Tag Archives: discrimination

Couple’s suicide notes reveal stigma they face in India’s queer community

Lesbian couple’s suicide notes reveal stigma they face in India

The suicide of a lesbian couple who jumped into a river and drowned highlights the hidden struggles of gay women in India, who are subjected to ‘corrective rape’ cures and family pressure to marry, activists said this week.

A police officer, who declined to give his name as he was not authorised to speak to the media, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the women left suicide notes before killing themselves in the western state of Gujarat on Monday.

He refused to confirm whether one woman also threw her toddler into the river, as reported by local media, which quoted the notes as saying,

“We are leaving this world to live with each other. The world did not allow us to stay together”.

It is more common to hear about lesbians committing suicide than other members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, said gay rights campaigner Anjali Gopalan.

“They live a far worse life than gay men, a much tougher life, because there is largely more acceptance of male homosexuality,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Women’s sexuality is not discussed at all in India, making it much more challenging for them to come out.”

There is no official data on India’s LGBT population, but the government estimates some 2.5 million gay people, reflecting those who have declared their sexuality to the health ministry.

Lesbians face a life of double discrimination – first because of their gender in a male-dominated society where sexual violence, child marriage and female infanticide are common – and then because of their sexuality, activists say.

In a surprise ruling in 2013, India’s top court reinstated a ban on gay sex after a four-year period of decriminalisation, but it is set to reconsider the 2013 decision in July after a slew of petitions opposing the ban as unconstitutional.

Although the law is rarely enforced, it is used to intimidate, harass and blackmail gay people, activists say.

Outside cities, lesbians often face violence, brutality and even death, rights groups say.

“In rural areas, corrective rape is very prevalent and it is one of the main reasons why women do not come out,” Maya Urmi Aher, a transgender rights activist, said, pointing to pressure on women to marry and bear children.

Such rapes are seldom reported as they are often carried out by husbands, brothers and fathers in a bid to ‘cure’ women, she said.

“Law and order consider crimes like this a joke,” she said.

Uber Driver sacked after kicking lesbian couple out of taxi for kissing

The driver, who told the couple that kissing in an Uber was illegal, is criticised by regulators and the company itself.

The driver, who told the couple that kissing in an Uber was illegal, is criticised by regulators and the company itself.

A couple is speaking out about their ride in an Uber in which they say the driver kicked them out because they were kissing.

The couple – Alex lovine and Emma Pichl – were travelling from Brooklyn to Manhattan on Saturday when they exchanged what they described as a “peck” on the lips.They claimed the driver, Ahmad El Boutari, then booted them out of the car – sparking an argument in the street.

The couple, who have been together for two years, filmed the row on a mobile phone.

Iovine and her girlfriend are still upset after being thrown from that Uber car. “I think for both us it was just a shock, not really knowing what to say,” Pichl said.

Alex and Emma called the Uber to take them from Gowanus to the East Village. It was during the ride just over the Manhattan Bridge when the couple says the incident began.

“We had leaned over and peck kissed and then a couple of minutes later the driver abruptly pulled over,” Iovine said.

The driver is seen exclaiming in the video that what the couple did is illegal. “He started aggressively coming at us. That’s when we pulled out our phone,” Pichl said.

Alex started taking video. not knowing what was going to happen.

“This doesn’t feel right,” Ioving said. “That’s when we started going back and forth just being like ‘What? Why are we getting kicked out of the Uber?’ and he said. ‘That’s illegal’.”

The cell phone video also shows the driver claiming that what the couple did was disrespectful.

The driver, identified by the Taxi and Limousine Commission as Ahmad El Boutari, even objected to having his picture taken.

A spokesperson for the TLC said, “The blatantly discriminatory behavior described by the complainant is repugnant.”

“We’ve never been targeted with such prejudicial behavior” Iovine said.

An Uber spokesperson said, “Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination, and we have reached out to the rider regarding her experience.”

Both Uber and TLC are investigating the incident. Alex and Emma even got a $22 refund.

“I would be nervous I think to kiss Emma again in an Uber,” Iovine said.

“I think we are going to steer clear of Uber for a bit,” Pichl said.

Eyewitness News tried to reach out to the driver, but was unable to locate him.

Student Suspended By Her School After Asking Her Girlfriend To Prom

A students was punished by her high school after she asked her girlfriend to prom during a school talent show.

After her girlfriend had performed in the talent show at Alabama’s Alexandria High School, Janizia Ross got up on stage and asked her to prom.

But despite her girlfriend saying yes to the prom-posal, Ross was given an in-school suspension, as was another female student who was acting as MC at the show and helped her.

Ashley Fadely, another student at the high school, told AL.com that school officials called the sweet act of public affection a “disruption.”

“I was there when it happened. It was right after her performance. No words were spoken by them. They just got happy, hugged and that was it. If it was a male and a female student, nothing would have been done.”

Writing on Facebook, Ashley said “Literally no amount of punishment was necessary.”

A recent graduate of the school, Nick Wyville, posted publicly on Facebook and wrote to the Superintendent of the Calhoun County Schools to bring attention to the situation.


Nick, who is now a sophomore at Harvard College, said that straight couples had previously asked each other to prom – and even to marry each other – with no consequences.

“I write to you to urge the principal of Alexandria High School to drop all charges against the two young girls and to the hosts of the talent show, and any others involved. Federal law and the United State Constitution bars the harassment of LGBT students in public high school.

If the case is made that this was a public display of affection in front of an audience, then there is precedent that contradicts that very action.

When the talent show first unveiled itself, a male proposed to a female, and they faced no consequences. I, along with many others, can stand witness to that.”

Alexandria High Principal Anthony Mack Holley and the Calhoun County Schools Superintendent did not immediately respond to email requests for comment Wednesday evening.

Several current and former students posted on social media about the incident. Fadely said some students have started a movement to boycott prom if the two girls are not allowed to go together.

Martina Navratilova: Margaret Court’s LGBT Views Are ‘Sick’ And ‘Dangerous’

Martina Navratilova has called to rename Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne following the homophobic comments, the former Australian tennis champion turned pastor, said this week.

Court described initially slammed Qantas Airlines’ support for same-sex marriage, before saying tennis was “full of lesbians”, and that transgender children were the work of “the devil”.

The former Australian tennis champion turned pastor, also claimed that an Australian programme tackling homophobic bullying in schools was the work of a “gay lobby” that was trying to “get [into] the minds of children”.

Now Ms Navratilova, who has 18 grand slam titles, has penned a letter to the Margaret Court Arena for The Sunday Morning Herald.

She writes:

It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe. Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere.

And now, linking LGBT to Nazis, communists, the devil? This is not OK. This is in fact sick and it is dangerous. Kids will suffer more because of this continuous bashing and stigmatising of our LGBT community.”

An online petition calling for the renaming of the court has attracted 3,700 signatures.

The retired Czech-American player, who married longtime girlfriend Julia Lemigova after proposing at the US Open, wrote:

We should not be celebrating this kind of behaviour, this kind of philosophy. The platform people like Margaret Court use needs to be made smaller, not bigger. Which is why I think it’s time to change your name. And I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it. Now there is a person we can all celebrate. On every level.”

Billie Jean King has backed Navratilova’s call, as has the Dutch player Richel Hogencamp, who questioned whether players would feel comfortable competing on a court named in Court’s honour.

The Australian former world number four player Samantha Stosur suggested players might boycott the court at next year’s Australian Open.

It was not the first time Court has made incendiary comments about same-sex marriage, which is not yet legal in Australia, and homosexuality. Last week Court said she would boycott the Qantas airline over its support for same-sex marriage.

The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, waded into the row last week, rejecting the calls for the arena to be renamed.

Whatever people may think about Margaret Court’s views about gay marriage … she is one of the all-time greats and the Margaret Court Arena celebrates Margaret Court the tennis player.”

In an interview with a Christian radio station this week, Court doubled down on the comments, claiming that only a minority of the LGBTQ community wanted marriage equality and describing homosexuality as “a lust of the flesh”.


Court, a Christian pastor at Perth’s Victory Life church, dismissed the calls for the arena to be renamed as “bullying”.

It’s their way of bullying now because I think Australia is still Judeo-Christian,” she said, adding: “I think it’s very sad they’re using that [Margaret Court Arena] to try to hit below the belt.”

Court has also targeted the Australian player, Casey Dellacqua, who has two children in a gay relationship. In a letter after the birth of Dellacqua’s son in 2013, Court wrote of her “sadness” that the baby “has seemingly been deprived of his father”.

Texas Senate Passes Bill To Ban Transgender Students From Competing In Sports

The Texas Senate has given final approval to a bill, which would allow a transgender wrestler to be banned from competing.

The bill, SB 2095, sponsored by Senator Bob Hall, would allow the University Scholastic League, which governs student sports competitions to make a determination, “which may result in ineligibility, related to safety and fair play that would apply to students who are using steroids under a doctor’s care.”

Texas law already prohibits steroid use in sports, but a safe harbour provision in the state education code previously allowed transgender students using hormone therapy to continue participating in competitive sports. The student-athlete bill would amend that provision, essentially removing protections for trans student-athletes.

Sen. Hall told The Texas Tribune recently;

This bill is not addressing who plays on what sports. This bill is addressing individuals who … are taking steroids, then makes sure, as a result of that, the events remain safe and fair.”

The bill was introduced after a 17-year-old transgender wrestler, Mack Beggs, won the girls’ state championship.

Beggs and his parents wanted him to wrestle in the boys’ league, but Texas regulations require that students compete according to their assigned gender at birth, meaning Beggs had to wrestle girls during the championship.

Sadly, a lawsuit was sought to have Beggs banned from competing, by the parents of the other wrestlers – argueingthat Beggs had an “unfair advantage” because of his testosterone treatment, although he was literally forced to compete in the girls 110 pound category.

The lawsuit was dismissed last month by a Travis County judge.

Beggs has since been told that he would be allowed to wrestle boys, but there’s a catch.

He could only wrestle them during the off-season.

The policy, which allows Beggs to fight against male opponents, is newly adopted by USA Wrestling. It determines that female to male trans people are only allowed to compete in the male category.

However, this goes against a policy instated by the University Interscholastic League, which requires public school students to compete in the gender category that they were assigned at birth.


Trump Administration Officially Revoke Transgender Student Protections

Trump’s administration has rescinded protections for transgender students made in the Obama era.

A set of guidelines issued last year by the Departments of Justice and Education stated that discrimination against transgender students was banned by the sex discrimination ban in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The guidelines instructed schools to let transgender students use the appropriate bathroom. While it was not an executive order, the guidelines implied a threat to the funding of schools if they were not followed.

In rescinding the guidelines, the Trump Administration stated that it believes this issue should be decided at the state-level.

The Supreme Court and the nation’s public schools were notified by letter late on Wednesday that the guidance was changing.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, said;

This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students.”

Reports yesterday stated that DeVos was privately opposed to the change. She released a separate statement saying that the government must

… protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment. This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate. At my direction, the department’s Office for Civil Rights remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools.”

Despite the administration having officially rescinded the guidance, the letter will have no immediate impact as the guidelines were blocked by a federal court after they were issued.

But as expected, the letter claims that “there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

Federalism is a common excuse used to legalize discrimination, since many states will choose not to ban discrimination. If all states planned to do the right thing, then no one would complain about federal rules banning discrimination.

In a statement, the House LGBT caucus denounced the rule change.

President Trump’s decision to rescind this guidance is cruel. This nondiscrimination guidance was based on years of court opinions and best practices developed by experts in the field. This President, who previously promised to maintain LGBT nondiscrimination protections, has turned his back on the transgender community and shown a willful disregard for the safety of transgender students everywhere.”

National Center for Transgender Equality director Mara Keisling said.

This is a mean-spirited attack on hundreds of thousands of students who simply want to be their true selves and be treated with dignity while attending school,”

Should You Come Out At Work?

Coming out is hard. Your parents might disown you. Your friends might shun you. Your priest might send you to reparative therapy.

And, of course, you might get fired.

Even if your family, friends and rabbi are completely okay with your sexuality, your boss might not be as forgiving. And it’s not always easy to leave the job of your dreams.

The harsh statistics:

The Human Rights Campaign found that 62% of openly LGBT college graduates hurried right back into the closest after accepting their first job.

And for good reason. Anglia Ruskin University did a study that, depressingly, found that lesbians are 5% less likely to get offered a job interview than straight women with the same skills. If you could increase your job prospects by 5% by hiding your crush on Samira Wiley, why wouldn’t you?

Bisexual women don’t get off the hook any easier. A recent study showed that bisexual women earn less than their straight counterparts. How much less? From 7% to 28%. Yes, coming out as bisexual could automatically cut your paycheck by more than a quarter because bisexual people are considered “dishonest.”

In the U.S., 28 states still allow employers to fire employees for being gay. Yes, that’s more than half, and with Trump on the throne that number is likely to rise. Ten percent of lesbian, gay and bi workers have been fired from their jobs in last five years. Read more about those studies here.

So should you come out?

Coming out is a personal choice. There’s no right time or wrong time, and even the safest of situations could turn dangerous at any moment. But repressing yourself is arguably just as dangerous to your mental health. So should you come out?

Ask yourself a few questions first:

Have your colleagues or your employer expressed homophobic or transphobic sentiments out loud?

Do you think your work environment would turn hostile if you came out?

Is this job your only possible source of financial security?

If you don’t have a backup plan, then think about setting something up, whether that’s lining up another job, planning to live on your partner’s income or moving back in with your parents. Have a plan B in case of the worst.

But the most important question of all is this:

Do you want to come out?

Don’t feel pressured to come out in the name of LGBT rights, or because you feel like you have a responsibility to be yourself. Your responsibility is to prioritize your mental health. And if you don’t want to come out, then don’t.

If you do, then check out the Human Rights Campaign’s resources on coming out while at work.

‘A Normal Lost Phone’ Does More Harm Than Good For Trans Women

A Normal Lost Phone tries to be a groundbreaking adventure game about transgender identity. Does it succeed, or is it just a voyeuristic invasion of privacy catering to cisgender people?

On the surface, A Normal Lost Phone seems like an incredible, experimental game layered with puzzles and intrigue. As a player, you find a forgotten phone. It’s your responsibility to unlock the phone in order to find its rightful owner and return it.

Record scratch.

Not quite.

Instead of returning the phone, you decide to meddle with it.

This is fine at the beginning of the game, when you’re cracking puzzles in order to unlock innocent information like Wi-Fi passwords and hidden apps. But as the game progresses, the story takes a dark turn. Soon you figure out who the phone belongs to and why they shouldn’t have left it in your greedy little hands.

The problems start when you find a dating app that has two profiles, one male and one female, for a person called Sam. You soon figure out that Sam is a closeted transgender woman who’s not sure whether she should come out to her family and friends.

Her female dating profile is one of the few places where she can be herself. In fact, she has connected with an attractive young man on her dating app. The man wants Sam to send a picture. Seeing that Sam hasn’t sent him a picture yet, you decide to go ahead and send one for her.

Um, excuse me?

The secret to that puzzle is tracking down enough personal information to log into a transgender web forum, find a photo of her on the forum, and send the photo to the stranger. Without Sam’s consent. Why does the game have you do this? Purely because you can.

The game won’t let you continue until you send a photo. However, you don’t have to send a photo of Sam as a woman. You can send a photo of Sam presenting as male, which will reveal to the man on the dating app that Sam is transgender – even if the man already knows, should you be the one snooping through a stranger’s phone and revealing all of this information?

Where is Sam through all of this? While you are running her life and outing her to her entire contact list, Sam is conspicuously absent, unable to have a hand in her own destiny. The player, who statistically is likely to be cisgender, has all control over this transgender woman’s life. A Normal Lost Phone claims to “build empathy with characters, allowing them to explore difficult topics,” but renders its main character “absent, unable to consent or comment on your personal invasion. She is an object to be analyzed. She is also a damsel to save and protect.”

Does playing this game make cisgender people more empathetic toward the struggles of transgender people? Maybe. But there’s a fine line between empathy and pity, and teaching cisgender players that they are improving trans lives by invading their privacy and outing them is a step backwards.

You can decide for yourself. Is this game an invasion of privacy or an important political tool?

Trump Claims That His Immigration Ban Helps Lesbians. He Is Very, Very Wrong.

It’s difficult to be queer. It’s even more difficult to be queer and Muslim, especially if you’re a person of color. Yet Trump claims that his blanket ban on travelers from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and Iran does queer people a favor.

Trump cited LGBT rights as one of his reasons for the ban. He claimed that people from those seven countries “would oppress members of [marginalized] gender or sexual orientation.”

The assumption is, of course, that all people coming from these countries are Muslim, and that all Muslims are intolerant of LGBT people. He is completely erasing the growing population of Muslims who openly identify as transgender or queer.

The Advocate puts it well:

What happens now to the lesbian asylum seeker in search of a semblance of safety in the U.S.? What happens to the bisexual student who came here on a visa and now does not know if they can return? What happens to the parents of a transgender child, who can no longer come to the U.S. even to visit?”

In short, Donald Trump is not doing us any favors. He’s hurting members of the LGBT community hoping to find freedom in the United States, and he’s tearing apart the families of queer Muslims by barring them from entry.

Trump acts as if all non-Americans are heathens swarming on the United States in order to steal our resources, bomb our cities and impose their beliefs. He ignores the reason why so many people from these countries are traveling to the U.S. – the United States has destroyed many parts of their countries.

The U.N. recently confirmed that in Yemen, U.S. drone strikes have killed more innocent civilians than al Queda has. And the U.S. has been dragging the Iraq War out for nine long years, which makes it the third-longest war in U.S. history after Vietnam and Afghanistan.

What happens when you go to war with a country for a decade? You leave that country in ruins and force the citizens to become refugees – refugees that the U.S. is now denying entry.

So what can you do? Find a protest near you and fight back!

Texas Supreme Court Will Consider Revoking Gay Spousal Rights

Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear case about whether legally married gay couples should be entitled to the same marriage benefits that other legally married city employees enjoy.

If homophobes win the fight in court, cities in Texas would be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Right now, cities may not deny married same-sex couples any of the spousal benefits provided to opposite-sex couples under US law.

But back in 2001 things were very different.

That year, Houston changed its city charter to freeze out city employees from sharing benefits with same-sex partners.

And in 2005, Texas changed its constitution to say only a man and a woman could marry each other. Officials were stopped from giving marriage benefits to any gay or lesbian couples across the state.

Then in 2013 the lesbian mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, overthrew those rules.

She directed city staff to grant legal status and spousal benefits to any same-sex couple who had married in a place where it was legal.

But two homophobic taxpayers, Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks challenged Houston and Parker.

They argued her order to give rights to gay couples violated the Texas constitution.

And so they demanded a temporary and permanent injunction to stop city officials handing the benefits out.

The court did grant that injunction on a temporary basis.

The city appealed against this. And while all parties waited for a decision from the

Texas Court of Appeals in this case, events overtook them.

The Supreme Court of the United States made its decision that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry. By doing so, the SCOTUS justices made marriage legal in every state.

So the Texas Court of Appeals decided not to pursue the Houston legal debate as US law had now changed.

Yet the Texas Supreme Court’s inaction prompted outrage from state Republican officials and anti-gay activists, who urged the justices, who are elected, to take the case and allow Texas cities to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Last week, the court took the first step, caving to Republican demands and agreeing to hear the case in March—a worrying sign that the justices, fearful of a re-election fight, may soon yield to political pressure and roll back marriage equality in Texas.

It is now claimed ‘dozens of state elected officials, conservative activists and religious leaders’ have been lobbying the Texas Supreme Court justices, demanding a re-match.

They are asking the court to ‘defend religious liberty’ by taking away same-sex couples’ equality.

The protesters also want the court to challenge the SCOTUS striking down of Texas’ strict abortion restrictions.

If the homophobes win, experts warn this could be the first step to dismantling marriage equality around the US.

Alternatively, the Texas court may bow to the seniority of Supreme Court of the United States.

The case has also been criticized as wasting taxpayers’ money. One site supporting equality, Slate, said this should be a ‘painfully easy decision’.

But it’s clear there’s everything to play for.

Democrat Celia Israel Stands Against The Texas Bathroom Bill

The past couple of years have brought to light heated debates about countless issues connected to the rights and laws concerning the members of the LGBTQ+ community in America. One of the most controversial debates has been about the bills that were introduced in several states, demanding that people in public buildings, schools etc. do not use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, but the bathroom that apparently corresponds to the “sex on their birth certificate”, otherwise they may be charged with fines.

The fact that such an issue as where people are or aren’t supposed to pee is up for debate is absolutely outrageous – and is deemed as such by a considerable part of the population in most states. At the same time, conservative voices have gained ground with claims that mostly have to do with the pathologization of trans identities (especially in childhood) and the so-called protection of women from assault – which is quite ironic coming from the conservative part of a nation that has elected a man with several accusations of assault as president.

The fears based on which these bills are justified, are produced by harmful misconceptions that have nothing to do with reality. The thing is that if such bills pass, the situation becomes even more dangerous than it already is for trans individuals, both adults and children. In fact, trans people are much more likely to be concerned for their safety when visiting a public bathroom than cis women and children, for whom to republican worry is articulated.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who spoke at the Republican Party of Texas State Convention on the 12th of May last year, in Dallas, is in favour of passing a bathroom bill in the style of North Carolina and claims that there is no danger for the economy of Texas, even though the economic consequences in the case of North Carolina were visible: last year, when the bathroom bill was passed, the state lost about $400 million in a span of six months due to legal fees, events that were cancelled, and a damage in tourism.

A study held out by the Texas Association of Business showed that Texas could lose about $8.5 billion a year in boycotts and companies that would change their mind about setting up there business there.

Dan Patrick didn’t worry about such consequences since he considered the bill a priority, holding transphobic views that he tried to cover up with saying that this should not be a problem for “certified” trans people, since they will be able to go to the correct bathroom anyway if they have their documents changed, and with claiming that this bill differed to North Carolina’s in which it wasn’t indicated specifically that alignment with the “original” birth certificate and the bathroom was required.

However, according to Mara Keisling, head of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Texas bathroom bill is just as bad as the North Carolina one. Keisling points out that the North Carolina doesn’t distinguish between original and current birth certificates.

A survey held out by her group in 2015 showed that only 9% of trans people could eventually change the sex on their birth certificates, due to bureaucratic and financial reasons, so even with those standards the results remain harmful. In addition, the Texas bill allows the state attorney general to carry investigations in individual school districts and collect civil penalties in order to enforce the discriminatory law.

State Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), an openly lesbian Latina Democrat, said in an interview on SiriusXM Progress that she’ll stand against the bill which she expected to be introduced, and is actually pleased that it is moving early so that they can “let the games begin”. Israel says that the mainstream business communities in Texas have already started preparing to oppose themselves vocally to the bill. She points to the aforementioned study to draw attention to the consequences the bill will have for the economy of the state.

She says:

This is a good report that was done by a very recognized research group, university-affiliated. There will be hearings in the senate and they will hear loud and strong from the business community. My district includes such businesses as Dell, Samsung, Apple. The business community is to be commended. But I’m also going to be challenging them to come out as individual companies to say to my colleagues for whom their business is in their district, ‘This is not Texas and this is certainly not a priority.’”

She points out that famous music festivals like Austin City Limits and SXSW will be negatively affected by a tourism boycott that will probably take place if the bill passes.

In Fort Worth and Dripping Springs, south of Houston, there are districts which have given accommodation to trans youth. Israel explains:

There’s an overwhelming majority of parents, when they are presented with these scare tactics, who will stand up for that transgender child and his or her family, and say, ‘Let’s just let this kid be a kid.’ So we have good things to say in Texas about Texans being respectful and courteous. This bill would of course stir things up at the local level. We’ll see a lot of local leaders saying, ‘Please let us do what we do best. We know our schools. We know our districts.’”

Israel said, concerning the impact such a bill will have on the state’s economy.

We know that people have choices in where they’re going to spend their money. Any state in the union should have learned from North Carolina. Texas did not. And although I’m disappointed, I’m not shocked. And I’m ready to continue to fight for the state that I love.”

Why Do Lesbians And Bisexuals Receive Harsher Prison Sentences?

New research reveals that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are both more likely to be incarcerated, and more likely to be sexually harassed and assaulted in U.S. prisons.

Lesbian and bisexual women are eight times more likely than heterosexual women to be incarcerated. According to Reuters, “the proportion of women in prisons identifying as lesbian and bisexual (36%)  is eight times greater than the 3.4 percent of U.S. women overall who identify as lesbian or bisexual.” The number was so high that it shocked the study’s author, Ilan Meyer, who checked the figure three times.

While the incarceration rate is 612 per 100,000 for the general U.S. population (men and women), the incarceration rate for lesbian, gay and bisexual people is 1,882 per 100,000. That is more than three times higher.

In the study, “sexual minorities” are defined as LGBT people or people who reported having a same-sex sexual experience prior to being incarcerated. 9.3 percent of all men in prison and 42.1 percent of all women in prison (long-term, high-security facilities) are sexual minorities. In jails (short-term, low-security facilities), 6.2 percent of men are sexuality minorities, as are 35.7 percent of women.

When one looks at the rates of sexual harassment in prisons and jails, the results are just as grim. 5% of sexual minorities have been victimized by prison or jail staff, and 12% reported that they’ve been victimized by an inmate.

Prison staff treats sexual minorities more harshly than heterosexual inmates – sexual minorities are “more likely to experience solitary confinement and to report psychological distress.”

And not all sentences are delivered equally. Lesbian and bisexual women are sentenced to longer periods of time than heterosexual women imprisoned or jailed for the same crime.

The study demonstrates how much work is left to be done not just on an activist and legislative level to protect sexual minorities, but also in research. The community needs researchers to do intersectional analyses of how race, class and mental health, coupled with sexual minority status, influence an inmate’s experiences with the legal system.

Researchers need to ask why sexual minorities are receiving such harsh treatment. Is it because every single judge in America is consciously homophobic? (Which is unlikely.) Is it because sexual minorities are more likely to be poor due to lack of antidiscriminatory employment protections, and therefore more likely to live in low-income neighborhoods that are heavily policed?

Only further research will tell. Read more about the study here.

Serena Williams Pens Open Letter Criticizing Double Standards Women Face in Sports

Serena Williams has penned an inspirational open letter highlighting issues of inequality she has faced throughout her career.

In a letter published in Porter Magazine and republished by British newspaper The Guardian, the 22-time Grand Slam champion addressed “all incredible women who strive for excellence.”

My dream wasn’t like that of an average kid, my dream was to be the best tennis player in the world. Not the best “female” tennis player in the world.”

Williams also notes that her male counterparts like LeBron James, Tiger Woods or Roger Federer, are never described by their gender and weighed in on the equal pay debate.”

Earlier this year, former pro Ray Moore – the tournament director of tennis’ most prestigious event outside the majors, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California – said women’s players should get “down every night” on their knees and thank Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for carrying the sport.

I was fortunate to have a family that supported my dream and encouraged me to follow it. I learned not to be afraid. I learned how important it is to fight for a dream and, most importantly, to dream big. My fight began when I was three and I haven’t taken a break since.

But as we know, too often women are not supported enough or are discouraged from choosing their path. I hope together we can change that. For me, it was a question of resilience. What others marked as flaws or disadvantages about myself — my race, my gender — I embraced as fuel for my success. I never let anything or anyone define me or my potential. I controlled my future.

So when the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts. I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you.

As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success. One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw. People call me one of the ‘world’s greatest female athletes.’ Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.

For everything I’ve achieved in my life, I am profoundly grateful to have experienced the highs and lows that come with success. It is my hope that my story, and yours, will inspire all young women out there to push for greatness and follow their dreams with steadfast resilience. We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.”

Williams was forced to defend how much women’s players receive at Wimbledon after she crushed Elena Vesnina in 49 minutes in the semifinals back in July. Wimbledon was the last of the four grand slams to institute equal pay for singles winners in 2007 — with Williams’ older sister and fellow Wimbledon winner Venus playing a pivotal role.

Serena Williams bids for a 23rd major — which would be the most in the Open Era, one more than Steffi Graf — at January’s Australian Open. She lost her No. 1 ranking to Angelique Kerber in 2016 during an injury riddled campaign.

Stop Saving the World: A Love Letter to Activists

Pop quiz.

Would you rather be:

  1. Dehumanized and brutalized for being black
  2. Sexualized and belittled for being a woman
  3. Ostracized and fetishized for being queer

Pick two.

I had to ask myself that question as I decided which activist sphere to commit to. I wanted to be a feminist, an LGBT rights activist and a Black Lives Matter organizer. Unfortunately, the problem with activism is that certain spheres are not open to certain identities.

The feminist movement is historically antiblack, and it remains pretty racist. The Black Lives Matter movement has silenced the voices of its queer, female founders Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, in favor of straight males such as Shaun King and DeRay Mckesson. In the LGBT community, black people are often fetishisized or excluded. On a date, one girl proudly told me, “I’ve never slept with a black girl before,” as if I should be honored. I wasn’t.

Activism is more important than ever in a world where Trump is President-elect and, as a queer black woman, I am constantly forced to choose which identity to prioritize.  While I would love to dedicate myself to all three movements, I cannot perform the emotional labor necessary to give myself completely three times. And neither can you.

In a post-Trump world, you may feel pressured to throw yourself into activism as you never have before. Maybe you’re writing letters to your congressman about North Carolina’s HB-2 transgender bathroom bill. Maybe you’re passing out pamphlets about women’s rights and raising money for Flint, Michigan. Everywhere you turn, there’s another tragedy. You feel like you have to save the world this instant.

But you need to choose just one cause. If you do too much of everything, you’ll burn out. And burn-out leads to complacency. Millions of Americans who are protesting now will get tired soon, and they will stop fighting. They will tell themselves that things aren’t so bad. If you’re passionate about a cause, then the best thing you can do is to prioritze your spiritual wellbeing.

Of course, every cause needs intersectional leaders. We need disabled, chronically ill people at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement. We need undocumented immigrants also fighting for women’s rights. We need queer Muslim women protesting the Dakota pipeline. Recognize that your voice is vitally important, no matter what sphere you decide to operate in. But also recognize that you can’t lend your voice everywhere.

And don’t feel guilty about that.

Some people say that Trump’s presidency will finally unite all oppressed groups. Given that 54% of women and 30% of Latinos voted for Trump, this isn’t a given. Most of the change will happen at the local level, through individual organizations, after hours of hard work.

So pick your cause. For me, my blackness informs the way I am allowed to be a woman because my body is policed differently than a white women’s is. My blackness informs the way I am allowed to be queer because my masculine gender expression makes me a threat to heteronormative masculinity, and my black masculinity makes me a police target.

I have realized that I am most passionate about working within the Black Lives Matter movement to bring racial change, which will allow me the civic freedoms to express my womanhood and my queerness the way I want. The world needs more Patrisses to correct the DeRays.

Your cause will look different. That’s perfect. We need all types of people spearheading all types of movements.

So think deeply about what you are most passionate about, and throw yourself into that one thing. You – and the world – will be better off.

How To Deal With Homophobia

Homophobia has been around forever and it doesn’t look like it’s going to go away anytime soon, especially as Trump and Pence are the epitome of hatred, but we have a duty to ourselves and our fellow LGBTQ community to do something about it.

We obviously can’t put ourselves in danger at any time and if you are a bit feisty it can be hard not to challenge any homophobe head on, but there are safer and better ways of dealing with it. For example, if you are in a bar or a club and you experience homophobia simply walk away and report it. Demand that the management deal with it. Tell them that you are feeling uncomfortable and have been verbally abused by one of their patrons.

If they seem reluctant to do anything about it, then say you are quite happy to contact the police.  Most establishments don’t want that kind of reputation and you will probably find that they will deal with the situation.

So what if you overhear someone else suffering homophobic abuse? Firstly, if it’s safe to do so, walk up to the person and tell them to come with you and remove them from the situation. That has to be the first priority, lead them away from danger. Then take them to the management and complain as suggested above. As hard as it is and as tempting as it is don’t retaliate with the homophobe as this could lead to violence and escalate the problem.

And if you witness a violent homophobic attack? You must phone the police. Immediately. If there are people around you could try to find help and support, but if not, stay back and don’t put yourself in the firing line as well.

This won’t help anybody and the police are quite quick at responding to emergency calls. Give as many details to the police as possible and wait in the side-lines for them to arrive. If the attackers flee then go to help the victim. Even a few words of comfort will help.

To do nothing is wrong, even though speaking out and getting help can be scary. If it was you getting the abuse, you would want someone to help you. Remember, silence is violence, so look out for each other and make sure homophobes learn they can’t get away with this behaviour, no matter what they think.


Why Is Gender Equality Still Not Been Fully Achieved?

America has come a long way in terms of gender equality, but, Susan Adams, a professor of management at Bentley University asks a very important question. ‘How long will it be before the gender of a presidential candidate is non-issue?’ How long indeed. There are many recognized reasons why this is but there are also some reasons that are not so well known.

Chores at home are still considered feminine roles.

Although American Dads have tripled the amount of time they help out with childcare over the last 50 years, they are still not doing enough chores to lighten the load that women do around the house. In a study carried out by sociologists at Indiana University it was discovered that over two thirds of American adults believe that women in heterosexual relationships should be responsible for doing the cooking, cleaning, laundry and buying the groceries.

This shows that many women themselves believe it is their role around the house. Gender roles have become so ingrained over the years that women automatically assume these gender roles without even questioning it.

In the same study, participants were given descriptions of same sex couples, one of whom was stereotypically ‘masculine’ and the other ‘feminine.’ Two thirds of the participants thought that the ‘feminine’ partner should do the housework as they incorrectly presumed that same sex couples follow straight gender roles in their relationship. The idea of gender specific roles is so deeply ingrained in people that they are simply taken as the norm.

There are less female inventors than men.

Lydia Dishman recently made a report to Fast Company stating that in 2010 only 7.7% of new U.S patents were filed by women. There are a number of likely reasons for this, a large one is the gender gap in STEM fields. According to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), the few women who are inventors tend to file patents in female-dominated fields like jewellery (26.7% of all patents) and apparel (25.3%). It’s typically when women belong to a group of inventors, the report found, that they’re better represented in other fields, like chemistry and pharmaceuticals. Even female scientists and inventors are genderizing their own work to things that are considered ‘female’ in the field.

11% of U.S employees don’t believe in equal pay for women

In March, Glassdoor discovered that a massive 11% of workers do not think women and men should get the same pay for doing the same job. Many companies have recently committed to ensuring equal pay amongst their employees, but many companies have not committed to do so and some have even been disclosed publically stating that they do not give equal pay to men and women carrying out the same job. If female employees believe they don’t deserve the same pay and male employees believe they are worth more than women, there is some way to go to achieve complete gender equality in society. The change can only come about when women believe themselves they are capable of becoming leaders or earning more money than men, men can accept women are equal and are prepared to do work they normally presume is a woman’s job and our future generations grow up to believe there are no such things as gender roles. When this attitude happens only then will gender equality have been achieved.

Ilene Chaiken Changes The Course Of Television Twice

Ilene Chaiken has done so much for bringing minority groups to the forefront of television. Firstly, she gives us The L Word, the first TV show that put lesbians lives and the lives of the LGBTQ community at the centre of the programme.

Then she gives us Empire, which is the first show to feature a majority cast of African Americans and their daily lives in the music and entertainment industry. The show is already into its third season.

Because Chaiken is a woman and an out lesbian, the fact she is at the head of these productions is a big achievement as Hollywood still struggles with diversity, in front of and behind the camera. Chaiken told Advocate Magazine:

Clearly, it’s still a boys’ club. As a gay person, there’s still is just an uphill road for us to hoe. We are underrepresented vastly, and we haven’t been represented in all of the ways in which we live in the world. I think it’s incremental, the progress that we see in that regard.”

TV is however outpacing film in regards to diversity, but this is not something that is happening everywhere. CBS got criticised in the summer for revealing an upcoming season of shows focusing on white, straight men. Chaiken believes a lot of this is also to do with the political situation in America at the moment.

 Look at where we are now. It’s this extraordinary political moment and these two countervailing trends of political culture. There’s this great leap forward and this hideous and appalling kind of slide backwards. There’s a real tension in our culture right now that’s still being reflected in the entertainment culture.”


Chaiken is the lead in the writer’s room for Empire and she is a firm believer that her identities are her strengths in her job and she doesn’t see them as weaknesses. She went on to say:

The qualities that I ascribe to being a woman and to being gay are the things that I think make me good at my job. There are different ways of being a showrunner. And I like to think that I do it with a sense of inclusiveness, with a view to listening and welcoming the input of my colleagues and nurturing.”

When Chaiken led the writers room on The L Word she said that at first she was encouraged to hire writers who were straight and good at their craft but she quickly realized that writing experience was nowhere near real life experience and so she started hiring lesbian writers.

It just was so clear that in taking on this mission of doing the first show about lesbians in the history of mainstream television that lesbians had to tell those stories. We’re pulling back the curtain on our lives, and we’re the ones who know our lives.”

Chaiken also has some plans for the future and what is missing from TV right now. She says:

I’m just looking at the landscape, and I feel it’s time for another great gay show. There will be soon, I hope, and not necessarily a show about being gay, although I would welcome that, but also a show that simply is led by characters who are gay and are living their lives. In that way, we get to portray the nuances of our lives.”

This is good to hear and we will all be waiting to see what this amazing, talented and fearless showrunner will give us to enjoy next.

Studies Show That Hatred Is Related To Intelligence

Have you ever wondered if the prejudices you have are… Well, smart? A recent study has shown that your intelligence doesn’t really affect how much hatred you have for others.

Previous studies found that people “of lower cognitive ability” were more likely to be prejudiced.

In the interest of getting rid of the stigma that hatred is inherently stupid, social psychologists Mark Brandt and Jarret Crawford examined another side of things. What they found was that smart people hate, too – but they’re hating on completely different people.

Say what?

Okay, maybe we should start with a little background information. Brandt and Crawford’s study took 5,914 subjects and tested their IQ using a wordsum test. This test is considered pretty accurate, although no IQ test is completely accurate. Cognitive ability is pretty hard to pinpoint, after all.

After they had given the wordsum tests, they started asking about the prejudices of each person. They didn’t mention whether they felt the prejudices were “justified” or not, just whether the subject was prejudiced against that particular group or not.

Their study confirmed that there wasn’t much difference between the hatred felt by people with higher cognitive functioning versus lower cognitive function – both groups were generally just as hateful.

What did change, from previous studies, was the connection to the types of hatred the people felt.

Low-Choice Groups and Lower Cognitive Ability

Brandt and Crawford’s study found that people who scored lower on the wordsum test were more likely to express hatred toward low-choice groups. By definition, low-choice group means that members of that group have less choice over being in that group. This would include categories such as race, gender, and sexual orientation. There was also a stronger hatred of people with non-traditional views.

High-Choice Groups and Higher Cognitive Ability

Those with cognitive ability weren’t found to be more prone to hatred, but they did show a stronger hatred toward people in high-choice groups. By definition, high-choice means groups that are seen to be able to change their classification. This would include categories such as weight, political beliefs, education, and wealth/poverty. They expressed just as much hatred as those in the lower-IQ group, but in a much different way.

Those with higher cognitive ability may find it easier to express their prejudices in a way that removes the feeling of bias. They’re able to back their beliefs and hatreds up with “facts” and study-supported opinions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that their hatred is any more justified.

Why do we hate people who are different than us?

People dislike people who are different from them. Derogating people with different worldviews can help people maintain the validity of their own worldview.”

– Brandt and Crawford, in an interview with Broadly Vice

Basically, if you see the world in one certain way, you’re going to reject anything that challenges that worldview. It’s certainly not universal – there were outliers in this study, just like any other – but humans are stubborn. We don’t like to think any harder than we have to. It’s easier to hate someone we don’t understand, no matter what the reason for the misunderstanding. Some people can overcome this instinct, but just because someone can’t, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dumb. It’s coded into our human nature.

People who ranked as having lower cognitive ability may be more likely to essentialize people – limiting them to a very specific category. They see people who are different from them being their polar opposite, because the subtleties and complexities aren’t so easily apparent. This can be dangerous, but – again – it’s human nature.

You see, hatred usually comes from a place of fear. No, I’m not saying that homophobes are literally afraid of gay people, but they are afraid that it somehow means something more than what it means. They’re afraid of what will happen if people who were different from them became more like them. They’re afraid of not being able to tell who’s different and who’s just like them. They’re afraid of losing their position in life, and they’re afraid that accepting those who are different from them will mess things up.

It makes sense, then, that they’d want to distance themselves from these distances as much as possible. Seeing “the enemy” or “the threat” as something that’s so different makes it easier to depersonalize their feelings. It helps to remove themselves from the line of fire, so to speak. The more out-of-sight it is, the easier it is to deal with.

To learn more about this study, please check out this whitepaper on the subject.

Age(ing) And Invisibility: What Can You Do?

We all change; our bodies change, our health, our looks, our view towards life, our friends and family. What happens when this becomes a problem in the eyes of society? How can we be more supportive of people from our community once they get older?

When we go through life, as LGBTQI people, we struggle to make a good living for our families, our friends and us. We face barriers in healthcare, in education, with our workplace community- we do our best to overcome them and thrive.

When we talk about senior LGBTQI people we must first realise that in a lot of their cases we talk about people with life situations that differ in many ways of what a young person goes through today in most societies.

Finding out you were LGBTQI when you were young during communism or war, poverty, growing up in traditional patriarchal families or having to work on the fields to support yourself and your family definitely created a totally different approach to one’s identity.

International organisations such as ILGA Europe have started recently to tackle this issue and raise awareness about these realities, with a focus on health.


The health system and the LGBTQI community are not very good friends since inequality still exists, but we are slowly improving this relationship. Activists are working hard to make sure we can all, no matter our age, sexual orientation or gender identity, enjoy these services without fear of being discriminated.

But on a more grassroots level, what can each of us do?

Talk to elderly LGBTQI people from your community.

They have an enormous history behind, including that of your local community. This histories need to be known, shared and appreciated.

Many LGBTQI people lived through harsh times when they were your age so we have tons of things to learn from them. And most probably they also want to be up to date with how has the community changed, what are the most important struggles. So why not share?

Offer your help!

Getting older is not easy. Your body does all these tricks on you, and sometimes fails to help you in all the ways you need. This is why a had of help for daily errands will definitely be appreciated. Or offering to cook a meal once a week for them- it also gives you the chance to have one hour of intergenerational gossip about recent events in the queer community.

However, please keep in mind that, the fact that a person is older, doesn’t necessary mean they need your help- so ask before assuming anything about their life.

Visit them regularly.

If LGBTQI elder people are alone or just with their partner, in their houses, they might enjoy a cup of tea with somebody so they can share what they have been up to, what is it that they struggle with, what great things happened etc. We all like to know we have not been forgotten!

If people are living in a care facility then visits are sometimes the thing that keeps them connected to the rest of the world.

Many elderly queers are not out to their families, to their new friends in the care facility or to the staff.

Imagine that after a life of struggling with your identity, the harsh reality of being discriminated and marginalised, self acceptance and being proud to be you, now you need to get into the closet again!

That’s definitely not cool! And until all care facilities and hospitals are inclusive, we can be the ones that, by visiting, can provide a much-needed space for self-expression as a queer person.

Include them in the events you make.

If you are an activist, community organiser or event planner that works for/with the queer community don’t forget to include elderly people in your events. Sometimes all they need is a space to come and meet other elderly people, support each other, enjoy themselves and have fun.

Other times, they would like to get to be more connected to the wider community, share some wisdom words and learn from the youngsters. Make sure all your events are accessible, as some people have disabilities. You can always learn more about what would make your events inclusive, directly from them.

We can only learn from each other’s experiences and wisdom, so let’s value our elders and don’t forget their huge contributions to the way LGBTQI rights have advanced through the years!

And remember, we all age, so why not start building this caring culture from now so we can all benefit from it?

Lesbian Couple At A Catholic Girls’ College ‘Banned’ From Seeing Each Other As School Denies Allegations

Students and families of same-sex couples are now fearing for the future and current state of their education as private institutions such as St. Aloysius College begin to ban all contact and communication between alleged gay and lesbian couples.

St. Aloysius College is an all female Catholic school that employs traditional values found within the Catholic religion, however other local area students claim the institution has now gone too far.

No evidence has been revealed that a recently reprimanded couple has even demonstrated sexual activity deemed punishable by the Catholic belief system, yet the accused lesbian couple has been forbidden of all contact, both physical and verbal, while attending the local college.

Such discrimination poses a threat to all students wishing to express individuality and support equality amongst all peers and staff. Despite the interruption of a student’s human right to love whomever they choose, an outrageous and inspiring number of signatures was collected in effort to secure the couple’s social rights throughout the community and on campus.

It appears that after a massive lashing out via social media, the school is attempting to deny all punishment out of sheer embarrassment and fear for the reputation of the institution.

Without any information on evidence that the couple was indeed in a same-sex relationship it seems as though the accusations involved a major violation of the students’ privacy.

As Women We’re Less Likely To Get A Pay Rise When We Ask, Study Says

We’ve heard it plenty, that part of the reason women are paid less than men is because they’re less likely ask for a pay rise,

However, a new study knocks that theory out of the water.

The University of London has surveyed 4600 women across more than 800 employers, and reached a different conclusion.

Women do ask for salary hikes, but sadly the research suggests, they just don’t get them.

The study, titled Do Women Ask?, found women asked for wage increases just as often as men, but when their male counterparts ask for more money, their requests were 25% more likely to be met.

The research claims to be the first “statistical idea test of the idea that women get paid less because they are not as pushy as men”, and found no support for the theory.

Co-author and Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science at the University of Warwick, Andrew Oswald, said the research should force some acceptance that “there is some element of pure discrimination against women”.

Various ideas, including that women feared being less popular at work, have been offered to explain women’s apparent reluctance to ask for a pay increase, but fellow co-author Dr Amanda Goodall from Cass Business School said in study’s test of the “reticent-female theory”, the evidence just didn’t stack up.

When men and women were compared, controlling for hours worked and other variables, men were a quarter more likely to be successful, obtaining a pay increase 20% of the time. Only 16% of females were successful when they asked.

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) director Libby Lyons explained that while previous studies have showed women tend to have less successful outcomes than men when it comes to pay negotiations, this new research suggested women’s appetite for negotiation is no different from men’s.

Lyons suggested “gender bias” was often to blame for women being routinely denied pay increases, and said employers could work to stop it.

Gender bias often underpins promotion, performance and pay decisions, For example, a perception that men are the family breadwinner and more deserving of a pay rise can influence pay decisions. By making criteria for pay increases and bonuses transparent, placing limits on managerial discretion and analysing pay decisions, employers can help address these inconsistencies.”

Lyons said the difference between women’s and men’s pay negotiation outcomes had “significant implications for gender equality in the workplace”, which was evidence in the lack of women in senior workplace roles and the persistent gender pay gap.

Only 27.4% of key management positions are held by women, along with just 15.4% of CEO positions, according to the WGEA’s gender equality scorecard released last year.

The fulltime gender pay gap is 16.2%

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New York Cabby Ordered To Pay $14,000 To Lesbian Couple Who He Ordered To Stop Kissing

Mohammed Dahbi has been ordered by NYC Commission on Human Rights to pay $14,000 (£10,676) to a lesbian couple who he banned from kissing in the back of his car.

A cabby who claimed he had a “no-kissing policy” in his yellow taxi was hit with was ordered to pay $7,000 each to Christina Spitzer and Kassie Thornton following the incident in October 2011.


The couple claimed Dahbi had called them ‘c**ts, whores and bitches’ and that despite only giving each other a ‘peck’ in the back of the car, they were told to ‘keep that for the bedroom or get out of the cab’.

In his defence, Dahbi responded by claiming he had received verbal abuse during the incident and said the couple called him a ‘f**king Arab terrorist’ and a ‘radical Muslim asshole’.

The driver said the women were ‘all over’ each other, and were blocking his view through the car’s rear view mirror and were distracting him.

He admitted telling the couple to wait ’till you go home’ when he pulled over.

Spitzer claimed that when they took their luggage out of the car and said they would not pay for the fare, Dabhi called them ‘c**ts, whores, bitches’.

Based on emotional damages, the NYC Commission on Human Rights ordered Dabhi to pay the damages to the couple.

They said they based their ruling not on the fact that Dahbi pulled over, but because he told them to ‘stop that behaviour’.

The committee said:

That statement constitutes a ‘declaration…that the patronage of Complainants is ‘unwelcome, objectionable or not acceptable, desired or solicited.”

Dabhi was also ordered to work with the Community Relations Bureau at the Commission for 164 hours.

More Than 70% Lesbian And Bisexual Women Feel They Need To Hide Their Sexuality At Work, Research Finds

According to new research, more than two thirds of lesbian and bisexual women have experienced discrimination in the workplace.

Conducted by the British LGBT Awards, the study interviewed 1,200 lesbian and bisexual women in the UK to analyse their experiences at work.

Sadly, 64% said that they had experienced some kind of negative treatment including sexual discrimination, inappropriate language, lack of opportunity, or bullying at work.

73% also said they were not fully out to colleagues, and 86% of those asked said there needed to be more visible lesbian and bisexual women in senior professional roles to help boost visibility and provide role models for other women.

In the past, we’ve been told that a ‘gay pay’ gap may exist in the workplace and lesbian women are meant to earn 9% more than heterosexual women on average.

It is thought this may be due to heterosexual women being more likely to take maternity leave and facing discrimination as a result, which lesbian women are less likely to encounter.

Research on how bisexual women’s pay is affected by their sexuality is inconclusive.

Some studies have suggested bisexual women may be less likely to be employed than lesbian or heterosexual women, however, it is not known if this is due to bisexual women being younger on average and this thereby affects employment rate indirectly.

Sarah Garrett, British LGBT Awards founder, said that the results show that while progress has been made for LGBT equality, work still needs to be made for LGBT women.

The results are startling and clearly show that in 2016 lesbian and gay women are still finding it hard to be themselves in the workplace and worse still, those who are out at work have had negative experiences including discrimination, bullying and reduced opportunities to progress compared to male counterparts.

The findings are worrying and show that a lot of work remains to be done to change attitudes and promote acceptance.”

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Couple Wrongfully Arrested After Kissing In Hawaii, Win Damages

A lesbian couple, Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero, who reported a policeman in Honolulu, Hawaii, harassed and wrongfully arrested them after seeing them kiss have been awarded damages.

The $80,000 (£55,150) settlement was announced in a local court, but still needs city council approval.

The couple – who were visiting from Los Angeles when the incident occurred last year – say they were told to “take it somewhere else” when the policeman saw them kissing in a food store.

After they initially complied with the order to stop kissing, the officer, Bobby Harrison, saw them being affectionate again and threatened to eject them from the store, their lawsuit said.

He later grabbed Wilson by the wrist while she was at the checkout, and a scuffle broke out. The two were then charged with assault, spending three days in jail.

The charges were later dismissed and Mr Harrison has since retired.

Honolulu City Council will consider the damages in early July. Donna Leong, of the city’s Corporation Counsel, which advises on legal matters, said her department believed “the tentative settlement is in the best interests of the city”.

The women were a couple at the time but have now split up. Guerrero still lives in Hawaii, saying she likes living in the US state.

On the settlement, she told the Associated Press news agency: “I’m just glad it’s over with.”

Woman Sues Her Father’s Estate After He Disinherited Her For Being Gay

Donna White from British Columbia, Canada is suing her father’s estate, claiming he disinherited her for being gay.

The lawsuit, filed claims that her ‘sexual orientation is not a basis on which she should be disinherited by her father’.

White claims that her parents treated her ‘differently and unfairly from her siblings’ after she came out as a lesbian in 2001. In the suit, she says they never came to accept her sexuality, and even barred her long-time partner from entering their home. When she married in 2010, her parents and siblings did not acknowledge the marriage.

According to reports, White’s father died in April, aged 100. His will directs that his estate be divided equally between White’s sister and brother, with no provision for White, according to the lawsuit.

The suit contends that ‘her father failed to satisfy his moral obligations to her when he decided [to disinherit her].’

However, relatives of White deny that her parents ever had a problem with her sexual orientation.

Being disinherited by parents with anti-LGBT attitudes is a common problem in the LGBT community.

However, there is hope for White. Back in 2006, the Supreme Court in British Columbia found in favour of a man who brought a similar claim.

Back the case stated that: ‘Homosexuality is not a factor in today’s society for justifying a judicious parent disinheriting or limiting benefits to his child.’

However, while courts will often decide these cases on the basis of ‘public policy’ – generally ruling against decisions that are discriminatory.

The desire to prevent discrimination does not allow the court to deny the validity of an ‘absolute, unequivocal and unambiguous’ will based on third-party allegations of racism, the court of appeal panel said.

The written decision stated that public policy grounds did not ‘justify intervention simply because the court may regard the testator’s testamentary choices as distasteful, offensive, vengeful or small-minded’

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Woman With Short Hair Faces Transphobic Harassment In Walmart Restroom

After nasty altercation in a Walmart restroom in Danbury, Connecticut, a cisgender female who was assumed to be trans says she’s utterly shocked and “cannot fathom” what it would be like to face transphobic opposition every day.

Aimee Toms, 22, says that another woman accosted her while she was washing her hands.

Accoriding Toms, she was in the women’s bathroom at Walmart when a woman approached her from behind and said, “You are not supposed to be here! You need to leave!”

She says she was sporting a pixie cut as she had recently donated her hair to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients. That day she had also worn a baseball hat.


After experiencing the discrimination they face firsth and, I cannot fathom the discrimination transgender people must face in a lifetime. Can you imagine going out every day and having people tell you you should not be who you are or that people will not accept you as who you are?’

Toms’ video has since gone viral, with over 160k views thus far.

People on social media are commending Toms for sharing her experience and for standing up against transphobia and anti-trans sentiments.


LGBT Groups Blocked From Attending UN’s AIDS Conference After ‘Objections’ From Several States

51 Muslim states have blocked 11 gay and transgender organisations from attending a meeting ending Aids at the United Nations next month.

Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member general assembly on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – whose members include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Sudan and Uganda – to object to the participation of the groups.

It did not give a reason in the letter, just simple asked for the groups to be banned.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, wrote to the general assembly president, Mogens Lykketoft, and said the groups appeared to have been blocked for involvement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy.

Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/Aids pandemic.

She also wrote,

We are deeply concerned that at every negotiation on a new general assembly gathering, the matter of NGO [non-governmental organization] participation is questioned and scrutinized. The movement to block the participation of NGOs on spurious or hidden grounds is becoming epidemic and severely damages the credibility of the UN,” she said.

UN officials said the EU and Canada also wrote to Lykketoft to protest against the objections by the OIC group.

The issues of LGBT rights and participation in events at the UN have long been contentious. The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has advocated for LGBT equality but faced opposition from African, Arab and Muslim states as well as Russia and China.

In 2014, the UN agreed it would recognize all same-sex marriages of its staff, allowing them to receive its benefits.

However, Russia, with the support of 43 states including Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, India, Egypt, Pakistan and Syria, unsuccessfully tried to overturn the move last year.

In February, the 54-member African Group, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the 25-member Group of Friends of the Family led by Belarus, Egypt and Qatar protested about six new UN stamps promoting LGBT equality.

Teen Kicked Out Of Prom For Wearing A Suit Is Offered Spot On Popular TV Sitcom

Pennsylvania student, Aniya Wolf – who was refused entry to her High Schools prom for wearing a suit – has been asked to wear the tuxedo on the FXX sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

Wolf – who attends Bishop McDevitt High School in Philadelphia – told ABC27 last week that she was forced to leave the prom because she was wearing a tuxedo rather than a dress.


The school issued a statement saying that students were told of the dress code — which requires female students to wear formal dresses — three months before prom.

There has been an outpouring of support for Wolf since her story was made public, including from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, professional soccer player Ashlyn Harris and actor Rob McElhenney.

McElhenney, a Philadelphia native and one of the stars and creators of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” took to Twitter this week to ask Wolf to wear her suit on the show when it tapes in Philadelphia in June.


Wolf didn’t believe the invite at first.

Wolf, a lesbian, told ABC27 after she was kicked out of her prom that

I think my experience shouldn’t be any different than anyone else’s because of something I was born with.”

The high school student has since been invited to go to York City School District’s prom on May 21.

Wolf said she plans to attend.

Out Student Kicked Out Of Her Prom After Wearing A Suit

Aniya Wolf, a junior at Bishop McDevitt High School, was banned from entering her prom after wearing a suit instead of a dress.

The student said that a school official grabbed her by the arm and threatened to call the police after she wore a tuxedo to the school dance on Friday.

Talking to ABC27, she explained

I’ve always been like this, ever since I was little. I was always more masculine. You wouldn’t catch me playing with any Barbie dolls, I’ll tell you that right now.”

Aniya said she’s worn pants to school for the past three years and openly identifies as a lesbian.


Both Aniya and her mother Carolyn said they received a last minute email from the school, notifying them of the dress code explaining that girls must wear a dress to the dance.


Carolyn then called the school to complain about the notice, and to inform them she had just purchased a new suit for her daughter.

I told them that I had read the dress code that was given to the students and I didn’t think that it precluded her from wearing a suit. I said that this was very unfair, particularly at the last minute.  We had gone out and bought a new suit. I think my daughter is beautiful in a suit.”

Still, officials at Bishop McDevitt High School placed the blame on Aniya for not following the dress code.

In a statement the school said

The dress code for the prom specified girls must wear formal dresses. It also stated that students who failed to follow the dress code would not be admitted. Bishop McDevitt will continue to practice acceptance and love for all our students. We simply ask that they follow the rules that we have put into place.”

Bisexual And Questioning Young Women More Susceptible To Depression

A study exploring the prevalence of mental health symptoms in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) community, found that the oft-overlooked questioning and bisexual youth face significant challenges, particularly when it comes to depression, anxiety and traumatic distress.

Annie Shearer, a research assistant with Drexel’s Family Intervention Science program within the College of Nursing and Health Professions, explained

I think the failure to include bisexual individuals in research studies reflects a larger culture of bisexual invisibility. And with regard to questioning individuals, I think people assume that is a temporary identity, causing them to be overlooked, too. But during adolescence and young adulthood, when many individuals are still exploring their sexuality, it’s particularly important to include both the bisexual and questioning groups.”

Shearer and a team from Drexel’s Department of Couple and Family Therapy published their findings in the Journal of Adolescent Health under the title, Difference in Mental Health Symptoms Across Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Questioning Youth in Primary Care Settings.

During routine visits with physicians, participants in the study – numbering 2,513 between the ages of 14 and 24 – took a survey through Behavioral Health Screen, a tool designed to uncover mental health concerns in patients.

Every participant was screened for depression, anxiety, traumatic distress, substance use and suicide ideation, both current and over their lifetime.

Each was also asked to report their sexual attraction, which was organized into the categories of gay, lesbian, bisexual or questioning.

Data from the screening indicated that female bisexual and questioning people had significantly higher scores for depression, anxiety and traumatic distress than female heterosexuals.

When it came to suicide, bisexual, questioning and lesbian female respondents reported significantly higher scores for lifetime suicide ideation – meaning whether they’d ever thought about suicide – than heterosexual females; bisexual females reported the highest scores for current suicide ideation.

Shearer explained

I think one point is important to point out: with the exception of lifetime suicidiality, women who reported exclusive attraction to other women were actually no more at risk than women only attracted to men for depression, anxiety, traumatic distress, current suicidiality or substance abuse. I think this contradicts previous findings that same-sex attraction is always a risk factor for mental health symptoms. This may reflect an increasing societal acceptance of same-sex attraction and relationships.”

On the male side of the study, gay and bisexual respondents displayed significantly higher scores for depression and traumatic stress.

Gay males also scored significantly higher for anxiety than heterosexual males.

Bisexual males trended higher than heterosexual males for anxiety, but only slightly. Their lifetime suicide ideation scores were significantly higher than heterosexual males, however.

A key difference between the male and female survey-takers was that questioning males did not exhibit any significant risks for the mental health symptoms in the screening.

In the Journal paper, the research team admitted it wasn’t sure why the difference existed, theorizing that the “intersectionality of sexual and gender identity creates unique risks for women who are questioning” which may not exist as distinctly for men.

The team believes that its study demonstrates a clear need for medical providers and researchers to be sensitive to differences across the LGBQ community without lumping them all together. While a general risk of mental health issues remains for the entire community, it would be best to stay mindful of certain groups’ susceptibility to particular issues.

I think bisexual persons and, perhaps, questioning individuals as well, experience prejudice and stigma from gay and lesbian communities in addition to heterosexual communities. Furthermore, some people still refuse to acknowledge bisexual and other non-binary identities as legitimate, which I think can be very harmful to those who can’t — and shouldn’t have to — identify as exclusively heterosexual or homosexual.”