Dirty laundry

I was recently watching My Beautiful Launderette on DVD. My girlfriend’s idea. I wasn’t massively keen. I’d seen it on TV in the eighties and remembered it as only ok-ish.

But, hey, it was pretty good! It’s definitely strange though. To my mind, Daniel Day Lewis’ acting is distinctly peculiar – like he knows his ropey cockney accent is not going to be taken seriously.

But quite a few of the actors are really good – I especially liked Roshan Seth as the curmudgeonly father of “Omar”, the Pakistani character who has the love affair with DDL’s “Johnny”.

Why do I mention this? Well – besides LIKING talking about films! – I was saying (to the astonishment) of my partner, that when me and my brother were watching it on TV in the 1980s with my parents, my mum had what can only be described as a “Mary Whitehouse moment”. When Johnny and Omar kiss on screen, she burst out with “Turn this filth off”. The TV went off.

So, there you go. A tiny snapshot of attitudes in a (probably fairly typical) working class UK household in the mid-1980s.

But values change. There’s a lot less homophobia in Britain than there was a quarter of century ago. Britain is, I like to think, extremely tolerant of sexual diversity compared to a lot (most?) countries in the world. (Some of my friends in Italy definitely think so anyway, finding London in particular extremely attractive compared to their own largely in-the-closet country).

But, let’s face it. Discrimination, hostility and out and out violence are still the lot of LGBT people around the world. Two examples. Last week there were attacks on the first-ever Pride (“Queer Sarajevo”) in Bosnia last week. Protestors were shouting “Kill the gays” and at least ten people were injured.

Amnesty had been warning that precisely this could happen and we wrote a letter to the Bosnian prime minister Nikola Špiric earlier this month expressing concern at the increasingly intimidatory atmosphere against LGBT people in the country. We haven’t had a reply

Meanwhile, just a day or two ago, Peter Tatchell was in touch letting us know about an Outrage! film about the  – desperate – plight of  LGBT people in Iraq. This is a really sad and moving short film.

I wonder what my mum would think of it? I reckon, actually, that she’d be on Peter Tatchell’s side now.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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