French Right Wingers Rioted Against Pretty Much Everything Last Weekend
On Sunday, we arrived at Bastille Square in Paris under heavy rain, ready for a protest that had been billed as a “Day of Anger” by the dozens of far-right groups responsible for organizing it. The demonstration had a nebulous array of gripes: They hated abortions, the gays, the Jews, and so on. Most of all, though, they hated the French president, François Hollande and his Socialist Party. Hollande actually become more popular since news broke of his affair with actress Julie Gayet, but his approval rating is still a dismal 31 percent, and that seems unlikely to change no matter how much sex he has.
That isn’t to say that the far right is more popular than he is—Bastille Square was far from full. The organizers claimed there were over 150,000 protesters at the event, but the police said there were only about 17,000, which sounds closer to the truth.
Before a fist had been shaken in anger, about ten members of the militant, frequently nude feminist group FEMEN showed up to protest against the protest. By the time we arrived they had already been bundled into police vans, the crowd chucking shouts of “whores” at them as they were whisked off to the station. Their clothes had been left behind on the street, and we wondered what would happen to them.
Then the march began.
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Russia’s homophobic legislation has led to a depressing rise in violence. Watch Part 3 of our new documentary Young & Gay in Putin’s Russia
Young and Gay in Putin’s Russia - Part 1
When Russian President Vladimir Putin banned gay “propaganda” in June last year, Russia’s LGBT community went from being a stigmatized fringe group to full-blown enemies of the state. Homophobia becoming legislation means it’s now not only accepted in Russia but actively encouraged, which has led to a depressing rise in homophobic attacks and murders.
The main aim of the law, which essentially bans any public display of homosexuality, is to prevent minors from getting the impression that being gay is normal. Which means that, if you’re young and gay in Putin’s Russia, you’re ostracized and cut off from any kind of legal support network.
We traveled to Russia ahead of February’s Sochi Winter Olympics to investigate the effects of the country’s state-sanctioned homophobia. In the first part, we take a ride in Moscow’s gay taxi service, hear about the rise of homophobic vigilante groups, and meet Yulia, who runs LGBT self-defense classes.
Watch our new documentary
The Queen James Bible could help Christians hate gay people less.
HEY HOMOPHOBES, STOP CALLING INDIVIDUALS “ORGANIZATIONS” TO MAKE YOURSELVES SEEM MORE LEGIT
On Wednesday, a coalition of over 40 homophobic hate groups got together to run an ad in USA Today urging the Boy Scouts of America to continue discriminating against gay people. (I’m not sure if “homophobic hate groups” is the preferred term, BTW. I think they call themselves “family protection superhero squads” or something. Whatever.)
As I’m sure you know, the Boy Scouts of America are in the process of reviewing a policy that forbids gays from joining their club. In the year 2013. The ad presents a list of 42 organizations who want all concerned parents to call the Scouts and ask them to keep their rules the old, mean way.
Looking down the list of “undersigned organizations” in the ad, I’d heard of a few of them. Like Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America. But the majority were new to me, and seemed to have been named by picking buzzwords like “family,” “america,” “foundation,” “values,” etc. out of a hat.
I decided to call them to try and find out what they’re all about. Here’s a breakdown of what happened:
I Spoke to the Author of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
David Bahati’s anti-homosexuality bill, which, depending on who you ask, may or may not included language that would sentence gay people to death and a bunch of other stuff that sets society back by about 200 years, is due to be tabled in Uganda’s Parliament any day now. This, obviously, is terrible news for gay people in Uganda and human rights in general.
Clare Byarugaba, co-coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights and Constituional Law (CSHRCL), is mentally exhausted with the “mind-fuck” of checking parliament’s order papers every day, and pessimistic. “Hope for gay rights in Uganda is like expecting corruption in Uganda to end. It will never end. The population is behind the bill and MPs go with the majority.”
I recently met up with Morgan, Bad Black, and Joseph, friends I made in August while covering the country’s first Gay Pride, and they’re terrified about the consequences of the bill passing. They have already been chased out of the one-room house they all shared in the Bwaise slum because the police believe that they’re “recruiting” young people into homosexuality. The issue of “recruitment” is one of the Ugandan government’s principal concerns, with David Bahati telling Clare that he believes homosexuality is an addiction and that people, particularly children, are lured into it.
It took David two weeks to get back to me, but the day before I left Uganda, he granted me an interview.
VICE: Hi David. Can you run me through this bill?
David Bahati: The bill basically has four components. The first component is to outlaw homosexuality. The second component is about the emerging issues within homosexuality we’ve seen over time, including the promotion of it. The bill also concentrates on the inducement of children. There’s no law that stops same-sex marriage, so we want to outlaw and prohibit it and see rehabilitation and counselling for the victims of this grave, evil practice.
Has the death penalty been taken out?
Yes. [NB: according to Clare Byarugaba / CSCHRCL the bill that will be tabled still has the death penalty in.]
What evidence has been taken to the Legal Affairs Committee that people are recruiting children into homosexuality?
The committee has considered the bill and passed it and got all the necessary information it needed to make a decision. We have abundant evidence of what is happening in our community—parents and children have come to us. We’re in the business of defending the family between man and woman, as the holy scripture and Qur’an dictates.
What research is the bill based on?
We have enough information about how our society works. Family is between man and woman. Anything beyond that should be outlawed. Most of the research we have is just from life. My mom was with my dad. I know the Bible and the Qur’an are against homosexuality. When an anal organ is used for things it’s not supposed to be used for, it’s hazardous. I don’t need to be taught anything beyond that.
Hey Justice Scalia, Are These Sex Acts Okay?
Antonin Scalia is a Supreme Court Justice, which means he’s an important guy. He’s such a big shot he gets to wear a robe at work and no one says anything, and he also gets invited to speak at places like Princeton University. “Come talk in front of our students and just say whatever you want!” the people in charge of Princeton said, probably. “Like, whatever. You’re such a good thinker that you literally run the country, so whatever you say is going to be so fucking awesome. Can’t wait!”
But the downside to being an important guy who gets invited to speak at Princeton is that when you say something that sounds kind of weird—or kinda dumb—it spreads all over the internet. In this case, the weird- and dumb-sounding thing he said was that the government can ban stuff that is “immoral” and, while attempting to illustrate his point, he compared bans on homosexuality with bans on murder. Ha ha, what? He explained it this way to the Princeton student who asked him about that comparison, and didn’t waste the chance to be kind of a dick:
“It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd’… If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
I thought Scalia would have known the difference between murder and sodomy—whereas both are things that involve two or more people doing stuff to each other, in sodomy’s case everyone wants it to happen (“Hey, please put that doohickey in that hole, please”), and in murder’s case one guy really, really doesn’t want it to. If we use the “reduction to the absurd” technique that Scalia loves so much, he’s saying that you can make a law against literally anything that a bunch of people find immoral, even if what you’re outlawing is a private activity between consenting adults. So, presumably, according to Scalia we could ban all of these sex acts, none of which are “gay” but are probably “immoral”:
Masturbating while your cat is watching.
Having sex in your old room while staying at your parents’ house for the holidays.
Doing that thing where she’s like, “I’m an innocent elf maiden in peril!” and you’re like, “I’ll save you, for I am Galathor the Liberator!” and then you fuck like crazy and it’s really good and you have a talk afterward like, “Hey, is this weird? It’s not weird, right? I’m so glad we figured out we’re both into this! I love you.”
Take a Stroll…with Rob Delaney - On Hating Gay People
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. I studied jazz, tap, and ballet for years. I’m terrible at sports and I’m an excellent chef. I think Judy Garland is sublime. I realize those facts are like a spacious warehouse of red flags broadcasting homosexuality, but the fact is, I’m straight. If I had to guess, the chief indicator that I’m straight is that when I think about or stand near women, my dick gets hard. When I’m around guys—even fit, muscular ones with no shirts on—my dick remains in its dormant state. When I’m around women, I think about my dick and how it might feel inside of their body somewhere (like their vagina; not like in France or something, though that would be nice too (I just remembered that I speak French too, which can often identify an American man as “le gay”)).
When I’m around men, I don’t think about my dick, unless it wriggles out of my boxer flap, as it sometimes does, and touches a cold button of my jeans’ fly, and then I’m like “Get back in your cubby, you little rascal!” and nonchalantly adjust myself.
Bepenised Texan Rick Perry’s been in the news over the last few days for releasing a nakedly bigoted anti-gay ad that he believes will help revive his dying campaign. It won’t, but it made me think of a story I recently heard that illustrated the mindset and motivation of someone who actively fights to reduce and take away the rights of homosexual human beings.
It’s the story of a young man slowly discovering and accepting his homosexuality and it is extraordinarily painful and beautiful to hear. I cried. What’s most interesting is that the guy in the story used to actively and publicly campaign against gay rights.
People who concern themselves with the rights of other adults who engage in consensual acts involving sex, love, and/or eating croissants together are damaged and in pain.
Hating them won’t work. That doesn’t fix anything.
So far, the greatest quote I’ve heard in my 34 years is this: “Hatred never ceases by hatred in this world. By love alone it ceases; this is eternal law.” Gotama the Buddha said that about 2,500 years ago. Since it’s eternal, as he said, that means it applies right now.
I’m not suggesting that Rick Perry or those who campaign against gay rights are gay themselves. Some of them are, some of them aren’t; I don’t care. But they are damaged by, and damaging with, their hatred. I hope, for them, and for the people they are actively harming, that they can begin to experiment with some kindness and sympathy, and try on for size that Golden Rule that benefits both the giver and the recipient with real and immediate peace.
Homophobes aren’t going to hell, like they often say their perceived opponents are. Rather they are in hell, and they prolong their stay with each hateful act, word, and thought. They can leave whenever they want.
I hope you will listen to this story, because it is wonderful. It’s from an episode of This American Life called “So Crazy It Just Might Work.” It’s about a guy named Benny, whom you’re going to love.