7 Feb 2009

Rainbow flags to fly again in Glos? And petition to sign?

Greens in the SW have launched a new LGBT group (see here) - they are already approaching Councils to promote International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) - Bournemouth and Poole are already signed up. Read on also for petition to sign.

Photos: Pride flags flying previously at Ebley Mill and Sub Rooms after my request supported by the local Glos Pride group

Some may ask why such a move is needed but we should not forget that there are 77 countries in the world today where it is a criminal offence to be gay. These countries punish women, men and children because of their sexuality and in seven countries the punishment is death. This day provides a platform for everyone to make a powerful statement to demand improvements for the quality of life for LGBT people both overseas and here in the UK. The 17th May is used to raise awareness of homophobic issues that are negatively impacting on people’s lives and to showcase success stories where a positive change has been achieved.

Locally Greens have been involved in the County Pride events and many other related issues from calling for hate crime legislation to condemning attacks - we were the only political party marching at the first event - see here. I am appalled that suicide statistics show that 40% of gay boys bullied at school have gone on to attempt suicide. I am also angered that the National Blood Service discriminates against gay people and refuses to let them give blood...there is more....

This year I've been speaking to one of the organisers re this year - they will consider helping call on local councils to fly the flag for IDAHO and Pride - but at the moment are still trying to make the event happen - it is planned for Cheltenham - see here - but so far it appears they may not have had the support needed from the Borough - let's hope things come together...it is an important event that raises the profile and challenges those who think discrimination no longer exists or is nothing to worry about....

I just heard that the 'new' head of the Metropolitan Police insisted that the rainbow flag was taken down from a police station in the East End of London where it had been flying to denote respect for LGBT History Month. They're perfectly entitled to do this as they're only supposed to fly the union flag and the flag of the local police authority, but in Brighton the Police fly the rainbow flag for IDAHO and Pride.

Anyhow last week there was a mini-storm in the local paper (see here) when some hit out at a city cinema's decision not to show the recent blockbuster "Milk". The story is about California's first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, a San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone by San Francisco Supervisor Dan White. I've heard it is an important film worth seeing - it does seem disappointing that it is not being shown at Cineworld here - although it is elsewhere at their cinemas.

Petition to sign?

Many will know my total opposition to the nonsense of the hugely costly and pointless ID cards - well here is another aspect of them that is set to cause problems for a small number of people. Gender Spectrum have launched an on-line petition aimed at ensuring the safety of members of the community who do present themselves in a manner which is not the same as the gender to which they were assigned at birth. Heres a bit more about it - please consider signing urgently as consultation closes on 13th Feb:

The guidelines at present will require people to have their gender (determined as either Male or Female as reflected by their Birth Certificate) announced on the ID Card. If a person wishes to present in a manner that is not the same as their Birth Certificate they will have to undergo a process to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) or hold 2 ID cards. This means that unless a GRC is obtained, the person will need to have two ID cards. Both will be in the persons legal name, but one will identify the person as male, the other as female. The one in the birth gender will be valid for travel throughout Europe, the other will not. Once a full GRC has been issued, a single ID card will be issued in the acquired gender. Each of these individual cards must be paid for in full. The initial proposed fee of £30 will only remain until 2012. Anyone who wishes to obtain a Passport must also obtain an ID card under the proposals. The guidelines also state that the database will also keep details of your birth gender, even after a GRC has been issued.

Here's what those setting up the petition say:

We believe that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed. We believe that a person carrying two ID cards, each bearing details that conflict with the other, will be become vulnerable and at risk from harm from foreign security services or members of the public, particularly in volatile countries and/or situations. We believe that this puts many peoples lives at risk. We also believe that this puts many people who do not have a GRC in a vulnerable position. For this reason we have taken two specific actions and would appreciate your support by taking action.

1. We have drafted a letter that you are welcome to download and send to Robin Woodland at the Home Office. You may use it in its entirety or as a template to compose your own letter
2. We have started an on-line petition which we would love you to sign

The document is available for download from:

The on-line petition is available at:

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