A “Romeo & Juliet" law in California keeps many young adults out of the state’s sex offender registry, but not in the case of two Romeos or two Juliets. Now, a new bill filed by state Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, could end that inequity and prevent stigma on many LGBTQ young adults in the Golden State.
It’s illegal in California for an adult to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor and normally lands individuals on a registry if convicted. But a provision in the law says that in cases where one partner is age 15 or older and their partner is within 10 years of their age, the adult in the relationship won’t automatically go on a registry even if convicted of having inappropriate relations.
In other words, in an 18-year-old “Romeo” has vanilla, missionary sex with his 17-year-old “Juliet,” he can still be charged with a crime, but he won’t be branded in a public database as a sex offender automatically. A judge can still decide to do so if circumstances of the case warrant it, and this only applies with willing partners.
But if there’s any oral or anal sex involved, the provision goes out the window. Those wicked sodomite tricks land someone in the registry regardless of age or consent. The particularly complicates matters for Romeo-Romeo or Juliet-Juliet relationships where the partners may fall into the same age windows, but the law will consider sex acts so odious it will land the older partner of the registry regardless.
“SB 145 puts an end to blatant discrimination against young LGBT people engaged in consensual sexual activity,” Weiner said. “This bill is about treating everyone equally under the law. Discrimination against LGBT people is simply not the California way.”
Equality California has championed the shift in California law for years.
“There’s no reason for the law to treat a high school senior dating a high school junior differently because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “We’ve been working to make this common-sense fix and ensure LGBTQ young people are treated the same as their peers.”
Weiner makes clear the law seeks only to create equity. Sex with anyone age 14 or younger, same-sex or otherwise, still counts as statutory rape and automatically lands an adult on the registry. But it seeks to end California’s odd ranking of sexual sins that looked down upon acts practiced by gay, lesbian and bisexual partners.
“These laws were put in place during a more conservative and anti-LGBT time in California’s history,” Weiner said. “They have ruined people’s lives and made it harder for them to get jobs, secure housing, and live productive lives. It is time we update these laws and treat everyone equally.”
The San Francisco lawmaker already landed support from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
“Justice should be applied fairly and equally regardless of a person’s sexual orientation,” said Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County District Attorney. “I support this bill to correct the unjust application of the law.” It may even lead to quicker plea deals for young adults in relationships with older teenagers and who fought charges for fear of being labeled “sex offenders.”
The change would also put in statute what used to be California case law. A 2006 state Supreme Court decision, People v. Hofsheier, had ruled treating oral sex as a worse offense than vaginal sex violated the equal protection clause. But a 2015 ruling in Johnson v. Department of Justiceoverturned that.
Written by: Jacob Ogles. 23 January 2019. The Advocate
LGBTQ students are being harassed, assualted and discriminated against in Louisiana schools, according to a new report by an LGBTQ-rights advocacy group.
GLSEN (formerly the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) conducted a national survey that included about 300 LGBTQ students in Louisiana. The majority of those students reported that within the past year they had been harassed based on their sexual orientation or gender expression. Nearly 1 in 5 reported being physically assaulted.
Survey Results of Louisiana Students
Rates of harassment and assault were higher in Louisiana than in the nation at large. Most Louisiana students also reported discrimination by school staff.
GLSEN recommends Louisiana schools provide professional development for educators on LGBTQ issues, and stronger anti-bullying policies with specific protections for LGBTQ students.
Written by: Jess Clark. 09 January 2019. Education Desk. WWNO.com
A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit by a group of Christians who sued a Texas library for having drag queens read stories to children.
Three Christian activists filed a lawsuit against two public library directors in Houston for hosting events from the Drag Queen Story Hour initiative.
The nonprofit Drag Queen Story Hour or Story Time series gets drag queens to read to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores throughout America.
The plaintiffs argued that public taxes should not be used to fund events ‘brainwashing the children of Houston’, Courthouse News reported.
However, the judge said that they had failed to prove that the events had caused any harm or misappropriation of public funds.
The Christian group, Christ Followers, took the case to court in October 2018 after an online petition and a protest were unsuccessful in deterring the library from hosting the events.
U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal on Thursday (3 January) dismissed the case for having a lack of standing and a failure to state a viable First Amendment Establishment Clause claim.
Rosenthal said that the men could not prove that the story hour events had caused any harm, as they were unclear if they had even attended any of the events.
‘The plaintiffs assert the very opposite: they purposefully avoided “Drag Queen Storytime” because of its alleged immorality and potential to harm their children,’ Rosenthal wrote in the 18-page order. ‘Instead of witnessing the event, the plaintiffs “researched [it] online”.’
The group has a history of anti-LGBTI beliefs.
‘The plaintiffs believe that LGBTQ ideology is immoral, obscene and subversive to human flourishing and that the LGBTQ ideology is inseparably linked to the religion of Secular Humanism,’ it stated in their lawsuit.
One of the group’s members, Chris Sevier, filed a similar lawsuit against a Louisiana library in September 2018.
Sevier had also previously filed a lawsuit to be able to marry his laptop as a form of protest against same-sex marriage.
Not their first storytime
Drag Queen Story Hour was started by RADAR Productions in San Francisco and has become a popular feature throughout America over the past two years.
However, the initiative has prompted a backlash from conservative and religious groups.
Right-wing Infowars host, Alex Jones, has railed against Drag Queen Story Hour, describing the events as a ‘societal wrecking ball’ and comparing the drag queens to demons.
Several Christian activists have attempted to interrupt events in the past.
In November last year, a woman interrupted a session being held in a private bookstore by shouting about a ‘homosexual agenda’ before being escorted out by police.
In June, Dave Grisham, an evangelical pastor in Alaska, videoed himself attempting to interrupt a drag queen children’s story time taking place in a public library.
He was instantly booed by the crowd and ushered out in under a minute.
Written by: Calum Stuart. 5 January 2019. Gaystarnews.com
Returning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to pass the Equality Act Law, which would pan anti-LGBT discrimination across the United States.
This past Thursday a record number of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual lawmakers were sworn in, and the Democratic leader told Congress that, “We will make America fairer by passing the Equality Act to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community,” according to the Washington Blade.
Chad Griffin president of the Human Rights Campaign said: “Now is the time to move equality forward by advancing the Equality Act to ensure LGBTQ Americans are able to go to go to work, raise their families, and live their lives free from discrimination.
“Far too many LGBTQ people face unfair and unjust discrimination each and every day with only a patchwork of protections across the country.”
“We are thankful for Speaker Pelosi reaffirming her commitment to advance this critically important legislation and seize this historic moment to make full federal LGBTQ equality a reality,” he added.
Currently, there are no laws on the federal level that protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the US.
This means that it is legal to fire people for being gay in dozens of states due to uneven state-level protections.
The Equality Act bill faces a smooth path in the House, where the Democrats have a majority but may struggle to get through the Republican-controlled Senate.
On his first day in office, Brazil’s President signed an executive order removing all LGBTQ issues from consideration in his human rights ministry.
The “proud homophobe” said previously that he’d rather have a “dead son rather than a gay son” and parents should beat their children if they think or suspect they are gay.
But the executive is a direct blow to the LGBTQ community, putting many at risk, especially when Brazil and the world are deeply divided.
In her first public statement as minister of Bolsonaro’s new human rights ministry, Damares Alves, a former evangelical pastor, said: “The state is lay, but this minister is terribly Christian.”
“Girls will be princesses and boys will be princes. There will be no more ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil.”
In anticipation of the possible erosion of LGBTQ rights, many same-sex couples rushed to get married before Bolsonaro took office, worrying that he may reverse the country’s 2013 marriage equality law.
“The human rights ministry discussed our concerns at a body called secretariat of promotion and defense of human rights,” LGBTQ activist Symmy Larrat told the AP.
“That body just disappeared, just like that. We don’t see any signs there will be any other government infrastructure to handle LGBT issues.”
Both Donald Trump and the US’ United Nations Ambassador, Nikki Haley, tweeted messages of support to Bolsonaro after he was sworn into office.
Trump wrote that “the U.S.A. is with you!”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said the president is confident the new relationship between the two countries “will benefit the world and the set of shared values that we believe we can together advance.”
Germany has become another country that legally recognizes intersex and gender non-conforming people. Now those who do not identify as male or female can now register as ‘diverse’ on official government documents.
The new law which was approved by Germany’s parliament in December went into effect on Tuesday, January 1. Individuals wanting to register as intersex must have a certificate of approval form a doctor.
Critics claim that the new law does not do enough to recognize rights of intersex and/or gender non-conforming people. Since 2013, people who did not identify as either male or female could opt-out of registering their gender. But in 2017 Germany’s high court ruled that not recognizing intersex people denied their basic rights to a gender.
The UN estimates that between 0.5% to 1.7% of the global population are born with intersex traits.
Other countries have passed similar laws.
In June, Austria’s constitutional court passed a law which recognizes the rights of intersex people.
Australia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, New Zealand, and Canada have also introduced measures to improve the rights of the intersex community.
Many progressive politicians and LGBTI rights supporters in Germany have welcomed the move.
But some equal rights activists have said the law does not go far enough with regards to recognizing the rights of the intersex community.
Those wishing to register as intersex must first undergo a medical examination and receive approval from a doctor.
Equal rights activists have said that this procedure is intrusive and in fundamental contrast with the basic rights of intersex people.
Trans rights groups have also criticized the law, which they say could make it harder for trans people to update their official documents.
Gay and lesbian couples in Brazil are rushing to marry before the nation’s new homophobic president is sworn into office, reports The New York Times.
Back in October, right-wing politician Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential elections. News of his victory instilled fear in the hearts of LGBTQ Brazilians, who worried what havoc “Brazil’s Donald Trump” could wreak on the South American countries already volatile political climate. To make matters worse, Bolsonaro has never been shy about broadcasting his violently anti-gay beliefs. In an interview from 2011, he told Playboy magazine that he’d rather his son “die in an accident than be gay.”
On January 1, 2019, Bolsonaro (pictured above) will be sworn into office—and gay and lesbian couples in Brazil are afraid he’ll make good on his vow to defend “the true meaning of matrimony as a union between man and woman.” (Marriage equality has been legal in Brazil since May 2013.) Countrywide, the number of same-sex weddings in Brazil surged post-election, according to The Times: In São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, 57 gay or lesbian couples tied the knot in the first 10 days of December alone. That’s compared to 113 same-sex weddings during the entire month of December in 2017.
Brazilian cake makers, wedding planners, photographer, and DJs have stepped forward to aid the cause, offering their services to gay or lesbian couples before the new year free-of-charge. Regional LGBTQ activists have also organized group weddings for same-sex couples across the country.
“We’re going to resist,” Victor Silva Paredes, a 23-year-old gay Brazilian who married his partner this month, told The Times. “We fought for these rights and we’re not going back into the closet.”
The situation is especially dire given Brazil’s staggeringly high rates of homophobic and transphobic violence: According to Grupo Gay de Bahia, a local LGBTQ advocacy group, anti-LGBTQ homocides in Brazil increased about 30% from 2016 to 2017. Just this March, Marielle Franco, an openly lesbian city councillor in Rio de Janeiro, was shot and killed. Now, LGBTQ Brazilians fear Bolsonaro’s presidency will incite a new era of bigotry—and inspire conservatives in Brazil to act on their hateful beliefs.
Written by: Sam Manzella. 31 December 2018. Newnownext.com
The year 2018 will no doubt go down in LGBT+ history with several landmark moments changing LGBT lives.
India’s Supreme Court repealed a British colonial era-rule criminalizing gay sex
The historic decision on September 6 not only freed the country’s 1.3 billion peopleof the threat of life in prison for consummating consensual homosexual relationships, but it also revitalized the fight for LGBT+ rights in nearby countries, such as Singapore, and further afield, like in Kenya.
The landmark decision will not overcome the stigma surrounding homosexualityovernight, and LGBT+ people continue to faces various forms of restrictions and persecutions across the world.
Yet LGBT+ rights have advanced in small and big steps in the past 365 days—and as American voters elected the largest-yet contingent of LGBT+ lawmakers in the midterm elections this year, there are reasons to hope for more steps to come in 2019.
Here are the landmark moments of 2018 worth celebrating and remembering.
LGBT+ history in communities: new and first points of pride
Pride parades have colored new parts of the world in 2018, starting in Myanmar in January, when the country saw thousands of people attending its first-ever public LGBT+ festival.
Over the course of the year, the rainbow community claimed rights and visibility from the glaciers in Antarctica to the Caribbean shores of Barbados and Guyana.
In New Zealand, pride festivities this year were particularly eventful. Auckland Pride march saw for the first time the participation of the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, and was also the first pride parade in the country to feature the same-sex wedding of a lesbian couple.
More community-specific parades have also emerged. Trans rights supporters marched for the first time in the streets of Belfast in Northern Ireland in June and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland in July.
Those who identify as bisexual and their allies instead held a pride march in Los Angeles in September in what is believed to be the first-ever city-wide Bi Pride in the US.
LGBT+ history for trans representation: Awarded at lastWhile the UK was engulfed in a debate around self-identification of transgender people for most of the year as part of a public government consultation on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, similar reforms were approved in Uruguay and in Chile.
The year opened and closed with landmark moments for the transgender community working in the entertainment industry. In January, Yance Ford became the first transgender director to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature.
Ford did not ultimately win the honour, but the Oscars still represented a landmark moment for transgender representation when Chilean actress Daniela Vega became the first transgender person to present an award at the ceremony and the movie she starred in, A Fantastic Woman, also won the prize for Best Foreign Film.
In December, the Miss Universe beauty pageant featured a transgender woman as one of the contestants for the first time—beauty queen Angela Ponce, who already made history in her native Spain by winning the national title in July.
In Pakistan, a country where the transgender community faces prejudice and violence, there were particular milestones to celebrate with regards to their presence in the workforce. A TV channel appointed a transgender newsreader for the first time, while the government hired its first-ever openly transgender employee.
LGBT+ history in Parenthood: A global fight for rightsThe legal and societal recognition of LGBT+ families is yet another goal on the path to full equality. In Croatia, a book celebrating and normalizing parents of the same gender proved a success, selling out its first 500 copies upon launch.
In various countries where a legal vacuum on IVF and surrogacy for LGBT+ people persists, it has become the role of the courts or local authorities to make landmark rulings in the best interests of the child.
This was the case in Italy, where a lesbian couple convinced local authorities to recognise their child, born out of IVF, as officially having two mothers.
In Israel, where the exclusion of gay parents from a reform of surrogacy law sparked a nationwide strike this summer and inspired an activist to launch the country’s first LGBT+ party, a court agreed with a gay couple that allowing only one of the adoptive parents’ names on the child’s birth certificate was a discriminatory practice.
LGBT+ history in the Royal family: Not that kind of wedding
This year the British royal family significantly grew in size.
A third royal baby was born, Prince Harry got hitched and Lord Ivar Mountbatten, a cousin to the Queen and the great-nephew of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who came out as gay in 2016, wedded his long-term partner James Coyle.
While no member of the royal family attended the wedding, his ex-wife Penelope Thompson walked by his side to give him away at the altar.
Queen Elizabeth II appeared to celebrate Pride month by flaunting a rainbow flower decoration on her hat to Royal Ascot—earlier that month, she had also made her first appearance with the first-ever openly gay footman to serve the monarch.
Ollie Roberts, a 21-year-old who has previously served in the Royal Air Force, was appointed to the role of personal footman to the monarch in June. He reportedly quit his job after being demoted from his position because of “courting publicity” a few months later.
LGBT+ history in sports: No kicking around
Sports remains a largely hostile environment for LGBT+ people to thrive in their authentic selfs. Two leading footballers playing in the British Premier League, Arsenal’s Héctor Bellerín and Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud have both said as much about football in recent interviews this year.
This is why is all the more remarkable that football player Collin Martin, who plays for Minnesota United in the MLS, decided to come out as gay this year posting a picture of himself wrapped in a rainbow flag. Martin is now the only out gay football player in a top professional soccer league.
In other sports, LGBT+ athletes have been able to show their excellency. On the sparkling surface of the ice rink, American figure skater’s Adam Rippon shined brightest, becoming the first openly gay man to qualify for the Olympics.
Rippon’s fellow Team USA athlete Gus Kenworthy, who came out in 2015 and competed in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as an out gay man, made television history when he kissed his boyfriend live on NBC’s international broadcast.
Even in the fighting sports, LGBT+ athletes have pulled all the right punches. Pat Manuel became the first transgender man to fight and win at a professional level in US boxing and WWE’s first openly lesbian wrestler Sonya Deville—real name Daria Berenato—competed in the first-ever WrestleMania women’s battle royal at the event.
In more strides for LGBT+ history in sports, assistant philosophy professor Rachel McKinnon won gold in the sprint at the 2018 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships, becoming the first transgender woman to win a world championship in cycling.
Traditional gender roles have been subverted in cheerleading, too, with male cheerleaders performing in the National Football League (NFL) for the first time this year.
The NFL also recorded a landmark moment when it joined the Major League Basketball to march at the New York Pride for the first time.
In yet another first, 59-year-old retired Dallas Cowboys player Jeff Rohrer became the first gay NFL player to marry a man when he tied the knot with his fiancé Joshua Ross in November.
Here’s to more progress in 2019.
Written By: Sofia Lotto Persio. 25 December 2018. Pinknews.com
“The stigma associated with HIV is one of the main reasons HIV/AIDS is still spreading at an alarming rate in some parts of the world.
The images that were burned into our memory from the 1980s and 1990s were effective at shocking people back then but we haven’t moved past that and for many, when they think of or hear the letters HIV, that is all they know.
It shocks me and saddens me that within the younger gay community there is so much stigma and discrimination towards those of us live with HIV.
To be asked if I am ‘clean’ when it comes to inquiring about my sexual health and overall health is not only offensive but it’s incredibly ignorant.
It’s time we have a new and very real conversation about what it means to be HIV-positive in this day and age and hopefully by me telling my story I’m helping to facilitate that a little.”
— ABC News reporter Karl Schmid in an interview with the Star Observer.
Spain’s entry to the Miss Universe pageant, Angela Ponce, is breaking down barriers as the first-ever transgender woman to compete in the pageant that was formerly owned by Donald Trump. Ponce, a model who beat out 22 other women to become Spain’s entry to the pageant, which takes place on Sunday in Bangkok, said she hopes to use the platform to elevate trans visibility.
“If my going through all this contributes to the world moving a little step forward, then that’s a personal crown that will always accompany me,” Ponce told the Associated Press after she won the title of Miss Spain in June.
Ponce competed in the Miss World pageant in 2015 and found that the rules made it such that a trans woman could not win, which crushed her, she told Time in late November. But since Ponce made it to the Miss Universe finals, Miss World has now changed its rules, she said.
"I changed the rules," Ponce of the impact she's already had.
But the Miss Universe pageant under former owner Trump did not halt its ban on transgender contestants in 2012 without pressure. The ban was speciously lifted at the same time that famed attorney Gloria Allred threatened legal action against it for banning Jenna Talackova, a trans contestant from Canada.
Considering Trump’s past relationship with the pageant and his ongoing attacks on trans people including a proposed military ban and his administration's attempt to define trans people out of existence, Ponce commented on what it would mean for her to win in terms of Trump.
It would send “More than a message to him [Trump]. It would be a win for human rights,” She told Time. “Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long. If they give me the crown, it would show trans women are just as much women as cis women.”
Despite competing on the world stage for some audiences that may not be tolerant of her trans identity, Ponce said she’s excited to compete.
“I’m not trying to impose anything on anyone. I’d never try to change anyone’s culture or way of life,” Ponce said. “But by competing I’ll make trans people more visible for everyone, which is a big step. I’m not nervous. I’m excited.”
Written by: Tracy Gilchrist. 16 December, 2018. Advocate