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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The L Wire's Review of 2013: April

April 2013 was a big month for major global news stories. Its 30 days saw a massive explosion at fertiliser plant in Texas, the death of a former British Prime Minister, a pair of deadly earthquakes in Asia and a bombing at the Boston Marathon.

We’ll be looking at one of those stories in a bit more detail due to its relationship with LGBT+ rights but I think that, as other mainstream media reviews of the year’s events are published, we’ll find that the events of April will be on many of the lists...

Margaret Thatcher, whose government passed Section 28, dies

When Margaret Thatcher died on 8th of April, the news quickly spread. Twitter was awash with confusion at first, caused by the inability to hashtag and punctuate at the same time, which led to many fans of pop diva Cher panicking as #nowthatchersdead began to trend.

Margaret Thatcher (

As expected, the policies that passed under her leadership were examined by all sides and Section 28 was once again in the news.

If you’re not familiar with Section 28, it was a law aimed at “preventing local councils from promoting or encouraging homosexuality through publications, campaigns or in schools” and was passed in 1988, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. The law was criticised by equality campaigners as being full of anti-gay language and sentiment, including the prohibition of the promotion of same-sex “pretended family relationships”.

Stonewall, the UKs most recognisable LGB charity, was founded in 1989 as a direct reaction to this law. They claim that as well as the obvious discrimination against gay people, the law caused confusion amongst teachers, who were unsure what they could and could not say to their pupils and it made those students facing homophobic bullying or experiencing confusion with their sexuality much more difficult to support. 

Protest against Section 28 (

Following much campaigning from both sides, Section 28 was finally repealed in Scotland in 2000 and three years later in England and Wales.

The legacy of Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first and, to-date, only female Prime Minister is made up of a number of different issues and of wildly varying opinions both of her work and her character. The introduction of Section 28 and the direct impact it had upon gay and lesbian people is undoubtedly part of that legacy.

On the legacy of the law itself, Stonewall quotes Sir Ian McKellen as saying:

If Section 28 and the attitudes behind it had remained then society would still believe that gay people are second class citizens and that it is right that they should be treated as second class citizens.”

Putin receives a colourful welcome in Amsterdam

By April, Section 28 had been abolished in the UK for almost ten years. But in Russia, scarily similar laws, as well as some that were even more draconian, were on the table once again.

Equality campaigners in Amsterdam took to the street to protest against a visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin that had been arranged to celebrate 400 years of trading agreements between the countries. 

As well as thousands of protesters taking to the streets and canals of Amsterdam, the City Hall and many gay bars made the symbolic gesture of flying their flags at half-mast.

Rainbow flags at half-mast in Amsterdam (

With a character such as Putin, it’s impossible to say whether he listened to the protestors that day, but there’s no doubt that he would have heard them.

I kind of hope he heard Dolly Bellefleur’s unique take on the Boney M classic ‘Rasputin’ while he was there too…

Australia’s rainbow rebellion

A DIY protest movement swept the globe in April after the Australian government dug up a rainbow crossing that had been painted across a road in Sydney’s gay district in celebration of its 35th Mardi Gras. 

Sydney's original rainbow crossing (

New South Wales’ Roads Minister, the ironically named Duncan Gay, stated health and safety concerns as the reason for the move, despite a 15,000 signature petition being gathered to save the rainbow.

Unwilling to accept defeat, Sydney resident James Brechney protested by chalking a rainbow crossing in his own street. What started as a single act of defiance quickly became a global movement. A website and Facebook page were created and people from around the world began sending in pictures of their own efforts. 

A DIY rainbow crossing (

I loved the simplicity and fun spirit of this campaign; it’s something that literally anyone with some chalk and a stretch of tarmac can do and it’s still ongoing. So if anyone’s looking for something fun to do in the North of Scotland, let me know and we can create our very own DIY rainbow together!

Jason Collins comes out

In late April, professional basketball player Jason Collins became the second of a trio of male athletes to hit the headlines for coming out this year.

I don’t follow basketball much, so admit that I’d never heard of Collins prior to his announcement. I don’t even know if he was a household name in the States before his very personal coming out story was published by Sports Illustrated.

Jason Collins "The Gay Athlete" (

Like that of Robbie Rogers, it’s sad that these stories still need to be told in such a public way. But it is proof that there’s still a long way to go before LGBT+ people are equal not only in law but also in the eyes of the media and of society.

What seemed to be the significant part of the story was that Collins was the first man to come out whilst still actively participating in one of the ‘big four’ team sports in the USA. I think that what also captured people’s attention was that he looked quite the opposite of what many incorrectly believe a gay man to be. Collins is tall, strong, athletic; the embodiment of masculinity.

Following his coming out interview, Martina Navratilova described Jason Collins as a “game-changer” and I’m inclined to agree.  Not only did Collins’ announcement give hope to young men who experience conflict between their sexuality and their sport, but he did it whilst publicly smashing long-held stereotypes of what it is to be a gay man.

New Zealand passes equal marriage in style

It’s only April and already I’m dishing out the prize for my personal favourite moment of the year.

The reason that I’m bestowing this prestigious award on the New Zealand Parliament is three-fold.

The first reason is pretty simple; they voted in favour of marriage equality and that’s something I love.

The second is that, during the debate, Maurice Williamson MP made what is undoubtedly the best speech I have heard a politician make, ever. There’s no way I could find the words to do it justice, so just watch it for yourself and see (and keep watching ‘til the end, when it goes from amazing to mind-blowing!):

The third, my absolute highlight, put the cherry on the proverbial wedding cake. Following the vote, in which the Bill passed with 77 votes to 44, MPs and the public gallery broke into song. When I first saw this video it on my mobile phone on a rush-hour bus from work and I wept most of the way home and I have absolutely no regrets.

The song is "Pokarekare Ana", a traditional Maori love song considered by some to be the country’s unofficial national anthem. Brace yourself, it’s pretty emotional:

Well I’m off to find a tissue, but I’ll be back tomorrow for a look at what happened in May. If you’ve missed any of the earlier reviews, you can catch up HERE.

What were your favourite LGBT+ moments of 2013? And what were your personal highlights? Did you come out? Get married? Do something life-changing? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Julie Price on Twitter, @JuliePee