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A year of Decriminalisation of Section 377

2019.09.06 06:13 jksjay A year of Decriminalisation of Section 377

A year ago, on September 6th, 2018, the supreme court of India struck down portions of a law dating to 1861, which penalised any form of unnatural sex. The scrapping essentially meant that it was no longer a crime to be gay in India.
This June, for Pride month, I wrote an article outlining LGBTQ+ history, with a focus on India. It is by no means complete, but I feel I have glossed over a few of the important bits and pieces. I thought I would share it here on the anniversary of the scrapping of Section 377.
September 6, 2018, was a monumental day for a significant portion of the Indian populace. Portions of the archaic Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises any form of carnal intercourse against the order of nature (the order of nature being peno-vaginal intercourse), was scrapped. This, in conjunction with a 2017 ruling that upheld individual privacy, meant that being gay was no more a crime. A time of jubilation for the LGBTQ+ and allied, as well as the supportive families and friends, these people form a considerable portion of the Indian population. June 2019 is the first LGBTQ+ pride month the nation gets to celebrate, so it is worth remembering the history of this unconstitutional law, and the struggles that activists had to go through, both in India, as well as other parts of the world, to effectively repeal its effects and ensure equality for all.
Ancient Indian literature and Vedic texts describe gods and demigods transcending the gender norms, and manifesting combinations of sex and gender. Transgenders were accepted from prehistoric dates, and alternate sexuality was sometimes considered even sacred, with Ardhanareeswara and Shikhandi being cited as examples.
Other parts of the ancient to early medieval world had an accepting or neutral view about homosexuality, with the “Two Spirits” from the Americas, Pharaohs of Egypt taking male lovers, the men of Siwa Oasis in Egypt openly engaging in homosexual acts, euphemisms such as passions of the cut peach in ancient China. Ancient Greek texts have the earliest recorded history of homosexuality being accepted, and the term lesbianism and sapphism has been coined after Sappho, the lyrical poet born on the island of Lesbos. Roman emperor Nero married two men, Pythagorus and Sporus, the former taking the place and manners of a man and acting as Nero’s husband, whileSporus had been castrated, and was the bride at Nero’s wedding.
The mid first millennium AD saw the rise of justification of famines and earthquakes as caused by increased activity of homosexuals, as accused by Christian emperors such as Justinian I. The Caliphate of the Middle East, and the Mughal emperors in medieval era India condemned homosexuality, but this was the time when Arabic, Persian and Urdu poetry describing homoerotic acts flourished. It is known that the sultans of the Delhi Sultanates themselves established relationships with men, even though it was prohibited by the Sharia law.
The earliest condemnation of men lying with men was in Assyria, where sexual acts between brothers in arms resulted in castration. Homosexual acts were seen as an abomination in the Torah, and the Bible, as can be seen from Leviticus. Persecutions against homosexuality rose in the Middle Ages in Europe, with the theologian Thomas Aquinas instrumental in the linking of condemning homosexuality, linking it with the violation of the law of nature. The Renaissance period saw immense oppression to homosexuality from the Catholic Church, with the act being penalised with death in most parts of Europe. Victorian era Britain condemned homosexuality, and enacted a stronger version of the Buggery Act, which penalised any act of penetration against the law of nature with death - this was the precursor to the Section 377, and most of the similar sections, at least in British colonies around the world. The United States had two periods when homosexuality was condemned, for a few decades before the end of the Great War, and from late 1930s to the early 1970s. In the 1920s, the urban regions of the USA was coming to terms with alternate sexuality, with innuendos about the same becoming common in literature and movies of that era.
France, in 1791, was the first country in the western world to have decriminalised sodomy, and the laws of consent and homosexual acts in public were repeatedly amended in later years. Many countries in Europe followed suit, but Britain was one of the few nations that removed the death penalty to imprisonment for life. Molly houses in 18th century London, where crossdressing men could find potential sexual partners, is probably a precursor to the idea of a gay bar. It is to be noted that non-European nations/ non-colonial nations, had varying views on homosexuality, and in many cases, they were part of the cultural norms of the society, such as in the oriental countries. It is reported that some tribes of Papua New Guinea (Etoro, for example) even condemned heterosexuality - and a man and a woman had intercourse only for the purpose of procreation.
The 19th century saw a rise in the number of countries decriminalising homosexuality, and sodomy. James Pratt and John Smith, who were executed in London in 1835 were the last people to face death penalty in Britain, for sodomy, but death penalty as a punishment for sodomy was repealed only in 1861. Gay men were prosecuted and were imprisoned for a period from 2 to 10 years, with heavy fines also implemented. One of the prime examples of this is the arrest of Irish playwright and poet Oscar Wilde, after he accused the Marquess of Queensberry for libel. Wilde was convicted of sodomy as he dropped his prosecution and served term for two years, after which he was released, and fled to France, where he lived till his death.
20th century saw waves of changes, both good and bad. The usage of the term ‘faggot’ to mean a gay man, became prevalent in the 1910s, while in Russia, the October revolution repealed criminalisation of sodomy. Pre WW II, Nazi Germany made the pink triangle mandatory - similar to the Yellow Star that Jews were forced to wear - on those who they identified as homosexual, in the concentration camps; an identification of crime, but currently used as a symbol of protest against homophobia. The Holocaust killed around an estimated 3000 - 9000 homosexual men, but post WW II Berlin saw the first gay bar in Berlin. Though, at the end of the war, when the prisoners of the concentration camps were liberated, many who had a pink triangle on their pocket were imprisoned again, and their nightmares just continued.
1954 saw one of the greatest mathematical and computational minds of the 20th century, Alan Turing, suicide, due to depression caused by forced administration of libido reducing hormones. When he was prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1952, he was offered a “choice” between being imprisoned for two years or chemical castration. Inquiry determined it as a case of suicide, though the autopsy is also consistent with cyanide poisoning.
The latter half of the 20th century saw major changes around the world, with more countries legalising same sex activities. Illinois in 1962, was the first US state to decriminalise homosexuality - it would take 50 years for the US in its entirety to follow suit.
The worldwide movement and philosophy of LGBT pride, advocating for LGBTQ+ individuals around the world to be proud of their sexuality, and that it can’t be altered, but rather is a gift, is a sense of affirmation about one’s self and the community as a whole. Following the Stonewall riots of 1969, the first anniversary of the same saw the first LGBT Pride Parade, in June 1970. It was in the late 1970s that the rainbow flag became associated with LGBT+ pride. One must reminisce the activists who paved way for the pride parade - Marsha P Johnson, Storme DeLarverie, Thomas Lanigan Schmidt, and Sylvia Rivera, amongst many others. The 1970s also saw Harvey Milk, the first openly gay candidate elected to political office, out before the elections were held.
Shakuntala Devi, a mental calculator, popularly known as the "human computer", in 1977, published “The World of Homosexuals”, a study of homosexuality, the first book of its kind, in India. The book contains data from interviews with gay individuals from India, and abroad.
The 1980s saw the spread of AIDS, which was then known as GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency), and efforts to make people aware about the transfer of STDs began in full swing over the next two decades. The red ribbon began to be used as a symbol for HIV/AIDS in the 1990s.
In 1992, Lesbian Avengers, a direct action group for the survival and visibility of lesbians and their allies was formed by Anna Maria Simo, Sarah Schulman, and others. As it may have been observed, even amongst homosexual acts, the world has focused mostly on men, and accepted/condemned wherever necessary, the acts of sodomy alone - literature and other sources about female sexuality was rarely discussed, let alone lesbianism. Lesbian sexuality wasn’t explored until the advent of third wave feminist activities, may be with the exception of the analysis of Sapphic literature. References to love between women are sparse, and the Bible explicitly mentions the same only once. Christianity in medieval Europe did take some stand on lesbianism, but records of only about a dozen women exist. The Renaissance period accounts of female intimacy, and accepted it as a cultural norm that women may require pleasure from other women. The medieval Arab World also had a similar view, disposing lesbianism as caused due to heat generated in women’s labia.
In early modern Europe, laws against lesbianism, if ever made, were very sparsely enacted, which historians allude to male fears about acknowledging the same. Lesbianism was rationalised in literature and it was alluded that only amongst the lower tier of the society did a lesbian subculture exist. Lesbian visibility in France increased in the late 19th century, both in the public sphere as well as in art and literature. The Nazi concentration camps marked transmales and lesbians with black triangles, to denote that they were being detained for asocial activities. Political lesbianism originated amongst the second wave radical feminists in the 1960s, and Sheila Jeffreys, helped develop this concept. A movement of lesbian feminism, which advocated lesbianism as a logical result of feminism, was influential in the 1970s and ‘80s. Lesbian Avengers may have been formed as a result of lesbians being tired of their issues not being resolved in a world of invisibility and misogyny, both within and outside the LGBT community, according to Eloise Salholz, reporter for the 1993 pride march in the US.
The 21st century saw same sex marriage and adoption laws coming up in various parts of the world, and same sex relationships and marriage is becoming more discussed in world media. The last 10 years have seen events such as the establishment of the International Trans Day of Visibility (March 31, since 2009), and more widespread discussion of homosexuality among the nations of the world. In 2018, British Prime Minister Theresa May issued an apology expressing deep regrets for Britain’s role in imposing colonial laws that criminalise LGBT people across the Commonwealth nations - 36 of the 53 still have not repealed the laws, and violence and persecution persists to this day.
Early Indian literature and architecture portrayed homosexuality as natural and joyful, and the Kama Sutra describes many different forms of non peno-vaginal sex and sensual pleasures. Modern societal homophobia was introduced by the colonisers, through the enactment of Section 377. The Sultanate era had homophobia in many forms, but some circles, including the Mughals, tolerated fluid sexuality. Even in 2003, it was believed by the Indian government, that homosexual acts would lead to delinquency. The first pride parade in India was held in 2008 in Bangalore, and since then, masks have become an integral part of pride celebrations in the country so as to reduce the chances of being recognised.
Only in 2009, did the Delhi High Court decide that Section 377 was unconstitutional, in the landmark Naz foundation vs.Govt of NCT of Delhi judgement. The Supreme court set aside the same in 2013, due to the opposition from the Ministry of Home Affairs. For five years, until 2018, there have been various instances of violence against those who had outed themselves, or were outed, from 2009 - ‘13. With a decision to review the repeal in 2016, and the Supreme court’s rule that the right to individual privacy is an intrinsic and fundamental right under the constitution, which gave hope to the LGBT activists of the country. January 2018 saw the supreme court willing to listen to petitions, and finally deciding that the case would be left to the wisdom of the court. The court unanimously ruled on Spetember 6, 2018 that IPC Section 377 is unconstitutional as it infringed on one’s autonomy, intimacy and identity - and decriminalised homosexuality in India.
Transgenders have been traditionally recognised, and were granted voting rights since 1994. In 2014, the Supreme Court, by classifying transgenders as SEBC (Socially and Economically Backward Classes), provided them with more equal footing to the general populace. The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, was unanimously passed in 2015. The states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu were the first to provide male-to-female SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery) free of cost, and also a transgender welfare policy. 2015 saw Madhu Kinnar become India’s first and only openly transgender mayor, and Manabi Bandyopadhyay appointed as the first transgender principal of a college (Krishnagar Women’s College). In 2019, Narthaki Nataraj became the first transgender person to be felicitated with the Padma Shri award for her contributions to Bharatanatyam. The US embassy in Delhi and Chennai have set up rainbow lights that shine on their buildings, since the US State refused all embassy requests to hoist rainbow flags.
The world has come a long way from when homosexuality was seen illegal in many parts to the present, where it is recognised and accepted in over 80 percent of the world. 14 countries still impose death penalty on homosexuality, and only about 27 countries have a same sex marriage law in place.Some nations still don’t provide the rights to the LGBTQ+ community as prescribed by the Yogyakarta Principles, formulated in 2007 - a documentation of basic human rights pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity. Transgender rights are vastly ignored, and bisexuals are misunderstood as promiscuous, even in countries which have legalised and recognised LGBTQ+ rights, and they still seek visibility and acceptance - modes of sensitisation are necessary for the same. LGBTQ+ people of colour, just as a major chunk of people of colour, are treated with suspicion and are discriminated against on more than one count.
Even though the repeal of Section 377 has been a landmark decision, there are many other issues that still remain unanswered. Persecution and violence against LGBTQ+ people is still rampant, and anti-discrimination laws are not in place, except for in state or government bodies. Same-sex marriage and adoption (and surrogacy for gay male couples) still remains illegal. Service in the Armed Forces is prohibited for those belonging to the community. Another issue that has partly been dealt with, is how the public view homosexuality. Mainstream media, some even to date, show crossdressing and effeminate behaviour in a derogatory manner, but more and more people are becoming aware and changing media portrayal. A major issue that remains to be tackled is the misogyny within the community, that is rampant to date, all over the world. Equality begets equality, and only if misogyny is addressed can we aim to have a world that is equal on more levels than ever.
Find the same article at:
https://sopanamtheblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/26/a-glimpse-of-pride/?fbclid=IwAR1sJ7W63rpSIDN_TpsBkwJZ9gzZKGLKdHYmGgOacDn3rIM0hyr2qlIKOiY
References:
Wikipedia articles: LGBT history in India, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, LGBT History, Rainbow Flag, Timeline of LGBT history, LGBT rights in India, Homosexuality in India, LGBT culture in India, human rights in India, History of Lesbianism, Yogyakarta Principles, Harvey Milk, Marsha P Johnson, Shakuntala Devi
Instagram: @lgbt_history
https://www.businessinsider.in/9-maps-show-how-different-LGBTQ-rights-are-around-the-world/Same-sex-couples-largely-arent-allowed-to-adopt-outside-of-the-Americas-and-Europe-/slideshow/66309306.cms
https://www.dailyo.in/arts/section-377-from-babur-to-dara-shukoh-homosexuality-was-never-unnatural-during-mughal-era/story/1/26694.html
submitted by jksjay to lgbt [link] [comments]


2018.05.30 16:52 DPWICKY astronomy Isn't As straight As You Thought

Every year during the month of June, gay communities around the world celebrate various ‘gay pride’ events, but I doubt very much that when you see the so-called Freedom Flag, with its striking rainbow design, flying at various gay rights events such as the annual Gay Pride March, that astronomy would be the first thing that comes to mind, so this article on the subject of gay-related astronomy will probably be quite a surprise to you. "Gay astronomy?” I hear you say, 'I've never heard of such a thing!' You haven't, and with good reason. That aspect is usually ignored by astronomy magazines, books or TV shows. I have seldom, for example, seen the correct mythological story of Aquila the Eagle, and what Ganymede was really doing on Olympus, given in any astronomy book or magazine, nor many other aspects of mythology that relate to astronomy, so I thought this article would be rather fitting for June.
Astronomy isn't as straight as you think, not that you probably ever actually thought about it, at least in its mythological and historical connections. In Greek mythology there were 9 minor goddesses called Muses, and one of these, Urania, was the Muse of Astronomy, her name later being used to refer to anything connected with it; for example Johann Bayer's star catalogue of 1603, entitled Uranometria, or Johannes Hewelcke's Uranographia of 1690, and the great 16th century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe called his observatory the Uraniborg. But Urania had another role, for she was also the protector of homosexual love (Of the concept of someone loving a person of their own sex that is, because the modern word 'homosexual' was first used in 1869, and of course would have meant nothing to an ancient Greek), and, because of the Muse’s role in Greek mythology, during the 19th century the word Uranian was widely used to describe homosexuals, giving us yet another connection with the Muse of Astronomy.
Jupiter, the largest planet of our Solar System, is surrounded by a considerable number of moons, the four largest of which, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, were discovered in 1610 by Galileo, using the then newly invented telescope, and are known as the 'Galilean Moons', easily visible with binoculars as 4 star-like objects, the planet-sized Ganymede being the largest of the quartet. In Greek mythology, the bi-sexual king of the gods, Zeus, fell in love with Ganymedes, a young man of great physical beauty, being a Phrygian shepherd-boy in some versions of the tale, and a prince, son of King Tros of Phrygia in others. Take your pick. As it happened Zeus was in need of a cupbearer at the time, since the former holder of that job, Hebe, had tripped and fallen while performing her duties. Having a few cups of golden nectar dumped over him didn't do a whole lot for Zeus, and he decided to combine business with pleasure and offer the job to the handsome young man who had just caught his divine eye, sending his messenger, a giant eagle, to carry Ganymedes to Olympus. Young Ganymedes saw this as a good career move – barman to the gods, live-in all expenses paid on Mount Olympus, plus a great fringe benefit: lover to the king of the gods – and so he took the offered employment. Who wouldn’t. Not that he had much choice of course, the eagle of Zeus didn't take 'no' for an answer. Zeus was so pleased with his young lover that he declared the eagle that had brought him to Olympus to be the greatest of birds, placing it in the heavens as a reward for its homosexual matchmaking services, where it became the constellation known to the Greeks as Aetos, 'The Eagle', and to the Romans as Ganymedes Raptrix, 'The Huntress of Ganymedes', which we know as the constellation of Aquila. All this gives us a gay moon, and, since Jupiter is the Roman name for Zeus, we also have a bi-sexual planet, with the king of the gods, mighty Jupiter, still attended by his lover, now called Ganymede. Another version of the story has Zeus turning himself into that flying job-recruitment agency, the eagle. Zeus frequently did that sort of thing in his straighter moments of desire – and he had many – the constellations of Cygnus and Taurus representing two of these escapades and giving us a couple of bi-sexual stargroups in the process, the former being the time he became a swan to visit Queen Leda of Sparta, and the latter commemorating his transformation into a white bull to abduct Princess Europa of Canaan, who still keeps him company, like Ganymede, as a moon, making a celestial threesome as they all journey together through the Solar System. How romantic. On Ganymede there are two craters named Gilgamesh and Enkidu, characters in the world's oldest surviving piece of literature, the great Babylonian story 'The Epic of Gilgamesh', preserved on clay tablets dating from the 3rd millennium B.C. It tells of the part-mortal part-god King Gilgamesh of Uruk, and his friend, the hero Enkidu, who he loved 'as a woman,' taking him as he would a wife, though the king also had female lovers. (Gilgamesh was based on an historical king, who lived around 2,700 B.C., though the tablets recording his embroidered exploits date from c. 2,000 B.C.) This is the first recorded mention of a same sex relationship and, since it is some 5,000 years old, it is perhaps the best answer to those who seem to think homosexuality was invented during the 19th century by Oscar Wilde. How fitting that our fictional Babylonian lovers should be found together on a gay moon.
On our own Moon, the dark areas that produce the 'Man in the Moon’ effect are known as Mare, from the Latin for 'sea’' though there is no liquid surface water on the Moon, and these areas are really large plains composed of dried lava flows, again easily visible in any binoculars. One of these is the Mare Humboltianum, 'Humboldt's Sea', named for the great German botanist, naturalist, zoologist, artist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, 1769-1859, who explored the Orinoco and Amazon rivers of South America, returning with an amazing 60,000 plant specimens, as well as making numerous astronomical observations. He explored and collected so much in fact that it took him over 20 years to write an account of his travels. Among the named craters on the Moon we find quite a few gay names, among them Zeno, for the 5th century BCE Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea, who you probably never even heard of, and Da Vinci, for that amazing painter, inventor, musician, engineer, astronomer and general all-round genius, Leonardo Da Vinci, 1452-1519, who everyone has heard of. It was he incidentally who first suggested that the Mare might be water, and he may have invented an astronomical telescope of some kind, though no records of it survive, apart from a vague reference in one of his diaries. We also find the crater Julius Caesar, whose famous remark 'I came, I saw, I conquered' applied not only to a number of countries but to some of their rulers as well. Indeed the bi-sexual Roman general, as a young man, acquired the nickname 'The Queen of Bithynia' after a love affair with King Nicamedes IV of that country. Last but not least we have that greatest of Athenian philosophers, Plato. Of course the gayness of Plato, what came to be known as ''Greek Love', wasn't exactly what we think of today as being gay, but he was far from what would be considered straight by our standards, a man who never married and wrote of the perfection of homoerotic relationships, his ‘Symposium’ having been described as almost a manual for the pursuit of the homoerotic spiritual path, even though at other times he spoke against the concept. While not wholly acceptable in many parts of Greece, among the armies and among the noble families in the city states of Athens and Sparta, there was the mind-set that you had sex with a woman just for fun or children, but for genuine compatibility and bonding you had sex with one who was your equal, in others words a man. Well that was so obvious it hardly needed saying. The Moon was also the setting for a gay story which was I'm sure also the first ever science fiction story as well, dating from the 2nd century A.D., when the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata wrote of a man who travelled to the Moon, found an all-male population, and ended up taking the son of the Moon King in marriage. No women, so how did the king have a son? Simple. They grew children from plants derived from planting a left testicle. Why the left testicle and not the right one? I have no idea. The planets too have their share of gay-named craters, the gayest planet of all being little Mercury. On its baking hot surface, well over 400 degrees C during the day, we find craters named for the ancient Greek playwright Sophocles, that well-known Italian decorator of ecclesiastical ceilings Michelangelo, American poet Walt Whitman, French writer Marcel Proust and poet Arthur Rimbaud, Russian author Nikolai Gogol, bi-sexual British poet Lord Byron, and American nautical author Herman Melville of Moby Dick fame. The craters carry only the surnames, by the way.
Venus is the only female planet and, very appropriately, since it is named for the Roman goddess of love, we find on it the only women in our gay survey of the heavens. Firstly there is bi-sexual French writer Colette, best known for her novel Gigi. Then there is Sappho, named for Sappho of Lesbos, who lived around 600 B.C., greatest lyric poet of the ancient world, referred to by Plato as the Tenth Muse, and history's first recorded lesbian. Indeed it is from her Aegean island home of Lesbos that we get the term 'Lesbian', which actually only means a resident of that island, just as a Dubliner is a resident of Dublin, so you could say, quite correctly, that every man, woman and child on the island was a lesbian! Her name has also given us the term 'Sapphic Love' to describe a woman-to-woman relationship. Unfortunately the church authorities in Rome and Constantinople, with their usual ever so tolerant acceptance of other people’s beliefs and desires, collected and burned all the copies of her work they could find, in 1073 A.D., regarding love between women as a very dangerous poetic topic, oh yes, it could have unleased moral disintegration across the known world, and they carried out their destructive prejudices so efficiently that only a few tiny fragments of her poems have survived. Completing our planetary tour we come to the red planet, Mars, where, though we won't find canals or little green men, gay or otherwise, we do find Leonardo Da Vinci once again. Lying between Mars and Jupiter are thousands of small lumps of rock known as the Asteroids or Minor Planets and yes, some of them are gay. Asteroid number 30 is Urania, the Muse of Gayness if you like, and number 80 is named for that 'extra' Muse, Sappho. 1036 is Ganymede, and 54 is Alexandra, which, despite its seemingly feminine form, is named for Alexander von Humboldt. (Not a jibe at his sexuality, other asteroids being named in this odd fashion as well, for some reason which totally escapes me) He died not long after his asteroid was discovered, so perhaps the shock was too much for him, coming on top of all the years spent sorting out those 60,000 plants. Number 3000 is Leonardo, in honour once again of the great Italian genius, with 3001 being his fellow countryman, Michelangelo. Women are not well represented in the gay night sky, but astronomically-minded lesbians might take note of the star Gamma Orionis, Bellatrix, in the constellation of Orion, its proper name meaning 'Female Warrior' and known as the 'Amazon Star'. The Amazons, that mythical race of warrior women who supposedly fought in the Trojan War, were armed with a double-bladed battle axe known as a Labyris, and this has become a modern lesbian emblem, worn for example as an earring or pendant, and I've even seen one used as a car sticker. The Labyris was also the symbol of the Greek goddess of the harvest, Demeter, and lesbian sex in fact formed part of her worship rituals, so there is a gay female connection with the constellation of Virgo, which represents Demeter, the goddess depicted in the sky holding an ear of wheat in her hand. The constellation of Lacerta, The Lizard, was devised by Johannes Hewelcke in the 17th century, but in 1787 the German astronomer Johann Elert Bode used its stars for his own proposed constellation, Honores Frederici, 'The Honours of Frederick', dedicated to the greatest military genius and most openly gay man of the age, King Frederick II of Prussia, 1712-1786, better known as Frederick the Great, or Friedrich der Grosse if you want it in German. As a young man Prince Frederick was regularly beaten by his father, King Friedrich Willhelm I, and forced to watch his lover executed, all in an attempt to 'cure' his homosexuality. The 'treatment' failed however, and as king, just as gay as ever, he took Prussia from an unimportant little country to the greatest military power on the Continent, introduced many reforms, abolished torture and brought in religious toleration, as well as encouraging the arts, though he tolerated no opposition to his authority. Herr Bode wasn't attempting to gain royal favours, by the way, when he dedicated his constellation to Frederick, the king was in no position to grant any, since he happened to be dead at the time. The constellation didn't catch on however, and the humble lizard replaced the great gay king to take its place once again in the heavens. Though representing that pair from Greek mythology, Castor and Polydeuces (Pollux), the constellation of Gemini has also been seen as the Biblical pair of ...well, shall we say rather more than 'just good friends', David and Jonathan.
From Roman times some of the stars that would later become Scutum, along with a number from Aquila, formed the constellation of Antinous, devised in the 2nd century A.D. and dedicated to the handsome young man who was the lover of the gay Roman emperor Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, better known to history as Hadrian (of Scottish wall-building fame), a genuinely caring and compassionate ruler who tried to improve the living standards of his subjects, and cared for the welfare of his soldiers: a rare thing among Roman emperors. Hadrian was touring the then Roman province of Egypt, with Antinous, when a fortune-teller told them that one of the two would soon die. Hoping to save his beloved emperor by making the prophecy come true on the spot, Antinous, with rather more loving devotion than common sense, promptly threw himself into the Nile. The devastated Hadrian mourned his lover for the rest of his life, surrounding himself with statues of the young man, but initially he named a city on the Nile in his honour, Antinopolis; declared Antinous a god, and ordered that his image be depicted among the stars. The real-life relationship between Hadrian and Antinous had already been compared with the mythological one between Zeus and Ganymedes (the emperor was of course also considered to be a god), and for that reason Antinous was placed in the sky below Ganymedes Raptrix, carried by the eagle of Zeus across the sky to Hadrian just as it had bourn Ganymedes to Zeus on Mount Olympus. The mythological symbolism was perfect: mighty god and beautiful young lover. Some starmaps continued to show Antinous until the late 18th century, after which time it was universally dropped.
The constellation of Aquarius represents our old friend Ganymedes once again, depicted in the sky pouring liquid from a jar, though the nature of the jar's contents depends on the version you choose. One has him pouring water for the benefit of the drought-stricken peoples of the Earth, but, for those who prefer a somewhat stronger brew, he is also seen in his role as bartender of Mount Olympus, pouring not water but golden nectar and wine for the gods in general and his lover Zeus in particular. This makes Aquarius the only constellation that still actually represents a gay person, though, as we have seen, others have done so in times gone by. Returning to Earth, we now take a look at a gay astronomer, Dr. Franklin E. Kameny. In 1959 Dr. Kameny, a Harved-trained astronomer and World War II combat veteran, was fired from his job as an observational astronomer for the United States Government, working with the Army Mapping Service – simply because he was gay. He then devoted his life to fighting for gay rights; believing that what he, or a straight person for that matter, did in the bedroom was nobody else's business. He organised the first gay pickets on the White House and other government buildings, formed the Washington D.C. chapter of the Mattachine Society (one of the first gay rights groups), and led the initial legal battles against the ban on gays serving in the U.S. armed forces. He continued to fight for gay rights into old age, dying in 2011 at the age of 86. Some of the best known gay emblems are also connected with astronomy, for example that for a gay man is simply the astronomical symbol for Mars doubled and overlapped, while the lesbian emblem is the overlapping double Venus symbol. The 11th letter of the Greek alphabet, Lambda, is used to denote the 11th brightest star in a constellation, from a system devised by Johann Bayer in 1603, but it is also a gay emblem, first used in 1969 by the Gay Activists Alliance in New York. Perhaps we should leave the last word to Sappho of Lesbos who, obviously alone in her bedroom some 2,600 years ago, made some astronomical observations, putting them into a poem, a fragment of which survived the attentions of the medieval church: Tonight I've watched the Moon and then the Pleiades go down. The night is now half-gone; youth goes; I am in bed alone. So you see, astronomy isn't as straight as you thought!
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2016.04.17 10:12 cruyff8 Pope Francis made an emotional visit into the heart of Europe’s migrant crisis on Saturday and took 12 Muslim refugees from Syria, including six children, with him back to Rome aboard the papal plane

Summary generated by cruyff8's autosummarizer of http://nyti.ms/1WwNsy1:
Advertisement Advertisement By JIM YARDLEY APRIL 16, 2016 MYTILENE, Greece — Pope Francis made an emotional visit into the heart of Europe’s migrant crisis on Saturday and took 12 Muslim refugees from Syria, including six children, with him back to Rome aboard the papal plane.“We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and indeed desperate need, and respond in a way worthy of our common humanity.” While the announcement had the appearance of a surprise, Francis told reporters on the plane ride home that the relocation of the refugees had involved planning and paperwork by the governments of the Vatican, Italy and Greece. Advertisement The pope did not explain how the families had been chosen, but said: “They are guests of the Vatican.” Francis also showed reporters two drawings given to him by children in the Moria camp. While papal visits to refugee camps are not new, religious scholars said Francis’ rescue of the 12 Syrians sent an important signal that reflected his long history of affinity with the world’s most vulnerable, dating to his roots as a Jesuit priest in Argentina.During his February visit to Mexico, Francis prayed beneath a large cross erected in Ciudad Juárez , just footsteps from the border with the United States, and then celebrated Mass nearby, where he spoke about immigrants. Upon landing in Lesbos on Saturday, Francis held a brief private meeting with Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras , before traveling across the island to the detention center in Moria, where people are held as they await rulings on their asylum applications — or as they wait to be deported under a recent agreement struck between the European Union and Turkey to curb migration. At the migrants camp, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, reminded Europeans and their leaders that Christians and others are judged on how they treat the powerless.“I hope that we never see children washing up on the shores of the Aegean Sea,” said Archbishop Ieronymos II, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, who called for a greater response by the United Nations. At the Moria center, Francis slowly walked down a line of migrants, many of them Muslims, greeting people as some waved handwritten signs with slogans like “Freedom of Movement.” Others propped their children above their shoulders or held out smartphones to photograph the pope.“Please, Father, bless me!” Francis and the other religious leaders offered special praise on Saturday for ordinary Greeks who have welcomed refugees, taken some into their homes or provided food and clothing, even as they endure hardship amid the country’s long-running financial crisis.Carlo Pioppi, a professor of church history at Santa Croce University in Rome, said the appearance by the three leaders showed they could put aside doctrinal and theological differences to highlight their shared concern about refugees.“Thousands are being held in squalid detention centers on the Greek Islands — this is the state of Europe in 2016,” Farah Karimi, the executive director of Oxfam Novib, the Dutch affiliate of Oxfam, said in the statement.
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2016.04.17 10:06 cruyff8 Pope Francis Takes 12 Refugees Back to Vatican After Trip to Greece

Summary generated by cruyff8's autosummarizer of http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/world/europe/pope-francis-visits-lesbos-heart-of-europes-refugee-crisis.html:
Advertisement Advertisement By JIM YARDLEY APRIL 16, 2016 MYTILENE, Greece — Pope Francis made an emotional visit into the heart of Europe’s migrant crisis on Saturday and took 12 Muslim refugees from Syria, including six children, with him back to Rome aboard the papal plane.“We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and indeed desperate need, and respond in a way worthy of our common humanity.” While the announcement had the appearance of a surprise, Francis told reporters on the plane ride home that the relocation of the refugees had involved planning and paperwork by the governments of the Vatican, Italy and Greece. Advertisement The pope did not explain how the families had been chosen, but said: “They are guests of the Vatican.” Francis also showed reporters two drawings given to him by children in the Moria camp. While papal visits to refugee camps are not new, religious scholars said Francis’ rescue of the 12 Syrians sent an important signal that reflected his long history of affinity with the world’s most vulnerable, dating to his roots as a Jesuit priest in Argentina.During his February visit to Mexico, Francis prayed beneath a large cross erected in Ciudad Juárez , just footsteps from the border with the United States, and then celebrated Mass nearby, where he spoke about immigrants. Upon landing in Lesbos on Saturday, Francis held a brief private meeting with Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras , before traveling across the island to the detention center in Moria, where people are held as they await rulings on their asylum applications — or as they wait to be deported under a recent agreement struck between the European Union and Turkey to curb migration. At the migrants camp, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, reminded Europeans and their leaders that Christians and others are judged on how they treat the powerless.“I hope that we never see children washing up on the shores of the Aegean Sea,” said Archbishop Ieronymos II, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, who called for a greater response by the United Nations. At the Moria center, Francis slowly walked down a line of migrants, many of them Muslims, greeting people as some waved handwritten signs with slogans like “Freedom of Movement.” Others propped their children above their shoulders or held out smartphones to photograph the pope.“Please, Father, bless me!” Francis and the other religious leaders offered special praise on Saturday for ordinary Greeks who have welcomed refugees, taken some into their homes or provided food and clothing, even as they endure hardship amid the country’s long-running financial crisis.Carlo Pioppi, a professor of church history at Santa Croce University in Rome, said the appearance by the three leaders showed they could put aside doctrinal and theological differences to highlight their shared concern about refugees.“Thousands are being held in squalid detention centers on the Greek Islands — this is the state of Europe in 2016,” Farah Karimi, the executive director of Oxfam Novib, the Dutch affiliate of Oxfam, said in the statement.
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