Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2014-09-28: Campaigns Decisions, IOC Success and More

Hello everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the first week of term and the Freshers’ Flu is beginning to wear off. There’s a lot of exciting things that have been happening, are happening and will be happening, so read on!

Welcome to All Our New Members

Meeting 1

I’d like to start by saying thanks to everyone for coming along last week. It was great to see such a big crowd! It’s even more exciting that so many of the people I spoke to had specific areas or ideas that they were interested in. But whether you have a burning passion for a particular area, a general desire to help out or even if you weren’t able to make the first meeting it’s great to have you on board and there will be plenty going on to capture your imagination. I hope you all enjoy the ride.

It sounds like there was some good discussion too; and I’d like to say thanks to everyone who took part in the CFCI action. We’ll be sending off the photos along with the signatures when the petition goes off to court for consideration next month.

If you weren’t able to make it, no worries- feel free to have a look at the presentation for last week’s meeting (warning: speakers notes in the PDF may bear no relation to what I actually said) and do join us at 5PM this Tuesday!

This Week’s Meeting: Campaign Decisions

Tuesday 30th September, QMU Committee Room 1

This week we are going to be deciding what campaigns we want to prioritise. I’ve said before that collective decisions are a really important part of the group, and campaigns are a good example of this.

Campaigns are central to our work, they form the core of what we do. It’s important that members feel invested in what we’re focusing on, and that they are subjects that people are interested in – although I’m sure everyone would be interested in any human rights campaign!

So we all get an equal vote in the campaigns. If there are issues that you feel passionately about – from chatting to folk last week it seemed like a few were – it would be great if you shared your thoughts with us on Tuesday when we talk about the different options in groups.

Elections for Ordinary Board

Tuesday 7th October, QMU Committee Room 1

Remember remember, the… seventh of October. A week on Tuesday we’ll be holding elections for the position of two ordinary board members. This is a committee role which will really let you get your hands on organising things behind the scenes at GU Amnesty.

All you need to do in advance is have a short speech in mind; anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute to tell us who you are, what you do and why you think you should get the position. We’re all friendly so don’t stress about speaking to us! Even if you are not elected onto the committee there may be other roles which would pique your interested, so don’t be disheartened- we’d still love to have your input 🙂

Campaign Success: LGBT Rights and the IOC

Olympic Rings

This week we got word that the IOC had updated its position on discrimination, which is excellent news! We’re proud to have played a part in this. From our hugely successful cross-union LGBT rights photo campaign to the pressure we also put on the Olympic sponsor Coca-cola in our poster which was part of our officially-supported and rather impressive Change.org petition, we stood up for these human rights.

It’s important to keep these victories in mind when choosing the campaigns this Tuesday and in the weeks beyond; we can make a difference. Never forget that 🙂

Raise Off Success

Last week I mentioned the Raise-Off, the UK student group competition to funraise and campaign for AIUK. Well, although Exeter won the prize for raising the most money overall – congratulations to them – once again our Secret Policeman’s Ball won the award for Best Fundraising Event! I’ve now lost count of the number of awards it’s won. It is a true reflection of the hard work and organisation put in by the SPB subcommittee, headed up by our VP Debbie White last year, the members and Billy Kirkwood. The night just wouldn’t happen otherwise- which would be a shame as it’s a damn fine event.

If you’re interested in getting involved this year, either contact us or mention it to me or Duncan or any of the rest of the committee at the meeting this week. We’ll get a group together and have a chat about what we’re going to do this year, and you can find out if it’s for you!

Congratulations to everyone who was involved in the SPB last year, you all deserve this award 🙂

Coalition for Syrian Refugees Update

Last week GU Amnesty and representatives from other groups (Oxfam, STAR (now GRASS), UNICEF) met to update and plan what we can do to raise funds for and awareness of the difficult situation that Syrian Refugees find themselves in. We have made tentative plans for a ‘Syrian Week’ of informational and fundraising events early in the second semester (January 26th – February 1st).

We plan to meet again, and so if you are interested in what is going on in Syria and/or would like to be involved please contact us and let us know so that we can get you up-to-speed and added to the Facebook group.

Because of the (understatement alert) complex nature of the situation in Syria, the coalition intends to remain apolitical; one of the main areas of focus for GU Amnesty last year was the human rights situation and this continues to be the case. If you have any questions or concerns relating to CSR, please do get in touch and we’ll try and clarify.

Other Events and Information

Academics at Risk

Monday 6th October, 3-6PM, Glasgow University Concert Hall

There is an event which may be of interest put on by GU Settlement to inform people about the work of CARA:

The University of Glasgow, with assistance from GU Settlement, is hosting a CARA (The Council for At-Risk Academics) awareness raising event.

The Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) has provided protection and support to refugee and ‘at risk’ academics for over 80 years. The defence of academic freedom continues to underpin CARA’s work assisting academics who, for reasons of persecution and conflict, are unable to continue their research in their countries of origin.

The event will be chaired by Prof John Briggs (Vice Principal and GU Refugee Champion) and Prof Alison Phipps (GU CARA Rep/ GRAMNet).

A representative from GU Archives will discuss the historical role that the University has played in supporting dispossessed and displaced people and there will also be the opportunity for round table and informal discussion.

Cinema ho! GU Amnesty Goes to see Pride

Not an event as such but given our group interests, some of us were thinking going along to see the Film Pride at Cineworld on Thursday evening. It comes highly-regarded, so it should be a good trip and a chance for another informal social. Grab a bag of popcorn and come along.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/566709056790636/

Pride cinema trip!

Get in Touch

Prince Rupert's Drops

This newsletter’s ‘I read all the way though’ reward is a cool thing that came up in conversation this week: a Prince Rupert’s Drop. This are drops of glass with a thick end and a thin end: hammer on the thick end and you won’t do a thing. Snap a tiny bit of the thin end off and the glass explodes. I’ll let the video do the rest of the talking:

(link for those reading in email form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe-f4gokRBs#t=122)

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Ruth

Gay asylum seekers face ‘humiliation’ | UK news | The Observer

“I’m horrified by the nature of the questions that have been highlighted. It’s more like an interrogation than an interview…This is an unacceptable investigation of a gay asylum claim. Clearly, something is going terribly wrong here.”

via Gay asylum seekers face ‘humiliation’ | UK news | The Observer.

Ellen MacAskill

The Whole Spectrum of LGBT Issues

What a great week for Scotland.

Even though it has been imminent been for some time now I cannot but be relieved, excited and proud that the last barrier has been broken. One of society’s most treasured institutions is becoming egalitarian. Finally. And with a record of 108 to 18 voting in favour, the decision was easy, without the MSPs being dictated by party whips. Scotland is the 17th country globally to fully legislate same-sex marriage, following England and Wales last year.

Also exciting is the amendment made to the first draft of the bill concerning trans couples. Last semester we had guest speaker Nathan Gale visit us from the Scottish Transgender Alliance. He spoke about how the proposed ‘spousal veto’ would stop people from having their gender confirmed off their own backs as a partner would have to confirm it for them. This breach of our basic autonomy was removed from the bill, making the bill fairer for the Ts as well as the LGBs.

You may also have noticed that the university are flying the rainbow flag on campus for the UK LGBT History Month. On Saturday GU LGBTQ+ celebrate this wonderful use for February with Queerfest. Check out their Facebook page for finalised details of the event and the afterparty.

Over in Russia, the future does not look so bright. The Sochi Winter Olympics kick off on Friday and activists and campaigners are being dealt with unfairly so Putin can avoid a scene. Pavel Lebedev was detained during the Olympic Torch relay for waving a rainbow flag. He is one of many who will be victimised for taking a stand. Last year legislation was passed which makes the promotion of ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations amongst minors’ punishable by law (Is that what they call it these days?). Homophobia is being further institutionalised when the opposite should have happened years ago.

A certain tension is hanging around the Winter Olympics as both sides of the ethical dispute wait to see what will unfold. We can only hope that Putin’s attitude can be recognised as an example of how not to use power.

coke-petition

Speaking of power: the internet. Isn’t it great sometimes? We love a petition here at Amnesty so naturally, we have jumped aboard the Change.org band-wagon. Following Coca Cola’s refusal to withdraw sponsorship from the Sochi games, despite much lobbying and deliberation, Dom conceived an idea for a petition to encourage them to symbolically repent. His brainchild asks Coca Cola to put a rainbow on their cans to represent the global LGBT community which they have ignored in their alliance with the Games.

The ‘Put a Rainbow On It’ petition has been a success, gaining more than 8000 signatures in a week. At the time of writing, the figure stands at 8,284. If your signature is not already on it, please add it and help us to reach 10,000. Below is a link (warning: refreshing the screen to watch the number grow can become addictive).

http://www.change.org/CokeRainbowFlag  

We take one step forward and Russia takes two steps back. If we keep up the good work they will catch up one day.

Ruth

German Olympians will wear rainbow-colored uniforms in Sochi | For The Win

During a runway show in Düsseldorf Tuesday, German Olympians revealed vibrant new uniforms that are being called a “silent protest.”

via German Olympians will wear rainbow-colored uniforms in Sochi | For The Win.

Rob Hallam

BBC News – Australia high court overturns ACT gay marriage law

A disappointing reversal of gay marriage in Australia:

BBC News – Australia high court overturns ACT gay marriage law.

Rob Hallam

Photos from Meeting 10 – Coca Cola Postering

Great work creating the Coca Cola shame poster, and thanks to those that posed for photos with signs decrying Coca Cola’s homophobia.

Our poster

Suggested Coca Cola branding

The group hard at work

Rob Hallam

Photos from Jamnesty!

Another BIG BIG THANKS to everyone who made Jamnesty such a wonderful night. Particular gratitude is extended to the performers (Yew, Chrissy Barnacle and Flying Penguins) who were universally excellent and who kindly agreed to perform at our charity event. It was mentioned during the night, but if you enjoyed them please check out their stuff –  they all have stuff to listen to FOR FREE (or you can pay what you want) so go for it:

And a big well done to everyone else involved as well- those who helped organise, co-ordinate, make decorations, put up decorations, take down decorations and ensure the smooth running all made it possible. You all know who you are and you all put in a lot of effort so you all share in the success.

(click on an image for a full-size popout)

Lastly, thanks to everyone that came along- you can’t have a gig night without an audience! Whilst it was a fun, entertaining night it touched on important and serious issues- equal marriage, LGBT rights in Russia and everywhere, the Transgender Day of Remembrance and the minute’s silence. These are matters close to many that were there.

 

Rob Hallam

Photos from Meeting 9 – Nathan Gale and Day of Silence / Jamnesty Crafts

Many thanks to Nathan Gale from the Scottish Transgender Alliance (see www.scottishtrans.org) for coming along and giving a really informative and positive talk about what we can do to promote transgender rights issues, the equal marriage legislation – more properly, the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill – amongst other things, which was very well-received.

Kudos to everyone who painted a t-shirt for the Day of Silence and Jamnesty- they looked fab!

Ruth

Meeting on Tuesday 5th November: Women’s Rights and Upcoming Events!

BOO!!

Happy Hallowe’en everyone.

This one’s early because it is indeed the Student Conference this weekend and then the next time we meet it will be November! Talk about scary.

If you missed our meeting this week, Dominyka has written the blog, so check it out. I can now report that we have photos from the GUU, SRC and GUSA to add to our LGBT photo action. You can find them all on our website thanks to our Website Manager Rob who does a lot of hard work with that camera.

Next meeting: Tuesday 5th November, Committee Room 1, QMU

We are moving onto our next campaign – women’s rights with a focus on India. Dom is putting together a presentation that looks at the recent gang rape case in India and the subsequent changes in law with regards to reinstating the death penalty for certain forms of sexual violence. However, it has been largely overlooked that there are certain forms of rape that are still considered legal. This meeting will be a good opportunity to discuss what really ought to have been changed in India in terms of legal protections for women.

The first plenary at the Student Conference is ‘Women in Afghanistan – in the news for the wrong reasons’. Those of us who are attending will hopefully have lots to talk about after listening to the various speakers. This was in fact Amnesty UK’s October campaign for student groups, so we will cover this on Tuesday as well.

We are hoping to end the meeting at 6pm for mobdro free download those of you who have plans for bonfire night. If you don’t have plans and wish you did, you can join those of us who are heading to Glasgow Green after the meeting for the fireworks. Remember warm clothes!

Film Event: Wednesday 6th November, 12-2pm 217A Gillmorehill Centre

Screen Seminars at Glasgow – Women making documentaries in the Arab world

One of our members pointed this very well timed event taking place next Wednesday, right after the beginning of our women’s rights campaign. And it’s on campus, even better.

‘Filmmaking in the Middle East is often a matter of idealism and activism, especially in the case of women documentary makers. In spite of harsh censorship, conservative morals and a lack of investment, women have found ways of subtly negotiating dissidence in their films, something that is coming to light very clearly since the ‘Arab Revolutions’. In this talk I will introduce the aesthetic and ethic practices by the very first women making documentaries in the Middle East.

‘A historical overview of the struggles by women making documentaries will be supported by images and clips taken from documentaries by the pioneering women of Arab documentary making, e.g. Jocelyne Saab (Lebanon), Ateyyat El Abnoudy (Egypt), Selma Baccar (Tunisia) and Assia Djebar (Algeria).’

Tuesday 19th November: Guest Speaker – Scottish Transgender Alliance

I know we had our last meeting on LGBT rights this week but there is actually still more to come, yay! Nathan Gale from the Scottish Transgender Alliance (part of the Equality Network) will be coming to talk to us and we can take part in their postcard campaign. We are delighted that he can make it and after that we will have achieved everything that members suggested we do in terms of events for LGBT rights this semester. So that’s something to celebrate!

Wednesday 20th November: Day of Silence and Jamnesty!

Day of Silence – All day on campus/at home/in your bed/at work/wherever you are in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community

Jamnesty: Halt 2, Woodlands Road, doors open 7.30pm, tickets £3/£4 on the door

We have begun looking into t-shirts for our Day of Silence and Maisie is emailing Mobdro Online TV the SRC to make sure that a message is sent to every student telling them about our plans. We thought of buying white t-shirts so that we can decorate them with our GU Amnesty stamp and solidarity messages. We’ll let you know next week how much this will be and see if you want to go ahead with ordering the t-shirts. Whatever we decide, we need something visible for those taking the pledge to be silent and those who are supporting – everyone is welcome to take part so encourage friends outwith the society to join in too.

Ali has been busy finding the best deals for printing the LGBT campaign photos for decorating the Halt 2 and also for creating a poster collage. We are hoping to have big posters in the QMU, GUU and SRC to publicise our solidarity action on that day.

Of course we have Jamnesty in the evening, which we are all super excited for! Please remember to get your tickets in advance as we are almost through our first batch of 30. You can get tickets at the meetings, and you can take tickets away for friends that you know are coming. You don’t need to pay for these at the time, I’ll make a note of who is taking away tickets and can collect money the week after.

Spook to you soon,

Ruth

Rob Hallam

Photos from Meeting 6 – Out There (Featuring Stephen Fry) and LGBT IOC Letter Writing (2013-10-29)

This week we were fortunate to enjoy a segment of the documentary Out There, with Stephen Fry. Having been informed further on the LGBT rights situation in Russia, we finished off our LGBT Photo Campaign and wrote letters to the IOC to go along with these photos.