Update: Nepal Constitution Aims High.

Update relevant to Nepal Constitution Aims High.

Prime minister Jhalanath Khanal resigned last Sunday due to several conflicts in the constitution writing process. So far no replacement have been announced, and the fact that it took seven months to choose prime minister Khanal – it might take some time to find a new one. There are still some political unrest in Nepal, but it´s on the right track.

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Nepal Constitution Aims High.

A draft constitution for Nepal would enshrine LGBT rights advances as breathtaking as the heights of Mount Everest if lawmakers are willing to adopt the document.

Following centuries of monarchy and a decade-long civil war that ended in 2006, Nepal has emerged as a democratic republic with one of the world´s most progressive stances on LGBT rights, which could be promulgated in a new constitution this year unless the government further delays its implementation.

Extended once last year, the constitution´s deadline was put off by three months more in late May. Lawmakers disagree on broad questions of government structure, not the LGBT content – some of the most inclusive language of any nation.

The LGBT issues are pretty well formulated in the draft, and there is no opposition, so we don’t need to worry about that. Our concern is about how long it will take to have the constitution, says Sunil Pant, Nepal´s first openly gay elected official and a member of the interim constituent assembly writing the document.

Pant, who is pushing for adoption of the constitution this year, says the draft proposes citizenship rights for “third gender” individuals, who identify as neither male nor female; bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; calls for government affirmative action in support of LGBT people; and proposes gender-neutral language on the rights to work, health, education, and marriage, the latter also being drafted in a separate law directed by a supreme court ruling.

Pant, founder of the LGBT network the Blue Diamond Society and the tourism company Pink Mountain Travels and Tours, attributes the success to a receptive private sector, lack of sensational media, and the Hindu religious tradition, which has  deities that challenge binary gender norms. He also cites the movement´s organizational acumen, and he believes the pace and quality of change will allow Nepal to implement its constitution whenever it is finally adopted.

Nepal´s situation is likely to differ from that of South-Africa, which has a notably progressive constitution, but a disconnect between law and reality.

Queer World: Norway

Through history…

The 20th of May 1950 Norway’s first LGBT organisation was established, called The Federal of 1948 – Norwegian Section of The Danish Federal of 1948. Rolf Løvaas was elected as chairman. The 29th of November 1952 there are demands to pull out of the Danish Federal and form an independent Norwegian organisation. The board stepped down, and a new board was formed. David Meyer – a pseudonym – was elected chairman of the board. Then on the 1st of February 1953 the name of the organisation changed to The Norwegian Federal of 1948.

The next step in LGBT history in Norway is the broadcast of the first radio show about homosexuality the 15th of June 1965. The broadcast was led by Liv Haavik and lasted for 80 minutes. Producer Torlof Elster considered it an important theme and gave her as much broadcast time she wanted.

Homosexuality was illegal until 1972 when it was removed from the Penal Code. Gay and straight age of consent was made equal. Even though it now was legal it was considered and mental disorder until the Norwegian Psychiatric Association removed it from the list of mental illnesses in 1977.

In 1978 openly gay teachers get full rights and protection from discrimination guaranteed by the Department of Church and Education. Then in 1979 equal rights was introduced to the military – no D.A.D.T in Norway 🙂

In 1982 The Department of Social Affairs removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

1992, and The Norwegian Federal of 1948 and other organisations became LLH, The National Association for lesbians and gays. In 1993 the Partnership Act is written into law. This gives gays the same rights and duties as married couples when in civil partnerships. With the exception of the right to adopt and to have the ceremony in a religious setting. In 1998 gays are included in a special anti discrimination act of the Work Environment Act – with the exception of positions in religious settings.

Marriage equality is written into law in 2008 and effective from the 1st of January 2009.

LGBT people in politics

Jon Reidar Øyan, Norwegian Labour Party
Håkon Haugli, Norwegian Labour Party
André Oktay Dahl, Conservative Party of Norway
Anette Trettebergstuen, Norwegian Labour Party
Erling Lae, Conservative Party of Norway
Bent Høie, Conservative Party of Norway
Wenche Lowzow, Conservative Party of Norway
Per-Kristian Foss, Conservative Party of Norway

Links point to their norwegian Wikipedia page.

Other famous LGBT people

Anne Holt, writer – lawyer – ex-politician
Karen-Christine “Kim” Friele, gay rights activist – writer
Sven Elvestad, writer
Trygve Hjorth-Johansen, journalist
Gudmund Vindland, writer
Anne Aasheim, journalist
Mia Hundvin, professional handballplayer
Anne Grete Preus, musician
Gro Hammerseng, professional handballplayer
Vibeke Skofterud, professional cross-country skiier
Sara Azmeh Rasmussen, writer
Frank Rossavik, news editor
Arnfinn Nordbø, writer
Sturla Berg-Johansen, comedian
Christen Sveaas, business mogul
Per Sundnes, tv-host
Arve Juritzen, tv-host – producer – publishing editor
Jan Thomas Mørch Husby, stylist
Karen Pinholt, leader LLH
Christine Koht, tv-host

Links point to their norwegian Wikipedia page.

Some statistics

Most statistics indicate that 3-5% of the norwegian population is gay. That´s somewhere between 150 – 250 000 people. That´s 1 in 20. These statistics are supported by surveys done in high schools, which shows that on average there is 1-2 – in each class –  seeing themselves as gay or bisexual.

As in most other countries some surveys tackling the issue of suicide, suspected gay or people with suppressed gay feelings are at a slight higher risk of actually committing suicide.

Homosexual relationships are widely accepted and protected by law in Norway. The last 10 years or so the coming out age have dropped dramatically. It´s now more or less normal to come out around 16, while in the 90´s it was more likely to be in the in the early 20´s while going to university.

But there are still problems surrounding the LGBT community in Norway. Homophobia is live and well, unfortunately. It´s bullying in schools, in the workplace and unprovoked acts of violence. But that’s a small ignorant part of the general public.

Gay youth in the US.

One of the outrageous ironies of the recent media reports of gay teen suicides (in the US) can be found in a less-reported but equally significant story of 2010. A landmark study published in the journal Pediatrics in June shattered long-held myths by concluding that children of lesbian parents are better adjusted than children of heterosexual parents. The kids of lesbian parents score higher all over the board. Higher on psychological measures of confidence and self-esteem, they excel academically, and are less likely to have behavioral problems. This long-term study, which focused on lesbian families because the gayby-boom started earlier with women, pointed to a variety of possible reasons, with family planning and an awareness of discrimination among them.

Breaking every nasty stereotype perpetuated by bigots, the kids of gay parents are in fact all right. The irony lies in the fact that it´s the children of straight parents who are very much in a full-blown crisis, be they gay and victims of bullying or the perpetrators of bullying themselves.

It´s hard to know if gay teen suicides are on the rise or if media reports – and the use of social media to get the news out – have focused more attention on them. But on thing is for certain: They´re happening at an unacceptable rate.

Columnist and author Dan Savage, the man behind the “It Gets Better Project” on YouTube, believes that despite the gains of the gay equality movement and the coming out of celebrities here and there, life is worse for LGBT teens today then it was 20 years ago, particularly for those living far from urban areas. While the gay political movement has made dramatic strides, most of those advances have been for adults in big cities. And at the same time, the religious right has come full force out of it´s own closet – condemning homosexuality and pushing therapy to cure the gays. In suburban and rural areas, preachers attack gays, ugly campaigns have been waged to bar gays for marrying, and politicians rail that gays shouldn´t be teaching in schools.

Savage may be on to something; As we have moved ahead with civil-rights movement for LGBT adults – marriage, employment nondiscrimination laws, adoption and gay parenting – the organized political movement has largely ignored the backlash our success has triggered and ignored how that backlash hurts gay youths. Sure, there are some excellent groups focused on these issues, such as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. But many gay adults, unless they have children themselves, are far removed from these issues and often see fighting discrimination in their own lives as more important. It´s true, of course, that progress for LGBT adults helps everyone in the long run. If LGBT people had full civil rights – equal marriage rights and federal constitutional protections against discrimination – homophobia would diminish in society and young people would grow up in a better world. But we all know that equal rights and the hate will only grow worse in the meantime.

An example of this can be found in the 2010 Republican primary campaigns for a U.S. Senate seat from New Hampshire. The two Tea Party-backed candidates vying for the nomination ran on a platform of homophobia. Not only did both oppose all gay civil rights including marriage, they opposed adoption by gays and lesbians – an extreme position given that only one state, Florida, has banned such adoptions, and that ban was overturned in a state appeals court in recent months. New Hampshire already has full civil rights for gays, including marriage equality and antidiscrimination statues. And yet here were two candidates hell-bent on rolling those achievements back. And the winner of the Republican primary, Kelly Ayotte, actually made the Senate.

It will be many years before marriage equality and antidiscrimination protections come to every state. And the New Hampshire example shows that even after equality is won, it may be many years before antigay forces stop trying to strip away hard-earned rights of the LGBT community. We´ll be fighting for a long time. One battlefield will continue to be the schools, where young people will be targeted. And it´s not just the gay kids and those who are perceived to be gay who are under attack, it´s also those whose parents are gay who are being singled out as different by bullies.

The problem is only going to get worse unless there is a concerted effort to dramatically change the culture of schools. Often we´re dealing with the symptoms rather that the larger problem when it comes to bullying and homophobia.

In the research, ‘slut’ and ‘faggot’ are the two words used most by bullies, says Elizabeth Payne, who founded the Queering Education Research Institute at Syracuse University´s School of Education.

Through QuERRI´s Reduction of Stigma in Schools Program, Payne and her colleagues are doing the qualitative research that is much needed to get at the root of bullying. She believes we have a Band-Aid approach that punishes bullies rather than preventing them from developing in the first place.

Right now we focus on the individual kids´ problems. Conversations are about bullying prevention, and those things are important. But why has the effeminate male been the primary target of bullying for so many years? The problem with the bullying programs is that we reeducate the bully and then there´s another one right behind that one, because we haven´t really questioned the structure of the school itself. The football players and the cheerleaders are the most valued. It´s based on gender. We have to questions schools about how they´re privileging that, and the school needs to equally send those messages that it´s OK to excel at other things.

We also must battle a message that´s reinforced far beyond the schools through a popular culture that still values the macho male and demonizes those who are perceived as effeminate. A case in point is the is the controversy that erupted a few months ago after the trailer for the Ron Howard film ‘The Dilemma’ was shown in theaters. Star Vince Vaughn´s character jokes that ‘electric cars are gay’. The fact that he tries to clarify by saying, “I mean, not ‘homosexual’ gay, but ‘my parents are chaperoning the dance’ gay,” only underscores the ugliness of the message. “Gay” isn´t just a sexual orientation: it´s nerdy, weak and undesirable. When Hollywood and pop culture help to solidify the message coming from antigay politicians and preachers, it shouldn´t shock anyone that it plays out detrimentally among young people.

Not untill we address these larger and more challenging aspects of culture, in schools and beyond, will we see the bullying and suicides diminish. And changing the culture will have a positive effect – not just on LGBT youths, but on all kids, including the bullies. If there´s one thing all parents can glean from the landmark study of children of lesbian parents, it´s that teaching kids about difference and acceptance seems to be part of the mix in building self-esteem and confidence for all.

I want it all, and I want it now.

Is monogamy the key to fulfillment? Or does it take one or more dishes on the side to quench our appetite? The eternal struggle between virtue and virility is not an issue within polyamourous relationships, which might feature anything between two to perhaps even ten steady partners.

After the long search for the ideal partner, you finally wind up in a relationship. A proper relationship with all the trimmings. Till death do us part and what not. It´s a noble cause, and one worth striving for. But who the hell came up with the idea that we are meant to spend our entire life with one partner?

It was Paul the Apostle who introduced monogamy as a new trend some 2,000 years ago, and it was a great success. Since then, we have all been happily going along with this concept and trying to make it stick. So from the time you are born, you´re primarily surrounded by just two people. Biology books also teach us about relationships being between two people. But does that mean that two is always better than three? Or, could it just be that not one person, but two people just might constitute the loves of your life?  And why should you then say goodbye to one if you happened to bump into the other? Or could you strike up a relationship with both people?

In answer to the question whether people are made to live monogamously, Marc MacLohan, a specialised relationship counsellor for men answers: “We are not made that way unfortunately, but do hunker for it somewhere deep down. So it´s a matter of seeing how far you get together. Personally, I´ve been doing that for the past 25 years.”

What is polyamory?

Since time immemorial there have been questions about relationships and their various guises, of which polyamory is one of many. A polyamourous relationship is a fully fledged loving relationship with several partners. Polyamory literally means “multiple love”. That love is expressed through relationships whereby friendship, intimacy, an emotional connection, spiritual connection and/or sexuality are the basic ingredients. The are founded in love, openness, honesty and respect, says Alice Conner, who runs a website dedicated to polyamory. Love is universal and works in exactly the same way through the same natural laws, whether you enter into a relationship with one or several people.

Today´s ideal male partner is muscular and well-toned, flaunts a disproportionately large package, preferably with an IQ around the 130-mark upstairs, and perhaps a shiny Audi TT Roadster all roaring to go as the icing on the cake. But that divine combination cannot usually be found within the one partner; relationships with multiple partners could prove a solution in that sense. Polyamory has many faces, such as living with multiple partners, whereby all people involved are in a relationship with one another, or for instance a relationship whereby one person has various partners, without these partners necessarily having a relationship with one another.

Gert Hekma, who is specialised in Gay and Lesbian Studies, had the following to say about polyamory among gays: “The word polyamory is not all that popular with gays, but many gay relationships seem to fit that bill. Gays frequently have open relationships, which often entails that both lovers enter into relationships with third parties, either on their own or together. This is not usually the case for younger gays who often solely belive in the combination og love and sex.”

Wide and open

Some gays do not seem to realise what type of relationship they´re in – it all falls under the ‘open relationship’ header. The difference between an open relationship and a polyamourous relationship is that an open relationship is primarily geared towards sexual contacts: screwing around without the emotional scenes. Gert Hekma says: “Gays will opt for an open relationship sooner than heterosexuals, because they´re more easy-going about sex.” An open relationship provides you with more freedom, and doesn´t give you that ‘trapped’ feeling you can get within a relationship. Marc MacLohan has an explanation for the many open relationships among gays: “It´s a male thing basically. Men simply have to ‘do it’ from time to time it seems, and in that sense they will understand the other person´s occasional flare-ups of lust. It appears to be something innately primeval within men that the gay scene ‘turns a blind eye to’. So lustful men tend to hook up with one another, and don´t mind the other person´s meanderings. The risk with open relationships is, however, that they are entered into too quickly, whereby things soon turn unstable. Wait for at least a few years before you open up your relationship to sexual adventures. And even then, beware that the open door doesn´t become a vent for all kinds of intimate desires that cannot be experienced within the steady relationship.”

Jealousy

A polyamouros relationship seems like paradise to many gays; after all, you can fall in love without feeling guilty because you´re honest about it in telling your partner. Your relationship is less likely to get into a rut, as you have another partner on the outside. But let´s adress the elephant in the room; what if one of you becomes jealous? And how do you divide your attention equally between both men? How do you ensure that both people get what they need sexually, and, are you able to talk to one partner about the day you spent with the other?

Emotions can get the upper hand and any sense of perspective might go out the window. And even once the three or four of you have accepted that things are a certain way, you still have to deal with your environment. How will your neighbours handle the situation for instance? And what about the people who are looking to chat about the latest gossip at birthdays? Other people often have their own way of looking at things, and often voice their opinions without being asked.

“People are especially baffled in the beginning”, says Ed, who is in a relationship with two other men to the WinQ Mag. “People give me disapproving looks, and are sometimes envious too when i tell them about my love for two men. But that blows over after a while, and you then wind up only seeing the people who have come to accept it. These days though, all three of us even get invited to birthday parties together.”

Having a house, a dog and perhaps an adopted child just doesn´t seem enough for some people these days. One of the most common form of polyamory in gays is where partners have grown apart but still continue to live together; meanwhile, an affair is struck up with a third-party. This is in fact a transitional situation, and therefore also temporary . It is the most prevalent situation whereby long-term relationships bite the dust.