Chetham’s Library … Lewis Hamilton … Your Words Are Powerful

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Chetham’s Library

We had a meal in the Seven Stars pub, part of the Printworks entertainment venue. The premises are named after one of Manchester’s long-lost inns, as the original Seven Stars stood close by and had a picturesque Tudor-style front. It claimed to have been licensed since 1350. 

It was then just a few minute’s walk to Chetham’s Library, the oldest free public reference library in the English-speaking world, where we had arranged a guided tour with one of the librarians.

Chetham’s Hospital, which contains both the library and Chetham’s School of Music, was established in 1653 under the will of Humphrey Chetham (1580–1653), for the education of “the sons of honest, industrious and painful parents”, and a library for the use of scholars. The library has been in continuous use since 1653. It operates as an independent charity, open to readers free of charge, by prior appointment.

Chetham’s is also famous as the meeting place of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels when Marx visited Manchester in the summer of 1845. Facsimiles of the economics books they studied can be seen on a table in the window alcove where they would meet. The research they undertook during this series of visits to the library led ultimately to their work, The Communist Manifesto.

More pictures can be seen here.

Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton wore the Pride flag on his helmet for last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix

The racer is making a show of LGBT+ solidarity at the race, with his crash helmet – which will be beamed from the in-car camera – also emblazoned with the message “We Stand Together”.

Qatar hosted its first Grand Prix on Sunday, 21 November as part of a new 10-year deal.

When it was first announced, in September 2021, Amnesty International was among those to criticise the decision. It noted Qatar’s “extremely troubling” human rights record, and said that “drivers and their teams should be prepared to speak out about human rights in Qatar.”

Speaking ahead of the race, Lewis Hamilton said: “We’re aware there are issues in these places that we’re going to. But of course Qatar seems to be deemed as one of the worst in this part of the world. I do think as the sports go to these places, they are then duty bound to raise awareness for these issues. These places need scrutiny from the media to speak about these things. Equal rights is a serious issue.”

It is illegal to be homosexual in Qatar, with a punishment of up to seven years in prison or flogging.

Your Words are Powerful

Amnesty International organise an annual “Write for Rights” campaign and hundreds of thousands of supporters take part showing solidarity with people and organisations enduring human rights abuses.

It might only take a few minutes to write a letter or card, but for an LGBT+ organisation suffering homophobic attacks, this simple gesture has a powerful impact. Your letters, words and actions also put pressure on the authorities to bring perpetrators of human rights abuses to justice.

LGBT and Women’s Rights under attack

Sphere has championed LGBT and women’s rights since 2006, and is one of the oldest organisations of its kind in Ukraine. Founded by activists Anna Sharyhina and Vira Chernygina, it provides a safe space for women and LGBT people in the city of Kharkiv. In recent years the organisation has suffered frequent homophobic attacks.

The authorities are not addressing the growing rate of hate crimes. Anti-LGBT groups have set upon Sphere’s supporters and premises, urinating on walls, daubing faeces on doorknobs, breaking windows and chanting homophobic slogans. Anna and Vira report them to the police, but no one is held accountable.

In 2019, Sphere organised Kharkiv’s first Pride. Despite threats and intimidation, it was a huge success, attended by up to 3,000 people. But the police failed to protect marchers from violence, and instead joined in by hurling homophobic abuse. Anna and Vira say police inaction has left Sphere and its supporters in a permanent state of fear.

What You Can Do

  • Send a message of support and solidarity to

Sphere

PO Box 10399

Kharkiv, 61005,

Ukraine.

  • Send an appeal letter to

The Minister of Interior

Ministry of Interior Affairs

Vul. Akademika Bohomoltsa, 10

01601, Kyiv

Ukraine

Address your letter to Dear Minister and ask him to take all necessary steps to ensure the perpetrators of the attacks against Sphere are identified and held to account in fair trials and to ensure the discriminatory motive of the attacks is taken into account during the investigations.

Campaigning can work

Last year more than 445,000 letters and cards were sent to support students Melike Balkan and Ozgür Gür from Turkey defending their right to celebrate Pride on their university campus. They faced nearly three years in prison but were acquitted on 8 October 2021 and their ordeal is finally over.

Does anyone recognise this person?

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