Monday, 29 June 2009

BBC News: 'Stonewall gave me new gay role models'

San Francisco, California. 1987.
A protest in San Francisco, California, against the Catholic Church's policies

The Stonewall uprisings 40 years ago brought the gay rights movement to the forefront of American culture. Writer and historian David Carter assesses what progress has been made since that pivotal moment and how far the quest for equal rights has to go.

The end of this month marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, an anniversary that has been duly marked by a number of events, including a White House reception on Monday.

The Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village

The Stonewall Riots began late on 27 June 1969 when New York City police officers raided the popular gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village

The raid set off a six-day series of protests, demonstrations and confrontations between the city's gay community and the police
Police said the raid was staged because unlicensed liquor was being sold on the premises
The Gay Liberation Front formed just a month after the riots and soon became an international force

But because the history of the gay civil rights movement has generally not been taken seriously by educators nor by the media, people are often uncertain about what exactly Stonewall was: why did the Stonewall Riots occur and what do they mean?

There had been a homosexual rights movement in Germany since the 19th century, a movement that regained some momentum after the setback caused by World War I. The movement spread in Europe, including Russia, during the 20th century and suffered further setbacks under Nazi and Communist dictatorships.

After World War II homosexual rights movements made progress in Western democracies. The homosexual rights movement began in an organized way in the United States after World War II during the Cold War when the Mattachine Society was founded.

While there was progress toward decriminalizing homosexuality in Canada and Europe, progress in the US was much slower. But in Europe, severe prejudice against homosexuality remained even in those societies where homosexual sex acts were not illegal.

It was the massive and sustained uprising against the police that erupted at the end of June 1969 when the New York City police raided a popular gay bar named the Stonewall that eventually changed the situation worldwide.

Because the riots broke out in the late 1960s after the successes of the US anti-Vietnam War movement and the black civil rights movement, the organizations that emerged immediately after Stonewall were cast in a New Left mould, which also meant a militant consciousness.

Suddenly I had a new model: gay men as brave and creative and effective, not as sex perverts who were creeps and mentally ill

The most successful of these organizations, the Gay Activists Alliance, modelled its actions on guerrilla theatre and added camp humour to create "zaps", demonstrations that were highly creative, highly subversive, and designed to get media attention. The result was that gay people were seen over and over in the media acting from positions of power: challenging power and unafraid.

That changed the consciousness of gay people everywhere, including even someone like myself who was a high-school student who was trying very hard to deny his homosexuality.

Suddenly I had a new model: gay men as brave and creative and effective, not as sex perverts who were creeps and mentally ill. And this is why the movement at this historical juncture grew like mushrooms: this was just what gay men and lesbians, who had been so suppressed for so long needed. And because we had witnessed the revolt of all the other oppressed groups, we knew just what to do: all the other militant movements that had changed the consciousness of the masses in the 1960s -even when they had often failed to change particular government policies or pass specific laws - offered a template for ending discrimination and prejudiced thinking.

comedian/actress Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres was one of the first celebrities to come out

The Stonewall Riots, in the way that they were immediately commemorated with annual marches, also offered a way to spread the gospel of freedom, equality, and liberation. They were extremely effective because one of the main obstacles against homosexual equality was invisibility.

As long as most people thought they knew no homosexuals what basis did they have for doubting the media image of lesbians and gay men as strange, lonely, sad and probably pathological beings? But when real homosexuals had the courage to march in the sunlight, they did not look so different from anyone else: the normalcy was apparent.

Members of the public might see their co-worker or fellow student or neighbour in the march, and this made it easier for more and more homosexuals to "come out": to quit hiding. This in turn made it possible for people to approach politicians and demand not only that oppressive laws be overturned, but that laws to protect the civil rights of lesbians and gay men be enacted.

Fighting back

And so more and more laws outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation were passed, first on a local basis and then by states. Films and novels began to portray gay men and lesbians more fairly and more accurately.

Ground was lost as a terrifying disease with no cure that was connected in the public's mind with homosexuality spread rapidly. Hysteria was caused in part because it was unclear how the disease was spread. Would mosquitoes or a cough spread it from an infected person to an "innocent" (ie, heterosexual) person?

Again, the gay community fought back as it had during the gay liberation phase by both organizing and by a new creative media campaign. As medical knowledge progressed and the disease spread more and more, it became clear that Aids was not, after all, a "homosexual disease," and hence not a divine judgment on homosexuality.

Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco

Equality, promised by the advent of the gay liberation movement in Stonewall's wake, is on the horizon

By the time of the Clinton administration, the gay civil rights movement was ready to spring ahead after 12 years of hostile Republican rule. And spring it did. Gay people were energized by the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and more and more positive and stronger media portrayals from television to Hollywood.

Now with the Obama administration in Washington after eight more years of Republican government, there had been much optimism among gay people in America. This was fuelled in part by Barack Obama's proclamation of support for gay equality except in the area of marriage.

Now the 40th anniversary of Stonewall has simultaneously heightened the gay public's historical awareness, making gay people impatient for action from this administration. Many are wondering whether President Obama will unveil a new policy initiative today.

But whether the Obama administration does so or not, it seems clear that the time of equality is getting close at hand: young Americans don't even understand the idea of discrimination based on sexual orientation any more than young people in the 1990s could understand racial discrimination.

Equality, promised by the advent of the gay liberation movement in Stonewall's wake, is on the horizon. When it finally does arrive, it will be thanks to young gay people who found the courage to stand up for themselves on the streets of Greenwich Village 40 years ago.

David Carter is the author of Stonewall: the riots that sparked the gay revolution. He is a consultant for the BBC Radio 2 programme Stonewall: The Riots That Triggered The Gay Revolution, which will be broadcast on Tuesday 30 June 2009 at 2230BST.

[Click on the hyperlink at the top to view the comments on the BBC-News website.]

YouTube: Gay Marriage Ad

YouTube: Gay Adoption Ad

Gay Adoption Ad - ILGA

Sunday, 28 June 2009

MaltaStar: Gonzi endorses anti-gay rights candidate


The candidature of Mario Mauro for President of the European Parliament is being endorsed by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and by the Nationalist Party’s MEPs.

Italian Mario Mauro, 48, elected to the European Parliament on the Partito Delle Liberta ticket has voted in more than one occasion against resolutions and laws on gay rights. He also lashed out at persons who promote gay rights.

Mr Mauro expressed his opposition to Gay Pride march and was also against the European Parliament Resolution against homophobia. He described this resolution as a “document approved is an ideological one which has little to do with the concrete protection of fundamental human rights.” Simon Busuttil and David Casa did not vote in favour on this Resolution.

Mr Mauro is a member of the European Popular Party. His candidature is also being opposed by members of the same EPP.

Friday, 26 June 2009

L-Orizzont: L-Ambaxxata Amerikana tfakkar l-LGBT Pride Month

L-Ambaxxata Amerikana u l-Malta Gay Rights Movement se jorganizzaw attività fl-okkażjoni tal-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Il-pubbliku huwa mistieden jattendi għall-wiri tal-film “Milk” u għal diskussjoni, permezz ta’ Digital Video Conference, mal-attivista Amerikana għad-drittijiet tal-persuni gay, Elaine Noble.

Il-film “Milk”, li għandu bħala protagonist lil Sean Penn, jirrakkonta l-ħajja ta’ Harvey Milk, li kien l-ewwel raġel li ddikjara li huwa gay u ġie elett bħala uffiċjal pubbliku fl-istat ta’ Kalifornja. Meta kien membru tas-San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Milk ħadem biex jgħaddu liġijiet li jagħtu drittijiet lill-omosesswali. Imma l-ħajja politika tiegħu ntemmet ħesrem fis-sena 1978, meta uffiċjal pubbliku li kien kollega tiegħu qatel lil Harvey Milk fis-City Hall. Il-film bijografiku, li ħareg f’Jannar li għadda, rebaħ żewġ Academy Awards’.

Wara li jintwera l-film, l-udjenza tista’ tipparteċipa f’videokonferenza interattiva ma’ Elaine Noble, attivista Amerikana għad-drittijiet tal-omosesswali u li kienet membru tal- Kamra tar-Rappreżentanti fl-istat ta' Massachusetts. Fis-sena 1974, Ms Noble saret l-ewwel kandidat politiku ddikjarat gay li ġie elett bħala membru tal-Kamra tar-Rappreżentanti fi stat Amerikan. Fis-sena 1977, hija pparteċipat fl-ewwel laqgħa fil-White House meta ġew diskussi id-drittijiet ċivili ta’ nies li huma lesbiċi, gay, bisesswali u transesswali.

Din l-attività se ssir fil-Main Quadrangle’ tal-Atriju M.A. Vassalli fl-Universita’ ta’ Malta llum il-Ġimgħa. Il-film jibda fit-8.00 ta’ filgħaxija u l-videokonferenza tibda fl-10.30 wara l-film.

L-Ambaxxata Amerikana u l-Malta Gay Rights Movement qegħdin jistiednu lilll-pubbliku biex jattendi għal din l-attività.

L-Orizzont: Tissokta l-kritika fejn jidħlu drittijiet fundamentali: L-ebda ‘data’ uffiċjali dwar kriminalità razzjali jew omofobika
25.6.9 minn Sammy Sammut

L-Aġenzija għad-Drittijiet Fundamentali (FRA) tal-UE ssoktat bil-kritika tagħha fil-konfront ta’ Malta fejn jidħol it-tħaris tad-drittijiet fundamentali tal-bniedem, din id-darba minħabba li fost oħrajn għad m’għandha l-ebda ‘data’ uffiċjali tal-ġustizzja kriminali dwar il-kriminalità razzjali u dik omofobika.

Fir-Rapport Annwali tagħha tal-2009, li kien ippubblikat ilbieraħ, l-Aġenzija għad-Drittijiet Fundamentali tagħti ħarsa lura lejn avvenimenti u żviluppi li seħħew matul is-sena li għaddiet fl-Unjoni Ewropea, waqt li tipprovdi materjal dwar ir-razziżmu, il-ksenofobija u l-intolleranza relatata, u ma’ dan iżżid ħarsa ġenerali lejn l-iżviluppi f’medda ta’ oqsma oħrajn tad-drittijiet fundamentali b’mod konsistenti mal-mandat tagħha.

Ir-riċerka tal-Aġenzija turi li b’mod allarmanti ftit nies biss huma konxji mid-drittijiet tagħhom u fejn għandhom jirrapportaw xi inċidenti ta’ diskriminazzjoni. Intqal li n-nuqqas ta’ ġbir ta’ data’ fil-pajjiżi tal-Unjoni Ewropea ikompli jfixkel l-implimentazzjoni ta’ politiki effettivi għall-ġlieda kontra d-diskriminazzjoni, filwaqt li minħabba lakuni fil-protezzjoni legali, id-diskriminazzjoni għadha teżisti f’ ċerti oqsma.

Il-FRA qiegħda tappella għal ‘data’ uffiċjali aħjar biex tqajjem kuxjenza dwar kif tiġi rrapportata d-diskriminazzjoni u biex tħeġġeġ inizjattivi effettivi għall-prevenzjoni tal-kriminalità fuq il-livelli tal-istati membri.

L-istati membri qegħdin ukoll ikunu mħeġ-ġin biex jagħlqu l-lakuni fil-protezzjoni legali biex iqajmu l-kuxjenza fuq l-għodda legali disponibbli u biex jimmiraw lejn gruppi speċifiċi li jinsabu fir-riskju ta’ diskriminazzjoni.

L-istudji u r-rapporti tal-FRA wrew b’mod konsistenti li għadd ferm kbir ta’ persuni mhumiex konxji mid-drittijiet tagħhom jekk xi darba jkunu vittmi ta’ diskriminazzjoni. Bħala eżempju ssemma li minn stħarriġ riċenti tal-FRA dwar minoranzi u diskriminazzjoni, irriżulta li 39 fil-mija biss ta’ dawk il-minoranzi intervistati kienu konxji dwar il-liġi li tipprojbixxi d-diskriminazzjoni kontra l-persuni fuq il-bażi tal-etniċità meta wieħed ikun qiegħed japplika għal impjieg. Fl-istess ħin, 20 fil-mija biss kienu jafu b’organizzazzjoni li toffri sos-tenn jew pariri lil persuni li saret diskriminazzjoni kontrihom.

Jirriżulta mir-Rapport Annwali tal-FRA li l-għadd ta’ lmenti formali li saru jvarja ħafna bejn l-istati membri tal-UE, li ħafna drabi ma jkunx biss riflessjoni tad-differenzi fid-daqs tal-popolazzjoni. Bħala eżempju ssemma li f’Malta, fl-Estonja u fis-Slovenja fl-2007 saru inqas minn 10 ilmenti ta’ diskriminazzjoni fuq il-bażi ta’ razza, waqt li kien hemm ammont sostanzjalment għoli fil-Belġju (1,691), Franza (1,690), Svezja (905) u r-Renju Unit (3,500). Din id-differenza jew in-nuqqas ta’ rrapportar ta’ każi ta’ diskriminazzjoni ħafna drabi jkun ukoll riżultat tal-fatt li l-maġġoranza tal-vittmi tad-dis-kriminazzjoni mhumiex konxji li dak li qiegħed isir kontrihom huwa illegali. Fl-istess ħin, ħafna ma jafux kif jew fejn jistgħu jagħmlu lment. Għaldaqstant, l-Aġenzija għad-Drittijiet Funda-mentali tisħaq fuq l-obbligu tal-gvernijiet li jinformaw lil kulħadd bid-drittijiet tagħhom, u li jiżguraw l-aċċess għall-ġus-tizzja fil-prattika, mhux biss fuq il-karta.

Il-President tal-Bord ta’ Tmex-xija tal-FRA, Anastasia Crickley qalet li “għad hemm bosta lakuni fil-protezzjoni legali kontra d-diskriminazzjoni. GĦaliex għan-du jkun possibbli li wieħed ifittex lil sid il-kera minħabba diskri-minazzjoni fuq il-bażi tal-etniċità jew is-sess, iżda mhux minħabba diskriminazzjoni fuq il-bażi ta’ reliġjon, età, diżabilità jew orjentazzjoni sesswaliħ Għaliex il-persuni b’diżabilità huma protetti kontra d-diskrimi-nazzjoni fl-impjiegi iżda mhux protetti fuq l-istess grad fl-edukazzjoni?”

Anastasia Crickley tħeġġeġ lill-gvernijiet kollha tal-UE biex jadottaw il-proposta tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea biex tiġi estiża l-protezzjoni contra d-diskriminazzjoni (fuq il-bażi ta’ reliġjon, twemmin diżabilità, età, u orjentazzjoni sesswali) li at-twalment tkopri s-settur tal-impjiegi sal-oqsma tas-sigurtà soċjali, tal-kura tas-saħħa, tal-edukazzjoni u tal-aċċess għall-provista ta’ oġġetti u servizzi.

Ir-rapport annwali tal-FRA jgħid li n-nuqqas ta’ kuxjenza dwar id-drittijiet jikkoinċidi ma’ nuqqas ta’ mekkaniżmu ta’ reġistrazzjoni u rrapportar tad-diskriminazzjoni. Bħala eżempju ssemma li fir-rigward ta’ kriminalità razzjali, fil-maġ-ġoranza tal-istati membri tal-Unjoni ¬ 15 minn 27 ¬ hemm nuqqas totali ta’ dejta uffiċjali dwar il-ġustizzja kriminali disponibbli pubblikament, jew irrapportar limitat dwar ftit kawżi fil-Qorti. L-Aġenzija għad-Drittijiet Fundamentali tgħid li Malta flimkien ma’ ħames stati membri oħrajn m’għandhom l-ebda dejta uffiċjali tal-ġustizzja kriminali dwar il-kriminalità razzjali jew omofobika. Jintqal li “dan huwa sintomatiku ta’ nuqqas ta’ en-fasi politika u ta’ allokazzjoni ta’ riżorsi biex jindirizzaw il-problema”.

Kien sostnut li “ġbir ta’ dejta insuffiċjenti jew mhux eżistenti, flimkien ma’ nuqqas ta’ kuxjenza dwar id-drittijiet u n-nuqqas ta’ rrapportar ta’ diskriminazzjoni u kriminalità, iwasslu għal sitwazzjoni fejn il-firxa reali u n-natura tal-ksur tad-drittijiet fundamentali ma jistgħux jiġu stabbiliti. Il-ġbir ta’ dejta mhuwiex soluzzjoni fih innifsu, iżda jgħin biex tinftiehem aħjar in-natura u l-firxa tal-ksur tad-drittijiet fundamentali. Politiċi effettivi u mmirati fuq il-livell tal-istati membri tal-UE jistgħu biss jiġu żviluppati permezz ta’ għarfien eżatt tas-sitwazzjoni”.

[Ara aktar informazzjoni hawn.]

L-Orizzont: Il-MGRM tfakkar l-Irvellijiet ta’ Stonewall
25.6.9 minn Sammy Sammut

Il-Malta Gay Rights Movement se jfakkar b’mod oriġinali ħafna l-40 Anniversarju ta’ dawk li baqgħu magħrufin bħala “L-Irvellijiet ta’ Stonewall”, li storikament għadhom jimmarkaw it-twaqqif ta’ moviment favor id-drittijiet ta’ persuni gay fl-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika u madwar il-bqija tad-dinja.

Kien fis-sigħat bikrin tat-28 ta’ Ġunju tal-1969, meta mxebbgħin bil-mod xejn uman li l-pulizija kienu qegħdin jgħaffġu drittijiethom, persuni gay u lesbjani kienu ħaduha qatta’ bla ħabel kontra l-uffiċjali tal-pulizija li kienu qegħdin iwettqu wieħed mill-ħafna rejds omofobiċi tagħhom fl-istabbiliment “Stonewall Inn” fis-subborg ta’ Greenwich Village, fil-belt ta’ New York.

Dakinhar, kontra dak li kien isir is-soltu, il-komunità omosesswali fi Greenwich Village kienet iġġieldet lura kontra l-forza tal-ordni li riedet tarrestaha u b’leħen wieħed insistiet li d-drittijiet ċivili bażiċi kellhom jibdew ikunu rrispettati. Dawn l-irvellijiet servew biex il-persuni omosesswali jibdew il-mixja twila u iebsa li kellhom quddiemhom sakemm jibdew igawdu drittijiet indaqs.

Minn dak iż-żmien sal-lum, fl-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika u kważi mal-erbat’ijieħ tad-dinja bdew jiġu organizzati dawk magħrufin bħala ċ-ċelebrazzjonijiet “Gay Pride” fejn persuni gay, lesbjani, bisesswali u transesswali mhux biss ifakkru f’dawk sħabhom li kienu kuraġġjużi biżżejjed li joħduha kontra d-daqqiet tal-lembubi u l-arresti illeġittimi, iżda ukoll biex itennu s-sejħa tagħhom favur drittijiet ċivili indaqs.

F’Malta ukoll, il-Malta Gay Rights Movement jieħu ħsieb li jfakkar dan l-avveniment storiku permezz ta’ “LGBT Pride March”, bħala parti minn ġimgħa ta’ ċelebrazzjonijiet li se jsiru fil-jiem li ġejjin u li din is-sena għandhom bħala tema “Dinjità fid-Diversità”.

Bħala bidu għal dawn iċ-ċelebrazzjonijiet, il-Malta Gay Rights Movement bil-kollaborazzjoni tal-Ambaxxata Amerikana f’Malta se tkun qiegħda turi l-film ċinematografu “Milk” ¬ fejn jieħdu sehem Sean Penn u Josh Brolin ¬ li jirrakkonta l-ħajja bijografika tal-politiku u l-attivist favor id-drttijiet gay, Harvey Milk.

Il-film se jintwera għada l-Ġimgħa, 26 ta’ Ġunju, fit-8.00 p.m., fl-Atriju M.A. Vassalli tal-Università ta’ Malta, Tal-Qroqq. Iżda forsi l-aktar interessanti se tkun id-diskussjoni interattiva permezz ta’ video conference’ diġitali li se ssegwi l-film. F’din id-diskussjoni, li tibda għall-ħabta tal-10.30 p.m., se tieħu sehem ukoll attivista oħra favur id-drittijiet tal-omosesswali fl-Amerika, Elaine Noble, li kienet l-ewwel kandidata eletta f’kariga statali li ddikjarat bil-quddiem l-orjentazzjoni sesswali tagħha.

Imwielda fl-1944, Elaine Noble kienet attiva bis-sħiħ favur id-drittijiet gay sa minn meta l-moviment gay kien għadu fil-bidu tiegħu. Hija kienet għażlet il-politika bħala triqtha għall-bidla li kien hemm bżonn issir u niżlet isimha fl-istorja Amerikana bħala l-ewwel kandidata li ddikjarat minn qabel li kienet lesbjana.

Fl-ewwel elezzjoni li kienet ikkontestat fl-1974 hi ġiet eletta fil-Kamra tar-Rappreżentanti ta’ Massachusetts fejn serviet għal żewġ leġislaturi konsekuttivi. Is-suċċess miksub minnha ma kienx wieħed faċli għax kemm-il darba sfat fil-mira ta’ theddid u atti vjolenti. Għal din l-attività qed ikun mistieden kulħadd. Id-dħul se jkun mingħajr l-ebda ħlas.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Guardian: YouTube video shows church 'exorcism' of gay teenager
Thursday 25 June 2009 14.41 BST

Manifested Glory Ministries denies any wrongdoing but gay advocates demand an investigation

[Click on hyperlink above to watch the video.]

'Gay exorcism' video by US church Manifested Glory Ministries

Link to this video

An American church has been condemned over a video showing a 16-year-old boy apparently being exorcised by church leaders trying to cast a "homosexual demon" from his body.

The 20-minute video posted on YouTube shows the teenager lying on the floor, his body convulsing, as elders of a small Connecticut church shout "Rip it from his throat!" and "Come on, you homosexual demon! You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now! Loose your grip, Lucifer!"

Later, the teenager is seen coughing and apparently vomiting into a bag before lying on the ground, limp and covered in a white sheet.

Gay and youth advocates claim the film depicts abuse and are demanding an investigation. But a spokeswoman from Manifested Glory Ministries, which posted the video on YouTube, this week denied any wrongdoing.

"We believe a man should be with a woman and a woman should be with a man," the Rev Patricia McKinney told the Associated Press. "We have nothing against homosexuals. I just don't agree with their lifestyle."

McKinney denied the ritual was an exorcism, describing it instead as a casting out of spirits. She said the church took care of the youth, providing him with clothes.

"He was dressing like a woman and everything. And he didn't want to be like that," McKinney said.

The church has since removed the video from YouTube.

Robin McHaelin, the executive director of True Colors, an American advocacy group for young gay people, said her organisation was aware of five cases in recent years in which people in her programme were threatened with exorcism.

In one case, she said, a child called to report that his caregiver had called a priest who was throwing holy water on his bedroom door.

"I think it's horrifying," McHaelin said of the video by Manifested Glory. "What saddens me is the people that are doing this think they are doing something in the kid's best interests, when in fact they're murdering his spirit."

McHaelin said she had spoken to the boy, who told her staff that the church performed the ritual three times at his request. She said the boy had been engaging in risky behaviour that she blamed on the church's treatment.

McHaelin said she planned to report the situation to the Connecticut child welfare authorities. An agency spokesman said it did not comment on complaints or investigations.

Jeff Buchanan from Exodus International, a Christian group that believes gay people can become straight through prayer and counselling, said it did not advocate the church's approach.

The Rev Roland Stringfellow, a minister in Oakland, California, said he was subject to demon casting in the 1990s when he was at a Baptist church and was struggling with his sexuality. He said he was put in front of the church as members shouted "demon of homosexuality come out of him".

"It caused nothing but shame and embarrassment," Stringfellow said.

Independent: 40 years this month – Modern gay liberation
25.6.9 by Joseph Carmel Chetcuti

You are having a quiet drink with friends in a bar when stocky policemen walk in and begin to harass you and your friends. You, your friends and the other patrons are timid and fearful of being arrested and you quickly disperse. Most patrons return home. A few are arrested and charged with a range of offences. Others gather at a safe distance outside only to return to the bar when the patrol car disappears in the distance. Such commotion and drama was an everyday occurrence in many gay bars across the world. The reaction of the patrons was predictable and the police knew it. After all, gay men (and lesbians) were powerless against the might of the law.

During the 1970s, I repeatedly watched police drop in at a gay bar (Capriccio’s) in Sydney’s Oxford Street. They would withdraw to a small room next to the bar only to re-emerge shortly thereafter, their pockets presumably heavier with more dollars. But in 1969, homosexuality was the furthest thing from my mind. That year, I was enjoying the blissful surroundings of Anglesey in North Wales as I was undergoing my novitiate with the Franciscan Minors Conventual.

June 1969. The 27th to be precise! Patrons are enjoying a quiet drink at the Stonewall Inn in Christopher Street, New York. The Stonewall Inn, more of a dump than a trendy public house, was without a liquor licence, not an uncommon occurrence those days for gay bars. There was also no running water in the bar and glasses were “sterilised” in dirty water. The Inn’s patrons were a mixed lot: blacks, street queens, hustlers, effeminate men, butch dykes, homeless kids, transvestites and “scare drag queens”. Many patrons were in their late teens (some underage). Those in their early 30s were considered “old”! Drugs were freely available at the Inn. It was a good place to buy acid. There were reports that the Mafia owned the Inn.

27 June had been a memorable day! Judy Garland’s funeral in Manhattan had stopped the nation. Some 22,000 people had filed past her coffin over a 24-hour period. Widely regarded as a gay icon throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Garland had gone over the rainbow for the last time. She was interred at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale New York. That day a tornado hit Kansas. Another tornado of a different sort was about to hit Christopher Street.

28 June. Panic strikes the Inn as white warning lights are hurriedly turned on to alert patrons of an impending police raid. To the management’s surprise, the police had failed to alert them of the raid. At around 1-2am, eight police officers from the First Division barged into the Stonewall Inn. A staged police raid should have been followed with a few patrons and employees being arrested. This time it was different. Patrons left the Inn but decided to gather outside. Onlookers joined in. Police emerged from the Inn with those they had arrested. A paddy wagon pulled up. The crowd booed and gave the police cheek. There were calls of “pigs” and “faggot cops!”

Others threw coins at them. A lesbian rocked the paddy wagon. A parking meter was uprooted. Someone screamed out “gay power!” And the fight was on. Bottles, bricks, dog muck were thrown at the police who were forced to retreat into the Inn. The Tactical Police Force turned up to rescue the police and disperse the crowd. The crowd dispersed but quickly reformed. The police withdrew at around 4am. Other riots took place on Sunday night and the following Wednesday.

The riots outside the Stonewall Inn are significant moments in gay and lesbian history. Gay men and lesbians gathered to protest against the Mafia and the police who for far too long had conspired against them and exploited them. But the riots mark also a significant shift away from the politics of respectability of both the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, the two major homosexual organisations at that time.

A new generation of gay men and lesbians had emerged. A generation that was more blatant and outrageous than their conservative predecessors all too preoccupied with respectability and normality. As one ditty put it, the “Stonewall girls”, as they styled themselves, wore their hair in curls. They wore no underwear and flashed their pubic hair. And they wore dungarees. They demanded equality. Finally, at long last, gay power had arrived in the United States. And it would soon spread worldwide! We owe a great debt to these very ordinary but at the same time quite extraordinary gay men, lesbians, transvestites and transsexuals. Happy birthday, modern gay liberation!

MaltaStar: Film, video conference to mark LGBT pride month

To commemorate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, the U.S. Embassy and the Malta Gay Rights Movement are organizing a public screening of the motion picture “Milk,” followed by an interactive digital videoconference with U.S. gay rights activist Elaine Noble.

The film viewing and discussion will be held outdoors at the Atriju M.A. Vassalli (Main Quadrangle) on the University of Malta campus on Friday, June 26. The film will begin at 2000 hrs, and the videoconference will commence at 2230 hrs.

“Milk,” which stars Sean Penn, recounts the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. As a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Milk helped to pass a pioneering gay rights ordinance for the city, but his political career was cut short when he was assassinated at City Hall by a fellow city supervisor in 1978. The biographical film, which was released last January, won two Academy Awards.

Following the film, audience members can participate in an interactive videoconference with Elaine Noble, a U.S. gay rights activist and former Massachusetts State Representative. In 1974, Ms. Noble became the first openly gay political candidate elected to a state-wide office in the United States, and she was present at the first White House meeting on civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, held in 1977.

EU Fundamental Rights Agency presents its Annual Report: Member States must close gaps in legal protection (24/06/2009)

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on 24 June released its Annual Report 2009. The report covers information, events and developments in the EU for the year 2008. It supplies material under the heading of ‘racism, xenophobia and related intolerance', and adds to this an overview of developments in a range of other fundamental rights areas, consistent with the Agency's mandate. The Agency's research shows that alarmingly few people are aware of their rights and where to report incidents of discrimination. Poor data collection in the EU-27 continues to hamper the implementation of effective policies to combat discrimination, whilst gaps in legal protection ensure that discrimination continues to thrive in certain areas. The FRA calls for better official data to raise awareness of how to report discrimination and encourage effective crime prevention initiatives at Member State level. Member States should also be encouraged to close the gaps in legal protection, raising awareness of the legal instruments available and targeting specific groups at risk of discrimination.
More awareness-raising on rights urgently needed.

The FRA's studies and reports have consistently shown that an overwhelming number of people are not aware of their rights should they be a victim of discrimination. For example, the FRA's recent EU-MIDIS (Minorities and Discrimination) Survey showed that only 39% of those minorities interviewed were aware of a law that forbids discrimination against people on the basis of ethnicity when applying for a job. At the same time, only 20% knew of an organisation that offers support or advice to people who have been discriminated against.

FRA Director Morten Kjaerum: "There is an urgent need for better information. Most victims of discrimination are not aware that what is being done to them is illegal. At the same time, many do not know how or where to file a complaint. As a consequence, the dark figure of discrimination is extremely high. Governments have an obligation to inform everyone of their rights, and ensure access to justice in practice, not just on paper".

Member States must close gaps in legal protection

Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson of the FRA Management Board stated: "There are still many gaps in legal protection against discrimination. Why should it be possible to sue a landlord for discriminating against someone on the basis of ethnicity or gender but not because of discrimination due to religion, age, disability or sexual orientation? Why are disabled people protected from discrimination in employment but not to the same degree in education?"

In June 2008, the European Commission published a Proposal for a Council Directive to close these gaps and extend protection against discrimination (on the grounds of religion, belief, disability, age, and sexual orientation) currently covering the employment sector to areas of social security, healthcare, education and access to and supply of goods and services. Several Agency reports have been used to underpin this EU Commission initiative for a new anti-discrimination directive, such as its legal study and social science report on homophobia in Europe.

Anastasia Crickley: "I urge EU governments to adopt the European Commission's proposal to extend protection against discrimination to cover all grounds".

Poor data collection hampers effective policies

This poor rights awareness coincides with insufficient recording and reporting mechanisms of discrimination.

For example, on racist crime, in the majority of EU Member States (15 out of 27) there is either a complete absence of publicly available official criminal justice data on racist crime, or limited reporting on a few court cases. Nine Member States can be categorised as having a ‘good' data collection mechanism on racist crimes, and data collection mechanisms can be considered ‘comprehensive' in only three Member States.

Morten Kjaerum: "Many Member States still have insufficient or no official criminal justice data on racist crime. This is symptomatic of a lack of political focus and resource allocation to address the problem". He continued: "Insufficient or non-existent data collection, combined with poor rights awareness and the under-reporting of discrimination and crime, leads to a situation where the true extent and nature of fundamental rights violations cannot be determined. Collecting data is not a solution in itself, but it serves to generate an understanding of the nature and extent of fundamental rights violations. Effective, targeted policies at Member State level can only be developed with an accurate knowledge of the situation".

"There are encouraging developments in some Member States with respect to improvements in data collection, particularly on a localised level. However, national practice regarding the collection and use of data remains varied across Member States".

The FRA Annual Report can be downloaded from

For further questions, please contact the FRA Media Team:
Tel.: +43 1 58030-642

Notes to editors:

  • The Annual Report 2009 of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) covers information, events and developments in the EU in 2008. This report is broader in scope than previous Annual Reports of the Agency. As with previous years, the report covers material under the heading of ‘racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, but it adds to this an overview of developments in a range of other fundamental rights areas, consistent with the Agency's mandate. In addition, it contains a summary of FRA activities on fundamental rights in the form of research projects, incident reports and opinions produced in 2008.
  • The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights was established in March 2007 in Vienna (Austria). The Agency has three key functions: to collect information and data on fundamental rights; provide advice to the EU and its Member States; and promote dialogue with civil society in order to raise public awareness of fundamental rights.

  • Annual Report 2009 - Media Release EnglishБългарски ĿeštinadanskDeutscheesti keelελληνικάespañolfrançaisGaeilgeitalianolatviešu valodalietuvių kalbamagyarMaltiNederlandspolskiportuguêsromânĿslovenĿinaslovenšĿinasuomisvenska application/pdf (PDF File 75 KB)
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