A Secular Space

In a continuing series of videos about the proposed Charter of Secular Values in Quebec, a transsexual citizen named Michelle Blanc testifies before a national assembly commission in Quebec City.

Many thanks to Susan Victoria for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

See the links at the bottom of this post for more videos of citizens’ testimony on the Charter.

Additional material provided by the translator:

Fatima Houda-Pépin: She just quit the Québec Liberal Party (anti-Charter) after serving 20 years as an elected member of her riding. She is a Muslim, the only Muslim elected to-date in Québec, and is in favor of the Charter (most of it). She is highly respected in Québec for her integrity and she is very knowledgeable re Islamic fundamentalism. She also got the anti-Sharia motion adopted by the National Assembly back in 2005 or so.

Excerpts From Michelle Blanc’s Testimony at the Commission Hearing:

I am here to address you as a woman, a grandmother and a lesbian. I will not speak to you as a transgender, since I have no legal existence in Canada.

Every day I am a victim of sexism, contempt and rejection.

I studied in psychology, cultural anthropology and religious studies… I understand the religious-cultural phenomenon.

I also understand that communication includes verbal and non-verbal, and the evocative power of non-verbal symbols is very strong.

We all remember that small piece of red fabric that held so much power, that half of Québec was in turmoil over because of this tiny symbol.

Therefore, whenever we see big crosses, when we see veils, when we see all types of religious symbols, of course, the connotations are very powerful.

It’s forbidden to advertise to children, because they are easily influenced…

Yet, there are some who are willing to allow our young children to be in the presence of veiled women all day long.

When a child starts to reason, many questions go through its mind: Why do you wear a veil? Why don’t men wear a veil?

Why, when my daddy comes to pick me up, you do not shake his hand?

And maybe, once at home, the little girl will tell her mother: Mommy, me too, I want to wear a veil.

Is this what we want for Québec? I doubt this very much.

No later than last week, a lady who is highly respected in Quebec, Lise Payette, was in the hospital and she was shocked that the veiled employee refused to wash her genitals. This veiled employee told her that her religion forbids her to do so.

It seems to me that the time has come to reinforce secularism in Quebec, to make it clear to new immigrants that men are equal to women and the LGBT people are not “freaks” who deserve to be spit on, nor should they be beaten, I think.

Yet, not too long ago, Media Mosaic invited me as a speaker to address their association.

This group promotes the integration of cultural communities in the media.

And when my turn came up to speak, I came forward… half the hall emptied, all those that were wearing conspicuous symbols left. It’s not me that left. It’s them that left.

I would love it if they didn’t spit on the ground when I walk by, that they walk next to me.

And on the day when they were talking about women who were being harassed, on that same day, as I was walking by two veiled women on Ontario Street, they spat next to me on the sidewalk.

The religious symbol has become a tool for propaganda that is highly loaded morally with regards to the images it conveys.

People can have different perceptions of a symbol.

Obviously, for me, when I see a pineapple, I immediately think of a Pina Colada.

Yet, as we speak, in France, when they see a pineapple, they immediately think of anti-Semitism, and everything associated with Dieudonné.

It is not the pineapple’s fault, we agree. But the symbolism associated to a fruit has become very powerful in France.

Then, at some point, you might be the best child psychologist in the world, it becomes tricky to answer a child’s questions without steering it one way or another.

To date, I haven’t seen any research on this subject and the media isn’t interested in this issue.

But how can a veiled woman explain to a child why she wears the veil without proselytizing?

We’ll take a hypothetical example. You’re a young Arab and you need counseling because, precisely, it turns out that you’re gay. You’re not already very, very well accepted in your community, you have trouble talking. You go for counselling and the psychologist that shows up wears a hijab.

In the past three years, I’ve had three death threats; the most recent is still under investigation. I’m a little publicized because I have a big mouth and I express my opinions.

I’ll tell you, when I go on television as a transsexual, I’m considered a freak.

But when I appear on TV as a renowned expert for internet marketing or digital economy, not a word is said about the fact that I’m a transsexual.

Video transcript:

0:01   …obviously, fundamentalism is not, but
0:05   really not very friendly towards the LBTG community.
0:10   Whenever I see a hijab, my first thought is
0:14   of gays being hanged high up in the public square…
0:27   and, of course, the kids are invited, it’s a family show.
2:04   When I see the veil, I see the gays that
2:08   are assassinated, beaten, I see women being stoned.
2:13   I see the gender gap, male-female, this is what I see.
2:17   It’s weird, I was just reading an article by Vincent Marissal
2:21   who is obviously anti-Charter, and in his article, there was a photo
2:25   of a woman taken at the National Assembly, dressed from head to toe,
2:29   walking five feet behind her husband. So, when we say that
2:33   a woman’s life is worth one-half of that of a man’s,
2:37   when we say that a woman must walk five to ten feet behind
2:41   her husband, well, at what distance must I walk
2:45   and what is my life worth? These are questions I ask myself.
2:49   Difficult questions. Questions that, as a taxpayer, I shouldn’t have to deal with
2:55   when using a public service.
2:56   For the fundamentalists, a woman has no place in the public arena.
3:00   So, if by coincidence or through necessity, a woman must go outside,
3:08   and be seen in public, she must remain ‘invisible’.
3:13   And to avoid being noticed, she must hide behind her own prison.
3:18   And this way, we don’t see her figure, her facial beauty, her hair,
3:22   because these are objects of seduction.
3:26   A society that is secular, a society that we promote as being secular,
3:30   that showcases gender equality, well, I imagine that people
3:35   that want to come here will know it,
3:40   and they’ll say ‘we’re going there for that reason, we’re fed up of being harassed
3:44   by religious dictates in our homeland, and finally we can be free’.
3:49   Me, it’s that freedom that I want for everyone,
3:53   regardless of where they come from. We’re here in Québec, a secular society,
3:57   you can believe in what you want, but do it in your home,
4:03   and when we’re in the public space, we’re all together and we’re all equal.
4:07   Nobody will be more pure or less pure.
4:11   Of course, me, I am very very proud of the high number of women here
4:15   at the table, I’m real proud of this.
4:19   But I know there are many areas in the world where, because of religion,
4:23   this is unthinkable. The women wouldn’t be here but rather in the next room
4:29   wearing distinctive signs that say ‘you, you are not a man,
4:32   you’re half a man and you should walk behind the man’.
4:37   In the back there. There’s the little place upstairs for the women (girl in white).
4:41   I don’t want this happening here in Québec.
4:45   And I want it to be known. And I want it to be acknowledged
4:51   as a matter of law. Everybody is equal.
5:04   Is it normal for a little 6- or 8-year old girl to go to school with a turban on her head?
5:08   Me, I think that scientifically, it has been proven that kids are born without a religion.
5:12   So there’s an indoctrination process that follows.
5:16   Can’t we give our kids a chance to grow up and after, they can choose the religion they want?
5:20   It seems to be it would be a good idea.
5:24   It seems to me it is your duty to ensure this.
5:29   Religion, you know, it’s the male that controls the female and the woman is beneath.
5:33   And us, the LBTG, it’s even worse. We’re far far below…
5:37   We’re already in hell, don’t you know. Me, I’m already the devil, we agree?
5:42   And they make me feel this way. It seems to me that in Québec
5:46   we should develop a secular space where we could
5:51   You mean to say where we’re all equal regardless of our origins,
5:54   sexual orientation, our native tongue, the color of our skin, we agree? (Minister Drainville)
6:00   It’s exactly that. This is the result of secularism.
6:04   Secularism doesn’t take anything away. There are people
6:08   trying to make us believe they’ll be penalized. Hey!
6:12   I’m sorry but if we started counting those that suffer because of religion, I think
6:16   that the number would be much higher. So, if we gave ourselves a secular space,
6:20   we would be helping those who are being bashed
6:25   for ideological purposes.
6:29   This is what we are trying to do now.
6:34   We’re helping people who might shoot themselves in the head.
6:38   You know, the suicide rate among gays and transsexuals is very high.
6:42   Among other things, this suicide rate is due to cultural and religious pressures.
6:48   Me, I know…
6:53   that my life is in danger when I visit other countries.
6:58   I know that my physical integrity is in danger when I walk
7:02   in certain Montreal neighbourhoods.
7:06   So, I would really like to be able to walk anywhere in Québec and
7:10   not have to worry about rocks being thrown.
7:14   Now, it’s not only fundamentalists, there are stupid Quebecers also.
7:18   Stupid people are everywhere, except that in the case of fundamentalism,
7:22   there’s a sharp increase with regards to misogyny, homophobia and trans-phobia
7:26   because now it’s justified culturally on top of it.
7:30   Would you agree with Yolande Geadah who says that religious symbols
7:37   introduce the notions of a symbolic barrier and inequality between people
7:42   wearing them and others? (Minister Drainville)
7:46   Well, of course, it does. They’re symbols. A symbol signifies something.

Previous posts about Quebec’s Charter of Secular Values:

2014   Jan   22   With What Will We Be Protected?
        22   Time to Ask Ourselves Questions
        30   “No One Will Silence Us”

16 thoughts on “A Secular Space

  1. We should support LGBT rights, instead of some of the extreme criticism I see here at times. The only thing that community is doing wrong is being too tolerant of the intolerant, non seeing the islamic threat.

    • You’ll see both points of view here re LGBT “rights”, I suppose. Since I don’t really pay attention to LGBT stuff – so many others (you for instance) are only too willing to talk about the issue – less work for us, thank you.

      As for those commenters with their “extreme criticism” you say you’ve seen here “at times” — how about you show us precisely where on Gates of Vienna these extremes appeared?? And please define “extreme”, if you would and tell us what separates those who disagree with the standard LGBT talking points from those who are Extreme in their disagreements re said points??

      You present no evidence to substantiate your opinion that “we should support LGBT rights”. Those folks are doing a fine job indeed of supporting their own point of view; they don’t need our support. Since we are two people with finite energy, we have to triage on issues we find more intrinsically important right now. Maybe when the others are resolved, we’ll get to this.

      BTW, I don’t agree with you that the only thing they’re doing wrong “is being too tolerant of the intolerant”. Many of those folk have a long learning curve ahead when it comes to mastering the finer points of courteous dialogue with those whose opinions differ from their LGBT gospel.

      Since this is your one and only comment, not a reply to anyone , I do hope it’s more than it appears to be – i.e., simply a hit-and-run for the team.

      However, when you say The only thing that community is doing wrong is being too tolerant of the intolerant you have obviously missed some of their bully-boy tsctics against those who express contrary views. Watching them on You Tube last year made me realize how deeply puritanical they are. Amazingly, there is the narrowest of acceptable spoken opinion.

      At any rate, what the LGBT folks do is their concern. We don’t try to be everything to everyone, and if you think you “should” support these rights, why go for it…

  2. Words don’t have the same power as the machete or gun. That’s the difference between a western conservative and a Muslim.

    Btw my own take on the Burkah and Niqab is that dried up flabby middle age women do not want to see lithe willowy beauty. It not just a matter of twisted male mysogyny.

    Gays? Move to SF, NYC, London, Manchester, Chicago, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt blah dee blah blah… Avoid villages. Oppose the migration of [redacted]mentally-challenged Muslims to your metropolis. That is all.

    • No, survivor, having a gun is not the difference between a western conservative and a Muslim. The latter believe it is their duty to subdue and/or convert the infidel.

      Many western conservatives do indeed have guns. But they don’t use them to shoot people who differ from them on religious grounds.

      One of the things that makes liberals – at least in America – so angry is that many conservatives are armed. They fail to point out (and often, to even notice) that a fair number of liberals are also armed. Not all liberals are pacifists, but those that have weapons don’t usually make a lot of noise about it. Not unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

      It is sad that the UK and other “flabby” (to use your word) soviet states have taken away citizens’ weapons. It would be a different story if Englishmen still had their weapons. There would not be nearly so many simmering frogs (and no, I don’t mean the French), not nearly the same numbers of otherwise peaceable Brits would be close to the boil…

      As for gays moving to large urban areas, that’s been their solution for as long as people have gathered in cities. “Villages” by nature tend to belong to the sedentary and traditionalists who have no need to move from a place where they feel they belong.

      OTOH, finding oneself with a homosexual orientation leaves little choice but to head for larger places where anonymity makes daily life less fraught and the chances for finding people similar to you are greater. It must be sad to feel so utterly different from the complacently heterosexual people all around you. I would head for the city too, if I felt so estranged and with little hope for like-minded companions.

      • I’m actually talking about the gun being used. Also you limit it to America for some bizarre reason. Where did I limit the scope of conservative to the US?

  3. Hi Dympna

    I think you and the Baron are doing a good job. I don’t expect you to suddenly write ‘pro-gay’ articles. But if we have concerns about sharia and islam, supporting gay rights seems a logical part of that.

    I quite often contribute here, so this is not ‘hit and run’. As for proof of my statement, I can’t be bothered digging through the past months, but here’s one: “their bully-boy tsctics” [sic]. You’re stating that without any proof either. However, I wasn’t even thinking of you but about some anti-gay comments I’ve read here.

    Of course everyone can have their opinion, but I want everyone reading this site to know: some of us are liberal, pro gay rights, feminists and very concerned about islam. We’re not all right wing. I’d like to encourage others of this mindframe to explore the problems with islam without being driven away by anti-gay rhetoric.

    • Dymphna may want to reply herself, but I’ll horn in here anyway.

      Being driven away is a choice. A person can choose to leave because of the unpleasantness of other commenters, or he may decide to let it roll off his back and stay.

      Our regular commenter Mark H is an example of the latter. He is an avowed liberal socialist who opposes Islamization (a rare bird indeed!), so he has to face abuse here from people who are not as reasonable and tolerant as himself. He never loses his equanimity.

      I have to make this choice myself from time to time in the face of anti-Christian rhetoric. The level of nastiness, vitriol, and ad-hominem unpleasantness aimed at Christians can be astonishing. Except for Muslims, the worst abuse comes from atheists, with gay atheists prominent among them.

      I choose to ignore such outbursts. They are not important in the larger scheme of things, especially given the necessity of working together towards our common goal.

      You won’t find any anti-gay rhetoric coming from me or Dymphna, although commenters here are free to make their opinions known, provided they remain within the bounds of relative civility.

      The social issues that cause so much contention can be shelved until after the Great Jihad has been consigned to the dustbin of history. Then we will have all the time in the world to argue about them.

      • Thank you, kind sir.

        By the way, what’s happened to Takuan Seiyo? Has he been abducted and silenced by my fellow-liberals?

  4. OK, I did some legwork. Here http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.co.nz/2008/04/dutch-gays-turn-to-right.html BB had to tell people off “I’m not going to allow those gratuitous insults of gay people to remain here. We have gay readers who are conservative and dedicated to the counterjihad cause, and I object to your insulting them as a group.
    However, because I’m a reasonable guy, I’ll leave the rest of your comment intact.”

    Quite a few comments here https://gatesofvienna.net/2013/11/you-wont-see-this-on-mainstream-tv/ sound extremely critical of LGBT. Just read through. Someone responded to another’s comments “Egghead’s comment is grossly offensive to my friends, and the many straight/gay male/female couples on the planet who don’t play away”

    A comment to http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.co.nz/2010/09/violence-against-gays-in-amsterdam.html reads “And let’s face it, gays arent the brightest bulbs in the bunch, the sharpest tools in the shed. Darwinian failures. Massive fail.”

    I could go on, but it’s dinner time. So comments like that won’t exactly encourage LGBT people to look into islam-critical movements…

  5. Many on the left think Islam is their pal because they want all the help they can get in dismantling Christianity. Apparently, they think they can wipe out Christianity and then convert the Muslims to agree with LGBT.

    I’m not going to make that same mistake with the homosexual community. I’m not going to use them to help me bash away at Islam. (And that’s clearly what’s going on here.) I don’t want my culture to be Islamic OR gay. Neither one works for me. Sorry. Not everything is as simple as two sides.

    And, for the record, it’s not just “tolerating” or “accepting” gays and then everything will just rattle along the same. It’s a complete queering of the culture. It’s happening. I’m already at the point where I’m looking at my country and saying, “God! What the hell happened?” I was sold a lie that it would just be “Oh, that guy over there’s gay, but who cares? It doesn’t matter.” Turns out it DOES matter, and now kids are being told to “experiment with homosexuality and anal sex.” They are being told this by teachers.

    And how in the name of all that’s holy is a transgender sane? Some guy [anatomical details removed]? That is NOT sane. Society suffers if we call that sane. (And if I accept homosexuality, I have to accept transgenderism. That’s not me talking; it’s them. Can’t have one without the other.)

    And that woman complaining about religion and religious symbols? Give me a break! It was SCIENCE that called you mentally ill. Then the scientists had their “conversion” and decided to remove it from the DSM. But why? Politics. Science is run by politics. It’s a joke.

    • Give me a break! It was SCIENCE that called you mentally ill. Then the scientists had their “conversion” and decided to remove it from the DSM. But why? Politics. Science is run by politics. It’s a joke.

      It’s human nature. Science has always been interfered with by politics. We are all political animals – i.e., we create affiliations and then find rationales to back up our choices. But science itself – the restless, relentless search for the truth in matter – marches on despite the roadblocks that politicization puts up. Thus, it took a few people to recognize the fact of heliocentricity and then the process required several bloody generations of desperate roadblocks until the average person got used to the idea that the earth is part of a solar SYSTEM. Gradually people noticed this knowledge was seamlessly incorporated into the culture and the world didn’t end. Spiritual belief was still possible in that brave new world now rotating ’round the sun.

      OTOH, beyond the growing knowledge we’re collecting about how the brain works – and how it doesn’t work when it goes awry – all those pages in the DSM are provisional political statements. As we learn more the DSM will continue to evolve, however it will still be dragging that political anchor.

      Were it not for the economic foundations of psychiatric treatment the DSM would be nothing more than another Breivik-esque “compendium”. But since ya always gotta follow the money, psychiatric workers are forced to utilize it if they want to be paid for their labors. Beyond that, as one psychiatrist who worked on one of the DSM formulating committees said, “it’s not for [fecal matter]”.

      Just think: a few decades ago, we were told – and believed – that duodenal ulcers were caused by “stress”. Then along came a Young Turk – in reality an old-fashioned pioneer from Oz – who tried to get the experts to listen to what he’d discovered – e.g., ulcers weren’t psychogenic at all, they were caused by the bacterium helicobacter pylori. When the shrinks and gastroenterologists refused to listen, Dr Marshall deliberately infected his own digestive system with h. pylori and then cured it with a protocol involving antibiotics. Fast-forward a few years & he was in the US at a prestigious teaching hospital holding clinical trials to prove via the randomized, double-blind blah blah that his original discovery was correct.

      And now ulcers have left the pages of the DSM to sit with other physically-based maladies…

    • I’ve had an education from Egghead and yourself on the agenda and activities of some of the gay lobby, and been quite shocked, while finding it difficult to reconcile with the many decent and congenial gay people I’ve known.

      Transgender people really do exist, however. I’m friends with one such man who didn’t have the “op”, but remains a transvestite in private, and acquainted with another who did; she’s a well-known (in the UK) feminist writer, journalist and author. I enjoy talking (and listening) to her because she has a brain the size of a planet and I may learn something, even if our opinions may differ- rather like with some posters here.

      Mother Nature produces many children with anomalies; why should gender be an exception?

    • Yep to be fair the church just called it sin.

      The state called it madness until recently, 100 years ago it was a prisonable offense. Nothing to do with Christianity really. Basically it was adult men and women reacting with revulsion and possibly using it as a way to get at other offenses like molestation. If someone can be caught with a bag of weed it’s much more easy to get the conviction than catching them nicking a radio to buy heroin or robbing banks to pay for cocaine. Just get them on the possession of narcotics. There is more to taboo and prohibition than first meets the eye.

  6. Wrong is wrong is wrong is WRONG!
    The Lord God said “thou shalt not commit murder.”
    If this isn’t murder, I don’t know what is.
    Stand up for life for a change.

  7. Islam doesn’t just hurt non-Muslims.
    If anything, Muslims are the most hurt and debased by the doctrines and practice of this retrograde, cruel culture.

  8. For years I have constructed comedic moments (while in me cups) of the Moslem male cross dresser, how does that exhibitionist get on with the fact that no-one knows who he is? Ha ha. Liberals for meet liberals from.

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