International News: March 13, 2020

Hundreds of Guardian staff protest the paper’s ‘pattern of transphobic content’

   Hundreds of staff and contractors at The Guardian have united in condemnation of the paper’s “pattern of publishing transphobic content.”

   338 people from across multiple departments at the paper expressed their “deep disappointment” in a strongly-worded open letter sent to the editor, Katherine Viner, on March 6.

   The letter was signed by people from all regions, from senior editorial staff in the UK, the US, and Australia to employees in the commercial, digital, and technical departments.

   The names of the signatories have not been published but it is understood that they include household names with international reputations and long-standing tenures at both The Guardian and its sister Sunday title, The Observer.

   The letter reads: “As employees across the Guardian, we are deeply distressed by the resignation of another trans colleague in the UK, the third in less than a year.

   “We feel it is critical that the Guardian do more to become a safe and welcoming workplace for trans and non-binary people. We are also disappointed in the Guardian’s repeated decision to publish anti-trans views. We are proud to work at a newspaper which supports human rights and gives voice to people underrepresented in the media. But the pattern of publishing transphobic content has interfered with our work and cemented our reputation as a publication hostile to trans rights and trans employees.

   “We strongly support trans equality and want to see the Guardian live up to its values and do the same.

   “We look forward to working with Guardian leadership to address these pressing concerns, and request a response by March 11.”

   The signatories join a growing movement against the paper’s repeated anti-trans coverage, precipitated by a controversial column from Suzanne Moore.

   On March 5 more than 200 feminists wrote to The Guardian rejecting Moore’s argument that trans rights threaten women, stating that the views expressed in the paper are not representative of women or the wider public.

   This was followed on March 6 by another letter signed by more than 2,500 people, expressing the same sentiment.

   On the same day Viner emailed all staff defending the paper’s decision to publish pieces that “never shy away from difficult or divisive subjects” and pledging to represent “a wide range of view on many topics.”

   The editor and CEO then castigated staff for publicly criticizing the work of coworkers: “It is never acceptable to attack colleagues whose views you do not agree with, whether in meetings, on email, publicly or on social media.

Israeli rabbi: Coronavirus outbreak is divine punishment for gay pride parades

   An Orthodox Israeli rabbi has claimed the spread of the deadly coronavirus in Israel and around the world is divine retribution for gay pride parades.

   The remarks by Rabbi Meir Mazuz, reported by the publication Israel Hayom on March 8, drew condemnation from rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, which urged him to apologize.

   An influential Sephardic rabbi, Mazuz is the former spiritual leader of the defunct ultra-nationalist and homophobic Yachad party, and is head of the Kiseh Rahamim yeshiva in Bnei Brak.

   On March 7 night he gave a talk at the yeshiva, during which, according to the report, he said a pride parade is “a parade against nature, and when someone goes against nature, the one who created nature takes revenge on him.”

   Mazuz said that countries all over the world are being called to account because of their gay pride events, “except for the Arab countries that don’t have this evil inclination.” That was why, he claimed — falsely suggesting there has only been one case of infection in the Arab world — they have not seen a spread of coronavirus.

   The outbreak in Iran, one of the most serious in any country, he explained as being due to the wicked ways of Iranians and “their hatred of Israel.”

   According to the newspaper, Mazuz had earlier claimed Israel would be protected from the coronavirus.

   “It is regrettable that in times like these when the whole world comes together to eradicate coronavirus, Rabbi Mazuz finds it appropriate to blame the virus’s outbreak on the LGBTQ community. We harshly condemn his statements and urge him to apologize,” the ADL’s Israel branch said in a statement.   The modern Orthodox Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah group also condemned Mazuz’s remarks.