Tag Archives: discrimination

Company ‘Rethinks’ It’s Decision To Reject Woman For Job Over Lesbian Photo On Instagram

Energy company Consolidated Edison had originally hired Samantha Chirichella in March, as a staff investigator in the legal services department.

Samantha Chirichella was due to start a £47,000-a-year job as a staff investigator in the legal services department of an energy company Consolidated Edison , but she was dropped from the after a background check flagged ‘erotic’ lesbian pictures she had posted on her Instagram.


The offending image was taken three years ago and featured Ms Chirichella and another woman lying down and kissing each other’s nipples.

The company had initially defended the decision despite legal threats – but after the story went viral online, it has “rethought” its stance and decided to hire Ms Chirichella.

According to the New York Daily News, her lawyer, Arthur Schwartz, said,

The work was no more sexually explicit that the works of DaVinci, Titian or Michaelangelo, and less explicit that photos published in Sports Illustrated,”

The change of heart from Con Ed came after “a rush of media interest” in the case.

He added:

We appreciate Con Edison’s rapid resolution of this dispute and the sensitivity of the posting and its frank discussion of homosexuality.

Ms. Chirichella is a smart, capable woman, whose father is a ‘lifer’ at Con Edison and they will not regret this decision.”

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Another Queer Woman Harassed For Using The Women’s Restroom

With all of the hysteria surrounding bathroom bills, it was only a matter of time until citizens started taking the matter into their own hands.

On Thursday, Jessica Rush was at the Baylor Medical Center to get her two broken fingers examined. While she was waiting to be seen, she decided to use the restroom – a decision which turned into a dramatic encounter when a man in the waiting room followed her to bathroom, believing she was a man.

Rush posted on Facebook that the man came into the bathroom at Baylor Medical Center at Frisco, after her because he thought she was a man.

Rush was able to record the tail end of the encounter on her phone.

“You didn’t look like a girl when I saw you enter so I thought you was—” the man said in the video.

“A boy?” Rush said.

“Yeah, and I was kind of confused. It’s difficult, you’re dressed like a man.”


Talking to Mashable, Rush said

I was panicked. Any woman’s first instincts of a guy walking straight into a bathroom are it could be anything, getting robbed, attacked or raped.”

Rush, who said she was wearing a t-shirt and basketball shorts at the time, was able to film some of the interaction to show to her wife in the waiting room, and eventually posted it to Facebook.

The man then walked away, but later in the lobby of the hospital, where Rush was waiting to have her broken fingers fitted with a cast, he explained he followed Rush because his elderly mother needed to use the women’s bathroom and he was concerned about her safety.

I was confused when I see someone entering the woman bathroom looking like a man. I was going to make sure she was going to the right place.”


Rush said this incident is nothing new for her, and in fact happens “all the time,” but said this is the first instance she’s been able to document.

She said she understands the safety concerns of parents who oppose bathroom bills that allow trans individuals to use the bathrooms of their choice (Rush is not transgender nor is she transitioning), but she said a woman being followed into the restroom by a man is also a matter of safety.

There should be safety all around, not just for one side. We’re all humans, we all have to use the restroom and in the end this is insane that it’s coming down to this.”

Rush said the incident has opened her eyes to the challenges faced by trans people. She said she isn’t angry about what happened, but instead hopes her experience will bring attention to the issue.

I’m trying to raise awareness in a positive way. Even if it was an honest mistake, one way or another we can all learn from this.”

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Lesbian Forcibly Removed From Women’s Bathroom By Poilce

A video has been posted on Facebook of a gay woman being harassed and forced to leave a public restroom because the police insist she’s a man.

In the video, the woman is asked by police to leave the women’s restroom. She points out she’s a woman, and not going anywhere.

The police ask for her ID. She says she doesn’t have one.

“Then out!” says the cop. “You got no ID, then get out!”

Police forcibly remove her from the bathroom, while her female companions curse them.

The posted states

Is this what “Make America Great Again” means? This makes me very sad and I want no part of this irrational fear. I mean, you can’t think of a 1000 ways these laws will be used as an excuse to harass, humiliate, and arrest people? SMDH

Watch below;


What Being LGBT+ Is Like Around the World

The world at large has come a long way over the last few years, especially as it pertains to the queer community. Many places now have full marriage equality, and many more have at least decriminalized the act of coming out. There’s still a long way to go, though, especially for certain countries. How are we doing, on average?


Australia is home to one of the most “gay friendly” cities in the entire world (it’s right up there with San Francisco!), but also some very conservative views that still seek to hide homosexuality, for alleged “moral” reasons. All in all, opinions are bound to vary from one person to the next, but most native Aussies are pretty supportive of gay rights.


A research study was actually done by the Pew Research Center a few years ago, which actually showed that a higher percentage of Spanish citizens feel that homosexuality should be accepted by society than those in the United States (at 60% acceptance), the United Kingdom (at 76%), and even in super-progressive Canada (at 80%). We think this means that Spain is probably the best country to be gay in – who’s moving with me?


I’m sure you’ve heard about the controversies in Russia lately – where it’s still legal to use violence against anyone with “non-traditional gender presentation”. The subject of the anti-LGBT atmosphere in Russia has made the news within the queer community repeatedly these days, and for good reason: Things need to change.


We already touched on the fact that Canada is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world. Same-sex marriage has been legal throughout all of Canada since 2005, a full ten years ahead of when the United States legalized love. Truthfully, Canada has made probably the most significant progress of any country over the last fifty years; in the 1960s, Canada wasn’t really ahead of the rest of the world with gay rights, but look how great they’re doing now!

Puerto Rico

They’re not quite the beacon of equality just yet, but in March of last year, the ban on gay marriage was effectively lifted – or, at least, it won’t be enforced anymore. This is definitely huge news for the queer community in Puerto Rico, but every little success for any of us is a success for all of us.

The Netherlands

Another super-gay-friendly corner of the world, the Netherlands actually prioritizes safety of the queer community – rather than silently allowing mistreatment and hate crimes. Not only that, but the government website even specifically mentions that they “champion improvements in the legal position and safety of [LGBT people] worldwide”. Yep, you read that right – they don’t just want the Dutch LGBT community protected – they want all of the LGBT community protected.


Even though the nation is largely conservative, Nepal decriminalized homosexuality in 2007.


Given the rest of North America’s near-constant improvements for the queer community, Mexico has unfortunately not kept up with expectations. Discrimination against “sexual minorities” is a real problem, especially as it pertains to education. We even hear of children of same-sex parents being denied access to education, as well as homosexuals and transgender individuals facing violence at educational institutions – an estimated 74% of gay men, 50% of lesbians, and 66% percent of transgender respondents (out of 1,032 total respondents) had personally experienced violence in a place of learning. There’s even a report of some gay tourists being asked to leave an establishment after kissing, and being greeted by policemen with machine guns. Talk about excessive use of force!


Kenya is definitely not on the list of good places to be gay. Anti-gay discrimination runs rampant in the country, and the government has “no clear commitment […] to deal with the issue of homophobic instances of violence”, according to Human Rights Watch. This is a scary thought, because you expect your government to protect you from unfair treatment… Right?


It’s probably not much of a surprise that Israel isn’t particularly gay-friendly. Not only are equal rights not even a topic of discussion for most people, but in the 2015 Pride parade in Israel, there were six members of the LGBT community stabbed, in what the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to as a “despicable hate crime”. Possibly the saddest part about this is that a 16-year-old ally was killed in this incident, too, simply for associating with the queer community.


While homosexuality isn’t a criminal offense in Italy, only about 31% of Italians actually support equal rights. We feel positive that this situation can improve – after all, decriminalizing love is the first step on the way to legalizing it completely – but there’s still a long way to go.


Ireland is known for having some of the most liberal atmospheres for the queer community – in fact, they were the first country to pass same-sex marriage legalization by popular vote, rather than someone in charge implementing it on their own. It might not seem like a big difference – after all, the end result is the same – but it definitely speaks for a progressive society if the people made it happen.


According to the previously-mentioned Pew Research Center study, Germany is in second place in terms of gay acceptance, with 87% of respondents fully supporting equal rights. Additionally, the Berlin Pride Celebration is one of the largest pride parades in all of Europe. PS, gay marriage is completely legal there, too.


Even though same-sex marriage was legalized in 2013, that didn’t exactly help the LGBT community in the country. According to The Guardian, anti-LGBT violence in France actually went up after the bill was passed. (This is exactly why popular vote is so important – legalization without acceptance isn’t much of a win. Just look at the current state of the US, with presidential candidates threatening to overturn the vote, and actually gaining strong support!)


Since Brazil made same-sex marriage legal in 2013, they have quickly climbed to one of the most “gay friendly” countries in the world. But as Ellen Page recently showed us on Gaycation, just because that’s the “average” response doesn’t mean it’s the only response – and there are still people who admit to killing homosexuals just for being gay. (By the way, if you don’t watch Gaycation yet, you definitely should – and not just because I have a crush on Ellen Page.)

What about your country?

We’re interested in hearing what LGBT+ life is like in the countries our readers live in, too. Drop us a comment and let us know what it’s like in your corner of the world!

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Ellen Degeneres Slams Mississippi’s New Religious Discrimination Law (Video)

Ellen Degeneres is making a stand against the recent spate of laws allowing discrimination against LGBT people in America.

Ellen Degeneres Slams Mississippi’s

Speaking on her show this, Degeneres addressed Mississippi‘s new law on and the impact it has on us all.

Now, I’m not a political person, I’m really not. But this is not politics this is human rights.And I mean, when I see something wrong, I have to talk about it. It’s the same thing that I do when I see men wearing Spandex in line at Starbucks. It’s wrong and I need to discuss it.”

Mississippi’s religious freedom bill, which was passed earlier this week, allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.

However, unlike bills passed in other states, Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 only protects people with anti-LGBT religious views, making it the most anti-LGBT bill to date.

It states that it’s acceptable to discriminate someone who identifies as LGBT, if the view is held that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, sex should only happen in marriage and male and female refer only to someone’s anatomy.

Watch Ellen take a stand against bigotry below.

9 Battles We Still Need to Win

I can’t help but feel a tremendous sense of pride when I think about all the big strides for equality that I’ve seen in my lifetime. It’s inspiring, and honestly it gives me a sense of purpose in life. Ten years ago, the world was a much different place for the queer community, and we’re making obvious moves in the right direction.

Then I think about how much we still have left to do, and it makes me want to cry. I mean, the world has been changing so rapidly, but there are still parts of the world where lesbians stay in the closet for fear of being raped “until they’re straight”. There are still parts of the world where the gay community is fetishized while simultaneously being shoved back in the closet. And there are still people who don’t even have the option of coming out, because they’ll be thrown on the streets, fired from their jobs, or even worse.

I feel so fortunate that I haven’t ever been in one of these situations, and my heart goes out to those who are dealing with this type of environment. If we want true equality, we still have a long way to go. Here are 9 fights that we still have to fight. Will it happen in my lifetime? I hope so – but it can’t happen without everyone’s help and support!

1. Increased worldwide anti-violence measures for the LGBT community

While some places are becoming more and more gay and trans friendly, some places aren’t, and that’s a problem. Entire governments seek to hide the fact that people are still beaten and killed for something they can’t change. Until it’s done everywhere, we haven’t won yet.

2. Homeless youth initiatives for the LGBT community

Even in places where discrimination has been criminalized, there is a chance that teens will end up on the streets when their parents or guardians find out about their sexuality. If we can’t stop it from happening, there needs to be somewhere these teens can go to make sure they’re taken care of and protected. This is the future generation, and we haven’t won yet.

3. Better testing and sexual education for the LGBT community

Sexual education in general has made some progress over the last few years, but teens and young adults in the LGBT community are drastically underserved. There are a great deal of places around the world where sexual health classes are heteronormative or abstinence-only – neither of which is a realistic education for the vast majority of teenagers. By not giving teens the appropriate ways to protect themselves, society is practically guaranteeing that STDs will spread in these communities.

4. STD-positive shaming needs to be abolished for everyone

There are so many stigmas associated with testing positive for an STD, and truly these stigmas do nothing for anyone. The people who have heard about the shameful associations will think that they don’t need to be tested because they don’t participate in “high-risk behaviors”, which ignores the fact that there are not “high-risk behaviors” that make infections more common. You don’t need to sleep around or use intravenous drugs to have an STD – get tested regularly! In addition, this shaming leads tested-positive people thinking that they need to hide their status… Which, of course, has a high risk to spread the infection further. Talking about STDs and demystifying them will help increase the likelihood of catching the infection early enough to treat it effectively.

5. “Religious freedoms” need to be treated as discrimination when appropriate

There’s a big difference between religious freedoms and bigoted discrimination – and the lines need to be made clearer for those who abuse the grey areas. No one should have the right to impose their beliefs on others, and that needs to go both ways. My god doesn’t say I’m going to hell – so my money should be worth just as much as anyone else’s. (Although, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t want to shop at any establishment that felt I was a second-class citizen because of who I loved, so… Maybe I’m the one confused here.)

6. A restroom is for going to the bathroom, and no one should think otherwise

All the trans discrimination laws being passed – where bathroom laws say that a trans woman should use the men’s room, and a trans man should use the women’s room – are trying to invalidate real, decent people. The vast majority of people – whether gay, straight, bi, trans, cis, or what have you – are not going into the bathrooms to peep on other people. Sure, there are rare exceptions, and you’ll never truly be able to weed them all out. They’ll come in every label you can think of, and their common trait isn’t that they’re gay or transgender – it’s that they’re creeps. (And, more than likely, they’re white cis men –  but that’s just statistics speaking.)

7. Better elder care in the LGBT community

Maybe the homeless youths from #2 can help step in and take care of the estimated 1.5 million LGBT seniors in the United States alone – or any of the aging queer community in any country. Studies show that this demographic is likely to suffer from increased mental illness rates, extreme poverty, physical disabilities, isolation from their biological families, and harsher discrimination than their heterosexual peers. This is the generation that raised us, and our parents (depending on how old you are) – shouldn’t we treat them with care and respect? We haven’t won until our seniors are taken care of, too.

8. Nondiscrimination protections need to be put in place, everywhere

It’s a scary thought: In almost every US state, it’s still entirely legal to be fired on the basis of your sexual orientation or identity, and in places where this type of discrimination is illegal, there are often “loopholes” – namely that the boss doesn’t need to say why you’re being let go. I’ve actually dealt with it at a few previous jobs, and it really is this hurtful thing that you don’t want to believe is real. What’s even worse is that society has conditioned us to think it’s all in our heads – even when it’s as clear as day.

9. Criminalize hate groups worldwide

Criminalizing hate groups isn’t something that helps just the queer community – most of our world has someone who’d hate them for something. The idea that you can rightfully hate an entire group of people without knowing the first thing about them is horrible, and it perpetuates a violent culture hell-bent on revenge. That’s not the type of world I want to live in, and we haven’t won until these groups are gone for good.

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North Carolina Governor Signs Bill Banning LGBT Protections

In a shocking move, North Carolina’s state Legislature has passed a law blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to grant protections to gay and transgender people.

The law comes a month after the city of Charlotte passed a measure protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from being discriminated against by businesses.

Sarah Preston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said in a statement.

Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize transgender North Carolinians by pushing ugly and fundamentally untrue stereotypes that are based on fear and ignorance and not supported by the experiences of more than 200 cities with these protections.”

The new law establishes a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance that explicitly supersedes any local nondiscrimination measures. The statewide protections cover race, religion, colour, national origin and biological sex — but not sexual orientation or gender identity.

Those who were against the bill mainly opposed the idea of transgender people being allowed to use their preferred bathroom.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory vowed to overturn it, claiming it creates “major public safety issues.”

Others argued that the ordinance would put women at risk because male predators will be able to enter women’s bathrooms with ease.

The Human Rights Campaign’s national press secretary Stephen Peters criticized HB 2 in a statement.

Thousands of LGBT veterans have fought to secure our freedom, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by the North Carolina legislature’s willingness to wipe protections for local veterans off the books. Gov. McCrory must take a stand for fairness and equality for all and veto any bill that would increase the risk of discrimination.”

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper also criticized the bill.

North Carolina is better than this. Discrimination is wrong, period. That North Carolina is making discrimination part of the law is shameful.”

Lesbian Couple Discusses The Discrimination They Faced During Fertility Treatment

Lesbian couple from Greysteel in County Londonderry, have spoken of how they were left feeling “embarrassed”, after visiting an NHS clinic, and being told they were ineligible for treatment.

The couple – Sarah Murphy and Jenny Doherty – says they then decided to visit a private facility, in order for the procedure to be legal.

In the UK, for a couple to have both names on birth certificate, they must use a fertility clinic, and not do the procedure on their own.

Speaking the BBC, Sarah Murphy explained;

That was one of the main reasons why we chose to go through a clinic and not to do it ourselves. As we aren’t in a same sex marriage or in a civil partnership, Jenny’s name will now be on the baby’s birth certificate as the legal parent.”

Murphy said they were concerned that if they had taken matters into their own hands, a lengthy court battle could have ensued.

The couple went to the private clinic after attending the Western Health Trust and regional fertility centre.

The health service weren’t very helpful to be honest.”

The Trust told the BBC that it does not comment on individual cases, but that anyone concerned about their treatment should get in contact.

After the ordeal, Murphy said those in same-sex relationships should find it easier to access these services, and called for “better knowledge”among doctors.

Even if you could be told – ‘We can offer you this or we can’t offer you that’ – that would be a massive help, instead of walking out with more questions than you walk in. I think from the moment we walked in the door, we were almost dismissed.

We felt embarrassed for wanting something that every other human in the world wants.”

The couple say they don’t regret paying out around £6,000 for the private clinic, and that their parents are excited to become grandparents.

We were treated as a couple who wanted to have a baby, just the same as every other couple who were there. It has been expensive, and without loans and credit cards and help from my parents we wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

It has been priceless and we would do it again in a heartbeat, but at the same time we wish we didn’t have to spend that much.”

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Australian Senate To Debate Equal Marriage, After Government Blocks Public Vote

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition is still refusing a free vote on same-sex marriage, despite lobbying groups say there is currently a majority of MPs and Senators in favour of equal marriage.

Mr Turnbull instead tabled plans for a plebiscite – a public voting procedure, which could potentially stall the issue until 2017 or beyond.

Key supporter of equal marriage, Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, attempted a political manoeuvre last week to force a vote on the issue. Asking for cooperation from the opposition Labor Party and the Greens to bring about a vote – but after the Greens sided with the government to keep the vote off the table, the two parties have resorted to trading jibes.

A one-hour opposition debate on the issue will now be held on Thursday – but given the complexity of equal marriage, it is unlikely to come to a vote within the time frame.

According to the Guardian, Labor’s Penny Wong, said:

… [The Greens] had an opportunity [to bring it to a vote] this morning, and they squibbed it, and they now want to make Australians believe that somehow an hour-long debate is somehow the same.

This is cynical politics at its best. Senator Di Natale led them over to the other side to sit with people like Senator Abetz and Senator Bernardi who are vehemently opposed to same-sex marriage.

It is a sort of combination of spinelessness and incompetence if I may say so.”

Greens leader Richard Di Natale replied:

These are crocodile tears. This is cynical wedge politics. We think that there’s a great opportunity here that, if the numbers are there, that we can bring this on for a vote.”

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said:

A majority of Senators have already publicly declared their support for marriage equality so the legislation could pass if a free vote was allowed.”

If marriage equality passes the Senate it will increase pressure on the Government to allow Parliament to do its job and pass the reform as soon as possible.”

It will also send an affirmative message to the Australian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, and a message to the world that we are moving toward an overdue reform.”

Calvin Klein Ad Investigated By Russian Authorities For Breaking ‘Gay Propaganda’ Law

Calvin Klein latest advert in Russia has sparked outrage, with Police in the north city of Arkhangelsk now investigating number of complaints.

The advertisement for CK2 – which feature two same-sex couples – has been reported to authorities for allegedly containing “elements of propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia”.


Complaints were made after a number of locals voluntarily watched the advert on YouTube in order to view the reported “propaganda”.

Arkhangelsk authorities say they are investigating to see whether the fashion brand has broken the law.

The ad features a same-sex male couple riding on a motorcycle shirtless, while a lesbian couple bare their breasts on a highway.

However, while both straight couples in the advert kiss in the video, the same-sex couples do not.

Calvin Klein described the advert as “embodying the thrill of life and celebrates the diversity of connections between two people”.

Should Calvin Klein be found guilty, the company could be made to pay $15,000 fine and have its business suspended in Russia.

Watch the ad below and decide if its “promoting” anything other than perfume.

India’s Politicians Vote Against Bill That Would Decriminalize Homosexuality

LGBT activists in India have failed once again to make gay sex legal in the country.

National Congress MP Shashi Tharoor fought hard for a bill that would remove the colonial era law, but politicians voted again the bill that would decriminalize homosexuality.

This is the second time politicians have voted to keep Section 377, which was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2013.

The private members bill was defeated by a vote of 58 to 14, with one abstaining.

Writing on Twitter, Shashi said:

Bitter disappointment as my attempt to introduce my bill to amend Section 377 defeated again. Several MPs who’s promised to vote in favour absent.

So bigotry and homophobia on the BJP side met indifference and prejudice on the opposition’s. Will have to leave it to the Supreme Court to revolve.

Since I had no opportunity to speak on 377, I took the opportunity of a speech on the Transgender Rights Bill to make the broader argument.

Indian culture and history reveal no intolerance of sexual difference or orientation and embrace the ardhanarishvara. BJP prefers British colonial law.”

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British Lesbian Loses Battle With Hong Kong Government Over Spousal Visa

A British lesbian has lost a legal challenge against Hong Kong authorities to grant her a visa to live and work there with her partner. The move is seen as setback for the LGBT equality in the territory.

QT, as she is referred to in court, entered into a civil partnership in Britain in 2011 and moved to Hong Kong the same year, after her partner was offered a job in the city.

But she was denied a dependent visa and has instead stayed in Hong Kong on a visitor visa, which does not allow her to work.

The Chinese city – which socially conservative – does not recognise same-sex marriage and only decriminalised homosexuality in 1991.

High Court judge Thomas Au said in a written judgement

The applicant has failed in her grounds in support of this judicial review, I therefore dismiss the application. To effectively accept a same-sex-marriage-like relationship to be equivalent to a married status in Hong Kong is not permissible under the laws of Hong Kong as they now stand.”

Immigration law in the former British colony does not explicitly mention same-sex couples, but states that only the “spouse” of a person permitted to work in the territory may apply for a dependent visa.

At a court hearing in May of last year, the government’s counsel Stewart Wong said that “marriage can only be heterosexual.”

QT, with her solicitors, Vidler & Co. responding via their Facebook page.

After a long nine month wait, the High Court has today handed down a judgment against QT’s judicial review of the Immigration Department’s policy refusing to recognize foreign registered same sex marriages.

This decision, whilst disappointing, is not altogether unexpected. Experience has shown us with previous LGBTI cases (the W case being the most recent) that we often have to turn to the Court of Appeal or even the Court of Final Appeal for a correct judgment.

QT is a strong young woman who is determined to continue the fight to ensure that all people who have shown their love for one another by registering a civil partnership or marriage, are treated equally by the HK government, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

She intends to appeal.”

Out Leadership, a global business advocacy group for LGBTI rights, called the ruling ‘disappointing’, tweeting that ‘this will impact HK’s talent pool.’

Fern Ngai, CEO of Community Business said in a statment,

The High Court’s judgment in the QT case today is disappointing and a backward step for LGBTI rights in Hong Kong.

This should be a cause for concern by the business sector, which aims to attract the world’s best talent to Hong Kong, a regional hub for international financial, legal and professional services.

We hope that the decision is appealed and overturned, and that the business sector, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders make their views on this issue loud and clear.”

Analyst Discovers The Real Cost Of Being Lesbian, And Now She Wants A Refund

A data specialist and entrepreneur has calculated the cost of being out in the job market, and the results are sadly disappointing.

Over three years, Vivienne Ming worked out how much harder it is to be a woman, from an ethnic minority or a member of the LGBT community when entering the job market or seeking promotion.

What she discovered was there is a “tax on being different”, and this fee has huge ramifications for the economy.

Speaking at The Economist’s Pride and Prejudice event in London last week, Vivienne said business needs to understand this and how it has to change.

When someone says ‘I had to work twice as hard to get where I am today’, I just had to know what that meant.

Did they literally work twice as hard, was there some tangible cost of being a woman on a board or being hispanic in the California tech industry or to be gay or lesbian?”


Intrigued and with a database of information to hand, Vivienne developed a model that allowed her to analyse performance information of individual workers and compare how likely people of similar skills would get promoted.

This led her to discover the tax on being different, where for instance a lesbian in the tech industry in Hong Kong – to be in with a chance of being just as likely to get promoted as a straight male colleague – would have to pay a ‘tax’ of around $800,000 and $1.5 million.

This tax comes in the form of advanced degrees, a number of extra years in lower positions and missed opportunities to earn.

Talking to the Pink News, Ming explained

In this particular case what we see is that the woman has to have as much as a PhD to be competitive with a man with no degree at all.

If you have to go through lots of extra work, enter the job market 10 years older, just to be equitable – there is a big question of why would you bother?”

When looking at the LGBT community in the UK, she said that even though society had moved forward there was still a divide.

She said:

Why would a gay man growing up in England necessarily put as much effort into his career if he knew he would have a tax of £38,000.

Imagine that 10% of the UK population was born with a £38,000 loan they had to pay. They never got the money in the first place, they just have to pay it back. What a disincentive.”

Vivienne added that what was important to note, was that it wasn’t impossible to achieve (she highlights Apple CEO, Tim Cook as an example), it was just a lot harder.

It’s like everyone can climb Mount Everest, but some people just have to carry 100 pounds of rock on their back for no reason.”

Vivienne explained that although the social justice issues are important, the ‘tax’ was actually damaging the world economy.

There is a case for corporations to care about this. It is because everyone will pay the tax for being different if we’re holding people back.

Estimates that we’ve done have shown that this tax may well cost the world’s economy $4 to 5 trillion a year. That’s enormous and what a profound loss to civilisation.”


How To Stop Slut-Shaming (And Why You Should Care)

Slut-shaming has been a hot topic lately. I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of it in the past – even the not-too-distant past.

It’s not right, and we know that, but we’ve been so conditioned to think that a woman who enjoys frequent sex, or dresses as if she does (whatever that really means) is, in some ways, an inferior, second-class citizen.

But slut-shaming is damaging to all women, even if it doesn’t directly touch you. No one wants to be the one who’s thought of like that – but almost everyone is guilty to doing it to someone else.

On the surface, slut-shaming is a form of unfair judgment that we often apply to people we don’t even know.

On a deeper level, though, it promotes rape culture – the idea that a woman who is sexually violated must have been doing something to deserve it.


Rape is the only crime where the victim has to prove their innocence. It’s a vicious cycle and it really is time to knock it off – even if that’s easier said than done.

Interested in helping? None of the following things are going to completely wipe out the problem, but by helping to spread the word, you’re sending a message that our generation will no longer accept this.

Slut-shaming and victim blaming go hand-in-hand and I for one am tired of it. Ready to start modifying your own behavior?

1. Identify your slut-shaming thoughts.

It’s often been said that the first step towards a solution is identifying the problem. This is just as true with slut-shaming as with any other problem. If you notice yourself having thoughts that are negative towards women’s sexuality, try to catch yourself. Don’t play it off as catty. It’s not catty. It’s creating a society where women are expected to submit to sexual whims while magically remaining pure. This is a far more unattainable goal than fashion dolls have – not that fashion dolls don’t get slut shamed, too.

The fact that we could even have this conversation about a doll is absolutely ridiculous. The idea that a plastic toy for children could be “too sexualized” – like Bratz dolls with their oversized, pouty facial features, or Barbie with her impossibly long legs and unrealistic boobs (and let’s not forget every doll ever with painted-on makeup)… It’s too much, and we’re passing these horrible thoughts onto the next generation. By stopping ourselves from saying these things, especially around children, we are already taking a big step.

2. Try to figure out what the real problem is.

I think in the lesbian community, we’re at a particularly rough position in terms of the slut-shaming epidemic. While there are definitely some who stand up for the rights of every woman, there are also some of us who will watch a pornographic film, and then immediately after, jump on Facebook and judge someone for “dressing like a hoe” or posting too many suggestive selfies. No. You don’t get to have it both ways.

I make the whole “life goals or wife goals” joke, a lot. Sometimes, as women who love other women, the lines between what we aspire to be and what we’re attracted to are very blurred. But if a woman is seen to leave nothing to the imagination, we often put her in a third category: “I’d hit it, and then never talk to her again.” The problem here isn’t in what the woman is wearing – it’s in the fact that you’re unjustly sexualizing her, when all she’s trying to do is look good. And looking good is not a crime.

3. Once you think you’ve found the problem, dig a little deeper.

The first problem we run into is most likely not the only problem. In my experience, I know that a lot of my slut-shaming comes from disloyal ex-girlfriends, and my own “slutty” past. Knowing these little details doesn’t make it any easier to stop myself from saying the things I oughtn’t be saying, but it’s a step in the right direction. Be specific about why you have a problem with this woman’s sexuality – or her perceived sexuality, as is more often the case.

You might find that it’s coming from a place of jealousy – seeing someone attractive in an outfit you could never “pull off” and look as good as she does. Sometimes it’s insecurity, such as my own case. Sometimes it’s just ingrained into us – my dad used to have a saying: “If you’re not Madonna, cover your stomach up.” Of course, this was back in the early 90s – when I was a young child – so Madonna was the go-to provocative celebrity. I got it in my head that I wasn’t attractive enough to dress like that, which for some reason meant I thought I had the right to dictate who was “attractive enough” to dress like that.

4. Is it even related to sex… At all?

In most cases, people slut-shame under the guise that it has anything whatsoever to do with the woman’s sexuality. But very rarely is that actually the case. In fact, the only cases of slut-shaming that really have to do with sexuality is when your partner is unfaithful – and, even then, you’re entitled to your anger, but not the name-calling. Calling someone a slut or a whore is lazy and shows a lack of intelligence.

Let’s face it: Even if your partner cheats on you, her sexuality isn’t what you’ve got a problem with. Chances are, there are some overlaps in your sexual interests, so if she’s a slut, that makes you a slut, too. Instead, your problem lies with her disrespect for your relationship. Her disloyalty. Her callousness. Basically, it wasn’t the sex that was the problem – it was the fact that she cheated on you, and the two aren’t as closely related as you might think.

5. Just go ahead and remove those “slutty” words from your vocabulary right now.

Slut. Whore. Skank. Hoe. Loose. Easy. These words exist specifically to vilify female sexuality – which has been wrought with so many contradictions over the years. After all, women are expected to “give it up” to their partners on demand – if we don’t, we’re a prude, or we must be getting it from somewhere else. But we’re expected to play hard-to-get, too, which is dangerous territory because it intentionally blurs the lines between rape and not-sluttiness.

This has a much more direct impact when these “slutty” words are applied to actual victims of sexual violence. I can remember back when I first started to talk about my rape… The first person I told took it upon himself to tell everyone that we were mutually friends with. Each one of them individually called me up to tell me I was a slut, because their impression was that I had just moved to a new city and I had already “hooked up” with someone. And you know what happened? I didn’t talk to anyone else about it for years – even though it was still going on for quite some time.

Now, you might be thinking, “But she wasn’t raped – she’s just promiscuous.” But this is something you might not actually know. Most victims of sexual violence keep it inside. Some have even been convinced by their abusers that they did, in fact, want it, no matter how many times they said no, or cried, or tried to get away. Our society leans so firmly on the implied sexualization of women that even young girls – I’m talking single digit ages here – get catcalled on the street. Is it the harasser’s fault for being a creep? Nope – let’s blame the girl who was just trying to get home from school. Do you see the problem here?

6. Ignore the stigmas associated with Social Justice Warriors.

I think it’s absolutely horrible that “social justice” and “political correctness” have become dirty words, too. I mean, yeah, expecting the whole internet to protect your feelings is a bit of a reach, but at the same time… Why is it so friggin’ hard for people to just be decent to one another? Use your social media for good, and help to break down the idea that people don’t have to care about each other.

Of course, the reason SJWs get such a bad rep is that many of them take an aggressive stance with the whole thing. Not only is that not helping the cause, but it’s probably actually hurting it. Think about it: You see someone who would be widely labeled as a “feminazi”, cussing others out for their distasteful use of the word “cunt”, perhaps. Instead of standing behind her, other less-radical feminists tend to disappear into the woodwork, or in some cases, even lash out against the woman who’s trying to make things equal.

Do you want to be the angry woman that everyone decries as a kook, or do you want to be the one who actually makes a difference?

7. Speak up!

It might be one of the scariest ways to battle slut-shaming, but it’s usually the most effective. If a friend, family member, or loved one is actively slut-shaming in front of you (hint: it’s not always as easy to see as simply calling a woman a slut), call them on it. Remember to be polite and logical in your response.

If your friends or family members are laughing at misogynistic jokes, or any rape jokes, or anything along those lines, you have the right (and responsibility as a woman) to stand up against this, too. Of course, I wish everyone would stand up against stuff like this, but if everyone did then no one would need to, right? When you call attention to someone’s pro-rape commentary, no matter what the specifics are, you are sending a message that you will not stand for women’s forced sexualization. Unless you and a woman are actively engaging in consensual sex, her sex life is none of your business. Deal with it.

But, of course, rape jokes are still a big deal. People toss the word “rape” around like it’s nothing. I raped that guy in Call of Duty last night. While this doesn’t fit into the same category as slut-shaming, it’s another damaging effect of rape culture. And no, not because it might trigger and/or offend someone, but because it makes light of a seriously emotionally-damaging situation. When you use the word “rape” in place of other unrelated verbs, you are taking away the power of the word, which basically minimizes the idea of rape in the first place – and in a world where victims are still asked first “Well, what were you wearing?” instead of “What can I do to help?” … it’s obvious to see that this is not a good status quo.

8. Actually make a difference.

As important as it is to take a stand against passive rape culture, it’s of the utmost importance that we put an end to active rape culture. If you see someone slut-shaming, you should do your part to help protect them. Maybe no one is exactly responsible for anyone else’s actions or happiness, but the consequence of slut-shaming is sometimes suicide. Could you live with yourself if you knew that a few words of kindness could have saved someone’s life?

This means taking action when someone you know has been subjected to sexual violence and harassment, too. When someone leers at your female friend and makes unwanted sexual advances – even after your friend has turned them down – speak up! As women we should be protecting one another, especially with a subject as serious as rape culture. Don’t be the one who asks a rape victim what they did to entice their rapist. Instead, be the one who tells them that you are there to lift them up.

(And remember, men can be victims of rape culture and slut-shaming, too, although women tend to take most of it – just because it’s less obvious doesn’t mean it’s not there.)

Can we all agree that slut-shaming is so over?

New York City Leads The Charger On Single-Sex Facilities To Stop Bathroom Discrimination

New York City has enacted a regulation that ensures people visiting city facilities can use restrooms or locker rooms aligned with their gender identity.

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order this week that guarantees people access to single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity at city facilities, including offices, pools and recreation centers, without the need to show identification or any other proof of gender.

The move comes amid a continuing national debate over anti-discrimination laws.

De Blasio said.

Access to bathrooms and other single-sex facilities is a fundamental human right that should not be restricted or denied to any individual. “Every New Yorker should feel safe in our city — and this starts with our city’s buildings.”

Bianey Garcia, a transgender woman and organizer for Make the Road New York, said she was once prohibited from using the women’s restroom at a restaurant by its owner.

That day I felt humiliated, but like so many others I didn’t think of making a complaint or telling anyone because of fear, frustration and disbelief. Access to the ladies bathroom is my right as a transgender woman, as a human being.”

The new regulations apply to all city-owned buildings, including city offices, public parks, playgrounds, pools, recreation centers and certain museums.

It doesn’t require agencies to build new single-stall restroom or locker room facilities, but instead enforces that all individuals, including those who are transgender or gender non-conforming, are free to use single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity, city officials said.

The order does not apply to the city’s public schools because there already is a policy that students must be allowed to use locker rooms or restrooms consistent with their gender identity. A bill currently pending before the City Council would require publicly available, single-occupancy restrooms in both public and private buildings to be designated as gender-neutral.

An estimated 25,000 transgender or gender non-conforming people live in New York City, officials said. De Blasio’s executive order went into effect immediately after it was signed on Monday.

“New York City is the birthplace of the fight for LGBT rights, and we continue to lead in that fight so every New Yorker can live with dignity,” de Blasio said.

Nearly all of the nation’s 20 largest cities, including New York City, have local or state nondiscrimination laws that allow transgender people to use whatever bathroom they identify with, though a debate has raged around the topic nationwide.

Houston voters defeated an ordinance in the fall that would have established nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people. Last week, South Dakota’s governor vetoed a bill that would have made the state the first in the U.S. to approve a law requiring transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth.

These 6 Countries Are Making Big Strides With LGBT Rights

Across the world, LGBT people face different challenges to their non-LGBT peers. This may be the risk of being fired from your job, being ostracised by your friends and family and even being faced with verbal or physical abuse.

Clearly there is a lot of work that still needs to be done, but with the changing attitudes of LGBT people, some countries are making huge strides.

A new report from The Guardian details some of these steps forward, and the publication also speaks to activists about the positive changes coming to their countries.

Taiwan has a reputation for being the most ‘gay-friendly place in Asia’ and though Victoria Hsu, chief executive officer of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights calls this an “illusion”, there is big change on a government level.

The country’s newly elected president, Tsai Ing-Wen, supports same-sex marriage and same-sex couples can record their partnerships at household offices in Taipei, giving them access to more rights. Hsu and other activities are currently lobbying for social housing rights, equal opportunities for government employees and more.

Elsewhere in Asia, Nepal recently allowed people to add a third gender, O, to their passports, as opposed to M or F and in September, it added LGBT protections to its constitution.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, same-sex marriage is “tolerated” by the state (though same-sex couples don’t have the same rights as opposite sex ones) and in December, a law was passed to allow people who have had reassignment surgery to register as a new gender.

In the Americas, The Guardian highlights big changes in Jamaica and Colombia. A historically, homophobic country (which stems from colonial times), Jamaica still has a law against sodomy but this year, activist Maurice Tomlinson will challenge that law in court.

The country’s justice minister, Mark Golding, and the mayor of Kingston, Angela Brown Burke, have both voiced their support for Pride events. On the other hand, Colombia may be an incredibly Catholic country but its government has voiced its support for marriage equality and late last year, it lifted restrictions on same-sex couples adopting children.

And finally, in 2015, Mozambique decriminalised homosexuality. There are still serious challenges posed LGBT people in the African nation though, as the country’s only gay rights organisation, Lambda, has been waiting for seven years for recognition fro the government (which will give them access to funding and allow them to be tax exempt).

Victory: Student Wins Censorship Battle Over Lesbian T-Shirt

A student from Manteca, California has settled a federal free speech lawsuit with her high school.

16 year old, Taylor Victor was sent home for refusing to change her T-Shirt, which read “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian”.

When she first wore this shirt to Sierra High School last year, school administrators sent her home. They said it was an inappropriate “on the grounds that she was not allowed to display her ‘sexuality’ on clothing.”

After confirming that the shirt did not violate the dress code, the school then told her that she was not allowed to “display personal choices and beliefs” on clothing because it could be viewed as “disruptive” or “gang-related”.

The Assistant Principal Dan Beukelman also told Victor that her shirt was “promoting sex” and displayed an “open invitation to sex”.

Now, the district has agreed to amend the dress code and clarify that students are allowed to wear clothing supporting their or their classmates’ personal identities. This includes race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.

Victor’s attorney, Linnea Nelson, said

Being a lesbian is an important part of Taylor’s identity, and she shouldn’t be censored from talking about it at school. Students don’t leave their rights to free speech at the schoolhouse gates. At the end of the day, the law on this is very clear, that public schools can’t censor the personal beliefs of students just because they think it might be controversial.”

She says Victor will also get $1 from the school district to represent the harm she suffered.

But more importantly of course, from now on she will be able to express herself and to be herself without fear of punishment.

Victor said that she is happy after “months of fighting this censorship battle.”

This Couple Were Told They ‘Need A Man’ By Restaurant Chef On Valentine’s Date

Couple Ellie Parker and Lucy Stenger, say that a rude chef ruined their Valentine’s date by telling them they “need a man” to “heat things up”.

The couple of Lafayette, Indiana, had planned a romantic meal out on Sunday to mark Valentine’s Day.

They decided to visit Japanese steakhouse Asahi – but were greeted by a chef who initially failed to understand how lesbians work.

Ms Parker spoke out on Facebook, saying


Our chef came to grill our food for us and was asking everyone if the person with them was their boyfriend or husband. He got to my girlfriend and I and asked where our Valentines were.

We told him we were each other’s Valentines. We were holding hands mind you. Clearly a couple.

He proceeds to say ‘well it is legal, but it’s such a waste to not have a man’.

Later he continues to insult our relationship by saying he could come home with us to ‘heat things up’.

I am appalled that I would receive this kind of treatment. I cannot believe I paid over $50 to have my relationship insulted and sexualized.”

She posted a picture of the pair’s receipt on social media, with their message:

Don’t tell lesbians they need a man on Valentine’s Day”.

After the post went viral, Ms Parker added:

Thank you all for the support! The restaurant did refund our money, but nothing can make up for the way we were treated. I hope sharing this helps others avoid this situation in the future.”

However, the restaurant denied the allegations – telling Mic that they had “no idea” about the claims before hanging up.

Family Claim Lesbian Couple Have Been Falsely Jailed For 25 Years In Kuwait ‘For Being Gay’

The family of Monique Coverson – an American citizen and Army veteran – have claimed that she and her girlfriend have been jailed for 25 years on “false” charges because of their sexuality.


Coverson – who served in the US military for seven years before moving to Kuwait along with her partner Larissa – was arrested on drugs charges with her girlfriend for possession of a material her lawyer claims is perfectly legal in Kuwait.

However, Monique’s mother Michelle Jackson claims the charges were fabricated because the pair are lovers.

The family have set up a Facebook page and gathered more than 4,000 signatures on a petition demanding her release.

After active duty, Monique and her partner Larissa later returned to Kuwait to work as military contractors. On the the morning of May 8, 2015, their house was raided and police confiscated one ounce of a ‘tobacco-like’ substance. It was sent to a lab in Germany for analysis, and it was determined to be a substance that is completely legal in Kuwait. Yet, Kuwaiti officials held them in prison anyway.

After 8 months of uncharged incarceration, the one ounce of legal substance magically turned into one pound of marijuana, and on January 12, 2016, Monique and Larissa were sentenced to 20-25 years in prison.

I am begging the US Government to do what it can to get my daughter and her partner out of jail and back to the States. They have clearly been targeted by the Kuwaiti government for their lifestyle, and could spend half their lives in prison for it.”

Monique’s sister added:

They live an alternative lifestyle, and while it’s accepted here in the United States, not so much in other counties around the world.”

The substance, which the family only identified as “tobacco like” in the petition, is in fact believed to be a form of synthetic marijuana (K2), which WDIV reports is legal in Kuwait.

The drug’s ingredients classify it as a controlled substance in the US and most countries.


Father Arrested For Attacking His Gay Daughter With A Knife After She Came Out

A father has been jailed for trying to attack his daughter with a knife after she told him she was a lesbian.


According to WZTV, Ike Wright of Nashville, Tennessee was charged over the weekend with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

According to the police report, Wright became “enraged” when he found out about his daughter’s sexuality.

He allegedly pulled out a knife and waved it at her, her girlfriend, and his son in “separate threatening actions.”

Police say Wright, who was said to be heavily intoxicated at the time of the assault, was “angry and agitated” and “ranted about his daughter being a lesbian throughout the interaction.”
Police say they found the weapon in Wright’s kitchen and arrested him for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.


Women Are Charged More For Almost Everything, Suggests New Investigation

At the hands of the patriarchy, women already have a tough time. Not only are women passed over for jobs (despite being more than qualified) and paid less for doing the same work as men, but women are also subject to ridiculous standards, dehumanised and verbally abused just because of their gender.

But that’s not all, as we can now add ‘women are charged more for almost every product’ to that troublingly long list.

That information comes from The Times which recently investigated, analysing “hundreds of products”.

For example, a pack of razors from supermarket chain Tesco costs £1 for 5 razors when they are pink and labelled ‘for women’, but it costs £1 for 10 razors when they are blue and labelled ‘for men’.

A women’s pair of Levi’s 501 jeans also costs (on average) 46% more than a men’s pair, despite having the same length and waist size.

Even worse, is at Argos, where the pink version of a child’s toy scooter cost £5 more than the blue version.

While the retailer released a statement to BBC Newsbeat explaining that the pricing was an “error”, vowing to change the price, given that just one of the products The Times analysed (underwear) cost more for men than for women, many will struggle to believe that Argos didn’t price those products as such because of gender bias.

Some would argue that sexism isn’t the only issue here as it’s also problematic products that are blue and pink are gendered as male and female and we should be working to dismantle such limited, binary thinking.

However, for now it should be considered a win that the investigation has gotten attention from those in power.

Conservative MP Maria Miller, who heads up the women and equalities committee says that…

… it is unacceptable that women face higher costs for the same products just because they are targeted at women. Retailers have got to explain why they do this. At a time when we should be moving towards a more de-gendered society, retailers are out of step with public opinion.”

It’s yet to be seen how the government will tackle this issue (it’s certainly not the first time it’s been brought up) but we’ll keep you posted on any new developments.

More Work To Be Done: Study Finds Queer Women Are Less Likely To Get A Job Than Straight Women

A new study, published this year by a New York University found that queer women were less likely to get a job interview than straight women.

The author of the study, Emma Mishel, created two fictitious CVs, which detailed different but similar qualifications for two different women.

The two women were assigned common white names, as to not conflate other forms of discrimination.

They also shared the following qualifications: College graduates (from Cornell and Columbia), a few years of relevant work experience, study abroad experience, and high grade point averages. The only difference in the resumes was that one had a secretarial position at her university’s LGBTQ organisation, while the other had no such experience or any affiliation with an LGBTQ organisation or cause.

For her study, Mishel sent out more than 1,600 CVs over a three-month period to administrative positions in New York, Virginia, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C.

These regions were chosen carefully because they accurately represent the diverse makeup of the United States.

The result for this research was shocking pretty shocking. There was a clear biased, and out of the 775 CVs sent out on behalf of each fictitious woman, the straight applicant got 130 call-backs, while the queer applicant got 94 call-backs — that’s a 5% difference.

What was probably more shocking was were the places perceived to be “Gay Friendly” didn’t actually seem that way at all. In Washington, D.C. and New York, both considered inclusive and queer-friendly spaces, showed the same biased.

One myth this study debunked effectively is that the existence of LGBTQ legislation in a state doesn’t necessarily mean discrimination doesn’t exist in important spaces.

Mishel’s study isn’t the first to examine LGBTQ discrimination in the job application process; in 2010, John Bailey did a resumé audit where he tried to find if gay men and lesbian women were discriminated against disproportionately when applying to jobs.

His results were surprisingly different than Mishel’s, however: His study found no discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation. But Mishel notes in her discussion of experiment design that Baily’s results might have something to do with his selection of test cities — he used Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco, all areas with thriving queer populations and generally areas that politically align with the left.

Overall these studies shows us the importance of incorporating and encouraging equality and diversity in all aspects of life.

Granting us the right to marry does not mean its ok to make cuts in other areas such as employment, especially when employment creates stability and livelihood. We have to do better.

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Universities And Schools In America Seeking LGBT Rights Exemptions Will Now Be Named

After some schools and universities in America sought specifically for an Education Act exemptions, so that they can continue discriminating against LGBTs, the federal government has announced that it will publish details of each exemption online in a move to hopefully create greater transparency.

Late last year it emerged that a number of colleges and universities that receive federal funds have applied for and obtained permission from the federal government in order to obtain exceptions to Title IX of the Education Act. The law, which came into force in 1972, means that schools using taxpayer money cannot engage in sex-based discrimination. The Obama administration maintains that this also protects LGBT students, much to the uproar of religious schools.

However, when that law was passed, Congress provided a loophole that so that religious schools could be exempt from Title IX based on their religious ethos. It became public knowledge last year that since the Obama administration announced its determination that Title IX covers LGBT students, a number of religious schools had applied for such exemptions. Estimates say that, as of December 2015, around 60 schools had been given waivers under the Obama administration.
Advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign and lawmakers such as Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said they were concerned that religious freedom exemptions were being used to perpetuate anti-LGBT discrimination.

Senator Wyden and other lawmakers subsequently wrote a letter to the Department of Education requesting that there be more transparency in the process so that, at the very least, the general public could know which colleges and universities were using these exemptions.

The Department of Education has now issued a response.

Buzzfeed reports that Assistant Secretary Catherine Lhamon, in comments made Wednesday January 20, has agreed to that call for transparency:

I appreciate your suggestion the we provide more transparency about the religious exemption requests received and [the department’s] responses. I agree.”

Lhamon added that both applications for the waivers and the government’s replies will be posted online “sometime in coming months” as part of the department’s broader push to increase transparency.

To be clear, this information was technically already open to the public but it wasn’t easily accessible. Now, the Department has said it will post the information in a way that is searchable so that the public can understand which schools are getting these exemptions and how the government has answered those calls.

The Human Rights Campaign has praised the move.

HRC President Chad Griffin, added

We have been alarmed by the growing trend of schools quietly seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students, and not disclosing that information publicly. We are encouraged that the Department of Education is answering our call for greater transparency to help ensure no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them.

We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however, faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination.”

However, this doesn’t fully answer the issue, namely why educational institutions receiving public money are being allowed to discriminate in the first place.

Unfortunately, to change that would require a change in the law and it is highly unlikely that the Republican dominated House or the stalemate in the Senate could muster enough consensus to do so. This compounds the litany of anti-LGBT student bills that are sweeping the country, and ones that particularly focus on trans students and their access to sports teams and changing and bathroom facilities.

Nevertheless, identifying the schools that are exploiting religious freedom protections to discriminate is a much needed step toward tackling this issue and for that reason the Department’s response is welcome.

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75% Of LGBTI Jamaicans Want To Flee Their Country To Escape Persecution And Homophobia

According to a recent study on the developmental cost of homophobia in the Caribbean island, three out of four LGBTI Jamaicans want to flee their country to escape persecution.

74.4% of LGBTI Jamaicans have considered migrating abroad, and of those surveyed, 75.9% felt that discrimination against the LGBTI community was a ‘very serious’ problem in Jamaica – particularly against gay men.

It was also reported that 71% of gay men experienced some form of harassment or discrimination in the last 12 months, compared to 59% of lesbians, 35% of bisexuals and 29% of transgender people.

Jamaica's Gully Queens

However, sadly the majority of respondents (51.3%) did not report their last incidence of physical or sexual assault to the police.

41% did not report it because they did not think the police would do anything, while 30% thought the matter was too minor. One in four feared a homophobic reaction from the police, and one in five felt too embarrassed and did not want anyone to know.

The study’s lead author, MV Lee Badgett of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, wrote

The results of this study suggest that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Jamaica face violence, stigma, and discrimination, which hold those individuals back – and hold back Jamaica’s economy.

Fear of violence and discrimination are preventing LGBT people in Jamaica from full participation in society and the economy, and this fear encourages behaviors which are detrimental to the affected persons’ wellbeing.”

Consensual sex between men is a crime in Jamaica punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and hard labour under a colonial-era law, which is supported by 77% of the population.

Student Who Described Lesbians As “Perverse” In Essay Continues Legal Action Against University

Student, Monico Pompeo – who described lesbians as “perverse” in an essay – continues to legal battle, claiming she has been ostracised by professors at her university.

Ms Pompeo filed an appeal to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver claiming the University of New Mexico (at which she was a student), violated her First Amendment right to free speech and that she was kicked out of class in 2012.

Ms. Pompeo says the action was taken in 2012 after she described lesbianism as “perverse”, in an essay about a film about a lesbian romance.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Pompeo alleges that her teacher’s actions violated the syllabus of the class which called for “open minds” to look at “representations of a plethora of genders and sexualities.”

Ms. Pompeo claims she was accused of employing “hate speech”, and in 2013 filed a lawsuit, which gained attention across the US.

After initially finding that Ms. Pompeo had a plausible case for her lawsuit last year, Chief US District Judge M Christina Armijo later found that the student had been given several opportunities to rewrite her essay.

The judge found after investigation that Ms. Pompeo had had explained to her that she had not backed up her opinion that lesbianism is “perverse” with critical analysis.

Judge Armijo also found that communication attempts were made by the professor in question and her boss to get Ms. Pompeo to re-write the essay, and that taking such action was within the realm of teaching.

A hearing is set for next month.

Brooklyn Lesbian Shares Harrowing Homophobic Attack By Off Duty NYPD Officer (Video)

An NYPD officer is under investigation for a possible hate crime after a Brooklyn woman accused him of assaulting her and calling her homophobic slurs.

Stephanie Dorceant, an artist and film-maker, has spoken out after suffering a vile homophobic attack from an off duty police officer, who subsequently had her arrested for assaulting him.


Dorceant claims that the unnamed officer hurled homophobic slurs at her and her then-girlfriend before repeatedly punching her in the face and strangling her.


She recounted what happened in a video by BRIC TV, saying

It’s two or three in the morning, and this neighbourhood is really quiet, there’s a lot of kids that live here, there’s a lot of families that live here. So when someone brushed up against me I screamed, like a shriek or something and so I said “Are you OK?”And he turned around and he basically barked at me and told me to mind my f***ing business you f***ing dyke.”


I told him to watch his mouth and then he knocked me, I told him not to touch me, and then he started to attack me, grab me by the hair, started punching me in the face and he wouldn’t let me go. We kept yelling at him to leave me alone but he didn’t even do that. And then towards the end of it he yells out that he is a cop.”

According to a report in The Huffington Post, when other police officers arrived on the scene they immediately pushed her into the pavement and arrested her.

During the incident she received bruising to her face and neck and an eye injury. She was also charged with assault, attempted assault and resisting arrest.

All of the charges have since been dropped, after a grand jury ruled in her favour.

Now Dorceant is now suing New York City and the police department for battery, unlawful stop, malicious prosecution and false arrest.

In the video, Dorceant expressed disbelief that she was talking about herself, and not something she had read online about someone else.

She went on to draw comparisons between her and other high profile cases of alleged police brutality against African-Americans and other minority’s.

Watch the full video here;

Supreme Court Sides With Lesbian Mother In Alabama Adoption Case

The Supreme Court has blocked an Alabama court from denying parental rights to a lesbian woman who was granted an adoption in Georgia.

The high court’s action could restore the woman’s visitation rights with the three children, now 13 and 11-year-old twins, while the justices decide whether to hear her appeal of the ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court.

Adoption rights for same-sex couples is one of the issues remaining in the wake of the high court’s June decision legalising same-sex marriage. More than 20 states allow gay and lesbian couples “second-parent adoptions.”

Such adoptions benefit adults who do not share a biological connection, while ensuring that children have two legal parents — particularly in case one dies or is incapacitated.

The case was brought by “V.L.,” as she is identified in court papers, against her former partner “E.L.”

The Alabama couple had three children in 2002 and 2004, but E.L is the birth mother. To get adoption rights for V.L., the couple established temporary residency to Georgia.

Now that they have split up, E.L. agrees with the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled in September that Georgia mistakenly granted V.L. joint custody. Her lawyers argued that

“the Georgia court had no authority under Georgia law to award such an adoption, which is therefore void and not entitled to full faith and credit.”

Lawyers for V.L., including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, say the case has broad implications for any gay or lesbian adoptive parents who travel or move to Alabama.

They told the justices in court papers that same-sex adoptions “have been granted since at least the mid-1980s, long before same-sex couples could marry.” They estimated that hundreds of thousands of such adoptions now exist; the most recent statistics from the Williams Institute at UCLA indicate an estimated 65,000 adopted children live with a lesbian or gay parent.

‘Between the Blocks’ Shows the Struggles and Beauty of a Polish Lesbian Couple and Their Family

If you read a few headlines about recent activity in Poland and it’s easy to get a grasp on what the country’s ‘intolerant’ culture looks like. In September, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe and Central Asia, Marco Perolini said that “Poland has a two-tiered legal system that protects some minority groups but leaves others to fend for themselves” and that if you are a gay person who has been attacked, the police won’t treat it as a hate crime.

Poland doesn’t have same-sex marriage either (with 68% of the population against it) and even civil unions are a contentious issue with the Sejm (the lower house of Polish parliament) having refused to debate the issue twice in the last 12 months. Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz has stated that civil partnerships are simply a problem for the next parliament to deal with.

So with all of this sitting uncomfortably on the mind of Poland’s same-sex couples, what is it actually like for them to live in the country? A new photography story called Between the Block (by photographer Anna Liminowicz) aims to answer, as it follows the life of Honorata and Agnieszka, a same-sex couple who live in Poland with their two children (from previous relationships), Antek and Natalia.

The photos follow a look at the couple’s home life, how they all interact as a family and it even includes some shots of the couple at work too.

When Liminowicz first met the family, Agnieszka, Honorata, Natalia and Honorata’s brother Michal were living in a 19-square metre apartment in Gdansk and though it sounds awfully cramped, the photographer notes that they always seemed to be laughing or smiling and they were always willing to help out a friend or loved one if they needed it.

Eventually, Agnieszka and Honorata both get promoted as managers at the supermarket that they both work at and so they move out to a three-bedroom apartment in Kalisz. Here, Antek joins them; previously he son stayed with his grandparents as Agnieszka’s parents weren’t too happy about her sexuality, despite how close-knit the family is. (And while Agnieszka’s parents seem to be ok with Antek’s current living situation, it’s worth noting that neither of them were willing to comment on the story when the images were featured in a Polish newspaper).

As for what the couple hopes that they’ll accomplish by being part of Between the Blocks, they hope to show ‘the joy that their relationship brings to the family’, according to Feature Shoot.

More than that though, Honorata and Agnieszka desire acceptance and tolerance, says the publication, as with Antek’s father often being hassled by his friends to keep Antek away from his mother and her partner and with the aforementioned tolerance difficulties in the country, Poland still has a long way to go until they are treated equally.

Progress: Salt Lake City Elects First Openly Gay Female Mayor

Former lawmaker Jackie Biskupski has become the first openly gay mayor of Salt Lake City, the capital of the conservative state, Utah.

The victory marks another milestone for LGBT people in Utah who have made major strides in recent years.


Today is not just about making history. It is about people. It is about affecting change.”

Her supporters cheered when the results were read at an elections canvass meeting.

Two-term incumbent Ralph Becker showed no reaction and later congratulated Biskupski and vowed to work with her to ensure a smooth transition.

Official election results showed Biskupski won 52 percent of the votes to defeat Becker.

Talking to reporters, Becker said.

Serving as mayor of Salt Lake City has been the richest working experience of my life.”

Salt Lake City voters also elected Derek Kitchen, who became the second gay member of the City Council.


He and his husband, Moudi Sbeity, were one of three couples who sued to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

In the last few weeks, Utah has seen several setbacks to the LGBT community.

Last weeks a judge ordered a foster child to be removed from a lesbian couple and placed with a heterosexual couple. The judge cited the child’s well-being as the reason for his order.

The ruling set off a firestorm around the world. The judge quickly reversed his decision and took himself off the case.

Days earlier, the Salt Lake City-based Mormon church issued new rules targeting gay members and their children, prompting widespread backlash. The new policy bans baptisms for children of gay parents until the kids turn 18 and disavow same-sex relationships.

Earlier this year, the church endorsed a statewide anti-discrimination law that protected gay and transgender people from discrimination in housing and the workplace.

Biskupski said one of her goals as mayor is to meet with church leaders and discuss the new rules.

Back in 1998, when Biskupski became Utah’s first openly gay lawmaker – some of her Mormon colleagues and conservative Legislature wouldn’t shake her hand.

Asked about her win in light of the recent controversies, Biskupski said,

It’s 2015, and we’ve come a long way from, gosh, when I first got elected.”

Salt Lake City is a liberal island in the state where no Republican has been elected mayor in four decades.

Costa Rica’s First Lesbian Wedding Briefly Happened Due To Clerical Error

A Costa Rican woman was able to marry her girlfriend because her birth certificate records her as male.

In 1991, when Jazmin Elizondo Arias was born, someone made a mistake and noted on her birth certificate that she was male, and no one corrected the record officially due to the drawn out administration involved.

Nearly 25 years later – thanks to the simple clerical error – Elizondo was able to become one half of the first same-sex couple to marry legally in Costa Rica – at least briefly.

Jazmin Elizondo Arias

Elizondo and her partner Laura Florez-Estrada Pimentel married quietly on 25 July; their news became Costa Rican news only last week after they received their marriage certificate.

The publicity prompted an unusually quick response by Civil Registry officials, who reviewed Elizondo’s records, reclassified her as a woman and annulled the marriage. They also opened criminal complaints against the women and Marco Castillo, the lawyer, for allegedly performing an “impossible marriage”.


Florez-Estrada said.

It’s clear the Civil Registry moved out of hate, because they not only annulled the marriage but filed this criminal complaint,”

According to Costa Rican law, knowingly entering into a marriage where there is an impediment carries a possible prison sentence of six months to three years.

Jazmin Elizondo Arias 01

While Elizondo and Florez-Estrada await possible prosecution, the Constitutional Court is considering the case of another gay couple, whose relationship was recognised as a “de facto union” by a family judge on 2 July. Several versions of a bill proposing to recognise same-sex unions have been presented in congress, sparking fierce opposition from political parties with religious ties.

Florez-Estrada said the couple knew they could face legal problems if they went public with their marriage, but decided to do so anyway.

We had to make public that it was not our mistake. It is a question of basic rights.”