Monday, June 29, 2009
Harrowing Made in Manchester documentary
finds life was much easier for gay iraqis under
Radio production company Made in Manchester has won its first major
commission for BBC Radio 5Live with a harrowing documentary about the
persecution of gay people in Iraq.
In Gay Life After Saddam, presenter Aasmah Mir finds out how life for the
country’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community (LGBT), has got
much worse since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Human rights campaigners claim hundreds of LGBT people have been killed or
tortured while others have fled the country fearing for their safety since Saddam
was toppled from power six years ago.
Meanwhile, in the UK, gay Iraqis seeking asylum are struggling to persuade
authorities to let them stay.
Through some harrowing testimonies, Aasmah hears from campaigners and
those who’ve been persecuted to see how life has actually changed for gay
Producer Ashley Byrne, who is also Made in Manchester’s Creative Director,
says: “We’re proud to be making our 5Live debut with such an important
documentary which tackles a subject that doesn’t usually feature as part of the
usual narrative from Iraq.
“The programme includes an interview with a gay Iraqi who was kidnapped and
raped before fleeing the country, we hear from a young man who fled to Paris
after being tortured and we get exclusive access to a so-called ‘safe house’
harbouring vulnerable LGBT Iraqis on the outskirts of Baghdad,” says Ashley.
He adds: “Some of the evidence is very difficult to comprehend especially a form
of torture involving glue and diarrhoea inducing drugs.”
Presenter Aasmah Mir also meets a London based Iraqi whose life is under
threat for the work he’s doing to help gay people in his homeland. Ali Hilli, who
Suite 444 Great Northern House
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runs the group Iraqi LGBT claims he has had two fatwas issued against him from
extremists in the Middle East.
Co Producer Gail Champion says: “What becomes clear throughout is that not
one person, one group or another is responsible for this persecution. It seems
like it’s chaos in Iraq with the authorities struggling to keep control. What
surprised me more than anything was how much life was easier for LGBT people
under Saddam Hussein.”
As part of the programme, the US Government is put on the spot over the
Ashley Byrne says: “It was our reporter who managed to illicit a response from
the US Government during a State Department Briefing in Washington earlier
this month. The Obama administration’s reaction to the recent killings and
violence can be heard during this programme.”
The programme also includes interviews with the Iraqi Prime Minister, religious
leaders and ordinary people on the streets of Baghdad where homosexuality is
still viewed by many as an illness and something that needs treatment.
Gay Life After Saddam is produced by Ashley Byrne and Gail Champion and is
A Made in Manchester Production for BBC Radio 5Live. It will air from 7-8pm
this Sunday, 5th July 2009 on 909/693 medium wave, on line and DAB Digital
Radio and via the BBC iplayer.
• For further information about the programme or Made in Manchester,
please contact Ashley Byrne on 07702 155397
Made in Manchester is a radio and television production company which was
formed in May 2005 by broadcaster and former commercial radio boss Ashley
Byrne and 5 Times World Swimming Champion James Hickman. The company
has had commissions for BBC Radio 2, Radio 4, 5Live, the World Service, 1Xtra,
BBC Local Radio and ITV1. MIM also has a corporate productions and
PR/Marketing arm with clients including Speedo, Finnair and Red Bull.
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For Gays and Lesbians, True Equality Starts with MarriageSubmitted by Chad on Mon, 06/29/2009 - 2:06pm.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Chad Rubel
One of the overlooked elements to the death of Farrah Fawcett was that she and long-time love Ryan O'Neal wanted to get married at the very end, but unfortunately, they ran out of time. Even though they had been mostly together for almost three decades, they decide that getting married was something they wanted to do.
But a marriage that would have lasted hours or even days -- even that kind of marriage isn't an option for gay couples in over 40 states.
We have seen strongly committed gay couples wanting desperately to get married. It is the public face to put on for those who are unsure about gays and lesbians getting married. Show the strong couples, the committed couples, the ones that have been waiting a long time and desperately want to get hitched.
But behind this face are gay and lesbian couples who will want to get married for the reasons that some straight couples tie the knot: for money, professional advancement, on a whim, drunken and in Las Vegas, and even as a sweet gesture as one of them lays dying.
The recent release of "The Proposal" has Sandra Bullock's character wanting to marry Ryan Reynolds' character so she doesn't get deported to Canada. As silly a premise as this is, gay couples can't even do this in the vast majority of the United States. Of course, if this happened to a gay couple, they could just both move to Canada, get married, and not look back.
It is understood that you can't come out and say this is what you are fighting for, but deep down, true equality is having gay and lesbian couples make bizarre or unconventional choices in getting married.
The religious right, which literally preaches the sanctimony of marriage, does two things rather poorly: they don't chastise straight couples for their offbeat reasons for getting married, and they paint gays and lesbians as hedonists, which ironically, marriage would actually disprove this argument.
President Obama is meeting with LGBT supporters, one day after the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and, of course, Pride parades in many cities in the U.S. And the nice round number of a 40-year block -- two generations worth -- demonstrates how bad what the world was like for gays and lesbians in 1969, and the changes since.
But gays and lesbians have every right to be concerned about the defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, and the non-starter that is getting rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, or at least not enforcing its major statute.
We have freedoms as Americans to behave as odd, unusual, offbeat, unconventional as we want. But true freedom means freedom for all, for gays and lesbians to be every part of society, including those who want to get married. And not just married, but to be just as married for the same silly or sweet reasons that straight people do. This is when there will be true equality.
As President Obama prepares to host a cocktail reception at the White House for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender leaders, prominent activists and fundraisers return to the Stonewall Inn on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots to announce a new comprehensive LGBT civil rights agenda. At that time they will also present U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler with signed petitions from all 50 states and 36 countries supporting expansion of the Civil Rights Act to include LGBT people, marking the official launch of The Power’s nationwide petition drive and campaign demanding full equality now.
The Power (www.thepoweronline.org) is an online organizing network that empowers grassroots and netroots activists from every state in the country and from all over the world to fight for equal rights for LGBT people, not on some arbitrary and convenient schedule created by politicians and lobbyists, but right now.
Speakers will include Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, civil rights attorney Liz Abzug (daughter of feminist, anti-war, and LGBT activist and Congresswoman Bella Abzug), former Jerry Falwell ghostwriter and Soulforce founder Rev. Mel White, and others.
WHAT: A press conference convened by The Power (www.ThePowerOnline.org) launching a national movement to pass comprehensive LGBT civil rights legislation.
WHO: Jeffrey H. Campagna, founder of The Power, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a representative of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, and civil rights attorney and daughter of Congresswoman Bella Abzug, Liz Abzug.
WHEN: 10 a.m., Monday, June 29, 2009, 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
WHERE: Outside The Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St. @ Sheridan Square, New York, NY
WHY: With a self-proclaimed "fierce advocate" of LGBT rights in the White House, and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, the federal agenda for gay rights does not include full equality. It is time for LGBT people and their allies to seize this historic moment to pass comprehensive civil rights legislation now.
• Jeffrey H. Campagna is the founder of The Power. Campagna is also an attorney who has worked in the civil rights bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office, and a fundraiser for Democratic causes who was on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's LGBT steering committees. He is also a co-author of The Dallas Principles (www.thedallasprinciples.org), a call to action demanding full equality now. Campagna and The Power's organizing efforts have been cited by The New York Daily News, The New York Blade, The Washington Blade, The San Francisco Examiner, Edge (the largest web portal of LGBT news and entertainment), Huffington Post, TimeOut New York, Towleroad.com, and others.
• Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Civil Rights, and lead sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act.
• Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum is the leader of the largest LGBT congregation in the world, New York's Congregation Beth Simchat Torah.
• Liz Abzug is a civil rights attorney, a public affairs consultant, and adjunct professor of urban studies at Columbia University; she is the daughter of the late Congresswoman Bella Abzug who introduced sweeping gay rights legislation three times in the 1970's.
• Rev. Dr. Mel White, former ghost writer for clients including Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberston, founder of Soulforce, a national organization of religious leaders fighting religious based bigotry, and author of "Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay And Christian In America"
QUOTES AND INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
CNN -- Jesse Levey is a Republican activist who says he believes in family values, small government and his lesbian mothers' right to marry.
Jeff DeGroot on hiking trip with his mothers, Elisabeth, on his left, and Meg Grear, on his right.
Levey is part of the "gayby boom" generation. The 29-year-old management consultant is the son of a lesbian couple who chose to have a child through artificial insemination. He's their only child.
Critics of same-sex marriage say people such as Levey will grow up shunned and sexually confused. Yet he says he's a "well-adjusted heterosexual" whose upbringing proves that love, not gender, makes a family.
"You can imagine what my parents thought when I was 13 and listening to Rush Limbaugh everyday," Levey says. "But my family had strong family values. I was raised in a loving, caring household that let me be a free thinker."