On Wednesday, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a long report on the Vatican that has gotten attention for its sharp criticism of the Catholic Church’s response to clergy sex-abuse scandals. But perhaps more remarkably, the study also critiqued the Church’s stance on abortion and birth control.
Specifically, it recommended that the Holy See “overcome all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality that hinder their access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning and contraceptives,” and suggested the Vatican “review its position on abortion … with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted.” The committee also made broad criticisms of the Church’s posture toward LGBTQ families and children. The Holy See has responded with a statement defending the Church’s right to define its own religious beliefs and teachings.
The Vatican, which has “permanent observer” status at the UN, is a signatory to the UN’s 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child along with 193 countries and two island nations. Notably, the United States is one of three countries that haven’t ratified the treaty; the other two, Somalia and South Sudan, have both pledged to ratify the agreement soon.
So, if a UN committee finds Church teachings to violate the human rights of children, what can it do to the Holy See? The short answer: nothing.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
For one speed skater, making a statement means wearing a rainbow pin as he darts across the ice. For one figure skater, it means just being himself, flamboyant costumes and all, and having his husband there to cheer him on.
But both athletes, who will be competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, know they may be arrested under Russia’s vaguely defined ban on so-called gay “propaganda.”
But the speed skater, New Zealand’s Blake Skjellerup, and the figure skater, American Johnny Weir, are defying calls by some activists and athletes to boycott February’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. They are among the competitors and supporters who say the best place to take a stand against homophobia is at the Olympics themselves.
Read more. [Image: Grigory Dukor/Reuters]
For most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.
A decade later, the story is very different. Congregations across the country increasingly accept, nurture, and even marry their gay brethren. Polls show majorities of major Christian denominations — including American Catholics, despite their church’s staunch opposition — support legal gay marriage. Leaders of some of the most conservative sects, like the Southern Baptists, have moved away from the vitriolic rhetoric of yesteryear and toward a more compassionate tone. Mormons march in gay-pride parades. A sitting Republican senator, a Methodist from the heartland state of Ohio, says the question was settled for him by “the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” A new pope says, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Read more. [Image: Stacy Bengs/Associated Press]
Anti-gay activists threw eggs and rocks at gay rights demonstrators in St. Petersburg last month, shouting “Sodomy will not pass.” The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church recently called gay marriage “apocalyptic.” And in June, the Russian government outlawed discussing LGBT issues with minors by officially prohibiting “homosexual propaganda” and making the distribution of gay-rights material punishable by fines and jail time.
In the midst of Russia’s crackdown on gay rights, one Russian author has published a children’s book that prominently features a homosexual character and his struggle to find acceptance in the country.
Daria Wilke, the author of the new book, The Jester’s Cap, emigrated from Moscow 13 years ago and is now a Russian professor at the University of Vienna in Austria. Her novel centers on a boy named Grisha, a 14-year-old who lives and works in a puppet theater with his family and an older friend, Sam, who is gay.
Read more. [Image: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters]
The conflict over the next six days played out as a very gay variant of a classic New York street rebellion. It would see: fire hoses turned on people in the street, thrown barricades, gay cheerleaders chanting bawdy variants of New York City schoolgirl songs, Rockette-style kick lines in front of the police, the throwing of a firebomb into the bar, a police officer throwing his gun at the mob, cries of “occupy — take over, take over,” “Fag power,” “Liberate the bar!”, and “We’re the pink panthers!”, smashed windows, uprooted parking meters, thrown pennies, frightened policemen, angry policemen, arrested mafiosi, thrown cobblestones, thrown bottles, the singing of “We Shall Overcome” in high camp fashion, and a drag queen hitting a police officer on the head with her purse.
Read more. [Image: Joseph Ambrosini/The New York Daily News]
The Malaysian government has begun organizing seminars aimed at helping parents and teachers identify latent homosexuality in children, according to Singapore news outlet AsiaOne. One of the principal warning signs? V-neck T-shirts. It’d be sort of funny if it weren’t rooted in a wildly un-self aware bigotry.
Read more. [Images: American Apparel/Reuters]
While gun control and gay rights are very different things, there are a couple of key directives that apply to both: Play political hardball, put your money where your mouth is and reframe the debate to deprive the opposition of fuel.
Read more. [Image: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko]
If you’ve been to Chicago’s Navy Pier recently, you’ve probably noticed it’s all tribaled up. The asphalt on North Street Drive sports a meandering yellow tattoo that seems to have slipped off of Mike Tyson’s face. What’s up with that?
Steed Taylor, that’s what’s up. The 52-year-old artist visited the Windy City a couple months ago to participate in the group show BIGArt, a celebration of oversized works that featured luminaries like Roy Lichtenstein and Nancy Rubins. At about 650 feet long and 25 feet wide, Taylor’s “Galloon” is one of the more pupil-jacking pieces in this exhibition. While it’s easy to soak up the road tattoo’s surface beauty, its title – galloon is a woven trim sometimes often used in military uniforms – underscores a more serious, pain-tinged meaning.
What are people supposed to get out of your street art?
I think the thing with the road tattoos is that they work in two ways. If you were there at the commemoration [when the names are painted in], it has a special meaning for you. If you weren’t, it has to exist as a really fun thing to drive over.
Read more. [Images: Steed Taylor]