Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for February, 2012

Advocate, WaPo, AP Get it Wrong On Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 9th, 2012

Why oh why can’t the mainstream media — or even the LGBT media — get this one right? Here’s the Advocate:

The measure was originally introduced in 2009 by David Bahati and called for same-sex sexual activity to be punishable with the death penalty or life imprisonment. Bahati reintroduced the bill on Tuesday without the death penalty provision, according to the AP, but left life imprisonment in as the maximum sentence for what he calls “aggravated homosexuality.”

And here’s the Associated Press (via Washington Post):

Bahati now says he has rewritten the bill to remove the death penalty provision, leaving life imprisonment as the maximum sentence for what he calls “aggravated homosexuality.”

This follows a similar false report from the BBC which claimed the same thing. The BBC has since made a slight modification to their report (which still carries the false headline “Uganda MP revives anti-gay bill but drops death penalty”) which now tells the real story:

Mr Bahati told the BBC’s Joshua Mmali in the capital, Kampala, that for procedural reasons, the bill had been reintroduced in its original form but that the provision for capital punishment would be removed at committee stage. [Emphasis added.]

The original form, which includes the death penalty, is here. As for the “committee stage”, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended a sly change to the bill. They recomended removing the explicit language calling for “death by hanging,” and replacing it with a reference to the penalties provided in an unrelated already existing law. That law however specifies the death penalty. Which means that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended that the death penalty be retained through stealth. Bahati then went on to claim that the death penalty was removed even though it was still a part of the bill.

The bill currently is back in the hands of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, the same committee that attempted that sleight of hand trick last May.

Bahati has proven himself an excellent spinner, and writers reporting on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill have consistently failed to verify his words. Until they do, Bahati’s false statements will continue to be presented as though they were facts, and it will be the work of others to demonstrate again that his statements are manifestly untrue. Maybe someday writers for news outlets will begin to behave as journalists and not stenographers. But that day has not arrived.

The Advocate’s foolish and sad “Gayest City” ranking

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

January 22nd, 2010

I appreciate the Advocate for many reasons, not least of which is that they are a gay magazine that is still in business. But their recent effort to light-heartedly identify the “gayest cities” in the United States betrayed our community’s occasional inclination to still buy into the most negative stereotypes as though they define us.

“Intrepid amateur sociologist Mike Albo” wanted to make the point that gay folk have fled from big cities and now are now scattered to unlikely places (an unlikely assumption).

About 10 years ago everyone else moved back into these nicely gentrified metropolises, and the lavender diaspora began. Now a slew of secondary cities are becoming gay epicenters.

So to identify these secondary epicenters and find which is gayest, he came up with seven measurements, some of which are reasonable, some of which are perplexing, and some of which make me sad at heart.

First the reasonable: same-sex households per capita and gay elected officials. These both seem like good things to consider. A city is likely “gayer” if it has more gay couples and if it’s residents are more open to gay elected officials. gay bars per capita – while I might think that this is not the best criterion, gay bars are to some extent a measurement of gay social life, although I would compare them to the total number of bars, not the total number of people.

Now the perplexing: statewide marriage equality – I can see how this might make sense in a small homogenous state, but I find it odd that by this measure Fresno is gayer than Atlanta. gay films in Netflix favorites – I guess one might measure anti-gay hostility by who was willing to watch Milk, but this is in many ways based in a ghetto mindset. Those who feel “outside” or “other” may be more inclined to need the connection brought by gay specific cinema, while those who are in welcoming communities might be less inclined to watch films based solely on their gay content.

And now the self-loathing categories. First let me say that I’m not accusing Mr. Albo of being self-loathing; he may be the most happy and secure guy out there. And I do recognize that this was not intended to be anything other than a fun exercise. But caveats aside, the following two measurements are based on stereotypes that are tragic and reminiscent of the tales of woe from ex-gays and self-hating drama queens of the 70s. gay dating and hookup profiles for single male population – that is not a measure of gayness, that’s a measure of the extent to which that community discounts relationships or has limited alternatives to meeting someone. And the saddest is cruising spots per capita. First, cruising spots are frequently frequented by those who do not identify as gay and those who are married. And also, cruising spots are most frequent in places where there are no safe ways for gay people to meet. This is not a measure of gayness, this is a measure of the closet in a hostile environment.

A measure of gayness might include a wide variety of gay social groups, citywide laws about discrimination or benefits or couples registry, supportive churches and synagogues, estimations of the gay population, the presence of an active community center, programs for gay youth or elders, and a lack of hate crime incidences. Perhaps even some comparison of the way the city voted on gay marriage bans would be informative.

But not guys lurking furtively in the bushes. That’s not gay, that’s just sad.