Showing posts with label Britain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Britain. Show all posts

December 13, 2019

A Bi Falklands War Vet Wins Apology Over Dishonorable Discharge for Being LGBT

                 Joe Ousalice
Molly Millar

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A bisexual British veteran who was kicked out of the navy because of his sexuality is set to become the first of many to get his medals back and an apology from the British military for the way he was treated.

Joe Ousalice, 68, had served for almost 18 years as a radio operator when he was discharged in 1993

after a court-martial found him guilty of “conduct prejudicial to good order and naval discipline”.

He was stripped of his medals - some earned for duty in Northern Ireland and the Falklands war - and of his long service benefits. It was illegal for gay and lesbian people to be in the armed forces until 2000.

“I was made to feel like I was disgusting,” Ousalice said in a statement on Tuesday.

After nearly 30 years of legal battles seeking the return of his medals, an out-of-court decision was announced this week and Ousalice will have his medals returned at a ceremony next week.

“I want other LGBT veterans to know they’re not alone, and that we all deserve the same recognition,” said Ousalice, who lives alone in Southampton on the south coast of England. 

Following Ousalice’s campaign, the Ministry of Defense announced plans to restore medals to all affected LGBT military personnel ahead of the 20th anniversary of ending the ban that will be marked in January next year.

The move is one of several by British governments taking measures to atone for past discrimination against LGBT people. In Scotland, gay men convicted under homophobic laws were officially pardoned in October.

“Today is a victory for equality and human rights and an important recognition of the hurt caused,” said Emma Norton, head of legal casework at human rights organization Liberty which backed Ousalice’s court appeal. 

In addition to restoring his medals, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has offered what is thought to be the first official apology to LGBT military personnel like Ousalice.

“Back in 1993, because of his sexuality, Mr. Ousalice was treated in a way that would not be acceptable today and for that, we apologize,” the MoD said in a statement

“We accept our policy in respect of serving homosexuals in the military was wrong, discriminatory and unjust to the individuals involved.”

October 21, 2019

Tender Masculinity Among Britain's Chinese Students

“He’s what we call in Chinese English ‘milky’. He’s still a mummy’s boy according to the sense of what a man should be,” photographer Yan Wang Preston says of a young man stood in sand dunes wearing a floral shirt. “When he was answering my questions he said, ‘yeah, I’m not very manly’, but when it came to the photographs he said, ‘actually I’ve changed my mind, I am manly, just in different ways’.”
Preston, born in China in 1976 and based in Yorkshire since 2005, has been commissioned by Open Eye Gallery and LOOK Photo Biennial 2019 to document the significant Chinese community in the city of Liverpool, focusing her large-format photography on the transient population of Chinese international students. Following her 2017 project China Dream, where she asked young girls about their daydreams and ambitions, her most recent series He started with the provocative question: ‘What makes you a man?’ Preston was aiming not only to capture a survey of responses, but to question her own values, and to describe in pictures a new form of masculinity.
“I never really was exposed to all this gender talk when living in China, and it took me many years to synchronize with what’s being talked about here; the feminist approach and the idea of negative masculinity. I started questioning myself, wondering what’s my take on it. So with all of these questions, I thought perhaps it’s time to look at the other side? Notice I use the word ‘other’. I think that was really the question: finding out what Chinese men are like nowadays.
“All of them expressed a common idea of what a man should be: a man should be someone who can be responsible for their family and for their society. That is a very Confucian way of thinking. I think that on the larger scale it’s quite positive, but for example, one person said to me: ‘when I say that a man should be responsible I am aware that there is a hierarchy and I think that women are less responsible.’
“I see myself as a landscape photographer. I wanted a setting that was open enough to have a range of potential meanings to enrich the picture. There are many different beaches but this one is next to Crosby Beach, with the famous Antony Gormley sculptures. If you venture slightly north, towards Blackpool, the beach changes – it’s no longer sandy, it’s covered by fragments of old buildings, and it’s full of polished brick. You can’t really tell if it’s decay or nature.

“There’s a picture of one guy sitting on some kind of old fishing net. I remember the moment: he was very nervous, very tense, it was very cold and wet, and he sat on that net – I see it as a woman’s hair – and it struck me. I was looking at him through my viewfinder and he looked almost like a statue, he was so tender, he looked at the camera very, very sincerely. It has a beautiful formal quality with the curve of his body and the curve of the net on the beach. That one is actually my favorite picture in the series – I will always remember that moment.
“I realized I was looking at them as the ‘other’. I have a husband, I’ve had boyfriends, I’ve lived in a world full of men but I never became aware that I always looked at men as the other. How do you portray the other? I traced all the way back, I thought my initial question was forced anyway; ‘what makes you a man?’ Why did I even ask that? Was I trying to give a definition of what man should be like? Clearly, that was somewhere in my mind.”
He by Yan Wang Preston debuted as part of the LOOK Photo Biennial, Liverpool. 
  {Another Magazine}

October 1, 2019

Britain Refuses to Face It's Crimes Against Gays Through The Turing Law and Erase Their Convictions

A Scientist, Father of The Computer and Code Breaker, was driven to suicide. Electric shocks, Jail, this man was lost to all of us.

Two years ago the "Turing law" was passed to right a historic injustice by pardoning gay men convicted in the past because of their sexuality. But fewer than 200 living people have had their convictions wiped out so far. What's going wrong?
Terry Stewart is 66 and the recipient of an award for his work advising the police on LGBT issues.
But as a young man in 1981 he was a target: spotted by a pair of police officers in a Charing Cross public toilet, he was arrested for "importuning" - an outdated offence which effectively criminalised gay men chatting each other up in public.
"They said I had approached several men in the toilets and told them I wanted to have sex. There was nobody there," he says.
An outspoken campaigner for gay rights who had challenged police in the past, Mr Stewart feels the arrest was typical of a prevailing "hostile atmosphere" against gay people at the time. 
"It just confirmed all my fears about so-called British justice," he says. "The attitude was they were two upstanding police officers protecting society from people like me."
Mr Stewart was convicted on a majority verdict and fined £20, but a criminal record meant he could not pursue his chosen career in social work.
He is now one of thousands of gay men unable to obtain the pardons offered by the government since 2017, which were intended for people unjustly convicted because of their sexuality.
For Mr Stewart and many like him, it is because the offence they were convicted of - importuning - is not one of those eligible for a pardon, despite the government acknowledging it was used in a discriminatory way.
Others are put off from even applying by an intimidating, bureaucratic system, say campaigners.
Terry StewartImage copyrightTERRY STEWART
Image captionGay people were persecuted during an "absolutely horrendous" period, says Terry Stewart
As many as 15,000 gay men were said to be eligible when the law was passed, inspired by the posthumous pardon of World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing, who killed himself after being convicted of gross indecency.
The law meant the convictions of about 50,000 gay men who had died were automatically deleted, while those still alive could apply for statutory pardons.
Applications for pardons were tacked on to an existing Home Office scheme, where gay men could apply for some offences under laws which are now repealed to be "disregarded" or deleted.
But to date, only 189 of these applications have been approved. As a result, few pardons have been issued.
The convictions eligible for disregard and pardon are gross indecency and buggery under the 1956 Sexual Offences Act, equivalent military offences and similar offences under earlier legislation.
Mr Stewart says the government should live up to its promises and pardon all gay men with convictions for their sexuality.
"What I would like people to know is that there was a whole period of our history, within our lifetimes, which was absolutely horrendous. Our own government should be able to put its hand up and say, 'We treated these people appallingly,'" he says.
Katy Watts, a solicitor at the Public Law Project who has represented Mr Stewart, says the crime of importuning was repealed in 2003 and the Home Office has acknowledged it was used in a "discriminatory way".
She says: "People have lost livelihoods and careers because of an offence that should never have been a crime in the first place."

'Branded and ashamed'

Thousands of gay men are living with this conviction but the home secretary has the power to "put this right" by extending the system to more offences, Ms Watts says.
Campaigners working with people to overturn their convictions also say the "incredibly low numbers" applying for pardons are "inevitable" because of flaws in the scheme.
Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, a charity which works with people facing obstacles because of a criminal record, says forcing people to apply instead of proactively pardoning them is a "clear barrier to justice".
"It causes people understandable anguish when faced with a Home Office form which forces them to show why their application should be granted for something that they might have felt branded and ashamed of for much of their life," he says.
When people do apply, they are often rejected for not meeting the requirements: 71% of the 663 applications made up to April this year were turned down.
Home Office figures show the reason most applications were rejected was that they related to offences not connected with sexuality - such as possession of drugs. 
Many people were also turned down because they were convicted of sex in a public lavatory, which remains an offence.
A handful were rejected because their offence was deemed non-consensual or involved someone under 16.
A Home Office spokesman said: "We are proud of the government's record on improving equality. We made it possible for men with eligible historical convictions for decriminalised behaviours to apply to have their convictions disregarded. Those who have their convictions disregarded are also automatically pardoned for the offence."
He said there was "no scope" to disregard offences outside the official scheme.
When the issue of men convicted of importuning was raised in Parliament before the Turing law passed, former Home Office minister Sam Gyimah said they were not eligible.
The full offence in the 1956 Sexual Offences Act is "soliciting and importuning", and soliciting remains a crime, he said. Today, it only applies to people seeking the services of sex workers on the street, however.

'You feel guilty'

Some gay men say unfair criminal records still have the power to blight their lives, even in recent years. Richard - not his real name - was arrested in the mid-1990s for importuning, after a man briefly spoke to him as he left a West End gay club.
He unwittingly signed a caution thinking it was part of the paperwork needed to leave the police station.
"As a gay person you think you're in the wrong anyway," he said. "You have internal homophobia yourself and everything that goes with it - the shame, everything else. You feel guilty."
Later, Richard worked in education for several years. But when he tried to change jobs in 2014, he fell foul of more stringent criminal records checks, which had been tightened after a series of controversies and tragedies.
He found himself rejected for multiple jobs and unable to work in his profession for a year because of a criminal record he had previously been unaware of.
"It broke me," he said, plunging him into depression and isolation. It was "so twisted and painful" to find his pride in his professional life under attack because of his sexuality, he said.
Richard eventually persuaded the police force involved to expunge his caution, after it accepted it was unlawful. But he says it is "outrageous" that there is no clear way for many other gay men to achieve the same outcome.

February 22, 2019

One Out of Five Gay Brits Trying to Change Sexual Orientation Ends Up Committing Suicide

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A fifth of gay, lesbian and bisexual British people who have tried to change their sexuality have attempted suicide, while others have been raped in an effort to make them straight, according to a study of “conversion therapy” in Britain.

Of 458 people who said they had experience of trying to become straight, 91 had attempted suicide and 22 had been forced to have sex with someone of the opposite gender, according to the survey, which had 4,613 total respondents.

It was conducted by the Ozanne Foundation, a charity, to gather evidence of the extent and impact of conversion therapy and released on Wednesday.

“There are young people’s lives who are very significantly at risk,” said Jayne Ozanne, a Christian who founded the charity to work with religious organizations on LGBT+ inclusion.

Ozanne suffered two nervous breakdowns when she failed to change and then suppress her own attraction to women, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Conversion therapy, which can include hypnosis, electric shocks and fasting, is based on the belief, common in conservative religious communities, that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness that can be cured.

Malta, Ecuador and just over a dozen U.S. states have outlawed it, according to the ILGA, a network of LGBT+ rights groups. Several nations are considering bans, including Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

The survey, which was put out online, raised issues of consent, with 76 people saying they had been forced to undergo conversion therapy.

Over half of survey respondents who had tried or been forced to try to change their sexuality were 18 or under when it first happened. 

They were also overwhelmingly religious. More than 90 percent attended a church as a child and two-fifths had been through “deliverance ministry,” which aims to cast out evil spirits.

The pressure to change their sexuality went hand-in-hand with psychological problems. Around 60 percent said they had suffered mental health issues as a result, three-fifths of whom were men.

“There is what I call an abusive mindset that says it’s always your fault,” said Ozanne, who tried “dozens” of types of conversion therapy in Britain, Germany, Argentina and the United States.

“It constantly leaves you in a negative place,” she said. “It makes you hate yourself for who you are.”

The survey’s respondents were whiter and more likely to be English and Christian than Britain’s general population. More than half were not straight.

Ozanne admitted that the survey had failed to reach British ethnic minorities and those from other religions. However, she said that the results should still be taken seriously, given the level of attempted suicides and other mental health issues.

Bisi Alimi, a gay activist who fled to Britain after being attacked in Nigeria, said that conversion therapy among British minorities often included forced marriage to someone of the opposite gender and being sent back to their family’s country.

Both Ozanne and Alimi supported banning conversion therapy. 
“If you criminalize it, it will go underground,” Alimi said. “We cannot stop the problem . . . but we can at least reduce the damage to people.”

SOURCE: Ozanne Foundation, online February 20, 2019.

December 19, 2018

Unlike The US With A Homophobic President Gay Britons Will Get Counted on Their Census


The 22 official surveys that estimate the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual Britons would disgrace the back of an envelope. According to one, 0.9% of Britons are not heterosexual. Another puts that figure at 5.5%. Guesstimates for the transgender population are fuzzy, too. The government “tentatively” reckons there are 200,000-500,000. So Lisa Power, who co-founded Stonewall, an lgbt charity, says she is delighted that statisticians plan to ask for the first time about sexual orientation and gender identity in the next census, in 2021. “If you don’t count, you don’t count.”

Policymakers will find the figures helpful. lgbt folk have more mental-health troubles than straight people, says Paul Twocock of Stonewall. Wonks armed with data ought to be able to meet this demand more accurately. The government struggles to budget for policies to promote minority rights, like those that allow gay marriage or ban employment discrimination. Census data would let councils see the extent to which such minorities were represented in their areas. Doctors’ surveys suggest an uneven spread among London boroughs, for example. One in ten residents in Lambeth—which includes Vauxhall, a gay hotspot—say they are not straight, compared with one in 70 in Havering.

The Economist

September 26, 2018

Britain's Outperforms and is Cheaper than US on HIV Drugs-- Why Is That?

Britain’s National Health Service far outperforms America’s health care system — for far less money — at keeping H.I.V. patients healthy.

By Tina Rosenberg
Ms. Rosenberg is a co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, which supports rigorous reporting about responses to social problems.  

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images  Last week, the High Court of England and Wales announced a momentous decision: It invalidated the pharmaceutical company Gilead’s patent on Truvada, opening the way to generic competition.

Truvada, a combination of two drugs, is one of the world’s most-used H.I.V. medicines. For treating H.I.V., it’s used along with a third drug. But many H.I.V.-negative people also take Truvada daily as a preventive. That’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.
In the United States, Truvada is available only as a brand-name drug. It costs $20,000 a year.

Here’s how it will work in Britain’s National Health Service, according to Dr. Andrew Hill, a senior research fellow at Liverpool University who studies the cost of medicines. “The N.H.S. will say to a group of generic companies: ‘We need PrEP for 20,000 people. Give us your best price.’” The cost of making PrEP is $55 per year, Dr. Hill said. He believes that the generic will sell for between $100 and $200.

All over the world, more and more people are taking H.I.V. drugs. These medicines are very good at their job — keeping people healthy and noncontagious — so most patients will take them until they die of something that isn’t H.I.V. Patients are also starting earlier on antiretroviral therapy; the new recommendation is to start immediately upon diagnosis. And now with PrEP, a potentially enormous new group of patients has arisen: H.I.V.-negative people who are at risk for catching the virus. 

ion for the same amount or less money each year. England’s region of the health service spends about half a billion dollars per year on H.I.V. drugs. There are no increases for inflation, and lots of pressures for further cuts.

It’s lucky, then, that Truvada will have generic competition. It should allow the health service to greatly lower costs and offer PrEP to anyone who needs it.
The health service does an admirable job with H.I.V. Around the world, countries measure the percentage of people living with H.I.V. who have no virus detectable in their blood. In the United States, only 49 percent have achieved this. In Britain, the number is 78 percent.

While the National Health Service has a lot of problems, it has some huge advantages over the American system that allow it to provide high-quality H.I.V. care in a cost-efficient manner.

So it’s worth looking at what the British health service does right, because some of those strategies could work in America, even though the two systems are structured very differently.  

About the American health care system’s indifference to cost. There’s virtually no one in the system with the incentive, responsibility or power to lower the astronomical cost of H.I.V. drugs. Panels that establish guidelines recommend, and doctors tend to use, the newest drugs, even if they offer little benefit over existing ones. Patients are content because manufacturers help them with co-pays for expensive drugs. Generics are almost never used.

This year, the generic company Mylan introduced some lower-cost medicines. They are still not cheap; Mylan’s equivalent of Truvada costs $12,000 a year. Still, the creation of these new drugs has inspired a few experimental attempts to substitute them for equivalents that are even more expensive.

Even when brand-name drugs have no generic equivalents, the medicines in the British system cost a small fraction of what they cost in America. Most brand-name triple therapies cost about $6,500, said Dr. Laura Waters, an H.I.V. physician who is a member of the health service’s H.I.V. Clinical Reference Group, which sets policy. She said that a combination pill that includes some generics would cost between $2,600 and $4,000. Full generics usually cost 70 to 80 percent less than comparable brand names. One completely generic H.I.V. regimen costs $400 per year.

The National Health Service has long relied on generics to treat most diseases. But that wasn’t the case with H.I.V. Once effective drugs were developed, the field moved so fast that by the time a drug went off patent, it was no longer commonly prescribed.

But that’s not true anymore.
The first H.I.V. therapies, in 1995, were lifesaving — and toxic, with horrible side effects. Some of them required patients to take 20 pills a day.

Now patients around the world take one or two pills a day. All the regimens do well at controlling the virus. They all have some side effects for some people, but patients can switch to find a regimen they can tolerate well. What used to be a big leap forward with each new drug is now a tiny step — or an advance for only a subset of patients. So older drugs are still in use. Truvada is one example.

Three years ago, the National Health Service’s push for generics started to cover H.I.V. drugs. Dr. Waters estimated that at the time, fewer than 5 percent of H.I.V. patients were taking a generic. Now, she said, the number is more like 30 percent. 

September 15, 2018

88 Years Old Becomes Britain's Older Stalker After Falling For Younger Woman While Bonding Over the Bible

 A devout churchgoer aged 88 has become Britain's oldest stalker after he became infatuated with a younger woman he met through their shared interest in the Bible.
Widower Frank Chadwick had hoped for companionship with Sheila Thompson, 54, after the death of his wife just before their 50th wedding anniversary.
But after the pair had a cup of tea together, Chadwick - who is partially deaf - began hounding accountant Miss Thompson over a period of two years.
He asked if could volunteer at a community centre where she worked, but concerns were raised when he began following her to church on a Sunday.

When the pensioner was asked to leave the community centre after he admitted the only reason he went was to see Miss Thompson, he began hand-delivering cards, letters and gifts to her home in Salford, Greater Manchester.
He was eventually reported to police after being seen repeatedly lurking around her cul-de-sac - forcing Miss Thompson to hide behind the curtains to avoid him.
In a statement Miss Thompson said: "Due to his behaviour I am still keeping the blinds shut in my living room as he could still see me if I sat in my chair.
"When I approach my house, I check I have my keys ready and check he is not lurking in the area. I avoid answering the phone or door unless I know who it is. I have to consider what he may do before I do things myself."

Widower Frank Chadwick (pictured) had hoped for companionship with Sheila Thompson, 54, after the death of his wife just before their 50th wedding anniversary
Widower Frank Chadwick (pictured) had hoped for companionship with Sheila Thompson, 54, after the death of his wife just before their 50th wedding anniversary CREDIT: RICKY CHAMPAGNE/CAVENDISH PRESS
At Manchester Magistrates' Court, Chadwick of Westhoughton, Bolton, admitted a charge of stalking without fear, alarm or distress and was banned from contacting Miss Thompson for 18 months under the terms of a restraining order.
He was also conditionally discharged for 18 months.
The incidents began in 2016 after Chadwick met Miss Thompson after they bumped into other whilst they were out walking in the Salford area.
At the time he had a Bible in his hand after being asked to research a question posed by his vicar and she offered to help.
Prosecutor Lynn Rogers said: "The two met by complete chance. She was out walking in February 2016, when she saw him and they started to chat, and they had a cup of tea together and arranged to meet for lunch.
"She took him to a local centre where she works as a volunteer. He asked if he could also volunteer but was told it would not be appropriate.
"He followed her to her place of worship, and would send her hand-written letters, and hand-deliver them through her front door.
"At the centre, he was spoken to by staff and asked him if the reason he wanted to volunteer for them was because he wanted to be close to her and he said 'yes'. He was told not to attend the centre any more.
"He was reported in 2016 and March 2017, as she saw him walking down her cul-de-sac. He went up to her house and he knocked on the door and rang the bell to try to contact her. She remained in her house and the curtains were drawn in the front.
"She said he was seen by a neighbour and he was loitering around the area, and posted letters and a book through her door."
Chadwick later attended a police station on August 21, 2018 where he was arrested. In mitigation defence lawyer Mr Adam Whittaker said: "He had impeccable character and it is unfortunate we have to be in this situation today.
"He just didn't understand what has happened. He does have difficulties with hearing, and he communicates by letters.
"He lost his wife on Christmas Day a few years ago, just as they were approaching their 50th wedding anniversary and she was his life companion.
"His family have grown up and he finds great comfort in the church. On the first meeting with her he had his Bible, and he was working on a question from his minister.
"She approached him and spoke to him first. After they swapped numbers, she contacted him after that and they met for lunch. They went to each other's place of workship.
"He felt there was more to this friendship than there actually was. He wanted to see her.
"She told him to then not contact her for three months and he thought maybe that would salvage their friendship. He didn't know why or what he did wrong. He just sought after companionship.
"This has gone on for a period of around two years. He has a good character and entered an early guilty plea.
"He has no previous convictions. Probation do not need to be involved with a man of 88 years of age."
District judge Khalid Qureshi dismissed the need for punishment, and said: "There was no malice involved and there was no threat, it was just the persistence of the matter, and the letter is very well written - you pleaded guilty at the first instance.
"I will make this a conditional discharge for 18 months. In terms of the restraining order, you must not go to her address or contact her in anyway way whatsoever. The restraining order will be in place for 18 months."
In 2016 retired bookie Andrew Trimble, 81, of Garrowhill, Glasgow was placed under supervision for stalking May Fernie, 79. in the same year former sailor Colin Bagot-Hodgson, 78, of Blackburn, Lancs, was given a suspended sentence after harassing a 73-year old woman suffering from cancer with letters, cards, magazines and gifts.

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