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Coalition For Equal Marriage produce film to promote change

It came as a surprise to some when the Conservative party – normally known for promoting ‘traditional family values’ and previously responsible for such anti-gay legislation as Section 28 – raised the prospect of redefining UK civil marriage to include same-sex couples as a campaign pledge before the election. Sure enough, they’ve been true to their word and now we face the prospect of joining our heterosexual cousins in being able to officially tie the knot.

That said, the result is not yet guaranteed, and the press has been rife with anti-gay vitriol – notably from more hardcore sections of the church – at the prospect of gay marriage. To ensure that our message is heard, the Coalition for Equal Marriage has commissioned a film – shown below – to rally support for the cause and highlight the need for change.

The short film shows British forces returning home from duty, greeting their loved ones. The happiness of one soldier when reunited with his partner quickly turns into a surprise marriage proposal. The underlying message behind the film argues that if everyone has the right to serve in British military regardless of sexuality, then surely similarly we should be able celebrate our love and commitment with civil marriage.

Speaking about the film, director Mike Buonaiuto says, ‘There’s something you can only get from film which you can’t get from facts, figures and statistics – emotion’. He continues by highlighting the emotional weight of the argument, ‘The equal marriage debate is an argument fuelled with strong emotions, mainly love, so we produced a touching film to help people connect with the issues on a deeper level.’

 

To ensure that the message of marital equality is heard, the Coalition For Equal Marriage is asking people to support the campaign by signing sign the their petition at www.C4EM.org.uk.

So So Gay will be providing further coverage of the campaign to allow same-sex couples to marry over the coming weeks, and in the meantime you can support the campaign on twitter with the hashtag #equalmarriage

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Grindr User’s personal details at risk

So So Gay has learned of a security flaw with popular social networking application Grindr which could put customers personal details at risk.

Once a profile is created with the social networking service, the profile and all associated information is paired with that handset. Many users may have appreciated not needing to provide login details every time they load up the service. However, it has since been discovered that this convenience also carries an inherent risk, as the profile becomes paired with the device and remains paired with that device, even after the programme has been uninstalled.

This means that if a phone is passed on or even sold, and the application reinstalled, the new owner would potentially have access to the prior owners personal information on the service. The information that can be accessed includes, pictures, conversation records and even phone numbers and map references, which could cause a great deal of distress and personal embarrassment to users who placed their faith in the app to keep their private lives private.

We were advised of the problem by Ben Sewell, 24, who approached So So Gay after the problem arose when his fiancé gave his old phone away to a friend.

‘My partner owned an iPhone 3G purchased soon after release, on which he installed Grind roughly 2 and a half years ago. He then purchased the iPhone 4s a few months after release and again installed Grindr, whilst syncing with his iTunes account. The iPhone 3g was completely wiped and restored with all applications and media removed.

We then gave the old iPhone 3g to an acquaintance and one of the first things he did was to install Grindr. He told us later that it initially loaded with our photo, profile details and all our favourites.’

When asked by So So Gay if he had put his concerns to Grindr and reported the issue, Mr Sewell confirmed that he had done so, but received no response from their support team, leaving him in doubt about the applications ability to keep his personal data safe.

So So Gay contacted Grindr for comment on this potential hole in data security, and one of their representatives confirmed that there is a process to permanently delete a profile, however it is not as simple or straightforward as some users may like:

‘While we don’t comment on specific security issues, protecting our users is our core priority. We recommend that all users who plan to switch mobile devices completely delete their profile details on their old device.

‘To do so requires that iOS and Android users first update their old device to the latest version of Grindr or Grindr Xtra. Then, they must select “Delete” or “Clear My Profile” under “Edit Profile” and also contact customer service. BlackBerry users need simply contact customer service directly for specific instructions.

‘A support article on deleting a user profile on all platforms can be found on the Grindr website. Customer service requests are dealt with as soon as possible but during peak times may be longer than expected, and users should leave sufficient time for their requests to be processed.’

Grindr was originally launched in March 2009 by Nearby Buddy Finder LLC and became famous thanks to rapid word of mouth reviews. The application is now available in the iTunes App Store and the Android Marketplace, in both free and premium forms. As of March 2012, the United States hosted the highest number of Grindr users with nearly 1,443,500, while London topped the list of cities with 195,000 users. British users increased by 30,000 alone after the app was mentioned by Stephen Fry on the popular TV show Top Gear.

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Out4Marriage launched to support campaign for equal marriage

A new online campaign has been launched backing calls for equal marriage in the UK. Out4Marriage, with the full backing of So So Gay, aims to build on the success of the US It Gets Better project which encouraged celebrities, politicians and members of the public to post and share videos on why they support in LGBT equality.

The new online campaign is being led by Channel 4 news correspondent Benjamin Cohen and founder of the Coalition for Equal Marriage, Mike Buonaiuto, who hope social media can raise the profile of marriage equality following more than 500,000 Brits signing a petition opposing the move. Prime Minister David Cameron has said he hopes to introduce the legislation during this parliament, but has faced significant opposition from within the Conservative Party and some religious groups, who think the change would undermine marriage. The proposal was absent from today’s Queen’s speech.

Equalities minister, Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, says in her video that she fully backs same sex marriage: “I think its just amazing that people love each other enough to commit to a lifelong vow, ’til death do part’. That should be exactly the same whether you’re straight or gay and that’s why I’m out4marriage.”

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, wife to Ed Balls, said: “The state and society should value the long-term commitment, and celebrate it for same-sex people, and that’s why I am out4marriage.” But the Labour MP also argued the government is wrong to ban religious groups from being able to recognise same-sex marriages and should allow religions open to the change to carry out same-sex ceremonies.

Amongst other backers of the online campaign, managing director of Gay Time and Diva magazines, Kim Watson, former gay London mayor contender Brian Paddick and lesbian Rabbi Ariel Friedlander. Actor and commentator Stephen Fry also tweeted his more than four million followers telling them it was a “great new campaign to support #EqualMarriage”.

The government’s consultation on changes to marriage remains open, and there’s still time to add your support.

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News round-up: Spice Girls musical, Pride London concerns and Oreo cookie supports pride!

The Spice Girls have announced a musical based on their music, exactly sixteen years after the release of their first single, ‘Wannabe’. Posing for photographs in front of the stairs at St Pancras Hotel, where the video was filmed, they were joined by writer Jennifer Saunders and producer Judy Craymer, who was behind the hit Mamma Mia!

The musical will tell the story of talent-show contestant Viva and her family. It runs at the Picadilly Theatre from 27 November, with tickets on sale from £27 each.

With less than two weeks to go before Pride London/WorldPride, which is expected to see up to a million people line the streets of central London, Time Out’s gay section editor Paul Burston has reported from the event’s press launch. Hosted after national magazine deadlines had passed and announcing a number of virtually unknown acts for the main stage in Trafalgar Square, it raises a number of concerns about the viability of the event.

Pride London/WorldPride takes place on 7 July, with the parade leaving from Baker Street and ending at Trafalgar Square around 4pm.

Speaking of Pride season, in the US, most large cities hold their events on the same day, the fourth Saturday of June which was last weekend. Many brands posted of their support, and a Google search for terms around Pride displays a jolly rainbow banner around the search box. Kraft-owned cookie brand Oreo posted an image of a cookie with rainbow coloured fillings on their Facebook and Twitter pages, prompting an avalanche of responses both for and against their support of gay rights.

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The National Diversity Awards 2012 are coming

There are just months to go until the National Diversity Awards 2012 are set to take place in Manchester’s Midland Hotel, hosted by Big Brother’s Brian Dowling, and the time to nominate is now. The awards are a celebration of the achievements of community organisations and individuals who work tirelessly to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in our society.

The awards include a range of categories including positive role model, community organisation and entrepreneurial excellence each split into the five areas; age, race, disability, gender and LGBT. A host of celebrities and sports people have come out in support of the awards including Paralympians, veteran broadcasters and TV presenters plus many more.

 

Jody Cundy

Paralympic gold medallist, Jody Cundy, a patron of the awards said ‘I am proud to be supporting The 2012 National Diversity Awards – a fantastic celebration of the achievements that would often go unnoticed, but ultimately have enhanced today’s culturally diverse society, bringing together and creating role models from all walks of life! I look forward to meeting the nominees on the night!’

The event has also been endorsed by actor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster and all round good egg, Stephen Fry, who stated ‘The UK is becoming more and more diverse. It is valuable that a national event is being held to celebrate our differences. Even in today’s modern society we are still tackling issues of prejudice and discrimination so it is important to come together and focus on those who have demonstrated an outstanding work ethic in order to enhance equality, diveristy and inclusion. I am sure The National Diversity Awards will have nothing but a positive outcome for years to come, I wish the event every success.’

Nominations for the awards are open until the 27th of July 2012 and can be made online by visiting www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk

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Official – Pride London & WorldPride drastically scaled down

Pride London is one of the highlights of the London gay calendar, attracting up to a million people to watch a parade of floats and walking groups from Baker Street to Trafalgar Square, followed by political speeches and musical acts.

Following reports of financial difficulties, the event – which was billed as ‘World Pride’ – has been scaled down. The parade will be a ‘procession’ and include no floats or cars. Activities at Trafalgar Square will continue with changes to the programme and no events will take place in Soho as part of WorldPride. The Golden Square activities have been cancelled, and the Family Area will be run as an independent activity. The parade will now start at 11am instead of 1pm and events in Trafalgar Square will end earlier than advertised.

Organisers of groups running floats on the parade had paid up to £2500 plus tax to participate in the event. It is unknown if Pride London has offered refunds to the groups who have hired vehicles.

We’ve reached out to Pride London to find out whether there will be street closures on and around Old Compton Street.

So So Gay has also asked organisers whether public service groups such as the police, fire brigade and military will still be involved in the ‘procession’. Sources have indicated that its reassignment to a ‘protest march’ may jeopardise their involvement. Additionally we are seeking clarification on which acts remain on the main stage in Trafalgar Square of those previously announced.

The official statement from Pride London reads ‘Following an all-agency meeting at City Hall on the 27th June regarding the Pride London World Pride 2012 celebrations on the 7th of July, we’re pleased to announce that despite previous misreports in the press about cancelation, this crucial event to celebrate the equality and diversity of the LGBT community will be going ahead.’

‘Each and every year, Pride London needs to achieve some serious commercial targets to fund the event – and this year, targets are even higher than before, because of increased cost, the sheer scale of the planned event and mounting pressure to deliver a “world class” event. To a backdrop of a more difficult economic climate and tough sponsorship calls considering everything that is happening in London this year, fundraising from both corporates and from within the community has been more challenging than ever. Despite creating a strong sponsorship base for this year’s planned event, there is, in the week leading up to the 7th of July, still a shortfall.’

‘All agencies involved in delivering the event, including the GLA, WCC and Met Police have agreed that it is prudent to deliver an event that is affordable, without compromising the safety, security and integrity of the event.’

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Breaking News: ‘It Gets Better’ founder Dan Savage backs Out4Marriage

Dan Savage, the founder of the ‘It Gets Better’ Project, has joined the Out4Marriage campaign for marriage equality.

The author and columnist has recorded a video in support of the internet-based campaign that encourages members of the public, politicians and celebrities to offer vocal support for a move towards equal marriage rights for heterosexuals and homosexuals living in the UK.

‘Gay and lesbian people, same sex couples for too long have been discriminated against under the law when it comes to rights – rights as couples, rights as people in love,’ says Savage in the video.

‘One of the arguments against same-sex marriage rights is that we are seeking to redefine the institution of marriage and that is not true. It is straight people who redefined the institution of marriage. Marriage is the legal union of two equal and autonomous individuals. Marriage can be monogamous, or not; it can be for life, or not; a married couple can have children, or not; they can have a religious ceremony, or not.’

‘Marriage is no longer a gendered institution, it’s about two people in love.’

Savage founded the ‘It Gets Better’ project in 2010 following a number of suicides among LGBT youth, including 15-year-old Billy Lucas, who hanged himself after suffering prolonged bullying at the hands of his schoolmates.

 

Dan Savage, founder of the ‘It Gets Better’ project.

Out4Marriage is itself modelled on It Gets Better, which encourages private and public individuals from all walks of life to film videos reassuring gay teens that any bullying and prejudice they suffer will not last forever.

‘So long as we’re willing to accept civil unions or domestic partnerships, and so long as that’s all that society is willing to offer us, what’s being communicated to gay and lesbian people is that our love is lesser than. That there’s something deficient about who we are, and that our love isn’t the same as the love of heterosexuals and we know that is a lie,’ Savage continues.

‘So we’re fighting for full civil equality, for full recognition of our relationships and what they mean and what they are, for protections under law for our families, for our children and that’s why I’m Out4Marriage and I encourage everyone in the United Kingdom and every country on earth to come Out4Marriage.’

Out4Marriage was launched earlier in 2012 in response to the government’s consultation on marriage equality.

It has attracted support from high-profile figures including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Home Secretary Theresa May, Richard Branson, Paloma Faith, Sinitta and a growing group of MPs from all parties.

Dan Savage’s declaration of support comes the day after the Scottish government announced its intention to introduce equal marriage north of the border.

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Geek Pride Manchester to honour Alan Turing

As part of the Manchester Pride celebrations taking place on 25 August 2012, members of Manchester’s vibrant digital community will be honouring Alan Turing with a walking entry into the Pride parade. The group, who are working in partnership with Manchester Digital Laboratory (or MadLab), want to celebrate the achievements of Turing from both a LGBT and geek perspective, encouraging people from any background or sexuality to get involved.

During the Second World War, Turing worked at Bletchley Park code breaking centre where he invented the machine which solved the problem of the German Enigma naval code. In 1952, Turing was convicted for having a sexual relationship with a man and was forced to take oestrogen therapy or go to prison as punishment. On 8 June 1954, Turing committed suicide, aged 41.

Geek Pride Manchester told us; ‘Today, 100 years after his birth, we live in a society which simply could not have been enabled without this man’s incredible insight, ability and vision. Alan, arguably, was the ‘Geekfather’. Geek Pride is arranging a walking entry into the Pride parade to honour Alan Turing’s memory, celebrate his achievements and recognise both his LGBT and ‘geek’ identity. We want to include as many people as possible in making this happen from the Manchester geek community and beyond. We’re working with MadLab to help make this happen.’

For more information about Geek Pride Manchester, you can visit their website at http://geekpridemcr.co.uk/ or follow them on Twitter: @geekpridemcr

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Oxford amends archaic transgender dress law

Oxford University has rewritten the laws governing its strict academic dress code, so that women may wear trousers and men may wear skirts if they so choose.

The ground-breaking changes have been ushered in after a motion put forward by the university’s LGBTQ society was passed by the student union.

Previously, a transgender student wanting to wear clothes of the opposite sex had to seek special dispensation from university proctors, who had the power to punish those who breached the rules.

The change will make a number of students’ exam experience significantly less stressful, said Jess Pumphrey, LGBTQ Soc’s executive officer.

‘In future there will be no need for transgender students to cross-dress to avoid being confronted by invigilators or disciplined during their exam,’ she told the Oxford student newspaper.

Under the old rules, female students had to wear a dark skirt or trousers, white blouse, black stockings and shoes, with a black ribbon tied in a bow at the neck. Male students would have to wear a dark suit and black shoes, with a white bow tie and a white shirt under their black gowns.

Oxford University LGBTQ society president Simon Webb said: ‘This is an extremely positive step and indeed long overdue.’

An Oxford University spokesman added: ‘The regulations have been amended to remove any reference to gender, in response to concerns raised by Oxford University Student Union that the existing regulations did not serve the interests of transgender students.’

Oxford’s rival Cambridge University relaxed its rules some time ago.

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Government to push ahead with same-sex marriage proposals

Marina Miller, Minister for Equalities, this afternoon announced that the Government is pushing ahead with changes to laws to allow same-sex couples to marry in England, but will include ‘lock-outs’ for the Church of England and other religious organisations opposed to the changes.

Miller noted that the consultation on changes was not about whether, but how, the changes would be introduced. 228,000 people responded to the consultation. She noted that in each century parliament has legislated to keep marriage ‘relevant and meaningful’, and now was the time to allow same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexuals.

Religious organisations will be allowed to perform marriages if they wish, but will not be obliged to. However, the Church of England and the Church of Wales will specifically be banned from performing the marriage, and if a minister breaks these rules and performs a marriage, it will not be considered valid. A ‘quadruple lock’ will be put in place to ensure that no legal challenge can be brought against the Church. These locks include  a declaration on the face of the bill saying no religious organisation or minister can be forced to marry a gay couple, or to permit a gay wedding on their premises. Equalities legislation will be amended to make this clear. The bill will also say that same sex couples cannot be married in a church unless that religious organisation has opted in to the system.

Miller expects the Bill to be launched in January 2013, and be law within a year.