Monday, February 23, 2009

Advances for gay rights: Lebanon, Arkansas, Hollywood

It's not just Milk, folks.

1. Yesterday the Lebanese LGBTIQ support organization Helem organized a sit-in to protest violence against victimized minorities, including homosexuals, women, children, domestic workers and immigrant workers. The organization reported that 200 people participated. As far as I'm aware, this is the first demonstration of its kind in Lebanon. Media reception in the country, it seems, was largely positive (see the accounts here, in English, French and Arabic).

The sign in the photo can be translated as, "Violence is Deviance in a Civilized Society." (Deviance/shudhudh is the standard homophobic epithet used in Arab to describe homosexuality.) The photo is from Helem's facebook site, and posted by Anarchist Queer from "Syria." (Shukran to her and Angry Arab for alerting me to yesterday's action.)

2. Meanwhile in Arkansas, this happened on Saturday:

Arkansas Presbyterians voted overwhelmingly Saturday for a constitutional amendment to allow noncelibate gays and lesbians to serve as deacons, elders and ministers in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The lopsided 116-64 vote surprised leaders of the Presbytery of Arkansas, a collection of nearly 100 congregations spread across central and northern Arkansas. "It tells me that there's no predicting the Holy Spirit," said Interim General Presbyter Sallie Watson, shortly after the vote.

Read more here.

Even though Arkansas voters passed Act One last November, which bans any unmarried cohabiting couple (gay, straight, whatever) from being able to adopt or be foster parents--not all is homophobic in the Natural State.

3. And then there is Milk, Sean Penn and the Oscar. Hopefully, a blow against Prop 8. But y'all know about that one.

So let's give a cheer for Lebanon and Arkansas, where, unlike in Hollywood, we might not expect such advances.


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