Gay and Lesbian Humanist

October 2009 Issue

The October issue of G&LH is now available.

Euro vision

In this issue we take a look at what life is really like for gay people in Russia and the former Eastern bloc countries of central and Eastern Europe.

In an exclusive interview for G&LH, Mike Foxwell talks to Martyn Andrews, the British expat presenter on Russia Today, the popular English-language Russian TV channel.

Russia is not one country

Andrews explains how Russia is not really one country at all, but many, especially for gay people. In Moscow and St Petersburg, there is a highly sophisticated gay scene with extravagant gay bars and night clubs to equal the best in the world, but in other cities there aren’t even straight clubs. Likewise, Andrews claims that Moscow is very gay and, moreover, safe for gay people. He describes how he gets around the city by hopping in and out of complete strangers’ cars, and how he feels far safer there than in the binge-drinking mess that British towns and cities have become.

This is not the whole story, though. Andrews says “every other Russian city is like comparing a Scottish village to London”. Here, traditional Russian life and values die hard. He warns that people from the UK who know nothing about the history and troubles of Russian history, life and culture, hurling themselves in rainbow shirts towards an old Russian orthodox church member may possibly do more damage than good!

This is an important lesson that some UK gay-rights campaigners need to learn.

The same things are true of the countries of central and Eastern Europe. Here, attitudes towards gay people and gay life in general are far from pleasant, and homophobic violence and disrespect are daily events, as Colin de la Motte-Sherman reports in the last part of his three-part series Other Europe.

Holding hands

Continuing the campaigning theme, David Watkins, the founder of the same-sex hand-holding campaign, A Day In Hand, explains a new initiative to encourage LGBT people worldwide to take responsibility for their own equality in our feature Sshh! Saturdays.

GALHA/PTT dispute

Following a dispute between subscribers of the online Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) discussion list and its controllers over censorship, the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) - publishers of G&LH – have launched a new forum, Gaytheist, an uncensored discussion group for gay and gay-friendly straight atheists, agnostics and freethinkers. Gaytheist encourages free debate on all subjects loosely related to being gay and/or being a non-believer. Find out more about Gaytheist and how to join in our Gaytheist article.


Do you believe in fairies (no, the sprite type with lacy wings!)? Well, clearly some people do, as Charlie Coventry explains in his feature Fairies, where he describes his experiences at a meeting of the Eurofairies. As with all religions, belief is one thing, but knowing anything about fairy lore is quite another, and some who think they’re experts are anything but.

Good god?

I think most of the readers of G&LH will agree that being good has nothing to do with religious belief. But, can it help? Neil Richardson thinks so, as he explains in his feature Does religion make you good?

Code comfort

It’s now more than fifty years since the death of gay atheist Alan Turing who is best known for his work in breaking the Second World War German Enigma code. This alone should have made him a British, even an international, hero, but instead he was persecuted by the British state just for being gay. Turing was prosecuted for “indecent acts” and chemically castrated in an attempt to “cure” him. It is little surprise that he committed suicide and died aged only 41.

It is an absolute national disgrace of the first order that he was hounded to his death after his wartime work helped save countless lives. His work on cryptography was extremely significant, with some, perhaps much, of it still classified by the British state as secret. But he did far more than this; he also founded the theory of computable numbers, which provided the basis for modern computing.

Andy Armitage, in his feature, Code comfort, describes the campaign by John Graham-Cumming, a British computer expert, to petition the Prime Minister to apologise for the persecution Turing received that drove him to take his life.

Vote grubbing

The campaign took the form of a Downing Street petition, and was so hugely endorsed by the public that Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who will soon be grubbing for votes in the coming general election in an attempt to save his pathetic political carcass, was forced to issue the apology. The full text of the apology is reproduced in Armitage’s article, where he asks, is it enough or too little too late?

I for one think that a few measly words are hardly recompense for what was done to Turing. If Brown were truly serious, his government would eliminate at a stroke all discrimination against gay people and ensure that Turing be awarded a posthumous knighthood. Fat chance. Brown will soon be grubbing full time for those votes and he won’t want to upset the Muslims or the rest of the evil religious crazies.

Rounding up our Alan Turing theme, in our regular Out of Print feature, we reproduce an article by Andrew Hodges, which was first published in G&LH in Summer 2004 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Turing’s death.

Good Reason News

Recently, we decided to invite other bloggers to make occasional contributions to our regular Blogwatch feature, with the simple brief: What do you blog about, and why? In this first report, Billy Deaton tells us about his US blog, Good Reason News.

Warren Allen Smith joins us for his regular meander in Gossip from Across the Pond, where he tells of some of the other gossipers he has enjoyed reading over the years, including, recently, Michael Musto and Dan Savage.

In Airings, Dean Braithwaite takes a look at the up-coming series of Doctor Who and asks the question, “Who’s an atheist?”

Andy Armitage has been on the blog again and tells us what’s been happening over at our sister publication, Pink Triangle.

Finally, we take a look at what’s been happening in the news in our News Watch and, with George Broadhead, World Watch features.

If you missed any of our previous online editions, you can see them in our archive. If you would like to write for us or just have something to say, please see our Contact page for details of how to get in touch.

Happy reading!

Mike Foxwell

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Created : Saturday, 2009-11-07 / Last updated : Thursday, 2010-01-07
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