Month: March 2013

“If we keep on hiding, they will say we are not here…”

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According to human rights organisations, at least 500,000 gay people live in Uganda out of a total population of 31 million, though the government of Uganda contests that number as inflated; the BBC states that it is “impossible” to determine the actual number. This is because the majority of homosexuals in Ugandan have been forced into hiding since the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill was proposed by leading Ugandan parliamentary David Bahati. Although homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda with those found guilty of “committing” this “crime” facing up to 14 years imprisonment, the new Bill, which in 2013 is still under consideration by the Ugandan government proposes life imprisonment for gay activities and the death penalty for aggravated homosexuality.

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Leading LGBT Activist – David Kato

The quote featured in the title is one taken from prominent Gay Rights Activist David Kato. David was a prominent campaigner, fighting for the human rights of homosexuals like himself living in Uganda and even winning an important court case where he sued Uganda’s Rolling Stone newspaper after it published the names, addresses and work places of 100 of Uganda’s “top gays” next to a yellow banner which read “hang them”.

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Unfortunately however, it was a cause Kato was to give his life to, when he was bludgeoned to death in his home in early 2011  . Days after Kato’s death the local police strongly expressed that David’s murder was not a result of his sexuality but merely a dispute between friends. The pastor who carried out his funeral service, refused to bless Kato’s body in the eyes of God and so LGBT activists where forced to  remove his body and take it to a private burial.

Shockingly this obscene treatment of homosexuals is not merely an issue in Uganda as homosexuality is currently illegal in 76 countries, and punishable by death in 5 of those. When asked to comment on the Bill as part of humanistic documentary “Call Me Kuchu” created by directors Malika Zohali-Worral and Katherine Fairfax who explored the issue in 2010/2011, Bahati commented plainly “There is no longer a debate in Uganda. We don’t recognise homosexuality as a human right here”. Indeed, LGBT activists who are desperately opposing this new legislation find themselves prosecuted on a daily basis not just by the law in Uganda but by their friends and neighbours as a result of it.

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They say “all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing” so we must take action against such a violation of human rights, where people are prosecuted and murdered just because of their sexuality. To take action against the passing of the Anti-Homosexual Bill in Uganda and add your voice to the hundreds of thousands who recognise its potential danger visit http://callmekuchu.com/act/ for ways in which you can join the campaign, because until this Bill is stopped and others like it are raised to question, in the words of the David Kato “The struggle continues”.

NB/  I wrote this article as my entry to the Amnesty International Young Reporter of the Year Competition and managed to make it into the top 10 of my category. I felt it was such an important issue that people needed to be made aware of. 

Thank you for reading

Harriette

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To shop online, or not to shop online… that is the question.

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As we’re all aware online shopping is taking over with the majority of large shops doing next-day, free delivery what more could we ask for? Some retail websites are offering product exclusives, a wide range of store information, they can tell us what’s in stock, when it’ll  be in next, what other shops are selling it for and improve their price based on that, they allow us to compare items,read either the very complimentary or absolutely slating customer reviews and some sites such as ASOS even provide catwalk videos, so you can witness the frock you want to buy being wore by a skeletal model who looks nothing like you  but is demonstrating how this product is going to look on you anyway. In short, the online world of shops is booming – but why can’t they all catch up?

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There are of course – as with anything – a few negatives with online shopping, for one, those shops who have not yet caught on with the free delivery to your local store  which the likes of Next and John Lewis employ, can have extortionate delivery costs of as much as £4.99 extra on the product which you already feel a bit guilty for buying because it’s a little too expensive.

Also if you’re like me and you have an ugly student card from your college with gets you fantastic discounts in shops but haven’t yet forked out for an official NUS card then you can’t use your precious student discount online which on sites such as Urban Outfitters which offer up to 20% can be very upsetting…

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But if you can cope with the little bit extra cost on top of your product for the postage – or maybe you’ve found a handy promotional code to deduct 20% off your bill, and you’ve selected standard delivery which can be roughly between 3-6 working days, but you’ve ordered it on a Friday, you then have to wait until the following week and possibly even the week after that to receive your item . Not to mention that rising fury and/ or bitter disappointment when you get home from college/ work to a small red slip waiting just inside the door with one of the optional boxes ticked and which ever relative that’s been home all day telling you the bell doesn’t work or they were hoovering.

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Thankfully the Royal Mail and other companies have recently implemented a policy where packages can be left with neighbours, which [provided you get on with them] is much better than having to visit the post office to collect your parcel. And when you finally get home and  unwrap the plastic envelope to open your carefully wrapped present and try it on, it’s too big/small and it’s £4.99 to sent to it back to them unwanted.

In many ways it is beginning to feel easier to just walk into a shop, see something, try it on and buy it, no delivery charges, no fuss.

Though I must admit I am one of those shoppers who will scour the clothing shops website, browsing products and then go searching for specific things instore, only to be disappointed when I can’t find them in the shops and have to buy them online anyway.

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And so it seems I can’t win, either way shopping can be frustrating, but as long as there’s nothing like being paid and treating yourself to something new, I will carry on in my crusade and just hope some of my favourite sites, might learn to keep up with the times.

Don’t say a word…

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Censorship is a concept that we barely consider here in Britain. Although we might occasionally express our knowledge of the fact that ” in China…they can’t even see all the Google Results” ( though in some ways there are a lot of Google results which frankly i’d rather not see) Recently, this concept of what the general public SHOULD know about and what it shouldn’t has come very much under speculation with the proposed changes to newspaper regulation as a result of the infamous Leveson enquiry, leaving us all scratching our heads and wondering whether it really is within our public interest to know that Ed Sheeran is seeing Taylor Swift for example, or that Kelly Brook and Katie Price are having a row [personally I don’t really care…]

In the news today the polar bear politician that is Boris Johnson has been widely criticised for his decision to ban a Christian group’s (The Core Issues Trust) bus advertisement about homosexuality, which was put forward in retaliation to the Stonewall bus posters reading “Some People Are Gay Get Over It!”

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 The judge Mrs Justice Lang who looked into the issue suggested that Mister Johnson “should not have allowed either” slogan to be advertised on the London buses, but the Mayor of London argued in his defence that his mayoral job is “to stop prejudice”.

So where does that leave us? Arguably in banning the Christian propaganda which suggested homosexuals could be “cured” [ an opinion which goes beyond the bounds of narrow-mindedness and absurdity] the Mayor of London, whatever his reasons was not protecting the right of freedom of speech, he was trying to prevent prejudice and what might have been very serious consequences for both Christians and homosexuals. But which in this case is more important?  Ruth Gledhill, religious correspondent for The Times suggests that “Free speech comes with a price and this can mean that strongly held opinions can be offensive” and unfortunately this does seem to be the case, for as much as we might disagree with the views of The Core Issues Trust and the BNP for example, if we do not allow them to express their views: who are we?

And as much as frankly there are outrageous breaches of freedom of speech with videos, stories and pictures I would rather not have to face up to, I agree with Ruth Gledhill when she suggests that “It is precisely the ability to publish the most annoying, offensive and fringe opinion that should be protected… The right to be an irritant is crucial.” If we look, for example at the 25,000 complaints made against Jan Moir for publishing a disgusting article the day before the funeral of Boyzone band member Stephen Gately, where she described the events leading up to his death as “sleazy” and “less than respectable”. Many readers would argue that, that article should never have been published in The Daily Mail. But maybe it should? The article itself discredited Moir and the judgement of the article and the journalist’s integrity were left up to the public to decide. Moir had exercised her freedom of speech through a public media and now she must suffer the consequences of that.

But without this freedom I might not be able to write down here exactly what I think and there would be something very 1984 about reading this blog with black lines covering words such as “polar bear politician”. The worrying thing is that with some of the (although rightfully) proposed regulations to restrict these loose-tongued newpapers, could we be moving further away from a liberal, free society? Couldn’t we just read the disgusting headlines and boycott them instead like in the good old days?

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Harriette

P.S. I would be HUGELY interested to hear the views of anyone who has read this as I feel it is a very complex issue.

We are the reckless, we are the wild youth – chasing visions of our futures…

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I’m just going to go right out and say it, I love songs with amazing lyrics and I love the people that write those songs and more than anything I love those days were you find a song that you’ve heard in an advert, or a friend has sent you, or just randomly on YouTube and you think “Wow, that was truly amazing”.

I admit it the first time my friend Lewis sent me Lana Del Ray’s “Video games” telling me to “check it out” I was pretty skeptical but it was truly unlike anything I have ever heard before in my life and I have grown to love it.

However, I also love those quiet, little-known acts who’s EP you can download for free because they haven’t made the big time. People who have written songs since their teens and just want to show them to the world.

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Tom Rosenthal for example, was an artist I discovered when his beautiful song “Take Care” featured in the last series of Channel 4’s “Skins” creating this wonderful moment of television and I tried very hard to remember bits of the chorus whilst I was listening to it, so that I might find it and play it over and over until I was in love. I have consequently brought his album and found several other songs that I love, including the instrumental  piano song “Painting Song For Nicola” which I have found an excellent companion whilst writing many essays, particularly in the noise of the college library!

Listen to some of his songs here: http://www.tomrosenthal.co.uk/#/music

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Another amazing artist I was introduced to via a friend was Rae Morris from Blackpool, who is not only an excellent singer/songwriter, but she is also BEAUTIFUL and you can download an EP full of songs such as her amazing “Walls” for absolutely FREE people, if you sign up to the mailing list ( and personally I would have paid for it!) Here’s the link: http://www.raemorris.co.uk/

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Finally – perhaps my very most favorite band that I have had the pleasure of coming across in recent years is Daughter an indie-folk band with lead singer Elena Tonra who I also found on “Skins” – hey it’s a good programme for music –  with her simply amazing  song “Youth” which includes thought provoking lyrics. If you check out one song from reading this blog, please make it this one. This song could easily be mistaken for some beautiful poem about the difficulties facing young people. I saw this wonderful artist live at Latitude and instantly felt this the quality of her writing and her songs are TOO GOOD to be ignored. Other good songs include: “Run”, “Candles” and “Medicine”.

 But overall I love this kind of music. Songs where the lyrics really seem to resonate with you, making you feel uplifted or thoughtful about some aspect of life. These are the songs that I get banned from listening to with my standard Spotify account, the songs that I seek out on my iPod to play on beautiful sunny days or to fit particular moods, the artists that I look for in the small print of a festival line-up. These are the artists that matter. And this is music that is important, and as much as we are told to support small businesses we must also support these rising stars of the music industry, treasuring the fact that there are still these people that can write beautiful, touching lyrics as well as sing them well. And remember that huge stars like Mumford and Sons and Ed Sheeran where were they are write now, humbly writing songs and singing anywhere and everywhere just to be heard. AND WHO SAID THE MUSIC INDUSTRY WAS DEAD?

P.S. –> If your more into the indie-rock genre I have recently found this brilliant  alternative band from Essex “Catrinas”. Here is a link to their website: http://www.catrinas.co.uk/#!music/c10twincase you fancy a listen. The lead singer Michael Hemmings writes a lot of the songs and they are excellent – I particularly recommend “TCVCR”

Harriette x