US opposes UN ban on death penalty for gay people, others
New York, NY – As reported in Out.com, on October 6, the United Nations voted to pass a resolution banning a death penalty for the crime of being homosexual, and to our immense relief, the motion passed with a vote of 27 to 13. What isn’t so relieving, however, is that the United States was one of the nations to vote against the measure. The United States was joined in its no vote by Bangladesh, Botswana, Burundi, China, Japan, Qatar, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which currently maintains a death penalty for the crime of sodomy. Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, and Switzerland brought the ban forward, each of these countries having made LGBTQ rights a high priority in their legal initiatives.
The resolution specifically blocks “the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations,” according to the Los Angeles Blade. The resolution condemned the use of the death penalty “arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manor.”
The Trump administration is insisting it does not agree with using the death penalty for homosexuality, despite voting against a United Nations resolution to abolish the practice. “The United States is disappointed to have voted against that resolution,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert assured journalists. “We voted against that resolution because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances, and it called for the abolition of the death penalty altogether. We had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the positions of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully, as the United States does.”(Out.com at https://www.out.com/news-opinion/2017/10/04/us-government-defends-voting-against-un-ban-death-penalty-homosexuality)
Egypt unleashes worst crackdown of LGBTQ people in years
Cairo, Egypt – Reuters reports that Sarah Hegazy has been jailed, beaten by inmates, and could face a life sentence in an Egyptian prison if found guilty of “promoting sexual deviancy” and other charges tied to her alleged crime: waving a rainbow flag at a concert. The 28-year-old denies waving the flag but is one of 57 people arrested so far in Egypt’s widest anti-gay crackdown yet, a swift zero-tolerance response to a rare show of public support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in the conservative Muslim country. On Sept. 22, at a concert packed with 30,000 people headlined by Mashrou’ Leila, a Lebanese alternative rock band whose lead singer is openly gay, a small group of concert goers raised a rainbow flag and, within hours, the image went viral. Almost immediately local media, dominated by state-aligned television personalities, began a campaign against homosexuals, saying they were receiving foreign funding, and hosting callers who compared their threat to Islamic State. Egypt’s media regulator then banned homosexuals from appearing in the media unless they were “repenting”, calling homosexuality a “shame and a disease that should be kept under wraps, not promoted” in order to protect public morality
Lawyers for some of the other detainees said their clients faced treatment similar to what Hegazy experienced. Suspected gay male detainees are subject to forced anal exams to determine if they have had homosexual sex, a procedure human rights groups say amounts to torture. At least five such examinations have taken place, Amnesty International says. Judicial sources do not deny the examinations take place but say they are legally carried out and are not a form of abuse.
Egyptian authorities do not deny going after gays and an investigation report provided to Reuters by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) openly refers to the police’s campaign on homosexuals. Police, state-aligned media, and the religious establishment all see it as a public duty to combat the spread of homosexuality. Ten men have already gone on trial during the recent sweep and received jail sentences from one to six years. Although homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, it is a conservative society and discrimination is rife. (Reuters Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; editing by Giles Elgood at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-rights/rainbow-raids-egypt-launches-its-widest-anti-gay-crackdown-yet-idUSKBN1CB1HE)
California ends lifetime registry for some sex offenders
Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Times reports that thousands of Californians will be allowed to take their names off the state’s registry of sex offenders as a result of action on October 6 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor signed legislation that, when it takes effect Jan. 1, 2021 will end lifetime listings for lower-level offenders judged to be at little risk of committing new crimes. The measure was introduced at the request of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and other law enforcement officials who said the registry, which has grown to more than 105,000 names, is less useful to detectives investigating new sex crimes because it is so bulky.
California is one of only four states that require lifetime registration of sex offenders. The others are Alabama, South Carolina and Florida. The new law signed by the governor creates a tiered registry, with high-risk offenders on the registry for life and others able to petition to be removed after either 10 or 20 years without re-offending, depending on the offense.
Bill Dobbs of the DOBBS Wire reports that the tiered system is the same type of scarlet letter machinery used by nearly every other state. Dobbs says, “as to whether the new law is progress, the dust hasn’t settled yet so stay tuned. Let’s see what the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws (ACSOL) at www.all4consolaws.org, a vibrant California-based advocacy group, has to say.” The California registry’s history and homophobic beginnings are in an essay found at: http://www.solresearch.org/report/Origin_of_Registry. The link to the LA Times article follows. (The Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy at http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-bill-ending-lifetime-registry-of-sex-1507332406-htmlstory.html
ACLU sues Trump administration over “religious liberty”
Washington, D.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has announced that it is suing the Trump administration to block the new rules allowing employers to deny insurance coverage for birth control. Advocates for the rights of women and LGBT people have quickly condemned a move by the Trump administration that will make it infinitely easier to get away with discriminating by claiming that having to treat people fairly violates their religious liberty. Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, declared that the guidance “won’t hold up in court.” Carey added, “Don’t be fooled; this guidance isn’t meant to protect people of faith. A majority of people of faith are opposed to all forms of discrimination and oppression. … This guidance is meant to provide a legal basis for discrimination to anyone who is seeking one.”
On October 6, Attorney General Jeff Sessions “issued a sweeping directive to agencies to do as much as possible to accommodate those who claim their religious freedoms are being violated,” according to an Associated Press report posted by Refinery29.com. The directive “effectively lifts a burden from religious objectors to prove their beliefs about marriage or other topics are sincerely held.” Claiming religious freedom would be enough to override concerns that someone is violating the civil rights and anti-discrimination protections of LGBT people and women. Experts on religious liberty are saying Sessions’ “guidance” will mostly likely prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government. Basically, Sessions has declared that religious organizations can hire or fire based on religious beliefs, and that the government is infringing on someone’s religious liberty by “banning an aspect of their practice or by forcing them to take an action that contradicts their faith.” For instance, requiring employers to provide contraceptives to their workers “substantially burdens their religious practice.”
Also on October 6, Health and Human Services allowed employers with religious objections to opt out of the birth control coverage rule in the Affordable Care Act. On October 5 Sessions issued a guidance declaring that Title XII does not include protections for transgender people, reversing policies put in place by the Obama administration. (Dallas Voice at dallasvoice.com)
Trump Admin says Trans people not protected from job bias
Washington, D.C. – The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has reversed Obama-era protections for Transgender workers in a new memo. The two-page October 4 memo says that the prohibition against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies only to biological sex and not to gender identity. “Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote in the memo. “This is a conclusion of law, not policy.” In 2014, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder said in a memo that Title VII protection “encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status”
Current DOJ spokesperson Devin O’Malley said the Obama administration was at fault for finding Transgender protections in Title VII in the first place. “The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided,” O’Malley said. “Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action. This department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” In September the DOJ argued before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that Congress never intended Title VII to cover sexual orientation.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) said in a statement the Trump administration is “determined to promote discrimination through a false view of the law that has been rejected again and again by the courts. . . The attorney general does not get to make law, but he should at least read it. . . Simply: He is once again abdicating his responsibilities to enforce the law. Courts have repeatedly ruled that transgender people are protected by sex discrimination laws in employment, education, housing, and health care. We’ll see him in court.” (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org)
Gay man deliberately infects men with HIV then taunts them
Edinburgh, UK – According to Gay Star News, and The Sun UK, a gay man deliberately infected at least four men with HIV, before sending them mocking text messages revealing his status, a court heard. Daryll Rowe, 26, a hairdresser from Edinburgh, is on trial for meeting men on Grindr and sabotaging condoms. Prosecutors in the case said Rowe was on ‘”a cynical and deliberate campaign to infect other men with HIV.” He also texted one of his alleged victims: “Maybe you have the fever cos I came inside you and I have HIV, lol. Whoops!” The court also heard Rowe called one of his victims and laughed as he revealed his positive status. He allegedly said: “I ripped the condom. You’re so stupid, you didn’t even know.” The men met on Grindr
Caroline Carberry QC, prosecuting, told Lewes Crown Court the details: “Daryll Rowe was diagnosed with HIV in Edinburgh in April 2015. . .With full knowledge, putting others at risk, he embarked on what was a cynical and deliberate campaign to infect other men with the HIV virus. . .Unfortunately for some of the men he met, his campaign was successful. . .He had numerous, casual sexual relationships with men he met via Grindr [and] he deceived each of those men into believing he was HIV negative. . .He reassured the men he was clean and when they insisted on a condom, he deliberately sabotaged the condom. . .Many of them were sent abusive and mocking messages,” she told the court.
Judge Christine Hensen granted all victims the right to lifelong anonymity. She also gave the option to give evidence from behind a screen, so that they won’t have to face Rowe in court. Sussex Police arrested Rowe in February 2016. He refused to admit being HIV positive and was released. He was picked up again when other alleged victims came forward. After being released again, he went missing and police launched a manhunt to find him. He was discovered living in Wallsend under a fake name. The trial is due to last six weeks. (Gay Star News – at https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-man-deliberately-infects-lovers-with-hiv-then-sends-text-saying-lol-whoops/#gs.f9O2PPI & The Sun at https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4620606/hiv-positive-hairdresser-tampered-condoms-infect-grindr-sex-partners/)
California now has ‘Bill of Rights’ for LGBTQ Seniors
Sacramento, CA – California Gov. Jerry Brown today signed a bill that creates a ‘bill of rights’ for LGBTQ seniors in long-term care. The Bill sponsored by Equality California, will help protect seniors from discrimination or mistreatment in long-term care facilities. “Our LGBT seniors built the modern LGBT community and led the fight for so many of the rights our community takes for granted today,” said Sen. Scott Wiener, the Bill’s author. “It is our duty to make sure they can age with the dignity and respect they deserve. I want to thank Gov. Brown for joining our coalition in supporting this bill, which will make a real difference in people’s lives. The LGBT Senior Bill of Rights is an important step in our fight to ensure all people are treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
In a 2011 study of LGBTQ seniors and family members released by the National Senior Citizens Law Center, 43% had either been abused by caretakers themselves or witnessed that abuse. This incidence of maltreatment is likely far higher, as many cases of discrimination go undocumented. This abuse can take many forms, including being turned away or evicted from a long-term care facility based on sexual orientation or gender identity. After a lifetime of bullying by schoolmates, co-workers, and society at large, some LGBTQ seniors are forced to share a room with homophobic or transphobic companions. Same-sex couples are sometimes separated. The legislation is intended to require that care facilities provide culturally competent care.’
The Bill strengthens protections for LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care facilities against discrimination, such as refusing to use a resident’s preferred name or pronoun, denying admission to a long-term care facility, transferring a resident within a facility or to another facility based on the anti-LGBT attitudes of other residents, or evicting or involuntarily discharging a resident from a facility on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status. (Seattle Gay News at sgn.org)
Two gay talent agencies merge to great mega drag firm
Los Angeles, CA – Chante, you stay. And you stay, too. The Hollywood Reporter states that two talent booking agencies specializing in LGBT entertainers — and particularly emerging talent from the drag world — are merging to become a powerhouse firm representing the best in the world of dance music, gender-bending and other aspects of gay culture. Producer Entertainment Group (PEG) — the client list of which includes such RuPaul’s Drag Race royalty as Bob the Drag Queen, Alaska 5000, Sharon Needles and Michelle Visage — will combine staffing, talent and other resources with Executive PR and Talent (EPRT). In addition, EPRT reps its own stable of drag stars like Courtney Act, Roxxxy Andrews and Derrick Barry. On the speaking and hosting circuit, EPRT reps names like Lance Bass, Laverne Cox and Ross Matthews.
“Michael Benedetti, founder of EPRT, has created the strongest LGBT talent agency outside our own,” PEG founder David Charpentier said in a statement. “Our merger will create the most diverse talent management, branding, recording and touring roster in LGBT entertainment.” Both companies will continue to operate under their respective banners for the time being, collaborating on projects and sharing resources. Artists will continue to work directly with their current managers, though staffing will be shared across both companies’ offices in Los Angeles, New York and New Orleans.
EPRT’s current roster includes Alexis Michelle, Bebe Benet, BibleGirl, Charlie Hides, Coco Montrese, Courtney Act, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, Delta Work, Derrick Barry, Farrah Moan, Gia Gunn, Jade Jolie, Judas Joe Manson, Jujubee, Mrs. Kasha Davis, Kimora Blac, Morgan McMichaels, Nebraska Thunderf*ck, Ongina, Pandora Boxx, Rhea Litre, Robbie Turner, Roxxxy Andrews, Tatianna, Tempest DuJour, Trixie Mattel, Yara Sofia, Vivacious, Wednesday Westwood. PEG’s current list of stars include AAA Girls (The), Adore Delano, Alaska 5000, Ana Matronic, BenDeLaCreme, Bob the Drag Queen, Carmen Carrera, Darienne Lake, Ginger Minj, Ivy Winters, Jackie Beat, Jaremi Carey, Jiggly Caliente, Jinkx Monsoon, Katya, Lady Bunny, Major Scales, Manila Luzon, Michelle Visage, Miss Fame, Pandora Boxx, Pearl, Peppermint, Phi Phi O’Hara, Sharon Needles, Sherry Vine, Thorgy Thor, Todrick Hall, Vaudevillians (The), Violet Chachki, Willam. New clients will be jointly signed by the companies. (The Hollywood Reporter – Seth Abramovitch at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lgbt-talent-agencies-merge-create-drag-queen-super-firm-1045278)
Federal judge allows appeal of man’s LGBTQ job bias claim
Philadelphia, PA – A federal judge last month granted permission for a Norristown gay man to try to convince the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that anti-LGBT workplace bias always constitutes a form of sex discrimination. “Frank Doe” alleges he was fired as activities director at Meadowview Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Whitemarsh last year due to anti-LGBT bias. Doe claims his civil rights were violated under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws specifically ban workplace bias on the basis of sex, but they’re silent on the issue of whether “sex” encompasses someone’s “sexual orientation.” On Aug. 7, U.S. District Judge Thomas N. O’Neill Jr. said the civil-rights laws at issue don’t provide Doe with the anti-LGBT bias protections he seeks.
The case recently was transferred to U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody, who last week granted Doe’s request to file an immediate appeal in the Third Circuit. “[A] substantial ground for difference of opinion exists,” Brody stated in a three-page order issued Sept. 27. “It would be best to resolve this issue before any litigation continues.” A favorable appellate ruling could secure federal anti-bias protections for LGBT workers in the region. The circuit’s jurisdiction covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the Virgin Islands.
For more than 40 years, the circuit has held that anti-LGBT bias isn’t necessarily a form of sex discrimination banned by Title VII. Other jurisdictions across the country have taken a different stance, ruling that anti-LGBT workplace bias inherently is a form of sex discrimination and banned by Title 7. In those jurisdictions, LGBT plaintiffs are allowed to pursue their workplace antibias claims with the full force and effect of Title 7. (Philadelphia Gay News – Tim Cweik at epgn.com)
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