Thursday, May 1, 2008

Toronto's Inside Out fest, Lesbos fight Lesbians and Aussies take baby steps toward equality

Toronto's Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film & Video Festival opens its box office to the general public tomorrow. The festival, now in its 18th year, takes place from May 15 to the 25th. Glancing at this year's schedule, there seem to be a few interesting features worth checking out.

Meanwhile, a friend sent me a link to this amusing news story today. It seems some residents of the island of Lesbos are resentful over the use of the term "lesbians" to denote women who like other women.

Lesbos, of course, is home of the ancient poet Sappho, who praised love between women. Now a group of Lesbos residents have taken a local gay rights group to court for using the word lesbian in its name. One of the plaintiffs said yesterday that the name of the association, 'Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece', "insults the identity" of the people of Lesbos, who are also known as Lesbians.

"My sister can't say she is a Lesbian," said Dimitris Lambrou. "Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos," he said.

I'll watch to see how this amusing court action plays out, but surely they're fighting a losing battle?

And finally, the new Labour government in Australia under Kevin Rudd is taking action to weed out some discrimination against gay couples left on the books by Stephen Harper's conservative buddy, former P.M. John Howard. Still, Rudd's changes fall short of giving Aussie queers full equality under the country's marriage laws. That's a pity.

I haven't seen any Australian polling on the subject of gay marriage, but I imagine opinions are similar to those in the U.S. Like America, it seems that Australia is about 10 or so years behind countries like Canada when it comes to equality. Still, incremental progress is incremental progress. We queers in Canada didn't move from second-class citizenship to full and equal marriage rights in one swoop - we had gradual change too.

I predict we'll see gay marriage in Australia within five to ten years.


Johnathon said...

Matt, poll after polls during the late 90's and early 2000 shows that the majority of Canadians were against gay marriage.

It just so happened that the liberal dominated supreme court of Canada decided to say the marrigae law was "unconstitutional".

Jean Chretien passed amotion in 1999 saying he was against gay marriage and many Liberals still believe that.

So when you say the USA and Australia is 10 years behind Canada, you should remember that judges decided the marriage issue, not the Canadian public or the Liberals.

Don't confuse the issue.

Matt Guerin said...

Sorry, Johnathon, but you have your history wrong.

You wrote: "It just so happened that the liberal dominated supreme court of Canada decided to say the marrigae law as "unconstitutional".

Actually the Supreme Court of Canada never ruled on the whether the old def'n of marriage was constitutional. They declined to answer that question in the 2003/2004 reference.

It was a 2003 court ruling in Ontario that paved, rightly so, the way toward equality, and it was the Chretien cabinet that rightly decided not to appeal it (or other similar rulings in other provinces) because they came to understand that banning same sex couples from marrying was contrary to the equality provisions in the charter.

Now the majority of Canadians support equal marriage, and see that all the doomsday predictions about it were indeed wrong. The only people primarily effected by SSM are gay people themselves - and positively, if you ask me.

Some of the most important human rights/constitutional victories have been due to court rulings because politicians rarely lead on these kinds of issues.

Johnathon said...

OOOPS! YOur right about one thing and wrong about all the others.

The polls 5 years ago were almost 70 percent against gay marriage.

They don't them anymore so I dont' understand what polls you're tlaking about.

It was the Ontario court that made the ruling, however Chretien gave in to the homosexual lobby.

How can someone be deadset against an issue and then 4 years later do a complete flip-flop on a moral issue.

I personally don't care about gay marriage, but I really care about homosexuals raising kids.

I can't imagine growing up without a natural mother-father setup, but hey , that's just me and many others.

I still respect everyone regardless of their homosexuality but you try to portry yourself as a victim when that's not the case.

Canada is only one of I think 3 countries that allow homosexual marriage.

You're pretty lucky Matt, you could have lived in Iran and been hanged for your moral sins.

Life is good here in Canada for you and it would have been irregardless of that Ontario court making that ruling.

sharonapple88 said...

As for whether same-sex marriage had support before it was enacted--check out this Environics poll

"Regarding same-sex marriage, a majority of Canadians are in favour: 58% according to the last Environics poll on the issue in October 2004. According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll, the comparable number in the United States in November 2004 was 35%."

Same-sex marriage was enacted in July 20, 2005. Get it. There was a slight majority supporting the act.

As for people changing their moral views... this had nothing to do with morality as much as it had to do with prejudice. Thankfully, it shows that things can change--and faster than we could expect.

Queers United said...

The lesbos argument is so ridiculous, you can't copyright a word.