Tolerance is not the same as acceptance but tolerance is still a fine thing

[I learnt this lesson in Amsterdam – they tolerate foreigners, but they may never accept them. Anyway, this story was interesting because it’s nice to know that these kids are going to have a slightly easier time, and because that level of validation of gender identity is pretty damn cool.]
BBC: Thai school offers transsexual toilet

With its spacious, tree-lined grounds and slightly threadbare classrooms, there is nothing obviously unusual about the Kampang Secondary School.
It is situated in Thailand’s impoverished north-east, and most of the pupils are the children of farmers.

But there is something else about them too. Between the girls’ toilet and the boys’, there is one signposted with a half-man, half-woman figure in blue and red.

The transgender boys in Kampang tend to stick together as a group, practising their somewhat exaggerated feminine mannerisms together and generally camping it up.
They still have to wear male uniforms, make-up is not allowed (although some manage to sneak in a touch of lipstick and mascara), and of course sex-change surgery is out of the question at this age – the youngest self-declared transsexual is 12.
But they appear to be treated perfectly normally by other pupils and teachers alike.
I asked the headmaster whether they were not too young to be making decisions about their gender.
A transsexual pupil at Kampang Secondary School, north-east Thailand The pupils have to wear boys’ uniforms, but use feminine accessories He said that, in his 35 years of working in the Thai education system, he had come across
many boys like this, and they never changed. Many go on as adults to have sex-change surgery, while others will live as gay men, he said.

The Kampang school’s initiative, far from stirring up controversy, has instead prompted a discussion in other schools over whether they should be providing the same facilities.

Tolerance, said Suttirat, is not the same thing as acceptance.

Two reasons to like Australia again

via Paul’s
Chris Evans is Australia’s best immigration minister in a dozen years‘ – go read it, it’ll gladden your soul.
It’s worth repeating why immigration is such an important issue:

The immigration portfolio is probably unique in the degree to which the minister hold in his or her hands the lives and aspirations of individuals – real people. With a stroke of the ministerial pen, the immigration minister has the power to break the spirits and crust the souls of ordinary human beings whose only hope is the chance of a life in a new country where opportunity, not oppression, is the norm. That’s what Evans was referring to when he spoke of “playing God”.

And also – ‘Starbucks to close 61 Australian outlets‘.

London under Boris – racism solved. Apparently.

The Rise music festival is today. But since there’s no racism in London anymore, it’s no longer an ‘anti-racism festival’. Who knew that electing Boris Johnson as Mayor would have such an immediate effect? Racism is gone. Thanks Boris! If only he was Mayor of Everything, racism would be a thing of the past. Wouldn’t it?
The Guardian, Mayor drops festival’s anti-racism message:

Rise has been held in London since 1996 and has become the biggest anti-racist music festival in Europe. It was supported by the previous mayor, Ken Livingstone, as well as by trade unions and the National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR).
But yesterday a spokeswoman for Johnson said this year’s event, on July 13, would no longer carry an anti-racist message: “Boris has made a commitment to go ahead with the Rise festival this year but wants to emphasise its cultural and community dimensions.” During his election campaign Johnson was forced to apologise for describing Africans as having “watermelon smiles” and writing of “piccaninnies”. He said his comments were taken out of context and he was committed to fighting racism.
But last night a spokesman for the NAAR called that claim into question. “The sincerity of Boris Johnson’s claimed commitment to opposing racism in his election campaign is shown to be false by the fact that one of his first decisions is to abandon Europe’s biggest anti-racist festival,” he said.

‘Paying to be discriminated against’

in the Guardian: Paying to be discriminated against

Religious people already have a huge concession in that civil partnerships can’t be performed in churches. It is unjust and unfair then that religious people now seek to colonise civil and secular spaces like council offices or magistrates courts demanding religious exemptions. The point of state-run facilities are that any citizen can make use of them and expect equal treatment and service. These are all taxpayer funded services – so, in effect, non-believers and gay people are paying to be discriminated against. If religious officiants who are willing to perform ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples are not allowed by law to opt in, in why should secular registrars be allowed to opt out?
People are rightly protected from being discriminated against because of their religion, but the spirit of this law should not be perverted to allow religious people license to discriminate against others on the basis of their religious belief. Equality legislation is already undermined by numerous exemptions, practically all of them concessions to the religious.

We should be aware that the people behind this push to religionise our society are not the regular church-goers who generally wouldn’t dream of behaving in this bigoted way. It is a small group of determined zealots who will not stop until we’re all subject to their version of “religious freedom” (which seems to mean freedom for them, and restrictions for others). Often behind these apparently vulnerable individuals there stands a highly organised and well-funded pressure group.

More background at the BBC.

An interesting view of the changes in Hackney

In Airportising the city: Images of flying yuppies and total spatial control.
(The reason I googled ‘Gillette Square’ is because I could hear lots of music – steel drums? coming from there).
But check out what’s on next weekend: “Delicious Dalston will be a one-day music and food affair, with a programme of music organised by the Vortex Jazz Club and a range of stalls selling sustainable produce. Growing Communities’ ‘Maisie the milk float’ will visit Gillett Square with a range of organic vegetables and fruit with Hackney-grown produce plus stalls selling diverse African and Caribbean fresh foods and juices.”
Meanwhile, rumours say they’re trying to close down Ridley Road market… are they replacing the grubby authentic with an ‘artisanal authentic’?