The Church of England is set to allow the appointment of gay bishops, even if they are in a civil partnership, provided they have not been sexually active whilst in the priesthood. The guidance will outline that sexual orientation must not be taken into account when considering whether a person is suitable to be a bishop (see the document here). Last year, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Williams twice refused to allow a homosexual to become a bishop; the guidance aims to prevent such discriminatory action. However, General Synod member Christina Rees warns that the guidance is ‘too open’: for example it says that a selection committee could veto a gay candidate if ‘the appointment of the candidate would cause division and disunity within the diocese in question’, which it could easily argue is the case.
Dan Savage has been awarded a ‘Special Achievement’ Webby Award for his work on the ‘It Gets Better Project’ which provides support for the LGBT community who are victims of bullying. The project was founded by Dan Savage in 2010 after the suicide of Billy Lucas. Originating on the YouTube channel, the project depicts ordinary people and various celebrities sharing their experience and providing support to LGBT youth who face bullying and harassment. The Albert Kennedy Trust is also aiming to raise awareness of difficulties the LGBT community face through the launch of a new television advert, although with a very different tone.
The blog of a Syrian lesbian has been exposed as a hoax. The posts, supposedly by “Amina Arraf” were actually authored by Tom MacMaster, a 40 year-old man studying at Edinburgh University. The executive editor of the site – LezGetReal.com – has also been exposed as a 58 year-old man from Ohio named Bill Graber. Although the hoax has been widely denounced, it has been argued that, at the very least, the blog has managed to highlight the difficulties homosexual people in Syria currently face.
On the 14th June a protest was held by members of the gay community outside a Church of Ireland in Belfast as it held talks by a guest speaker who claimed to provide “reparative therapy” for homosexuals. About 50 activists turned up to protest against the event, held by Core Issues Trust Group, which included talks such as how parents can ensure that their children “avoid homosexuality”.
The 11th June saw the latest ‘Slutwalk’ held in London. Slutwalk began as a response to a statement made by a police officer to a group of law students in Toronto earlier this year; “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized” in an attempt to outline that a woman should not be held responsible for sexual abuse inflicted on her, regardless of what she is wearing. However, the Walks have divided feminists, with many questioning whether this is the best method to get their voices heard and whether they are preaching to the wrong crowd.
A recent article in the Guardian, published on the 16th June, highlights shocking statistics on the scale and effects of violence and sexual harassment on female students. The article outlines the findings from the Hidden Marks research report, a nationwide survey conducted by the NUS to research the experience of female students concerning both sexual and physical violence. It outlines that one in seven female students has been a victim of serious physical or sexual assault whilst at university. With the help of the Hidden Marks Scheme, we should aim to ensure that violence is not a typical part of the university experience for women and look to making life as a female student safer.
A recent article by Julia Becker and Janet Swim, published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly identifies further evidence for ‘Benevolent Sexism’ – a syndrome that promotes sexist attitudes in a pseudo-friendly way. The article outlines that sexist beliefs are endorsed more subtly than one would assume, for example through using the term “girls” to describe women, but not “boys” to describe men. However, commentators argue that feminists should continue to focus on the more pressing issues women face, whereas others question whether such practice is sexism at all, or merely manners.
More from afar…
The US Supreme Court has dismissed the biggest sex discrimination case in history. The case against Walmart, which has been going on for over 10 years and would have affected more than 1 million women, has been rejected due to a number of technicalities. This appears to be a major blow for working women in the USA, as it would have set the precedent for future law suits against large companies who may be seen to discriminate in similar ways. Instead women must bring their cases individually, indicating that the court will not facilitate the dramatic change for large-scale discrimination cases in the workplace that was the aim of the claimants.
And on a lighter note…
In other news, Leena Gade has become the first ever female engineer to win Le Mans, becoming a role model and inspiration for aspiring women engineers worldwide. When asked on sexism within the industry, she said her only experience was when applying for a job with the Formula 3 team “and I was told ‘mechanicing isn’t for girls’. I just thought: I’m going to prove you wrong.”