Oh John Banks, you so silly…

I’m not usually one to mock celebrities or politicians for their sexualities when they’re insecure or closeted. Being insecure in your sexuality or living a public life in the closet is not in anyway fun. I’ve chided friends for mocking Christopher Finlayson and I don’t engage in jocular questioning of MPs sexualities unless hypocrisy is in the air.

I’m not, however, going to be so nice to John Banks and his insecurities. I don’t believe he’s a closeted gay, but he seems to have allowed his sexual insecurity to distend into paranoia. I’m not nice to him because I do not believe he deserves it.

I’m speaking (or “writing” — how does voice work when it’s written? I’ll consult a linguist tomorrow) about his recent interview on Radio Live.

He’s found himself in a spot of bother over donations to his 2010 mayoral campaign fund. He’s accused of requesting Kim Dotcom to give him two smaller donations, rather than one large one, and declaring them anonymous, then mysteriously forgetting the whole thing.

Radio Live’s reporter Frances Cook asked what his relationship with Dotcom was. His reply?

“What’s your relationship? This is offensive! He’s a married man! What are you talking about? … Sorry look.. I.. I don’t wanna go down… I’ve had no relationship with Dotcom — he’s got a wife.”

Cook laughs and tries to explain she meant a business relationship, but he hung up.

As I said, I’m not one to mock people for their insecurities, but this is the man who stood up in parliament and said homosexuals “should not be put in charge of vulnerable young people…”, that prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation would lead to New Zealand becoming a paedophile tourist location, and said “I refuse to be part of the bid in this House to give a rubber stamp of approval for what I believe is wrong—socially wrong, morally wrong, and wrong before God.”

At the mere suggestion that he had a “relationship” with another man, even though context implied that the meaning was purely platonic and business related, he jumps into panic mode to defend his straightness, and the straightness of Dotcom. What does that say about him?

This man is in our parliament again, and he’s showing himself to be paranoid and reactionary whenever human rights, specifically those relating to sexuality, are brought up. If we’re going to advance politically, he needs to go.

Guest Post – World AIDS Day

As you can see from the title, I have a guest post for you today. This one comes from my friend Edward Lang, President of UniQ Canterbury, and he’s writing about today:


D

ecember 1st is, as days go, fairly significant. For those of us in Godzone™, it marks the beginning of a long, hot summer (or at least the hope of one, depending on location). It is the anniversary of Ukraine’s vote for independence, and East Germany’s end of enshrined single party dominance.

This year, however, is especially significant. December 1st 2011 is the 30 year anniversary of official recognition of the AIDS virus. The theme of this AIDS Day is Getting to Zero, and the 5 year campaign aims for a complete elimination of new infections, discrimination and AIDS related deaths.

The insidious fact about AIDS is that not only can it affect everyone, its effects are especially pronounced in the most disadvantaged communities. Even in the United States, HIV affects African American communities at a far higher rate than White communities in the same area. And when the transfer rate via childbirth is 25% for those who are without treatment, it is absolutely vital that we institute policies that work towards the Getting to Zero goal.

On the Queer front, things can be seen to be getting better. In 2009, Obama lifted the entry ban of those who tested HIV positive, and in the same year India legalised same-sex activity, enabling HIV/AIDS foundations easier access to Gay Men at risk, who no longer faced legal retribution for sex and who could now openly access testing and prevention services.

But there’s more to do. The Arab Spring hasn’t produced the same gains for the LGBT community as we would perhaps have liked. Although the death penalty bill in Uganda failed, the atmosphere of persecution haunts the LGBT community throughout the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia. When the LGBT community is forced underground it becomes extremely hard to reach out to those most at risk, for the fear of being outed and thrown into prison can be too much to bear. When this is combined with no governmental support for anti-HIV programmes amongst the LGBT community the results are devastating.

We need to make sure that governments don’t make it hard to access anti-HIV programmes. We need to make sure that such programmes are holistic, and incorporate all groups. We need to make sure that programmes are adequately funded and are able to help those they seek to. We need to stand up and oppose those who undermine anti-HIV programmes, whether they’re religious in nature, or tinfoil nutjobs.

So for Christmas this year, consider buying someone a donation in their name. For $40.50, you can buy an HIV test kit for mothers. It’s quick, easy and is a concrete step to helping reduce the spread of HIV. Go on, I dare you.


HIV is still a serious issue. But access to antiretrovirals have turned it from the horrific death sentence it once was, to a chronic disease, which (along with sex education that hasn’t kept up) have led to people being blasé about safe sex. I myself have been surprised when I’ve had to remind a partner to use a condom (seriously, you just met me in a bar, how do you know you can trust me? I mean, you can, but that’s beside the point).

But safe sex is not about trust, it’s about hygiene, and you shouldn’t rely on someone to truthfully tell you their HIV status, nor should you demand it: that shit leads to stigmatisation, which makes people lie, which exacerbates myths around transmission. What you should do is always use a condom and lube.

Last year, HIV infection rates in the UK and NZ were the highest since records began. Part of this has to do with those infected not dying, part of it has to do with younger people, who never saw the horrible face of AIDS related illness, not thinking that it’s a threat any more. We do need to care, and we do need to protect ourselves — and encourage others to protect themselves too. Safe sex should be the only kind of sex you should have.

But Edward’s right to point out the disparity in those communities affected by HIV/AIDS. Approximately 34 million people are now living with HIV, but only 6.6 million have access to treatment. This is something we need to solve. As a start, I recommend doing what Edward suggests: and donate to buy an HIV test kit for mothers.

Believe it or not, but there’s an election tomorrow

So go vote. Vote like the wind!

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for — not out of any respect for out electoral laws (which I do actually have respect for) — rather mostly because I can’t actually decide if there’s any party that I support well enough to endorse them publicly.

But I will suggest voting for those parties who have good human rights records, and have explicit policy for the further advancement of those rights, and we all know who those are, don’t we?

If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. (Although, some would say that if you do vote, you can’t complain — because you’re the ones who elected the arseholes).

What are we fighting for?

With the current push for marriage equality in Aotearoa, have we lost track of what we should really be fighting for? And is marriage really something we need to push for?

A friend of mine, Stephen Jackson, posted the following on tumblr, and has given me permission to reproduce it here. It pretty much sums up the problems with the current push for same-sex marriage in NZ:
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