News roundup: New York’s Bioneers, Ban Delayed, Stormont’s Turn

New York’s bioneers
The City council in New York has announced plans to memorialise Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
The monument, set for the Ruth Wittenberg Triangle near to the Stonewall Inn, will also be one of few around the world remembering trans life – the memorial in Sackville Gardens in Manchester being another.
The New York City Mayor’s office issued a series of tweets which read:
“NYC’s next public monument will honor pioneering trans activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera! #SheBuiltNYC
“Marsha P. Johnson was a critical trans activist in the LGBTQ movement. Marsha provided much-needed shelter, clothing, and support for NYC’s homeless #LGBTQ youth.
“Sylvia Rivera was an incredible trans advocate who fought long and hard for trans recognition in the LGBTQ rights movement and was not afraid to go against the establishment to make her voice heard.”
Both bi and trans, Rivera and Johnson are two of the best known participants in the Stonewall Inn riot fifty years ago in 1969.
That event kickstarted a lot of the LGBT liberation movement in the USA – and inspired the first Pride march a year later, organised by another bisexual, Brenda Howard. The energy from the rebellion in New York spread both across the US and to the UK – where gay liberation campaigning was already under way and two years earlier had led to the decriminalisation of sex between men.

Ban Delayed
The UK government’s plan run an extensive internet censorship programme has come up against reality again – and the can kicked further down the road.
The block on material deemed pornographic had been due to come in on July 15th – itself a postponement of an original April 2018 start date. Now the law will come into force… er… later…
It will only affect sites where more than a third of the site content is deemed to qualify as porn. So images posted by users to sites like Twitter or Reddit won’t count because there is so much other material on each of them. Given the comparative draw and reach of small sites and the big social media hubs that the law leaves untouched, it will surely fail entirely in its intent – while taking down a flurry of small businesses in the UK.
We worry institutional and social biphobia, homophobia and transphobia is likely to mean that LGBT-positive content is deemed more offensive than its cishetero equivalent.

Stormont’s Turn
Westminster has voted to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland this autumn, should the devolved government at Stormont continue not to function.
It’s now down to the DUP and Sinn Fein to work out whether they can form a government and take the decision back into their own hands.
Stormont voted to allow same-sex marriage back in 2015 but so far the DUP have blocked it using a veto power they and Sinn Fein each have as the largest Unionist and Nationalist parties.


BCN issue 156 cover

This first appeared in BCN magazine issue 156, July/August 2019.