Australian Sailors Competition Under Investigation (July 4, 2009)
Australia is not the first country to be embarrassed by its military – the US has had a couple of investigations of its own. This time it’s Australia’s turn. A vessel of the Australian Navy was docked in Singapore this past May. While the vessel was in port there – something along the lines of a contest was discovered. It seems that a group of sailors on this ship had a contest (with cash prizes) for bedding their female colleagues. That’s right. There was an extra (cash) incentive for bedding or sleeping with an officer (female), or a Lesbian or having sex in an unusual place (pool table). The name of the ship is the HMAS Success – no my fellow readers I am not kidding. That is the true name of the vessel. The Success has a crew of 220. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that the allegations are “disturbing.” Hopefully all those involved will feel full and appropriate justice for their “alleged” contest.
The life of a homosexual individual in Iraq has been dangerous for a very long time. When Saddam ruled – 1979 to 2003 – the LGBT community lived in fear of their lives. Since the overthrow of Saddam our brothers and sisters have seen things go from bad to even worse. Yes there are still arrests and killings – but since 2003 there has been horrific torturing and even violence against the dead. There are accounts of partners being removed from their homes and murdered – then the bodies found at a later time – further mutilated. A team for the BBC – is creating a documentary “Gay Life After Saddam”. They have been granted permission to speak with individuals in an Iraqi safe house run by an organization based in London – and the documentary will air at a later date. The safe houses are managed from London by the Iraqi Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group. Please be aware that the article contains very graphic information about torturing – and about mutilation of bodies of the deceased.
Seaman August Provost was from Houston – and was standing duty as a guard at his base. (I personally have driven past the road to Camp Pendleton many times and there is no easy access for those who do not belong on the base.) While on duty he was shot and killed – then the guard shack where he had been on duty was burned down. Seaman Provost had been telling members of his family that he was being harassed – but that he could not report it to his superiors because he wanted to continue to serve. Many wonder if he would still be alive if D.A.D.T. had already been repealed. According to a senior Navy officer, “As it stands right now, we have no indication that there is any tie to what may or may not have been his sexuality. He did suffer gunshot wounds, and there was a fire in a pretty clear attempt to destroy evidence. But he was not bound, he was not gagged and he was not mutilated.” At this time the investigation is continuing. Local LGBT activists planned a candlelight vigil outside the gates of Camp Pendleton – Friday July 10, 2009 several hours after memorial services were to be held near his home in Texas.
On July 7, 1984 Charlie Howard was badly beaten and tossed into a stream – solely because he was Gay. He was 23-years old and he drowned. Some good has come from his untimely death. His death did lead to an anti-discrimination ordinance in Bangor – and a state hate crimes law. This year – on the 25th anniversary of his death – Maine passed a bill allowing Same-Sex couples to marry. Mr Howard has been remembered in many ways this past week – and memorial has been dedicated near to where he was drowned.
Our community has so many concerns about safety and legal protections that when the laws are there – we need to let everybody know. Well that’s exactly what the GLBT Community Center of Colorado has done – using superheroes. With the help of Peak Creative Media the campaign is being rolled out – “with a series of online ads, bar napkins and coasters, and videos and publicity events at GLBT Pride festivals”. They have been working to put the laws into a format which is more attention getting – and understandable. Jim Jonas of Peak Creative Media said, “That’s why we came up with the superhero theme. It’s an engaging, fun, entertaining and yet informative way to get people to become familiar with the laws.” “The five laws, passed from 2005 through this year, support second-parent adoptions and designated-beneficiary agreements for unmarried couples; provide enforcement against hate crimes; and prohibit job and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.” Please – I highly encourage you to take a look at the superheroes and what they represent – located just below the article itself. What a great idea GLBT Community Center of Colorado! Seems like a good inspiration!!
A group of gay men had decided to stop at a Chico’s Tacos in El Paso, Tx. While they were there two of the men exchanged a simple kiss on the lips. This was not at an hour when very young or impressionable children would have been in the restaurant – it was at about 12:30 a.m. on the morning of June 29th. The security guards approached the men and instead of maybe alerting the men that customers complained and asking them to refrain from any more displays of affection – the guards began a verbal assault. Carlos Diaz de Leon called police “when he feared he and his group were targets of discrimination.” The security guards waited until the group sat down and then said, “they didn’t allow that faggot stuff to go on there.” Then – according to Mr. de Leon – they were made to leave. Approximately one hour later a police officer arrived – after several calls from both the security guards and from Mr. de Leon. The officer (just one) refused to listen to the group of men until he had spoken with the security guards first. Then, the officer told the men they could be cited for homosexual conduct. It is unfortunate that the officer – and possibly the El Paso police department – doesn’t keep up with revisions in the law. But then the US Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional back in 2003 – but maybe they have gotten a little behind in their reading.
Joseph Holladay had already moved away from New York to Boston – but he had to return to New York on business and stayed with a friend. It was around 4:15 a.m. and he left the apartment briefly to help another friend hail a cab – then stopped just long enough to have a cigarette. “Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was attacked by some men, they were calling me faggot,” he said at a July 1 press conference. “They beat me hard, and unconscious, leaving me laying in a pool of blood.” When he woke up he was in the hospital being given multiple stitches in his head. Fortunately there were witnesses to this horrible attack – and most fortunately Mr. Holladay survived. Once the investigation truly got underway – the authorities realized that there were at least five more cases in which the same perpetrators were very involved. The investigation is still underway and they are actively pursuing the suspects. The article includes a photo of Mr. Holladay at the press conference – just a few days after the beating. The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP) has been assisting both Joseph Holladay and the New York City Police – to arrest those involved in the attack and also link them to the other attacks to which they apparently have been linked. Please join me in wishing Mr. Holladay – and the others – a full and safe recovery from their injuries.
The state of Massachusetts now has another first – to the benefit of the LGBT Community. The state was the first to legalize same-sex marriage – and now it is the very first state to sue the U.S. government over a law which “interferes with the right of Massachusetts to define marriage as it sees fit.” Cheers for the state of Massachusetts !!! The lawsuit – filed in federal court in Boston – “argues the act ‘constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law’.” Approximately 16,000 Same-Sex couples have been married in Massachusetts since it became legal in 2004 – and the lawsuit says that they are “unfairly being denied federal benefits given to heterosexual couples.” Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley said, “They are entitled to equal treatment under the laws regardless of whether they are gay or straight.” The federal lawsuit also addresses issues such as eligibility for Medicaid benefits and veterans burial benefits – among others. This could become just the catalyst President Obama needs to start the repeal of D.O.M.A. Hopefully other states will follow. Thank-you very much Massachusetts – for taking the time and energy to care!
pngwnz: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.