The Daily Agenda for Saturday, August 17

Jim Burroway

August 17th, 2013

TODAY’S AGENDA:
LGBT Activists to Protest McDonalds HQ Over Olympics Sponsorship: Oak Brook, IL. Russia’s persecution of its LGBT citizens, and the threats that Russia’s so-called “anti-propaganda” law poses to athletes, spectators and others attending the winter Olympics games in Sochi has put corporate sponsorships in a bind. The IOC is now threatening to discipline athletes who would dare to show their support for LGBT people, which would, in effect, place the IOC in a position of enforcing Russia’s discriminatory anti-gay law. Buzzfeed checked in with ten corporate Olympic sponsors, and only one, General Electric, dared to step forward in defense of human rights. “We expect the IOC to uphold human rights in every aspect of the Games,” said a spokesperson. As for the others:

Several major corporations said they would defer to the International Olympic Committee. Spokespeople from Dow Chemical, Samsung, McDonald’s and Visa, for example, all provided BuzzFeed with statements that were similar to one another — down to the adjectives used, suggesting coordination among the sponsors or directly from the IOC itself — and which back the IOC’s cautious engagement.

Dow and Visa led their statement by noting their status as “an Olympic TOP Partner,” then stated their respective companies “believe[] in the spirit of the Games and its unique ability to unite the world in a way that is positive and inspirational.” Samsung’s statement led off with the same sentence, but noted the Games’ ability to “engage” the world.

McDonald’s, while noting, “There’s no room for discrimination under the Golden Arches,” reiterated the common response, with a spokeswoman telling BuzzFeed: “McDonald’s supports the spirit of the Olympic Games and its ability to unite the world in a positive and inspirational way.”

Those wishy-washiy statements didn’t sit well with Chicago-area activists. StonewallAgain have announced a protest in front of McDonald’s headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook to call on McDonald’s to withdraw their support of the Games to take a stand against Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. McDonald’s has signed on to a $100 million sponsorship as the sole retail food sponsor for the Summer and Winter games through 2020. The protest will take place today from 11:00 to 1:00. More information is available on the event’s Facebook page.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Allentown, PA; Brooklyn (Bedford Stuyvesant), NY; Columbia, MO; Kelowna, BC; Madison, WI; Montréal, QC; New York, NY (Black Pride); Ottawa, ON; Prague, Czech RepublicReno, NV; San Jose, CA; Sligo, Ireland; Taos, NM.

AIDS Walk This Weekend: Reno, NV.

Other Events This Weekend: Ascension Beach Party, Fire Island, NY; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; London to Paris Cycle for Terrence Higgins Trust, London/Paris; Schwules Straßenfest, Munich, Germany; Camp Camp, Portland ME; Provincetown Carnival, Provincetown, MA; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Kurt Hiller: 1885. The German essayist and political journalist was an early influential writer of the German gay rights movement in the first few decades of the twentieth century. In 1908, he joined the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, the world’s first gay rights organization which had been founded in 1897 by Magnus Hirschfeld (see May 14 ). “In the final analysis, ” he wrote in 1921, “justice for you will be the fruit only of your own efforts. The liberation of homosexuals can only be the work of homosexuals themselves.” In 1922 he published §175: Die Schmach des Jahrhunderts! (“Paragraph 175: The disgrace of the century!”), the title of which referred to the German penal code which criminalized homosexual activity between men. It was widely distributed, including to members of the Reichstag, during the debates on the sexual penal code in the 1920s. In 1929, Hiller took over as chairman of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, after Magnus Hirschfeld stepped down to focus his attention on the Institute for Sexual Research.

After the Nazis came to power, they banned both the Institute and Committee. Hiller, who was a gay pacifist socialist Jew, had more than enough reasons to land on the Gestapo’s radar. He was arrested and spent time in various concentration camps before being released on the brink of death in April of 1934. He fled to Prague later that year to avoid another arrest, then to London in 1938 just ahead of the German armies. While in London, he continued to write for the German exile press. In 1955, he returned to Hamburg, and tried to resurrect the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1962. That idea didn’t take root, but Hiller nevertheless continued to write on behalf of the gay rights movement. He published numerous articles and essays in the influential Swiss gay magazine Der Kreis. In 1965, Der Kreis returned the favor with a five-page commemoration for Hiller’s 80th birthday. Hiller died in 1972.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Joseph Singer

August 17th, 2013

McDonald’s reply is nothing more than corporate speak which in the end means nothing at all.

Timothy Kincaid

August 17th, 2013

Samsung may have been wishy-washy in their response, but they did help me make a decision. I’ve been vacillating about which brand to select in an upcoming television purchase. They provided exactly the information I needed to help me make my choice. Although I was going to go for consistency (my other electronics are Samsung) I think I’ll venture out this time. Clearly they are not looking for my business.

Hue-Man

August 17th, 2013

This week, a research study from my alma mater, University of British Columbia, found that GSAs and anti-homophobia policies in schools had spin-off benefits for ALL students.

Study Sample
“This study used the 2008 BC Adolescent Health Survey conducted by the McCreary Centre Society for grades 8 through 12, which involved 21,708 students in 280 schools in 50 districts across the province. Fifteen school districts [of 59] had anti-homophobic bullying policies and 87 [of 352] schools had GSAs.”

“Key findings:
In schools with GSAs started three or more years ago:
Lesbian and bisexual girls were 55 per cent less likely to drink alcohol last Saturday [B.C. legal drinking age is 19!]
Lesbian and bisexual girls were 52 per cent less likely to binge drink last Saturday
Heterosexual boys and girls were 19 per cent less likely to binge drink last Saturday
Heterosexual boys had 20 per cent lower odds of problems from alcohol or drug use
No differences for gay/bisexual boys
No effects for heavy marijuana use

In schools with anti-homophobia policies enacted three or more years ago:
Heterosexual boys were 45 per cent less likely to report binge drinking six or more days in the past month
Heterosexual girls were 62 per cent less likely to binge drink 6 or more days in the past month, 32 per cent less likely to binge drink last Saturday, and 28 per cent less likely to report problems from alcohol or drug use” http://apsc.ubc.ca/apsc/news/2013/08/anti-homophobia-measures-reduce-binge-drinking-all-students

I believe these are public schools only (there are fewer than 30 private high schools in the province.) Unlike Ontario, B.C. does not have public Catholic schools. I have a hard time thinking there is direct causality but may reflect a more open school culture or even urban/rural and economic class differences. GSAs and anti-bullying were still relatively new in 2003/4, i.e. 3+ years before the survey in 2008.

The link has info on obtaining the full research paper. “The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency.”

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