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Gay & Lesbian


German Cabinet OKs plan to annul homosexuality convictions

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:32:38 UT

BERLIN — Germany’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that would annul the convictions of thousands of gay men under a law criminalizing homosexuality that was applied zealously in post-World War II West Germany. The decision also clears the way for compensation for those still alive who were convicted under the so-called Paragraph 175 outlawing sexual relations between men. The bill approved Wednesday by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet of conservatives and center-left Social Democrats still requires parliamentary approval. The Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany “welcomes the fact that, after long decades of ignorance, legal consequences are being drawn from the serious mass human rights violations that were committed against homosexual people by the democratic state,” spokesman Helmut Metzner said.

Court rules discrimination against gay workers is not prohibited

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 22:27:45 UT

ATLANTA — In a setback for gay rights advocates hoping for an expansion of workplace discrimination protections, a federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled that employers aren’t prohibited from discriminating against employees because of sexual orientation. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled 2-1 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on a variety of factors, doesn’t protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. The case was one of two that Lambda Legal had pending before federal appeals courts — along with an Indiana case at the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago — that the LGBT rights group had hoped would mark a significant step forward for gay rights. An 11th Circuit decision from 2011 said discrimination against a transgender employee because of gender nonconformity amounted to sex discrimination and was not allowed, and Evans’ attorneys argued it should also protect gays and lesbians who claimed discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

Boston St. Patrick’s parade welcomes gay vets

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 00:02:49 UT

BOSTON — Organizers of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade reversed course and said they will allow a group of gay veterans to march in this year’s parade. The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council announced on the parade’s Twitter account late Friday that it had signed an “acceptance letter” that would clear the way for OutVets to participate. “We are honored and humbled by all the outpouring of support that has been displayed for our LGBTQ veterans — who are one of the most unrepresented demographics in our veterans community,” said lawyer said Dee Dee Edmondson. An earlier vote by the council to bar OutVets from marching drew immediate condemnation from high-profile politicians, some of whom said they would not march if the gay veterans were excluded. Bishop said the council offered to allow the group to march if its members did not display the rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, which is on their banner and their jackets.

Supreme Court drops major transgender case

Mon, 6 Mar 2017 21:15:07 UT

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is returning a transgender teen’s case to a lower court without reaching a decision, leaving in limbo the issue of transgender rights in school settings. Monday’s action comes after the Trump administration pulled back federal guidance advising schools to let students use the bathroom of their chosen gender, not biological birth. The high court action follows the administration’s recent decision to withdraw a directive issued during Barack Obama’s presidency that said which bathroom to use should be based on students’ gender identity, not biological birth. The appeals court accepted the administration’s reading of the law without deciding for itself what the law and a related regulation on same-sex bathrooms and locker rooms mean. Similar cases are pending in other parts of the country so it is likely that other appeals courts also will weigh in about the reach of antidiscrimination protections for transgender students.

Alabama drive-in cancels 'Beauty and the Beast' over gay character

Fri, 3 Mar 2017 23:03:50 UT

The so-called "gay moment" in Disney's new live-action version of "Beauty and the Beast" is subtle — so subtle that one could easily miss it with an ill-timed sneeze or glance away from the screen. Mere word of it was also enough to lead one Alabama drive-in theater to cancel plans to show the film — apparently without having seen it, because it doesn't open nationwide until March 17. Without spoiling too much, it's safe to say that LeFou spends much of the film in Gaston's thrall, and toward the end also has a moment — a few seconds, really — where the same-sex theme is more overt. Because I think it's a very fluid character. The length of the scene — or scenes, since LeFou's fluid orientation is hinted at elsewhere — is not what's important, said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, the LGBTQ media advocacy group. Ellis noted that in the annual survey that GLAAD puts together on LGBTQ inclusion in movies, we have struggled year after year to find any content in major studio films. A Facebook page that apparently belongs to the Henagar Drive-In Theatre in Henagar, Alabama, announced that the theater won't be showing the film as planned because its operators are "first and foremost Christians" and "will not compromise on what the Bible teaches." Audra McDonald, the Tony-winning Broadway actress who plays a particularly tuneful supporting character in "Beauty and the Beast," said she was "so honored" to be a part of the moment.

SF tells high court there’s nothing to fear from trans restrooms

Fri, 3 Mar 2017 01:34:04 UT

Decades of allowing transgender students, park visitors and government workers to use restrooms that fit their gender identity show that fears of sexual predators and invasion of privacy are unfounded, San Francisco and 30 other local governments said Thursday in a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court. The local governments’ filing cited San Francisco’s experience under its own laws, including a 1993 ballot measure that banned discrimination against transgender city employees, and other actions affecting schools and public parks. The city parks department “has not received any complaints arising out of a transgender person using a restroom or other sex-segregated facility, or any complaints of a sexual predator falsely asserting a gender identity in order to gain access to a restroom,” the local governments’ lawyers said. Since the first such ordinance was passed in Minneapolis in 1975, the brief said, more than 200 local governments nationwide have adopted transgender protections and have experienced none of the “imagined horribles” forecast by opponents.

Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down city’s LGBT protections

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 23:45:01 UT

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a city’s ordinance banning discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, but it stopped short of saying whether a state law aimed at prohibiting such local LGBT protections is constitutional. Fayetteville, a liberal enclave in northwestern Arkansas, is one of several cities that approved local protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in response to the 2015 law. In the unanimous ruling, the justices rejected the argument that Fayetteville and other cities with such ordinances have made, that such protections are covered elsewhere in state law.

Trump administration to lift transgender bathroom guidance

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 22:55:32 UT

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is revoking U.S. transgender guidelines, stepping into an emotional national issue and stripping students of federal protections to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching gender identities that differ from their birth certificates. The administration is coming down on the side of states’ rights, revoking federal guidelines that had been issued by the Obama administration. Without the Obama directive, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret federal antidiscrimination law and determine whether students should have access to restrooms in accordance with their expressed gender identity and not just their biological sex. Conservative activists hailed the change, saying the Obama directives were illegal and violated the rights of fixed-gender students, especially girls who did not feel safe changing clothes or using restrooms next to anatomical males.

Trump administration poised to change transgender student bathroom guidelines

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 03:03:50 UT

The Trump administration plans to roll back protections for transgender students and is preparing changes to federal guidance that required the nation’s public schools to allow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identities. “I think that all you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time, that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in, this is a states’ rights issue,” spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters at a daily media briefing Tuesday. The decision would not have an immediate impact on the nation’s public school students because a federal judge had already put a hold on the Obama-era directive issued in May. A lower court ruled in favor of Grimm based on the Obama administration’s position on transgender student bathroom use. Transgender advocates say that allowing people with gender dysphoria to use their preferred restroom is essential for their health and psychological well-being.

Same-sex marriage found to cut teen suicide risk

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:22:50 UT

CHICAGO — Teen suicide attempts in the U.S. declined after same-sex marriage became legal, and the biggest impact was among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids, a study found. Suicidal behavior is much more common among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids and adults; about 29 percent of these teens in the study reported attempting suicide, compared with just 6 percent of straight teens. Laws that have the greatest impact on gay adults may make gay kids feel “more hopeful for the future,” said lead author Julia Raifman, a researcher at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals more likely to be imprisoned, assaulted

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:14:19 UT

The possible reasons for the high rate of imprisonment include stress resulting from rejection by their families, use of illegal drugs, and stigma that makes it harder for lesbians, gays and bisexuals to gain social acceptance, said the report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Citing government data from 2011-12, the most recent figures available, the institute said self-described lesbian or bisexual women, who totaled 3.4 percent of the adult U.S. population, accounted for 33.3 percent of the women in state and federal prisons and 26.4 percent of the women in local jails. In other findings, the report said that lesbians and gay men were more likely than other inmates to be placed in solitary confinement, and that lesbians in prison and gay men in both prisons and jails were more likely than others to be suffering from mental health problems. Lesbians and gays were also more likely to have had consensual sex with other inmates, resulting in punishment that included loss of access to prison programs, reductions in family visits and lesser prospects of parole, the report said. The lead researcher, Ilan Meyer, said he hopes the study, the first of its kind, “raises awareness of the heightened risk that sexual minority populations face for sexual victimization, isolation, disproportionate punishment and distress.”

Trump lawyers signal new policies on transgender students

Sat, 11 Feb 2017 23:17:26 UT

The Trump administration has signaled that it is changing course on the previous administration’s efforts to expand transgender rights, submitting a legal brief withdrawing the government’s objections to an injunction that had blocked guidance requiring that transgender students be allowed to use restrooms that match their gender identity. [...] how the administration decides to proceed on the particular issue of transgender students and restroom use would affect several other cases in which students are challenging their school districts’ policies, including one involving Virginia student Gavin Grimm, which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court this spring. The brief, filed in the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, came as part of a long-running suit by 12 states opposed to Education Department guidance issued last year directing the nation’s public schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom of their choice. The Obama administration took the position that barring the students from restrooms that matched their gender identity was a violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in public schools.

Judge William Norris, whose ruling paved way for gay rights, dies

Wed, 1 Feb 2017 23:25:20 UT

William Norris, a retired federal appeals court judge whose 1988 ruling on gays in the military was a milestone on the path to equal rights for gays and lesbians, has died at age 89. A soft-spoken man with sometimes-fiery judicial opinions, Mr. Norris was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter and became a prominent member of the appeals court’s newly liberal majority. Writing just two years after the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld state laws making gay sex a crime, Mr. Norris said the armed forces’ ban on gays and lesbians was just as unconstitutional as laws that discriminated on the basis of race. “Homosexuals have been the frequent victims of violence and have been excluded from jobs, schools, housing, churches, and even families,” he said. Citing Watkins’ exemplary military record, and observing that “sexual orientation plainly has no relevance to a person’s ability to perform or contribute to society,” Mr. Norris said the constitutional guarantee of equal protection “does not permit notions of majoritarian morality to serve as compelling justification” for such discriminatory laws. After Congress passed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they did not disclose their sexual orientation, Mr. Norris spoke up at a 1997 dinner, where he was receiving a gay-rights award, and called on President Bill Clinton to renounce the new law “because it is wrong, it is evil — as you surely know in your heart.” [...] Mr. Norris’ 1988 ruling, the first of its kind by a federal appeals court, paved the way for legal and political decisions in subsequent decades striking down other laws based on sexual orientation, culminating in the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. “For decades, we and others have cited his opinion to show that courts should subject antigay discrimination to heightened scrutiny,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco.

Britain pardons thousands convicted under past antigay laws

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 21:02:49 UT

Announcing the new law, the Ministry of Justice said the pardons apply automatically to deceased men who were convicted for consensual same-sex relations before homosexuality was decriminalized several decades ago. Turing, a computer science pioneer, helped crack Nazi Germany’s secret codes by creating the “Turing bombe,” a forerunner of modern computers. After the war, Turing was prosecuted for having sex with a man, stripped of his security clearance and forcibly treated with female hormones. In its announcement, the ministry said that as well as posthumously pardoning gay and bisexual men, the law allows those still living, and who were convicted in cases of consensual sex with other men of legal age, to apply for pardons. “This will ensure that due diligence is carried out and prevent people from claiming to be cleared of offenses that are still crimes, including sex with a minor and non-consensual sexual activity,” it said.

Mid-Market project a step closer with transgender district deal

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 17:23:18 UT

The large San Francisco hotel and condominium complex proposed for 950 Market St. is set to move forward after the developer reached an agreement with a coalition of LGBTQ activists who had opposed the project. On Monday, developer Group I agreed to pay $300,000 into a fund that will be used to establish a transgender community center, to create a transgender historic and cultural district, and to support transgender-serving businesses and nonprofits in the district. In the weeks leading up to the deal, the opponents had argued that the environmental study for the 950 Market St. development failed to adequately assess the historic role the block played in the the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer history. The block was the center of what was called the “meat rack” — a district bounded by Turk, Taylor, Market and Mason streets — a busy spot for transgender hustlers from the 1950s through the early 1970s. [...] two early gay bars — the Old Crow and the Rainbow Tavern — occupied 950-964 Market St., a two-story structure also known as the Dean Building. Another building, the three-story corner structure with entrances at 974 Market St. and 67 Turk St., was home to the Silver Rail, another gay bar. On Tuesday, Supervisor Jane Kim is to introduce legislation to create the transgender historic district, the first of its kind in the United States. The historic district will be called the Compton Cafeteria Historic District, after the 1966 riot at a cafe at Turk and Taylor, which is considered the first major transgender protest in the United States.