Bridgewater Hall concert … Rainbow 50p Coin … Cuba marks LGBT+ History Month … Conversion Therapy Ban (latest)


Bridgewater Hall

(review by Angel of a concert featuring Bruch – Violin Concerto No 1 and Tchaikovsky – Symphony No 5)

Today we “seniors” came to a classical music concert. The first part was dedicated to modern authors and it turned out very well, including a soloist with her violin. I admit, however, that I did close my eyes a few times.

After the Interval came the magic of Tchaikovsky and his 5th symphony. It was fabulous. I don’t remember being to a Tchaikovsky concert before and it’s a memorable experience. The music moved from place to place, like a demonical precursor to stereo. Violins and wind instruments went in a second from a deafening climax to a mellow, sweet sound. It was like dancing with the decibels. These days we all reject the criminal Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, we should not confuse Putin and his autocratic government with the Russian people. Russians have made indisputable contributions to humanity.

Rainbow 50p coin to mark 50 years of Pride movement in the UK

The 50p will not enter circulation but will be available online

A rainbow 50p coin will be minted to mark the 50th anniversary of the Pride movement in the UK.

The coin features Pride in London’s values of Protest, Visibility, Unity, and Equality in rainbows with the Pride progression flag.

It has been designed by Dominque Holmes, an east London artist, writer, and LGBTQ+ activist.

This will be the first time the LGBTQ+ community has been celebrated on an official UK coin.

The commemorative 50p has been created through a partnership between Pride in London and the Royal Mint and a donation will be made to London LGBT Community Pride as part of the launch.

It was “a privilege” to see the coin being made at the Royal Mint, said Asad Shaykh, Pride in London’s director of marketing and communications.

“It humbles me greatly that the words that I coined for the brand- protest, visibility, unity and equality – will be on an actual coin, opposite the Queen,” he said.

He added: “Nowhere in the world had this been possible, except the UK. Pride in London feels very proud today.”

‘Milestone celebration’

Pride in London has organised the capital’s LGBT+ Pride parade and events since 2013, including this year’s on Saturday 2 July.

The UK’s first pride protest march took place in London in 1972 and the annual event now welcomes more than 1.5 million people onto the streets of London.

The Royal Mint’s director of commemorative coin, Clare Maclennan, said the anniversary was “a milestone celebration” and would use hi-tech colour printing technology to “capture the spirit of Pride UK”. She added the 50p will not enter circulation but will be available online.

Cuba marks Latin America’s first LGBTQ+ history month

Cuba has become the first Latin American country to celebrate LGBTQ+ history month, with advocates hoping the milestone spurs other nations to mark old wins and prevent new discrimination.

Dozens of events are scheduled throughout May, said founder Raul Perez Monzon, a historian and assistant professor at the University of Havana.

Lectures, panel discussions, workshops and more will “promote inclusion” and “reflect on current issues in our country,” Perez said in an email.

“LGBTQ+ History Month is intended to help eliminate many years of discrimination,” he added.

“LGBTQ+ people have been afraid to call attention to themselves for fear of consequences, such as verbal abuse, attacks and exclusion.”

Organisers say the event marks an important first.

None of the 13 countries that have so far marked the month, from Australia to Canada, is majority Spanish-speaking.

Cuban Way

Legal persecution and social exclusion were once the norm for many LGBTQ+ people in mainly Roman Catholic Cuba, which has been governed by the Communist Party since 1959.

In the 1960s, under then-President Fidel Castro, some gay men were sent to forced labour camps known as Military Units to Aid Production for what government called “re-education”.

But LGBTQ+ campaigners say the island has since made strides.

In 2008, its National Centre for Sex Education said it would offer free gender-confirmation surgery to transgender patients.

Lawmakers banned workplace and housing discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity in 2013.

Yet the inaugural history month could still meet resistance from conservatives, including from some religious groups.

Changes that would have allowed same-sex marriage were scrapped in 2018 due to religious opposition.

At the time, Santiago de Cuba Archbishop Dionisio Garcia referred to LGBTQ+ rights as “ideological colonialism” and said that legalising marriage equality would result in “regrettable consequences”.

Cuba is holding consultations on the thwarted amendment, with lawmakers expected to revisit the issue in December.

Juan Carlos Gutierrez Perez, a professor at the University Marta Abreu of Las Villas and a festival co-organiser, said a “great wave of conservative religious fundamentalism has been developing in Cuba” in recent years.

“It is not an endemic phenomenon in Cuba but in Latin America and the rest of the world, too,” Gutierrez said.

Representatives from the Roman Catholic Church in Cuba, the island’s largest religious denomination, did not respond to a request for comment.

An estimated 60% of Cubans identify as Catholic.

Going Global

At least a dozen countries – from Canada to Finland, Hungary to Britain – have marked their LGBTQ+ heritage since Rodney Wilson organised the world’s first LGBTQ+ history month in the United States in October 1994.

“This is extraordinary exposure, and it’s had a really important impact,” Wilson said. “It provides at least once a year an excuse to take a spotlight out and shine it on these stories, these people and their history.”

The aim now is to spread the word wider, with a committee of members from New Zealand to Norway exploring participation. “It’s an exciting time,” Wilson said. “We are recognizing more globally the idea of shared and sustained history.”

Conversion Therapy Ban

The Petitions Committee has scheduled a debate on the petition “Ensure Trans people are fully protected under any conversion therapy ban”, for 4.30pm on Monday 20 June.

Ahead of the debate, MPs on the Petitions Committee have written to the Government to ask:

  • what evidence has informed the Government’s decision not to include transgender conversion therapy in the proposed ban on conversion therapy practices
  • for more details of the “separate work” the Government has said it will do to consider the issue of transgender conversion therapy
  • when the Government intends to publish its response to the consultation on banning conversion therapy

Read the full letter here.

The Committee has asked for a reply by Thursday 9 June so it can be published ahead of the debate on this petition.

How to follow the debate on transgender conversion therapy

Watch the debate from 4.30pm on Monday 20 June here.

Read a transcript which will be available a few hours after the debate ends here.

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