Tag Archives: Equal Rights

Why We Should All Watch Attorney General’s Incredible Speech On Trans Rights

Attorney General Loretta Lynch – the first black woman to hold the job – has just elevated the profile of the Justice Department with the potentially epic clash with North Carolina over its new bathroom law.

In suing the state (where she was born and raised) for discriminating against transgender people, Lynch invoked the defining civil rights struggles of the last century and made clear that the federal government sees its dispute with North Carolina as about far more than bathrooms and showers.

At a news conference this week, she announced the lawsuit, and said directly addressed North Carolina residents

Instead of turning away from our neighbors, friends and colleagues, let us instead learn from our history and avoid repeating the mistakes of our past. Let us reflect on the obvious but neglected lesson that state-sanctioned discrimination never looks good and never works in hindsight.”

Her remarks, in unusually forceful and personal language, came as North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory refused to back down over a law that requires transgender people to use the public restroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.

The Justice Department says the measure violates civil rights laws and is seeking a court order to block it.

Poland Passes Country’s First Ever Transgender Recognition Bill

Poland’s parliament have passed the country’s first ever transgender recognition bill.

The legislations was brought to parliament by Anna Grodzka – Poland’s first openly transgender politician. She introduced the Gender Accordance Act in May 2012, and it was finally passed on Thursday (23 July) by 252 votes to 158, with 11 abstained.

Wiktor Dynarski, president of the Polish advocacy group Trans-Fuzja Foundation said

It is a huge victory for trans people in Poland. For the past few days we have seen members of parliament advocating both against and for the law, but it was for the first time that we actually heard Polish policymakers openly protecting bodily autonomy of trans people and recognizing that trans citizens need to have their dignity assured.”

Although the country has legally recognised transgender citizens since the 1960s, the requirements of what it means to be transgender in the eyes of the law have never been specified, leading to a lack of rights for the community.

Under the new law, an unmarried transgender citizen would be legally eligible to apply for a new birth certificate and new educational and employment documentation – without having to undergo surgery or hormone therapy.

However, they would still need to present two independent confirmations of “being a person of a different gender identity than the gender legally assigned” from a clinical psychologist or doctor, before they were able to apply.

For the bill to become law early next year, it still needs to be passed by the senate and signed by the country’s president.

Ms Grodzka announced her plans to run for President earlier this year. She was elected as a Member of Parliament in Poland in 2011, in what is usually a notoriously conservative country.

There are currently no openly transgender heads of state in the world, meaning that Grodzka – who is already the world’s only elected transgender MP – would make history again if successful.

It’s difficult but I need to carry it on…it does affect my private life, it’s quite hard to share my life with another person with so much going on, but at the end of the day this is my life and I’m happy. I hope I can show other transgender people that life is worth living.”

In May, the Polish Parliament again voted against having a debate on the regulation of gay and straight civil partnerships.

Julianne Moore: The Fight For LGBT Rights Doesn’t End With Marriage Equality (Video)

For many, the battle for gay rights ends with marriage equality, but we need to consider the wider spectrum of LGBT issues in ‘mainstream’ society.

Yesterday, Oscar winning actress and LGBT ally Julianne Moore posted a video for Lambda Legal’s #IDo campaign to help raise funds and awareness.

In the video, she highlights the reasons why the crusade for gay civil rights must continue once marriage is legal for all. Moore cites school bullying, medical care and violence against transgender individuals as three such examples, urging others to say “I do.”

Moore is seen as the perfect ambassador for Lambda’s efforts. Her résumé contains a diverse mix of LGBT projects, including roles in The Hours, A Single Man, The Kids Are All Right, and the upcoming Freeheld, in which she plays a terminally ill police officer who must fight to secure pension benefits for her partner (Ellen Page).


I think it’s a very basic human-rights issue. Everybody has the right to marry the person they love and be represented as a couple and family. … It’s something that people will look back on in years to come and say, ‘I can’t believe it took so long for us to recognize this.’ It’ll be like segregation and giving women the right to vote.”

We Went To Gay Conversion Therapy Camp

Powerful documentary from Vice that needs to be watched.

Conversion therapy is the practice of “curing” gay people by trying to turn them straight through counselling and lifestyle restrictions. The practice dates back to the early Freudian period, when homosexuality was considered pathological and attempts to treat it were deemed appropriate. Today, however, homosexuality has been removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders, and conversion therapy is considered ineffective, harmful, and potentially deadly.

Regardless of a nationwide battle toward the acceptance of same­-sex marriage and equal rights for gay people, conversion therapy is still a problem, and it’s being practiced every single day in the United States and throughout the world.

Also: Did Gay Conversion Therapy Work For This Couple? Meet The McCardles

In this special report, VICE gets exclusive access to one of the hundreds of gay-conversion-therapy organisations, groups, and sessions in the United States. At the Journey into Manhood program, men pay more than $600 to attend a weekend retreat where they participate in exercises and activities the staff members claim will help them battle their same-sex ­orientation. The only qualification to become a staff member is to have successfully completed the program.

The report meets with the founder of reparative therapy, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who is illegally practicing on minors in the State of California, and investigates the controversial legal battle to fight conversion therapy for individuals under 18 years of age. We also travel to the annual Gay Christian Network Conference, speak with former “ex-gay” leaders including John Smid of Love in Action, who is now married to his gay partner, and hear the grueling stories of the individuals who have survived this brutal practice.

Watch the full documentary here.

Italian Court Recognises Legal Status of Child Born to Lesbian Couple for First Time

An  court has for the first time recognised the legal status of a child born to a lesbian couple in a ruling, made public yesterday, that challenges the country’s official stance on marriage only being between a man and a woman.

Italy, where the Roman Catholic church still has a great influence on politics, does not allow same-sex marriage or civil partnerships. However, in recent months some courts and town councils have begun to recognise the validity of same-sex marriages contracted abroad.

The appeals court in Turin ruled that the birth of the child, conceived by artificial insemination and born in Barcelona to a Spanish and Italian lesbian couple, should be transcribed into the official records of the town where the Italian woman lives.

The ruling gives Italian citizenship to the child, who was born in 2011, and means it can come to Italy to be with the mother, who is now divorced from her Spanish ex-wife.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Spain and a Barcelona court gave joint custody to both women.

The Turin court’s ruling, which was issued in October but only made public on Wednesday, overturned a 2013 verdict that the birth could not be legally recognised in Italy.

The appeals court said it was acting in the “exclusive interests of the child, who has been brought up by two women which the (Spanish) law each recognises as its mother”.

U.S. Constitution ‘Does Guarantee Same-Sex Marriage In All Fifty States’ Says President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama says the Supreme Court’s recent gay marriage orders may have the biggest impact of any ruling of his presidency.

Obama told The New Yorker that the court’s Oct. 6 rejection of appeals from states seeking to preserve gay marriage bans is the best of his tenure.

The former law professor says although the court was not ready to expand gay marriage rights nationwide,

“Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all fifty states. But, as you know, courts have always been strategic.

There have been times where the stars were aligned and the Court, like a thunderbolt, issues a ruling like Brown v. Board of Education, but that’s pretty rare.

And, given the direction of society, for the Court to have allowed the process to play out the way it has may make the shift less controversial and more lasting.”

President Barack Obama

The rejection effectively made gay marriages legal in 30 states and could lead to an expansion nationwide.

Obama says he doesn’t see himself ever serving on the Supreme Court because it would be too “monastic” for him.

Alaska’s Same-Sex Marriage Battle – ‘Citizens, Not The Courts Should Decide Whether Marriage Definition Includes Same-sex Couples’

Court papers filed Friday in Alaska, say Citizens, not the courts, should decide whether the definition of marriage includes same-sex couples.

The state is defending in federal court an amendment to Alaska’s constitution that bans gay marriage. In May, five same-sex couples – four married outside of Alaska and one unmarried couple – sued to overturn the ban approved by voters in 1998, saying it violates their rights to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

In a filing Friday, attorneys for the state said citizens have a fundamental right to decide whether to make changes to important institutions through the democratic process.

“The State of Alaska does not dispute that the residents of individual states have the right to change their marriage laws. … However, the State urges that residents of Alaska possess the same fundamental right to retain the traditional definition of marriage. This basic premise of democratic government should not be usurped by the judiciary absent compelling circumstances which the State respectfully urges are not present in this case.”

The attorneys said that allowing Alaska residents to decide whether to keep the traditional definition of marriage, of being between one man and one woman, “serves the important governmental interests of supporting the democratic form of government.”

The attorneys said there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage under the due-process clause of the U.S. Constitution. The state also argues that Alaska laws prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages from other states or countries do not violate the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

The state said recent court decisions across the country in support of gay marriage don’t point to a foregone conclusion in this case but to intervention by some courts into a law-making process that should be reserved for the people.

Oral arguments in the case have been set for next month.

Gay Rights Will Be Obama’s Greatest Legacy Says Former Clinton Adviser

Richard Socarides, who was a senior adviser to Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1999, has spoken up and claimed that gay rights will be Obama’s biggest legacy.

“Barack Obama has accomplished more progressive social change on gay rights than anything else… The reason why he has that record now is because, publicly and privately, we really held his feet to the fire.”

Richard Socarides

He added that the President – who did not back same-sex marriage during his first term in office – was prompted to take a bolder tone as a result of pro-gay activists.

The President recently appointed out Google executive Megan Smith as the White House’s new chief technical officer. The Obama administration announced the appointment of the Google engineer to the role this month, making her the most senior lesbian in the administration.

Obama last month gave a surprise opening address at the 9th annual gay games in Cleveland Ohio.

“I know some of you have come from place where it requires courage — even defiance — to come out, sometimes at great personal risk. You should know that the Untied States stands with you and for your human rights, just as our athletes stand with you on the fields at these games. After all, the very idea of America is that no matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from or who you love, you can make it if you try.”

President Barack Obama

Peru’s Rights Plan Excludes All Sexual Minorities

Peru has made slow progress in the field of gay rights, and has lagged behind its neighbors in bringing recognition and equality to sexual minorities. Its bordering states Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia all recognize gay unions or marriage equality. With Chile and Bolivia, all have policies protecting LGBT people from discrimination in the provision of services, and all include queers in hate-crime legislation. Of that group, Brazil alone doesn’t protect against LGBT employment discrimination, yet Peru has had none of these progresses.

Peru remains an island where marriage, civil unions, discrimination protection, and hate-crime protection are reserved for heterosexuals.

The Peruvian debate has been characterized by a brinkmanship between a government unable to reach consensus enough to explicitly include sexual minorities in legislation, and activist groups who see claims that protection can be extended without it as insufficient if not outright insincere.

Early this month the Peruvian federal government led by President Ollanta Humala passed National Human Rights Action Plan of 2014-2016. Complaints quickly arose that LGBT people and groups were excluded from the Plan’s protection. Last week the Minister of Justice, Daniel Figallo, responded to those complaints insisting that LGBT people are included as he called on groups and populations to work against discrimination individually as well.

“No one has been excluded. The country’s main problem is discrimination; there is widespread discrimination at various levels, and we are working against it. Those positions indicating an exclusion are incorrect.”

Daniel Figallo, Minister of Justice

Still, despite his insistence that the Plan implicitly includes sexual minorities, the Plan fails to mention them in any direct way.
Unsurprisingly, rights groups have been unsatisfied with this response. They see this as another in a long line of failures on behalf of the Humala administration to extend the protections of the state to all groups.

In 2013 a hate-crime bill that would have extended protections to queer communities was rejected by a majority coalition of the Gana Peru and Fuerza Popular parties. The same parties blocked a consensus on a following civil-unions law, and the debate was postponed and never revived.

In June of this year the Organization of American States (OAS) passed a resolution regarding “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity and Expression” that included language agreeing to support anti-discrimination legislation and hate-crime recognition, and to avoid interfering in the private lives of LGBT individuals. While Peru signed the resolution, action has yet to be taken toward anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws for LGBT people.

During the debate on the Human Rights Plan 2014-2016, eighteen proposals regarding the LGBT community were rejected or edited before all were ultimately removed.

Alaska Unanimously Rules that Same-sex Partners of Workers Killed on the Job Must Receive compensation

The Alaska Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that same-sex partners of workers killed on the job should have access to compensation under Alaska law.

In the lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal, Deborah Harris sought compensation for the work-related death of her partner Kerry Fadely. Kerry was tragically killed in 2011 when a disgruntled former employee shot and killed her.

Though workers’ compensation is usually paid by insurance companies, Alaska law requires employers to provide survivor benefits to the spouse of a person who is killed from a work-related injury.

Same-sex couples were unable to access survivor protections prior to this ruling because Alaska does not recognise same-sex marriages.

In a statement – Peter Renn, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney said

“This is a wonderful ruling for same-sex couples in Alaska who have built lives and raised families together but were at risk because they were barred access to a critical safety net created specifically to catch families at moments of crisis.

Like the avalanche of decisions we’re seeing from every corner of this country, the court recognized that loving, committed same-sex couples should have equal access to the law’s protection.”


Commonwealth Games Opens with a Gay Kiss

Glasgow Commonwealth Games opening ceremony made sure to drawing attention to the nation’s support for gay marriage, with the opening ceremony featuring a gay kiss between actor John Barrowman and a male dancer, to celebrate equality in Scotland.

The kiss was accompanied by shouts of “here’s to equality in Scotland”, and other backing dancers pulling party poppers.

It’s also no surprise, that just seconds after the reference appeared on screen, Twitter erupted.

Campaigners have called for statements in support of LGBT rights, given the number of Commonwealth countries which still currently criminalise homosexuality.

‘People didn’t want a lesbian to represent gay people’ – Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s acting Chief Executive

Ruth Hunt took over as acting chief executive of the charity Stonewall in January 2014, following the resignation of executive Ben Summerskill. Talking at Stonewall’s Education for All conference this week, she spoke about when she was first appointed to the role people were resistant to the idea of a lesbian leading the movement.

“What I was really struck by, was – this is somebody who was on Twitter, highlighting that experience [of women being marginalised in the LGB movement] – was [the criticism] ‘how can a lesbian represent gay people?’ And I was really struck by that, as an idea. Not, ‘how can a lesbian represent gay men?’, but ‘gay people’. And I think that’s certainly something which is still a re-occurring theme.”

Ruth Hunt

Late speaking to Pink News Paper, she went on to discuss her achievement in her new role…

In the last six months? That’s not a big time period, but I guess I’m really proud that Stonewall has continued to deliver everything that we said we were going to deliver. It’s hard when you’ve got a change in regime to do that. But I’m also really proud of the new conversations we’re having with the trans communities, and I think that’s incredibly important.

We’ll be holding a roundtable with fifty of the leading trans activists about what they want from the future of the trans movement, and Stonewall’s role in that. We are also having an open consultation at stonewall.org.uk/trans, where people can tell us whatever they’re thinking about these things; and there will be more conversations going forward.

Ruth Hunt



Looking Back – America’s Biggest LGBT Right Defeats.

In the past couple of years the LGBT community has seen a number of victories in America when it comes to equal rights in employment, marriage and politics. However we should never forget that it took a lot defeats to get to those victories.

We take a look back at America’s biggest gay right defeats.

1950 – The Lavender Scare

The Lavender Scare refers to the persecution of gays and lesbians in 1950s, and in particular the anti-communist campaign – known as McCarthyism. While McCarthyism is very well known, a lesser-known element was the the targeting of gays and lesbians. At this time, homosexuality was regarded as a mental illness, and because of that politicians believed they were easy prey for blackmailers (especially communists blackmailers), thus constituting a security risk. The result – thousands of federal employees lost their jobs.

By 1953 President Dwight Eisenhower formally signed Executive Order 10450 banning homosexuals from working for the federal government or any of its private contractors. The policy wasn’t officially rescinded until 1995 when President Bill Clinton did so with Executive Order, which included an anti-discrimination statement that reads:

“The United States Government does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in granting access to classified information.”

1952 – APA Lists Homosexuality as a ’Sociopathic Personality Disturbance’ Disorder

Homosexuality was first labelled a mental illness in the 30’s, however in 1952 the American Psychiatric Association officially listed homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance. In a report know as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it included a category called sexual deviation as a subtype of sociopathic personality disturbance. The second publication of the DSM in 1968 continued to list homosexuality as a disorder and formally gave the “disease” its own code – 302.0. It wasn’t until 1973 that the board of the American Psychiatric Association finally voted to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

1977 – Anita Bryant Wages Successful Campaign to Repeal Pro-Gay Rights Ordinance

Anita Bryant – Singer and spokeswoman for Florida’s orange juice industry led a successful crusade called “Save Our Children” repealing gay rights ordinance in Dade County. Bryant faced severe backlash from gay rights supporters across the U.S. and many gay bars boycotted orange juice in their establishments. The ordinance was finally reinstated on December 1, 1998, more than 20 years after the campaign.

1986 – Supreme Court Upholds Sodomy Laws

The Supreme Court decided to uphold the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law, which criminalized oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults when applied to homosexuals. It was a huge setback to the gay rights movement. The Supreme Court reversed their decision in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated a similar Texas sodomy law.

1990 – Court Rules Gays Can be Denied Security Clearance

High Tech Gays, an organization for gays in the high tech industry, challenged the Department of Defense’s long standing policy of not giving security clearances to applicants who were known or thought to be homosexual. The group won in district court, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed the decision.

1993 – ’Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Enacted

The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was introduced as a compromise by President Bill Clinton, who campaigned in 1992 on the promise to allow all citizens to serve in the military regardless of sexual orientation. DADT prohibited military personnel from harassing or discriminating against gay and lesbian service members as long as they stayed in the closet. The policy turned out to be disaster as more gay and lesbian service men being discharged because of their sexual orientation than before. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was ruled unconstitutional in federal court in 2010.

1996 – Defense of Marriage Act Becomes Law

In 1996 both houses of congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act with a veto proof majority, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. The law barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage and defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. It also stated that no state can be forced to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state. The first part of that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013 with United States v. Windsor. The second part has since been ruled unconstitutional by several lower courts.

2004 – 13 American States Formally Ban gay marriage

In 2004 the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state must recognize same-sex marriage, making it state the first in the nation to do so. However, 13 states formally banned gay marriage including Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma, and Michigan.

2008 – Prop 8 Bans Same-Sex Marriage in California

In 2008 the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. The anti-gay forces though quickly rallied together, getting enough signatures to put the issue up for a vote later that year. In November that year, the voters approved Proposition 8, making gay marriage illegal. The loss was a massive blow. But when the law was challenged in federal court it was ruled unconstitutional, and set the stage for a potentially historic Supreme Court decision. In the end, the lower court’s decision was upheld on a technicality, making gay marriage in the state once again legal.

Source – Edge San Francisco

Kentucky Same-Sex Marriage Ban Struck Down By Federal Judge

The judicial system in the United States of America is a many layered, incredibly tricky thing. While Barack Obama told the Supreme Court (the highest court in the country that takes judicial precedence over every other court in America) not to uphold same-sex marriage bans, there has still been the case of dismantling each and every one of the existing anti-same-sex marriage laws that can be found across the country’s 50 states. Since knocking down the Defense of Marriage Act (the law that banned federal recognition of same-sex marriage) in n, 2013, the Supreme Court’s decision has helped district courts in Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and more to rule that their anti-same-sex marriage laws are in violation of the US constitution. The latest state to follow such a ruling is Kentucky, helping pave the way for an unprecedented wave of progressive law in the south.

The ruling in Kentucky follows U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn’s announcement in February of this year that Kentucky’s refusal to recognise the validity of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, although at the time Heyburn did not say anything pertaining to the state’s own ban on same-sex marriages. That has changed today though as the case of Love v. Beshear was brought to attention, with two same-sex couples filing a complaints against the fact that they couldn’t get married in the state. In Heyburn’s 19-page ruling for the case, he argued that same-sex marriage doesn’t damage the idea of heterosexual marriage in any way, shape or form, nor does it harm heterosexual people in general, leading him to say the following,

“Assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree. Thus, same-sex couples’ right to marry seems to be a uniquely ‘free’ constitutional right. Hopefully, even those opposed to or uncertain about same-sex marriage will see it that way in the future.”

Heyburn’s ruling is monumental, not least because Kentucky is a notoriously conservative state and so while it doesn’t necessarily mean that same-sex couples in the state can go ahead and started drafting up pre-nups and Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Steve Beshear has already announced plans to appeal the ruling Heyburn made in February, it’s still the first step on a hopefully long and illustrious ladder of progressive change.

Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Top 10 Wedding Stats on Same-Sex Weddings and LGBT Nuptials

To commemorate Pride Month, the striking down of same-sex marriage bans, and the anniversary of the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), TheKnot.com and The Advocate, announced the results of their second annual same-sex wedding survey.

The study looked at many aspects of weddings, from the engagement ring to the honeymoon, comparing the traditions that same-sex couples are following in their wedding ceremonies with those of their straight counterparts.

Top 10 Wedding Stats on Same-Sex Weddings and LGBT Nuptials 

  1. It is our wedding – 82% of same-sex couples refer to this occasion as their wedding in invitations, up from 70% in 2013.
  2. We go all-out – Over 70% of same-sex couples will have a ceremony and reception, as opposed to 96% of straight couples. 12% of same-sex couples will only have a ceremony, and 7% of couples are planning to simply host a reception.
  3. Its not always about the size of the diamond – Proposing with a ring is not as common for same-sex couples, with about 2 out of 3 couples (62%) exchanging an engagement ring before or after the proposal.
  4. Its about teamwork – When it comes to wedding attire, nearly all (91%) of same-sex couples know what their partner is wearing in advance, with 49% of male same-sex couples and 20% of female same-sex couples wearing matching outfits. As a nod to customary wedding wear, 42% of both female and male same-sex couples are wearing a suit or tuxedo as their wedding day attire.
  5. The “walk down the aisle” – Less than half of same-sex couples did or plan to walk down the aisle. Of those couples, 59% of female same-sex couples will be escorted by a family member, along with 37% of male same-sex couples. However, 40% percent of male same-sex couples and 30% of female same-sex couples plan to walk down the aisle together.
  6. Its about us – 63% of straight couples are more likely to tie religion into their ceremony, while only 38% of same-sex couples will incorporate religion.
  7. We’re romantic – Nearly half (49%) of same-sex couples write their own vows, compared to about one in four straight couples.
  8. Its not always tradition – In a more traditional move, 79% of straight brides will change their last name to the groom’s last name, while 54% of same-sex couples will keep their given last names.
  9. We’re not cheap – Although same-sex couples are spending less on average ($15,849) on their weddings than straight couples ($29,858), they’re having more intimate affairs with less guest and still investing just as much on their guests, with an average spend of $205 per head.
  10. We pay our way – When it comes to finances, 85% of same-sex couples are paying for their wedding themselves, compared with only 13% of straight couples.

New York Senates Blocks a Bill That Would Ban Gay Conversion Therapy

While plenty of people are simply debating how a person’s queerness came to be; whether they were born this way or if the environments they were in influenced their sexuality, plenty of others just want to know ‘how can we stop the person in question from having a non-heterosexual identity?’. For whatever reason, it’s more heard of than not for the people around said queer person (or for the queer person themselves) to turn to gay conversion therapy; therapy that seeks to ‘cure’ their queerness via methods that can only be described as offensive and deeply concerning.

Many people who have gone through gay conversion therapy have actually found that said conversion didn’t work and that they only ended up suppressing their feelings in the hopes of following a heterosexual life and indeed, it’s young queer people who are the most vulnerable as they have no way to escape should their parents see them put into the therapy program. That’s why so many people have been lobbying to have the conversion therapy banned for minors.

One of these places is New York, the typically liberal leaning state in America. However, when two LGBT-related bills made it to the floor of the New York Senate on Friday night (including the conversion therapy ban), the Senate failed to vote on either of them, despite the Senate session even being extended.

Advocates even called both bills “life saving” but GOP Senate leaders blocked the bills before they could go to the floor for vote, somewhat unfortunate considering that supporters of the bill say they had the votes for the two bills to pass, citing support from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The second bill was the Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which looked to protect trans* New York citizens from gender based discrimination in terms of housing, benefits, public transportation and employment, something that would be greatly needed considering the high rates of LGBT youths who are homeless or in poverty as a result of stifling discrimination.

The bills aren’t going to be forgotten about though, despite this setback as Allison Steinberg, communications director at Empire State Pride Agenda says that “we will not stop fighting for these bills until they pass,” and that “even when the Legislature is not in session, we will work to educate and build support for these bills and we are looking to election season this Fall, which could end up impacting bills like ours in the next session,” so we can look for both bills to return to the New York Senate in the hopes that they will pass soon.


Last Ditch Efforts in the War on Gay Marriage

Last year the Supreme Court of the USA ruled that the federal government should and must recognise same-sex marriages. Since then twenty judges around the nation have struck down state bans on gay marriage.

Some opponents of gay marriage now expect a Supreme Court ruling to legalise same-sex unions right across the US while others will never give up the fight. Thousands are expected on the upcoming March for Marriage in Washington, DC.

The National Organization for Marriage is behind the march and rather optimistically speaks of a ‘road to victory’ on its website. ‘A competition is won by those who take the field, not by those who sit on the sidelines,’ so said Brian Brown, the President of the NOM. Sounding not unlike a Roman general, he added: ‘Friends, we need to take the field for marriage — and fight to win!’

NOM supporters want the Supreme Court to assure the right of states to establish their own marriage laws, rather than instituting a nationwide same-sex marriage ban. If the Supreme Court were to do the opposite – legalie gay marriage nationwide – Brown has said that he and the NOM ‘won’t go away’.

Predictably for a conservative, he has compared the anti-gay marriage struggle to the anti-abortion movement since the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade which legalised abortion in every state in the Union.

What is most worrying about NOM is its affiliations with outright bigots – both religious and secular. A number of gay rights advocates and liberal politicians penned an open letter in which they castigated the March on Washington for scheduling speakers who ‘denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.’

Non-Discrimination Law Should Be Considered to Protect LGBT Citizens, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Says

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently made headlines after the Republican politician chose to veto a controversial senate bill called SB 1062 which would have given businesses in the state the legal right to refuse to provide service to LGBT people if it was against their religious beliefs. Her veto of the bill came after protests and outrage that the state could potentially bring a bill to law that would sanction anti-LGBT discrimination and several big profile businesses including Apple and American Airlines suggested that it would severely impact their ability to make money in the area. Following that firestorm, Brewer has now gone one step further, calling for the state’s legislators to consider extending the non-discrimination laws to protect LGBT Arizona residents.

Current Arizona legislation covers discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origins and disability but Brewer has now said in an interview that the lawmakers need to evaluate that.

“I do not believe in discrimination. We are in the United States of America and we have great privilege that is afforded to everyone.”

While any other viewpoints (one that would effectively condone discrimination) would just draw more controversy, she also questioned whether non-discrimination laws would actually be needed, as if to say that the issue of discrimination is less of an issue due to the changing, progressive views that many US citizens hold about LGBT people. “[Real problems of discrimination with a need for legislative change are] something we don’t see a lot of anymore, because of people’s changing patterns of discrimination” is what she told Capitol Media Services on Tuesday, also adding that “If it needs to be addressed, it needs to be debated in the Legislature,” and that they should “Let the representatives of the people who have been elected by the populace of the state of Arizona determine and get it up to the governor.”

As for her own views on an updated non-discrimination bill, Brewer explained that “I don’t know what would be in that bill or how they would write it. But I certainly would evaluate it and do what I thought was the right thing to do for the state” and arguably, faced with similar outcries to support legislation in favour of LGBT citizens she would perhaps be willing to support the improved bill. That would be in spite of the decision she made in 2009 to halt benefits to same-sex domestic partners of state and university employees (a decision that was overturned by the Supreme Court) and Rebecca Wininger, president of Equality Arizona even said that Brewer is responsible for the LGBT discrimination in the state that the Governor says she ‘does not see a lot of’. Nonetheless, Arizona is famously conservative so perhaps this will set the wheels in motion for a positive change in the state.

Source:Arizona Capitol Times,Buzzfeed


UK Government Announces That Civil Partnerships WILL Convert to Marriages from 10 December

The Government has yesterday announced that couples currently in civil partnerships will be able to convert to marriage from 10 December 2014.

‘For me, freedom has always been about the right to be who you are and love who you love.  That’s why I was proud to walk through the “aye” lobby at the House of Commons in support of equal marriage. And that’s why I’m pleased to announce that, from 10 December, couples in England and Wales who have entered a Civil Partnership over the past decade will be free to convert it into a marriage.’

Minister for Equalities Sajid Javid

The announcement comes after Stonewall called for the Government to give couples a date so they can begin to plan their celebrations with their family and friends.

Commenting on the announcement Stonewall’s Director of Campaigns, Sam Dick said:

‘We’re pleased that the government has finally named the date allowing those in civil partnerships to convert to marriage. We know that thousands of couples will now be able to plan celebrations with their friends and family. We hope that the process being set out by the government is straight forward, inexpensive and allows those couples to finally get the marriage certificate they’ve waited patiently for.’

Sam Dick, Stonewall’s Director of Campaigns

This announcement comes only days away from London Pride, and as thousands of people look descend on capital for the annual Pride parade. This year the organisers are asking everyone to share what Pride means to them under the banner of #FreedomTo.

Stonewall Release New Global Values Guide to Help Businesses Embrace Global Equality

Global Values: Getting Started with LGB Equality Worldwide has been launched by Stonewall.

The guidance was created as part of its Global Diversity Champions Programme (supported by Data Morphosis), and to ensure businesses promote equality around the world – supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the face of ever changing local legal, social and cultural conditions.

Featuring major organisations (such as Barclays, IBM, EY and Google) as key case studies, and to highlight how they support their LGB staff around the world; the new guidance offers ten top tips to ensure organisation’s policies and values are consistent wherever they operate in the world.

The guide has been developed to ensure clear global leadership supports LGB equality and provides safe spaces for LGB staff in countries where no legal protections exist.

‘More and more organisations are looking for meaningful ways to share their values, particularly supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual staff, no matter where they operate around the world. This guide will help organsiations think about the ways they can express their commitment to equality within the boundaries of local law.’

Simon Feeke, Stonewall’s Head of Workplace

The guide will be sent to 100 global employers, including businesses, government agencies and international universities.

At Stonewall we know that employers, whether from the private, public or third sectors, have played a powerful role in driving forward equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain. This guide, the first in a series of Global Workplace Guides, will help global organisations to share these same values no matter where they work in the world.’

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Acting Chief Executive

Veteran Lesbian Couple to Demand Married Recognition

Nancy Robrahn and Jennie Rosenkranz have been together for almost 30 years and are both aged over 65. This weekend they will travel from their home state, South Dakota, in order to get married in Minnesota, a state where same-sex marriage is permitted. They will then return to SD and demand that the government recognise their union.

According to the law firm hired by the couple, Robrahn, 68, and Rosenkranz, 72, will be married at Minneapolis’ Community of Christ Church by the city mayor. Their four children and six grandchildren will be present at the ceremony.

When they go back to South Dakota, the couple will begin litigation against the state government to repeal 2006 legislation banning same-sex marriage.

‘We are approaching the time when end of life decisions and plans need to be made,’ said Robrahn. ‘There are many federal protections that will become available to us through this Minnesota marriage. We hope to see the day when couples like us don’t have to travel out of South Dakota to marry.’

Robrahn and Rosenkranz are not the only gay couple pursuing a civil rights suit against the state of South Dakota. Their plaintiffs in this case are two other same-sex couples. There is hope amongst the LGBT community in the state that their legal action will lead to a broader amendment to the constitution of the state that will, once and for all, legalise and normalise same-sex marriage.

If such a law is passed, Montana, Alaska and North Dakota will be the only states in the Union not to either recognise same-sex marriages or to have an equality suit pending. According to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, right across the USA there are 65 cases seeking marriage equality in over 30 states and territories.

Landmark Marriage Equality Ruling in Mexico

In a historic step, a judge in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico ruled on Tuesday that the prohibition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The LGBT community in Mexico is overjoyed with the decision as it means that LGBTs will likely be allowed to get married all across the country.

Mexico’s Supreme Court found that marriage inequality not only contravened Article 1 of the Mexican Constitution, which explicitly condemns discrimination against sexual minorities, but that it breached Article 143 of the National Civil Code. These landmark rulings come as a response to a civil rights suit brought by 39 LGBT Mexicans.

‘It is time to modernise our laws and our institutions have to adapt … because we are being overtaken by new circumstances,’ said Clarivel Rivera, Director of Oaxaca’s Vital Records Department. In the light of this good news for Mexican LGBTs, the government is now expected to change the country’s laws to accommodate all forms of same-sex marriage.

Same-sex ceremonies already take place in states such as Quintana and the federal district of Mexico City, while elsewhere LGBTs can join equivalent “civil union schemes”. Mexican LGBTs now feel that the next step must be to ensure that all states recognise all kinds of same-sex relationships.

Image source


Mexico Court Rules Law Banning Gay Marriage… by IBTimesTV

Jamaican Politician Calls for Legality of Homosexuality

The leader of the Jamaican opposition, Andrew Holness, has asked Prime Minister Portia Simpson to hold a referendum in 2015 on the legality of homosexuality. According to Holness, there are “uncertainties” in the public’s mind about the controversial Buggery Act that carries a maximum penalty of ten years’ hard labour for miscreants.

Mr Holness said, ‘Prime Minister, there is great uncertainty in the LGBT community and amongst ordinary Jamaicans alike about your promise to review the Buggery Act. The issue is very sensitive, of course, I am sure you will agree that more Jamaicans, in general, and interest groups are more open to discussion on the matter. A way to finally bring some certainty to the matter would be to put it to the people.’

Mr Holness would also like the referendum to focus on a number of other pressing issues: the liberalisation of Jamaica’s marijuana laws, the Caribbean Court of Justice’s role as the final appeal court and whether or not the Queen of England should remain as Jamaica’s Head of State. ‘I am sure Jamaica could have our own queen, if we placed this on the referendum,’ Mr Holness said.

The referendum would have the advantage of being cost-effective, so Mr Holness’s supporters argue, and would prove that Jamaica is a truly democratic nation that listens to its populace at the grass roots level.

“Ganja liberalisation” has been a hot topic for decades in Jamaica. There is no consensus between the mainstream political parties and a growing lobby has been campaigning for the right of the Jamaican people to decide on this issue for themselves.

What a Wonderful World for LGBTQs

With the global news all too often full of depressing stories about homophobia, it’s a relief to hear that many parts of the world are getting more tolerant towards LGBTs. Let’s take a look at all the countries that nowadays allow same-sex marriage.

Gay unions are now legal in 15 nations, including EU states such as Belgium, France and the UK, as well as South Africa, Canada and Argentina. 14 out of the 50 United States have taken that vital leap forward into the 21st century too. Massachusetts was the first state to legalise such unions back in 2004, some 8 years before President Obama famously endorsed gay marriage.

Almost half the nations in Europe accept some kind of same-sex union. The institution is most popular in Holland (where 82% of the people support it) and Sweden (71%). Sadly, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria and 11 other states refuse to define marriage as anything other than between a man and a woman.

LGBTs can’t tie the knot anywhere in Asia, although the institution is recognised in Israel. In the strictly Roman Catholic Philippines, the New People’s Army, a communist guerrilla outfit, conducted the country’s first ever same-sex marriage in 2005. However, the government did not recognise it.

South Africa flies the progressive flag in Africa as it is the only country on the continent where LGBTs can marry. It is of great concern that homosexuality is legal in only 13 of Africa’s 38 nations. Oddly enough though, in Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone, where male relationships are banned, no such laws exist against lesbianism.

18.5% of the Caribbean welcomes gay marriage. LGBT couples might consider travelling to the gorgeous tropical islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Martin.

As for Oceania, 3 out of 5 Australian states permit same-sex unions and New Zealand’s first gay wedding took place in October 2013.

World Map

Same Sex Partnerships Evolving

As the public eye seems to change its view on same-sex couples and marriage, political leaders have had to pay more attention to the wants and needs of more acceptance towards their lifestyles, involving legal protections to the individuals to ensure no one is injured by someone who disagrees with their relationships.

Countries besides America have taken different routes to reach out to gays, and people in same-sex relationships to provide them with equal rights as people who are straight and married. If equal rights are not provided, then there are some arrangements that have been made to give the gay couples (some) of the same rights. Several countries have made sure that all couples whether gay or straight are given the privilege, or right, to be able to get married. Even so, there are daily protests and rants from people who strongly disagree with same-sex marriage, and not all political leaders will stand up for these rights.

However in the United Kingdom there are several discussions about if marriage is a real option for gay couples. Ever since the year 2004 the United Kingdom has allowed gay couples to join into civil partnerships, which allots most of the same rights to gays as the straight people retrieve, is more of a security blanket, which allows for protection if something were to go wrong in a social setting.  Civil partnerships allows both parties to have parental rights, exempt from inheritance tax, etc. While this isn’t marriage, it is a pretty good comparison to the real thing.

While it is a good start, civil partnerships aren’t enough for some people who would love to express their love in church, or in a public setting, exchanging vows and have a certified document to prove their love for each other. It is still inching closer and closer to earning equal rights for love.

However in Canada this is not the case at all. Canada passed a Civil Marriage Act in 2005, so gays could get married in whichever Canadian state they chose. Even if this act wasn’t passed, many states in Canada had already allowed for gay marriages. The United States has yet to make it legal all across the nation, a couple of states have allowed for same-sex marriage.

Australia is not as ahead in the same-sex marriage as each attempt for gays to get married has failed. Most couples cannot even prove they are in a relationship without meeting specific criteria, which can be a lengthy and irritating process.

While gay marriage and relationships are moving at a steady rate to become equal with straight relationships/marriages, government has realized they cannot ignore these requests forever and must take further action to allow everyone to feel safe and free.