‘THREAT TO THE POLISH STATE’ – ANTI LGBT SENTIMENTS ENSHRINED IN POLISH LAW

by Ewa Giera

CW: homophobia

As a ‘citizen of nowhere’ who spends far more time engaged with UK politics, I often get to turn a blind eye to the place I’ve left behind. But to many who follow the general flow of Polish politics, it won’t be a surprise that this year marks Poland’s drop to 42nd place out of 49 in ILGA Europe’s annual Rainbow Map ranking, making it the least LGBTQIA+ friendly country in the European Union. As we experience a rise in fascist politics across the majority of Europe, it’s worth to take a closer look at the way Poland has approached its place on the list and the way its government has enshrined its anti-LGBT sentiment in both culture and policy.Continue Reading

QUEER LONELINESS & THE IMPENDING MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

by Kasper Hassett

CW: mental health

Long predating the lockdown, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have reported feelings of isolation and loneliness at alarmingly high levels. This reached a point where ‘queer loneliness’ was dubbed an epidemic, and the mental health of the community overall was recognised as dire. With many now separated from their support networks during lockdown, queer people are experiencing new lows in their mental health. Additionally, much of the previously mentally healthy population is also struggling, and NHS services are suffocating from cuts, meaning that many queer people will miss out on vital mental health services as a complacent wider world focuses on going ‘back to normal’. Continue Reading

YANGON PRIDE KICKS OFF WITH NEW #LOVEISNOTACRIME CAMPAIGN

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by Lotty Clare

Content warning: sexual violence, corrective rape, sexual abuse, suicide.

Last Friday was the beginning of Yangon Pride celebrations in a country where human rights abuses are rife, and homosexuality is criminalised. The rising profile of LGBTQ+ rights in Myanmar provides precious hope for queer people in the country. However, the road to equality is a long one.  

Yangon’s 2020 Pride festival is organised by &PROUD and runs from January 18th to February 2nd. The opening day in Thakin Mya park attracted thousands of people. The city’s pride events include a boat parade, queer dance performances, drag shows, queer film screenings and panel discussions, and of course lots of rainbows. The films that will be shown include ‘A Simple Love Story’ a short documentary film that was given a distinction in the Wathann Film Festival but was not screened due to censorship, even though there was no nudity. The film centred around a trans couple and asked the question ‘does love have any gender?’. Continue Reading

TRANSPARENT REFORM

prison wall tower reform

by David Breakspear

It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
N. Mandela

A message I have carried whilst campaigning for reforms in our prison system has been one of making the walls of justice invisible. The walls that ensconce societies; mums, dads, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, other family members and loved ones and/or friends.

As someone that became, somewhat, institutionalised to the safety and comfort of prison, I saw those walls as keeping people out. I also saw this as a good thing. How ironic then, that here I am now, writing an article promoting transparency to those very same walls that were my protectors.Continue Reading

PLATONIC POLYAMORY: A 2018 VALENTINE’S CONCLUSION

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by Sunetra Senior

This Valentine’s Day was distinctive. In addition to the usual encouragement of self-love, and sending of gushing gifs amongst female friends, more people were sending greetings to family members and stressing the importance of acts of love within the community. Ash Sarkar, Senior Editor of Novara Media, said emphatically in a video message: ‘when you stop a charter flight from taking off and deporting asylum seekers, that’s love’. Perhaps an effect of delayed liberal mobilisation, after such angry right-wing resurgence, the concept of growing close to one another is being gradually – literally – redefined to be more liberal.Continue Reading

THIS IS MY LOVE STORY

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by Anonymous

cw: sexual assault, PTSD

There’s something weirdly intimate about being curled up in a corner of a bed, completely naked and sobbing uncontrollably, unable to catch your breath and being very conscious of the wet space between your legs where a warm body was just seconds ago. The face belonging to this body is now centimetres away from my face, asking too many questions, and panicking more than I am.Continue Reading

AN INDEPENDENT CATALONIA: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVIST ACCOUNT

by Oliver Steward

September 27th 2017 will be remembered as a Day of Independence. A day of celebration, but also a day of possible mourning. I rejoice and also remain vigilant at the coming days since the Catalonian government’s decision to declare independence. Some would view this as a failure of democracy, and of politics more generally, to achieve a peaceful alternative that would recognise the cultural diversity of Catalonia within Spain. The compromise option would have seen Catalonia keep its devolved status, but within the context of Spain.  The model that Quebec and Scotland have already taken.Continue Reading

“HI, HOW ARE YOU?”

by Kev Walker

Content warning:  mentions substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, conflict

It’s all bling and totter, down the lights of the highstreet, drunk by the train journey there
Cackles and shouts, tales of shagging and swearing, cosmetics squeeze out the air
Bravado and vanity, beer and wine, heading for the first open club
Boys strut with their chests out, showing a leg, only thoughts are of getting a rub.

He’s crouched in the corner, a-top a damp box, wrapped in a half soaking doss-bag
A dog by his side, as companion and protector, a mucker to share a sparse nose-bag
He shakes with the cold, but also the comedown          the cider has long since left him
A blot-out, a release, from the pain in his mind and the mess he now finds himself in.Continue Reading

JOAN LEE: THE MARVELOUS MUSE

by Richard Worth

The story goes that Stan Lee was dragging his feet on Marvel’s latest bid to catch up with the Distinguished Competition. He was becoming bored with the monster-matinée mags he made with Kirby and uninspired by the sci-fi parables he produced with Ditko and now his bosses had tasked him with making a book to rival DC’s newest hit, Justice League.

Stan wasn’t one for superheroes. They were too perfect, too unflawed, and too unfit for the hyper-dramatised, purple prose that was Stan’s hallmark. He moped and complained about his artistic integrity, as writers are wont to do, boring all around him until his perpetually patient wife finally told him to get on with it. Continue Reading

WILL UEA DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR PHD ASSOCIATE TUTORS?

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by Maddie Colledge, UEA SU Postgraduate Education Officer

Following a steady drip of complaints to the SU in recent years, the Postgraduate Committee have this year steered me to focus my efforts on launching research into the experience of our PhD Associate Tutors (ATs). We already knew some of the issues that our ATs face and had brought them to the University’s attention, but in light of little change since then, it seemed a full review was needed. Following the publication of that review, I’d like to share our findings with you as well as our plans for the future (the full report can be found here).

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ARTS IN THE AFTERMATH

by Richard Worth

We’ve just got through the new Tory annual tradition of having the nation vote on internal party issues and having the result batter the incumbent Prime Minister. And, whilst the result is somewhat bittersweet with comedy boob-patting socialist Jeremy Corbyn – aka ‘the future liberals want’ – tearing chunks out of the Conservative mandate, we are still left with a government formed of a crypto-nationalist, sexist, and regressive party and an actual nationalist, sexist, and regressive party.

The truth of the matter is that no one was sure what would happen before the election, or during it and now we’re on the other side it’s only fitting that British democracy remains chimerical, confusing and dare I say it, unstable (take that May!). As such I’d like, as I do every fortnight, to say a few words about the current position of the Arts.Continue Reading

CRAFTING FOR THE REVOLUTION

by Sara Harrington

Recently, I was asked to host a workshop for branch of the Norwich division of the Women’s Institute, ‘The Golden Triangle Girls’. Expecting jam, Jerusalem and jingoism, I was impressed by the diverse array of women that listened intently as I bumbled my way through a workshop about ‘Bee Friendly’ practices.

The group of women who swarmed around tables of craft materials and collected household items were varying in age, occupation and class. But most notably, these women were engaged in the activity. To some extent I had an inkling that the women I would meet at this monthly event would not be the conservative face that over 100 years of country fêtes and the 2003 blockbuster hit that was Calendar Girls had led me to believe. However, I did not realise just how radical a space the WI really was until I attended a meeting for myself.Continue Reading

TACKLING THE ABUSE: WHY I SUPPORT STRIKING REFEREES

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by James Anthony

Content warnings: article mentions physical and verbal abuse

Last weekend, over 2000 referees reportedly went on strike to send a message to the national Football Association about wanting greater protection from abuse on the pitch. A walkout by referees of this scale has never been achieved before, and is a testament to the strength of feeling over this issue. As a referee myself, I am fully aware of the abuse we face as a profession and support this strike action. I would gladly have gone on strike too if I were still refereeing 11-a-side adult football.Continue Reading

LONELY THIS CHRISTMAS

by Alice Thomson

For many, the festive season can be a stressful time of the year as well as a joyous one. There’s all the gifts you have to buy, making sure to post presents and cards in time for the big day, getting the whole family around a table on Christmas day – and these are just a few of the many things you have to deal with. There are many people who don’t celebrate Christmas, of course, but for a number of those who do Christmas can actually be the loneliest time of the year. They might not have families or friends to go to. Amongst these were the 300,000 elderly who spent Christmas day on their own last year – but loneliness and isolation can be one of the hardest things to overcome for other people too. For someone with a disability or a rare or invisible condition that others struggle to comprehend, loneliness can be exceptionally hard.

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THE CAKE IS NOT A LIE — NERDSPHERE AND FITNESS

by Alex Valente

Content Warning: body issues, body shaming

In recent weeks, people with access to the internet on a regular basis have probably not been able to avoid reading news about a new application for smart phones, featuring a trendy geek icon that never really went away: Pokémon GO. As revealed in a totally legit super serious study by artist Justin Hall on Dorkly, the Niantic game is, in fact, part of a ploy to create superstrong, superbuff supernerds. True story.

To actually stray on the side of serious, though, the application has indeed helped some players (we will be discussing this in terms of people with disabilities, looking at positives and negatives — such as the gaping flaws for physical disabilities, or Playing While Black — in an article soon) to engage with others, and spend time outdoors (plus, this). Both results, in the most generalised way possible, are healthy habits and attitudes, and being hailed as the best thing to happen to nerds since Dungeons & Dragons.

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NORWICH GATHERS IN THE NAME OF UNITY

by Hannah Rose

Norwich is reeling after The Village Shop, an Eastern European food store on Magdalen Street, was targeted in an arson attack in the early hours of July 8th. A brick was thrown through the window, waking owner Maria Purgen, and a fire then broke out inside. People in the nearby kebab shop came to the scene and shouted out to the family upstairs, who escaped via the backdoor. The emergency services were called and by 3:50am firefighters had extinguished the blaze.

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RADICAL MENTAL HEALTH, AND WHY WE NEED IT NOW MORE THAN EVER

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by Emma Draper

Disclaimer: mentions loss, bereavement, depression

Until 2013, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) incorporated a ‘bereavement clause’ into the criteria for major depressive disorder, excluding patients from a diagnosis of clinical depression if they suffered bereavement in the last two weeks. Put simply: if someone you love has just died and you cry all day and can’t eat and everything is terrible — well, that’s a healthy and expected response which we call ‘grief’. The removal of the clause by the American Psychiatric Association was contentious, with accusations made that psychiatrists were trying to ‘medicalise’ mourning. One commentator called it the most controversial decision since the removal of homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1973.

For me, this illustrates a lot of pertinent questions about how we think and talk about mental illness. What does mental wellness look like? How do we draw the distinction between the normal fluctuations of a healthy mindset and ‘pathological’ functioning? Does having the authority to categorise what mental states are ‘normal’ give psychiatrists social and ideological influence beyond their remit?Continue Reading

MY AFTER DARK EXPERIENCE AS ANOTHER STUDENT’S LIFELINE

Disclaimer: mentions suicide

by Olivia Davis

Nightline is unique.

A phone call at 3AM under normal circumstances as a regular student would result in a sigh or occasionally, slight frustration. However, at Nightline it is an opportunity for a student to reach out when they may be feeling at a low or a vulnerable point in their life. As a volunteer listening service operating at over 50 universities in the UK with over 2000 student volunteers, Nightline operates as a reliable network for fellow students.

Norwich Nightline is open for both UEA and NUA students, 8PM-8AM everyday of term, regardless of exams or holidays. “We’ll listen, not lecture” is the main policy volunteers abide by in our mission to provide others in need of guidance.Continue Reading

STUDYING YOU: STUDENTS WITH GRIEF AND MENTAL ILLNESS

by Candice Nembhard

When I was in my last year of primary school, I experienced the death of a pupil in the year below; her name was Demi. She had epilepsy and was known to have regular fits, but they were often manageable and not entirely life threatening if responded to sufficiently. I distinctly remember one lunch time as I headed towards the playground, that I passed by Demi having another fit. Teachers and paramedics cornered me off, so as not to make a bigger scene and I ran off to the playground to inform others. Of course we were all concerned, but were mostly pacified in the knowledge she was in the best possible care.

The next morning at school, my teacher informed us that Demi had died. She was only 10 years old — they had been unable to restart her heart. In that moment, I felt a level of responsibility.  I saw her in her last moments and passed it off as another episode that would soon rectify itself to see Demi in good health.  Counsellors came into school and assemblies were given, but they did nothing to attend to the hurt and regret I felt for not being able to do more. I know that Demi’s condition was never my immediate concern, but there was always that part of me that took on the blame for witnessing her final moments. For many pupils including myself, it was their first experience with death and consequently grief.Continue Reading

THE CONSEQUENCES OF WAR

by Gunnar Eigener

When soldiers go to war, they face a grave peril. On the battlefield they face a danger that most of us back at home have no comprehension of. If we follow the logic of the Government regarding their policy of airstrikes in Syria, it is likely that boots on the ground may very well become part of the military intervention to defeat Daesh. Once again, young men and women will be asked to put their lives on the line for their country and for democracy. Irrespective of your view on a particular military venture, such men and women deserve our respect, but should our government really be sending our armed forces into war yet again, if they aren’t able to uphold their promises to look after them and guarantee their welfare when they come home?Continue Reading

THE MET GALA: A DEMONSTRATION OF WEALTH OR IGNORANCE?

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by Jess Howard

Disclaimer: article discusses sensitive topics — features forced abortion.

The annual Met ball returned to New York this week. Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the event charges ticket prices from upwards of £900, all in aid of The Met Costume Institute that opened in the 1940’s. The event is best known, however, for the guests that frequent it. Beyonce, Kim Kardasian and singer Lady Gaga all graced the red carpet. Draped in designs that supposedly followed the designated theme — ‘China: Through the looking glass’.

Celebrity interpretation was ‘interesting’ and, in some cases, borderline racist. For instance Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson chose to accompany her Chanel Haute couture mini dress with a bag by the same designer. However, far from being a fun and exciting piece of couture, the bag featured a Chinese woman with stereotypically fine slits in place of eyes. As if Chanel, and indeed Johnson, were unaware of the thousands of Asian woman undergoing plastic surgery for the sake of achieving the western eyelid shape.Continue Reading