SOUTHAMPTON MARKS LGBT HISTORY MONTH

To celebrate LGBT+ History Month, there will be a range of events taking place across the University of Southampton’s campuses throughout February.

Exhibitions

An exhibition of LGBT+ history will be set up in the entrance to Building 42 on Highfield Campus for the whole month. Meanwhile, at Winchester School of Art (WSA) from the 13th to the 29th of February, there will be a Queering Connections Library Exhibition.

Pride

SUSU will be hosting its own Pride march on the 25th from 15:00 which will begin outside Building 42. This will be followed by a Pride Party at Stags from 18:00 where there will be live music.

Clothes-swap

If you would like to refresh your wardrobe, come along to the clothes-swap at the entrance to Building 42 on the 20th from 11:00 until 15:00.

Films

Union Films will be screening Pride on the 6th of February at 19:00. There is always a black issue dear will be screened at the West Side Lecture Theatre at WSA on the 13th of February at 16:00. Victim will be screened at B65/LTC on Avenue Campus on the 19th from 16:00. Union Films will also be screening Moonlight on the 27th from 19:00.

Illustration competition

Are you an LGBTQ+ illustrator? Wessex Scene is running a competition to create a cover photo inspired by the theme of pride. The winner’s and runner-up’s entries will be publicised and prizes include coupons for the Art House cafe and October Books. The deadline for submissions to be emailed to image@wessexscene.co.uk is the 14th of February at 23:59.

Charity events

quarter of young homeless people in the UK are believed to be LGBTQ+. A sleepout on Highfield’s Redbrick on the 20th from 20:00-08:00 will be raising money for this cause. Southampton RAG and SUSU LGBT+ society will be hosting a Glitter Party on the 12th from 19:00 at the Bridge.

This year’s Stonewall lecture ‘Writing Anne Lister – the Real ‘Gentleman Jack’ will be delivered by Dr Jill Liddington (Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leeds) on the 20th from 18:00 at B65/LTC on Avenue Campus.

Discussion

LGBT+ Officer Kenny Field will be hosting a Queer People of Colour discussion group on the 14th from 18:00 until 19:00 at 58/1003. He will also be hosting a Pride Month Discussion Group, on the 28th from, 12:00 – 14:00 in Meeting Room 2 (B42). Additionally, there will be a session advising University societies on how to be LGBTQ+ inclusive on the 17th from 18:00. Also, Dr Gary Needham will be running a Film Studies Research Seminar ‘Cruising (1980) and Windows (1980) at 40: Hollywood, History, and Homophobia‘ on the 18th from 16:00 – 18:00 at B65/LTC on Avenue Campus.

UNIVERSITIES TO BE SANCTIONED FOR FAILING HARASSMENT VICTIMS

Content warning: this article contains mentions of sexual harassment.

The Office for Students (OfS) has called upon universities to improve their procedures for reporting sexual harassment, which they have labelled ‘ineffective’ and ‘inadequate’.

It has been discovered that over half of students at UK universities have encountered unwanted sexual advancements. Students let down by universities have been left with no choice but to share allegations of sexual assault online.

The OfS, the independent regulator of higher education in England, has proposed that universities with a poor record of dealing with sexual misconduct allegations will be fined or de-registered. The universities watchdog has also called for sexual consent workshops for staff and students. The OfS’ chief executive, Nicola Dandridge has commented that:

Our proposed statement of expectations sets out the basis of fair, clear and robust processes that we expect all higher education providers to have in place to respond effectively to harassment and sexual misconduct. Where we see evidence of serious failings, we have the regulatory powers to intervene.

The National Union of Students’ Women’s Officer has issued a reply:

We need urgent responses to tackle sexual harassment and violence in colleges and on campus. Historically, efforts towards tackling issues of sexual violence on university campuses have been shouldered by the most marginalised students.

A spokesperson for Universities UK has responded:

Universities are committed to ensuring students and staff have a safe university experience, free from harassment and hate crime, which allows them to thrive in their learning and work. Universities welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the progress they are making on this important issue.

MPS RESPOND TO SOUTHAMPTON PRIDE’S #PREPNOW CAMPAIGN

Local MPs have replied to Southampton Pride’s open letter calling on them to make PrEP freely available across the NHS. 

PReP is a pill that may be taken either every day or prior to sex, which prevents the spread of HIV. If taken correctly PReP is nearly 100% effective.

It was recently discovered that there has been a 71% fall in new diagnoses of HIV amongst gay and bisexual men, something which has been attributed to an increase in PReP users.

In Southampton Pride’s open letter, the Organising Committee note the disparity of PReP provision within the UK. In Scotland, the drug is more widely available, with the Welsh trial being more open than England’s. A lack of trial spaces and funding has apparently led to people on the waiting list contracting HIV. PReP that is privately sourced may be untested and around triple the price.

Caroline Nokes, the Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North agreed that PReP should be available on the NHS to at-risk groups. Nokes adds that she will raise this issue with the Department for Health and Social Care:

Alan Whitehead, the Labour MP for Southampton Test has also agreed that the disparity of PReP provision within the UK needs to be addressed. Whitehead has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to ensure that sufficient funding is allocated for trials across England.

Royston Smith, the Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen has since written to the Minister, adding that the current provision of PReP is counter-productive.

TRAVELLING SAFELY: LGBTQ+ RIGHTS ABROAD

Following international condemnation, protests and boycotts this year, the East Asian state of Brunei announced that it would not enforce the death penalty for gay sex. Brunei is not an isolated example of a country brutally cracking down on LGBTQ+ rights, as there are at least 68 other countries that criminalise consensual same-sex relationships. Even in countries where same-sex relationships are technically legal, LGBTQ+ people can face state-sponsored persecution.

I recommend that you research which countries have the best record regarding LGBTQ+ and other human rights if you are deciding upon a holiday destination. Also, within each country, tolerance of LGBTQ+ people can vary widely, with rural areas usually being less accepting. The UK Foreign Office has a ‘local laws and customs’ section for each country on its travel advice website which briefly explains the hostilities that LGBTQ+ people face in that location. Equaldex‘s crowd sourced website is more comprehensive, with timelines and the status of various LGBTQ+ laws in each country.

Your safety is paramount, and to ensure this the UK Foreign Office advises LGBTQ+ people to refrain from public displays of affection. Sadly, even in the UK, two-thirds of LGBTQ+ people avoid holding hands in public as they fear a negative response. Where there are visible LGBTQ+ communities such as bars, clubs and Pride festivals, support them and embrace them as a space where you can truly be yourself. If you can, book accommodation that is explicitly LGBTQ+ inclusive or part of a well-known chain to avoid discriminatory treatment by the owners. This is especially important if you are travelling with a partner of the same sex.

Whichever country you visit, exercise caution on location-based hook-up or dating apps such as Grindr or Tinder. Be careful which personal details you disclose and which strangers you meet. Vigilantes in Russia, alongside police forces in Egypt, are amongst those that have entrapped Grindr users, to arrest, attack or sexually assault them. Earlier this year, to improve the safety of its LGBTQ+ users, with help from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Tinder introduced a ‘Traveller Alert’. This safety feature automatically hides users in any location that is potentially dangerous to LGBTQ+ people, unless they choose to be shown.

Transgender people also have to overcome extra stress and bureaucratic hurdles in preparation for travelling abroad. To secure a passport that reflects a transgender person’s gender identity, the UK Government guide to passports outlines that they must either submit:

  • your full birth or adoption certificate in your birth gender
  • any other documents outlined in the guidance booklet
  • one of the following:
  • a Gender Recognition Certificate
  • a letter from your doctor or medical consultant confirming that your change of gender is
    likely to be permanent, and evidence of your change of name such as a deed poll.’

Furthermore, there are many instances of transgender people facing discriminatory and traumatic experiences at airport security. In 2017 at a Florida airport, Olivia, a transwoman, was pulled aside when a full-body scanner highlighted her groin area. She was not allowed on to the plane until she was patted down, then forced to remove her underwear, to prove that she was not carrying an explosive device. This sickening violation of transgender rights at airport security is shockingly not an isolated incident.

DOCTORS URGE ‘GET YOUR FLU JAB NOW’

To avoid being one of the hundreds of thousands expected to be affected over the festive season, Doctors urge patients to get vaccinated as soon as possible. These warnings follow Public Health England (PHE) figures that show a 24% increase in patients with flu symptoms. 

The virus may be spread by those not showing symptoms. To reduce the spread of flu, PHE advises you to ‘catch it, bin it, kill it‘. In other words, cover your coughs and sneezes, bin used tissues, then wash your hands with warm water and soap. The ‘best defence‘ against flu is the jab, with NHS National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis calling it ‘the difference between a Christmas to remember, and one to forget‘.

Pregnant women, young children, over 65s and those with underlying medical conditions are particularly susceptible. At-risk groups are eligible for a free flu jab.

 

INTERVIEW: CRAIG FLETCHER, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE, ROMSEY AND SOUTHAMPTON NORTH

Who would you describe as the average or typical Liberal Democrat voter?

Is there such a thing? We’re a broad church party. We espouse liberal values, equality of opportunity, making sure no one is disadvantaged by where they were born. We have a broad range of support across the population. A lot of people in our party are pro-Europe. Our problem has often been that we’ve been cerebral and not emotive enough. We’re very tolerant – of all people and backgrounds, genders, sexualities. Ultimately our key message is to stay in the EU.

What is the biggest issue in this General Election?

It depends what lens you’re looking at it through. If you’re looking at it as the biggest issue for the economy and the political landscape, then it’s Brexit. The biggest issue facing humanity is climate change. That’s not getting the attention it should. Whilst this Brexit debacle is going on we’re not fixing the real issues the country is facing such as the NHS, social care, the crumbling education system and the climate crisis. I often say on the door to people, there’s no point arguing about which political club we’re part of when London is 10 metres underwater. We need to take urgent action, but we’re not going to make much of an inroad whilst Brexit is dividing the country, consuming all the political oxygen.

What steps have you taken to combat climate change?

I drive an electric vehicle with zero emissions. I’ve yet to convince the wife to put solar panels on the roof but I’m working on that. We recycle heavily, we try not to buy any single-use plastics. In the last few years, we’ve tried to eat less meat. I don’t think I’m going to go vegetarian but if we cut down at least one or two meals a week, that’s a significant reduction of our CO2 footprint. I try to offset my emissions if I can, especially if I’m flying. My energy comes from renewables as I’m with Bulb.

Recently there have been protests against the expansion of Southampton Airport. Would you vote for airport expansions?

We need to have the economy growing but we also need to have the environmental impact assessed. It’s difficult to say whether I would vote for or against it when I don’t have the detail. I know it’s typical trying to avoid answering the question but I don’t know what the outcome is. Are they going to do less flights with bigger aeroplanes which would lead to less overall pollution and disruption to the local population? That might be an argument to do it. The country needs to fly less. There are some interesting technologies coming out at the prototype stage that produce hydrocarbon fuel that can be used in a jet engine. I accept there is a need for Southampton to grow the economy and how many trips it saves up to Heathrow and Gatwick.

According to Vince Cable, revoking Article 50 is a distraction, as the Liberal Democrats aren’t going to enter government on their own.

When that policy came in we were riding mid-20s in the polls and there was a very real chance that we could get 100 plus MPs. That’s before the Farage-Johnson pact happened that meant that every seat became at least 10% harder. The Brexit Party vote is almost entirely going to the Conservatives. The revoke Article 50 policy was misunderstood and sensationally reported. Our policy has always been and still is to get a People’s Vote on any deal, with an option to Remain. We’ve added 17 amendments, 7 of which have gone to a vote and all of those were blocked by the major parties. We are committed to a second referendum. The revoke position was to deal with the possibility we get elected by a majority and have to send Jo Swinson off to negotiate a deal. Just because we would revoke Article 50 doesn’t mean that in five years’ time someone can’t re-enact it.

Would you support any other party into government?

We are open to anyone that will give us a People’s Vote. I very much doubt we will go into coalition because that was a very painful lesson that we learned from 2010-2015. The electorate judges us far more harshly than historians will. The coalition did a lot of good that we don’t seem to get any credit for. I cannot see us supporting either of the current leaders in a coalition. A confidence and supply arrangement might be possible.

Why should students trust you after your party broke the tuition fees promise?

On behalf of the party, I would like to apologise to students, that was something we absolutely got wrong. But we were the junior partners in coalition and could not stop the Tories from doing it. Coalition is a compromise. You don’t have a mandate to deliver your whole manifesto. We’re a very different party now. I’m not a politician, I’m only just going into it. I’m a businessman. Most people who know me from my professional life tell me I’m very genuine and honest. I would never vote to increase or expand tuition fees at all. With our plans for higher and further education, we don’t plan on touching that live rail any time soon.

How would the Liberal Democrats resolve the student mental health crisis?

As a tech entrepreneur, I know only too well the impacts that technology has on young people’s minds. We have an epidemic of mental health in no small part due to things like social media being used in teenage years. We want mental health to be treated the same way as physical health on a level peg.  I signed the mental health first aid pledge. We should not only have first aiders, but mental health first aiders can also be trained to spot these signs as nipping mental health early is important. Our key pledge is a penny on income tax to fund over £7 billion a year into the NHS and social care. £11 million will be ringfenced for mental health for five years. It is time we stopped the stigma and deal with the issue.

JEREMY CORBYN SIGNS SOUTHAMPTON UCU PETITION

Yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn visited Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium to announce the Labour Party’s Manifesto For The Environment. The Labour leader pledged that two billion trees will be planted by 2040 and ten new National Parks will be created if he is elected Prime Minister. Following the speech, Corbyn signed Southampton University and College Union’s (UCU) petition to protect staff pensions.

On Monday, UCU members at sixty universities began an eight-day strike in protest over the marketisation of higher education. Striking staff argue that workloads, working hours and stress have increased, whilst pay and pensions have declined. On Twitter, Southampton UCU responded to the Labour leader’s signature by asking whether any other 2019 General Election candidates will also stand in solidarity with them:

During media questioning, Corbyn reiterated his commitment to the abolition of tuition fees, arguing that regardless of a student’s social background, education should be a universal right.

The Labour leader, who was joined on stage by local climate strikers, defended his pledge to plant 190 trees per minute by jokingly stating that: ‘it’s not going to be done by one person‘. Corbyn revealed that if he is elected Prime Minister he will plant a hornbeam tree, that was gifted to him by members of Extinction Rebellion, in Downing Street’s garden.

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