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
Research has found that LGBT+ people make up more of America’s rural population than is often depicted by mainstream culture.
According to the study by the Movement Advancement Project, between 2.9 million and 3.8 million LGBT+ people live in rural parts of America, meaning they make up around 5 percent of the population.
“Rarely do we see images of LGBTQ people in rural areas, and when we do, they are portrayed as the only one there and stick out like a sore thumb or a target of violence,” report author Logan Casey told USA Today.
LGBT+ people live in these areas for the same reason as everyone elseThe research showed that LGBT+ people often choose to live in these areas for the same reason as others: to be a part of a close community that share similar values to their own.
The report also noted that “the highest rates of parenting by both same-sex couples and LGBT individuals are in the most rural regions of the country.”
Discrimination in small communitiesDespite this, LGBT+ people do face some discrimination while living in rural places as prejudice can spread rapidly through tight-knit communities. This can lead to difficulties joining a church, getting work or even finding a doctor who will accommodate them.
While over half of LGBT+ people in urban areas have access to health centres designed specifically for their needs, only about 11 percent of LGBT+ adults over 45 have similar access in rural areas, which means trouble finding help can easily arise as a result of acute prejudice.
This can also go the other away according to Casey, who said: “When one person stands up and takes a stance for an LGBTQ person … and really embraces them, that sets the tone for how they should be treated.”
In the US, Vermont has the highest proportion of LGBT+ adults in rural areas at around 5.2 percent and was the first place to allow same-sex couples to have civil unions in 2000. It is also considered one of America’s most LGBT-friendly states.
Population of transgender people in the USMeanwhile, there have been various studies regarding the population of transgender people in the US.
Studies have suggested that trans people make up 0.6 percent of the population, with states North Dakota and Iowa having the lowest percentage, while California and Massachusetts have the highest.
Written By: Precious Adesina. 05 April. 2019. Current Affairs. Pinknews.com
On Wednesday (3 April), Brunei introduced harsh sharia law which punishes homosexual sex with death by stoning.
The news caused international backlash, including from high-profile celebrities like George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres. The United Nations also pleaded to halt the ‘cruel and inhuman’ new code.
People then began calling for the boycott of international hotels owned by Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
It prompted the Dorchester Collection — which owns and manages each of these hotels for the Brunei Investment Agency — to release a statement on Twitter yesterday (3 April).
‘Dorchester Collection is an inclusive and diverse company and does not tolerate any form of discrimination,’ the statement read. ‘ Although we believe in open and transparent communication, we have reluctantly deactivated our hotel social pages due to the personal abuse directed at our employees for whom we have a duty of care.
‘Our corporate social media pages remain in place.
‘Dorchester Collection’s Code emphasises equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees,’ the statement read.
Social media backlashAs a result, social media pages for The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in London, Coworth Park in Aston, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris and the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan have all been deleted.
The Hotel Eden in Rome made its Twitter account private.
Many social media users began reacting negatively to the social media statement.
One person replied: ‘Equality, respect and integrity in all areas of your operation? Including where your profits are going?’
Another responded: ‘How can you say you don’t tolerate any form of discrimination when your owner murders gay people by stoning? Is it fine for Brunei but not for the UK?’
Then another tweeted: ‘Sadly your owners don’t agree with that statement.’
Background of BruneiRulers of Brunei have long enforced strictly traditional interpretations of Islamic teachings. The country, in Southeast Asia, operates under an absolute monarchy.
In other words, the head of state, the Sultan of Brunei, is also head of government. Royalty and lawmaking are one and the same.
For example, under the current 51-year-long monarch Hassanal Bolkiah, the country banned alcohol and forbade the proliferation of non-Islamic faiths.
Written by: James Beasnvalle. 04 April 2019. Gaystarnews.net
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
A young gay man tried to attempt suicide after learning his boyfriend’s parents beat him up for coming out.
The unnamed man, believed to be around 19 years old, was found at the top of a bridge in Puebla, Mexico.
A passer-by called the emergency number at 5.46pm on 23 March.
They saw a young man, on the ledge, about to throw himself off into incoming traffic.
Emergency services raced to the bridge located between 14 Avenue South and Periférico Ecológico.
A spokesperson said: ‘After a few minutes of dialogue, officers convinced the young man to cease his efforts.
‘Once he was safe, he was removed from the site.’
Local press has claimed the young man suffered from a ‘nervous breakdown’.
‘The youth explained he made the decision to take his own life after his partner sent him a message,’ one paper said.
‘When talking with his parents about his sexual identity, they beat him. This news sparked a nervous breakdown.’
It Gets Better Mexico urged people to seek out help.
‘If you or someone LGBTIQ you know is going through difficult times, remember that you are not alone,’ they said.
‘Out there, inside and outside the internet, we exist.
‘There are also many people like you, and they can help.’
One in four gay, lesbian and bi people and 41% of trans people in Mexico consider suicide, according to Animal Político.
Homophobia in Puebla, Mexico
In February this year, a gay primary school teacher was found stabbed to death in Puebla.
Hugo Méndez, a teacher who worked in the city, was found murdered in his home.
Neighbors called the authorities after they heard a struggle.
When paramedics arrived to help him, he was already dead.
Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
If you are in crisis, feeling suicidal or in need of a safe place to talk, call the 24/7 TrevorLifeline on 1-866-488-7386.
Need support? LGBTI helplines for those in crisis or seeking advice
Written by: Joe Morgan. 28 March 2019. gaystarnews.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
Japan should stop forcing transgender people to be surgically sterilized, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday (20 March).
The rights group released an 84-page report detailing the harm caused by Japan’s Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases (GID) Act.
According to Japan’s law, two ‘respected medical professional’ must first diagnose a trans person with ‘gender identity disorder’ before they can apply to change gender.
They must also be over 20 years old, unmarried, not have any underage children.
Importantly, the law forbids them to have functioning genitalia.
‘Japan should uphold the rights of transgender people and stop forcing them to undergo surgery to be legally recognized’ said Kanae Doi, Japan director at HRW.
The law is based on an outdated premise that treats gender identity as a so-called ‘mental illness’ and should be urgently revised.’
Medical procedures are lengthy, expensive, invasive, dangerous, and irreversible, the report says.
The practice is also contrary to international human rights law and international medical best practices.
What’s more, Japan’s Supreme Court recently upheld the law.
‘It is humiliating’
HRW spoke to 48 transgender people, as well as with lawyers, health providers, and academics from 14 prefectures in Japan.
They painted a picture of how the law infringes on their rights.
Some of the trans people included in the report said they felt forced to undergo surgery.
‘I don’t want to [have surgery], to be honest’ one transgender man told HRW. ‘I feel pressured to be operated on – so terrible.’
Another transgender man said he felt ’severely insulted’ and that his human rights had been neglected. ‘It is humiliating.’
‘The surgery requirement itself feels wrong. It feels a lot like a surgery to maintain order. Why do we have to put a scalpel through our healthy bodies just for sake of the country’s order?’
Many transgender Japanese people have to decide between being legally recognized and having the body they want.
Japanese law rushes them into making life-changing and irreversible decisions about their bodies.
Written by: Rik Glauert. 20 March 2019. gaystarnews.com
Brazilian authorities on Tuesday (12 March) arrested two former policemen in connection with the murder of bisexual councilwoman and LGBTI rights activist Marielle Franco.
Investigators claim the two men shot Franco, 38, and her driver from their car on March 14 last year, according to the Washington Blade.
One of the men, Ronnie Lessa, fired 13 shots at the car in which Franco was sitting. Three shots in her head killed her.
Franco was a lesbian, black city councillor who spoke out for disenfranchised communities.
She had just attended an event promoting empowerment for black women when she was killed.
A militia linked to the family of Brazil’s notorious homophobic president was behind the killing, according to US journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Amnesty International welcomed the arrests. The group said it was ‘the first sign of progress in an investigation that has barely moved in the year since the killings’.
The rights group called on authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
LGBTI rights in Brazil
Brazil has witnessed a backsliding in LGBTI rights in the country.
Earlier this year, Brazil’s only openly LGBTI lawmaker Jean Wyllys announced he would quit his seat in Congress. He also fled the country.
The LGBTI activist had regularly clashed with Brazil’s far-right homophobic President, Jair Bolsonaro. He is famous for his homophobic comments.
LGBTI activists have warned Bolsonaro will usher in a new wave of terror for Brazil’s LGBTI community.
Many LGBTI Brazilians who said they were fearful for their rights and safety under the rule of the openly homophobic Bolsonaro.
Prior to the presidency, Brazil saw a spate of same-sex weddings, as same-sex couples rushed to marry before Bolsonaro took office.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013. But, many LGBTI people worry that Bolsonaro might begin rescinding LGBTI rights during his presidency.
2018 was one of the deadliest years for Brazil’s LGBTI community.
In September, Brazilian LGBTI rights group reported more than 300 LGBTI people have been murdered in Brazil in 2018. That’s from 220 by the same time the previous year.
Written by: Rik Glauert. 15 March 2019. Gaystarnews.com