Posts tagged ‘Canada’

February 19, 2012

This Last Week and Month have Been Interesting.

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What a ride it has been these last few weeks.  I work for a very small TV company so when I returned from Canada  another manager decided she had to go on vacation which resulted in me working for 39 days non-stop.   That sucks so much I can’t describe  and add writing for Fodor’s when I got home at night and you see what a hell my life has been. On the wonderfully happy side, I also sent my first article to Gaylaxy Magazine ( India) and  my first article on ACTUP.org both of which made me incredibly proud.

On Thursday my 39 days of working producing the news,interviews and my  call-in show came to an end  so yesterday the ‘gay agenda’ dictated that I had to clean. Thankfully my wonderful Ex  came and helped enormously – with the blessing of his current.

This evening I was wandering on the internet and discovered an article by an amazing young gay person called Troy Roness and I noticed that Randy R Potts also posted him on Facebook.  To make a long story short the article is the grittiest article I have ever read – the title alone says it all : “It’s time: Yes,  I’m gay, and I’m unapologetic”

Staring at myself in a mirror, I internalized my shame, guilt, and insecurities. I believed my appearance defined my existence. The perfect grades, the perfect body, and appearing flawless would somehow make me complete. I’ve learned, though, that we aren’t mean to be “perfect”; we’re meant to be whole.

Read the Huffington Post article here.

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January 13, 2012

Watch “Update on same-sex marriage in Canada.”

Recorded on my Galaxy Tab and uploaded in a power outage.

January 13, 2012

UPDATED: Why Stephen Harper’s Government Is Ruining Canada – Yet Again!

Jan 13, 2012 –

The Globe and Mail has just published the Government’s announcement that ALL same-sex marriages performed in Canada are legal and valid in Canada.

All same sex marriages performed in Canada are legal and the law will be changed to ensure that divorce is readily available to non-residents who were married in the country, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says.

Speaking at a Toronto luncheon Friday, Mr. Nicholson blamed the Liberal government that preceded his for not filling a “legislative gap” that has left thousands of same-sex couples in an agonizing position of being unable to divorce should they feel a need to.

read the rest in the Globe and Mail here.

ORIGINAL POST CONTINUES BELOW:

Today came disturbing news that government lawyers in Canada argued in a case involving an American couple married in Toronto  that no divorce was necessary because the marriage was invalid to begin with. The reason? Because, according to the lawyers, if the country that the couple comes from doesn’t allow same-sex marriage then the marriage is invalid in Canada too.  There was a more obvious ( though stupid) one-year residency requirement for divorce they could have cited but they chose to bring up that bizarre argument.

So according to these legal luminaries a marriage performed in CANADA isn’t even legal in CANADA if the couple could not get married in …I dunno… Saudi Arabia?  I think the idiots need to understand something about sovereign nations – they make their own laws. The couple is married the second they enter Canadian airspace and likely to be put to death for being gay in their homeland. Very simple. As Dan Savage pointed out in one article, is Canada going to tell a straight Saudi/Jewish couple they can’t marry in Canada because it isn’t allowed in Saudi Arabia?

CBC News had a couple of stories on the subject to open the news this evening and I recorded the second story about how same-sex couples ( including Dan Savage) are reacting to this Harper government encouraged stupidity.  Apologies for the quality as I recorded it off the screen on my mobile.

I totally agree with Dan Savage’s reaction to the issue as posted on George Stroumboulopoulos of the CBC’s website :

“Sorry, motherfucker, but this “issue”–the civil equality of gays and lesbians–is wide open now and your fucking government opened it. The debate over same-sex marriage and the civil equality of gays and lesbians has been returned to the frontpages of Canada’s newspapers and a renewed debate over same-sex marriage will dominate Canadian television and radio news programs. And Canada’s religious conservatives will doubtless complain–loud and long–about their precious children having to hear about homosexuality every time they turn on the news. Stephen Harper’s government reopened this issue, not the gays, and Stephen Harper’s government deserves the blame.”

Read the article here ( I un-gentrified the words as I am 100% sure Dan would have used the actual words)

Egale Canada gave their take online as well.

Toronto: Canada’s federal Department of Justice has made a conscious decision to intervene in a case that challenges the validity of thousands of marriages. According to their arguments same-sex marriages performed in Canada between non-citizens whose countries of origin do not recognize marriage equality are not now and have never been legally valid. A direct insult to gays and lesbians both in Canada and abroad, this action reflects either complete neglect of the government’s responsibilities over the past seven years, or a direct attack on the principle of equality in Canadian law.

Since 2004, governments across Canada have issued marriage licences to same-sex couples coming from abroad. Never were any of these couples informed that Canada had no intention of recognizing the marriage licences it was issuing.

Egale Canada calls on the federal government to come clean: have thousands of same-sex couples been misled by Canadian officials for nearly eight years, or has the federal government adopted a policy of surreptitiously attacking the rights of gays and lesbians through disingenuous legal interventions?

This most recent case comes as the federal government is also intervening in an Ontario case to argue that two Canadian citizens who entered into a same-sex civil partnership in the UK–an equivalent to marriage in all but name–are not legally married in Canada and therefore cannot be granted a divorce.

“Not only does this throw into question hundreds of legal rights such as property, spousal support and child custody, it is a betrayal of basic human rights,” said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada. “It is indefensible for the Government of Canada to play politics with people’s human dignity.”

Egale is Canada’s LGBT human rights organization: advancing equality, diversity, education, and justice.

I want to write a lot more but I have been angry all day about, once again, Stephen Harper trying to turn one of the most progressive countries in the world – MY country – back to the 1950s.  I take some comfort from knowing that 60% of Canadians did not vote for this vile politician and his gang of evil clowns.

In the meantime why not visit sorryworld.ca  (thanks to my pal Ben Rene in Ottawa for the link).

January 4, 2012

Lessons for America: How Gay Marriage Became Legal in Canada

For those who mightn’t know the history – an excellent TV Ontario condensation of the road to marriage equality in Canada. Please note this is yet another reason to dislike Stephen Harper and to observe exactly how odious the Conservatives are.

January 4, 2012

Every Country Needs Politicians Like Olivia Chow.

The fact that Canada is such a wonderful country is not an accident it is because of great politicians over the years who stand up for what is right – Trinity-Spadina MP, Olivia Chow is a fine example.

 

Member of Parliament Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) speaks out in support of equal marriage and equal rights for all in Canada.

Chow speaks on December 6th, 2006 in the Canadian Parliament during a debate in the House of Commons.

Olivia Chow and the New Democratic Party (NDP) successfully defended equal marriage by helping to defeat the motion by Harper’s Conservatives, supported by some Liberals, to undermine the government’s decision in 2005 (Bill C-38) to recognize same-sex marriage–after provincial courts and the Supreme Court had recognized the right to equal marriage as well.

The next day, December 7, 2006, Harper’s motion was defeated 175-123–another victory for equality in Canada.

www.oliviachow.ca
www.ndp.ca

Video recorded by the House of Commons Broadcasting Service.

January 2, 2012

Interesting little video explaining marriage equality

Via 32001names on Facebook.

This was just uploaded on January 2, 2012 and offers a simple and cogent rebuttal to some of the arguments against marriage equality.

January 1, 2012

Woodpigeon – For Paolo

Just discovered this newly released ( Video went up on the 26th of December) cover single by Woodpigeon from the album ‘For Paolo’. A beautiful track and really atmospheric video.

From the digital ‘For Paolo’ EP, released January 2012.

“My own growing up in Canada was marked with annual family holidays involving the long drive from Point A to Point B – particularly far for us, given our home city of Calgary right in the middle of the beautiful never-ending golden expanse that is the Prairies. My parents were always the type to find an artist and album they liked and then listen to it non-stop in the car for years. It’s these tapes which, whether I liked them at the time or not, formed an undeniable part of my musical DNA: Carole King, Falco, a truck-stop Hits of the 1960s compilation.

The songs of the For Paolo EP are a valentine of sorts to those old cassettes of my parents – I’d like to think there’s more than just a dash of Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night in the title track, a little bit of girly one-hit wonder in ‘One To Many’. But then again, whenever I think I’m getting pretty close at sounding one way, I’m the only one who hears it – so you’ll have to excuse the thought that there’s a little bit of Boys Don’t Cry’s ‘I Wanna Be a Cowboy’ and Iron Butterfly mixed in here somewhere too.” – MAH

Footage edited by MAH. Public Domain.

There is something about the song that totally captivated me and a little Googling ( and the Huffington Post) paid off with some background to singer Mark Hamilton  and the song.

I’m releasing a new EP of music titled For Paolo, and the title track is a love song I wrote for my Viennese boyfriend. He calls me the colloquial “schatzi,” so to his embarrassment I put it in the chorus. If there’s something to do that he thinks is important, he tells me that I “better should,” so that’s in there, too. He’d like me to believe he’s the shy type and that having his name in the title of a song (never mind as the title of a full EP’s worth of music) is a struggle for him, but I can tell he’s more than a little chuffed about it. “How dare he say anything about my song,” he told me last night, when a friend who hates pet names said he liked the song except for what he considered an overuse of “schatzi.”

The explanation was part of an interesting article Mark Hamilton wrote for the HP called “What It Means to Write a Gay Love Song” which is well worth a read.

December 22, 2011

Flash mob surprise proposal in North Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Via The New Civil Rights Movement

At the Northgate Shopping Centre in North Bay, Ontario. Awesomeness, everyone deserves to be that much in love.

December 21, 2011

Arsham Parsi’s Speech at the World LGBTQ Youth Leadership Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Via Sizedoesntmatter.com and IRQR

From his Bio page on his website

My name is Arsham Parsi. I am the founder and Executive Director of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR), an international queer human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Toronto, Canada. The primary mission of IRQR is to aid and assist to the best of our abilities Iranian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered refugees in countries all over the world, and who now face the threat of deportation back to Iran, in obtaining asylum status in safe countries. IRQR helps those refugees through their complicated asylum processes and provides funding for safe houses through donations wherever possible, as most of our queer refugee clients are in physical danger in their countries of transit as well.

Today, IRQR is the only active NGO that works on behalf of the global population of Iranian queers, i.e. Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered Persons. We document human rights violations against Iranian LGBTs on the basis of sexual orientation; provide letters of support for Iranian queer asylum seekers and refugees; and vigorously support anti-homophobia and anti-persecution efforts in Iran. Our documentation is widely respected for its accuracy and credibility.

Arshad Parsi and his NGO are doing extraordinary work to help LGBT Iranians escape  to safe destinations. He also tells the tale of what it was like to confront his orientation in the overwhelmingly hostile environment in the land of this birth. Here is the text of his speech at the summit that took place in Tel Aviv from December 4-9, 2011.

I am very pleased to be in Jerusalem or in Farsi, Urshalim. Although I am not a nationalist, there is an historical story associated with Jerusalem for me as an Iranian. Around 540 BC Cyrus the Great claimed the city of Babylonia as his own, and in short order repatriated displaced peoples, restored temples and cult sanctuaries. Indeed his infamous “Cyrus cylinder” is thought by some to have been the first declaration of human rights. As one who has dedicated my life’s work to the cause of equal and human rights for my fellow man, I am humbled to visit this place where my ancestral countryman first envisioned a world of equality for all.

I believe is the issues we face today are as important or more so than what we dealt with a few thousand years ago, but for academic purposes I learned the history. Studying these stories at school raised significant questions for me that I am still struggling with. Who am I and what are my responsibilities towards other people? What should I do, not only for my wellbeing but also for others? What must my priorities be?

As you can see from your program, my name is Arsham Parsi; I am an Iranian queer activist. But what you might not know is that I have two birthdays. One is my date of birth, September 20th. I was born into a middle class family but as a full citizen of Iran. However, my rights and freedom were denied in my country of birth due to my sexual orientation. My second birthday is on May 10th, 2006 the day I arrived in Canada as an Iranian homosexual, finally complete with the right to freedom and ability to pursue my goals and dreams and ultimately contribute my efforts on behalf of my fellow Iranian queers.

I went through many difficulties and challenges in between my two birthdays but I think all of these obstacles helped me to become stronger and ready to face other challenges especially as an activist.

I lived most of my childhood and adolescent years in silence and fear. Like many gay men, I felt from a very young age that I was different from my peers. As a teenager I began to associate this sense of difference with my attraction to men. I had limited access to information about homosexuality but soon I realized that in order to survive I would have to hide my true feelings and conform to the social norms of my culture.

A friend of mine loaned me a book that had a short chapter about homosexuality, it was the first material I had ever read regarding homosexuality. It described the sin of sodomy and stated that it was punishable within major religions.

I tried to become a so called “good person”. I prayed and practiced a lot more than other religious people. I felt that I was the only person in the world with these feelings and God hated me. I placed many restrictions on my daily life in order to punish myself whenever I felt guilty or that I was a sinner. After a while, I started to challenge my God. Why did you create me like this if it is wrong since it is known by believers that God is a just God and never makes mistakes? I could not see any justice when some people are legal and free, while others are condemned to death or other punishments and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender, nationality, political opinion, religion or any other personal attribute or belief

In Iran, homosexuality is illegal. Punishment for engaging in sexual behaviour with a person of the same sex includes imprisonment, flogging and execution. Socially, the stigma attached to homosexuality carries the consequences of isolation, forced heterosexual marriages and exclusion from one’s family. It means a life lived in fear.

As my circle of friends grew, however, I became increasingly concerned about the stories I was hearing. People forced into loveless marriages to preserve their family’s honour; gay men entrapped through the Internet or in person. When two of my friends committed suicide out of desperation, I felt I had no choice but to act. I started by tackling the social isolation felt by many queer Iranians and then began to challenge the culturally and legally sanctioned homophobia impacting their lives.

Relying on the relative anonymity of the Internet, I started Iran’s first underground queer organization, Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization or PGLO. Starting with the email addresses of my queer friends, I began to send positive information about homosexuality.

It started small. Mostly it was me sending encouraging emails and information to my friends and subscribers. As I learned more and I saw how important it was for these people to find a connection with others, I expanded my work. We developed a website and finally, with the help of a friend in Norway we registered the organization there. I started to give interviews with international media to share our stories. I tried to accept as many invitations to speak on behalf of those who were unable to as I could. I wanted others to know that we existed and that we were struggling. However with limited access to resources, I began my work through the Internet in order to reach all Iranians worldwide. I decided to create a new form of organization and activism online. Even with no funding and the risk of being caught, I was able to establish large network for my cause. I believe it is proven that we can accomplish many things without funding and with limited resources, sometimes with a much greater effect on people’s lives than through large, well-funded organizations.

The organization continued to expand, providing support and opportunities for connection for the Iranian queer community. My international media profile increased as I strove to educate those outside of the country about the Iranian situation. I understood the risk I was taking, but my fear was outweighed by the sense of responsibility I felt to my community.

It wasn’t long, however, before the risks became too great to ignore and my life and the future of my activities were in danger.

In 2004, Iran’s secret police raided a party attended by members of Shiraz’s queer community. Several of my friends were arrested, tortured and “outed” to shamed family members. Capitalizing on the detainees’ fear, officials collected additional information that led to a series of raids over the next several months. The police harassment and intimidation drove the community further into silence and isolation. I was able to learn from those arrested that I was a target and that my organization was a topic of many interrogations. As the days and weeks went by I could feel them getting closer. I knew that if I was to protect myself and my family I had no choice but to flee.

I was an asylum seeker in an unjust situation and poor conditions but my activism was the first priority for me. I remember my Iranian queer roommates and I struggled to eat a meal once a day but I never gave up and instead became more active in my cause. According to a psychologist, sometimes this level of activity can be a sign of displacement and depression. . I never felt that I was depressed but if that was the case, I used my depression to bring change to my community. I felt I was a survivor and as such I wanted to fight back.

My newly established organization was my companion during my long journey from Iran to Canada via Turkey. I did not have an academic degree or acquire abundant experiences. I was very young to take leadership of my organization and deal with serious life threatening issues. However, I had something that I felt would compensate for my lack of formal training and experience I had hope and I already decided to act. I knew that nothing could stop me and moreover, I knew myself. I knew I could do whatever I decided and I felt strong about it. So, I was able to meet the challenges that lay before me.

In Canada, with the help of a few supporters, we established the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees which is actively working on behalf of more than 480 Iranian refugee claimants living in limbo throughout the world as well as those who live in Iran. We created Neda Magazine. Neda means “Voice” in Persian and it is an online monthly magazine for Iranian queers. We also launched an online radio station with help of a number of Iranian queers called Raha, which means “Liberation”, where queer individuals have the opportunity to share their stories to others in order to raise awareness and also as a way to be heard. Our organization not only aids refugees but has expanded to help parents, families and friends of queer individuals through an Iran PFLAG project. Furthermore, we have recently launched the NIQHA project which provides information about HIV/AIDS and Sexual Transmitted Infections in the Persian language to raise awareness about different STIs and prevention methods. This work has been very important and it is what I feel I am meant to do with my life but our work is still not finished and we continue on our mission

We have been quite successful in helping Iranian queers who needed support. However, we have limited resources and are restricted to helping only Iranians. This does not stop me from thinking about other countries and communities. In the last few years IRQR has managed to provide support and help to three Afghans, two Palestinians and one Iraqi queer refugee who escaped their homes and sought asylum in Turkey through the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR.

Speaking of the UNHCR, one of my challenges was to establish a professional relationship with international organizations as well as individual activists from all around the world in order to use their experiences and have their support. In the last eleven years, I learned that through dialog and communication with other allies or even those who are in disagreement, we can find solutions for common interests.

I was able to meet the prominent international officials including senators, ministers and members of various parliaments worldwide. It was stressful for me to speak publicly at the 2nd session of the United Nations Human Right Council in Geneva, or meet the UN Human Rights Commissioner, and others, but I knew that I had to do it regardless of any fears I had. I was there to learn and move the Iranian queer human rights cause forward.

Long story short, I learned that I could meet the challenges and have no fear of them. I believe that when we become united and work together, we can overcome all challenges and take the next steps.

Because of the choices I’ve made, I know that I can never return to Iran. Although I suffered many hardships there, it is still my beloved home country where I was born and raised. I would like to share this with you because I believe in your future of activism and leadership in the global queer cause, although you will certainly encounter dilemmas where you must make difficult decisions. Most times, decision making is not an easy task. You are responsible for your choices and you should be ready to respond to those with opposing views. But the best decision is made when you know the situation and the circumstances and choose what the least harmful decision to all is. And it is a big challenge.

I remind myself of the promise I made to myself eleven years ago when I decided to do something for my community just after the tragic incidents of my two friends’ suicides. I decided to speak on behalf of those who cannot, and where ever and whenever possible to break the silence. I left all my belongings in Iran including my family, my job, my school and everything I had ever known just to do what I felt I had to.

Speaking here today, I chose to continue my mission to support my Iranian queer fellows and to speak on their behalf.

I am here today to talk about peace, love and human rights. I want to speak on behalf of all groups who are unable to be here with us today. We all know that there are many things going on in this world that we do not agree with or are not happy about. Discrimination still remains around the world especially towards queer communities. We all know that homophobia exists in almost all countries, even in my new home Canada, known as a land of human rights. In many countries being a queer individual can lead to some sort of criminal punishment. But I am optimistic. I continue to believe that, we can start a new approach for our global queer family’s future toward diversity, respect, tolerance and freedom.

I would like to suggest a one minute of silence with the peace “V” sign to wish for a day of peace, freedom, equality and justice for all citizens of the globe regardless of their sexual orientation, nationality, religion, gender, political opinion and other differences.

– one minute silence –

I am looking forward to that day with you and tomorrow’s queer leaders.

Thank you so much.

Arsham Parsi

November 30, 2011

It Gets Better: A Message from the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty

Very proud my Premier Dalton McGuinty decided to speak out. Totally unexpected but what a great way to start the day.

 
And visit Kid’s Help Phone or call 1-800-668-6868