Monday, October 03, 2011

Goodbye, mother and father! Now Parent 1 and Parent 2 appear on British passport form

For decades, passport applicants have been required to provide details of their mother and father. But now, after pressure from the gay lobby, they will be given the option of naming ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’.

The change, which is due to take place within weeks, has been made following claims the original form was ‘discriminatory’ and failed to include same-sex couples looking after a child.

It has led to claims the official travel document is being turned into a ‘PC passport’. Campaigners for family values said the move ‘denigrated’ the roles of parents bringing up children in traditional families. Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘Fathers and mothers are not interchangeable but have quite distinct roles to play in the care and nurture of their children. ‘To speak of “parent 1” and “parent 2” denigrates the place of both fathers and mothers. ‘Much as the equality and diversity social engineers might wish it were otherwise, it still takes a father and a mother to produce a child.’

The decision follows the revelation last month that details of the holder’s sex could be erased from all passports to spare transgender people from embarrassment.

The latest shift follows lobbying from gay rights groups, who argue that the current passport application form fails to recognise same-sex couples who are both officially registered as a child’s parents. Documents seen by the Daily Mail suggest the change was made as a result of lobbying by the gay rights group Stonewall.

The Home Office ‘Diversity Strategy’ states: ‘IPS [the Identity and Passport Service] is working with Stonewall in response to an issue about having to name a “mother” and “father” on the passport application form.’

Mr Wells added: ‘Like the Labour administration before it, the Coalition seems to be in Stonewall’s grip. ‘It is high time ministers started to represent the interests of the country as a whole and not capitulate to every demand made by a vocal and unrepresentative minority.’

Gay couples are registered as the official parents of any child they adopt. Those who use surrogate mothers must apply to the courts for a ‘parental order’ in order to be recognised as a child’s official parents.

Similar changes have been made in recent months to passport application forms in the U.S., outraging traditional family groups and religious conservatives.

Officials accepted that the move was made following lobbying from gay rights groups who claimed it was discriminatory. But a spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service insisted it was necessary to incorporate same-sex parents on the form so that accurate information is collected.

He said: ‘IPS is planning to amend the application form and associated guidance to deal with same-sex parents applying for a passport on behalf of a child. ‘Currently, the application form provides the relevant boxes of “mother” and “father” to be completed. ‘The new form to be introduced by December 2011 will in addition provide for “parent 1” and “parent 2”.

‘It is essential that any parent provides the necessary information on their status as parents or guardians when applying for a passport on behalf of their child. 'This protects the interests of the child and ensures that IPS is able to issue passports securely and safely to the right person. ‘The passport application form is therefore being updated to incorporate same-sex parents.’

Gay lobbyists and politicians have long claimed that 10 per cent of the population is homosexual. But figures from the Office for National Statistics last week suggest that this is a wild exaggeration. According to the Integrated Household Survey, homosexuals and bisexuals make up only 1.5 per cent of the population. One per cent said they were gay or lesbian, while 0.5 per cent said they were bisexual.

More men than women declared themselves homosexual, with 1.3 per cent of men saying they were gay compared with 0.6 per cent of women who described themselves as lesbian.

Some 94 per cent said they were heterosexual, 4.3 per cent declined to answer the question or said they did not know, and 0.4 per cent said their sexuality was ‘other’.


The proposals are the latest shake-up to established rules for passports.

Last month, the Daily Mail revealed that the Government is preparing to introduce passports without details of the holder’s gender.

It would spare transgender people and those with both male and female organs from having to tick ‘male’ or ‘female’ boxes.

Supporters say it will solve the problem of embarrassing situations at border controls, where people whose sex appears to differ from that in their passport undergo questioning from guards.

As the rules stand, everyone must identify themselves as a man or women, even when they are undergoing sex-change therapy.

But, following pressure from the Lib Dems, the Home Office has begun a consultation on changing the rules.


Everyone's a little bit racist

Blame TV and magazines? Not likely. It's inborn. You can even find it in babies, rather amazingly -- JR

As the song from hit musical Avenue Q says, everyone’s a little bit racist - but scientists believe it may not be your fault. Instead they are blaming TV, the internet and even the books that we read.

Researchers from Georgia Tech's School of Psychology in the U.S. used a word association test to discover that most people have ‘built-in’ prejudices.

However, this racism isn’t necessarily something they believe in, but something that seeps into the subconscious from modern-day culture, they claim.

Study leader Paul Verhaeghen exposed people's inherent racism with a straightforward, but sneaky, word test. Volunteers were asked, for example, if the letters g-u-b formed a word, then if the letters g-u-n formed a word. He found that participants gave their answer much more quickly if they were shown a black face before the letters g-u-n.

Another part of the test involved measuring response times to stereotypical word pairings, such as black-violence. ‘It suggests that most people associate black people with violence and this seems to be universal,’ he said. [Because it's true}

Keen to find out the source of this racist thinking, his team examined a collection of works known as the Bound Encoding of the Aggregate Language Environment (BEAGLE).

This contains a sample of books, newspaper and magazine articles, about 10million words in all, thought by psychologists to be a good representation of works that are in the American culture. They found that racist pairings of words, such as black-murder, were fairly common in the various literature. And in the test it was these associations that participants responded fastest to.

In other words, popular culture appears to be drip-feeding people with prejudice. Examples included women/weak, white/greedy and old/wise.

Verhaeghen said: ‘What you have is stuff you’ve picked up, from reading, watching stuff on the internet.’

He stresses, though, that how people behave towards one another is far more important than how they react instinctively to what they read or watch.

He added: ‘One of the things these findings suggest is that for those of us who, like me, very often feel guilty about these gut reactions you have and you're not supposed to have is those gut reactions are normal and they have very little to do with you. ‘They have more to do with the culture around you. What is more important is your behaviour, rather than your gut reaction.’

The results of the study will be published in the latest edition of the British Journal of Social Psychology.


An end to the male role of breadwinner? The 20-something British women who earn more than men

Women’s average hourly pay is now just over £10 an hour, compared with just under £10 an hour for men

The traditional role of men as the main breadwinner could soon be a thing of the past, it has been claimed. Young women aged between 22 and 29 are now being paid more on average per hour than their male counterparts.

Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admission Service, said the effect could be a result of higher numbers of better-qualified women coming into the work place. She believes it could mean a role reversal, with more women going out to work while their partners stay at home, to take advantage of their higher earning potential.

She said: ‘To me this is a particularly interesting point because if in their mid-twenties women are earning more than men, this opens the possibility that we could see a tipping point at which it becomes more the norm for women – as the higher earners in a family – to return to full-time work, leaving their menfolk to play the part of main carer for children in the family. ‘That could have a profound effect on the representation of women in senior roles and their pay rates across the spectrum.’

Recent figures, which contrast sharply with similar research from 1997 that showed the opposite trend, reveal the gap between men and women’s hourly pay is also closing among 18 to 21-year-olds and 30 to 39-year-olds. It is only among older workers, 40 to 49-year-olds, that men remain significantly ahead of women, earning just over £14 per hour on average while women earn just £12.

Mrs Curnock Cook, who was delivering the Elizabeth Johnson memorial lecture at the Institute of Physics, added: ‘I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’ve come and solved the gender gap in pay rates.’

She said a number of factors could affect future earnings of men and women, but the figures did show it could make sense in some households for the woman to go back to work after childbirth and for the man to take on the caring role.

Recent research found women bosses in their 20s were now paid more than men doing the same jobs. The survey from the Chartered Management Institute found their average salary was £21,969 a year, £600 more than a man could expect at the same level. But the report said across all age groups women executives were still paid 25 per cent less than men.

The findings were based on a survey of 34,000 managers, and backed up evidence from official statistics that the traditional gender pay gap has gone into reverse among the young.

The closing of the gender pay gap follows more than a decade of greater educational achievement by girls than boys and a view among some employers that they are more ambitious and efficient.

The institute also found salaries for women went up by 2.4 per cent in the year to February, compared with 2.1 per cent for men.

The £21,969 salary of a junior female executive - typically in food retail or the Health Service - compares with £21,367 for a male counterpart.


Australia: Silencing dissent won't resolve indigenous issues

THE Bolt case reveals that Leftists prefer symbolic victories to dealing with disadvantage

THE judicial finding against Andrew Bolt has drastic implications for free speech but it also demonstrates that in almost two decades since the landmark Mabo decision, Australia's left-liberal political class has learned little about the important priorities in indigenous issues.

The loudest voices and most powerful advocates on indigenous issues still seem to be pre-occupied with political and symbolic victories rather than practical solutions. So while we learn of indigenous families in remote South Australian communities relying on food parcels from the Red Cross, the national debate focuses on how to silence a debate over cultural identity.

Rather than address the serious issues that were raised in the now banned columns - questions of racial preference for jobs, grants and prizes and how to ensure they support the most deserving - the obsession has been with wreaking vengeance and silencing Bolt.

On the matter of free speech it is worth noting that, at least, Judge Mordecai Bromberg conceded the issues raised by Bolt were matters of public interest. But Bromberg said some of Bolt's words meant more than their literal meaning and that while he accepted the literal meaning of some of Bolt's mitigating phrases, he found Bolt did not believe them.

So now when airing opinions on matters of public interest, Australians are subject to sanction by a court according to a judge ascribing extra meaning to the words we use, or denying our sincerity in the use of other words.

If that is not frighteningly Orwellian, nothing is. And, may it please the court, that is exactly what I meant to write. No more, no less.

Many left-liberals in the love media have welcomed the decision as revenge against Bolt, rather than railing against it as an illiberal blow against free speech. Much has been made of the findings about errors of fact. Errors are always unfortunate and sometimes egregious but in this case they are hardly the central point. Some of what Bromberg cites as factual error is more a matter of emphasis. It is a canard to suggest the case was about disputed facts: it was about apparent offence caused by Bolt's controversial and strongly worded opinion.

It is not surprising that many people genuinely and passionately disagree with Bolt's views. While intellectually cogent, they were stridently put. That is his way. Cultural identity must be an issue for free debate in a multicultural society that makes distinctions and decisions according to identity.

It has been surprising to see many, such as David Marr and Julian Burnside, who would consider themselves enlightened liberals welcome the decision and revel in the schadenfreude of Bolt's misery.

This is an unusual position, it seems to me, for two men who were prominent in the censorship outcry over Bill Henson's nude photo portraits of children. At that time, in a debate hosted by Marr, Burnside said, approvingly, that "political censorship is not so popular these days".

That now seems contestable. I think Burnside and Marr ought to at least admit it is Bolt's opinions and the way they were expressed that are at the heart of this case, not his facts. The modus operandi of the morally vain liberal Left has always been to trumpet its tolerance by denouncing others. Still, that is the point; we must be allowed to offend each other.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor yesterday missed the irony when he defended Bolt's censure for causing offence, then almost in the same breath, suggested Tony Abbott must accept offensive comments about him, and the offence caused by his own views, as part of the democratic compact. Indeed.

Ideological sparring is not to be spurned; it is the very essence of a robust democracy. We shouldn't wish away freedoms to silence our opponents. Defamation laws provide sufficient protection.

Sadly, the issue of the nation's shameful indigenous disadvantage remains at the eye of an ideological storm. And in the Bolt case the complainants by their action, the judge by his activism, and the commentators by their analysis have shown that maturity in the debate is a long way off.

My experience of this harks back to the secret women's business saga of Hindmarsh Island. When Aboriginal affairs minister Robert Tickner banned a bridge development in 1994 on the say so, as it turns out, of one witness's secret and fabricated evidence, it represented the high point of the left-liberal agenda for delivering symbolic victories to Aboriginal Australians. As a young journalist I investigated the facts and revealed the fabrication claims. All hell broke loose. In my naivety I presumed it would be a simple matter of the truth winning out.

Instead, the resources of the federal government, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, environmental groups, the ABC and even some churches turned it into a cultural battle between black and white. By the way, in that debate, the indigenous "credentials" of the dissidents were often questioned. A royal commission eventually confirmed the fabrication, and after losing the government, Labor dropped the cause. (Although the proponents later claimed some solace from a federal court case.)

Those caught up in that storm believed the trauma and vitriol of the experience might be worthwhile to help prevent such cultural shenanigans in the future. As Beryl Kropinyeri, one of the Ngarrindjeri dissidents who blew the whistle on the misadventure, said at the time; "Reconciliation starts with the truth."

Yet time and again since, we have seen leading Aboriginal activists and the political class focus on symbolic indigenous victories over perceived white and-or conservative antipathy. Instead of considering how best to educate indigenous children in remote communities, we have admonished ourselves over the wrongs of the stolen generation and the need for a formal apology. When shocking abuse of indigenous children was revealed, triggering the Northern Territory intervention, the debate was not about repairing communities and providing hope for children, but about indigenous rights and discriminatory paternalism.

In the Kimberley now, indigenous locals are insulted as "coconuts" because they dare to choose an economically self-sustaining future over a triumph in environmental and cultural politics. There are promising initiatives, such as Generation One's push for indigenous jobs. But it would be better to debate the tough issues Bolt raises, rather than leave the sorry saga of indigenous disadvantage to business as usual.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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