Belief Matters … or Not? Trans response to Pope

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Last week Pope Francis described gender theory and teaching about transgender people as a threat that is a “world war against marriage” and an example of the “ideological colonisation” that is “corrupting” many parts of the world.  I respond to his speech here.

I am become Death, the Annihilator of Man.

Ma ricòrdati sempre che i mostri non muoiono. Quello che muore è la paura che t’incutono. Così è degli dèi. Quando i mortali non ne avranno più paura, gli dèi spariranno.

You must remember that monsters do not die. What dies is our fear of them. When we no longer fear them, they cease to be. So it is with the Gods.

Cesare Pavese, Dialoghi con Leucò”  (my own rather free translation)

I have known a few clerics in my life, and respected them, and enjoyed their company, and Clarence Musgrave, Colin Martin and Anthony Ross impressed me with the quietness of their faith. Knowing them smoothed down some of roughness of my own early anti-clerical militancy. Later still, as I struggled to recover from alcoholism, I met men and women who adopted a “higher power” in their search for a spiritual basis, unbound by dogma, with which to underpin their freedom from addiction. These men and woman are my family in ways in which my family of origin were not, and never will be.

My parents were atheist (my mother) and agnostic (my father). God was neither praised nor condemned in my childhood home; sectarianism was treated with the same anger as racism. They had their failings but in this regard, at least, I was blessed.

Fast forward most of a lifetime and I have become the “annihilator of man as the image of God” and I am guilty of participation in a “global war against traditional marriage and the family” as churches throughout the world, Republican legislators in the US, Texas lawmen, and some radical feminists form an unholy alliance, and circle the wagons to defend their increasingly untenable orthodoxy.

Let us start at the beginning with the Biblical book of genesis, shall we.

“Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

“Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

I was a country girl. For me, nature, in its fabulous variety, is beyond comprehension and understanding. If I were to explain to you how I have come to accept a spiritual dimension to myself, I would point at nature, and tell you that this wonderful panoply is my higher power, that – if you must find God – find him here in this wonderful world, not in the hereafter, but now, in living, and in variety.

Nature has her own way of mocking clerics who wish to confine creation within their own narrow term of reference.

Parrott Fish, Anemonefish, and Hawkfish will change sex if required to do so. There are all-female reptile species that reproduce by crossing their chromosomes. One of the oldest trees in the world is changing its sex after 5000 years. There are mammals, insects, amphibians, and birds that employ gender mimicry as an aspect of their natural behavior.

I can easily imagine that the present inheritor of the shoes of the fisherman has a well-crafted Jesuitical argument against my need to lump man with the God’s lesser creations. I don’t care. God’s creation makes a lie of any sophistry he might muster to defend his denial of the full splendour of nature.  Man too can display characteristics that give a lie to the male or female only option with which we are often presented. There is a bewildering array of intersex conditions that I refuse to call abnormalities. The simple truth is that truth is not simple; nature is complex, complicated and typified by fabulous variety. If are to accept Genesis as a real or symbolic representation of the birth of the universe, we must accept its ability to be varied, and to change. If we are to believe in a divine creator, must accept this, or we must deny God.

But how might I represent the annihilation of man as the image of God? In what way was I created in God’s image? Does God look like me? Is God humanoid in his physical representation? Does God have a humanoid representation? Does God have a penis? Question after question, and no answer that makes sense.

I have an answer. My answer. We are like God in that we must answer God’s injunction to love our fellow men and women. By embracing nature, and variety, by turning our backs against defining nature in simple terms, by believing that God’s will can be found in our ability to feel love and compassion, by abandoning dogma.

Variety and change are natural and normal and clerics who set themselves above the process are annihilating man as the image of God.

But what of the charge that I engage, with many others is a “global war against traditional marriage and the family” and guilty of ideological colonisation? Let us consider what traditional marriage might be. In addition to supporting polygamy, the Old Testament also supports the right of a rapist to marry his victim (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) and includes a command obligating a man to marry his brother’s widow regardless of the living brother’s marital status (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) and elsewhere. Sexual relationships between close relatives are condoned when required. I plead guilty; I am opposed to all of the above.

The accusation of “ideological colonisation” is almost laughable. Historical records make it very clear that the church condoned, supported and participated in the ideological colonisation of much of the new world, as well as the subjugation, genocide and enslavement of indigenous peoples everywhere. Give us a break, Francis, will ya? Don’t lay that lie on me.

The admonition that an appreciation of “our body as male or female is also necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves” is beyond comprehension. Are we to assume that an awareness of our physical body is more important than an awareness of our spiritual connection with God?

This argument lies at the heart of my sadness around Francis’ latest invective.

His early portrayal as a reforming and liberal successor to both John Paul II and Benedict has required that he must find a way to balance the opposing wings of the church. His handling of the child sexual abuse scandal – that might have engulfed the church – has shown a willingness to meet societies concerns, and that the laws of man must be respected, and that secular justice in a secular society is not of necessity in opposition to the church and her teaching.

The emergence of transsexual men and woman from the shadows is not a threat to Christ’s teaching, but an affirmation of his concern that we love one another. In the simplest of term, I see his latest invective as a failure of the church to embrace God’s will in its fullest. It is a failure of faith. Just as some Christians wish to pick-n-mix those parts of Ezekiel, Leviticus and Deuteronomy that meet their own prejudice, there are those among the church’s hierarchy who wish to pick-n-mix those aspects of creation that meet their requirements, just as they like to select those medical procedures which will not challenge their lazy assumptions.

And, yes, I have undergone genital surgery, and I am unashamed and unrepentant. The details of my physical body are no more a part of my spiritual self than the clothes I wear. My body is not God.

from KaleidoScot

SQIFF 2016 – Full Festival Programme Announced!

Scottish Queer International Film Festival 2016

Full programme announced for SQIFF 29th September – 2nd October

From the Scottish Premiere of Strike A Pose, the no-holds-barred look at life as Madonna’s backing dancers, to a meditation on sexuality and ageing in Sex And The Silver Gays, via a queer horror retrospective, showcases of the best international and Scottish LGBTQ+ short films and web series and the return of last year’s smash-hit Feminist Porn Night, the programme for the second annual celebration of queer cinema and media is bigger than ever

Films from around the world – from the Philippines to New Zealand, Germany to Cape Verde – will play at venues across Glasgow, including CCA, GFT, Glasgow Women’s Library and The Art School

The full programme has been announced for the second annual Scottish Queer International Film Festival

Running at venues across Glasgow including the CCA, GFT, The School of Art, Kinning Park Complex, Platform and Glasgow Women’s Library from 29th September to 2nd October, SQIFF 2016 will host four days packed with the best in queer cinema and media from around the world.

SQIFF 2016 opens with the Scottish premiere of Strike A Pose (CCA Thu 29 Sep)– an unflinching look at the unforgettably sleek, talented, and beautiful men that helped support the career of one of the world’s most beloved and controversial artists Madonna on her seminal Blond Ambition tour. The film movingly revisits this group of disparate dancers twenty years after their lives were changed forever, charting the thrills followed by the fading light of fame, and examining emotionally devastating issues they have dealt with, including navigating being gay in the wake of the AIDS crisis. 

Other SQIFF 2016 highlights include:

  • A major retrospective of classic cult horror with a distinctly queer bent – from hardcore zombie-on-zombie sex in Bruce LaBruce’s Otto, Or Up With Dead People (CCA Sat 1 Oct) to Freddy Krueger menacing buff boys in arguably ‘the gayest horror movie ever made’ A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (CCA Sun 2 Oct)
  • New features and documentaries from around the world including Tchindas, a look at one of the most beloved trans women in Cape Verde as she prepares for the carnival that turns the entire Island into Little Brazil (CCA Sat 1 Oct); Intersexion, the award-winning doc exploring the world of intersex people, presented by one of New Zealand’s first out intersex people Mani Bruce Mitchell (CCA Sat 1 Oct); Out Run,  the inspiring tale of the world’s only LGBT political party and its bid to gain a political seat in the Philippines Congress, mobilising its working class allies and fighting its evangelical preacher rival along the way (CCA Fri 30 Sep); and The Surface Tension Trilogy, Liz Rosenfeld’s time-bending trio of Berlin-set true queer stories that may or may not have happened- featuring activist and painter Frida Kahlo, filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and Hitler’s lover Eva Braun (CCA Sun 2 Oct inc live Q&A with Rosenfeld)
  • The return of last year’s sell-out Feminist Porn Night, with an all-new collection of films from the next generation of feminist pornographers, who continue to challenge sexual stereotypes and reshape norms of mainstream porn (CCA Fri 30 Sep). 
  • Yes, we fuck! (CCA Fri 30 Sep), which considers the pleasure and joy, prejudice and expectations, and potential physical obstacles to having sex when disabled. This insightful documentary deconstructs ideas of what is considered ‘normal,’ desirous, and taboo when it comes to getting off. 
  • A showcase of the most innovative recent queer web series, including the World Premiere of They, BBC Social’s new Glasgow-set online show (CCA Sat 1 Oct).
  • A selection of short films from the hottest LGBTQ+ filmmaking talents in Scotland (CCA Sun 2 Oct) alongside hand-picked showcases of shorts that celebrate the rich diversity of trans representation (CCA Sat 1 Oct) and probe the many facets of masculinity from all angles in Ma(i)nly Men (CCA Fri 30 Sep). 
  • The idiosyncratic story of a randy New York chapter of national senior gay men’s organisation, the Prime Timers in the moving feature documentary Sex & The Silver Gays (CCA Sun 2 Oct).
  • Braw Butchesa tender, funny and thought-provoking afternoon of films and friendly discussion celebrating butch-identifying women (Glasgow Women’s Library Sat 1 Oct)
  • A special 40th anniversary screening of Derek Jarman’s most enduringly (and endearingly) erotic work Sebastiane (GFT Sun 2 Oct).
  • Free masterclasses and workshops led by top industry professionals including a guide to creating your own web series by the award-winning creator of Boxx, Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (CCA Sat 1 Oct) and a look at creating radical work with a focus on disability from Spanish directors Raúl de la Morena and Antonio Centeno.
  • Two huge inclusive parties as London purveyors of all things queer cabaret Bar Wotever make their Scottish debut with host Ingo Cando introducing hot local talent including DJ Jungle Hussy and performers Laurie Brown and Sgàire Wood (The Art School Fri 30 Sep) and two Glasgow dance party heroes go head-to-head in Lock Up Your Daughters vs TRYST, a divine night of aural stimulation (Kinning Park Complex Sat 1 Oct)

“We’re excited that the second edition of SQIFF will feature even more diverse representations than last year” say the SQIFF team. “We have a film looking at intersex identities with a post-screening discussion led by campaigning group Intersex UK, for example, and a great documentary from Spain called Yes, we fuck! looking at disability and sexuality with the directors in attendance. We are also putting on an event around Deaf LGBTQ+ experiences with short films, a BSL (British Sign Language) performance from Scottish comedian Leah Kalaitzi, and a panel discussion. On the general theme of creating an event accessible for Deaf and disabled people, we’re pleased to be able to offer audio description for two screenings this year alongside BSL, English subtitles or captions on all films, and good wheelchair access. We hope this way to augment SQIFF’s reputation for being an open and welcoming festival for all LGBTQ+ people and their allies.”

SQIFF is committed to being an accessible festival – all venues used are wheelchair accessible, all screenings feature subtitles and some are audio-described, some discussions and workshops – including the Web Series Showcase- are BSL interpreted and tickets are free to people who are unemployed or seeking asylum. 

A limited number of 4 day Festival Passes are available for £40/£30 conc. Book your pass online here. 

For the full programme and tickets for all events, please visit

from KaleidoScot

LGBTI activism, started by Ulrichs, is today a 149 years old

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

On the 29 August, 1867 LGBTI activism was born when a journalist and jurist publicly came out and challenged the German Confederation to decriminalise anti-sodomy laws.

This act, a 149 years ago, was courageous and defining moment that would change our understanding of sexuality and human rights forever.  But how did we arrive to this moment?  Who was this remarkable man?

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was his name and he, in effect, is the father of LGBTI activism and the first modern gay man.

Ulrichs laid down the paradigm for the modern LGBTI movement, calling for repealing all sodomy criminalisation and the rights for marriage, family, adoption, expression and anti-discrimination.  In a sense his work is the corner stone for 152 years of equality activism. His works became the foundation for queer, gender rights activists as well as civil liberities movements.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born on 28 August, 1825 Westerfeld, then a part of the Kingdom of Hanover, later to be part of Germany.

His first observations were about his own nature, recalling he became aware of his first same-sex attraction at the age of nine, and his first gay experience was in 1at the age of 14, in the course of a brief affair with his riding instructor.

Ulrichs’s achievements were immense, he published the first scientific theory of sexuality altogether, which saw same-sex desire as natural, and correspondingly he demanded it should be legal.

His first gay experience was in 1at the age of 14, in the course of a brief affair with his riding instructor. He graduated in law and theology from Göttingen University in 1846. From 1846 to 1848, he studied history at Berlin University, writing a dissertation in Latin on the Peace of Westphalia.

From 1849 to 1857 Ulrichs worked as an official legal adviser for the district court of Hildesheim in the Kingdom of Hanover. He was dismissed when his homosexuality became open knowledge.

In 1862, Ulrichs took decided to come out to his family and friends, who despite being religious, accepted and did not rejected him.  According to his diaries, however, he still did not arrive at a name for a person who experiences same-sex desire.

After coming out, he decided to explain the nature of his sexuality, at the time same-sex desire had no name of its own to denote an inherent nature or person, instead it was dismissed as a “learned” vice and a sin.  He therefore embarked on explaining and exploring the issues, writing under the pseudonym of “Numa Numantius” he, in 1864, initially wrote two booklets, which soon grew to five, collectively known as his ‘Researches on the Riddle of love between Men,’ eventually he published twelve volumes over the decade.

In these writings Ulrichs put forward two revolutionary ideas about sexuality, that would forever change the way the world thinks about LGBTI people. First, he declared that homosexuals were a distinct class of individuals, innately different from heterosexual people.

At that time there was no word to describe this class of people, aside from the pejorative, behaviour-based term “sodomite.”  Ulrichs coined the word “urning,” meaning follower or descendant of Uranus. The name is a reference to a passage in Plato’s Symposium, in which Pausanias calls same-sex love the offspring of the “heavenly Aphrodite,” daughter of Uranus. Ulrichs later added the feminine form “urningin” to define women we now refer to as lesbians. Heterosexuals, in Ulrichs’s parlance, became “dionings”: descendants of the “common Aphrodite,” daughter of Zeus by the mortal woman Dione.  He later revised his theory and explained that human sexuality was a continuum. Ulrichs also coined words for the female counterparts (Urningin and Dioningin), and for bisexuals and intersexual persons.

Second, Ulrichs put forward a theory to account for the development of sexual orientation. In his earliest conception of this theory Ulrichs posited the existence of a “third sex” whose nature is inborn: basically the theory of “born this way”.

In his initial theories human embryo was viewed as having the potential for bodily and mental development in either the female or the male direction. In most people the sexual development of the body and the mind was concordant: either both were male or both were female. In fetuses destined to become urnings, however, the sex of bodily development was male, while the sex of mental development was female. These individuals, being neither totally male nor totally female, constituted a “third sex.” He later put forward a similar explanation for the origin of urningins: in them, the sex of bodily development was female, while that of mental development was male.  In this sense he also laid down the first modern foundations for understanding transgender and intersex people.  All forms of sexualities, to Ulrichs, were natural and inborn and thus should not be criminilised or viewed as sinful.  He also argued against religious doctrines, such as those of Saint Paul, who he claimed made a mistake in calling same-sex behavior “against nature”, as these were natural occurrences.

Still later he revised his theories again and showed that urnings saw themselves and act in various manners from very masculine and feminine and also were attracted to different types of same-sex partners and could range in their sexual preferences (i.e. active, passive, versatile and so on).

The booklets led to Ulrichs corresponding with thousands of gays and lesbians from all over Germany and beyond. He also tried to influence anti-gay politicians and explain the nature of sexuality to them, as well as to doctors and lawyers, he also attempted to intervene in cases where LGBTI people were put on trial because of sodomy laws.  Ulrichs even sent his publications or Marx and Engles, in the hope that the fathers of communism would be sympathetic, instead his views about equality were rejected as perverse and “pedophile”.

The first and only issue of Uranus (January 1870), intended by Ulrichs as a regular periodical
The first and only issue of Uranus (January 1870), intended by Ulrichs as a regular periodical

In 1867 Ulrichs, along with his straight lawyer friend August Tewe, decided to try and mount a courageous attempt to decriminilise same-sex desire from all German states in Austria.  They wrote a resolution “that inborn love for persons of the male sex is to be punished under the same conditions under which love of the female sex is punished,”  and was presented at the Association of German Jurists, the top legal fraternity in the German Confederation.

Although the resolution was excluded from the agenda, on 29 August 1867, he read out his proposal, despite being shouted down by the audience.  He demanded “the revision of the existing material penal code, especially the final repeal of a specific unlawful paragraph … handed down to us from past centuries.’

“It is directed at abolishing this paragraph of the penal code which discriminates against an innocent class of people.”

In other words, Ulrichs became the first homosexual to speak out publicly in defence of homosexuality. As an activist, Ulrichs was ahead of his time and he fought not only for the equal rights of homosexuals, but also for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, as well as the rights of women, including unwed mothers and their children.

Ulrichs also launched the first ever LGBTI magazine in 1870, but only managed to print one issue, nevertheless it was widely circulated around Europe and beyond and enabled many people to start recognising their nature and discuss their sexuality.

In 1870 Ulrichs published “Araxes: a Call to Free the Nature of the Urning from Penal Law” a remarkable document similar to modern LGBTI rights movement demands

The Urning (gay) is a person and therefore, has inalienable rights. Sexual orientation is a right established by nature, which legislators have no right to outlaw, so long as sex acts are private and between consenting adults, furthermore it cannot persecute or torture Urnings.

The Urning is also a citizen entitled to full civil rights which the state has certain duties to fulfill as well. The state does cannot persecute urnings not treat them outside the law.

Unfortunately when Prussia united forcibly the German states it conquered under Kaiser Wilhelm I, its anti-sodomy law, Paragraph 175, was enforced throughout Germany and later used to persecute homosexuals by the Nazis.

Ulrichs continued to fight for LGBTI equality but finally gave up 1879 after repeated arrests and running out of money and being repeatedly fired from jobs because of his sexuality.  He then crossed over the Alps, settling in the central Italian town of L’Aquila, where  he lived for 12 years until he his death on July 14, 1895.

Despite persecution, imprisonment, discrimination and exile, Ulrichs never regretted his activism, writing:

“Until my dying day I will look back with pride that I found the courage to come face to face in battle against the spectre which for time immemorial has been injecting poison into me and into men of my nature. Many have been driven to suicide because all their happiness in life was tainted. Indeed, I am proud that I found the courage to deal the initial blow to the hydra of public contempt.”

During his lifetime Ulrichs already inspired many other nascent gay intellectuals, even reaching to the Bloomsbury Group in London. Unforunately his theories were distorted and also used negatively by scientists and doctors to pathologise homosexuality.

His writings also inspired the pioneering German sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, who two years after Ulrichs’ death founded the world’s first homosexual rights organization, the Scientific Humanitarian Committee.

Today was the 149th birthday to LGBTI activism, and yesterday was Karl Heinrich Ulrich’s 191st Birthday.

from KaleidoScot

What’s a nice girl like you doing with so much testosterone?

Caster Semenya by Citizen59
Caster Semenya by Citizen59

I was never sporty at school. I could run. I could always run. I did captain my “house” track and field team one year, and ran two legs of a 4X100 relay barefoot. I even played Rugby for a while; Rugby Union, that is, not the sad, ersatz variety commonly played by our southern neighbours.

I expect that the decision to offer me the captaincy had more to do with the risk I ran of requiring the surgical removal of a book from my “Golum puds” than my sporting prowess.

Later I was to enjoy the loneliness of the long distance runner. I enjoyed it too much, and I was asked to captain my “house” quiz team, and spelling team. Yes, I was a bookish swot and I am woefully under-qualified to comment on any aspect of sport, and my knees are so knackered now that I can no longer jog, never mind run.

I read this yesterday, and my blood began to boil in my veins. Lynsay Sharp is a fine athlete. She must be; she is a member of the triumphant Team GB who enjoyed record-breaking success at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

Shall we place her achievement in perspective? Ms Sharp was sixth in the woman’s 800M final. This is no disgrace; reaching the final is an achievement. Her time of 1:57.69 was her personal best and places her 532nd [equal] in the table of the all time fastest 800M finishes.

Ms Sharp was disappointed. I can understand that, but she does need to take on board the knowledge that her own personal best time was nowhere near good enough, and that five other women stood between herself and a gold medal, and two between a herself and lowly bronze.

The race winner was Caster Semenya. Ms Semenya clocked the worlds 20th fastest 800M of all time. Well done her! Well, maybe not?

Ms Semenya has been the subject of endless controversy, and this is set to continue, while the International Amateur Athletic Federation [IAAF] dilly dally around their lack of hard science for their claim that Ms Semenya and others have an unfair advantage over “normal” women.

Ms Semenya was cleared to run only days before the games’ opening following a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] that the IAAF had not substantiated their claim that athletes like Ms Semenya with hyperandrogenism [a condition resulting in the presence of high levels of testosterone] had a competitive edge.

The IAAF were unable to produce any clear evidence that hyperandrogenism gave athletes an unearned advantage.

The science is unclear and inconclusive and anyone interested in pursuing this matter further might start here – “Out of Bounds? A Critique of the New Policies on Hyperandrogenism in Elite Female Athletes” by

Katrina Karkazis , Rebecca Jordan-Young , Georgiann Davis & Silvia Camporesi. This article was published online in 2012.

In conclusion the authors were able to support “the central assumption underlying the IAAF and IOC policies is that atypically high levels of endogenous testosterone in women create an unfair advantage and must therefore be regulated. The current scientific evidence, however, does not support the notion that endogenous testosterone levels confer athletic advantage in any straightforward or predictable way. Even if naturally occurring variation in testosterone conferred advantage, is that advantage unfair?”

The IAAF was unable to convince CAS in July this year that there is sufficient evidence to support the claim that hyperandrogegism offers an unfair advantage to those with this or similar conditions. Four years after Caster Semenya won a silver medal at the Olympic games in London, the IAAF remains unable to find science enough to convince sports final court of appeal. Might I suggest that the evidence is unavailable because there is no clear advantage gained by those women who have this condition?

For women whose hyperandrogenism is a problem for them the condition can be moderated by the use of medications, though there may be unacceptable outcomes. In some cases surgery has been recommended for athletes, including clitoral surgery.

Ms. Semenya is not alone. There is a terrible history behind this current controversy. Bad science has damaged the lives of other athletes caught in societies’ failure to acknowledge that gender is not as simple as we pretend that it is.

At the heart of the matter is the cis-normative fear of anything and everyone who challenges the gender binary, anyone who does not conform to a paternalistic and misogynistic sexual and gender stereotypes. The IAAF has chosen to target hyperandrogenism as unnatural and out of bounds because they feel rather than know they are right. They are the product of a society that has failed to acknowledge sexual and gender variance. They must be resisted.

from KaleidoScot

Angus Buchan faces protest after Dumfries event relaunch

Protest against Angus Buchan
Protest against Angus Buchan at the Lighthouse Church

LGBTI groups and allies have staged a protest outside a Dumfries Church against an appearance of Pastor Angus Buchan who promotes homophobic and misogynistic views.

Buchan preaches to tens of thousands paying participants in South Africa where he says that homosexuality is a “disease” that can be “cured” by prayer.

The Pastor also runs “Mighty Men” conferences where he teaches men to “remedy” their masculinity, and for women to subject themselves to their husbands and to support corporal punishment of their children.

The South African pastor, who has been invited by the evangelical Hope Church to speak at the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels, Scotland last weekend, has caused an outcry among LGBTI and women’s rights advocates.

The pastor was due to speak before a crowd of over 400 people organised by Hope Church, Galashiels, but following a successful campaign by Scottish Borders LGBT Equality, it has been cancelled.

However, in defiance of public outcry and concern, Angus nevertheless managed to rebook and preach to a small crowd of around 100 at the Pentecostal Lighthouse Church of Dumfries.

According to Susan Hart, Chair of the Scottish Borders LGBT Equality Forum, around 60 people turned out for the protest, with the pastor of the Lighthouse Church trying unsuccessfully to ban the protest by calling the police.

Protesting against Angus Buchan
Protesting against Angus Buchan

“Police were called by the pastor, by the actually turned out to be quite supportive and made no attempts to ban us, just assisted with road safety.

“In fact, a member of the congregation come out with his baby son, and spoke to us who protested, saying that while he and others agreed with some of Buchan’s, they rejected homophobia and misogyny and appreciated why the protest was held.  He indicated that the congregation was a split over Buchan’s views.

“Whilst I am disappointed in that we did not manage to prevent Buchan from speaking in Scotland, I was pleased we at least prevented him from doing so at the Borders and with the protest turnout.

“It seems that many of those who attended his event were women and children and I find that very disturbing particularly with his repugnant views on LGBTI people and disciplining children, and women.

“I worry about the impact such views and being able to be open diversity and community.

“Nevertheless, the protest showed strength and unity, it’s about organisations working together demonstrating what can be achieved in combating discrimination and prejudice.”

Jerry Slater and his husband Larry
Jerry Slater and his husband Larry

Jerry Slater, of LGBT Plus Dumfries and Galloway, who also participated in the protest, told KaleidoScot: “The views that Buchan promotes cause a great deal of harm, particularly the idea of ‘cure by prayer’. For five long years in my youth I prayed to be made straight as part of a congregation of an Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church.

“The idea that ‘we love you but we cannot condone your sin,’ is also harmful. When I was a member of the Pentecostal Church, I had pressure put on me to rid myself of what I was led to believe was a sin. This caused me to suffer depression and anxiety for years. It led me to low self-esteem which denied me opportunities in my work, my friendships and my relationships. I do not want anyone to go through what I went through.

“These kind of ideas cause immense harm and lead LGBTI people of faith to terrible choices, either you repress your sexuality or gender identity and retain your links with the community which is very traumatic, or you choose the former and lose your links which causes too immense hurt.

“This is a false choice and it shouldn’t be made. You don’t choose to be born ginger and neither is it a sin, it’s natural just as being gay is.

“Everyone is entitled to their personal beliefs. Things become different when any one person, or belief system, tries to impose its beliefs on others. I think giving Angus a public platform is problematic and wrong, even in a Church, as he, and people who share his views, can cause so much harm.

Kelly Moorhead from Dumfries, also participated in the protest. Moorhead is a grieving mother that had lost her daughter Chloe a few months ago, who was driven to suicide due to being humiliated and bullied in school, after coming out.  Moorhead said she also opposed Buchan’s views.

“I don’t think he should be allowed to preach to the public as beliefs can be very harmful,” she told KaleidoScot.

Kelly Moorhead
Kelly Moorhead

“These kind of messages are so damaging, not only to children and women but anyone.  Despite what members say that they love others, this is really a message of intolerance and hate which can drive abuse and even suicide.

“I and others came to protest and say we are here to show love: pride not prejudice.  We can stand together and fight for tolerant Scotland and society, united in our belief and also honouring the dead and those who suffer from prejudice.  No to discrimination and prejudice, yes to love, unity and pride”

In a statement, the Lighthouse Church said they respect the LGBT community, but also value “freedom of speech”. It said: “We respect the views of the LGBT community and although we believe different things and we hope that both communities can live peacefully and dignifiedly In a great country that allows freedom of speech, lifestyle and worship.”

Watch a clip of the protest by Moorhead here:

from KaleidoScot

Nicola Sturgeon: Pride Glasgow important in challenging prejudice

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, sent a strong message of support to participants of Pride Glasgow and of inclusive education.

In a video message posted on twitter, she said: “I want to take this opportunity to wish Pride Glasgow every success for the event this weekend. Events like Pride are so important because they allow all of us to celebrate LGBTI equality.  But also because they allow all of us to stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTI community and challenge discrimination and prejudice wherever it still exists.

“I am delighted that the Pride Flag will fly over Scottish government buildings to mark this event, and I wish everyone taking part, all the success in the world.

“I know the theme of this year’s event is inclusive education. And that for the Scottish government is so important, making sure that education is a place where we challenge discrimination, and allow everyone to flourish.

“And that, I think, is a fitting theme for this year’s pride event.”

Thousands are expected to participate in today’s Pride Glasgow march and events with its emphasis on inclusive education this year.

The rainbow flag is flying over Scottish Government buildings this weekend to mark events in Glasgow.

Pride events in Glasgow are held by both Pride Glasgow and Free Pride with the pride march starting at noon.

Pride Glasgow will be holding events in Glasgow Green, while Free Pride will be hosting events in Glasgow’s Art School, throughout the weekend.

Watch the speech by Nicola Sturgeon here:


from KaleidoScot

Belief Matters … Or Not? The Limits to Free Speech?

Pastor Angus Buchan
Pastor Angus Buchan

Free speech is an essential ingredient of any democratic society. For freedom of expression to mean anything, it must include the right to offend others. You have the right to attack my religious beliefs, political beliefs, lifestyle, sexuality and so on. You even have the right to use intemperate language, should you so wish. I have the same right to criticise the views and lifestyles of others. I may have found the caricatures of Mohammed in the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, to have been tasteless, but I defend the right of the magazine to publish them and, like most people, was appalled at the cold blooded murder of some of its staff. Likewise, I defend the right of those who opposed the introduction of same sex marriage to express their views, distasteful as I find them.

Should there be any limits to freedom of expression? Many libertarians would answer: no. I disagree with them. In even the most democratic of societies, there have been such limits. For example, we have libel and slander laws that help prevent people from spreading lies about us.

More importantly, in Scotland we have legislation outlawing “hate crimes” committed against people on the basis of their race, religion, sexuality, transgender identity and disability. Included in activities that can be hate crimes are harassment, hate mail and inciting others to commit a crime. Similar legislation is in place elsewhere in the UK.

Recently hate preacher Anjem Choudary was imprisoned after being found guilty of inciting violence and promoting the aims of IS. One of the murderers of Fuslier Lee Rigby in 2013 was inspired by Choudary.

Another hate preacher, this time one who claims to be a Christian, is planning a tour of the UK, spreading his homophobic and misogynist views. Pastor Angus Buchan, originally a farmer in Zambia, now lives in South Africa where he set up his evangelical church Shalom Ministeries. He also runs Mighty Men conferences. Following an invite from the Hope Church in the Borders, he was due to speak at the Volunteer Hall in Galasheils. Following pressure from LGBT groups, women’s groups and Scottish Borders Rape Crisis the invitation to him has been withdrawn.

Although he claims to “love” us, he believes we are sinful. He also believes we can be “cured” by prayer. Anyone who thinks this type of “prayer” is harmless and not abusive should read Scottish Makar Jackie Kay’s memoir “Red Dust Road”. Adopted shortly after her birth, she describes the search for her birth parents. Her biological father in Nigeria had become a fundamentalist preacher and when she went to visit him, she became almost a prisoner as he prayed at her, trying to drive her homosexuality out of her. Jackie Kay has turned this into a positive by writing about it in both her prose and her poetry. But there is little doubt that sort of “prayer” is a form of emotional abuse, particularly given the high rates of self harm among young LGBT people.

It is only a short step from such “prayers” to the sort of institutional abuse that occurred in this country well into the 1960s, when we were forced into mental institutions (often as an alternative to prison) where we were given electric shocks or chemical poisons or psychoactive drugs like LSD (or a combination) in order to “cure” us. We have recently witnessed some awful homophobic crimes, including the deaths at a gay club in Florida. Do we really want pastors like Buchan to offer comfort and support to those who want rid of us?

His views on gender are, if anything, even worse. He believes men should be heads of households and that women should obey them. He argues that fathers should have the right to discipline their children as they see fit, regardless of what mothers think. Indeed, he tells women they should not contradict their fathers and husbands. Such statements serve to encourage both child abuse and domestic violence. In Scotland, most forms of corporal punishment of children have been banned since 2003. Smacking children on their heads, shaking them and using an implement such as a cane or belt are all criminal offences. Yet Buchan believes it is okay for fathers to use violence against their children.

His exhortation on women to obey men also promotes abuse. In 2014-15, there were almost 60,000 incidents of domestic abuse reported to police in Scotland. Given that far too many women suffer domestic abuse in silence for years before reporting it (and many never report it) the actual incidence of such abuse is likely to be much higher. By telling men they are heads of their households and have the right to obedience and by instructing women to obey their husbands and fathers, Buchan is advocating abuse.

It is therefore good news that Buchan has been told he cannot use a publicly owned building in Galasheils for his meeting. I also think we should congratulate Hope Church in the Borders for rescinding its invitation to Buchan. This would not have been achieved without the campaigning efforts of LGBT and women’s groups and Scottish Borders Rape Crisis.

from KaleidoScot