Dozens of graduating seniors and faculty at a Christian College in Mike Pence’s home state protested his delivering the commencement address on Saturday by walking out in the middle of it, according to Newsweek.
The walkout at Taylor University in Upland, Ind. followed a Change.Org petition intended to bar Pence from speaking at graduation entirely.
“Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration's policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear,” the petition read.
“I am signing because Pence is a disgrace to humanity. He gives a bad name to evangelism—proclaiming the Good News. His news proclaims Trump's evil,” wrote one person who signed the petition.
Taylor students who pushed back against Pence speaking at their graduation said the vice president was an inappropriate choice based on the Trump administration’s hateful policies. More than 10,000 people signed the petition but he remained the commencement speaker and was undeterred by his detractors.
Pence delivered a speech that mimicked one he made last week at Liberty University, a private Evangelical school in Virginia, where he suggested that Christians are under attack from the left because of their faith. At Taylor, he told Christian students to remain strong in the face of persecution.
“We will always stand up for the freedom of religion and the right of every American to live, to learn, and to worship according to the dictates of your conscience,” he said, according to Newsweek.
While only a few dozen people walked out during Pence’s speech, many remained wearing buttons that read, “I am Taylor Too,” indicating that the university does not have a one-size-fits-all conservative Christian ideology.
Written by: Tracy E. Gilchrist. 19 May 2019. Politics. Advocate.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
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
Saudi Arabia recently beheaded 37 men in a mass execution. Most were suspected spies and terrorists allegedly working on behalf of Iran, but one of the men “allegedly admitted to having sex with four of his co-accused ‘terrorists,’” reports Metro UK.
The executed men were part of the country’s Shia minority. Court documents accused the men of hating the Sunni sect, the state and its security forces. However, the accused “gay man” denied all the charges against him — his lawyer called his confession a fabrication.
Metro UK writes, “The executions were carried out on Tuesday in the cities of Riyadh, Mecca and Medina. One of the prisoner’s had his body and severed head pinned to a pole in a public square.”
Among the other executed men were Shiite religious leader Sheikh Mohammed al-Attiyah who preached for Shiites to work peacefully with Saudi Arabia’s Sunni majority. Two of the other men were arrested at ages 16 and 17 and detained for years in solitary confinement without access to lawyers.
Now ages 23 and 21, the first, Mutjaba al-Sweikat, was reportedly “beaten all over his body before ‘confessing’ to the crime of attending a protest in 2012.” The second, Abdulkarim al-Hawaj, “was accused of spreading information about protests on WhatsApp.” al-Hawaj was the youngest man killed in the recent mass executions.
Saudi Arabia has reportedly executed 100 people this year so far. The country’s supreme council of ultraconservative Sunnis clerics claim that Islamic law supports the executions, but their interpretation is actually an extremist one.
Muslims disagree over whether Islam forbids homosexuality
Muslim scholar Mehammed Amadeus Mack explained in Newsweek, Islam’s primary holy test, the Quran, says nothing at all about homosexuality. The main source of anti-LGBTQ Muslim religiosity comes from the ahadith, sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad and his companions.
Some Muslims reject the ahadith because they “violate the completeness and perfection of the Quran.” Others view the ahadith skeptically and question their reliability as authoritative religious texts.
Mack writes, “It’s no wonder that many Muslims who identify as LGBT take the Quranist position and reject [the ahadith].”
Despite older acceptance of homosexuality in Middle Eastern historic art and literature, contemporary Middle Eastern homophobia was effectively imported by British and French colonizers in the 1800s and 1900s and made worse by the rise of Islamic Fundamentalist clerics who used homophobia as a way to stoke anger against “Western values.”
Written by: Daniel Villarreal. 28 April 2019. World. Lgbtqnation.com
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
Donald Trump’s ban on transgender military service people takes effect from today, jeopardizing the livelihood of thousands.
Almost two years after Trump first announced his much-maligned policy on Twitter, legislation banning trans people from openly serving in the military has been enacted.
According to the Palm Center, about 13,700 people will lose their jobs as a result.
“The military is the largest employer in the nation and, as the USTS found, transgender people are twice as likely to have served in the Armed Forces as the general population,” Gillian Bransetter, media relations manager for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told Advocate.
The 2015 US Trans Survey (USTS) found that 18 per cent of all trans people have served in the military, which is thought to be the single largest employer of trans people today.
When does the transgender military ban begin?Trump first announced the ban in a series of tweets on July 26, 2017.
“After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military,” he wrote.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
The White House formally announced the policy in March 2018, which was blocked by a series of four injunctions.
In January 2019, the first injunction was lifted by an appeals court in Washington DC, with the Supreme Court removing a further two (from California and Washington state) in the same month.
On March 27 the final hurdle was lifted, paving the way for the ban to be enforced from Friday (April 12).
Who will be affected by the transgender military ban?Since trans people were first allowed to enter service in 2016, almost 15,000 are estimated to have joined the military.
Any person who comes out or is outed as trans from April 12 will be discharged, unless they are willing to suppress their identity. The military will not pay for any gender confirmation surgeries, apart from those which will “protect the health” of people who have begun to medically transition.
After April 12, those applying to join the services with a record of gender dysphoria will have to adhere to the gender they were assigned at birth in order to serve. A doctor will have to certify that they have been stable in that gender for at least 36 months, and that they have not medically transitioned.
Transgender people without a diagnosis will be permitted to serve in the gender they were assigned at birth, but only if they have not had any confirmation surgeries.
There are exemptions for active service members who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, including those who have already completed a medical transition before the policy takes effect.
According to the Palm Center, just 937 people will qualify for the grandfather exemptions, which they note could be revoked at any time.
The Navy has released guidance noting that sailors will be permitted to live “in their preferred gender” while off-duty.
“Appropriate civilian attire, as outlined in the uniform regulations, will not be determined based on gender,” a statement read, though this may be limited “to meet local conditions and host-nation agreements with foreign countries.”
Criticism of the transgender military banThe Palm Center’s director Aaron Belkin is one of many who has called the ban “a return to don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military’s pre-2011 ban on LGB people.
“Fully 100% of transgender troops are threatened and stigmatised by this ban,” Belkin said a statement on April 9.
In Washington, criticism of the policy has come from both sides of the aisle.
Conservative pundit Meghan McCain tweeted on Wednesday (April 10): “It is indefensible that Trump’s ban on Transgender troops is being implemented on Friday.
“This discriminatory policy will lead Transgender service members, patriots who have decided to serve their nation, to live in the shadows.
“It’s an unfair, un-American, and dangerous policy.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of many Democrats to rebuke the ban, labelling it an “act of cruelty” on April 3.
Trump’s claims that transgender people “burden” the military “with the tremendous medical costs” has also been wide refuted.
In 2016 the RAND corporation estimated that these costs would amount to somewhere between $2.4 million (£1.8 million) and $8.4 million (£6.4 million) annually.
Written by: Reiss Smith. 12 April 2019. Current Affairs. Pinknews.co.uk
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said that she was aware of research showing how harmful her anti-transgender guidance two years ago was.
DeVos appeared before the civil rights subcommittee of the House Education Committee.
The subcommittee chair, Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) asked DeVos if she knew that “the stress of harassment and discrimination can lead to lower attendance and grades as well as depression and anxiety for transgender students” when she reversed Obama-era guidelines that told schools that discrimination against transgender students is illegal under Title IX.
At first, DeVos dodged the question with a vague statement that the Office of Civil Rights “is committed to ensuring all students have equal access to education free from discrimination.”
Bonamici pressed DeVos: “Sorry, I would really like answer.”
“Did you know, when you rolled back the guidance, that the stress of harassment and discrimination can lead to lower attendance and grades as well as depression for transgender students?” Bonamici asked.
“I do know that,” DeVos said.
“But I will say again that OCR is committed to ensuring all students have access to their education free from discrimination,” she added, even though she rescinded the guidance that said that anti-transgender discrimination is illegal at the federal level.
Bonamici also asked DeVos if she was aware of “alarming levels of attempted suicide among transgender youth.”
“I am aware of that data,” she responded.
“I’m troubled by Sec. DeVos’ answers to my questions during today’s hearing,” Bonamici said in a statement she issued later.
“The Department of Education has a responsibility to protect all students, but she acknowledged that she moved forward with a plan to rollback protections for transgender students despite knowing that it would put them at risk.”
Written by: Alex Bollinger. 11 April 2019. Top Categories. Lgbtqnation.com