I can still remember my first Pride in 1994. Stonewall‘s Michael Cashman said ‘we are everywhere’ – I’d never been so inspired in my life. Nowadays Pride is only faintly political, although there were political interests on display in the parade – largely basing themselves on Stonewall’s campaign against homophobic bullying in schools – but we really did show we were everywhere. Gay Christians, Muslims, Hindus, soldiers, nurses, teachers, you name it – being gay was very clearly mainstream in ways it wasn’t in 1994.
I have my own reservations about the event being apolitical, much of which I’ll explore in my next post, but Tom suggested a very good point about it yesterday: that isn’t the way forward anymore. The haters really aren’t going to be swayed by Pride marches or gay visibility – not the true ones anyway. That’s down to better policing and better community organising, and of course the more the police for example are integrated into gay community events like Pride the better. So the awful standard of stewarding ultimately didn’t matter that much – it was not just a party but a great event, further mainstreaming gay visibility in areas of public life previously unthinkable. The usual Christianist haters were there, but barely noticeable this time, and clearly ever more out of step with the public mood. Being out is a good thing.
Posted in gay, personal, photography
Tagged gay, Gay Pride, homosexuality, London, march, parade, Pride, Pride London, Pride march
Today I attended Amnesty’s rally for International Refugee Day, to protest Britain’s asylum policy, which was recently labelled as ‘inhuman’. Seeking asylum really is not a crime, but you wouldn’t know it looking at the system. Not allowed back in the country for ten years if you’re ‘failed’? Forcing children into care? Witholding the right to work? Slashing of legal aid? Responding to the rise of the far right, as articulated in sleazy British tabloids like the Daily HateMail, has legitimised an anti-refugee sentiment in this country, and allowed detention centres like Yarl’s Wood, the subject of my next blog post.
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Have you seen police misbehaviour? I have. I’ve been on the receiving end of it too and photographed them doing it. It’s yet another plank in Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s nascent police state to make it illegal to photograph the police. Journalists like Marc Vallée (in the film) who have a respectable career documenting protests and demonstrations? The police have assaulted him without provocation on more than one occasion – now they can call him a terrorist and not have to justify a thing.
Links to the demonstration and the issues behind it here.
Posted in Human rights, photography, politics, popular culture
Tagged Big Brother, Counter Terrorism Act, Home Office, Jason N Parkinson, photography, police, police state, Section 76, surveillance society, terrorism
Well in addition to ID cards, the impending superdatabase, the DNA database, the freedom for police to commit murder, the logging of all foreign travel movements and the warrantless freedom to search your house, even remotely. And that’s just a taster, not of where we might be but where we are. Marc Vallée details what’s next:
From Monday it will be an offence to elicit or attempt to elicit information about an individual who is or has been a member of the armed forces, intelligence services, or a police officer in Great Britain – it’s been an offence in Northern Ireland since 2000. It will also be an offence to publish such information.
In a nutshell, you could be arrested for taking and publishing a picture of a police officer if the police think it is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. Your defence if charged by the crown prosecution service would be to prove that you had a “reasonable excuse” to take the picture in the first place.
I can see it now: “If you don’t stop taking pictures of me hitting this protester on the head, I’m going to nick you under section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.” When you add this to the comments made by Vernon Coaker, the minister for policing, in a letter to the National Union of Journalists in December, things don’t look good.
The Coaker letter laid out when the police could “limit” photography in a public place. He wrote: “This may be on the grounds of national security or there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation or raise security considerations. Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace or to avoid a public order situation or for the person’s own safety and welfare or for the safety and welfare of others.”
Let me point two extremely important things out. Firstly there has never been a case where terrorists have reconnoitered their intended targets, using DSLRs or any other camera for that matter. I mean if you knew or suspected that MI5 were watching you, why would you draw further attention to yourselves? Secondly it has been admitted by the government that the most recent time the police threw their weight about in significant numbers around this ‘security considerations’ nonsense, they abused their power. They clamped down violently on journalists and camera crews alike, and all to prevent the documentation of their violence against entirely peaceful protesters. What can we expect, as Marc asks, when this is codified in law?
Join him and others to protest this insidious law, which would guarantee the police yet more powers which they don’t need, and even greater means to avoid accountability for their behaviour.
Posted in Human rights, photography, politics
Tagged Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, DNA database, Home Office, Marc Vallee, photographer, photography, police, police state, protest, security, superdatabase, surveillance society, terrorism, Vernon Coaker
No, Britannia High didn’t work. No, Skins series 3 isn’t quite right without him. He may not be blond anymore, but here’s a new portrait of him by Kai Z Feng. Enjoy.
Meet Remodel: Mark, Leigh, Adam and Joey. It’s the launch of their single ‘Formula’ and their first video. I’m not the world’s biggest music fan, so I’m not the best one to write about rock, punk, or post-punk music, but in the time I’ve known these boys they’ve developed from having potential to being a stone’s throw away from a music contract. They’re now that good – get to the iTunes Music Store right now and buy as many copies as you can. If you like pop with a smidge of attitude and a lot of cheek take my word for it.
Oh and enjoy the photos I’ve taken of them in the following slideshow: