Tag Archives: South Africa

Reeva Steenkamp’s death is not a bet

Just over a year ago – on 14th February 2013 – Oscar Pistorius fired shots through his bathroom door, which struck and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

Outside South Africa, most news stories focus on Oscar Pistorius: Reeva Steenkamp is generally referenced as “his girlfriend”.

Steenkamp was not famous outside of South Africa: the world’s media will be descending on the North Gauteng courthouse because of Pistorius’s fame. Continue reading

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Question Time Johannesburg

BBC Question TimeThis week, for the very first time in its 34-year history, BBC Question Time is going to be televised outside the UK, in Johannesburg. [Correction: not only not the first time it's been televised outside the UK - it's been to Moscow, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and others - BBCQT has been to Johannesburg before, in 2005. My bad.]

David Dimbleby is chairing as usual, though next year will be his 20th anniversary and it’s long past time he retired from the post. (I’ve said this before. I’ll say it again. Dimbleby is a very, very poor presenter.)

Besides Dimbleby, there will be six people on the panel:
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Filed under In The Media, Politics, Racism

Nelson Mandela is dead

Born in 1918 in Mvezo, grew up in Qunu, small villages on the East Cape of South Africa. Named Rolihlahla Mandela, baptised Nelson by a Methodist teacher: went to Fort Hare University (from which he was expelled due to his political activities) and then to Wits University (from which he never quite graduated, again due to focus on political activities rather than study) and became a lawyer in 1953. In 1944 he was a founder member of the Youth League of the African National Congress and by 1950 he was a member of the National Executive of the ANC and elected national president of the ANC Youth League.

Between 1906 and 1914 another lawyer, Mohandas K. Gandhi, had worked to gain more civil rights for the Indian community in South Africa, but not the black Africans. A year after Rlihlahla Mandela was born, South West Africa – which had been the colonial property of the German Empire – was granted to the South Africa Union, then a territory of the British Empire, under British Mandate. (The BBC leaps smoothly over all of this from 1919 to 1948.) In effect South West Africa remained annexed to South Africa until 21st March 1990 when it became the independent democracy of Namibia: registration laws for black Africans and, after 1948, white apartheid, imposed on it by the South African government.
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Scotland’s for marriage

Elaine Smith MSPElaine Smith MSP, deputy presiding officer in the Scottish Parliament, argued for polygamy in her written evidence to the Equal Opportunities Committee last year, as the Scotland on Sunday anti-gay marriage story this morning quotes:

“Whilst the government has said that it has no intention of allowing polygamous marriages as part of this legislation which changes the essential nature of marriage, it has not explained in any detail and with research analysis its reasons for taking that position.

“Further, if the government is sincere about its support for ‘equal love’ then it appears to have a contradiction on its hands.”

There is “no logical reason” for discriminating against more than two people getting married if the redefinition of marriage is driven by love, Ms Smith adds.

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Filed under Human Rights, LGBT Equality, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

Reeva Steenkamp is dead

That was her last tweet: eight hours later she was dead, shot four times in the head and the arm.
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Our constitution, July 2012: Judicial review of constitutionality of laws

“Judicial review of constitutionality of laws”

I am not a lawyer, and not an American, but there are a couple of areas of US law that I have looked at with queer intensity over many years: and in particular, two areas of the US Constitution and the actions of its judicial regulator the Supreme Court.

Article Four, Section One of the US Constitution says

“Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”

Marriage and divorce have always been defined as included among the “public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings”: if you are married in the state of New York, so the original Drafters considered, you should not be able to move to Virginia and thereby make yourself unmarried.

After the US Civil War, many states passed legislation banning marriages which they considered to be unethical and unsuitable: cousin marriage. Even today, 30 US States have laws that make it illegal to marry your first cousin, or allow it only with specific exceptions (if one or both of you is sterile). Predictably enough, people who grow up in states where cousin marriage is banned, tend to think of it as some kind of weird icky relationship, bad for the children. (Where have I heard that before?)

First cousins marrying is culturally approved in some countries, culturally disapproved in others: first cousins can’t get married according to Catholic canon law (which is based on Roman law). But the US is the only country which, in the 19th century, up and passed laws against first cousins marrying – which are still in force in 30 states.

So what happens if you are first cousins who marry in a state where that’s legal and move to a state where it’s not? Continue reading

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Filed under American, Elections, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

SPUC Off! Keep Abortion Free, Safe, and Legal

SPUC off [SPUC supporter in photo on right asked to be removed, saying he was 15, and I agreed: see comments.]

About quarter to 12, my oldest friend, who’d been staring at the SPUC Edinburgh protesters across the road, turned to me. “You know, I remember us demo’ing for this in the 1980s. And in the 1990s. Now it’s 2012. And we still have to do it?”


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Filed under Justice, of Edinburgh, Photographs, Scottish Politics, Women