Cuba – improved but not yet free

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2016 Photo | Agence France Press/Getty Images | 18300

In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power after leading a revolution that toppled the corrupt government of Fulgencio Batista. Police began to round up gay men. During the 1960s and 1970s LGBT people were imprisoned or forced into “re-education camps”.

Homosexuality was viewed as going against the ideal of the hyper-masculine revolutionary. “We would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true revolutionary, a true communist militant,” Fidel Castro told an interviewer in 1965.

During the 1980s HIV-positive Cubans were quarantined in sanitariums. The conditions were harsh.

In 2010 Fidel Castro admitted responsibility for the injustices suffered by LGBT people after the revolution, apologising: “If someone is responsible, it’s me.”

Today Cuba’s constitution bans “any form of discrimination harmful to human dignity” and healthcare and visibility has improved. Since 2008, gender reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy have been available free of charge under Cuba’s national healthcare system; condoms are distributed, sex education and access to antiretroviral drugs have improved.

In 2013 Cuban law banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation but Cuba has yet to legalise same-sex marriage.

All this comes at a price. The only LGBT activism allowed is that which is controlled by the state.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cuba-lgbt-revolution-gay-lesbian-transgender-rights-havana-raul-castro-a8122591.html

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Boston Marriages

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In 1880, on the first anniversary of her marriage, author Sarah Orne Jewett penned a romantic poem to her partner Annie Adams Fields. “Do you remember, darling, a year ago today, when we gave ourselves to each other? … We will not take back the promises we made a year ago.” Sarah and Annie lived together in a “Boston marriage,” which was a committed partnership between women.

For several years at the end of the nineteenth century, same-sex marriage was relatively common and even socially acceptable. Homosexuality itself was taboo but friendships among women were common. Women existed in a sphere separate from that of men. Public life, work and earning money were male activities.

In New England women took this concept one step further by “getting married” combining households, living together and supporting one another. They attended college, found careers and lived outside their parents’ home. As they did so with other women, their activities were deemed socially acceptable.

In 1885, novelist Henry James explored the phenomenon in his book “The Bostonians”. The practice became less common in the 20th century, but did not die out; In the 1950s, Your Activist lived a few doors away from a similar arrangement.

http://www.history.com/news/women-got-married-long-before-gay-marriage

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Australia gay marriage postal vote

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Uncredited photographer | Undated | Getty Images | 17166gh.jpg

In 2017, the Australian government authorised a national voluntary survey to determine the level of support for legalising same-sex marriage. The survey was held via the postal service between 12 September and 7 November 2017. The survey asked the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

A number of pressure groups, some personalities, and some of the media including “The Age”, campaigned vigorously first to stop the survey going ahead, and then to try to persuade people to reject gay marriage.

There were two legal challenges in the Australian High Court about the survey.

Shelley Argent, of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and Felicity Marlowe, of Rainbow Families) and independent MP Andrew Wilkie went to the High Court on 9 August 2017 to seek a temporary injunction. The survey was also challenged in the High Court by Australian Marriage Equality and Greens Senator Janet Rice. The High Court found that the survey was lawful.

A 17-year-old boy who was excluded from voting challenged that with the Australian Human Rights Commission. About 50,000 Australians aged 16 and 17 were registered on the electoral roll to vote. The boy dropped his complaint on 22 September after legal advice.

The survey returned 7,817,247 (61.6%) “Yes” responses and 4,873,987 (38.4%) “No” responses. An additional 36,686 (0.3%) responses were unclear and the total turnout was 12,727,920 (79.5%).

The Liberal–National Coalition government had pledged to facilitate a private member’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage in the Parliament in the event of a “Yes” outcome.

Many same-sex marriage proponents were critical of the postal survey, viewing it as a costly delay and legally redundant to holding a conscience vote on same-sex marriage in the parliament.

As with the Brexit vote in Britain, there was a rush of people registering to vote; by 24 August 2017, the closing date for new registrations, 98,000 new voters had added themselves to the roll. Survey forms were mailed out during two weeks commencing 12 September 2017. They were required to be returned for counting by 27 October 2017.

The Australian Parliament both passed the gay marriage law on 7 December 2017.

https://marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au/

Updated 8 December 2017

Россия: гей-брак не является чем-то новым

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Heading translation by Google: Russia: Gay Marriage is nothing new

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Olga Khoroshilova | 17165gh

At the time of writing, western media are noting the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which, for gay men and lesbians in Russia, heralded a short period of relative freedom of expression and liberty.

The photo above is dated January 1921. Russian Baltic Fleet sailor Afanasy Shaur organised a gay wedding in Petrograd, with guests including 95 former army officers along with members of the lower ranks of both the army and navy, and one woman, who was dressed in a man’s suit.

The guests did not know that Shaur was a member of the secret police, and at the end of the festivities, the guests were all arrested. Shaur had arranged the event to curry favour with his bosses, claiming those attending were counter-revolutionaries who wanted to destroy the young Red Army from the inside.

The case was eventually closed and the “counter-revolutionaries” let off.

After the October Revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks scrapped and rewrote the country’s laws. They produced two Criminal Codes, in 1922 and 1926, neither of which contained an article prohibiting homosexuality.

In the 1920s gay men in Russia lived quite openly. The BBC notes that:

In St Petersburg, some wore red ties, or red shawls, onto which they would sew the back pockets of trousers. Others powdered their faces and wore a lot of mascara. After the revolution, the heavily made-up “silent film star look” became more mainstream and no longer just a fashion for young gay men.

There may not have been an article relating to gay sex in the criminal codes of the 1920s, but the gay community was regularly persecuted. Gay men were often beaten, blackmailed or sacked from their jobs.

The gay community was also organised on class lines, with little mixing between the “aristocrats” and “simple” lower class gay men who held mundane or clerical jobs.

In July 1933, 175 gay men from different walks of life were arrested in what came to be known as the Case of the Leningrad Homosexuals. The documents of the case have never been released, but it is known that all detained were given prison sentences on a range of charges from working for British intelligence to “malicious counter-revolutionism” and “moral corruption of the Red Army”.

The Case of the Leningrad Homosexuals led to the re-inclusion of the article outlawing homosexuality in the Criminal Code of 1934.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-41737330

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William John Bankes

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William John Bankes | National Trust Images/Angelo Hornak/NTPL/Angelo Hornak | 17161gh

A two-month project examining the life and exile of a man has gone on display at the stately home he inherited in 1834 but from which he later had to flee.

William John Bankes of Kingston Lacy, Dorset, was forced out of Britain because of his gay relationship with a soldier.

His stately home is now owned by the National Trust, who are mounting an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in Britain. The exhibition includes a facsimile copy of the 1533 “Act for the punishment of the vice of buggery” alongside the 1967 Act and the 2004 Civil Partnership Act.

There are also a collection of 51 ropes hanging in the entrance hall, representing men aged between 17 and 71 who were hanged for same-sex acts during the lifetime of the house’s owner. The last two ropes hang next to each other representing two labourers, John Smith and John Pratt, who were caught together and executed together.

Bankes would have suffered the same fate because it was the second time he had been caught with a man. His wealth allowed him to escape and live in France and later Italy, from where he continued to remotely transform the house into a Venetian Renaissance palazzo.

The Exile exhibition will run from from 18 September 2017, the day Bankes went in to exile, until 12 November 2017, with a rainbow flag flown from the property for the duration.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/18/william-john-bankes-forced-into-exile-after-gay-liaison-celebrated-by-national-trust

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy

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Gene “Jean” Malin

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Jean Malin in 1933’s film “Arizona to Broadway” | Copyright control | 17159gh

On 10 August, 1933, Jean Malin, his boyfriend Jimmy Forlenza and fellow actor Patsy Kelly piled into Jean’ss car to head off to a party at the Hollywood Barn.

Tired after finishing a fortnight-long booking, Malin accidentally put the car into reverse, driving it off Venice Pier into the water. Forlenza and Kelly escaped. Malin was trapped under the steering wheel. The brightest star of America’s Pansy parties was dead at 25.

An American actor, compére and drag performer during the jazz age, Victor Eugene James Malinovsky was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 30, 1908. He used the stage names Jean Malin and Imogene Wilson. He was one of the first openly gay performers, and in the Prohibition era.

In his teens he was already well known for his drag appearances and costumes, and for his stage work in various musical chorus lines. At the same time he was appearing in Greenwich Village clubs as a drag artiste.

Malin drowned in a car accident on August 10, 1933.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/14/pansy-craze-the-wild-1930s-drag-parties-that-kickstarted-gay-nightlife

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Pierre Bergé

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Pierre Bergé | Agence France Press | 17156gh

The French fashion tycoon Pierre Bergé – the business brains behind the Yves Saint Laurent empire – has died aged 86.

The longtime partner of the late designer Yves Saint Laurent died in his sleep early Friday at his country home at Saint-Remy-de-Provence in southern France.

The passionate bibliophile and art collector was a tireless campaigner for gay rights and donated a large part of his fortune to AIDS research.

Gay Activist sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

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