When Nancy Pelosi said she would make it a priority to pass federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, she wasn’t just making a politician’s promise. Today, for the first time in American history, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the Equality Act.
“We’d like to thank the House Democratic majority, and especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for making the Equality Act a priority in this session of Congress,” Pride At Work executive director Jerame Davis said in an emailed statement. “The Equality Act is an essential step toward creating a just and fair society for all, but especially critical to our members, it will afford LGBTQ working people the dignity and respect they deserve on the job.”
“Today is a historic day—the first time a comprehensive LGBTQ civil rights bill has come to the floor of the House. This long overdue legislation will provide millions of LGBTQ Americans protections from being denied medical care, fired from their jobs, or thrown out of their homes simply because of who they are.
“Much of the history of the United States has been about expanding the definition of who is understood to be included when the Declaration of Independence says, ‘all men are created equal.’ When these words were first written, that phrase did not include black and Latino men; it did not include Native Americans; it did not include women; and it did not include LGBTQ individuals,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on the floor as debate opened.
“At this moment, we have an opportunity to continue our march toward justice—to enshrine in our nation’s laws protections for marginalized communities to ensure that everyone can fully participate in key areas of life, and to provide them recourse in the face of discrimination.”
Davis, however pointed out that the legislation’s chances of passage in the Senate are decidedly less likely.\
“Currently, the majority of states lack the kind of protections the Equality Act would advance. Despite federal caselaw that has established discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity as sex discrimination, LGBTQ Americans still need explicit, durable protections that the Equality Act would provide,” he said.
“More than 70% of Americans support the Equality Act, but its fate is uncertain as it moves to the Senate for consideration. We call on the Senate to stand with LGBTQ Americans and pass the Equality Act with due haste.”
The Trump administration opposes the Equality Act. While the President claimed on the campaign trail that he supported LGBTQ rights, he has kowtowed to the religious right and has been the most anti-LGBTQ president in history.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” a senior administration official told the Washington Blade earlier this week.
“The question before us is not whether the LGBTQ community faces outrageous and immoral discrimination, for the record shows that it clearly does,” Nadler added. “The question is whether we, as Congress, are willing to take action to do something about it. The answer goes straight to the heart of who we want to be as a country—and today, that answer must be a resounding ‘yes’.”
“LGBTQ Americans are one step closer to being protected by federal law instead of living in a country where hard-working Americans in a majority of states can be fired from their jobs, denied housing opportunities, and turned away from other critical services – including access to health care – simply for being who they are. Fairness should never be a partisan political issue, and the Senate should pass this bill without delay,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.
“I am so proud to have voted for and helped pass the Equality Act, a landmark bill that will protect LGBTQ people from all forms of discrimination,” Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said. “As the proud grandmother of a young transgender man, I will not stop fighting until he is granted equal recognition and treatment under the law. He, like all people, deserves a fair chance to obtain and education, find housing, and support himself and his loved ones. He, like all people, deserves to live his life free from discrimination and fear. He, like all people, is human and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.”
Written by: Bil Browning. 17 May 2019. Politics. Lgbtqnation.com
A May 24, 2017 ruling by Taiwan’s Supreme Court declared the country Civil Code’s definition of marriage — between a man and a woman — as unconstitutional because it failed to protect all human rights. The Court gave Taiwanese legislators two years to legalize it, but Prime Minister Tsai Ing-wen (who ran on an equality platform) and other legislators were too timid to act.
Their inaction allowed anti-gay religious petitioners to turn the issue into a non-binding November 24 ballot measure on that and whether public schools should teach kids about LGBTQ topics. Three U.S. anti-LGBTQ groups in particular — the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), MassResistance and International House of Prayer (IHOP) — helped local conservative groups organize and raise $33 million in preparation for the vote.
The country ended up voting against same-sex marriage and LGBTQ education by margins of around 70 percent, giving legislators 90 days to decide whether to act on the vote. The legislature took no action. Shortly after the vote, Taiwan’s Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang declared the vote a giant waste of time and energy because the rulings of the country’s highest court “cannot be touched.”
The high court ruling gave legislators until May 24, 2019 to legalize same-sex marriage or else courts would be ordered to begin recognizing same-sex marriages automatically. Ultimately legislators passed a “compromise” bill that legalized same-sex unions but also limited adoption rights for same-sex couples. Now we imagine we’ll see lawsuits for increased adoption rights.
In recognition of the newly legalized same-sex unions, Taiwan’s Prime Minster tweeted, “On May 17th, 2019 in #Taiwan, #LoveWon. We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.”
Written by: Daniel Villarreal. 17 May 2019. Queerty.com
A spokesperson for the White House has said that Donald Trump opposes the Equality Act.
“The Trump administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,” a senior administration official told the Washington Blade.
The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights legislation as protected categories, effectively banning job, housing, credit, and other forms of discrimination against LGBTQ people at the federal level.
The White House spokesperson did not say what threats there were to “parental and conscience rights” in the bill.
The “conscience rights” may refer to how Republicans believe that many forms of discrimination are justified if the person discriminating says their religion made them do.
Earlier this month, Trump announced new guidelines that would allow health care professionals to refuse to provide medical care if they have personal or religious objections to it, which Trump framed as “conscience rights.”
LGBTQ organizations denounced Trump’s opposition to the Equality Act.
“We’re disgusted, but certainly not surprised, by Donald Trump’s announcement that he opposes the Equality Act, which is supported by seven in ten Americans and more than two hundred major businesses,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“By opposing this common sense civil rights legislation, Donald Trump is ensuring that LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired or denied housing in a majority of states,” the ACLU said in a statement.
“Thankfully, most Americans disagree with President Trump and believe that our nation’s nondiscrimination laws should explicitly cover LGBTQ people, too.”
Trump’s views on the Equality Act have changed in the last several decades. In a 2000 interview with The Advocate, he said, “I like the idea of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It would be simple. It would be straightforward.”
“We don’t need to rewrite the laws currently on the books, although I do think we need to address hate-crimes legislation. But amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans — it’s only fair.”
House Democratic leadership is planning to hold a vote on the Equality Act this coming Friday. The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Written by: Alex Bollinger. 14 May 2019. News. Lgbtqnation.com
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, announced on Monday (13 May) its opposition to the Equality Act.
In a statement, the religious group said the legislation doesn’t ‘meet the standards of fairness for all’.
‘While providing extremely broad protections for LGBT rights, the Equality Act provides no protections for religious freedom,’ the statement reads.
The Mormon Church reaffirmed its belief that religions institutions and groups should have the right to maintain faith-based standards.
According to the Church, the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes against discrimination, would ‘threaten religious employment standards, devastate religious education, defund numerous religious charities.
Other religious institutions, like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church, also do no support the Equality Act.
The Mormon Church maintained in its statement that it supports protections for LGBTI people, but not at the cost of religious freedom. Recently, they supported banning conversion therapy in Utah and dropped its ban on baptizing children of LGBTI parents.
What is the Equality Act?
The Equality Act seeks to prohibit discrimination for LGBTI people by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Legislators introduced the first version of it in 1974, only including sexual orientation in various areas of life. Previously, the Equality Act as it exists today, including both sexual orientation and gender identity, has been introduced to Congress twice. The first time was in 2015 and then again in 2017.
Both years the bill died in committee.
Democrats re-introduced it to Congress in March. After Democrats took back control of the House of Representatives following last year’s midterm elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said it was a ‘top priority’.
Many experts, however, warn the legislation has a long chance of passing with a Republican-controlled Senate.
Written by: Anya Crittenton. 13 May 2019. News. Gaystarnews.com
LGBTI rights are declining in Europe, campaigners have warned.
The Rainbow Europe 2019 has seen, for the first time in 10 years, countries are moving backward.
Malta has remained the safest place to be LGBTI in Europe. Azerbaijan, once again, is last in the ranking.
The UK has also slipped four places in the ranking of 49 countries and is now eighth.
Which countries in Europe are getting worse on LGBTI rights?
Many countries have backslided after choosing to make life harder for LGBTI people.
For example, Bulgaria has removed legal procedures for changing name or gender marker for trans people. Turkey is also one of the countries failing to uphold fundamental civil rights.
And Poland has also made it very hard for gay and bi women to access medically assisted reproduction procedures.
ILGA-Europe has announced the findings to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia on 17 May (IDAHOBIT).
We cannot ignore the backslide
Click Human rights campaigners are also calling on governments to no longer ignore the backslide.
‘If ever there was a time to put a high political priority on LGBTI equality, it is now!’ Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director, said.
‘Last year, we warned about the dangers of thinking that the work was done. Sadly, this year, we see concrete evidence of roll-back at political and legislative levels in a growing number of countries. There is no more time to waste.’
Micah Grzywnowicz, the co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, also said: ‘For years, we have said that marriage equality was an important signifier of equality, but not the be-all and end-all for LGBTI people.
‘What is also crucial for our communities are effective laws to recognize rights of trans people to self-determination, robust protection against LGBTI-phobic violence and speech, equal access to reproductive rights, and prohibiting medical intervention on intersex children.
‘Our revised index makes this fact clearer now.
‘The countries that are expanding their legislative horizons to embrace this vision of equality for LGBTI people are the ones moving ahead.
‘We are heartened to continue to see examples of governments demonstrating leadership in this direction, as Luxembourg and Finland did over the past year.’
Predominantly, those countries that score higher on Rainbow Europe are member states of the European Union. In the UK, some of those campaigning for a second Brexit referendum fear that the UK’s departure from the EU could impact LGBTI rights. Gay Star News explored the issue in more detail earlier this year with a specially commissioned report on Brexit (below).
Read the full Gay Star News Brexit report by clicking below
Written by: Joe Morgan. 13 May 2019. News. Gaystarnews.com
Police in Ankara, Turkey violently ended a student-led Pride march at the Middle East Technical University (METU) on Friday (10 May).
According to a report from Amnesty International, authorities arrested 25 students during the ensuing tumult.
‘It is heartbreaking to hear that today’s Pride march, which should have been a celebration of love and solidarity, was so violently broken up by police using pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas, and that at least 25 people have reportedly been unlawfully detained,’ said Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Director for Europe at Amnesty International.
‘Reports of excessive use of force by the police must be urgently investigated.’
A video posted on Twitter shows some of the chaos erupting between police and students.
The tweets translate to: ‘He is applying disproportionately power to the students at METU Honor Parade. The reason our friend was detained was “staring” and taking pictures.’
Students held the march despite a ban
Though Turkey lifted its ban on Pride marches, the METU rectorate banned the student march earlier this week.
‘For the last eight years students at this university have marched through their campus to celebrate pride and demand equality and dignity for LGBTI people,’ Filippou said at the time of the ban.
‘Rather than banning Pride events, the university should be supporting and protecting such marches and challenging homophobia and transphobia.’
Amnesty International further reported students ‘demonstrated peacefully’ but police prevented them from flying a rainbow flag, sitting on the lawn, and reading a statement.
‘It is a dark day when university authorities call the police to silence students who are simply demanding their rights to dignity and equality,’ the organization concluded. ‘All those detained by police must be released immediately and unconditionally.’
Written by: Anya Crittenton. 10 May 2019. News. Gaystarnews.com
Lawyers representing the Hong Kong government in a high-profile LGBTI rights court case appeared to flounder in the final phase of the legal battle on Tuesday (7 May).
Immigration officer Angus Leung, who married his husband in New Zealand five years ago, sued the government in 2015.
The government had refused to recognize his marital status and grant his husband benefits such as medical insurance.
Hong Kong’s top court is now conducting the final hearings in the case and is expected rule in the next few months.
Lawyers representing Leung on Tuesday argued same-sex marriage was no different from any other marriage, according to local media RTHK.
But, government lawyers said Hong Kong only recognized marriage between a man and a wife.
They said granting benefits would undermine the ‘special status’ of marriage in Hong Kong.
Leung’s lawyer, Karon Monaghan QC, pushed the government to explain: ‘It has to be justified. It’s not enough to say marriage is special and unique’.
Justice Roberto Ribeiro, one of the presiding judges, also asked: ‘Why are you saying that it was undermining the tradition of marriage…because a gay person is now allowed to see a dentist’.
Monaghan maintained the government had failed to form a ‘rational connection’ between marriage as ‘special and unique’ and granting Leung his rights.
‘It is the way it is. It has always been what it is. But that is not a reason for excluding a same-sex couple,’ she said. ‘That is entirely circular.’
Written by: Rik Glauert. 08 May 2019. Gaystarnews.com
A new report published today (7 May) exposes the ‘widespread failure’ of police forces across the US to protect and serve trans people.
Policies are failing to modernize in what researchers describe as ‘systemic neglect.’
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) worked with dozens of local and state groups to analyze how 25 of the nation’s largest police departments treat trans people. For the most part, the results are in the red.
What does the report say?
Entitled Failing to Protect and Serve: Police Department Policies Towards Transgender People, the report points towards a recent, rather alarming survey.
Moreover, around 58% of trans people in the US have encountered law enforcement in the past year, and of those, they experienced harassment, abuse, or other mistreatment.
As we make groundbreaking advancements towards transgender equality, many members of our communities continue to be affected by disproportionate contact with, and often by bias and abuse within, policing and the criminal justice system,’ the report’s introduction read.
NCTE scrutinize 25 police departments – from Atlanta to Boston, Chicago to San Francisco – across 17 criteria.
They range from bathroom access to respectful communication as well as search procedures to how trans-inclusive training is.
Furthermore, over a two-year period, NCTE researchers evaluated publicly available policies and practices.
What did they find?
Among the researchers’ key findings:
• No department explicitly requires regular training on trans interaction policies for all members across rank.
• None of the departments required officers respectfully record the name currently being used by the individual.
• No department explicitly provides for trans individuals to be transported along with individuals of the same gender identity.
• Out of the sixteen departments with holding facilities, only four adequately address access to hormone medications.
• Out of the sixteen departments with holding facilities, 10 failed to provide specific guidance on housing placement for transgender individuals.
• A majority of departments (16 of 25) fail to provide search procedures for transgender individuals.
However, alongside the report, the NCTE also published a seperate model policy document. In it, they propose an array of policy changes to help guide reforms.
But even if police implemented all proposed policy, the report acknowledged ‘it would not be enough to ensure that all transgender people are treated fairer by police.’
They added: ‘It is clear that the issues facing transgender people can’t be separated from broader issues of police reform and oversight.’
Written by: Josh Milton. 07 May 2019. Gaystarnews.com
Get thee to a library! But not just any library.
To commemorate World Pride, taking place in New York City on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in late June, the New York Public Library has curated a stunning exhibition exploring the early fight for LGBTQ rights.
The exhibit features the photographs of Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies—” pioneering photojournalists who captured the pivotal events of this era and changed the ways LGBTQ people perceived themselves”–along with items from the Library’s “vast archival holdings in LGBTQ history.”
Via the Library:
The Stonewall Riots were a flash point in LGBTQ history. After the riots that took place at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969, the LGBTQ civil rights movement went from handfuls of pioneering activists to a national movement mobilizing thousands.
Preview some of Lahusen and Davies’ powerful photos below, and head here for more info:
Here’s curator Jason Baumann with a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibition:
Written by: Dan Tracer. 03 May 2019. Photos. Queerty.com
The Department of Health and Human Services today announced its final “conscience rule” excusing health care personnel from participating in procedures to which they have religious or moral objections.
Activists have warned that the rule could jeopardize health care for LGBTQ people, such as those seeking gender-confirmation procedures or HIV treatment and prevention services, as well as women seeking contraception or abortion.
A draft of the rule was released in January 2018 so that HHS’s Office for Civil Rights could receive comments from the public on it. Donald Trump announced the finalization of the ruleduring a Rose Garden speech this morning for the National Day of Prayer, and HHS published the final rule on its website.
“To protect this [religious] heritage my administration has strongly defended religious liberty… just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students, and faith-based charities. We’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, right, Mike [Pence]?” Trump said at the event. (Video of his speech is below; his remarks about the conscience rule come at about the 31-minute mark.)
“This final rule replaces a 2011 rule that has proven inadequate, and ensures that HHS implements the full set of tools appropriate for enforcing the conscience protections passed by Congress,” says an HHS press release. “These federal laws protect providers, individuals, and other health care entities from having to provide, participate in, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for, services such as abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide. It also includes conscience protections with respect to advance directives.” Notably, the Office for Civil Rights is run by Roger Severino, who has a history of anti-LGBTQ activism.
Civil rights advocates have feared that the new rule will allow even those marginally involved in providing health care to opt out because of religious objections, therefore making it more difficult for patients to receive care. This rule could severely affect LGBTQ people living in rural areas where there are few health care options.
“In an attempt to justify more discrimination against transgender people, HHS minimizes the very real pain exemptions like these have caused transgender people,” Gillian Branstetter, media relations manager at the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Advocate via email.
“I would note the case of Evan Minton, a transgender man who was denied a hysterectomy shortly before the surgery after the religiously affiliated hospital at hand canceled the treatment,” she said. “Notably, the doctors and surgeons actually performing the procedure had no issue with doing so. A very similar case was just filed in California last March and another was filed in New Jersey in January.
“We’re confident this rule will make the lives of transgender people across this country harder. No one should have to check the religious affiliation of a hospital in order to make sure they can get the care their doctors have prescribed them. Religious liberty is a bedrock principle for all Americans — including transgender people — but this regulation is a perversion of that principle.”
Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ rights organization, quickly issued a statement denouncing the rule. “For two years, the Trump-Pence administration has relentlessly attacked LGBTQ people — including transgender service members, children and workers, said Executive Director Rick Zbur. “But today’s attack is one of their most heartless and dangerous yet. President Trump just stood in front of the White House and told millions of LGBTQ Americans that they should be denied lifesaving health care simply because of who they are or whom they love. That is immoral; it is heartless; it is un-American. Someone else’s personal beliefs should never be used as a license to discriminate. Period.”
Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, issued a statement as well: “Once again, this administration shows itself to be determined to use religious liberty to harm communities it deems less worthy of equal treatment under the law. This rule threatens to prevent people from accessing critical medical care and may endanger people’s lives. Religious liberty is a fundamental right, but it doesn’t include the right to discriminate or harm others. Denying patients health care is not religious liberty. Discriminating against patients based on their gender or gender expression is not religious liberty. Medical standards, not religious belief, should guide medical care.”
“Access to health care can be life-or-death,” said a statement sent by Lucas Acosta and Elizabeth Renda of the Democratic National Committee. “But rather than seek to improve our health care system, the Trump-Pence administration is determined to strip away access to health care from women, people with HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQ people, particularly transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. This license to discriminate is unethical and dangerously undermines the health of some of the most vulnerable among us.
“Every individual deserves access to quality health care and lifesaving emergency services. No one should ever be refused medical care because of who they are. It’s clear Republicans still haven’t learned what the 2018 midterm elections mandated — the American people want more access to health care, not less.”
And this from Mary Alice Carter, executive director of Equity Forward: “Religious freedom doesn’t mean carte blanche to discriminate, especially in a health care setting. People should never fear that they’re going to be denied care because of their gender, who they love or their past medical decisions. Today’s rule codifies discrimination and it will result in deep harm to patient care. [HHS Secretary] Alex Azar and Roger Severino should be ashamed. This is exactly the opposite of what our health department should stand for.”
The administration is also expected to soon release the draft of a separate rule that is likely to undermine a portion of the Affordable Care Act providing antidiscrimination protections for transgender people seeking health care. Additionally, the Trump administration Wednesday filed a brief in a federal appeals court arguing that the entire ACA is unconstitutional and should be struck down.
Written by: Trudy Ring. 02 May 2019. Health. Advocate.com