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Stonewall launches own message for gay teenagers

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  1. Er, Stonewall? Wasn’t that some psuedo-gay rights organization that used to pretend to support LGBT rights but whose preening, strutting, sneering chief exec. was secretly campaigning against us, and who were rather sensationally outed by this rather fantastic web site? Move on, folks, this outfit is toast. Nothing they say now carries any weight or credibility. They are a laughing stock. Let passionately committed campaigners rise from the ashes of Stonewall’s pyre to do the job properly and whole-heartedly.

  2. Stonewall has no credibility with Ben Summerskill running it. I will never suppport them while he is there.

  3. Should that not be Stonewall steals someone else’s campaign and claims it as their own!

    The could of just joined the it gets better campaign, not stolen someone else’s idea!

  4. Stonewall seems incapable of just participating in things, they always try and own it!

  5. “Stonewall’s campaign tells young people that they do not have to wait for their lives to improve because the UK already has civil partnerships”

    What the F*** !!!!!!!!

    Have Stoneall learned ANYTHING?

    Boasting about civil partnership apartheid is NOT a wise movwe.

    Why hasn’t that useless bigot Ben Summerskill been fired yet?

    It looks like Stonwewall’s alleged new support for LGBT equality is nothing but meaningless PR if they are STILL babbling on about how CP Apartheid is a good thing.

    Stonewall may as well just release an ad saying ‘You are a 2nd class citizen and you should be happy with that.’

    Stonewall is clearly run by homophobes.

  6. In fact Ben Summerskill thinks that things are too good in Britain, and that’s why we don’t need anti-harassment legislation.

  7. also at school there’s ethics classes about LBG yet none for hetero it appears

  8. Stonewall’s campaign tells young people that they do not have to wait for their lives to improve because, in defiance of The Human Rights Act 1998, UK already has separate, discriminatory and second class civil partnerships that mark same sex relationships as different and inferior to opposite sex relationships…whoopee!

    Ben Summerskill is so fixated on civil partnerships, does he yet really see the problem so many of us have with being persons of marriageable age discriminated against and denied access to civil marriage and to the title “married” simply because we are gay men and lesbian women.
    Still it looks like he’s talking up cp’s instead of marriage… even though Stonewall is supposedly now committed to campaigning for gay marriage.

  9. Let’s not worry about children being bullied at school then? PinkNews has lost the plot.

  10. Stonewall trying to appeal to anti-American attitudes by highlighting what America seemingly doesn’t have, even though we do. Apparently a lawsuit to end DOMA, DADT, and the states that offer Civil Partnerships (AND MARRIAGE). Plus the federal government, many states and local townships that offer specific LGBT protection are good enough for Stonewall to try to paint in a negative light (when it isn’t).

    None of this even has to do with school, so Stonewall even fails to rip off the campaign right by saying this stuff.

    Next they’ll be going “It gets better, because in the UK you don’t get chemically castrated for being gay anymore like you used to be here in the UK!” or going “At least we don’t correctively rape lesbians here, like in Africa!” to try and make everything look dandy fine, so they don’t have to do any work.

  11. It really doesn’t help address bullying for gay shoolkids not to be able to granted the same expectation of marriage as their straight peers.
    If even as adults LGBT folk are seen to be bullied by anti-gay bigots and powerful religious groups who have successfully lobbied to obtain opt-outs from anti-discrimination laws and to deny them full marriage equality, it doesn’t send a fully believable message to bullied gay kids that it gets better now.

  12. Stonewall are irrelevant. Ignore them! Their failed attempt at social engineering in league with their sycophantic stooging to New Labour is at an end. Pay them no more attention. Gone! Kaput!

  13. Paul, London 29 Oct 2010, 7:24pm

    So, you’re a gay teenager going through a really rough time coming to terms with your sexuality and you read this story. Great news! But then look at all the bitchy, self centred comments you’ve all posted on here. Not one offers any kind of support or advice for these kids, except for you crowing about ignoring Stonewall. For once will you just give it a rest FFS! You’ve made your point. And half of you are completely ignorant about the issues – Dave, for example… Protection from harrassment in the Equality Act is NOT NECESSARY because protection from discrimination is provided. I challenge you to give me an example of harrassment against gay people that is not also discrimination (i.e. treating people less favourably that others because of their sexual orientation).

    A message to teenagers: I grew up in a Catholic school in a snall town in the north of England. I didn’t know anyone who was gay and I felt very alone. I was bullied at school too. But it really does get better, honestly. I’m “out” to everyone, people I know and people I meet for the first time, I’m in a Civil Partnership with my partner who I’ve lived with for 13 years. I have a great job and all my colleagues are ok with me being gay. My nephew adores my partner and I. I know it can be really difficult, but it WILL get better. Good luck for the future. Paul x

  14. And the bitterness of Pink News readers continues. YAWN.

  15. … perhaps they could have added that in addition they are now campaingning for marriage equality …. I wouldn’t like to be the teacher or parent who has to explain why Gays can only have CPs and straights can only get married – What was the reasoning behind gays having CP only? what were all those nasty comments by all those Bishops, Caths and lord and ladies from the house of lords why marrigae was an absolute no no for gays?

    This is why marriage equality and removal of all legal discrimination is important – CPs just makes us different and by default inferior – don’t fool yourselves!

    It’s good that Stonewall are doing some work on homophobic bullying but they are not the only ones. Luckily we also don’t have to depend on them solely to get marriage equality. They really do need to pull their fingers out…

  16. “perhaps they could have added that in addition they are now campaingning for marriage equality”

    But clearly they are NOT if they are still bigging up discrimination.

    Here’s a message to LGBT Youth – IGNORE Stonewall. They are not interested in LGBT equality.

    There are many LGBT groups in Britain who believe that you deserve the exact same rights as straight people – for example the Equal Love Campagn, the LibDem Gay Group, LGBTory Group; the LGBT Christian Fellowship.

    Support these groups. Do not trust Stonewall.

  17. To Paul in London, first of all there’s no need to shout your point of view. I’m not sure why you feel gay people should have less protection than racial groups enjoy. Peter Tatchell wrote about the problem in the Guardian last December:

    The equality bill denies LGBT people protection in cases of homophobic harassment by school authorities, by the owners and managers of properties and by the providers of services. Similar harassment is specifically outlawed on the grounds of age, disability, race and sex. This omission gives a green light to homophobes. Under this section of law, they won’t face sanctions for anti-gay victimisation.

    LGBT organisations like School’s Out are campaigning against homophobic and transphobic bullying and harassment in schools, some of which is perpetrated or tolerated by school staff, according to a Stonewall survey of LGBT pupils, The School Report (2007).

    By excluding protection against harassment in schools on the grounds of gender reassignment and sexual orientation, this legislation is sending a signal to schools that the harassment of LGBT pupils need not be taken seriously.

    Peter Tatchell’s article in full

    There was no need for Ben Summerskill to make the minimalist point he did to the House of Commons Committee in June last year, and it seems that Lynne Featherstone also had concerns about Stonewall’s position.

  18. Out of curiosity, can someone tell me who Stonewall is accountable to?

  19. Paul, London 30 Oct 2010, 8:56am

    Dave – I am aware of Peter Tatchell’s article and the work of Schools out – They, and you, have an lack of understanding of discrimination law. The reason why harrassment protection exists for gender, race and disability is because it was in the European Directives that the UK was obliged to adopt. Your post above does not actually say what kind of harrassment you are taking about. As I explained before, the protection is not necessary becase protection from discrimination is already provided in the law. I again challenge you to identify a type of harrassment that isn’t also discrimination (that’s three times I’ve asked you to do this now) – I bet you can’t do it.

  20. Paul @13:
    Seems to me we will not overcome discrimination nor bullying by colluding with the anti-gay opposition in the pretence that civil partnerships are not the result of anti-gay discrimination and that they are not discriminatory in and of themselves.

    If you face up to the fact of the perfect discrimination that special, separate civil partnerships exclusively for LGBT’s now enshrines in the law then you might have a chance of dealing to it.

    Lying to yourself and to schoolkids about the true nature of the CP’s we have been fobbed off with to prevent us from having access to marriage…apparently solely to appease anti-gay bigots, is not the way forward to full equality nor to tackle bullying.

    Stonewall might so easily have said to schoolkids, “we already have cp’s and we are campaigning right now for full marriage equality”… but they missed/messed another great opportunity.

  21. Paul, London 30 Oct 2010, 9:45am

    Dave – This is the relevant extract from Hansard (a verbatim record of the discussions in Parliament about why harrassment protection doesn’t apply to sexual orientation. I’ve copied it below so that everyone can see. The Speaker was Baroness Thornton, Labour leader of the House of Lords:

    Amendment 51 seeks to extend this protection to all relevant protected characteristics. However, we do not have any evidence that this form of harassment is a problem in the workplace; and where this protection applies now, it is to comply with our European legal obligations.

    I now turn to a number of amendments which have to do with harassment in schools. I recognise that there has been some concern about the fact that the Bill does not explicitly apply harassment protections on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender reassignment to schools. The fear is that this might leave schools free to harass pupils on these grounds. Amendments 106ZA and 106ZB, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lester, would put right this supposed deficit while applying a rather higher test of harassment than exists elsewhere in the Bill, for reasons which he has explained and which I understand. However, we are confident that this is not necessary and I hope I can persuade him that that is the case.

    The Government are very clear that school children should not be subject to detrimental behaviour because of sexual orientation or gender reassignment and that the Bill should support this policy. We have examined all the examples that have been put to us of behaviour which anyone would understand to be harassment and we are confident that there is not a gap where there is unacceptable treatment of a child by a school. Situations such as a teacher ridiculing a child because of his sexual orientation or a teacher encouraging other pupils to mock a pupil because he was undergoing gender reassignment would be considered less favourable

    13 Jan 2010 : Column 582

    treatment and therefore amount to direct discrimination. In fact, in any situation we can envisage, it would be unlawful discrimination for anyone working in a school to bully a pupil because of his sexual orientation or gender reassignment. That is the position that we intend to make absolutely clear in Amendments 138 and 139, to which I now turn.

    Clause 204 provides general interpretation for the purposes of the Bill. This clause makes it clear that detriment does not include unlawful harassment as defined in Clause 26. Through the Explanatory Notes to the Bill, we have sought to explain two things. First, this means that where the Bill provides harassment protection explicitly, it is not possible to bring a claim for direct discrimination by way of detriment on the same facts. Secondly, it means that where harassment is not prohibited explicitly-for example, in the case of sexual orientation and gender reassignment in education in schools-detriment includes unwanted conduct that violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. Therefore if a pupil was subjected to unwanted conduct by his school that satisfied the definition of harassment in Clause 26 and he believed that it happened just because he was gay, he would be able to seek a legal remedy under Clause 85. Depending on the facts, this might be direct discrimination by way of detriment.

    However, a number of organisations and Members in another place have expressed concerns that it is not clear that this provision in its current form can be read in the way we intend. These amendments are therefore essential to remove those doubts and clarify exactly how the provisions will work. I hope that many of those who have expressed concerns will be reassured by this clear statement that behaviour that amounts to harassment will be caught by the discrimination provisions where explicit harassment provisions do not apply

  22. Paul, London 30 Oct 2010, 9:59am

    Pavlos, I don’t disagree with you and I wouldn’t be surprised that Civil Partnerships were thought up solely to appease anti-gay bigots. But let’s not forget that we live in the real world here. If we didn’t have Civil Partnerships, and if straight people hadn’t been able to witness how popular they were and how the world hasn’t ended becasue of thier existence, do you think that we would have been in the position now where a majority of straight people support gay marriage? Just like with equalising the age of consent, do you really believe that the anti-gay bigots would have reduced the age of conset directly to 16 from 21, without first going to 18? Even the much vilified Ben Summerskill was criticised by the Christian Alliance when he dared to suggest that in about 20 years time he could see churches being forced to hold Civil Partnerships.

    I support full LGBT equality, but you have to pick battles that you think you can win, and slowly chip away – just like the gay movement has been doing for the pasy 50 years or so. LEt’s not forget that Sonewall have had some *very* significant successes in their lobbying over the years… Who’s to say that their approach to this issue is going to be in-effective?

  23. Before taking this further, as I’m not clear to which European Directives you refer, please could you provide the relevant Directive number(s) and year(s).

    Do you believe there is no possibility of racial harassment where racial discrimination is not also involved as well? Assuming you do believe this is the case, why should sexual orientation harassment be treated on a lesser footing?

    You asked for a specific case – Imagine if a teacher were to tell her class that all her black pupils were inherently disordered in nature because they were black (similar sentiments were not uncommonly expressed a few years ago) Would you not agree that such a teacher was guilty of harassing her black pupils? Now consider the case where a teacher openly characterises her LGBT pupils as inherently disordered. What would your opinion be about that teacher? Should such sentiments be treated differently, and if so why?

  24. @22,
    I’m with you Paul, I never intended to dismiss the past achievements of Stonewall but CP’s could only ever be a stepping stone to full equality as much as they simultaneously function as a deliberate block on our access to full marriage equality.
    CP’s have now fulfilled those purposes, prevailing attitudes have shifted enough that even Stonewall has now at last said it will campaign for civil marriage equality, here was a great opportunity to show they really are moving on and to promote the equal marriage campaign … missed.
    As Harvey Milk said, “You’ve gotta give them hope”
    I’m very much looking forward to Stonewall’s Equal Marriage Campaign, whenever it eventually gets started.

  25. Paul, London 30 Oct 2010, 12:52pm

    @ Dave – There are several Directives that have developed over the years – It’s probably easiest is you Google “Gender Directive” “Race Directive” than me quote all the references to you – The UK is legally obliged to implement them, but once it has done so it cannot “reduce the level of protection” in subsequent legislation – hence why harrassment provisions remain in the Act for Race, Gender and Age etc.

    An example of why harrassment protection is a bit of a nonsense can be seen in the wording of the Race Directive where it says “Harassment shall be deemed to be discrimination within the meaning of paragraph 1, when an unwanted conduct related to racial or ethnic origin takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

    So, as you can see, harrassment is deemed to be discimination…

    As Baroness Thornton said: Where harassment is not prohibited explicitly – for example, in the case of sexual orientation and gender reassignment in education in schools – detriment includes unwanted conduct that violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. Therefore if a pupil was subjected to unwanted conduct by his school that satisfied the definition of harassment in Clause 26 and he believed that it happened just because he was gay, he would be able to seek a legal remedy under Clause 85. Depending on the facts, this might be direct discrimination by way of detriment.

    So, Peter Tatchell and Schools Out seem to have misunderstood the law (but they won’t admit that to you). Presentationally I agree it look odd, but if you read the Equality Act in its entirity instead of just looking at little bits of it, it does make sense.

  26. Paul — so it seems that whilst you agree that, in my example, the teacher would be guilty of both discrimination and harassing her LGB pupils, you still feel it right that harassment should not covered. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but it seems T pupils are, in fact covered against harassment according to the Gender Directive 2004/113/EC.

    You argue that Peter Tatchell, Schools Out and Lord Lester (QC) do not understand the law properly. Is it possible that a teacher might also misunderstand the law, such a teacher noting that a distinction has been drawn between racial harassment and sexual orientation harassment? Surely that was precisely the reason why the distinction shouldn’t have been made, and why Ben Summerskill was completely wrong to take the position he did in giving evidence to the Equality Bill Committee in June 2009.

    It seems Ben’s evidence could have done harm to LGB kids – it certainly does not help alleviate homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools. Perhaps you could explain Ben’s motivation, because I cannot see it for one moment.

  27. Paul, London 30 Oct 2010, 1:46pm

    In Ben’s own words (select committee transcript):

    “I can certainly say on the issue of harassment we are not convinced that there is a need for protection in this area. Members of the Committee who have dealt with Stonewall in the past will know that we tend only to ask for things where we can provide hard evidence of need, and we tend then only to ask for
    prescriptions that might put things right. We are simply not clear—we have tested and have tested with counsel a series of potential cases that might be picked up by harassment protection, and we cannot find one that would not be picked up in these cases by points that are covered by indirect or direct discrimination themselves. That is our position. If anyone can provide us with a case—no one has been able to do this—where the provision of goods and services protections need extension in that area, we would, as you know, quite happily support it but, as I said, we do have a history of only asking for things that we clearly think are necessary. We are committed to small government in that sense.”

    Seems rather sensible to me. Bigots will be bigots regardless of what the law says anyway – I don’t think that homophobes go out of their way to read the legislation to see what is and isn’t allowed before they hurl their abuse. What matters is whether there is a legal remedy in the event of it happening and causing detrement. In this case there is a rememdy – protection from discrimination.

  28. Paul — as I see it the Equality Act 2010 shouldn’t be for the benefit of homophobes. It is only for those who want to counter prejudice and bigotry. Unfortunately the weaker the law appears, the less weaponry available to those who wish to combat homophobia.

    Ben Summerskill said, in taking a casuistic approach, that it was unnecessary to include harassment in the legislation. He neglected the bigger picture. And I still cannot understand why Stonewall took the position it did. Unfortunately it seems to conform to a pattern of bizarre policy decisions for an organisation which supposedly exists to campaign for equality and diversity particularly in respect of LGB matters.

  29. Paul, London 30 Oct 2010, 2:12pm

    Oh, and of course Lord Lester understands the law – he is a QC after all!. Often the purpose of the discussions in Parliament or in the Select Committees is to establish the precise meaning of the legislation – they put forward “probing” amendments – i.e. they don’t really want to change the wording of the law, they simply do it so that the Government has to defend its position and explain and clarify the meaning of the law as written.

    Another quote from the Government during the debates on amendments includes this – Baroness Thornton:

    “Situations such as a teacher ridiculing a child because of his sexual orientation or a teacher encouraging other pupils to mock a pupil because he was undergoing gender reassignment would be considered less favourable treatment and therefore amount to direct discrimination. In fact, in any situation we can envisage, it would be unlawful discrimination for anyone working in a school to bully a pupil because of his sexual orientation or gender reassignment. That is the position that we intend to make absolutely clear in Amendments 138 and 139, to which I now turn.”

    I think Baroness Thontons explaintation of the law covers the example given by dave above too.

  30. Paul, London 30 Oct 2010, 2:28pm

    Dave, even Lord Lester QC, despite his extensive background in the law, human rights and equality legislation, was unable to come up with an example of harrassment that wasn’t already covered by the definition of discrimination.

  31. It’s interesting to note that a google search for ‘harassment’ limited to Stonewall’s website gives 209 results. Here’s just one of them.

  32. Dave, No. 5, actually Summerskill in a way has connected the link between equality and bullying. I’d said many times that as long as we only have civil partnerships, society is always going to view us differently, treat us differently as if we’re undeserving of that one right they take for granted when they come out of the womb, ergo marriage. When an entire group is segregated that way, its ends a signal to the homophobes that because we’re not regards as their equals, then its ok to go out and bash, bully or kill us. I would have felt better about this if Summerskill had announced in the video that StonewallUK will also fight for full marriage equality. That was a golden opportunity to vindicate himself, he blew it big time. Glorifying segregation is beyond sick and I don’t think he’d ever concede that’s exactly what CPs do. Imagine if the government said that all married people would have to have their marriages downgraded to CPs. I think there would be public uproar and probably civil unrest knowing how important marriage is in any society on the planet. CPs will never attain that status although they were well intended at their inception, but they no longer make sense now that more countries are abandoning them for the universal gold standard. I’m all for keeping them for those who want them, but we must have the right to marry. Its up to us now to make sure that we light a fire under Summerskill’s lazy arse as well as Cameron’s.

  33. Some typos in my previous post… I meant to have said…”it sends a signal”….and “because we’re not regarded as their equals”. My apologies.

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