Match.com tells bisexual customer: “pay double or leave”

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Match.com has prompted anger after forcing bisexual customers to pay double the rate of gay, lesbian or straight consumers.

Ben Ramsdale,  current president of Liverpool Hope’s student union,  was alarmed when a Match.com subscription provided only a choice between searching for men or women, and nothing in between. Dissatisfied with the options, Mr. Ramsdale sent an email to the customer service department inquiring as to whether it was a deliberate slight or simply something that had been overlooked.

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The response was less than ideal. Though Match.com were extremely apologetic, the only possible way to search both databases is through the purchase of two separate subscriptions. This would be at cost to Mr. Ramsdale – totaling £60 a month.

Ramsdale told Subversive Press that he felt the policy was discrinatory, saying: “It is disgusting that a site which says they just want people, anyone, to find love would think it’s ok to discriminate against bi people. Either they are discriminating or they are just incompetent enough not to realise they are.
“As market leaders they have a responsibility to lead and they are seriously shirking that responsibility.”

A phone call to the company revealed that this was standard policy, and that there was no one higher up the chain the student union president could discuss his problem with. Though he offered to sign up for both subscriptions if they would waive the fee on one of them, he was still told that this was impossible. His only choices were not to sign up at all, or pay an extra £30 per month for what amounted to an extra search function.

This is not a new problem. A google search turned up a blog post from as far back as 2006, claiming that Match has been aware there is a problem with how they handle their bisexual customers. More disturbingly, bisexual customers were told that they were not allowed on the site because:
“They haven’t made up their minds one way or the other about who they are.”

Undoubtedly, Match.com’s customer service representatives have changed since 2006, but it is very telling that in the time that they have completely remodelled their site and provided a different method of signing up and completing a profile, they have still not managed to see to the needs of bisexual consumers.

Further accounts by online bloggers have made it clear that the rejection of Ben Ramsdale is not an isolated incident.

Match.com has options on how to change, and Mr. Ramsdale provided a few for the benefit of their customer service team.
“Realise that bi people want to use your site and let us search for both genders. If you really believe that gay/straight people will be put off by being matched with bi people then let them opt out of being matched with bi people. It’s really simple.”

Match.com has not responded to our requests for comments at this time.

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Smartphone app could “raise quality of outcome” for stop and search victims

Report by Pierre Fox

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Smartphone users are now able to submit information related to their stop and search experiences, thanks to a newly launched mobile app.

The ‘Stop and Search’ application allows users to upload details of their police encounter, including the participating officer’s badge number.

The app allows for both named and anonymous submissions, and all information will be added to a report set to be released after a year.

The police force is currently under investigation for stop and search malpractice, following a report claiming that 27% of stop and search incidences were either not legally justified or lacked recorded justification altogether.

As well as offering users the chance to submit their experiences, the app informs users of their legal rights during a stop and search. Commenting on the uncertainty facing recipients of the police check, app designer Aaron Sonson told Al Jazeera: “It’s just worse if you don’t know what you can say or do to get out of that situation.”

The three men spearheading the project have declined police funding in order to avoid any conflicts of interest. “It’s really important to let people know we’re independent from the Met” Satwant Kenth, another of the app designers, explained.

Superintendent Simon Rose of the Metropolitan Police, has wished Satwant and Aaron luck with the app, hoping to work with them rather than against. According to Rose, the new accountability provided by the app could help “raise the quality of outcome” when officers stop and search members of the public.

The app will soon be available to Apple users, and is currently available on Android and BlackBerry phones.

Thousands sign petition to get rid of gay ‘cure’ apps

Report by Kieran Watkins

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A petition asking Google and Apple to reject apps attempting to ‘cure’ people of being gay has been signed by more than 100,000 people.

The ‘Google: No Apps for Gay Cures’ petition was set up on May 29, 2013 to urge the technology giants to rid their online stores of the controversial applications, which have been deemed “harmful” and denounced by leading organisations and governments worldwide.

It came in response to one app available to download on Apple iTunes and Google Play called ‘Setting Captives Free’, which claimed it could teach you how to stop being gay.

The free download states it is “Christ-centred”, and helps people “find freedom from habitual sins and learn to grow in grace”.

According to their website, more than 418,879 people have benefited from Setting Captives Free, although the app has a 1.7 out of 5 star rating on Google’s marketplace.

The petition argues however that the apps are harming the LGBT community.

Writing on the petition page, it states: “’Gay cures’ pray on people who are deeply worried they might be gay, convincing them that they have a serious illness.

“That can lead desperate people to depression or suicide.”

Such practises like the objectives behind ‘Setting Captives Free’ have been denounced by organisations including the America Psyciatric Association and the Pan-America Health Organization, as well as many governments.

Users of Google Play have also condemned the free download. Commenting on the app listing on Google’s marketplace, Josh Campbell said the app was “absolutely disgusting”, whilst Mickey Ricci called the application “bigoted”.

In just 24 hours from the launch of the petition, the app disappeared off the iTunes store, but remains on the Google marketplace.

With 164,658 signatures so far, help the petition reach its goal of 200,000 by signing here.

“I shall not eat until victory has been won”: 60-year-old ATOS victim declares hunger strike

George Rolph, a sufferer of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is currently one week into a 60-day hunger strike aimed at ending the Government’s contract with ATOS.

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Four hours ago, the protester wrote: “I can expect to live for around 60 days without food. That should be enough time to mobilise a huge protest to get ATOS stopped and to demand retribution for the needless deaths that have already happened.”

In the statement published on his facebook wall, Rolph, 60, explained how his life had been transformed beyond recognition by ATOS and how the company has done the same to “thousands of people” who are now dying.  The statement has currently been shared 180 times.

Rolph had been assessed three times with the result in his favour on each instance. On the fourth occasion  however, ATOS deemed him fit to work.

“There was no sense or logic to it” he said. “If I passed three times and nothing had changed, why had I failed on the forth occasion? This smelt of a whim. Someone at the assessment centre had made a decision that I was going to fail in order to meet their target. They met their target.”

After seeking help for his condition, his only aid came in the form of a list of books which his local library could not afford to order in, many costing £60 or more each. He was unable to afford any of the books on the list.

Eventually, he was determined to attempt working from home, but was forced to quit after three weeks due to his worsening condition. Upon leaving this job, he was living below the poverty line, with bailiffs knocking and no means to live.

“When my last pay cheque ran out I sat in a house with no power and no food wondering if I would starve or freeze to death first. Finally I went to a local church and began to beg. I had never felt so degraded in my life.”

“I used to read reports in the media of people living a life of luxury on the dole and wonder how they managed it. I never read about what it is really like.”

Rolph previously worked helping men who were victims of domestic abuse, but when his mental health caused erratic sleeping patterns, among other symptoms of PTSD, it became impossible to hold down a job. He reiterated  “I wanted to work but I could not do so… the doctor made that decision when he gave me the sick note to take to the DWP [Department of Work and Pensions].”

Rolph’s facebook wall has seen a flurry of supportive messages from friends and strangers, many of whom claim to also have been unfairly persecuted by ATOS doctors. Today alone, 23 well-wishers have thanked the protester for his courage, as well as his decision to begin drinking water again. “Please remember, you are more valuable to us alive than dead” wrote one backer.

The London-born protester hopes that this hunger strike will spur others into raising their voices loud enough for the government to hear. “I beg you. Help me to win it so we can help those who cannot help themselves” he wrote.

George Rolph’s supporters claim the Conservative Party, Department for Work and Pensions, and ATOS have so far refused to comment.

The trouble with bisexuality

Emily Magdij asks why so many bisexual young people feel excluded from their own movement.

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The problem with being bisexual is that it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

To a lot of straight people, we’re undecided attention seekers. We might be implored to “just pick a side”, or perhaps, if we’re in a monogamous relationship, asked why we bother to identify as bisexual at all. To a lot of gays and lesbians, we are poseurs. Children playing at being oppressed who will grow out of their “phase” and settle down into one camp or the other – not to be taken seriously until we do.

To a lot of bisexuals themselves, it means an uncomfortable feeling of not belonging.

We’re left in a curious limbo. Though I have been sexually attracted to mostly women my whole life, my blasé attitude to sex with men left me unwilling to identify as queer – it felt like I was being disrespectful, somehow. Like I was crossing a line into territory where I was not welcome. It’s a feeling that comes with the territory of being bisexual: the feeling of being an ally, and not a proper sexuality at all.

Though we are right there in the name (LGBT), many of us feel like hangers-on, and like we have no say in real queer politics because we aren’t real queers. Never mind that we experience the same oppression when we have gay relationships, and never mind that we encounter the same difficulties in love and sex. There seems to be the feeling that just because we find the opposite sex attractive sometimes, we should be exclusively relegated to that.

I had the pleasure of being invited to a bisexuality forum not very long ago, and, excited that there might be a good place to discuss these sorts of issues, I encouraged some of my other bisexual or otherwise spectrumed queer friends to come along. My excitement did not last.

The talk was terrible. Run by someone who identified with a queer-theory variation of bisexuality, it made me uncomfortable first by being inaccessible to non-radicals, and then made me irritated when the main issues addressed turned out not to be bisexuality related at all. The uncomfortable feeling of not belonging, or of seeing yourself in an ally position, was never addressed. We talked about how inclusive LGBT+ is becoming, but the conversation changed to academia and politics, and I saw shifting in seats.

My friends are not as political as me. They came to the talk because they wanted to feel like they belonged. Instead, they were alienated further because not everyone wants to spend their life involved in queer theory. The bi-erasure that happened as the conversation moved on to loftier concepts was the worst irony of all.

Queer politics and radicalism are fine, good, and important. But they aren’t as important as making the initial reach to our own community. Bisexuality and sexual fluidity are too often derided outside of the radical crowd, and politicised within it. Far too many bisexuals start out like me: thinking they have no right to speak in a crowd, and feeling further pushed away from our cause when the only queers who seem to want to understand them are the ones who will jump down their throats for not being radical in their politics.

The LGBT community has come a long way. We are vibrant, proud, and incredibly diverse. But we have internal problems that cannot be ignored. The world is starting to accept us – but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to keep our own house in order.

Brotherhood of the Travelling Misogynists

Two months later, people are still asking what the Muslim Brotherhood have against the UN’s equality statement. Hind Joucka explains.

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In March, the U.N. Commission issued a draft on the Status of Women, a statement which has been lobbying, since 1946, for the progression of the equality of women. The Commission is calling for the “elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”.

However, countries such as Egypt, Iran and Russia along with the Vatican are “threatening to derail the women’s rights declaration by objecting to language on sexual, reproductive and gay rights.”

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has specifically proposed an amendment to the declaration on itswebsite saying that articles “contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution”.

“The Muslim Brotherhood calls on leaders of Islamic countries, their foreign ministers and representatives in the United Nations to reject and condemn this document.”

The Brotherhood claims that adoption of the document would “lead to social disintegration”. The movement objects to permitting Muslim women to travel, work and use contraception without the approval of male relatives.

How does one thing link to the other? How will these things cause a direct threat to societal values? How will women who work, travel freely, and use contraception crumble the moral fabrics of a society?

Even more alarming is the fact that according to the ‘Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies’, this position is favoured by many other Arab governments.

The sad part in all of this is that these people are not representing the real Islam. Many Islamic scholars have failed to understand Islam correctly over the years. And many have spread misconceptions regarding different aspects of Islamic beliefs concerning women, marriage, and sexuality.

Believe it or not, this is the list of articles that need amendment according to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt:

1. Granting girls full sexual freedom, as well as the freedom to decide their own gender and the gender of their partners (ie, choose to have normal or homo- sexual relationships), while raising the age of marriage.

2. Providing contraceptives for adolescent girls and training them to use those, while legalizing abortion to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, in the name of sexual and reproductive rights.

3. Granting equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships.

4. Granting equal rights to homosexuals, and providing protection and respect for prostitutes.

5. Giving wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger.

6. Equal inheritance (between men and women).

7. Replacing guardianship with partnership, and full sharing of roles within the family between men and women such as: spending, child care and home chores.

8. Full equality in marriage legislation such as: allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and abolition of polygamy, dowry, men taking charge of family spending, etc.

9. Removing the authority of divorce from husbands and placing it in the hands of judges, and sharing all property after divorce.

10. Cancelling the need for a husband’s consent in matters like: travel, work, or use of contraception.