2005-05-16

Lavender Alert

Netherlands no safe haven for Iraqi Kurdish lesbian. An Iraqi Kurdish lesbian writes at Gay Middle East:
I was always different as the rest. I felt different when I was very young.
I didn’t know why, but i knew i was not the same.
At the age of 5 my parents, brothers and sisters and me flee from Northern Iraq to Holland. We arrived in Amsterdam, where i also grew up.
I went to primary and secondary school and then studied Economics at the University. I didnt have any boyfriends, although men wanted to date me. I was not interested in them. I first believed that i didnt want to date men because it was not allowed by my parents. My parents forbid me to date any men; if there was a propriate marriage kandidate, they would decide if i had to marry him. A lot of men asked my parents to marry me, and always i was forced to marry, but i just coulnd’t. I always made up “ excuses” not to marry ...

She's 31 years old, and she feels that time is running out. Read her story at the link.

The harm to her was imaginary; the harm to the gay community was real. Seems there wasn't enough homophobia in the world to suit a lesbian teenager in Mill Valley, California, who felt she needed to invent some of her own. The high school student admitted to faking hate crimes against herself. (Hat tip: LaShawn Barber.) 'The student was not arrested, but police said the case would be referred to the Marin County District Attorney's Office for review. In a series of incidents dating back to November, the student claimed she was the target of hateful language, with anti-gay epithets scrawled on her car and on her school locker. She told police she was pelted with eggs outside her home by an unknown assailant.' Pity they can't send her to Amsterdam ... to walk a mile in that Kurdish woman's shoes.

Gay-bashing in Eurabia. The Washington Blade's Chris Crain knows a thing or two about real gay-bashing - and about Amsterdam. He writes about his experience here. Crain disagrees with Scott Long's criticism of "Dutch society" and is wary of blaming "America’s favorite target — fundamentalist Islam".
I do not mean to discount the influence of religion on culture. I grew up in the American South, where fundamentalist Christianity provided aid and comfort for the racist oppression of blacks and continues to rally opposition to equality for gays.

But the contribution of religion here is more indirect, and I’m not sure much can be accomplished with non-Muslims blaming a faith about which we are mostly ignorant for the culture we think it has produced.

"We are mostly ignorant"? Speak for yourself, my friend. I'm sorry, but I refuse to give islamist fundamentalism a free pass just because it's different from what I grew up with. Get a clue, Chris: One can criticize Islamic fundamentalism without being an islamophobic bigot - just read Irshad Manji's book. And if you feel you're "mostly ignorant" about Islam, then by all means educate yourself. Read blogs by Arabs and Muslims, learn about the moderate Muslim groups. And don't be afraid to call religious extremism by its name.

Nevertheless, Chris Crain brings up some excellent points, and he's right on target when he says: "Our attackers would have reacted at least as viciously to two men of their own ethnicity who walked the street as lovers." (I suspect our Kurdish friend would agree.) And most importantly, he concludes that gays should not allow this incident to intimidate them or to frighten them away from Amsterdam, or anyplace else.

Chris, I wish you a full and speedy recovery from your injuries, and better luck on your next visit to Amsterdam.

Spokane mayor in sex scandal. Spokane, Washington Mayor Jim West is resisting calls for his resignation despite allegations that he abused his position as a Boy Scout leader to molest boys, and took advantage of his office as Mayor to attempt to lure young men into sex with illicit favors, according to the Spokesman-Review (hat tip: My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy). Perhaps predictably, West steals a page from the McGreevey playbook and wraps himself in the rainbow flag, claiming he's a victim of homophobia:
Meet the state's newest, most fired-up crusader for gay rights: Spokane Mayor Jim West.

In the week following the news that the conservative Republican may have molested boys in the '70s and is cruising for barely adult males now, West has transmogrified himself into a gay-pride activist. "I am being destroyed because I am a gay man," West told The Spokesman-Review.

Excuse me while I puke. Since when does being gay give you the right to molest underage boys and turn the mayor's office into a whorehouse?
Yet some insist the story is West's gayness and how it contradicts his right-wing policies.

"The hypocrisy, cynicism and lies upon which Mr. West built his political career harmed homosexuals in our state, and his sexual orientation is thus a legitimate topic for discussion," Mike Kress of the Spokane Human Rights Commission wrote in The Spokesman-Review paper.

Well, this idiot got the hypocrisy part right anyway: West is picking up on one of the worst aspects of today's liberalism, the "victim mentality", to deny personal responsibility for his own actions.

A summary of the Jim West story to date is avialable through CNN.

Blade on civil unions and reciprocal benefits in Oregon. The Washington Blade reports on an Oregon reciprocal-benefits bill that appears aimed at undermining the more comprehensive civil-unions bill (SB 1000):
Oregon Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) has introduced a reciprocal benefits bill (HB 3476) in an attempt to counter SB 1000, a bill that would create civil unions and ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and which has strong support in the Senate.

Scott Jorgenson, legislative assistant for Richardson, said he expects to know within the next week or so whether the reciprocal benefits bill will receive a committee hearing.

Jorgenson said that the bill is modeled on one enacted in Hawaii in 1997.

“Last November, Oregonians voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman with measure 36, which received 57 percent of the vote,” Jorgenson said. “SB1000 runs counter to what the people said they wanted. We wanted to address all the basic fairness issues that came up … transfer of property, hospital visitation.”

Basic Rights Oregon, a statewide gay and lesbian advocacy organization, called the reciprocal benefits bill “unfair, inadequate and insulting.”

In a letter to members BRO said, “This bill is an attempt by religious extremists to appear ‘moderate,’ to undermine any real chance at fairness for same-sex couples and to dominate the terms of this debate by making civil unions look too extreme for Oregon.”

Basic Rights Oregon gives this account (dated May 6) of the citizen debate at the State Legislature. BRO also points out the bait-and-switch tactics of the DOMC: 'When Oregon’s “Defense of Marriage Coalition” was seeking a Yes vote from Oregon Voters on Measure 36, the DOMC was clear that the vote was not about civil unions, and even suggested it would be open to civil union legislation to provide same-sex couples with the benefits of marriage. But, now that measure 36 has passed, the same groups are saying something very different. ...' Follow the link to a PDF download with some very interesting "before and after" quotes ... in the DOMC's own words.

Guerriero to visit Oregon. I'm pleased to report that Log Cabin Republicans leader Patrick Guerriero is coming to Oregon in an event hosted by BRO. I plan to be there. If you're in the area, and you want to help support fair treatment for the gay community, follow the link for more info.