Archive for January, 2012

Condoms in porn: AIDS group vows to take fight to L.A. County

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

LA Now
For years, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein has sought to persuade elected officials to protect the health of porn actors by forcing adult film companies to require condom use.

This week, Weinstein celebrated his first major victory after the Los Angeles City Council voted to require condom use as a condition of getting film permits in the city. Now Weinstein wants to take his fight to Los Angeles County.

“This is a case study in the power of persistence,” Weinstein said in an interview. He noted that the concept of allowing drug users to exchange needles, once seen as untouchable, finally gained acceptance as a way to protect people from HIV.

Weinstein has pushed state legislators and the County Board of Supervisors to back mandatory condom use, but has received little support. No state lawmakers have been willing to sponsor legislation, Weinstein said, and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said in 2010 that the state, not the county Department of Public Health, should be dealing with the matter.

Weinstein also lost a court battle to compel the county public health agency to take a stronger position on condom use.

The tide began shifting in 2010, when the California Occupational Safety and Health officials said that rules protecting employees from bodily fluids also apply to porn actors. Adult film performers have said condom use in the industry should be a matter of choice for consenting adults -– and is not an issue for the government.

The big change came last year, when the AIDS Healthcare Foundation decided to seek a voter-approved ordinance mandating condom use as a condition for getting a film permit within city limits.

Weinstein said he was surprised that the City Council decided to back the condom measure, thus avoiding a vote of the public, when lawmakers have been reluctant to get involved with the issue.

He’s proposing a similar requirement for county government, which handles health permits for businesses such as tattoo parlors and restaurants.

“We’re going to go through the same drill with the county. We’re going to collect hundreds of thousands of [petition] signatures, we’re going to submit them. They’re going to huff and puff, and then we’ll see whether they’ll want to” have a vote on the issue at the same time as the presidential election, Weinstein said.

AIDS killed 28,000 in China in 2011, study says

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

BEIJING — AIDS killed 28,000 people in China last year, and another 48,000 new infections from the HIV virus were discovered in the country, according to an official report on Saturday.

In China 780,000 people live with the HIV virus, of which 154,000 developed AIDS, a report jointly produced by China’s Ministry of Health, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization said.

In September 2011 there were 136,000 people receiving anti-viral treatment for the disease, it said, making the treatment coverage rate 73.5 percent, an increase of 11.5 percentage points compared to 2009.

The report, quoted by China’s official state media Xinhua, said some new trends had appeared, notably “a rise in the number of imported cases and those transmitted sexually”.

Sexual relations are the first source of contamination of the HIV virus in China, where a huge blood contamination scandal erupted in the central Henan province in the 1990s.

HIV/AIDS sufferers have long been stigmatised in the country, and rights groups estimate the number of sufferers to be higher, but increased government education has helped raise awareness.

UK Muslims convicted in landmark gay hatred case

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Jerusalem Post
Men had posted pamphlets with title “Death Penalty?” featuring mannequin hanging from a noose and saying gays would go to hell.
Talkbacks (40)

LONDON – Three British Muslim men were found guilty on Friday of stirring up hatred by distributing leaflets calling for the death of homosexuals in what prosecutors said was a landmark case.

The men, from Derby, had posted and handed out pamphlets near their local mosque with the title “Death Penalty?” featuring a mannequin hanging from a noose and saying gay people would go to hell.

UK gov’t bans radical Islamic group
United States denies asylum to gay Saudi diplomat

The leaflets were part of a protest by a group of Muslim men against a forthcoming Gay Pride parade in the city.

Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed became the first people in Britain to be found guilty under a law introduced in 2010 making it an offense to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The jury at Derby Crown Court heard how one witness had felt he was being targeted and feared he would be burned, said Sue Hemming from the Crown Prosecution Service.

“While people are entitled to hold extreme opinions which others may find unpleasant and obnoxious, they are not entitled to distribute those opinions in a threatening manner intending to stir up hatred against gay people,” she said in a statement.

“This case was not about curtailing people’s religious views or preventing them from educating others about those views; it was that any such views should be expressed in a lawful manner and not incite others to hatred.”

Gay rights group Stonewall said the case vindicated their call for specific legislation to protect homosexuals.

“We’re satisfied to see these extremists convicted for distributing offensive and inflammatory leaflets that suggested gay people should be burnt or stoned to death,” said Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive.

The men will be sentenced on Feb. 10.

Encouraging gay-straight groups not enough says teen

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

A man who ran for the New Democratic Party in last fall’s provincial election says a plan to make schools in Newfoundland and Labrador more welcoming for gay students doesn’t go far enough.

Thursday the provincial education department confirmed that this spring it will encourage schools from grade 7 to 12 to set up gay-straight alliances.

Friday Noah Davis-Power, a gay 18-year-old, said the province should go further.

“I think it needs to be mandated, needs to be there. The resources are there now but if you’re too scared to use those resources, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

Davis-Power was afraid to reveal he is gay when he was in high school. Someone ‘outed’ him, but he said that what he feared would happen didn’t.

“No one cared, they saw me as Noah. People still don’t believe I’m gay,” he said.

But he did have to deal with some abuse.

“I’d hear ‘faggot’ as I walked down the corridor, not to my face, never to my face, just behind my back,” said Davis-Power.

He survived it but he’s concerned that some people don’t.

“We’ve seen in the past year, the past few weeks, even more suicides that are directly linked to homophobic bullying,” said Davis-Power.

After he was outed, Noah started a gay-straight alliance group at his school. An idea that wasn’t embraced at first.

“Mostly they didn’t want parental publicity, we didn’t want to look like we were training gays.”

He said the group was tolerated, but not really accepted.

“We need to go from saying ‘It’s all right to be gay, but you’re still over there.’ That’s what tolerance is, it’s the worst word ever. ‘You have a problem but you can stay.’ You have to work from that to acceptance,” he said.

The Harper government’s ‘commitment’ to gay rights

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

In the past few days, there has been some level of attention paid to the fact that the Conservative government has been advocating on behalf of gay rights in places like Uganda, while at the same time trying to put limits on things like same-sex divorce in Canada.

Embassy magazine’s look at the issues notes that the Harper government’s support is at the lowest-common-denominator level (stop killing gays or throwing them in jail). Meanwhile, Matt Gurney at the National Post took that piece and went so far as to chastise the people who still say the government has a homophobic hidden agenda, but with all these wonderful things the Harper government is doing for gays, can’t we lay that to rest?

Well, yes and no. On the one hand, I don’t believe Harper is homophobic, nor the people immediately around him. It’s not just that John Baird is one of his most loyal ministers, or that Harper has a lot of time for out lesbian Senator Nancy Ruth, or that his wife, Laureen, loves gay men. These things are all true, and according to Nancy Ruth, Harper believes simply that sexuality is a private matter and leaves it at that. So be it.

But while Gurney cites things like the government’s declaration that same-sex marriage will remain the law of the land, the pledge to help more queer refugees, or going to bat for decriminalizing homosexuality in the Commonwealth, Gurney doesn’t look at the substance of these moves.

Yes, same-sex marriage remains the law of the land, so long as you were married in Canada and meet the residency requirements for divorce, and Gurney ignores the fact that Harper has opened up a legal can of worms when it comes to the recognition of all marriages abroad.

Moves to restrict the kinds of refugees accepted to only those recognized by states or the UNHCR marginalizes a large number of other queer refugees, primarily from Africa. As well, Jason Kenney’s much-touted pilot program with the Rainbow Refugee Committee on funds for private sponsorship is more of a back-patting exercise. It looks like it’s doing more than it is, given that groups like Rainbow Refugee have a more urgent need for capacity building, something these funds cannot be used for.

And then there’s the promotion of gay rights abroad. It’s one thing to say to the president of Uganda that he needs to stop the bill that would further criminalize queers in his country, but it’s quite another to actually give aid dollars to queer rights groups in those countries. And while Gurney says that this is a “walk before you run” approach to rights, it doesn’t acknowledge that “stop killing gays” is a far cry from a more profound message that queer rights are human rights.

It also ignores the “love the sinner, hate the sin” connotations of the message. Don’t kill the gays, but don’t promote their full equality either. That’s certainly a message that resonates with the evangelical base that does still exist within the Conservative party and that can’t be dismissed as a “hidden agenda.”

Above all, Gurney’s dismissal of criticisms of Harper’s record on queer rights ignores the fact that there’s a lot more to those rights than same-sex marriage. There is also a wide gap between having rights on paper and being able to enjoy them substantively.

Sure we have marriage equality in Canada, but we’re still seeing homophobic and transphobic violence, the lack of access to services – most especially in the health sector – and there still exists a huge urban-rural divide when it comes to queers in this country. It’s easy for city dwellers, both gay and straight, to think that the accepting environment they know extends across the country. It doesn’t.

There are still problems for queer communities in this country that Harper’s government has done nothing about. The majority of the Conservative caucus, including Harper himself, voted against the bill to extend human rights protections to trans people. They say that bullying is an issue but won’t offer any solutions. AIDS service organizations are starved for funds. They steadfastly refused to equalize the age of consent in this country.

Relying on the fact that they haven’t repealed equal marriage, their back-patting on refugees and their bare minimum advocacy abroad starts to look more like a pinkwashing job to say, “See! We’re totally not homophobic!” Until you scratch beneath the surface.

There may not in fact be a homophobic hidden agenda, but this government still has a long way to go before it can claim that it’s actually doing something substantive for the queer community, both at home and abroad.

Dallas gays urge mayor to rethink rejecting gay marriage pledge

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

The gay and lesbian community is calling for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to reconsider and sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

In Washington, D.C. Friday, more than 80 other mayors in 25 states had signed the pledge sponsored by the group ‘Freedom to Marry,’ including the mayors of Houston and Austin.

Most of the supportive mayors are democrats, as is Rawlings, but some are republicans.

Among the mayors backing the pledge to fight for gay marriage was Houston’s Annise Parker. She’s a lesbian who has raised three children with her partner, and spoke of the difficulties without legal marriage in Texas.

“We have had to navigate insurance challenges, custody challenges and the school districts,” Parker said.

But not among the group was Rawlings, who said he didn’t feel he should get involved in such social issues as mayor.

“I was asked to pledge my support to ‘Mayors for the Freedom to Marry’ in an effort to pressure state and federal entities to legalize marriage for same-sex couples,” said Rawlings in a statement. “I decided not to sign onto that letter because that is inconsistent with my view of the duties of the office of the mayor.”

But that’s angered Dallas gay and lesbian groups.

“These are issues that affect gay and lesbian people here, and as our mayor, he should be willing to put his money where his mouth is and sign the pledge,” said spokesman Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas.

Rawlings said he personally supports gay marriage, but feels putting the weight of his office behind it is inappropriate, especially when he wants to focus on larger issues facing the city.

That’s not easing the anger.

“I think it’s causing some people to go, ‘That’s not what we expected,’” McDonnell said.

Mariage homosexuel. Nicolas Sarkozy reste favorable à une « union civile »

Monday, January 16th, 2012

La présidence de la République a laissé entendre vendredi que Nicolas Sarkozy restait favorable à une « union civile » pour les homosexuels, mais pas au mariage des couples gays et lesbiens.

Pécresse dément

Selon le quotidien Libération, le chef de l’Etat, probable candidat à sa réélection en avril-mai prochains, pourrait inscrire le mariage gay dans son programme. Une révélation démentie par Valérie Pécresse, porte-parole du gouvernement, en fin de matinée, sur son compte twitter : « Le président de la République n’a pas absolument pas changé d’avis, il n’est pas favorable au mariage des couples homosexuels », dénonçant une « fausse rumeur ».

Pour une union civile homosexuelle

À l’Elysée, on ajoute qu’« il est important de se référer à ses propos publics », renvoyant notamment sur une interview de Nicolas Sarkozy publiée dans Têtu, le 24 avril 2007, entre les deux tours de la présidentielle.

« Puisqu’on ne choisit pas sa sexualité, fonder une discrimination sur quelque chose qu’on ne choisit pas, c’est une injustice majeure », expliquait-il. « Je suis donc pour une union civile homosexuelle qui ne passe pas par le greffe du tribunal d’instance, mais par la mairie. »

Hollande pour le mariage et l’adoption

Une grande partie de la droite, qui constitue le socle de la majorité présidentielle actuelle, est opposée au mariage gay et le chef de l’Etat n’a pas donné suite.

À gauche, le candidat socialiste à l’élection présidentielle, François Hollande, a répété cette semaine qu’il était « pour le droit au mariage et à l’adoption pour tous les couples ».


Si l’entourage de Nicolas Sarkozy laisse entendre qu’il n’a pas changé d’avis par rapport à 2007, cela ne va pas jusqu’à confirmer sans ambiguïté qu’il inscrira cette idée d’une « union civile » pour les homosexuels dans son programme de 2012. Et que cette question s’invite dans la campagne.

Réactions politiques

Alors que le maire PS de Paris, Betrand Delanoë, pense que c’est de l’électoralisme, Christine Boutin, candidate à l’Elysée du Parti chrétien-démocrate a réaffirmé sur Europe 1 qu’elle n’était « pas favorable au mariage gay, ni à l’adoption et je tiendrai bon jusqu’au bout ».

Le secrétaire général de l’UMP, Jean-François Copé, s’est pour sa part déclaré ouvert au débat sur la légalisation en France du mariage homosexuel, lequel est déjà légal dans sept pays européens, dont la Belgique et l’Espagne.

La France en retard

Onze pays de l’Union européenne autorisent une forme d’union civile ouverte aux couples homosexuels comme le Pacte civil de solidarité (Pacs) mis en place en France par le gouvernement de gauche de Lionel Jospin (1997-2002).

Les députés français ont rejeté en juin dernier une proposition de loi du groupe socialiste visant à ouvrir le mariage aux couples de même sexe. Deux membres du gouvernement, Jeannette Bougrab (Jeunesse) et Roselyne Bachelot (Solidarités) s’étaient prononcés en faveur au mariage homosexuel.

Elton John va publier un livre intitulé “Love is the Cure”

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Le musicien britannique Elton John va publier son premier livre, intitulé Love is the Cure: Ending the Global AIDs Epidemic, durant l’été 2012.

16 Janvier 2012 10h29


Dans ce récit, le chanteur-compositeur partagera des expériences personnelles et ses souvenirs d’amis morts du sida, comme le chanteur du groupe Queen Freddie Mercury qui a été emporté par la maladie en 1991.

Le livre sera publié en juillet au Royaume-Uni par Hodder & Stoughton et sera accompagné d’un livre audio lu par Elton John. La maison d’édition Little, Brown publiera le livre aux Etats-Unis avec une date de sortie prévue en août.

Dans un communiqué publié dans Billboard, Elton John a affirmé que le sida “est une maladie qui ne doit pas être guérie par un vaccin miraculeux, mais en changeant les coeurs et les esprits grâce à un effort collectif pour casser les barrières sociales”.

Les recettes des ventes du livre seront reversées à la fondation d’Elton John pour la lutte contre le sida.

La pop-star anglaise est en course pour un nouveau Grammy Award pour son duo avec Lady Gaga, “Hello, Hello”, tiré de la bande-son du film Gnomeo & Juliet.

Affaire Carla Bruni-Sarkozy: nouvelles révélations

Monday, January 16th, 2012

La fondation Carla Bruni est dans la tourmente depuis que le magazine Marianne a affirmé qu’elle avait financé plusieurs sociétés de ses amis grâce à sa Fondation. Depuis, la Première dame a démenti ces informations, mais Mediapart et Numerama enfoncent le clou en faisant de nouvelles révélations.

Alors qu’elle vient d’affirmer qu’ elle participerait à la campagne présidentielle de Nicolas Sarkozy s’il se présentait, Carla Bruni se retrouve au cœur d’un scandale qui touche sa fondation. La semaine dernière, le journal Marianne l’accusait en effet d’avoir fait appel à des sociétés de plusieurs de ses amis «au mépris des procédures normales», c’est-à-dire sans appel d’offres. La Première dame a répondu en publiant un long droit de réponse sur son site internet. Elle y expliquait: «Aucun argent public n’a jamais été reçu par la Fondation. (…) L’insinuation selon laquelle des fonds auraient été levés auprès de partenaires publics est entièrement infondée».

Ce week-end l’affaire a rebondi avec la publication de nouveaux éléments par Mediapart. Selon le site d’information, le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le sida confirme avoir versé 1,7 millions d’euros «sans appel d’offres» sur 2,2 millions d’euros de la campagne Born Hiv Free. Une partie de la somme aurait été reversée à la société Mars Browsers, appartenant à Julian Civange, un proche de Carla Bruni, et une autre partie serait allée dans les caisses de La fabrique du net pour que cette entreprise réalise la partie du site de l’épouse du chef de l’Etat consacrée à la lutte contre le sida.
Le site Numerama s’interroge de son côté sur la somme versée à La fabrique du net, 132756 euros, et le travail effectif réalisé sur le site de Carla Bruni, résumé à «6 pages (…) réalisées sous (…) WordPress», une galerie de «46 photos légendées» et 52 billets «composés d’un seul paragraphe de quelques lignes accompagné d’une photographie». Conclusion de Numerama: «Chacun jugera de la proportion du devis, accepté sans appel d’offres. Et de l’opportunité humaniste de facturer une prestation que beaucoup auraient probablement accepté de réaliser bénévolement, pour apporter leur pierre à la lutte contre le HIV».
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy n’a pour l’instant pas réagi à ces nouvelles allégations.

What did MLK think about gay people?

Monday, January 16th, 2012
(CNN)– Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was writing an advice column in 1958 for Ebony magazine when he received an unusual letter.

“I am a boy,” an anonymous writer told King. “But I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do?”

In calm, pastoral tones, King told the boy that his problem wasn’t uncommon, but required “careful attention.”

“The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired,” King wrote. “You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”

We know what King thought about race, poverty and war. But what was his attitude toward gay people, and if he was alive today would he see the gay rights movement as another stage of the civil rights movement?

That’s not the type of question most people will consider on this Monday as the nation celebrates King’s national holiday. Yet the debate over King’s stance toward gay rights has long divided his family and followers. That debate is poised to go public again because of the upcoming release of two potentially explosive books, one of which examines King’s close relationship with an openly gay civil rights leader, Bayard Rustin.

The author of both books says King’s stance on gay rights is unclear because the Ebony advice column may be the only public exchange on record where he touches on the morality of homosexuality.

Yet King would have been a champion of gay rights today because of his view of Christianity, says Michael Long, author of, “I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters,” who shared the story of King’s Ebony letter.

“Dr. King never publicly welcomed gays at the front gate of his beloved community. But he did leave behind a key for them – his belief that each person is sacred, free and equal to all to others,” says Long, also author of the upcoming “Keeping it straight? Martin Luther King, Jr., Homosexuality, and Gay Rights.”

Did King’s dream include gay people?

One person close to King, though, would disagree.

Rev. Bernice King led a march to her father’s graveside in 2005 while calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. She was joined by Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in Georgia, where she served as an elder at the time. Long, who recently settled out of court with four young men who filed lawsuits claiming he coerced them into sexual relationships, publicly condemned homosexuality.

King did not answer an interview request, but she has spoken publicly about her views.

During a speech at a church meeting in New Zealand, she said her father “did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage.”

Yet her mother, Coretta Scott King, was a vocal supporter of gay rights. One of her closest aides was gay. She also invoked her husband’s dream.

Ravi Perry, a political science professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, said King’s widow once said in a public speech that everyone who believed in her husband’s dream should “make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.”

There is no private or public record of King condemning gay people, Perry says. Even the FBI’s surveillance of King’s private phone conversations didn’t turn up any moment where King disparaged gay people, she says.

“If Dr. King were anti-gay, there would likely be a sermon, a speech, a recording of some kind indicating such,” she says. “And knowing how closely his phones were tapped; surely there would be a record of such statements.”

Those who say King did not condemn gays and would have supported gay rights today point to King’s theology.

Though King was a Christian minister, he didn’t embrace a literal reading of the Bible that condemns homosexuality, some historians say. King’s vision of the Beloved Community – his biblical-rooted vision of humanity transcending its racial and religious differences – expanded people’s rights, not restricted them, they say.

Rev. C.T. Vivian, who worked with King at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says King would have championed gay rights today.

“Martin was a theologian,” Vivian says. “Martin starts with the fact that God loves everybody, and all men and all women were created by God. He based his whole philosophy on God’s love for all people.”

King’s relationship with ‘Brother Bayard’

Those who say King would have championed gay rights also point to King’s treatment of one of the movement’s most important leaders, Bayard Rustin.

Rustin was an openly gay civil rights leader who is widely credited with organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He was an organizational genius, the man who insisted that King speak last on the program, giving his “I Have a Dream” speech the resonance it would not have had otherwise, says Jerald Podair, author of “Bayard Rustin: American Dreamer.”

“He was the kind of guy who could tell you how many portable toilets you needed for 250,000 people in a demonstration,” Podair says. “He was a details guy. King needed him for that march.”

But Rustin could do more than arrange a demonstration. He was also a formidable thinker and debater. He was born to a 15-year-old single mother and never graduated from college.

The movement was led by intellectual heavyweights like King, but even among them, Rustin stood out, Podair says. He read everything and was a visionary. One aide to President Lyndon Johnson described him as one of the five smartest men in America, says Podair, a history professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

“People who heard him speak were transfixed,” Podair says.

Rustin became one of the movement’s most eloquent defenders of its nonviolent philosophy, says Saladin Ambar, a political scientist at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

“He was one of the few individuals not afraid to debate with Malcolm X in public,” Ambar says. “Rustin more than held his own and really challenged Malcolm to push his thinking.”

Rustin was a special assistant to King and once headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. During the planning of the March on Washington, King resisted calls to jettison Rustin because he was gay, Podair says.

King, though, didn’t speak out on behalf of gay rights because he was doing all he could to hold the movement together, historians say.

He had to constantly fend off rumors that the movement was infiltrated by communists. He was also criticized for expanding the movement to take on poverty and oppose the Vietnam War.

“The movement superseded any discussion of gay rights,” Ambar says. “King was dedicated to the cause at hand.”

With all that was going on, King couldn’t afford to wage a public campaign defending Rustin’s homosexuality, says Vivian, a SCLC colleague of King’s.

“Any employee that would employ a gay person at the time who was outwardly gay would have problems,” Vivian says. “I don’t care if you were the president of the Untied Sates, you would have trouble doing that.”

After the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin remained as King’s adviser. The two, however, drifted apart when King became more radical during the last three years of his life, says Adair, Rustin’s biographer.

When Rustin died in 1987, he was starting to receive attention from gay and lesbian activists who linked civil rights with gay rights, Podair says.

Rustin was a late convert to their cause.

“He never put it [homosexuality] front and center,” Podair says. “He never politicized it until the end of his life. He didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.”

It’s no longer unusual today for gay and lesbian activists to draw parallels between their struggles and King’s legacy. Vivian, King’s SCLC colleague, says the comparison is apt.

“There was a time when black people were afraid to be themselves among white people,” he says. “You had to fit a stereotype in order to be accepted. They’re going through the same thing but now they feel better about themselves.”

Vivian says the movement shouldn’t be limited to race.

“As we were freeing up black people, we’re freeing up the whole society.”

Long, author of the upcoming books on King and Rustin, says King’s vision transcended his personal limitations. Maybe he could have said more to that anonymous boy who wrote him at Ebony. But he did leave him a key to the Beloved Community– even if he didn’t realize it at the time, Long says.

Now, Long says, it’s up to those who claim King today to use that key.

“A turn of that key and a gentle push on the gate, swinging it wide open so everyone can enter into the Beloved Community,” he says. “That’s the best way to advance the legacy of Martin Luther King.”

HIV/AIDS becomes more manageable to live with

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Times Republican
They were the headline-grabbing diseases of several years ago that don’t seem to get talked about much these days.

The diseases, HIV and AIDS, have seemingly been put on the back burner, but cases continue to be added in Iowa.

Statewide there are nearly 200 new diagnoses of HIV/AIDS each year and males account for 84 percent of the new diagnoses, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The total number of Iowans reported to be living with HIV/AIDS was 1,828 as of Dec. 31, 2010.

In Marshall County, there were 26 people living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2010, according to a report by the IDPH. That rate equates to 64 per 100,000 people, which is slightly above the state average of 60 per 100,000 people.

Both Tama and Grundy counties have less than four cases. Any number less than that is not revealed to protect the identity of those who have the disease. Hardin County had six reported people living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2010.

Randy Mayer, chief of the Bureau of HIV, STD and Hepatitis with the Iowa Department of Public Health, said the disease has become more manageable medically, which has kept it out of the headlines.

“We know a lot more about it and have treatment to manage it,” Mayer said.

The challenge for health leaders are those cases which do not get tested and go unreported. Mayer could not estimate how many people in Iowa have HIV/AIDS and are not reported in the IDPH numbers.

“That’s something that we really can’t measure,” Mayer said. “The estimates nationally are about 21 percent of people who are positive have not been diagnosed.”

As a result of the disease being more manageable, deaths have decreased through the years statewide as five people died as a result of HIV/AIDS in 2010. The peak year for Iowa deaths of the last 12 years was in 2000, when 28 people died from the disease in the state.

Ghana Finds AIDS Drug?

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Ghana is on the verge of manufacturing anti-retroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS locally. This is because three traditional herbal medicines submitted to Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, are beginning to show results of efficacy for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, a source close to the health sector has told the Times.

The three drugs were among 20 others submitted to the Institute by local plant medicine producers, to determine their efficacy against the AIDS virus.
A clinical test of the products is currently test of the products is currently ongoing to determine their antioxidant and other toxicological properties.

“When successful, it will be Ghana’s response to managing the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” the source said.

The drugs, according to the source, had the potential of reducing the viral loads in HIV-positive patients and could be best used as anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

The National AIDS and STI Prevention and Control Programme (NACP) bulletin of 2011, indicated that an estimated 267,069 people were living with HIV and AIDS in the country, but only about 40,575 people were receiving anti-retroviral therapy.

The source was confident that with the new development, the country stood the chance to make up for the shortfall of anti-retroviral drugs needed to treat HIV/AIDS and better the physical well-being of people living with AIDS.

Explaining issues further, the source said the positive results being shown by the herbal medicines were the results of attention being given to traditional herbal medicine practice by successive government since 1991.

It said presently, the Mampong Centre for Scientific Research into Herbal Medicines had approved 34 of scientifically evaluated herbal medicines, while the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), had also approved about 300 of similar products.

“Though some of the medicines have been approved by the various regulatory bodies, they are still under continuous evaluation to forestall any sub-standard and fake products on the market.”

The source said the Ministry of Health, through the Ghana Health Services had selected 86 of such products to be dispensed in 17 hospitals across the country.

“The measure is aimed at integrating traditional herbal medicine as part of the health service delivery system in the country.”

It said well-performing products, would be patented as a means of safeguarding the intellectual property of the sector.

Meanwhile, the Noguchi memorial Institute for Medical Research, has confirmed in its 30th Anniversary Journal that systematic research on Ghanaian medical plants has indentified six anti-HIV plants’.

Scientist at the Institute have been researching into Ghanaian traditional medicine comprising largely plant medicines.

The Institute which works closely with the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Directorate at the Ministry of Health has also been working constantly with a number of local plant medicine producers to train them on quality measures to improve their products.

Source: Ghanaian Times

Dossier Joseph Bitchoka, médecin!

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Nous avisons les patients du Docteur Jospeh Bitchoka, auparavant opérant une clinique médicale sur la rue Masson à Montréal, de présenter une plainte au Collège des Médecins du Québec s’il décidait de conserver les dossiers médicaux de patients moyennant le paiment de sommes d’argent.

1- Il faut faire une demande d’accès à l’information selon la loi du même nom et exiger d’obtenir une copie de son dossier;
2- Refuser de payer quelque montant que ce soit puisque la demande est sans frais;
3- Si le Dr Bitchoka facture pour ce service ou demande de l’argent, le rapporter au Collège des Médecins du Québec;


L’ex-Président de l’Association Canadienne des Journalistes du Chapitre de Montréal déplore la désinformation et l’unilinguisme de l’ACJ nationale.

Friday, January 6th, 2012

TITRE : L’ex-Président de l’Association Canadienne des Journalistes du Chapitre de Montréal déplore la désinformation et l’unilinguisme de l’ACJ nationale.
(Montréal) Ex-Président du chapitre montréalais de l’Association Canadienne des Journalistes, Roger-Luc Chayer, éditeur du Groupe National, dénonce le refus systématique de la part de l’ACJ nationale de fournir quelque visibilité francophone que ce soit auprès de ses membres.
« J’ai demandé à au moins 10 reprises dans les derniers jours à l’ACJ, via son site Facebook, que les communiqués publiés par l’association soient offerts en français pour le bénéfice des membres francophones et à chaque fois, quand on n’ignore pas mes demandes, on répond que le budget ne permet pas les traductions, ce que je trouve inacceptable en 2012 », déclare l’ex-Président qui a démissionné en 2011 suite au refus de la part du bureau national de donner suite aux nombreux engagements contractés auprès du chapitre de Montréal quant à la bilinguisation des services de l’ACJ et plus d’une dizaine d’autres sujets dont les finances.
Roger-Luc Chayer déclare aussi que malgré les affirmations de l’ACJ publiées sur son site Internet quant au chapitre de Montréal, depuis sa démission, aucun comité exécutif ne s’est réuni à Montréal. « Ce que ne dit pas l’ACJ nationale dans ses communications, c’est que depuis ma démission et celle de la plupart des autres membres de l’Exécutif montréalais, aucun Comité exécutif ne s’est réuni à Montréal et l’ACJ fait comme s’il en existait toujours un, ce qui, combiné aux autres irrégularités constatées lors de ma présence au CE, ressemble à de la désinformation probablement dans le but de chercher une crédibilité. J’attends toujours d’ailleurs les réponses aux questions importantes soulevées par notre exécutif et comme membre personnel à savoir quel est le véritable membership au Québec et au Canada puisque selon mes observations, nous sommes très loin du nombre déclaré par l’ACJ, celle ci refusant de nous donner une réponse et aussi quant à des états financiers vérifiés que le Président national déclare ne pas retrouver dans son ordinateur… », conclut Roger-Luc Chayer qui est toujours membre en règle de l’ACJ.
Renseignements :
Roger-Luc Chayer, 514-728-6436 [email protected]

Sida : les soins funéraires interdits aux séropositifs

Friday, January 6th, 2012

C’est une vieillerie, une simple case cochée dans le certificat de décès : la mention « atteint du VIH » peut pourtant entraîner une épreuve douloureuse pour les familles. Depuis 1998, les soins funéraires ne peuvent pas être accordés pour des défunts atteints du virus du sida, d’hépatites B et C, de la maladie de Creutzfeld-Jakob ou de tout « état septique grave », lorsqu’il en est fait mention dans l’acte de décès.

« Même morts, nous restons des parias », gronde Jean-Luc Romero, président des Élus locaux contre le sida et membre du Conseil national du sida, qui alerte sur « l’épuisement des associations et des familles » privées de rite funéraire ou du droit de voir le corps. Pour Fred Navarro, président d’Act Up Paris, présent vendredi 6 janvier à la table d’une conférence de presse interassociative sur le sujet, cette interdiction évoque même un souvenir indélébile, après le décès de son conjoint en 2010 : « Son corps avait passé 13 jours dans les frigos de l’institut légal [sans soins de conservation], lorsque nous l’avons vu pour la dernière fois. C’est une image insupportable dont je n’arrive pas à me défaire ».
Pas « contagieux »

Pour les 46 syndicats et associations mobilisés, cette « discrimination légale » n’a « aucun fondement scientifique. » Le VIH est certes « transmissible », comme une multitude de germes contre lesquels les thanatopracteurs (qui pratiquent les soins de conservation des corps) prennent déjà des mesures de protection. Mais il n’est pas « contagieux », comme l’affirmait en 2009 le Haut conseil de la santé publique (HCSP), au grand dam des militants.

Reçu une première fois au ministère de la Santé en 2010, sans succès, le collectif a relancé la mobilisation en septembre 2011 en publiant une « lettre ouvert » restée sans réponse. L’affaire est finalement sortie de l’ombre grâce aux méthodes musclées des militants d’Act Up, qui ont saturé les standards du ministère de la Santé le 23 décembre. Les questions d’une journaliste de l’AFP qui travaillait sur le sujet auront fait le reste, forçant le ministère, en urgence, à inviter les associations à une discussion à la direction générale de la santé mardi 10 janvier.
« Rétrograde »

L’interdiction de pratiquer des soins funéraires aux défunts atteints du VIH date de 1998, en pleines « années sida », lorsque la peur jouait à plein. « Au début des années 1990, dans mon service, il y avait trois décès par semaine, se souvient Alain Sobel, immunologue et président de la Coordination régionale de lutte contre l’infection à VIH (Corevih) d’Ile-de-France sud. Et la morgue de l’hôpital pratiquait des soins sur les corps, avec un peu de dialogue cela se passait très bien. L’interdiction est une mesure rétrograde, d’autant plus qu’aujourd’hui les gens meurent souvent d’autre chose et que les personnes atteintes n’ont même plus de VIH circulant. »

Représentant la profession, encore peu mobilisée sur la question, Mr Simon, secrétaire générale de la Fédération des pompes funèbres, a appelé à une révision de la liste des maladies « contagieuses », qui entraînent l’absence de soins funéraires. « C’est le bon moment » juge-t-il même, rappelant que le ministère travaille à une modification des certificats de décès, dans le cadre du Conseil national des opérations funèbres qui établit les règles de la profession. « Nous pouvons être favorables aux soins à partir du moment où nos thanatopracteurs sont rassurés sur les risques de transmission. »

Prévention du VIH/sida : un traitement antirétroviral testé

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Un traitement antirétroviral pris de manière intermittente peut-il réduire le risque des gais d’être infectés par le VIH?

C’est à cette question que tente de répondre la phase pilote de l’essai IPERGAY, qui a commencé dans trois hôpitaux français et qui sera ensuite menée au CHUM (Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal).

L’essai sera réalisé sur 1900 volontaires et évaluera si ce traitement, associé à une stratégie renforcée de prévention, peut réduire le risque d’infection des hommes gais.

D’autres études ont montré l’intérêt de l’utilisation des antirétroviraux en matière de stratégie de prévention de l’infection par le VIH.

Les médecins observent une augmentation des comportements à risque dans la plupart des pays du Nord chez les homosexuels depuis les dernières années.

Les participants ne prendront pas le traitement antirétroviral en permanence.
« Cette stratégie devrait permettre d’éviter les contraintes d’une prise permanente d’antirétroviraux, de favoriser ainsi une bonne observance de la prise du médicament et également de permettre de limiter leurs effets indésirables potentiels ainsi que le coût du traitement. » — Jean-Michel Molina, Université Paris 7 Diderot

L’étude comporte deux groupes : un premier recevra un traitement antirétroviral, et le deuxième un placebo. Ni le médecin ni le volontaire ne sauront s’ils prennent un traitement actif afin de ne pas les inciter à prendre des risques.

Le Fonds mondial contre le sida défend Carla Bruni

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le sida conteste le contenu d’un article de l’hebdomadaire Marianne affirmant que l’épouse du président a fait verser à l’un de ses proches une aide de 3,5 millions de dollars.

Avant même la parution de l’article complet, l’affaire a fait grand bruit vendredi sur Internet. L’hebdomadaire Marianne, à paraître samedi, accuse Carla Bruni-Sarkozy d’avoir usé de son influence pour faire verser de l’argent du Fonds mondial de lutte contre le sida – dont elle est ambassadrice bénévole – à plusieurs sociétés d’un de ses amis. Selon l’hebdomadaire, 3,5 millions de dollars auraient ainsi bénéficié «en marge de la légalité et sans appel d’offres» aux sociétés du musicien et chef d’entreprise Julien Civange, qui disposerait d’un bureau à l’Elysée et serait le principal conseiller de la première dame pour sa fondation.

Dans la soirée, le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le sida (FMS) a publié un démenti. Il indique qu’une aide de 2,8 millions de dollars – «soit nettement moins que le chiffre avancé par Marianne» – a bien été versée en France pour une campagne de sensibilisation à la transmission du VIH de la mère à l’enfant. L’épouse du chef de l’État a bien participé à cette campagne mais l’institution basée à Genève assure que l’ensemble de ses déplacements, ainsi que les contrats et le soutien apporté à une page du site de sa fondation «ont respecté les règles et les procédures très strictes du Fonds mondial». Interrogé par Reuters, l’Élysée a renvoyé au communiqué du Fonds mondial.
«Allégations dénuées de tout fondement»

Selon Marianne, cette affaire aurait été révélée fin novembre 2011 au conseil d’administration du Fonds mondial à Accra, au Ghana. L’hebdomadaire affirme qu’elle aurait coûté au professeur français Patrice Debré son poste d’ambassadeur chargé de la lutte contre le VIH. Au Quai d’Orsay, on dément un limogeage: le spécialiste a bien été «appelé à d’autres fonctions» mais «son action n’est pas en cause et il va être lui proposé une autre mission liée à ses compétences médicales et scientifiques», indique une source diplomatique. «Patrice Debré a été remplacé parce que nous avions besoin d’un autre type de représentant au conseil administration du FMS», explique cette même source. En clair, au moment où le Fonds mondial connaît des problèmes de management et de gestion, le profil strictement scientifique du professeur Debré n’était plus adapté. «Jamais», affirme-t-on au Quai d’Orsay, «le conseil d’administration du FMS n’a été saisi de la moindre plainte concernant des liens entre le Fonds mondial et Julien Civange».

L’affaire aurait pourtant, selon Marianne, également coûté sa place au directeur général du Fonds mondial, Michel Kazatchkine, qui «vient d’être officiellement écarté, à la demande d’Hillary Clinton même si sa démission réelle ne devrait intervenir que les 21 et 22 mai 2012 – soit après le deuxième tour des présidentielles». Interrogé par l’auteur de l’article, Michel Kazatchkine – qui conteste également le montant de 3,5 millions versé aux agences de Julien Civange – affirme que s’il n’a pas prévenu de ces transactions le conseil d’administration du Fonds mondial des flux financiers vers Paris, il a en néanmoins tenu informé le «comité financier». Il ajoute que Carla Bruni lui aurait «personnellement dit qu’elle avait totalement confiance en Julien Civange auquel elle avait délégué le dossier du sida». Quoi qu’il en soit, cette situation fragilise le directeur général du FMS, dont le départ est évoqué.

Vendredi soir, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a réfuté sur son site internet certaines des accusations développées dans l’enquête de l’hebdomadaire, portant sur le financement de sa fondation. «Aucun argent public n’a jamais été reçu par la Fondation», écrit l’épouse du président sous le titre «droit de réponse de Carla Bruni-Sarkozy». Elle n’évoque pas en revanche les éléments avancés par Marianne sur le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le sida.

Dumb, Dangerous, and Hateful: Bryan Fischer Denies That HIV Causes AIDS

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Decades ago, the causes of HIV and AIDS were a mystery–and one that, because the disease was thought to only kill gay men and drug users, many researchers, politicians, and members of the public didn’t feel like solving. Public perception and research have come a long way since then, but some individuals, like Christian extremist Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association (AFA), are still set on preaching a dangerous, hateful message: that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, that it’s a scam, and that it’s not something that straight people need to worry about. Do not listen to these false prophets.

Speaking on his radio show, Focal Point, this week, Fischer claimed that HIV was created as a way to get money for research of AIDS, which gay people get, he says, from drug use. From the show:

The reason that HIV was invented as the cause of AIDS is it was a way to get research money…If AIDS is caused by behavior, then there’s no money in that because you just tell people, ‘Hey, stop doing the behavior.’ that’s why they have to find some bug that they can blame it on. ‘We gotta kill this thing, we need billions of dollars of research…’ so we’re chasing after something…that even if we got it, it wouldn’t do a single, solitary thing.

The AFA may have an innocent-sounding name, but the group’s dispersal of extreme (and extremely unfounded) anti-gay information has led some policy centers to classify them as a hate group, citing that their potentially influential message (that AIDS something that only gay people get, that HIV is made up to drum up research dollars, that both HIV and AIDS aren’t transmitted sexually) could potentially lead to the deaths of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.

Fischer was joined on the show by a known AIDS-denier (who holds a PhD), Dr. Peter Duesberg, who has been widely condemned in the medical community for distributing dissenting information about AIDS. At one point, Duesberg spent time in South Africa, a country torn apart by the disease–and by misinformation about who can get the disease and how. Its then-President was also an AIDS denier, and the two of them have been cited as possibly being responsible for the death of as many as 330,000 individuals, and the infection of thousands more, including infants. And yet, because he holds a doctorate, his damaging message continues to be listened to.

Duesberg’s conclusion in the interview? That “about half” of the people who have AIDS are intravenous drug users (which isn’t true), while the other half are promiscuous gay men (not, he clarifies, your “all-American homosexual next door”) who have “hundreds [or] thousands of partners” and who take “tons of drugs.” And while homosexual men are still one of the biggest risk groups for full-blown AIDS, the perception that all gay men living with AIDS are “promiscuous” is just ignorant and hurtful. Additionally, both of these men might be surprised to find themselves in the company of the highest-rising risk group: heterosexual baby boomers. In 2011, older straight people were the fastest-growing HIV-positive demographic.

That individuals in the United States who hear this message may believe it, and as a result, stop taking simple measures to protect themselves (in many cases, a condom is truly all it takes) is just the beginning of what is so concerning. There are also much more deep-seating notions of intolerance and hate. This line of thinking is a one-two punch of harmful pseudo-science and extreme bigotry. It is rooted in anti-gay sentiments that the LGBT and ally community have been battling against for decades, but is backed by roundly-criticized “medical” science–which makes it doubly dangerous. And it has widespread consequences–many in Africa are still clinging to the beliefs espoused by Duesberg, and, as a result, continue to spread the disease.

It’s time to stop conflating medicine with morals in this way, and end the politicizing of diseases like AIDS. Maliciously condemning the victims of a disease that impacts everyone and spreading hateful information that could potentially lead to the deaths of thousands gets us nowhere.

AIDS group rejects allegations against France’s Bruni

Friday, January 6th, 2012

The Geneva-based Global Fund, a multi-billion-dollar fund set up 10 years ago to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, said Friday that a media report of alleged financial misconduct implicating French first lady Carla Bruni, an ambassador of the fund, was “inexact and misleading.”

The statement was issued after French weekly magazine Marianne published an article saying the Global Fund had awarded $3.5 million to companies controlled by a friend of Bruni, the wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy, at her request. The funds were issued without a public tender, the magazine said.

“The article makes several allegations that are groundless regarding a campaign that the Fund launched in 2010 with the backing of Mme Bruni-Sarkozy,” said the statement.

Bruni, a singer and former supermodel who married Sarkozy in early 2008, was appointed “first ambassador” in the same year of the Global Fund.

The fund was set up in 2002 and says it has saved 7.7 million lives with funding for AIDS treatment and programs worldwide to fight malaria and tuberculosis.

Sarkozy’s office said it had no comment to add to the statement.

Gay Men’s Body Image: Near 50 Percent Would Sacrifice 1 Year Of Their Lives For The Perfect Body, Survey Finds

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Exactly how far would you go for cast-iron pecs or the perfect six-pack?

Indeed, gay men have been stereotypically cast as gym bunnies by popular culture for some time, but a new British poll has now revealed a slightly more disturbing fact about that population’s fractured relationship with body image. A study commissioned by the Central YMCA, the Succeed Foundation and the University of the West of England’s (UWE) Centre for Appearance Research in Bristol found that 48 percent of gay male respondents would sacrifice a year or more of their lives in exchange for a perfect body. Perhaps even more onerous: researchers also found that 10 percent of those men would agree to die more than 11 years earlier if they could have their ideal body right now, according to Pink News.

Not surprisingly, authorities attributed the results to popular depictions of gay men in media. “Today gay men are under enormous pressure about their bodies, and we believe that a lack of body diversity in the media, including the gay press, and a relentless focus which values people based on appearance, may in part explain why gay men are particularly susceptible to this issue,” Rosi Prescott, CEO of Central YMCA, told Pink News. “This is of concern when we know that record numbers of men are taking steroids or having unnecessary cosmetic surgery to achieve what is often an unattainable or unrealistic body image ideal.”

A total of 384 men, a quarter of which identified as gay, were reportedly surveyed as part of the poll, with an average age of 40, according to the BBC. But overall, researchers say the increase in body hang-ups surged among both gay and straight men. As The Telegraph notes, the survey found a staggering 80 percent of men regularly discuss body shapes, often comparing them to those of top celebrities and fashion models — and 59 percent of them admitted that doing so makes them feel worse about themselves.

Among the most popular phrases by men discussing how other men look: “beer belly,” “man boobs” (or “moobs”), and “chubby,” along with “six-pack” and “ripped.”

“Girls want to be slim and males want to be big and lean, and while it isn’t a bad thing for people to want to look better, it has become more like a competition, which has a bad effect on most people’s mental health,” one respondent told The Guardian.

“Body talk is saying things which reinforce the traditional standard of male attractiveness, which is having a tall, lean, muscular body with clear skin and a full head of hair, and is for most people unattainable,” Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs of UWE also told The Guardian. “This research really demonstrates that body image is an issue for everyone, although in men, especially middle-aged men, it has been woefully under-reported, but has a negative impact on social relationships and on attitudes to diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.”

Artist displaying gay works seeks police help

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Balbir Krishan, an artist holding an exhibition on the theme of homosexuality, is watchful as people pour into the Triveni Art Gallery to see his paintings. After he was assaulted by an unidentified youth at the Lalit Kala Akademi on Thursday, Krishan — a double amputee — is a pack of
nerves. He has sought police protection till January 11, when his exhibition ends.

“I had packed my paintings yesterday and was ready to leave, but I got support from artists here and they convinced me to stay back,” he said. Police had not filed an FIR against the assailant till Thursday night. An FIR was finally lodged on Friday morning.

Rankings of gay-friendly colleges are all the rage — but are these lists accurate?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Washington post
In the college admissions industry, LGBT students have become a target audience. These students (along with straight students who have gay parents) are looking for colleges where they will feel safe, welcomed and included — and many schools would like to sell themselves as just the place.

With that comes an ever-growing number of rankings of the most (and least) gay-friendly schools. In recent years, designations of “the most” have gone to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (via Newsweek and The Daily Beast), American University (College Magazine) and New York University (Princeton Review).
Participants at a 2010 National Coming Out Day rally in Key West, Fla. (AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Rob O’Neal)

I think we can all agree that it’s good to recognize colleges that work to ensure that all students feel respected. But ranking schools based on which ones are making more of an effort than others gets complicated. And unlike rankings of party schools or “douchiest” students, LGBT-related rankings are ones that gay students are likely using as a college search tool.

“For a LGBT student, picking a college is a matter of safety. It’s a
matter of inclusion,” said Shane L. Windmeyer of Campus Pride, a
nonprofit that evaluates campus climate for LGBT students but does
not rank schools. “It’s not about getting laid or going to parties. So
I hate it when LGBT gets lumped into the party schools.”

He adds that evaluating LGBT-friendliness requires deep research into how campuses operate: “Just because you have a gay club doesn’t make your campus gay-friendly.”

Campus Pride helps schools assess their LGBT-friendliness through a confidential questionnaire about policies, programs and practices. There are eight areas examined:policies, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts. Schools are then scored on their campus climate — information that they can share on the Campus Climate Index Web site or choose to keep private.

“The purpose of this overall score is for campuses to measure their progress and learn key areas to improve their campus climate for the future,” the Campus Pride Web site explains. “The score also allows for benchmarking among campuses as well as a better understanding on how a campus can become more LGBT-friendly.”

Campus climate is rated with a star system — the highest score of five stars is for schools with “a continuum of progress for inclusive LGBT and Ally policies, programs, and practices.” More than 30 schools have earned a five-star rating, including MIT and American. NYU received four stars.

The index shouldn’t be the only tool students use when looking for a college, Windmeyer said, and a one- or two-star rating could be a good one for schools located in less progressive areas. He said that students should look for schools that have academic programs that catch their attention and then use the index to learn more about them.

So, what about the other LGBT-related rankings out there? How are they decided? Here’s an overview of two recent lists:

The Daily Beast and Newsweek: In its first round of ranking gay-friendly schools in 2010, the news outlet used an Advocate article about Windmeyer’s book, “The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students,” a list of gay-friendly colleges that was compiled by a marketing company that targets college students and “several broad measures of academic achievement,”such as SAT and ACT scores and selectivity.

In 2011, Daily Beast and Newsweek changed its methodology and now uses the Campus Climate Index (Windmeyer said he was never contacted) and anonymous reviews from the Web site College Prowler for “how students rate the diversity and degree of acceptance for each campus.”

A spokesman for Newsweek and the Daily Beast said in an e-mail: “All of our rankings incorporate a wide range of data sources, and our methodology is transparent.”

The Princeton Review: Since the early 1990s, the Princeton Review has compiled dozens of campus life rankings based on surveys of tens of thousands of college students. Today those surveys are conducted online, and participates must have a school e-mail address.

LGBT-friendliness has long been one of those rankings. The survey question to determine that has changed over the years, but last year more than 120,000 students were asked: “Do students, faculty, and administrators at your college treat all persons equally regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identify/expression?”

The problem with this, Windmeyer said, is that a majority of the self-selecting people filling out these surveys are likely straight and might not fully understand the experiences of gay students.

Robert Franek, a publisher at the Princeton Review, disagrees: “ We talk to whom we consider college experts: current college students.”

Rick Santorum compares gay marriage to polygamy. Will that help him with GOP?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Rick Santorum was booed yesterday after he compared gay marriage to polygamy, in case you haven’t heard.
Recent posts

Rick Santorum compares gay marriage to polygamy. Will that help him with GOP?
Newt Gingrich biggest geek in GOP primary race, says Scientific American
Iowa caucus results: Where does Ron Paul go from here? (+Video)
Why did Michele Bachmann’s campaign crater?
Does Ron Paul want to be president, or a prophet?

Related stories

Election 101: Where the GOP candidates stand on immigration, abortion and other social issues
Rick Santorum gains in N.H., but Mitt Romney still leads, says new poll
Romney, Santorum bash Obama recess appointment. Why that could backfire.
Rick Santorum: Will Iowa ‘rocket boost’ propel him in New Hampshire?


Political Parties
U.S. Conservative Politics
U.S. Republican Party Politics
2012 Election
U.S. Presidential Election
LGBT Issues
Social Issues

In a meeting with college Republicans in Concord, N.H., he got into a long back-and-forth with the crowd on this contentious social issue. At one point he said, “Are we saying everyone should have the right to marry? So anyone can marry anyone else? So anybody can marry several people?”

Some attendees didn’t take this too well, and let Santorum know it. When he left he received some cheers, but they were drowned out by lingering boos.

Is Santorum’s stance on gay marriage an impediment to his winning the nomination? He is adamantly in favor of defining “marriage” as something between a man and a woman, after all.

Election 101: Where the GOP candidates stand on immigration, abortion and other social issues

Well, in terms of his appeal to GOP voters, this position is probably a big plus. Republicans as a whole remain highly opposed to allowing such consecrated unions between members of the same sex. According to a Gallup poll from last May, only 28 percent of Republicans are in favor of gay marriage. That’s a number that hasn’t budged in years.

On this subject “Republicans in particular seem fixed in their opinions”, wrote Gallup’s chief editor, Frank Newport, at the time.

It’s a different story when you look at the whole electorate, though. If Santorum does win the GOP nod this is an issue that could hurt him in the fall.

Attitudes toward gay marriage among the electorate as a whole have shown a big step toward the “pro” side in recent years. Two years ago, only 40 percent of respondents to a Gallup survey were in favor of same-sex marriage. Last May, 53 percent said they would approve. It was the first time a poll showed a majority of the US population taking that position.

Among independents, the slice of the electorate crucial to victory in November, approval was even higher, at 59 percent. Nor is Gallup alone; a recent survey from the Pew Center showed similar results, with a plurality of 46 percent approving of gay marriage.

The issue remains volatile, and the approval rating here is fairly narrow. That can be seen by President Obama’s own awkward attempts to strike some balance on this subject. But the fact is that Democrats could easily paint Santorum as out of step with the US on this. And they will try to do that, if he wins.