The Supreme Court of the United States announced on Monday (22 April) they will review three cases dealing with LGBTI discrimination in the workplace.
There has been an ongoing debate about whether or not Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, granting federal protections against discrimination for certain identities, applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.
These cases will finally settle the matter. This has been a source of contention between federal courts and the Trump-Pence administration.
The three cases
Lawyers are presenting three cases relating to LGBTI employment discrimination to the Supreme Court.
In the first case, a funeral home fired its director, Aimee Stephens, when she came out as transgender. She said she would be coming to work as a woman and they responded that would be ‘unacceptable’.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Stephens’ favor in March 2018, saying her firing violated Title VII.
Donald Zarda is the defendant in the second case. Altitude Express, Inc. fired Zarda from his skydiving job due to his sexual orientation. A federal court initially rejected his discrimination claim before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII’s language about sex discrimination does apply to sexual orientation in February 2018.
Finally, an employer fired Gerald Lynn Bostock from his job as a county child welfare services coordinator when they learned he was gay. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal in May 2018.
Courts vs Trump
Federal courts have not come to an agreement about whether or not Title VII applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. Some have ruled in favor of LGBTI protections, while others have not.
The Trump-Pence Administration stepping into the debate further complicates the situation.
On numerous occasions, the Justice Department under Trump has declared that Title VII does not apply to either sexual orientation or gender identity.
What happens now?
There has been no clear answer on employment protections for LGBTI people, muddied by varying court decision and political leaders’ opinions.
Lawyers will argue the cases before the seven Supreme Court Justices in the fall. A decision will likely be handed down in June 2020 — during the thick of the presidential race.
The Supreme Court currently has a conservative majority. Trump nominated two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, within his first term. There is no way of knowing how they will rule until the decision is handed down, however.
The Supreme Court is not the only path for LGBTI federal protections.
Democrats recently re-introduced the Equality Act to Congress, which would mandate federal protections for LGBTI Americans across the nation.
Written by: Anya Crittenton. 22 April 2019. News. Gaystarnews.com
Transgender children in the Netherlands are now able to change their gender on passports before the age of 16, while trans adults can self-identify without a doctor’s statement.
Children seeking to have their gender legally recognized will be able to do so by requesting a court date.
Sander Dekker, the Dutch minister for legal protection, said on Thursday (April 11) that judges will grant such requests only in “extreme circumstances.”
Responding to criticism that children may “change their minds” and revert back to the gender they were assigned at birth, he confirmed that any child who legally transitions will be given only one opportunity to reverse course without a court date.
Netherlands streamlines legal gender change
The path to legal recognition has also been made easier for people aged 16 and above, who can now change their gender marker without a statement from a doctor or psychologist.
Under the new process individuals will be given four weeks to cancel a change in legal gender before it becomes permanent.
LGBT+ groups said that they were “pleased with the abolition of the expert statement,” but argued that the new measures are not far-reaching enough.
Transgender Network Netherlands, COC and NNID released a joint statement which read: “This proposal does not provide any relief to intersex people and violates the right to self-determination of transgender children.”
Intersex and non-binary people in the Netherlands can apply for the gender marker X, but must do so through the courts without any guarantees. Dekker indicated that this process may also be made simpler.
Which countries issue gender-neutral passports?Leonne Zeegers became the first Dutch person to receive a gender-neutral passport in October 2018, following a two-year legal battle.
Australia, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and Pakistan, India, Ireland and Nepal have also introduced (or are introducing) a gender-neutral passport, alongside a handful of US states.
In June 2018 Christie Elan-Cane lost a high court challenge which called on the British government to adopt an X marker.
Written by: Reiss Smith. 11 April 2019. Current Affairs. Pinknews.co.uk
Spain’s health minister Maria Luisa Carcedo is calling for the end of LGBTI conversion (or ‘gay cure’) therapy across Spain.
Practitioners of the harmful therapy oversee LGBTI people undergoing dangerous treatments in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. It can include electric shocks or emotional manipulation, on the belief that being LGBTI is a mental illness.
But Spain’s minister for health, consumption and social welfare wants to see the practice ‘completely abolished’.
She said in a press conference on Wednesday (3 April): ‘They are breaking the law therefore, in the first instance, these courses have to be completely abolished.
‘I thought that, in Spain, accepting the various sexual orientations was assumed in all areas, but unfortunately we see that there are still pockets where people are told what their sexual orientation should be,’ she said.
Conversion therapy in Madrid
Conversion therapy is legal across Spain, except in autonomous communities like Madrid, Valencia, Andalusia and Murcia.
The comments come about after a newspaper reported on an alleged underground course in Madrid to cure gay men of their homosexuality.
The online newspaper, El Diario, sent a reporter posing as a gay man to a counseling session provided by a diocese of the Catholic Church close to the capital Madrid called the Bishopric of Alcalá de Henares.
People at the counseling session allegedly advised the man to stop watching porn and to masturbate less.
Representatives of the diocese called the claims ‘fake news’.
Madrid banned conversion therapy in July 2016. The ban then went into effect from 1 January 2017 and applies to medical, psychiatric, psychological and religious groups.
The practice of conversion therapy is illegal, regardless of whether someone requests it personally or not. Punishments include fines of up to €45,000 ($51,000).
Written by: James Besanalle. 04 April 2019. Gaystarnews.com
Everyone knows that Utah is one of the most politically conservative states in the union, but it’s apparently so conservative that it actually had a 1973 fornication law punishing sex outside of marriage as a class B misdemeanor with up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail.
This last week, the state finally repealed that law. But surprisingly, six other states have laws forbidding sex outside of marriage including Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and even Washington D.C. According to civil rights attorney Brian Barnard, all 50 U.S. states had anti-fornication laws on the books back in 1971, but it’s unclear if this is accurate.
What’s especially weird about these laws (apart from being Puritanical and sex-phobic AF) is that they explicitly punish sexual encounters between consenting adults.
Utah Republican Representative Paul Ray called the 1973 law “unenforceable,” and other legislators considered it one of many laughable old-timey laws that had been kept on the books purely for “morality’s sake” (ie. because some conservative Mormons wanted it.)
And yet, in 1990, the Salt Lake County Attorney used the law to press charges against a Murray, Utah high school teacher for having sex with two music students. The charges were later dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to two counts of sexual abuse of a child.
Along with this law, Utah lawmakers also recently voted to repeal similar statutes against adultery and sodomy, according to the Associated Press.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court banned sodomy laws nationwide, criminalizing sex between consenting same-sex adults. But despite this ruling, 16 U.S. states still have anti-sodomy laws still on their books: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
Some people arrested for sodomy remain in prison even though it’s no longer illegal.
Written by: Daniel Villareal. 01April 2019. Querrty.com
The popular gay hookup app Grindr is up for sale after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has determined that the app’s purchase by Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd presents a “national security risk.”
The company has partially owned the app since 2016 and completely took over ownership in 2018. The company announced last year that it was planning an initial public offering, but that plan has been scrapped as Kunlun moves to unload the property.
The company is reportedly planning to auction the app off and is reaching out to investment firms and competitors to gauge interest.
Foreign investors are required to submit their purchase of an American company to the CFIUS for review, but Kunlun did not submit the required paperwork for review. The agency does not reveal the reasons behind its decisions since it could potentially reveal classified information by US intelligence agencies.
Experts, however, say the agency has focused on privacy concerns lately and Grindr keeps highly personal information about it’s users like HIV status, contact information, sexual preferences, and pictures of users – frequently including naked photos. American users and prominent LGBTQ activists had also expressed similar concerns.
Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Grindr last year questioning how the app would protect users’ privacy after the purchase.
The app recently shuttered it’s blog, INTO, after the publication ran a story accusing the straight company president, Scott Chen, of being anti-marriage equality. Chen quickly fired back, saying he was mistranslated, but employees resigned in protest shortly before the site was closed down.
Written By: Bil Browning. 27 March 2019. lgbtqnation.com
Police in Palm Springs, California are seeking a Latinx man in his 20s or 30s as a suspect in the shooting of two individuals which happened at Toucan’s Tiki Lounge, a gay-friendly bar, around 2 a.m. early Sunday morning. Both shooting victims survived after being treated at a hospital.
Police say the shooting started as an argument in the bar that moved outside to the parking lot.
Witnesses fled before police could question them.
A Twitter video (below) following the shooting shows patrons cowering and crying inside the bar, using their phones and shielding themselves with tables and barstools while someone urges them to “Stay the f*ck down.”
It also shows a person bleeding through their jeans from a bullet wound on their thigh. Police then enter the scene.
Here’s a video posted on Twitter just after the shooting:
The Palm Springs Police Department has asked witnesses to call 760-778-8411 or provide information anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.
The shooting is somewhat similar to an October 2018 San Antonio incident in which a shooter injured three people, allegedly after being kicked out of the Pegasus gay bar. Two men and one woman sustained non-life-threatening injuries in that shooting.
Two days after the shooting, 44-year-old Jose Rincon Hernandez surrendered to police, but he claimed that his brother-in-law was responsible. Nevertheless, police charged him with at least one count of aggravated assault.
Barely a year after the June 12, 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub, one media outlet counted at least nine attacks on gay bar patrons.
While these attacks weren’t necessarily attributed to homophobia, hate crimes have steadily been on the rise since Trump’s election. In fact, a recent study showed that hate crime incidents have risen 226% in areas where Trump held rallies.
Written by: Daniel Villarreal. 25 March 2019. queerty.com
State-funded faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan can no longer discriminate against LGBTI people.
The decision comes under a legal settlement announced Friday (22 March). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state on behalf of two lesbian couples and a woman who was in foster care in her teens.
The organization and Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel reached the agreement that faith-based agencies funded by the state cannot turn down LGBTI individuals or couples on religious grounds.
Nessel said in a statement: ‘Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoptions services is illegal, no matter the rationale.
‘Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child, but it is also a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state.’
Non-discrimination in Michigan
The lawsuit alleged St Vincent Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services turned same-sex couples away based on their sexuality.
They were thought to be protected under a 2015 Republican-enacted law which meant child-placement agencies are not required to provide services that interfere with their religious beliefs.
However, as Michigan contracts private agencies to place children with new families, the law doesn’t apply to the services provided under a contract with the Department of Health and Services.
Under the settlement, the state’s non-discrimination provisions apply to these agencies. This means they cannot turn away otherwise qualified LGBTI people from adopting or fostering kids. Also, it bars them from refusing to perform orientation or training, a home study, or process applications.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who represented St Vincent among other charities, said it will stop the state from working with religious charities.
Attorney Lori Windham said in a statement: ‘The result of that will be tragic. Thousands of children will be kept from finding the loving homes they deserve. This settlement violates the state law protecting religious adoption agencies.’
Kirsty and Dana Dumont, from Dimondale, expressed joy in their statement: ‘We are hopeful that this will mean more families for children, especially those who have been waiting years for a family to adopt them.
‘And we can’t wait to welcome one of those children into our family.’
Written by: Tom Capon. 23 March 2019. gaystarnews.com
Billboard music magazine has fired Patrick Crowley—senior director of Billboard Pride, the magazine’s LGBTQ section—for “unprofessional behavior” and violating “the company’s ethical and professional standards” after Nik Thakkar, a non-binary pansexual new-wave/post-punk musician who performs as NEO 10Y, publicly accused Crowley of sexual harassment. Since Thakkar’s accusation, other artists have made similar accusations against Crowley.
Thakkar claimed that Crowley had them removed from the magazine’s November 2018 Pride Playlist of LGBTQ-identified artists after Thakkar refused to send Crowley nudes pictures via Instagram direct message.
Buzzfeed reports, “On October 9, 2018, Thakkar contacted Crowley to enquire whether a new interview with him about his new song, Dopamine, would run as expected the following day.”
Crowley responded, “This is completely disrespectful to me as an editor,” adding that he’d be “highly irritable about this situation for a while.” He then began to complain that men on Instagram only hit him up when they want to take advantage of his position, and added that he couldn’t get to sleep because he left his Klonopin, a sedative, at work.
Crowley then said that porn sometimes helps him sleep and added:
“Maybe one day a cute boy will send me unsolicited nudes in my DMs. That’s your homework. Find me a decent looking guy to send me nudes and give me occasional compliments lol….Nudes as many as they want….They can be a photo or artist, honestly don’t care anymore…I’ll just put them on the cover of the magazine! Why not…what’s integrity. Nudes would be good. [My attempts to fall asleep aren’t] working because no one sent nudes.”
Thakkar reportedly didn’t respond to the requests to send nudes. Meanwhile, Crowley played the self-effacing victim, calling himself “worthless and ugly,” “a potato with bad stubble” and “not even f*ckable.”
Finally, Crowley told Thakkar to e-mail nude pictures to the Billboard overnight editor in Australia and to CC him. “I’ll give you his email to send him nudes,” Crowley wrote.
Thakkar never sent the nudes. Though the magazine ran the interview about Thakkar’s new song, and Thakkar was later informed that they were removed from the Pride Playlist “by an editor.”
Here’s an image of Patrick Crowley:
Thakkar decided to speak out about the harassment because of the #MeToo movement and because they feared that other young artists might be harassed in a similar way.
“It’s such a big brand and it’s so unfair,” Thakkar told Buzzfeed. “I felt like there was an agenda that I wasn’t aware of. So, when I’m getting 10 messages about nudes I try to push it away, but politely, within a mature and kind way of doing it that doesn’t fuck up my relationship with the biggest music publication in the world.”
A Billboard spokesperson told Buzzfeed, “Like any responsible news organization, Billboard regards the idea of blacklisting as repugnant. It never has and never would blacklist anyone. We thank you for bringing this issue to our attention and we regret the unprofessional behavior, which does not reflect our company’s standards.”
Following Thakkar’s story, other male musicians have come forward with similar tales about Crowley, including “Michael Medrano, a Los Angeles-based indie pop artist; Kisos, a New York-based publicist and musician; Alextbh, a queer artist in Malaysia; and Mosayac, a Nashville singer,” according to The Advocate.
In one text message exchange with Kisos, Crowley asks to “Netflix and chill.” In his exchange with Mosayac, Crowley requests “a hard pic in undies with it poking out a lil,” adding “send me what I wannnnt… clothes offfffff.”
Crowley’s lawyers have sent cease-and-desist letters to these men for “defamation.”
The Advocate says that the artists allegedly harassed by Crowley will soon release a joint statement.
Written by: Daniel Villarreal. 22 March 2019. queerty.com
Costa Rica will legislate same-sex marriage before it becomes legally automatically in line with a Supreme Court ruling, the country’s president said.
Alvarado told the Associated Press he would take action before a May 2020 court deadline.
‘We are, as a government, do everything that [same-sex marriage] is respected as a right’ he said.
In August last year, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court found the Family Code, which prevents same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional.
The ruling said that if there was no legislation within 18 months, same-sex marriage will automatically come into law.
Alvarado in December passed legislation to afford LGBTI citizens more rights.
New measures allow same-sex couples in Costa Rica the right to receive a housing allowance for low-income families.
Legislation also recognizes same-sex transnational partnerships and extends the recognition of gender identity to migrants.
Costa Rica also passed legislation last year which will allow trans individuals to register under their assigned gender.
Long wait for equality
LGBTI Costa Ricans have already become agitated at parliament’s failure to act on August’s ruling.
The ruling says that ‘acts of open discrimination, whether they are expressed or implied, cannot be justified in any way in a democratic society that respects fundamental rights’.
Writing the law is ‘complex’. That’s what interim president of the Constitutional Chamber, Fernando Castillo, said earlier this month.
He said also said some lawmakers had not finalized their notes.
What’s more, Enrique Sanchez, the country’s first openly gay legislator, has accused the chamber of purposefully delaying the law change.
The legislative chamber has 57 seats. Evangelical, anti-LGBTI members, however, hold 14 of the seats.
Written by: Rik Glauert. 22 March 2019. gaystarnews.com
Timothy John Ruge, whose drag name is Summer Clearance, met his alleged victim on Grindr in March 2018. After sending an initial “Hi,” he followed the message up with a photo of the man and his fiancee, along with the words: “She’s pretty you cheating bastard.”
When the man replied by asking how he got the photograph, Ruge replied, “I’ll keep ya secret ya little dirty cheating immoral little bitch.”
He then proceeded to demand the man pay him $200 in exchange for his silence.
“I’ll send her the Grindr msgs,” Ruge threatened in a text message shared in court this week.
“Understood,” the victim said.
“Allllllll screen shotted,” Ruge replied.
The men agreed to meet up at a nearby bus station, where the victim gave Ruge $200 in cash and watched him delete their text exchange. But minutes after leaving, he received another message from Ruge that said, “$1300 to go.”
The victim responded, “Wow blackmailing me.”
To which, Ruge replied, “And then lesson learnt. And I vanish.”
“Please just leave me alone,” the victim texted back. “I’ve learnt my lesson, no more being a dick, it was a very expensive lesson.”
Ruge replied by telling the man, “We are not done.” Then later that afternoon, he sent another text that read: “Mate get that $300 to my friend by 6 at the latest or I’ll take your girl, make her mine.”
Fearing for his fiancee’s safety, the man broke down and called police. After handing over all of the texts and telling them everything, cops arrested Ruge. He told them he was acting as “a warrior who is trying to lower the divorce rate” before pleading guilty to blackmail.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
He told police he was using drugs at the time, had been in an abusive relationship and was homeless and sometimes met people on Grindr to get accommodation.
But, he told police, he never became involved with people who were in relationships, and often reminded others of what they had, like it was his ‘‘crusade or something’’.
Ruge said he had ‘‘a heart of gold’’, wasn’t a bad person, and acknowledged the blackmail ‘‘was not one of my finest moments’’.
In court this week, Ruge’s attorney tried arguing that childhood physical abuse suffered at the hands of his stepfather led him to abuse drugs in his 20s while he was working as a drag queen on the gay nightclub circuit.
The judge, however, was unmoved.
“He tries to paint himself as some type of moral guardian where he is blackmailing someone,” she said.
Seeing as how Ruge doesn’t have any criminal record, prosecutors have asked he be given a community correction order rather than jail time. He scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.
Yesterday, he took to Facebook to express his sincere regret over the matter, saying he has learned his lessons and is ready to “except my consequences.”
Written by: Graham Gremore. 21 March 2019. queerty.com