Category Archives: Organized Rage

Turkish Diva Bulent Ersoy’s travails, highlights the contradictory and fascinating country that is modern Turkey.


Imagine that just after British troops had invaded Iraq, two of the juror’s on the hit UK TV show the X Factor had the following on air exchange,

Sharon Osborne –“Current wars are decided at tables and if I had been able to give birth, I would not send my son to fight in a war. These wars are not like ones in the past. It is all decided by people sitting at tables and deciding that some boys should die.”

Dannii Minogue — “I would be proud to be a soldier’s mother and if it were the boy’s destiny to die for his country, I would gladly pay that price.”

Sharon Osborne –”These are cliché words, but at the end of the day, boys go to the military and die and the tears follow. I don’t agree with you.”

I expect most readers would say such a thing could never happen in the UK as the plug would have been pulled; and in any case people like Sharon Osborne and Ms Minogue are picked to appear in these type of TV programs because they are a safe pair of hands, despite being portrayed as being near the edge in reality they are nothing of the sort.

Whilst such an exchange is unlikely ever to occur on live TV in the UK, it did happen in Turkey and one of the jurors involved is now before a Turkish court with a four year prison sentence hanging over her head.

It is worth looking at this matter in some detail as behind it lays much of what makes Turkey such a fascinating and contradictory country. By the 1980s, Bulent Ersoy, the lady who fills the Sharon Osborne role in the Turkish TV hit show Popstar Alaturka, was already one of Turkey most popular male singers and actors, his popularity could be compared with Cliff Richard in the UK, like Cliff, Ersoy also had his own TV show. Then in 1981 he had a full sex change operation, becoming Bulent Ersoy, female singer and actress.

This was shortly after the military coup led by General of Kenan Evren, in the crackdown that followed the General taking power, gay and transgender people where accused of “social deviance,” and Ersoy’s public performances were banned along with those of other openly gay, transsexual and transgendered people.

After failing to be legally recognized as a women Ersoy went to Germany to continue her career. Finally, in 1988, the Turkish civil code was revised and she returned to Turkey to claim her pink for female ID card. Ersoy soon returned to the Turkish stage to great acclaim, and her adoring fans seemed to love her all the more, she became more popular as a woman entertainer than she had been as a man. Her fans and the Turkish people as a whole even took to calling her affectionately “Abla,” elder sister in Turkish.

Semi retired by the turn of the century and regarded by many Turks as a great Diva, she became one of the judges on the hit TV show Popstar Alaturka, which is based on countless similar shows on European and US TV. It was during a live transmission of this show that she had the above quoted conversation with a fellow juror. That at the very same time the Turkish army was conducting a major operation against the PKK in northern Iraq pushed her comments further into the public spotlight.

That some 40,000 people have died since the conflict with the PKK began in 1984 was not mentioned by her critics and after the Istanbul state prosecutor launched an enquiry, she has been charged with “making the public detest military service,” a crime under the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and is due in court soon.

So there you have it, a macho male population, a defiant and brave woman who has triumphed over adversity, a much loved diva and artist, homophobic and transgenda prejudice, censorship, the secret state; and millions of Turk’s who simply love the woman as they believe she sings like an angel; and contradictions galore. As I said at the top of this piece, what a fascinating and contradictory country.

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Filed under E U, Organized Rage, sexual-equality, Turkey/politics/democracy/history/islam/current affairs

The US government is still fighting the cold war against Cuba



Below is an article by Duncan Campbell which highlights the cold war the US government is fighting against Cuba; and the lengths the worlds most powerful nation goes to in its attempt bring the Cuban economy to its knees. Perhaps those leftists who criticize Cuba for not being a paradise on earth, should take such things into account before condemning the shortcomings of that countries economy. As I wrote in a previous article on this subject, the lesson the Republic of Cuba offers the UK and Irish left is that another world is possible and accepting neo liberal economics which puts profit before people is not the only option open to human kind. For if a tiny nation like Cuba, which for five decades and more has been under a constant barrage of US sanctions, can make a good pair of shoes out of its health care and educational systems, think what a first world economy could achieve with socialists at the helm.

Bank ditches UK firms trading with Cuba
By Duncan Campbell

A Somerset health shop selling Cuban sugar and a London tobacconist dealing in Habanos cigars are among British businesses told by a bank to cut their ties with the island or move their accounts.

Lloyds TSB has written to customers who have dealings with Cuba saying they will have take their accounts elsewhere, apparently in the wake of threats by the US government, which operates an embargo against Cuba.

The US has said it will prosecute any businesses that have any dealings with Cuba and also have a branch in the US.

The Queenswood Natural Foods company, of Bridgwater in Somerset, started buying sugar from Cuba last year and has found it to be a popular line.

Last month, the company received a letter from Lloyds TSB saying that the bank had “recently reviewed its approach to dealing with countries and entities that are subject to government and international sanctions across the globe in order to best protect its customers, its businesses, its people and its reputation”. It was no longer prepared to authorise payments from the company to buy sugar from Cuba.

Lloyds TSB has told a tobacco importer trading with the island for more than a century, dealing in the famous Habanos cigars, that it must also make alternative arrangements.

Spelling out the new policy, Phil Markey, relationship director at Lloyds TSB, is apologetic. “I would like to find a way to continue to make these payments for you – the decision however is down to a full risk assessment process within Lloyds TSB,” he wrote in a letter at the end of May. “I must advise you to find alternative ways of making payments to your suppliers with Cuban connections.”

The Cuban embassy was critical of the bank’s move, saying the Bush administration, in continuing the US’s “illegal, worldwide economic warfare against Cuba”, had been increasingly resorting to pressure through business and finance.

Businesses affected are angered by the decision, but some are reluctant to go public as they try and find other banks. “It is mystifying,” said one businessman. “We are able to trade with China and Vietnam but apparently not Cuba. It seems a nonsense.”

Lloyds TSB declined to answer questions on its policy over Cuba and whether it had been subjected to threats of legal action in the US. “We would not disclose details of our relationships or discussions with individual customers,” said a spokesman.

The Labour MP Ian Gibson, chairman of the all-party Cuba group, condemned Lloyds TSB’s action. “We will be taking action against this vindictive political campaign,” he said yesterday. *

*http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/jun/16/lloydstsbgroup.banking

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Filed under cuba, economic-cold-war., international-solidarity, Organized Rage, US-government

Belfast Says No to War Criminals



The article below was posted today on éirígí web site.

http://eirigi.org/latest/latest160608.html

MH

Belfast Says No to War Criminals
16/06/08

éirígí activists today (Monday) removed the British Union Jack from Belfast City Hall and replaced it with the flag of Iraq in a gesture of solidarity with the people of the Arab nation.

As hundreds of people gathered at the front of the City Hall to protest against the presence of US war criminal George W Bush in occupied Ireland, the activists gained access to the roof of the building to make their statement.

Earlier in the day, éirígí members had unfurled banners on the major motorway routes into Belfast to coincide with Monday’s protests.

Despite the fact that the mass media and the vast majority of politicians had expressed no objection to George Bush and his British counterpart Gordon Brown being feted in Ireland, citizens from across the country came out to give their own verdict.

And that verdict was unequivocal: Belfast, and the rest of Ireland, wants no part in the crimes that are being committed day and daily by the British and US governments.

As speaker after speaker reiterated at the City Hall, we would rather stand beside the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Cuba and Venezuela than be associated with their chief tormentors.

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said today’s actions were an effort to highlight the crimes being committed by the British and US administrations.

“While George Bush was invited here by local politicians, the people of Belfast today showed that that invitation was not in their name.

“Despite the fact that the demonstration took place on a work day, hundreds of people made the effort to attend and show their disgust for the warmongering policies of George Bush and Gordon Brown.”

Brian continued: “éirígí’s actions today were in line with that very public opposition.

“We wanted to highlight the fact that while Britain and the USA continue to occupy other people’s countries, including part of our own, they should not be welcomed to Belfast as peacemakers or international statesmen. They are war criminals who have the blood of countless innocent civilians on their hands, and they should be treated as such.

“I thought the gesture of placing the Iraqi flag on top of Belfast’s City Hall was particularly pertinent, as the flag it replaced – Britain’s flag of occupation – should have been removed from that building a long time ago.”

Brian concluded: “As was seen in London last night, Belfast today and around the world countless times over the last few years, the vast majority of humanity are opposed to occupation and mass murder for profit or imperial power.

“éirígí will continue to extend solidarity in whatever we can to the people of other occupied nations, while at the same time working to end the British occupation of Ireland.” *

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Filed under éirígí, international-solidatiry Ireland, Organized Rage, UK/US-forces of occupation

Irish No vote is not against the European Union: but a rejection of its current direction.


If any one doubts that the Irish working classes have been at the fore in their opposition to the Lisbon Treaty, they need only look at how adjoining constituencies in Dublin voted. Dublin South – mainly middle-class – 62.9% Yes, 37.1% No, Dublin South-West – which has a majority of working-class people voted 65.1%- No, 34.9%-Yes

It is hardly surprising that on this issue there is such a clear class divide, for unlike a section of the middle classes who still have their snouts in the EU gravy train, although how much longer this will last is any ones guess. The Irish working classes have gained least over the last few years from EU membership and in the main are firmly set against the privatization and neo liberal economics and globalization that are enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty; and which is designed to trump and replace the social Europe that would have benefited a majority of EU citizens and not just Capital and the economically rich minority.

Of course the real reason the Irish political establishment failed to gain a majority for the Lisbon Treaty was that during the campaign they were unwilling to explain the fine detail of the Treaty. This was not because it was to complex for ordinary folk, as the arrogant buggers claimed, but because they understood clearly had they done so they would have opened up a can of worms about what lay behind this wretched document, and even more people would have voted no.

Their arrogance as Ireland enters a recession smacked of desperation, as in the current political climate few people were liable to trust the very same politicians who have helped create the current economic mess and ever widening gap between the rich and economically poor. Thus the majority of the Irish electorate trusted their instincts and voted No, having decided that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, no matter how many times the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fianna Gael, Labour Party, Green Party and Progressive Democrats said you could.

The NO vote against the Lisbon Treaty, confirms there is strong opposition amongst the EU citizenry regarding the democratic deficit, undemocratic methodology and neo-liberal economics upon which the EU is now being built.

The NO vote in Ireland, along with the French and Dutch NO votes against the previous constitutional treaty, should not be seen as a No against the European Union, but a radical criticism of the current policies and as support for an alternative idea of a social and democratic Europe in which people come before profit.  

As the European Left Party said in a recent document, ‘there needs to be a new democratic process involving all European citizens. New contents are necessary; social and civil rights, policies of peace, cohesion and ecology, as well as civil values, which inspire the construction of Europe. And it is crucial that the people can express themselves on a new framework through a European wide referendum.’

The contract between the EU and its people needs to be completely re-negotiated, as to does the Commissions methodology. Lets hope the Irish peoples rejection of Lisbon is the first step down this road. Yes, to a social Europe and lets have no more of these grubby documents which are nothing more than an EU constitution by the back door.

 

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Filed under democratic accountability, E U, Ireland-Politics., Organized Rage, referendum

Statement from Raytheon 9 after their acquittal at Belfast Laganside Court


On 11 June 2008, by a unanimous verdict of the jury, the Raytheon 9 were found not guilty of three counts of criminal damage at the Raytheon offices, Derry Northern Ireland on 9 August 2006. All freedom loving people will welcome the juries decision.

Immediately afterwards, the defendants addressed supporters and press outside Belfast’s Laganside Court. Colm Bryce began:
“The Raytheon 9 have been aquitted today in Belfast for their action in decommissioning the Raytheon offices in Derry in August 2006. The prosecution could produce not a shred of evidence to counter our case that we had acted to prevent the commission of war crimes during the Lebanon war by the Israeli armed forces using weapons supplied by Raytheon.
We remain proud of the action we took and only wish that we could have done more to disrupt the ‘kill chain’ that Raytheon controls.

“This victory is welcome, for ourselves and our families, but we wish to dedicate it to the Shaloub and Hasheem families of Qana in Lebanon, who lost 28 of their closest relatives on the 30 July 2006 due to a Raytheon ‘bunker buster’ bomb.
Their unimaginable loss was foremost in our minds when we took the action we did on 9 August, and the injustice that they and the many thousands of victims of war crimes in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered, will spur us on to continue to campaign against war and the arms trade that profits from it.

We said from the beginning that we came to this court not as the accused but as the accusers of Raytheon. This court case proved that Raytheon in Derry is an integral part of the global Raytheon company and its military production. This is no longer a secret or in doubt. Raytheon have treated the truth, peaceful protest, local democracy and this court with complete contempt. The most senior executive who appeared said that the charge that Raytheon had ‘aided and abetted’ the commission of crimes against humanity was “not an issue” for him. Raytheon should have that contempt repaid in full and be driven out of Derry and every other place they have settled. They are war criminals, plain and simple. They have no place in our society and shame on all those in positions of power or influence who would hand them public funds, turn a blind eye to their crimes, cover their tracks or make excuses for them.

These crimes continue daily and hourly in the Middle East. It is up to those of us who oppose those wars of domination and occupation to build a movement that matches the enormity of what is being done by Western governments. We hope that this victory gives courage and heart to all those involved in that movement and the many more who need to be for us to achieve our aim of stopping these wars. Until then, the very least we can do, to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East is to dissociate ourselves from the corrupt governments of the US and Britain. That means opposing the visit to Belfast of the world’s biggest war criminal, George W Bush on 16 June.

We feel totally vindicated by this decision and wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of those who gave us support, especially to our families and friends, to the members of the Derry Anti War Coalition and the Irish Anti-War Movement , to our excellent legal teams. Of course, we particularly want to thank the jury who listened intently through three weeks of evidence before ensuring that justice was done today.”

Eamonn McCann then addressed supporters and press saying:
The outcome of this case has profound implications.
The jury has accepted that we were reasonable in our belief that: the Israel Defence Forces were guilty of war crimes in Lebanon in the summer of 2006; that the Raytheon company, including its facility in Derry, was aiding and abetting the commission of these crimes; and that the action we took was intended to have, and did have, the effect of hampering or delaying the commission of war crimes.

We have been vindicated. We reject entirely and with contempt the statement by Raytheon this evening suggesting that the result of the trial gives them concern about the safety of their employees. This is an abject attempt to divert attention from the significance of the outcome. Not a shed of evidence was produced that we presented the slightest danger to Raytheon workers. The charge of affray was thrown out by the court without waiting to hear defence evidence. Our target has always been Raytheon as a corporate entity and its shareholders and directors who profit from misery and death.

There is now no hiding place for those who have said that they support the presence of Raytheon in Derry on the basis that the company is not involved in Derry in arms-related production. We have established that not only is the Derry plant involved in arms-related production, it is also, through its integration into Raytheon as a whole, involved in war crimes.
We call on all elected representatives in Derry, and on the citizens of Derry, to say now in unequivocal terms that the war criminal Raytheon is not welcome in our city.

We call on the office of the Attorney General and the Crown Prosecution Service, in light of this verdict, to institute an investigation into the activities of Raytheon at its various plants across the UK, with a view to determining whether Raytheon is, as we say it is, a criminal enterprise.

We believe that one day the world will look back on the arms trade as we look back today on the slave trade, and wonder how it came about that such evil could abound in respectable society. If we have advanced by a mere moment the day when the arms trade is put beyond the law, what we have done will have been worthwhile.

We took the action we did in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter of innocents in Qana on July 30th 2006. The people of Qana are our neighbours. Their children are the children of our neighbours. We trashed Raytheon to help protect our neighbours. The court has found that that was not a crime. This what the Raytheon case has been about.
We have not denied or apologised for what we did at the Raytheon plant in the summer of 2006. All of us believe that it was the best thing we ever did in our lives.

The Raytheon nine are: Colm Bryce, Gary Donnelly, Kieran Gallagher, Michael Gallagher, Sean Heaton, Jimmy Kelly, Eamonn McCann, Paddy McDaid and Eamonn O’Donnell.

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Filed under Derry-anti-war-coalition, E U, north of Ireland-Polıtıcs, Organized Rage, Raytheon-9, UK, US-foreign-policy, war-mongers

Whither the New Labour Party and the LP Left.



Two events this week must surly have confirmed to many socialists that the British Labour Party is no longer fit for purpose as a vehicle for progressive change within the United Kingdom. Indeed these events prove beyond any doubt that it has become the foremost parliamentary advocate for reactionary and regressive change.

First we had a report drafted for the United Nations by the Children’s Commissioners for England, Scotland, Wales and northern Ireland, in which they claimed within the UK there is widespread infringements of the UN convention on the rights of the child, (UNCRC) the result of which is that hope and opportunity has been denied to many of Britain’s children. *
According to the report the most serious defects include,

A punitive juvenile justice system;

Public attitudes that demonize teenagers.

Lack of protection against physical punishment in the home.

One of the highest levels of child poverty in Europe.

This after over ten years of a Labour government in power, indeed as anyone who works in the field of child care will tell you and the Commissioners confirmed in their report, far from improving, some things since Labour came to power have actually got worse. They cite developments in juvenile justice and public attitudes towards children as examples of this.

UK breaches of the UN child convention included the use of painful thumb holds to control young offenders, plans to use dental x-rays to check the age of child asylum seekers, and institutional discrimination by the NHS against children with learning difficulties.
A commissioner complained of a punitive approach in the UK to misbehavior by children and young people. “Compared with other European countries, England has a very low age of criminal responsibility and high numbers of children are locked up … Around 3.1 million children in England are living in poverty (29%) and more than 1 million children are living in poor housing.”

This devastating report to the UN was followed by yesterdays vote to increase detention without charge for terrorist offenses to 42 days, a length of time so draconian that even countries known for their tough laws like Turkey regard it as ridiculously harsh and counter productive. By this act alone the Labour Party is now the most right wing party within parliament bar Ian Paisleys Democratic Unionist party.

The Tory party, yes the Tory party led the opposition in parliament to this draconian piece of legislation, which is an indication just how far to the right the Labour Party has travelled, the more so when one considers that the opposition to this act gained the support of only thirty-six Labour MP’s out of 351.

The British Labour party is no longer an amalgamation of the liberal-socialist centre left, yes it may still have a small and ever decreasing number of socialists within it. But since 1997 they have had little or no influence on government policies. The government has privatized large chunks of education and health care, something even Thatcher failed to do, it has become the foremost political advocate of neo liberal economics within the UK and EU and in support of it has joined the most reactionary US President in history in his criminal enterprises.

The gap between the rich and the economically poor is wider now than at any time during the post WW2 period; and as the Children’s commissioners report confirms, the Labour government has been involved in a head long rush to treat working class children as criminals in the insane belief this is the only way to control and manipulate them to become the low wage fodder of international Capital.

I would appeal to comrades who remain in the NLP to consider emulating their left-wing comrades in Germany and elsewhere in Europe and ditch the stinking edifice which is all that remains of a once great party and become the core around which a new Left Party can be built in the UK. I would ask them how much longer can you continue to go on the knocker and ask working class people to vote labour when you know that it is a party which actively works against their best interest. I understand your reluctance to leave an existing organization for the hard graft of creating a new party, but your comrades in Europe have successfully made this transition in Italy, Germany, Holland and other EU nations.

In a recent exchange of emails in which I asked him where he sees the Labour Party left going from here, the Left Labour veteran Tony Benn wrote, “I am obviously thinking about this myself at the moment and believe that Tony Blair and new Labour may have inflicted such grave damage on the Party that we shall have to look for a new way forward.”

Tony went on to add he was still thinking this matter through, which coming from a man who has been a party member for 66 years is very revealing in itself. Whilst at this stage Tony Benn did not mention breaking from the LP to form a new Left Party, he did say there will be an opportunity to discuss where the left goes from here at the Convention of the Left, which is to be held in Manchester at the same time as this years New Labour Party jamboree. **

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/jun/09/children.youngpeople

**http://www.conventionoftheleft.org/

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Filed under Left Party, New Labour/Conservative Party/Neo-conservatives/globali, Organized Rage

Mrs Robinson: You along with the rest of the world need to remember the Pink Triangle



Last Friday [6/6/08] I blogged an obituary of English gay rights activist Paul Patrick, In a forward to the obituary I wrote ‘One of the more unfortunately blow backs from the north of Ireland’s troubles, is that unlike the rest of western Europe, where many of the big societal issues were debated through and legislated upon from the late 1960s onwards. The north of Ireland, as far as the more prominent of these issues were concerned was passed by; and they are only now coming to the fore. In many ways the north of Ireland is still in the dark ages as far as Gay Rights, Comprehensive education and a Woman’s Right to Choose is concerned.[I could have added racism] Whilst some legislation has been placed on the Statute book, the northern political elite’s attitudes to the aforementioned issues are very reactionary, at best even progressive political party’s like Sinn Fein prefer to side step what they regard as the thorny problem of a woman’s right to choose, due to there fear of the Roman Catholic church’s reactionary influence upon a section of their electorate.

Little did I know at the very same time I was posting up Paul Patrick’s obit on Organized Rage, Iris Robinson, the wife of the north of Irelands newly nominated ‘First Minister’ Peter Robinson, and a leading Democratic Unionist Party politician in her own right, was appearing on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show condemning homosexuality as an abomination and adding helpfully, that “she knows a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals – trying to turn [them] away from what they are engaged in, I’m happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals.” *

As if this was not bad enough, we now know a week previously Mrs Robinson had called for the portrayal of gay people to be banned from TV, she also complained about not being able to use the term ‘coloureds’ to describe black people.

Understandable her comments have provoked a number of articles in the Irish media and barrage of posts on web sites that cover the north of Ireland such as Slugger O’Toole.* Many of these, especially some which have come from the Unionist middle classes have supported what Mrs Robinson said, both about gays and Blacks. A small number, mainly from the fundamentalist Christian right have gone even further and not only supported Robinson’s claim that homosexuality is an abomination, but have attempted to link those who are criticizing Mrs Robinson as part of a liberal-hard left-SF conspiracy designed to deny society the right of free speech.

Sammy Morse one of the few openly gay political activist to belong to one of the north’s mainstream parties, pointed out on Slugger O’Toole that this is not simply a case of a rather silly woman expressing in a personal capacity her outdated and homophobic belief’s. As Mrs Robinson MLA is not only regarded as the first lady when her husband travels abroad on the Stormont Assembles business, but as a senior member of the Democratic Unionist Party she Chairs the Stormont Assemblies
Health Committee; and as such Sammy rightly points out as a gay man he would have no confidence that she would not allow her homophobic prejudices to influence her decisions about health care. For example he writes she might support crackpot ‘medical treatment’ for gay people.

So far there has been no official statement about Mrs Robinson’s remarks from either her party the DUP nor the Stormont administration which her husband heads, which is deafening in itself; as had similar remarks been made by a leading politician any where else in western Europe, the culprit would have been forced to eat humble pie and walk over sack cloth and ashes before being sent home permanently to reflect on their ignorance. Myself I doubt there will be much criticism from the Stormont administration as SF, whom in the past one would have expected to stand up for minorities, is these days to busy playing at mockney government to worry about standing up for the hard won rights of Gay people.

Although one does wonder if the North’s gay community will continue to allow certain Gay members of the DUP to continue to sit snug in their closet whilst their colleagues harangue gays people with talk about needing psychiatric help for the abomination which they suffer from and practice.

Still all is not doom and gloom, as some of the fiercest critics of Mrs Robinson on the web have come from within the Unionist community, if only the unionist political elite had the back bone of these people the North may just begin to move beyond the hate filled spew that came out of Iris Robinson’s mouth.

* The Royal College of Psychiatrists released a statement following the claims made by Mrs Robinson on radio. The statement said: “In light of comments made on The Nolan Show, the Royal College of Psychiatrists wishes to clarify that homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder.” Continuing, it noted: “In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association concluded there was no scientific evidence that homosexuality was a disorder and removed it from its diagnostic glossary of mental disorders. “The International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization followed suit in 1992.”

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Filed under democratic accountability, DUP, gay-rights, Organized Rage, The north of Ireland-UK/Politics