Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

July 2013

7th July 2013

Andy Murray wins Wimbledon!
Posted by at 10.08pm | In the News | No responses

I watched the last set of the final in the slightly unusual surroundings of the Masquerade Bar in Liverpool, with a drag queen cabaret taking place in the background. I know nothing about tennis, but even I could see how amazing some of Andy Murray’s shots were.

All sports to be like this from now on please.


12th July 2013

Gay (meaning happy)
Posted by at 10.39pm | Gay, In the News | No responses

Amazing scenes in America recently, as the Supreme Court handed down two great pro-gay rulings. Not only did it strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited legally married gay couples from accessing federal marriage benefits, it also overturned Proposition 8, a nasty piece of legislation which banned same-sex marriage in California.

There has been lots of debate about the merits of the decisions, but ultimately this is about simple human rights. Same-sex relationships are just as valid – just as loving and tender and imperfect and tumultuous – as heterosexual ones, and should be recognised as such.

It’s about people’s happiness, and so I think the video below says it all perfectly.

This is far from the end of the road for marriage equality in the US. Same-sex marriage is only legal in 13 states, while many more have placed laws on the statute books explicity banning it. However, the momentum is now definitely with the pro-gay side, with a majority of people now in favour.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, legislation to enact same-sex marriages across England and Wales is tantalisingly close to becoming reality. Despite the best attempts of opponents to derail it, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will reach its third and final reading in the House of Lords on Monday, the penultimate stage on the long road to Royal Assent.

Progress of Marriage Bill

Similar legislation is about to be introduced in Scotland. This beautiful video from Scotland’s Equality Network shows that It’s Time:

14th July 2013

Gleek out

OK, so Glee has never really matched the heights it reached during season one, and since Sky snatched the rights a few years back I haven’t bothered to watch it.

I do have fond memories of the genuinely impressive first season, though, with Cory Monteith centre stage as the high school jock who risks social alienation by joining the unpopular kids of the glee club.

He died earlier today. His cover of Don’t Stop Believin’ with Lea Michele, from the pilot episode, remains one of the series’ most memorable moments. This is how I’ll remember him.

18th July 2013

La Reyne le veult
Posted by at 11.27pm | Gay, In the News | No responses

Rainbow flag fluttering in sunlight50 years ago, homosexuality was illegal. In an amazing turnaround, by the middle of next year, gay relationships will be on an (almost) equal footing to heterosexual ones, as the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2013 is now the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, after Royal Assent was received on Wednesday afternoon.

I’ll be honest – there were times when I didn’t think it would happen. From the minute the plans were announced back in 2011, a formidable campaign against same-sex marriage was launched, unleashing old-school attitudes and opinions that I naively thought had disappeared from public discourse. Certain sections of society are not nearly as tolerant and accepting as we thought they were.

The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland (or, as he is now known, the disgraced former leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland), Cardinal Keith O’Brien, launched an astonishing diatribe, describing same-sex marriage as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. The Telegraph and the Daily Mail were vociferous in their opposition.

The Coalition for Marriage – which described itself as a “grass roots” campaign despite being launched by luminaries such as the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and reality TV star Anne Widdecombe – set up a petition which, at the time of writing, has a rather pleasing 666,493 signatures. The Government’s own consultation ignored the organised petitions and form letter campaigns, but still revealed widespread opposition.

The cynical view was that this bill was David Cameron’s attempt to “modernise” the Tory party image. If that was his goal, it failed – more Conservative MPs voted against the bill than for it, and Tory MPs have been the most vociferous in their criticism of the bill. Political commentators talked of divisions in the Tory party and rumours swirled of leadership challenges to the Prime Minister. The very real lives and loves of LGBT people were rather lost amongst all the punditry.

Read the rest of this post »

22nd July 2013

Attack the Block

David Cameron has announced that ISPs will block online pornography by default. The “big four” ISPs (BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin) have all signed up voluntarily to the plan, which will see users asked to tick a box to confirm that they want the “Torrent of Filth” (© Daily Mail) to continue to flow freely.

A lot of people are unhappy at this – Virgin Media’s Twitter feed is already overrun with people demanding continued unfettered access to porn.

Won't someone think of the children?!

A typical pro-censorship campaigner

It’s incredibly difficult to argue against this plan, as pro-blocking advocates invariably start shrieking “think of the children!” as soon as anyone dares to question them. So let me say right now that no, children should not be looking at porn. I would argue, though, that is chiefly the parents’ responsibility to prevent this, by supervising their internet access and computer use. Judging by the number of “my 6-year-old ran up a £9,632 bill on an iPhone game!” stories in the press recently, some are not doing so.

I would also argue that adults’ freedom to fap is just as important – and when pictures of naked women are available across the newsagent’s counter courtesy of the Sun and the Daily Star, it’s hard to take seriously any claims that children need to be protected.

Telegraph blogger Mic Wright thinks that the plan is technologically illiterate. He’s absolutely right, but this point has reportedly already been made to Cameron by the ISPs, Google and others – see Rory Cellan-Jones’s reports on the subject. It seems that Cameron simply won’t listen.

If you want more, Paul Bernal, Lecturer in Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Media Law at the University of East Anglia Law School has written a useful post: 10 questions about Cameron’s ‘new’ porn-blocking. I have some questions of my own, reproduced below.

Read the rest of this post »

25th July 2013

Posted by at 10.39pm | In the News, Trains | No responses

It has not been a good month for Europe’s railways. First we had the deadly accident at Bretigny-sur-Orge in France, and then yesterday the horrific derailment at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Railways are the safest way to travel, but I’m sure that statistic does not give much comfort to those involved.

I can’t imagine many more horrifying things to be involved in than a train crash. One minute you’re speeding along cocooned in a comfortable train, the next you find yourself thrown out of your seat as the carriage crumbles around you, ending up in as a pile of twisted metal and broken glass. My heart goes out to everyone involved in both accidents.

28th July 2013

From Russia Without Love
Posted by at 11.14pm | Gay, In the News | 1 response

The Russian Parliament has recently passed a law banning gay ‘propaganda’. Think of it as their version of Section 28, if Section 28 were terrifying. Recently, some Dutch filmmakers were among the first to fall foul of the law – they were jailed for 14 days and deported.

Terrible reports have emerged of gay teenagers being tortured in videos posted online by anti-gay groups. Scary stuff.

The Winter Olympics will be held in Russia next year. There have been calls to boycott the Games (including an ePetition on the UK Government website). There’s no need to worry, however – The International Olympic Committee has taken care of it:-

In a statement, the IOC said: “The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.

So that’s OK then.

Some gay rights groups are also trying to organise a boycott of Russian vodka. It remains to be seen how effective this will be.

It’s a sad reminder that, while the LGBT community here is celebrating equal marriage becoming law, life for gay people elsewhere is often far from rosy.