” of homosexuality. This drew fierce pecially when that criticism is so often seen as disprocriticism from Western politicians and a host of huportionate and ill-informed. Russians are no exception, man rights groups, and there were strident calls for a and the all too common anti-Russia rhetoric coming boycott not only of the games, but of such high profile from the West over issues from gay rights to Syria and sponsors, such as Coca-Cola. Pussy Riot has fostered a sense of national persecuOn February 5, the Guardian’s Marc Bennetts wrote tion. It also allows Putin to position himself as Russia’s that Russia’s anti-gay legislation “has sparked a bout sole protector in the face of a vicious “information war” of Russia-bashing that is against Mother Russia. not only often unfair, but Little wonder that the also counter-productive”. ex-KGB officer’s electoral He pointed out that Rusratings have just shot up sia’s vaguely worded law, to their highest level for approved by President nearly 10 years. Vladimir Putin last sum“In reality, there is little mer, bans the promotion the West can do to influof homosexuality to mience Russia, on gay rights nors. “It is an unnecessary, or anything else. But to clumsy piece of legislation, stand even a chance, critiin many respects similar to cism needs to be measthe Thatcher-era Section ured, accurate and, above 28, and is designed solely all, consistent. There are to boost support for Putin enough reasons to disin Russia’s conservative approve of Putin’s auheartland. It has also trigA Cossack militiaman attacks Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and a photogra- thoritarian regime without gered a spike in homopho- pher as she and fellow members of Pussy Riot stage a protest performance resorting to hyperbole and bic violence, the subject of falsehoods.” in Sochi. (Photo: Morry Gash/AP)

• 10 • thepinkhumanist • march 2014 •

But the absence last month of any violent assaults miles from the Olympic Park, there was some note(aside from the attack on Pussy Riot) or mass arrests worthy activity. On the opening day of the Olympics, of protesters that would have further marred Russia’s four gay rights activists were arrested in St Petersburg image should not be regarded as a softening of the and ten in Moscow after unfurling a banner referencing Kremlin’s approach to its LGBT communities, warned ‘Principle 6’ of the Olympic charter, banning any form of USA Today correspondent Dan Wolken on February 23. discrimination.” He wrote: “Though a handful of activists were arrested Wolken wrote that “there’s also a question about what in conjunction with Olympic protests over the last two kind of treatment Russia’s gay citizens will receive now weeks, Russia’s treatment of dissident voices rarely that the spotlight is off the so-called ‘anti-propaganda’ came to the forefront during the law that has been tied directly to Sochi games. an increasing number of homo“But as the Winter Olympics end phobic attacks in Russia. and the intense media scrutiny “Though Russia made good fades, there is concern among on its promise that gay athletes those familiar with Russia’s huor spectators at the Olympics man rights record that activists wouldn’t be arrested or subjected who have been in the crosshairs to harassment, the relaxation of Vladimir Putin’s government of anti-gay sentiment seems will be dealt with harshly in the temporary,” according to Michael aftermath.” Bronski, a Harvard professor and Rachel Denber, deputy director scholar on activism and LBGT for Europe and Central Asia at history. Human Rights Watch, was quoted “As a general rule, people as saying: “I don’t have a crystal act better when they’re being This young man was arrested last year for attending a ball, but since Putin’s inauguration watched,” he said. “There was so Gay Pride event (Photo: AP) in May 2012 there’s been a pretty much coming out of Washington unrelenting crackdown on civil society, political activfrom the Obama administration sending over lesbian ism, critical voices, threats of criminal charges, real and gay people to represent America (at the opening criminal charges and a real kind of poisonous rhetoric ceremonies), it doesn’t surprise me that even Putin on state TV about human rights activists, environmenwould back down a bit. tal activists and gay activists. There was a slight relent“But once it goes away I don’t think LGBT activing of that campaign as we started to move into the ists in Russia are going to have it much easier than final months before the Olympics because they knew they had it before the Olympics. The social structures the world was watching. So of course there’s concern haven’t changed. The law is still the same, the sort of about retribution.” hooliganism of conservative elements in society hasn’t She added: “The Olympics were really important to changed.” them and Russia’s international standing and prestige is Ty Cobb, director of global engagement for the Human extremely important to the Kremlin.” She urged policyRights Campaign, said in an e-mail that even though makers around the world to remain vigilant, speak out the International Olympic Committee may be leaving in support of activists and disregard Russian governRussia, how gays are treated there will remain at the ment hysteria and claims that “it’s a conspiracy to forefront of his organisation’s agenda. undermine sovereignty”. “We must remain vigilant,” he said. “We will continue Wolken added: “Though Russian officials did eveto collaborate with Russian LGBT advocates in ways that rything they could to minimise protests around the support their efforts to combat anti-LGBT statements Olympics, allowing them only in a district about eight and acts coming from Russian government leaders.”

A giant Valentine’s card was presented outside the Russian Embassy in London on February 14, 2014. The Valentine’s Day Carnival: For Russia With Love was jointly sponsored by Lush, All Out and the Peter Tatchell Foundation. (Photo: courtesy The Peter Tatchell Foundation.)

• thepinkhumanist • march 2014 • 11•

‘s

The Pink Humanist

India turns back the clock

Religious zealotry forces India to recriminalise homosexuality

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BARRY DUKE analyses the fall-out following the High Court’s irrational decision

hen I posted the shocking news late last law banning gay sex, known as Section 377, means year on the Pink Humanist and Free“carnal intercourse” between consenting adults of the thinker blogs that the Supreme Court in same sex is once again defined as “unnatural” and punIndia had recriminalised homosexuality, ishable by up to 10 years in jail. a regular Freethinker reader commented: Said Raja Bagga, a 25-year-old lawyer. “I was so “It’s certainly embarrassing for India to reaffirm itself disheartened by this judgment. It was supposed to be a as a Third World backwater in this way. Hopefully the first in a series of rights for the LGBT in India: property embarrassment will be sufficient to ensure that this is a rights, marriage rights and so on. It would have been a temporary glitch.” precursor to a better, dignified life.” Unfortunately, it now appears that the “glitch” will not Gautham Bhan, a prominent gay activist, added: “It’s be temporary; there are strong indications that it may a tremendous blow. It’s unprecedented for a court with take years to get back to the point in 2009 when, to a long history of expanding rights to reduce dignity, not the joy of millions, the Delhi High Court decriminalised protect it.” homosexuality and a 153-year-old law passed under Among the supporters of the challenge was Baba British rule was consigned to history. Ramdev, a Hindu “holy man” with a mass following who That joy was not shared by religious elements in the has fought a long legal battle to maintain the ban on country, and a reactionary alliance of Hindus, Muslims gay sex. At a press conference following the judgment, and Christians – having just one thing in common: Ramdev invited the gay community to his yoga ashram homophobia – mounted a legal challenge to the ruling. where he said he would “cure them of homosexuality”, Few thought their challenge which he described as: “Unwould have any chance natural, uncivilised, immoral, of success, but early last irreligious and abnormal.” December the court ruled He said he would do so by in their favour, and news of “keeping them in a room this irrational decision reverwith a heterosexual for a berated around the world. few days.” The Guardian reported: Tanuja Thakur, a Hindu “First there was surprise, spiritual leader, told the then shock, then anger. By Guardian: “When two people nightfall thousands across of same sex indulge in a India had taken to the physical activity, it goes streets in spontaneous proagainst nature. And anytests against an unexpected thing unnatural is criminal in Supreme Court decision.” nature.” Activists had expected He suggested homosexualthe court simply to rubberity was happening “because stamp the original 2009 society is not doing enough ruling. Now India has spiritual practice”. rejoined the more than 70 According to a BBC report, countries – mainly in Africa, Zafaryab Jilani, a member of the Middle East and south the All India Muslim Personal An activist during protests in Kolkata late last year, when the Asia – where homosexuality Law Board welcomed the Supreme Court first decided to reinstate a 19th-century law is illegal. ruling: “The Supreme Court criminalising homosexuality. Photo AP The reinstatement of the has upheld the century-old

• 12 • thepinkhumanist • march 2014 •

traditions of India; the court is not suppressing any citihad received letters in English, Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, zen, instead it is understanding the beliefs and values Gujarati, Telugu and Tamil. “We wanted to show how of the large majority of the country.” this decision impacted people without it getting lost in Hopes that the new ruling would be overturned were legal jargon,” he said. dashed in January when the Supreme Court upheld its He said many young people had taken the decision to decision against an appeal and said it was up to the come out in the aftermath of the 2009 decision by the government to change the law – and made the claim Delhi High Court. Now they found themselves criminalthat gay people in India were just a “minuscule minoriised, he said. ty”. On February 23, the Independent carried an update Campaigners believe the decision will put up to 75 by Andrew Buncombe, who said that there was little million Indians at the risk of harassment. The threat of chance that the Government would change Section 377 discrimination and harassment is particularly high in the of the Indian penal code. “While senior figures of the country’s more conservative smaller towns and villages. ruling Congress party supported repealing Section 377, Activists will file a fresh “curative” appeal to the Suthe leadership of the main opposition party, which most preme Court, but are not optimistic of success. “I think analysts believe is set to secure power in an upcomwe have a good case but we have bad judges,” said ing election, do not . . . it could be years before a new Anand Grover of the Delhi-based Lawyers Collective, parliament amends the law.” one of those who have been leading the legal fight. Journalist Lesley Esteves was among thousands who In the aftermath of December 11 decision by the celebrated on the streets when judges in Delhi deSupreme Court, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, who criminalised homosexuality. After the reversal, she was heads the ruling Congress party, spoke out against the quoted in Buncombe’s report as saying: “It was a shock turn of events and the government filed its own appeal. for the whole world, not “These are matters of perjust for India. Amidst the sonal freedom. The country euphoria of 2009, I did not is known for freedom of eximagine the possibility that pression,” said Mr Gandhi. one day the Supreme Court In the aftermath of the would brutally set the Supreme Court decision to Delhi High Court judgment re-criminalised homosexualiaside and dismiss India’s ty, the president of the Hindu LGBT people. It’s hard to nationalist BJP, Rajnath Sinimagine words more out of gh, told Kolkata’s Telegraph sync with the inclusive and newspaper that it supported progressive Indian constikeeping Section 377. “We tution.” believe that homosexuality is The law which criminalan unnatural act and cannot ises homosexual behaviour be supported,” he said. was drafted by Lord MaAsked whether this recaulay in 1860 and states mained the BJP’s position, that “whoever voluntarparty spokesman Prakash Jaily has carnal intercourse vadekar told The Independagainst the order of nature ent on Sunday: “The courts with any man, woman or are still considering this. animal, shall be punished Then we will look at it.” with imprisonment”. In a briefing paper, the Gay, Indian and angry. Photo AP Campaigners have long British charity Stonewall drew complained that while that attention to the impending while there have been few prosecutions during the past election and its implications for altering the law. It said 20 years, the law has been used to harass and blackit was “very unlikely for a legislative solution to be mail gay men. Driving homosexuality underground found in the near future”. would make it far harder to counter AIDS and provide Campaigners in India insist they will not deterred. Ms homosexual men with treatment. Esteves, who had been present for the historic judgeFurthermore, the law is at odds with various articles ment in 2009, said the day after the Supreme Court in India’s constitution which supposedly guarantee the judgment she and others had been filled by new deterright to life and personal liberty, equality, and which mination. prohibit discrimination. “[We decided] we would keep raising our voices The Supreme Court decision triggered outcry across across the length of India, that we would raise them India and beyond its borders. The UN’s most senior hutogether and so loud that not even the Supreme Court man rights, official, Navi Pillay, said the decision viowould be able to claim that they can’t hear us,” she lated international law and marked a “significant step said. backwards for India”. And in Hyderabad, activists took part in the city’s secTo protest the decision, hundreds of activists and ond gay pride event. One of the organisers, Sai Tejo, a supporters donned black armbands and turned out in 19-year-old sociology student, said he believed people India’s biggest cities to express their outrage. Camwould make a special effort to support the event in the paigners are urging people to write to the judges of the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling. Supreme Court to expressing their feelings. “One thing the judgement did was to bring the topic L Ramakrishnan, who works for a public health NGO out into the open and put it on the agenda of ordinary and who volunteers with Orinam, a Chennai-based people,” he said. “One thing’s for sure, no-one is going rights collective that organised the campaign, said they back in the closet. It means people will fight it out.”

• thepinkhumanist • march 2014• 13 •

‘Gay cure’ crackpots defiant

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Christian charlatans vow to continue dangerous therapies

n January 16 this year the Core Issues Trust (CIT), a fundamentalist Christian outfit based in Northern Ireland and established to “treat” homosexuality, held a conference in London to discuss proposed legislation to ban conversion therapy. The Psychotherapists and Counsellors (Regulation) Bill was introduced by last year by Geraint Davies MP for Swansea West, and the CIT summoned him to explain why he had drafted the Private Member’s Bill. This, to their dismay, is what the Labour MP said: “In Britain last year a million people went to therapists and counsellors for help. That number has tripled since the current government came to power in 2010. I appreciate many of those people are going for help because of anxiety caused by austerity and not specifically the things that we’re talking about today. “As there’s been this growth of people seeking help, at a cost of some £400 million a year to the taxpayer, there’s a need for proper regulation to ensure standards and protection for them. “As an example, I know of a man who came back from Afghanistan having post-traumatic stress disorder following battlefield engagement. He went to see a psychotherapist and was asked to re-live his trauma. He ended up leaving the room significantly traumatised having been counselled by someone with no training who applied the wrong sort of therapy to him. “That’s just one example of why we need proper standards. The reality is that any of us can set-up shop without any proper training and advertise ourselves as a psychotherapist or counsellor – indeed some of you may already do this. “In terms of gay conversion therapy itself, one of the key problems I have with the whole idea is that its starting point is that being gay or lesbian is some sort of illness or moral disorder that requires treatment or correction – that isn’t a sensible premise in my view. In fact, the title of this particular conference, ‘Setting Love in Order,’ is based on a conversion therapy book Setting Love in Order: Hope and healing for the homosexual. The expression that healing is required implies that there is a wound or illness in being homosexual. People’s sexual orientation doesn’t need treatment at all.” This infuriated conference delegates, who had suffered a serious setback a short time earlier. On January

• 14 • thepinkhumanist • march 2014 •

14 this year, gay journalist Patrick Strudwick, writing in the Guardian, reported that Britain’s leading body for Christian therapists, the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), had instructed its members to stop trying to turn gay patients straight using conversion therapy. The ACC said the practice should be stopped “in the interests of public safety”. The move drew a furious response from “gay cure” quacks who have vowed to fight for what they see as their right to offer therapy to anyone “distressed by unwanted same-sex attraction”. Treatment involves unearthing childhood traumas, which are considered by these charlatans to have caused homosexuality. Sexual abuse, bullying and having an overbearing mother or distant father are among the alleged triggers. Strudwick pointed out that research by the US clinical psychologists Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder has shown such treatment routinely led to worsened mental health, self-harm, thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts. The decision by the ACC to speak out against the practice follows similar statements in the last two years by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the UK Council for Psychotherapy and the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Department of Health. The ACC said reparative therapy “implies that sexuality can be “repaired” and so introduces the idea of treatment or cure . . . it suggests that a specific outcome is possible and appears to make an a priori assumption that it should happen”. The Core Issues Trust says it will defy the ruling. In an online statement rebuking the ACC’s position, the CIT said it was “a misapplication of Equalities Act 2010 [sic]”, demanded the ACC “provide empirical evidence to support its misleading statement produced on the matter of counselling same-sex attracted persons” and urged the organisation to “avoid compromise of its members’ right to teach and uphold orthodox Christian sexual ethics”. Other Christian “conversionists” are preparing to lobby against the ACC’s new stance. Best known of these is Lesley Pilkington, pictured above, who became the first psychotherapist in UK history to be “struck off” after using “pray-away-the-gay” techniques on . . . Patrick Strudwick, the gay rights activist who then exposed her.

Former African American preacher details his journey from faith to atheism

The Pink Humanist

Book Scene

by BARRY DUKE

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here has always been an element of homoeroticism in the manner in which male Christians relate to Jesus. Nowhere is this more obvious than in religious art – kitschy Catholic art in particular. This subject is rarely, if ever, raised in fundamentalist Christian circles; one has to follow the example of Anthony B Pinn and bid the religion a not-so-fond farewell before one can even begin to broach this thorny (no pun intended) topic. Pinn, who went from Methodist preacher to atheist when he was in his mid-20s and is now a member of the Board of Directors of the American Humanist Association. refers to this homoeroticism in his newly-published book, Writing God’s Obituary. He writes: “ . . .and no one raised questions concerning the latent homoerotic nature of the male’s relationship to the male savior. Nor was it mentioned that black men in my church (and churches like my church) prostrated themselves before images of a white Christ. “Was there a hint of white supremacy in this move? This wasn’t discussed. Loving and surrendering to this Christ emotionally and physically was okay – it was an act of manhood not to be duplicated elsewhere in life.” Pinn and his contemporaries were taught at an early age that dating always involved three individuals: the boy, the girl and Jesus – “the third wheel” who was always present “to hamper our desires because we shouldn’t do anything we would be uncomfortable doing in front of Jesus.” To be avoided at all costs was any speculation about the sex life of Jesus. Pinn, an African American who preached his first sermon at the age of 12, points out that “Jesus, the saviour of the world, had a penis (typically not depicted in the images) but his sexual ethics – what he did with that penis, who received pleasure by means of it, and how Jesus received pleasure as a result of it – was never spoken of. To even think about Jesus having sex with men or women was construed as sinful because it meant reducing the God/man to a human controlled

by a sex organ.” Some may think I do Pinn a disservice by using his references to sex to introduce a book that is much, much more than about human sexuality. But I would argue that one cannot avoid the issue because people’s sexuality – homosexuality in particular – remains the principal driving force behind so much of the prejudice and hatred generated by Christian fundamentalists – indeed, religious zealots of all stripes. Pinn recognised this and there can be no doubt that, in his case, Christian attitudes towards sex and sexuality – often bordering on paranoia – played a part in his decision to walk away from Christianity. Towards the end of his book he writes: “I’ve come a long way – from evangelical Christian to pound humanist without God. The journey has had its twists and turns and its rough patches. “Still, I’ve never doubted my departure from the church. I’ve never looked back because I have never had reason to look back.” This book is a valuable addition to the growing list of books that are proving helpful to those seeking to escape the emotionally and intellectually-deadening influences of the religions they are trapped in. Among the many who have praised Pinn’s latest book is Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of the American Humanist Association, who described Writing God’s Obituary as “a whirlwind of writing, leading the reader on the invigorating progression of Pinn’s life and way of thinking. Over the course of this journey, he shows us the very natural way that a thoughtful person can transition from experiencing the awe of God through speaking in tongues to the very different position of experiencing the joy of intellectual exploration through presenting humanism as a new, godless approach to theological inquiry.”

• Writing God’s Obituary is published by Prometheus. Paperback, pages 241 (with photos) SBN: 978-1-61614-843-0

• thepinkhumanist • march 2014 • 15•

Scene from Across the Pond Photo credit: W WARBY

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By Warren Allen Smith

ave there been positive breakthroughs so far in 2014 for gays? Yes, gains as well as losses. Gaining momentum in the courts are gay marriage cases. Illinois will allow samesex marriages starting in June. Opponents lament this, calling it “redefining marriage.” The 17 states that permit same-sex marriages are California; Connecticut; Delaware; Hawaii; Illinois (effective in June); Iowa; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; Rhode Island; Vermont, and Washington; plus the District of Columbia and eight Indian tribes. This leaves 33 of the 50 states that still ban same-sex marriage. ••• The US Justice Department has eliminated the legal distinctions between straight and same-sex couples in the federal criminal justice system. It is a breakthrough that gay Americans have the same rights as heterosexual couples when filing bankruptcy, testifying in court, or visiting partners in prison. However, the federal rules will not change state laws. The New York Times (February, 11, 2014) editorialised that changes being advanced by the Justice Department upon behalf of gay rights “are significant both for the lives of thousands of gay and lesbian couples and for advancing acceptance of same-sex relationships on the nation’s long march toward greater equality.���

The editorial criticised President Barack Obama’s failure to sign an executive order that would prohibit such discrimination when using taxpayer dollars, calling it “a black mark on his record.” And it welcomed the decision to come out by Michael Sam, a black 6’ 2” defensive lineman from the University of Missouri football team. If the National Football League in the spring drafts Mr Sam, “it would be yet another gay rights breakthrough.” ••• The New York Times (February 12, 2014) published an article by Jacob M Victor documenting that “therapy programmes” which purport to “convert” lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender kids “have shown again and again that efforts to change young people’s sexual orientation not only fail, but are also linked to suicidal behavior, depression, anxiety, drug use, and risky sexual behavior.” ••• For the first time since 2000, the US was not represented at the Olympics by a president, former president, first lady, or vice president. President Barack Obama, saying his schedule “does not permit him to go,” announced that, instead, we were sending a King to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Openly gay lesbians – hockey player Caitlin Cahow and tennis star Billie Jean King – were our representatives.

Pink Triangle Trust patron destroys his Visa card in protest over Russian homophobia Shortly after agreeing to become a patron of the Pink Triangle Trust, leading British gay rights campaigner Michael Cashman MEP hit the headlines when he cut his Visa credit card in half during a session of the European Parliament. It was the former EastEnders star’s way of objecting to the corporation’s sponsorship of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. “The discrimination, violence and human rights attack by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin are entirely unacceptable. Attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people are equally unacceptable,” Cashman, who represents the West Midlands, said. “I trust the athletes to speak out in Sochi, but I condemn sponsors like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Visa for their continued support of the Games. I will boycott the sponsors, starting now, with Visa. Madame President, not in my name!” He then proceeded to pull out of his pocket a Visa card and a pair of scissors, and cut it in half.

Michael Cashman, left, with Paul Cottingham at their civil partnership ceremony in 2006. Photo credit: PA

PTT contact Details: Pink Triangle Trust Secretary and Editorial Consultant for the Pink Humanist is George Broadhead, who can be contacted on: +44 (0) 1926 858450 (email: humanists@btinternet.com). Proofreading by Andy Armitage. Contact The Pink Humanist magazine by emailing either editor@thepinkhumanist.com or info@ thepinkhumanist.com. Views expressed in The Pink Humanist are not necessarily those of the publishers. • 16 • thepinkhumanist • march 2014 •


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