#UK

Anti-Gay Bakery Refused Service by Photography Company on "On Moral Grounds"

Touché, supporters of basic human decency.

As we previously reported, on Wednesday the UK Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland. The establishment refused to bake a cake featuring fictional characters Bert and Ernie with the message “support gay marriage.” The court ruled that this wasn’t discrimination, that the bakery had a right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

That’s infuriating, sure. But that’s not where the story ends.

Anti-LGBTQ+ group The Christian Institute covered the bakery’s legal fees, and shortly thereafter found the tables had turned. Perfocal, a photography company they hired to cover the hearing and press statement, ultimately denied them the service, refunding their money and withholding the photos.

Perfocal founder Tony Xu told Pink News:

“When our photographer on the ground learned what it was while doing the job, they felt immediately uncomfortable with the situation, as many members of the public are, but remained professional. As soon as I found out though, I realized this was an opportunity to highlight exactly why this kind of result is damaging. This isn’t just about standing up against discrimination. I hope our stance serves as an example of exactly where this kind of judgment could lead us. Where does it end?”

“It’s been accepted in the highest court in the UK that private companies can accept bookings and then, if they feel that it goes against their morals, refuse that booking if it offends their sensibilities and it not be counted as discriminatory… We had no idea what the case was when the booking was made—we simply see the basic information, date, time, location.”

“We appreciate that this looks like tit for tat, and it is.”

How do we feel about this? Is Perfocal’s tit-for-tat helping? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

h/t: Pink News, Out

UK Plumber Gets Prison Time For Blackmailing Closeted Gay Man

We all know that well-worn porn scenario of the hunky plumber who shows up to fix a ‘leaky faucet’ and then, badda-bing-badda-boom!

Well, a plumber in the UK took that idea and flipped the script a bit by hooking up with a closeted, married gay man and then tried to extort blackmail to keep his secret.

Benjamin Muskett, a 31-year-old in Chester England, pleaded guilty in court to attempting to blackmail a married man over a sexual tryst in the country.

Muskett apparently spent months corresponding with his victim, who was only identified as ‘Mr. X’ in court papers, via a gay hookup site.

The two finally agreed to meet on Sunday, September 2.

According to the Chester Standard, Muskett got into the victim’s car and, after a brief conversation agreed to head out to the country for privacy.

After parking so that they could see any approaching cars, Muskett allowed Mr. X to perform “a sex act” on him in the car.

Along the way there was apparently a bit of pretending to fix a flat tire. Now, there’s a euphemism for you.

Once the deed was done, they headed back to town and parted company.

But then, Muskett contacted Mr. X and told him he’d recorded the sexcapade and wanted £5,000 in cash to keep the closeted man’s secret.

Frightened his friends and family would find out about the meet up, Mr. X contacted the police.

When the police arrested Muskett he admitted he’d never actually recorded the encounter. He eventually told police he has a female partner and children and he needed money to support them.

The judge, who called the crime “particularly vicious because it was planned and deliberate,” sentenced Muskett to 3 years in prison.

(h/t Chester Standard)

Gay U.S. Man Faces Deportation Because A UK Immigration Judge Doesn't Recognize His Marriage

An American-born man may be deported from the UK because a judge doesn’t recognize his legal marriage.

The 41-year-old American-born Brian Page met 36-year-old Ben when they were both on the same train in 2012. The two continued their relationship, with Ben traveling to the US on an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ETSA) visa. The two were married in 2014.

Trouble arrived for the couple when Ben’s mother became ill and the couple flew to the UK to be with her. This time, Brian used an ESTA visa with a valid limit of six months.

Unfortunately, the prolonged illness led to Brian needing to extend his stay. After a four-year battle with the immigration department, one judge has decided that their union only counts as a “civil partnership.”

“It’s crazy,” said Ben to Milton Keynes, “because we’re legally married and this government voted to recognize gay marriage. Yet they are forbidding Brian, my legal husband, to stay here.”

The couple also share that the judge wrote in the determination letter that they should consider moving to Canada.

“Home Office has refused to recognize our 4-year marriage instead calling it a 'partnership'! Also suggested that we could go live in Canada where neither of us has any ties (Yes, she actually said that in her determination letter!),” they wrote online.

Things have also become worse for the couple financially. Not only has Brian, an architect, been unable to work, but the two have sustained large legal expenses (£17,000). In addition, they now need another £1,500 within the next two days or they may be separated for a possible two years.

To help fundraise the amount for an appeal, the two have started up a Go Fund Me page.

As they wrote in the page’s description:

“I never thought we would be here asking for people to help us stay together. We are hard-working people who haven't ever asked for anything from anyone until now. After draining all of our savings over the last 4 years fighting this, we don’t have the money to fight this last bit. I have tried everything to get it in time but they purposely give you 14 days so you don’t have the time. I wish I could borrow the money but I don’t know who else to ask! So we are here. At the worst point for us.”

At the time of this post's publication, the two have raised £920 of the £1,500 goal.

h/t: MK Citizen

UK Study: LGBTs Waiting Later In Life Than Heterosexual Couples To Marry

New data from the UK shows same-sex couples are more likely to marry later in life than heterosexual couples.

Commissioned by the Office of National Statistics in the UK, the study, titled “Being 18 in 2018,” examines different aspects of life for young adults who were born in 2000.

The subjects of the study include life expectancy, employment, becoming parents, and getting married, among many topics.

While couples are allowed to marry in the UK at the age of 18 without parental consent, the statistics show young folks are waiting longer and longer to walk down the aisle.

In 1970, for instance, the average age for women getting married was 22-years-old; and for men, it was 24-years-old.

Of course, that didn’t include any LGBT folks since marriage equality didn’t arrive in the UK until 2014.

Note: same-sex marriage is still not legal in Northern Ireland, although civil partnerships are allowed.

Looking at 2014, the average age of women who married men had risen to 31, and for men marrying women it was 33.

But when it comes to gay and lesbian couples, the average ages are noticeably higher.

The average age of lesbian couples getting hitched as 35, and for gay male couples it was 38.

By 2015, the average age for gay male couples had risen to nearly 40-years-old.

These stats do spark the question: why are LGBTs getting married later in life? Or - put another way - are young people not that drawn to the idea of marriage?

What do you think, readers?

(h/t Gay Star News)

Coca-Cola, IBM & More Urge Legalization Of Marriage Equality Legal In Northern Ireland

Several major corporations have signed on to a letter urging the UK Parliament in London to introduce legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Marriage equality has been the law of the land in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014, and the Republic of Ireland voted for marriage equality via public referendum in 2015.

That leaves Northern Ireland as the only part of Western Europe to not allow LGBT couples to marry. The only legal recognition available for same-sex couples are civil unions thanks to UK-wide legislation passed in 2005.

According to Gay Star News, the government of Northern Ireland basically broke down in early 2017 when a coalition of rival parties stopped working together.

And so, activists and business leaders are asking UK Parliament to step in regarding same-sex marriage.

The list of over two dozen multinational businesses supporting the marriage equality letter to Parliament include Coca-Cola, Bank of Ireland, Deloitte, Citi Belfast and Pinsent Masons.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion contribute to a happy and productive workforce and can help in attracting global talent to Northern Ireland,” says John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project and member of the Love Equality consortium. “However, without full legal recognition of same-sex marriages retaining and attracting talent can be difficult.”

Petre Sandru, Country Manager for Coca-Cola Ireland, agrees.

“As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, Coca-Cola celebrates diversity, inclusion and equality,” says Sandru. “At Coca-Cola, we know that creating an environment where everyone can reach their full potential, regardless of gender age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, ability or socio-economic background, is key to driving businesses forward.”

Corporate support has been shown to be a powerful component in the fight for equal rights.

In 2015, hundreds of major companies signed on to an amicus brief in support of marriage equality as the U.S. Supreme Court weighed the issue.

And in Australia, Coca-Cola, Quantas Airlines and more voiced their support for same-sex marriage as the country readied to vote in a mail-in referendum which eventually led to marriage equality becoming legal ‘down under’ in January of this year.

 

 

(h/t Gay Star News)

Gay UK Business Owners Pass; One Of An Illness And One Of A Broken Heart

A UK man literally died of a broken heart after his husband died.

The community in Devon, UK are grieving after the death of a gay couple had a sad but romantic end.

Gay couple Steven Collyer and Jason Roe were pillars in multiple communities because of their entrepreneurial spirit. Steven opened the first WOW gay venue in the 1990s in Cardiff, ran the Koolers Nightclub, and manned Club Cardiff.

After that, the couple moved to Devon where they opened Torquay’s Shiphay Chippy fish and chop bar, but now the two have unfortunately passed away, according to DevonLive.

It was Jason Roe who passed first from an illness just six weeks ago. Then, Steven Collyer sadly joined him on September 4. His death was caused by what’s being reported as a “broken heart.”

Now, the community of Devon and specifically Paignton, where the couple had moved to after Jason first became sick, are mourning and honoring the couple.

Collyer's Facebook page has received several condolences and messages of love. In addition, flowers have shown up outside the Shiphay Chippy.

Steven’s sister Vicky Roffi spoke to DevonLive to say:

"Steven was an amazing man, amazing friend but most of all he was loved by so many people. I for one will greatly miss him.”

"Wherever they went Steven and Jason made a massive impact. They were very outgoing - especially Steven. He loves a party."

Former Devon councilor Darren Cowell also spoke on the recently departed Collyer, "I know so many people have had many a meal from him. Very sad news and my thoughts are with his family and friends."

Funeral arrangements are being made and is planned to be held in Wales. That said, there will be a similar event in Devon for the friends and customers who wish to pay their respects.

As for the Shiphay Chippy, it’s been announced that the establishment will now go up for sale.

h/t: DevonLive

Less UK Gay Men Have Been Diagnosed With HIV In Two Years

UK gay men are less frequently contracting HIV, according to the AIDS Map.

Public Health England recently released numbers on the amount of gay and bisexual men who have been diagnosed with HIV in the past few years.

Their records show that the number has been dropping in the past two years. While it reached 2290 in 2015, it then hit 2820 in 2016 and 2330 in 2017. That’s a 31% drop between 2015 and 2017.

On top of that, the biggest fall happened in London with diagnoses dropping to 41% whereas outside of London it was down 30%.

It wasn’t just gay men who saw this drop in diagnoses however as the total of 4363 people who were diagnosed with HIV in 2017 was lower than the 6043 in 2015 and the 5280 in 2016.

Current guesses are that the increase of HIV testing could have caused this general drop in diagnoses, but experts can’t confirm that idea just yet.

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news though as the percentage of people diagnosed late did not get better.

As the AIDS Map reports;

“42% of all diagnoses were made with a CD4 cell count below 350/mm3. The highest rates are in heterosexual men (58% and 72% in black African heterosexual men) but also of great concern in heterosexual women (50%) and injecting drug users (47%). The rates are lower in gay and bisexual men (32%).”

While all of this information has just been released, there’s even more waiting to be published through a full analysis that will drop in November.

h/t: AIDS Map

Online Trolls Say Belfast Primark Fire Was Caused By God's Wrath Against Gays

 

Homophobes and the religious intolerant are using a recent fire to spread homophobic rhetoric.

On Tuesday (August 29), a sudden blaze broke out at the Primark building in Belfast, North Ireland. The 233-year-old building went up in smoke, but 80 firefights fought to make sure that the fire didn’t spread to any other buildings, according to Metro.

While the building didn’t entirely burn down, experts are currently investigating what caused the fire and if the building’s structure is damaged beyond repair.

As that is going on, homophobes have already taken to the internet to use this as an excuse to share hateful words. How do they figure the fire is in anyway related to LGBTQ people? One store window included Pride merchandise.

“Primark in Belfast up in flames,” wrote one person in a now deleted Twitter post, “Galatians 6:7 comes to mind… ‘Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’”

“@Primark supported wickedness via it’s shop window a few weeks ago in Belfast,” wrote another.

A third remarked, “Reminds me of our Trinitarian God who burnt not just a shop, but a whole city to a crisp.’”

In response to all this, the Northern Ireland Humanists group released the following statement:

“We have already noticed comments like ‘you reap what you sow’ in response to the Primark Belfast building having an extremely destructive fire.”

“This is because Primark had created a rainbow window presentation in support of Pride Belfast this year. ‘We know this is not the feelings of most Christians, but we would ask you, religious or not, to call out this homophobic rhetoric where you find it.”

“We hope those employed by “Primark are being helped while out of work. And we also hope the building will be rebuilt as it is one of Belfast’s most beautiful.”

h/t: Metro

UK Driver Faces 12 Years In Jail After Mowing Down A Gay Man In Manchester

A UK man’s in jail after he ran over a gay man.

Back in March, Aaron McDonald got into an argument with a man on Manchester’s Bloom Street. In the early hours of Sunday, March 26, these two men argued in Manchester’s Gay Village.

According to the Manchester Evening News, 31-year-old McDonald was allegedly heard calling the other man  a “f****t boy” before running off.

In his drunken stupor, McDonald was growing a menacing idea. He got into his car, drove back to the area where he had the verbal fight and ran over the other man.

The man was walking near a group of pedestrians and the group was hit by McDonald’s car. The man was thrown onto the bonnet but then McDonald hit the brakes and drove over the victim. A woman was also injured during the process.

Afterwards, McDonald drove away, parked his car one mile away from the scene on Oxford Road, and walked home. After drinking more wine and passing out on his sofa, McDonald awoke to the police at his door.

 “I was driving the car, I was waiting for yous [sic] to turn up,” said McDonald to the police later, “I know what I’ve done it’s my mistake.”

Now this past Friday (July 6), the Manchester Crown Court has found McDonald guilty of section 18 assault and has sentenced him to 12 years in jail.

In reference to McDonald’s case, Det Cons Matt Cooper, of GMP’s City of Manchester Division, said: 

"McDonald’s decision to get in his car despite having been out drinking put the lives of not only the people he targeted in danger, but everyone walking on that street that morning.

“Getting into a car under the influence of alcohol and with the intention of using it as a weapon is completely unacceptable and he is lucky that he didn’t kill the man he drove into.

“He will now have to spend the next 12 years living with the consequences of his actions.”

h/t: Manchester Evening News

UK Government Seeks To Ban Harmful "Ex-Gay" Therapy

A new survey of 108,000 LGBTQ people in the UK has cast a new light on the discrimination that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people  face each day.

Among the findings:

• More than two-thirds of respondents admitted they don’t hold hands with their same-sex partner in public our of fear

• 2% of the 108,000 had undergone conversion therapy; 5% had been offered the discredited treatment

• 40% of respondents had experienced anti-LGBTQ hate incidents; of those 9 out of 10 were unreported

• 23% admitted they had experienced anti-LGBTQ animus in the workplace

• 70% avoid living openly as LGBTQ to avoid negative reactions

• 67% of transgender respondents say they avoid being open about their gender identity due to fear of how others would react

In response to the findings, a new initiative has now been announced titled, “LGBT Action Plan - Improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people” which aims to explore "legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy."

Medical experts around the world including the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and almost every other professional therapeutic group in America, have denounced the practice of so-called “conversion” or “ex-gay” therapy as inappropriate, unethical, harmful and, in some cases, can lead to suicide.

The approach of “conversion therapy’ is based on the premise that LGBTQ people are suffering from a mental condition that needs to be ‘fixed.” The World Health Organization declassified homosexuality a mental condition in 1992.

In the United States, 13 states plus Washington, D.C. and over 30 local municipalities ban the harmful practice for minors.

The 30-page proposal includes more support for LGBT teachers and students, improvements to gender identity services for transgender adults, working to improve the police response to LGBT hate incidents, and more. The proposals will be funded by an initial £4.5m.

Reacting to the survey’s results, British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement saying he felt "struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction."

"No one should ever have to hide who they are or who they love," the UK leader said. "This LGBT action plan will set out concrete steps to deliver real and lasting change across society, from health and education to tackling discrimination and addressing the burning injustices that LGBT people face."

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of the British LGBT rights group Stonewall, hailed the new initiative by the government as "an important first step" but added that it needs to lead to "tangible change."

"Some people will be shocked by the findings. But for anyone who is LGBT, or has a family member or friend who is, these results will be sadly recognizable," she said in a statement. “Laws have improved and attitudes have changed but our society still treats LGBT people like second-class citizens."

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