Thursday 30 December 2021

Reasons to Be Cheerful 30

BBC Radio 3 now regularly plays the works of women composers, after years of an almost complete embargo.
We don’t tell Irish/Polish jokes any more – or call people "wet".

840 Venice outlaws the sale of Christians to Muslim countries.

Caroline Lucretia Herschel (1750-1848) was a German astronomer, discoverer of several comets. She was the younger sister of astronomer William Herschel, with whom she worked throughout her career. She was the first woman to receive a salary as a scientist, the first woman in England to hold a government position, the first woman to publish scientific findings in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1828), and to be named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society (1835, with Mary Somerville). She was also named an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy (1838). (Wikipedia, paraphrase)

1761 Portugal outlaws slavery in Portugal. Slavery in the African Portuguese colonies was abolished in 1869.
In the 1790s, the French reformer Philippe Pinel scandalized his fellow physicians by removing the chains from 49 inmates of the Bicêtre lunatic asylum.

1813 Argentina abolishes the Inquisition, slavery and bullfighting.
1816 Argentina gains independence from Spain.

1869 Wyoming gives women the vote, 50 years ahead of the rest of the country. In the 20s there’s a town in WY run entirely by women.

1870 The Papal States are absorbed by the Republic of Italy, which imposes its anti-castration laws on the area.

1898 A wife can voluntarily testify against her husband.

1886 Geronimo is last Native American to resist the US Army.

1893 Netherlands abolishes slavery.

1810 William Cobbett goes on trial for an article objecting to flogging in the militia.

1909 End of slavery in China.

1928 All British citizens over 21 get the vote, fully enfranchising all women and many men. It was known as “the Flappers’ vote”.

In 1945, after extensive lobbying by the Bartenders’ Union, Michigan legislators enacted the "Bartender Act" which prohibited women from bartending in cities with a population of over 50,000. In 1955, the law was repealed. (

1956 Tunisian women get the vote and are allowed to divorce their husbands.

1960 In the US, bowing to pressure (countrywide sit-ins) Woolworth’s desegregates its lunch counters.

1962 Australian Aborigines get the vote.

1966 Spain allows Judaism to be practised.

1968 Seslin Fay Allen becomes the UK's first black female police officer.

1967/68 UK brings in seat belts in the front of all new vehicles. 1983 belting-up is made compulsory in front seats. 1991 same in the back.

Massachusetts' “Stubborn Child Law,” originating in the 17th century, was not finally repealed until 1973. (Originally the literally puritanical law had allowed for the execution of unruly sons of at least 16 years of age.)

1974 Canada abolishes corporal punishment for prisoners.

"Between 1955 and 1975 an estimated half-a-million unmarried women in Britain were compelled to hand over their babies," says Mark Steel. He adds that times changed – because people campaigned for change. (After 1975 opinions changed very quickly as people realised that “the stigma of illegitimacy” and “dishonour to the family” were mere chimeras. I always wondered why people cared so much about illegitimacy when they didn’t believe extramarital sex was a sin that could send you to hell to burn for all eternity.)

Since 1979, all forms of physical punishment of children have been outlawed in Sweden. (But parents get away with it all too often, say Swedes in 2021.)

1963 The Peerage Act, allowing lifetime disclaimer of peerages, became law shortly after 6 pm on 31 July 1963. Tony Benn was the first peer to renounce his title, at 6.22 pm that day.

1976 Women are allowed join the Liberal Club after protests and pickets.

1980 China institutes one-child policy. Policy reversed 2016. Chinese are now permitted up to three children.

1982 Borstals are officially abolished under the Criminal Justice Act and replaced by “youth custody centres”.

1989 The existence of MI5 is officially acknowledged.

1992 The head of MI5 is named.

1995 Women barristers are allowed to wear trousers in court.

2002 Halle Berry becomes the first black woman to win an Oscar, for Monster’s Ball.

2011 Congresswomen get their own bathrooms on the House floor (there were 76 of them in that year).

2019 Civil partnerships are extended to all couples.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is to end its membership of the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme.  May 2021 Acas has also withdrawn, citing “costs”. Exodus over transgender advice continues as the Government pulls out of Stonewall diversity training. Whitehall cuts ties over growing fears that the LGBT charity's workplace policies are at odds with the 2010 Equality Act, says the Telegraph. The Crown Prosecution Service leaves the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme, Sept 2021. In Nov 2021, “After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index,” says the BBC Press Office. (But it has joined a lookalike scheme run by a Stonewall graduate.) The British Pregnancy Advice Service refuses to “remove gendered language”.

Murdoch is pulling the plug on “Fox News UK”.

Marriage records in England and Wales will include mother’s name (and profession). Records will be held in a central electronic registry.

Following reviews of evidence, in the last few months Finland has banned trans surgery for anyone under 18, Sweden has banned cross-sex hormones for under 18s, the UK's NHS has suspended those hormones for under 16s and several US states have banned hormones for minors. (@ripx4nutmeg)

Sweden has U-turned on gender reassignment of children and referrals have dropped by 65%.

Scotland aims to abolish NHS dental charges.

President Macron re-opens La Samaritaine department store after a refurb (The original Au Bonheur des Dames).

The European Commission will ban cages for animals in the EU.

June, the Methodist Church votes in same-sex marriage.

Upcoming legislation will formally acknowledge that animals are sentient beings – and ban boiling lobsters.

A new law under discussion says that the following can cause emotional harm to children: “Being left alone, being humiliated, intimidated, distressed, receiving verbal abuse, blame or criticism, or being deprived of contact with others.”

Argentina bans salmon farming.

EU plans to tax jet fuel and ban the sale of petrol cars within 20 years.

The Norway women’s beach handball team were obliged to wear thong bikinis as a uniform. They petitioned to be allowed to wear shorts, but were turned down. They ignored the ban and wore shorts. They were fined €150 each. The European Handball Federation no longer insists women compete wearing bikini bottoms – but stipulates “short tight pants with a close fit”. Men can just wear ordinary shorts. The sportswomen call it a victory of a kind.

Tommy Robinson loses a libel case and has to pay a Syrian teenager £100,000.

Venice bans cruise ships from the lagoon from Aug 1.

Grant Shapps pauses bridge-infilling programme.

The Stonehenge tunnel is ruled illegal. (Though work seems to be continuing.)

Premier League clubs will continue taking the knee.

Swiss voters accepted same-sex marriage.

In September, Australia announces the launch of world’s first detrans clinic.

Leaded gasoline is now banned everywhere on earth.

Over the last two decades Paris city council has taken old buildings, often in desirable areas, and refurbished them for 100% social and affordable housing. (@lrbobrien)

Darren Agee Merager, the male-bodied person identifying as a woman who undressed in front of women and children in a spa has been charged with indecent exposure and turns out to be a serial sex offender. He’s complaining about transphobia and harassment.

German Army appoints first Rabbi as military chaplain since the Holocaust.

Overwhelming recognition by the European Parliament of the way in which custody disputes can be used as a further form of abuse. (@BarnettAdrienne)

Britney Spears’ “conservatorship” is over after 13 years.

Spain scraps musician rules: UK Musicians won’t need visas for short contracts.

The Middle Temple debates the “undebatable” subject of gender identity.

France has outlawed wild animals in circuses and shows and their participation will be phased out, including dolphins and orcas. It has also banned fur farming.

Okehampton welcomes rail service connecting Dartmoor town to Exeter and beyond (Guardian)

Gloucester Cathedral has had a girls’ choir since 2016. On 3 September the boys and girls sang together in the cathedral for the first time ever.

A statue of Betty Campbell, Wales' first black head teacher, is unveiled at Cardiff's Central Square - the first public statue in Wales to honour a woman.

A Ukrainian airline asked its flight attendants what they’d like to wear, and they came up with a loose suit worn with sneakers, with a silk scarf. Stylish, but in bright orange.

Tunisia appoints the first Arab female prime minister, Najla Bouden Romdhane.
Sandra Mason elected as first president of the Republic of Barbados.

Priti Patel orders UK police to stop recording male offenders in female crime stats.

National Trust members vote to halt “trail hunting” on the Trust’s land.

2021 Budget
Libraries will be “renovated, restored and revived”.
The chancellor says he will increase investment to support London-style transport across the regions of England.
Higher-strength alcoholic drinks will attract higher duties. The chancellor says alcohol duties are “full of historical anomalies” as [the laws go] back to 1643.


1803 The Methodist Conference bans women from preaching.

1919 FA bans women footballers, saying “The game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged”.

1920 Women are admitted to study at Oxford, though their numbers were capped until the 50s. (See also quotas for Jewish pupils, quotas for women studying medicine, higher passing marks required, girls deliberately failed in the 11+ in order to keep the sexes 50/50, and so on.)

1925 the National Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty is formed.  in December 1928, the Abolitionist Bill was presented to the House of Commons. In October 1929, the abolitionists would have won the three-hour debate, had not the Liberal politician Sir Herbert Samuel, upheld by the Home Secretary, decided instead to set up a Select Committee on Capital Punishment to consider the matter. That Committee called in 1930 for the abolition of capital punishment – but England did not ban the death penalty for murder until 1965.

1930s: A White Paper stated that His Majesty’s Government are “convinced that the time has not yet arrived when women could be employed in the Consular Service or in the Diplomatic service with advantage to the State or with profit to women.”

2021 Some courts still have male and female robing rooms. @Azza_Brown: Security only gave me the code for the male robing room, can’t be bothered to go down to get the female code. I’m sitting in the male robing room, and let me tell you, it’s much larger than the female robing room and it’s got big tables to work at. So I’m going to stay in here.

2021 A woman with Down’s syndrome campaigned for the abortion limit for babies with Down’s to be changed to 24 weeks – from “just pre-birth”. She has lost her legal fight.

2021 In Iran, members of the Bahai faith can’t go to university.

2021 Under the Twitter terms of service, it is forbidden to tweet that men cannot be women.

The Automobile Club de France will continue to bar women members.

Iran is one of six UN member states out of 193 that have refused to sign the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Rendition and detention without trial "extremely effective"; tackling white supremacists is "overreach" driven by "political correctness": the views of the man the government has appointed to head its Commission on Countering Extremism revealed in new Private Eye. (@PrivateEyeNews)

Since banning fur farming in 2000, the UK has imported more than £850m of fur, £11m of it from Finland. It is sold in stores such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Flannels. (The Week)

In 2016 Canada banned the banning of plastic bags by local governments. 2021: A new bill seeks to overturn the ban.

More here, and links to the rest.

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