Friday, April 04, 2008

Homosexuals as a favoured class in Britain

And too bad about privacy

Theatreland will have to give up its bedroom secrets in the quest for funding, under new Arts Council requirements. Organisations applying for grants are being asked to state how many board members are bisexual, homosexual, heterosexual, lesbian or whose inclinations are "not known". Audrey Roy, the director of grants, said that the council needed to understand who its audience was and to whom its funding was going. "We see diversity as broader than race, ethnicity, faith and disability," she said. Question 22 of the Grants for the Arts forms, relating to sexual orientation, was not compulsory, she added, although the form states that it must be answered.

The question caused anger and bemusement among leading figures of the arts world yesterday. The Oscar-nominated actor Sir Ian McKellen, who is openly gay, said: "It sounds extraordinary. It shouldn't be on a form. It's quite inappropriate." Vanessa Redgrave, the actress and human rights campaigner, said: "Everyone should put down `trisexual', whoever you are. Britain has become the world's leading population of trisexuals."

Michael Frayn, the author of the farce Noises Off, suggested boxes to "specify how many members are longsighted or shortsighted, how many wear black socks or brown socks". Christopher Hampton, whose adaptation of God of Carnage is showing in the West End, said: "It's bureaucracy and political correctness gone mad."

The application form notes that the question is for government purposes only and will not enter into the grant decision, but that claim was contradicted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Its spokesman said: "We appreciate that, as a responsible public body they need to monitor their overall grant-making programmes. But it is absolutely not the case that sexual orientation monitoring is a government requirement."

Condemnation of the question spanned the arts. Julian Spalding, the former director of galleries and museums in Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow, said: "I can't see what relevance it's got. It's a horrible invasion into one's personal and private life." He added: "What they like to do in bed is not the Arts Council's business."

Maggi Hambling, the painter who describes herself as "queer", said: "It's insidious, insulting and quite outrageous for the Arts Council to consider anyone's sexual orientation of any kind to be their business. It appears to be somewhat Hitlerian in its suggestion that grants will be given if, among the applicants, there is a nice smattering of dykes and queers."

Nicolas Kent, the artistic director of the Tricycle Theatre in London, said: "This is ridiculous. It has no relevance. The Arts Council is prone to huge overregulation, as seems to be the case with the whole of society. But the Arts Council has caught it very badly. They should advance the arts instead of ticking every box they invent."

Referring to the recent protest over the council's decision to cut the grants to prominent companies, Simon Callow, the gay actor, said: "The Arts Council comedy continues. What is difficult is to divine to what conceivable use they could put this information. I love the presence of a category for the Not Known - a despicable heresy, surely, in 2008?"

Almost a year ago James Purnell, then the Culture Secretary, vowed to relieve arts organisations of the burden of meeting "crude targets" as a condition of funding. Yet the Arts Council's application form also asks about ethnic backgrounds. The council said that the answers were confidential and exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act. It said that it does not issue guidelines on how to persuade board members to reveal details of their sex lives.


British health boss accuses Muslim doctors of betraying women's trust

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt faced fierce criticism after claiming that Muslim GPs are revealing the intimate secrets of women patients. She said she had been told by Muslim women that GPs passed information to members of their family. "I have had Muslim women give me chapter and verse on very distressing breaches of confidentiality by Muslim GPs," Miss Hewitt told the GP magazine Pulse. "Some women patients feel they cannot trust their own GP, who knows the patient's extended families. If they talk to their GP about a very difficult situation concerning domestic violence or sexual health problems they fear he will share that with other members of her community." She said some women in "close-knit" communities were missing out on care because they were too afraid to go to their GP.

But Dr Prakash Chandra, local medical committee chairman in the London borough of Newham, which has many Muslim residents, said: "It surprises me that Patricia Hewitt would make such a statement. It's highly irresponsible. This is not a problem I have come across."

Surrey GP Dr Khalid Wyne, chairman of the Muslim Health Network, said he did not believe Muslim GPs were more likely to breach confidentiality than non-Muslims. He said: "If these breaches have happened it is very serious and should be taken up by the General Medical Council. It should be reported whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, black or white."

Dr Reesat Drabu, chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain's social and family affairs committee, said there were no figures to back Miss Hewitt's claims. She said: "As a Muslim doctor I find it very offensive."

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "These are very serious accusations. Patricia Hewitt must know that if she has evidence of such breaches of confidentiality she should refer them to the GMC. "In any case, I do question whether it is at all helpful to make such generalised statements. Muslim doctors make a very significant contribution to our NHS and their competence and professional standards should be acknowledged."

But there was support for Miss Hewitt from the Muslim Women's Network on Health, which produced a report in December claiming some women were afraid to consult their GP because of concern over confidentiality. Spokesman Haleh Afshar said: "In our report we said this is a concern shared by all women, but the difficulty for Muslim women is that sometimes they don't have the option of going to a GP outside their community. "Patricia Hewitt has taken this on board. We are asking for the possibility of interpreters to enable these women to move beyond their community."

The GMC said 11 doctors had been referred to a disciplinary committee in the past year over allegations of disclosure of information. It said it could not provide information on their religion.


BBC is too scared of Islam, says novelist Ben Elton

Ben Elton has accused the BBC of unjust political correctness by allowing jokes about vicars but vetoing gags about imams. Elton, whose children attend a church school, said that the BBC was too "scared" of Islam and of jokes about Islam to let them pass.

Asked about the new law on religious hatred, and whether too much deference was being shown to religious people, he said: "I think it all starts with people nodding whenever anyone says, `As a person of faith . . .' "And I believe that part of it is due to the genuine fear that the authorities and the community have about provoking the radical elements of Islam. "There's no doubt about it, the BBC will let vicar gags pass but they would not let imam gags pass." He said the BBC might pretend that this hesitancy had something to do with moral sensibilities. "But it isn't. It's because they're scared."

Elton said the situation was so bad that even everyday sayings were frowned upon: "I wanted to use the phrase `Mohammed came to the mountain' and everybody said, `Oh, just don't! Just don't! Don't go there!' "It was nothing to do with Islam, I was merely referring to the old proverb, `If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain'. And people said, `Let's just not!' It's incredible."

The writer, whose latest novel, Blind Faith, addresses the cult of the individual in postmodern society, continued: "I'm quite certain that the average Muslim does not want everybody going around thinking, `We can't mention you. We've just got to pretend you don't exist because we're scared that somebody who claims to represent you will threaten to kill us.'" The comedian, who was interviewed by Third Way, a Christian culture magazine, admitted believing in "almost nothing", even though his children attend a church school.

He said people should be taught the essentials of Christianity, if only for cultural reasons. But he also said that "lack of faith" should be taught in schools. "I think the concept that faith in itself is a good thing should be questioned from day one. There's a presumption that if you're a religious leader you are in some way already halfway up to the moral high ground and your opinion has more relevance than anyone else's."


Muslims' fury forces schools to shelve homophilic storybooks for 5-year-olds

Christians have been complaining about this stuff for years but they don't count, of course

Two primary schools have withdrawn storybooks about same-sex relationships after objections from Muslim parents. Up to 90 gathered at the schools to complain about the books which are aimed at pupils as young as five. One story, titled King & King, is a fairytale about a prince who turns down three princesses before marrying one of their brothers. Another named And Tango Makes Three features two male penguins who fall in love at a New York zoo.

Bristol City Council said the two schools had been using the books to ensure they complied with gay rights laws which came into force last April. They were intended to help prevent homophobic bullying, it said. But the council has since removed the books from Easton Primary School and Bannerman Road Community School, both in Bristol. A book and DVD titled That's a Family!, which teaches children about different family set-ups including gay or lesbian parents, has also been withdrawn.

The decision was made to enable the schools to "operate safely" after parents voiced their concerns at meetings. Around 40 are said to have gathered at Easton to speak to staff and another 50 at Bannerman Road. Members of the Bristol Muslim Cultural Society said parents were upset at the lack of consultation over the use of the materials. Farooq Siddique, community development officer for the society and a governor at Bannerman Road, said there were also concerns about whether the stories were appropriate for young children.

"The main issue was there was a total lack of consultation with parents," he said. "The schools refused to deal with the parents, and were completely authoritarian. "The agenda was to reduce homophobic bullying and all the parents said they were not against that side of it, but families were saying to us 'our child is coming home and talking about same-sex relationships, when we haven't even talked about heterosexual relationships with them yet'. "They don't do sex education until Year Six and at least there you have got the option of withdrawing the children. "But here you don't have that option apparently. You can't withdraw because it is no particular lesson they are used in."

He added: "In Islam homosexual relationships are not acceptable, as they are not in Christianity and many other religions but the main issue is that they didn't bother to consult with parents. "The issue should have been, how do we stop bullying in general, and teaching about homosexuality can be a part of that. "This was completely one-sided. "Homosexuality is not a priority to parents but academic achievement is. This just makes parents think 'What the heck is my child being taught at school?'."

He said the two schools were 60 to 70 per cent Muslim but pointed out that non-Muslim parents were among those who complained. Traditional Islamic views condemn homosexuality but there are liberal movements, such as the Al-Fatiha Foundation, which is dedicated to gay Muslims.

The schools used materials promoted by the No Outsiders project, led by academics at Sunderland University. A spokesman for Bristol City Council said: "All Bristol schools have a legal duty to report and deal with homophobic harassment as part of the curriculum since April 2007." She said the council had "temporarily withdrawn" the use of the materials in question and was liaising with various groups to "ensure that the topic can be addressed in an inclusive manner in the curriculum". Ben Summerskills of gay rights group Stonewall said: "The small number of parents who make a fuss will cause children to think there is something wrong."


The British equivalent of "Honey" as a form of address is now forbidden by the EU

In both Australia and Britain it is common for women serving customers to address the customers as "Love" and that form of address is sometimes returned, mainly by regular customers:

"Pub landlords beware: from next Sunday it will be an offence, punishable by unlimited compensation orders, to allow customers to chat up bar staff. No, this isn't an early April fool. It's a European directive, sneaked into British law by Women's Minister Harriet Harman. From April 6, employers will risk being sued if a bar worker or waitress complains of being called "love" or "darling", or if staff overhear customers telling sexist jokes.

So serious is the threat that lawyers are advising pub owners to cover themselves by displaying warning notices declaring: "Harassment is not tolerated."

But why do we need yet another law - and yet more red tape - to enforce what has always been a matter for common sense, to be dealt with by the landlord's ancient right to ban difficult customers? Isn't this an invitation to employees to cash in on imaginary grievances?

In fact, everything about this new law is an affront not only to common sense but to democracy itself. Nobody voted for it. It was dreamed up by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels and is now being imposed on Britain without parliamentary debate or division, after a ruling by an unelected judge.


Networks Hype Rising Sea Levels in One-Sided Global Warming Reports

Parts of the Eastern English coastline have been sinking for many years

This time, the "CBS Evening News" traveled all the way across the pond to pushing the alarmists' global warming agenda. The March 27 "Evening News" went to the coastlines of England to show melting ice caps causing people to lose their homes. "Much of the effects of climate change have been couched in terms of if or when its effects will be felt," CBS correspondent Mark Phillips said. "Well, here there is no `if.' And when is now. So choices are being made. It's called managed retreat. Some areas of coastline deemed indefensible are being abandoned. Climate change is producing winners and losers, and Diana Wrightson and the others here have already lost."

However, global warming expert Lord Christopher Monckton, a policy adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told the Business & Media Institute blaming global warming for this is "nonsense." "This story is nonsense from start to finish," Monckton told the Business & Media Institute. "As a result of continuing isostatic recovery following the recent end of the last Ice Age (about 9,000 years ago), the western half of the U.K. has been rising, and the eastern half has been falling."

Monckton continued, "The loss of coastal properties in eastern England, which began occurring long before we could have had any appreciable influence on the climate, has nothing to do with rising seas and everything to do with falling land. But stories like this are constantly peddled by the leftist media, who have no regard whatsoever for objective truth."

That same night, "NBC Nightly News" correspondent George Lewis took on rising sea levels, but they went all the way to Antarctica to find a source of their global warming alarmism.


Armed police tackle oldster on scooter: "Armed police raided an old folks' home to arrest a pensioner in a cowboy hat brandishing a plastic pistol. Eugene Hide, 75, was arrested as he raced up and down corridors on his electric mobility scooter, reports The Sun. Staff dialled 999 complaining he was using 'threatening' behaviour. They evacuated all 25 residents while the armed response unit was scrambled. Police dashed in to find Eugene waving his toy shooter in the air. He was taken away for questioning before being released without charge. The retired council worker refused to comment yesterday, but he apologised to residents for 'getting a bit excited.' Friends said he was 'agitated' because Rosenheath rest home in Stone, Staffs, is being closed down later this year. Last year he was involved in a failed High Court bid to stop the council shutting it."

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