Showing posts with label Gay Civil Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Civil Rights. Show all posts

December 5, 2016

Gay Blood Donation Science Now Political Most Change Faster






More than 30 years ago, as the AIDS epidemic exploded, the nation’s blood banks banned donations from men who had sex with other men.

The logic was sound at the time. Tests of the era couldn’t adequately detect HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. As a result, thousands of people unwittingly contracted HIV from tainted blood during transfusions. Banning donations from gay men was a drastic step, but necessary to protect the nation’s blood supply.

Things have changed in the intervening three decades, though — including the science of blood testing. Tests are now so accurate and rapid that blood banks can tell with near certainty if blood has been infected with HIV even if the donor had been exposed to the virus just 10 days previously. Today, the risk of contracting HIV from blood in the United States is only about 1 in 1.5 million.

The advances in testing mean a blanket donor ban on gay and bisexual men is no longer necessary. With that in mind, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration studied relaxing the ban and last year it wisely acceded to calls to update its blood donation recommendations and stop calling for a lifetime ban on donations from men who have sex with men. The FDA continued to recommend a ban on donations from commercial sex workers and intravenous drug abusers. Although the recommendations do not have the force of law, blood banks typically adopt rules at least as stringent for liability reasons.

The recommendations adopted in December were not much of an improvement, however. Men could donate only if they hadn’t had sex with another man for 12 months. Why 12 months? Good question. There’s no science that supports a yearlong donor deferral for gay and bisexual men. It seems the FDA chose 12 months not because that span of time is demonstrably safer but because that’s what other countries (including Britain and Australia) have done.

But a year without sex is a de facto ban for sexually active men, making the new rules just as senselessly discriminatory as the old ones. This became clear to the public in June after the deadliest shooting in the nation’s history, when a gunman opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. When members of the local LGBT community turned out to give blood to help those injured in the shooting, many were barred from doing so.

The incident prompted 24 U.S. senators to sign a letter to the FDA, asking the agency to develop “better blood donor deferral rules that are grounded in science, based on individual risk factors, don’t unfairly single out one group of individuals, and allow all healthy Americans to donate.”

The FDA agreed to reconsider its call for a 12-month waiting period. Instead, it said it would look at the feasibility of a system that evaluates potential male donors based on the risk posed by their individual behavior. This process is supported by gay rights advocates, some public health experts and the American Medical Association. We agree. The waiting period should be shortened to a more reasonable length and donors should be evaluated based on their behavior, not their sexuality.

It’s time to end to restrictions that are based on fear rather than science. The FDA should shorten the recommended waiting period to a more practicable length and work toward developing a risk assessment model.

— Los Angeles Times

November 9, 2016

ACLU Will to Go War with Trump









 This morning, Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States, and the ACLU has a message for him.

President-elect Trump, as you assume the nation’s highest office, we urge you to reconsider and change course on certain campaign promises you have made. These include your plan to amass a deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants; ban the entry of Muslims into our country and aggressively surveil them; punish women for accessing abortion; reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture; and change our nation’s libel laws and restrict freedom of expression.

These proposals are not simply un-American and wrong-headed, they are unlawful and unconstitutional. They violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments. If you do not reverse course and instead endeavor to make these campaign promises a reality, you will have to contend with the full firepower of the ACLU at every step. Our staff of litigators and activists in every state, thousands of volunteers and millions of card-carrying members and supporters are ready to fight against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights.

One thing is certain: We will be eternally vigilant every single day of your presidency. And when you leave the Oval Office, we will do the same with your successor as we have done throughout our nearly 100 years of existence. The Constitution and the rule of law are stronger than any one person, and we will see to that. We will never waver.

ACLU By Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director


November 9, 2016
NEW YORK — In response to Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States, Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following statement:
“For nearly 100 years, the American Civil Liberties Union has been the nation’s premier defender of freedom and justice for all, no matter who is president. Our role is no different today.
“President-elect Trump, as you assume the nation’s highest office, we urge you to reconsider and change course on certain campaign promises you have made. These include your plan to amass a deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants; ban the entry of Muslims into our country and aggressively surveil them; punish women for accessing abortion; reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture; and change our nation’s libel laws and restrict freedom of expression.
“These proposals are not simply un-American and wrong-headed, they are unlawful and unconstitutional. They violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. If you do not reverse course and instead endeavor to make these campaign promises a reality, you will have to contend with the full firepower of the ACLU at every step. Our staff of litigators and activists in every state, thousands of volunteers, and millions of card-carrying supporters are ready to fight against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights.
“One thing is certain: we will be eternally vigilant every single day of your presidency and when you leave the Oval Office, we will do the same with your successor.


The ACLU released its analysis of candidate Trump’s policy proposals in July, which can be found at: https://medium.com/acluelection2016/donald-trump-a-one-man-constitutional-crisis-9f7345e9d376#.yx3u5rjpihttps://medium.com/acluelection2016/donald-trump-a-one-man-constitutional-crisis-9f7345e9d376#.a51w1276x

July 19, 2016

Coupe in Turkey plus How it Looks for Democracy and LGBT Rights




                                                                         




Turkey purged its police on Monday after rounding up thousands of soldiers in the wake of a failed military coup, and said it could reconsider its friendship with the US unless Washington hands over a cleric Ankara blames for the putsch.

Nearly 20,000 members of the police, civil service, judiciary and army have been detained or suspended since Friday night’s coup, in which more than 200 people were killed when a faction of the armed forces tried to seize power.

The broad crackdown and calls to reinstate the death penalty for plotters drew concern from Western allies, who said Ankara must uphold the rule of law in the country.
Turkey is a Nato member and is also Washington’s most powerful Muslim ally.

Some voiced concern Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was using the opportunity to consolidate his power and further a process of stifling dissent that has already caused tensions with Europe.

Turkey’s foreign minister said criticism of the government’s response amounted to backing for the bid to overthrow it.
A senior security official told Reuters that 8,000 police officers, including in the capital Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul, had been removed from their posts on suspicion of links to Friday’s abortive coup.

About 1,500 finance ministry officials had been suspended, a ministry official said, and CNN Turk said 30 governors and more than 50 high-ranking civil servants had been dismissed.
Annual leave was suspended for more than three million civil servants, while close to 3,000 judges and prosecutors have been suspended.
Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim said 7,543 people had so far been detained, including 6,038 soldiers.

Some were shown in photographs stripped to their underwear and handcuffed on the floors of police buses and a sports hall.
A court remanded 26 generals and admirals in custody on Monday, Turkish media said.
John Kerry says Turkey should ‘not go beyond the rule of law’

Turkey intensifies crackdown after failed coup attempt

Stephen Starr: Erdogan emerges stronger from failed insurrection
Officials in Ankara say former air force chief Akin Ozturk was a co-leader of the coup.

The state-run Anadolu agency said on Monday he had confessed, but private broadcaster Haberturk contradicted this, saying he had told prosecutors he tried to prevent the attempted putsch.

The Turkish government says it was masterminded by Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric based in the US who has a wide following in Turkey.
He denies any involvement. Ankara has demanded Washington hand Gulen over.

Washington says it is prepared to extradite him but only if Turkey provides evidence linking him to crime. Mr Yildirim rejected that demand.
“We would be disappointed if our [American] friends told us to present proof even though members of the assassin organization are trying to destroy an elected government under the directions of that person,” Mr Yildirim said.

“At this stage there could even be a questioning of our friendship,” Mr Yildirim added.
Mr Yildirim said 232 people were killed in Friday night’s violence: 208 of them were civilians, police and loyalist soldiers, and a further 24 were coup plotters.
Officials previously said the overall death toll was more than 290.

Death penalty

The news comes as German chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly told Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey cannot join the EU if it reinstates the death penalty in a telephone call on Monday.

Turkey abolished capital punishment in 2004, allowing it to open EU accession talks the following year, but the negotiations have made scant progress since then.
With pro-government protesters demanding that the military coup leaders be executed, Mr Erdogan said on Sunday there could be no delay in using capital punishment and the government would discuss it with opposition parties.

Dr Merkel reportedly told Mr Erdogan on the phone that the EU and Germany vehemently oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty and that such a step is “in no way compatible” with Ankara’s goal of EU membership.
“The chancellor also urged the president to abide by the principles of proportionality and rule of law in the Turkish state’s response [to the coup attempt],” a German spokeswoman said.
“The recent wave of arrests and dismissals in Turkey are a matter for grave concern.”

Dr Merkel’s comments were echoed by German minister for foreign affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who told reporters in Brussels that Germany expected Turkey to deal with those responsible for the attempted coup in line with the rule of law.
“Reintroduction of the death penalty would prevent successful negotiations to join the EU,” Mr Steinmeier said.
Dr Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert also told a news conference earlier on Monday that Germany and the EU categorically reject the death penalty.

“A country that has the death penalty can’t be a member of the European Union and the introduction of the death penalty in Turkey would therefore mean the end of accession negotiations,” Mr Seibert said.
Even before the coup attempt, many EU states were not eager to see such a large, mostly Muslim country as a member, and were concerned that Ankara’s record on basic freedoms had gone into reverse in recent years.
Reuters

Freedoms:

Turkey has witnessed a sharp decline in freedoms of expression and association in recent years, with opposition media outlets being taken over by the government and allegedly Gulenist-linked publications being shuttered. On Monday, the board of the Turkish Journalist Associations condemned raids on media establishments, restrictions to access and mob violence against journalists in the wake of the coup.

Turkish government officials have hailed the defeat of the coup as a victory for democracy at a time when human rights activists and international observers warn the country is fast slipping toward authoritarianism, pointing to the high number of arrests of academics, intellectual, journalists and legislators.

"It is important to understand that whilst the Erdogan government is democratically elected it is certainly not liberal," says Dr. Natalie Martin, an expert on Turkish politics at Nottingham Trent University in England. "It does not have a free news media, the rule of law is patchy and there is no freedom of protest or association unless you are an AKP protester." The AKP, or Justice and Development Party, is Erdogan's party.

In the months before the coup, even small protests by groups including Kurdish demonstrators and more recently the LGBT community have been countered by massive security deployments, water cannons and tear gas. With the government’s popularity boosted, government critics fear that the space for dissent will narrow further.

AP and Fox 

June 11, 2016

Pres.Obama and LGBT Rights


May 23,1912

                                                                       


Pres.Obama Warns LGBT to be Vigilant About the Pace of Progress



        
 Gay rights activists need to be vigilant to maintain their pace of progress, President Barack Obama said at a White House LGBT reception.

An "LGBT Pride" event has been held annually at the White House during the Obama administration. Leading figures in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement attended Thursday's event.
In addressing the attendees, Obama said changing attitudes in the country are advancing faster than laws.

"You know, when you talk to the upcoming generation, our kids — Malia, Sasha's generation — they instinctively know that people are people, and families are families," he said. "Discrimination, it's so last century. It doesn't make sense to them."

"Change can be slow, and I know that there have been times where at least some of the people in this room have yelled at me," he said. "But together, we've proven that change is possible, that progress is possible. It's not inevitable, though. History doesn't just travel forward; it can go backwards if we don't work hard. So we can't be complacent."

It was not until the fourth year of Obama's administration that he announced his support of same-sex marriage.

In his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois in 2004, he told a reporter that he did not support same-sex marriage, saying the word marriage has "strong religious roots."

In 2012, he officially changed his position, telling ABC News, "I've been through an evolution on this issue."

April 29, 2016

GOP Sub Committee Votes to Gut Obama’s LGBT’s Exec Orders



Breaking Late last night, story might change, This report comes from  
Image result for breaking news
                                                                            

                                                                      




The Republican-majority House Armed Services Committee on Thursday voted to gut President Barack Obama's executive orders that ban discrimination against LGBT people by all federal contractors. The Russell Amendment, sponsored by Oklahoma anti-gay Republican Steve Russell (photo), passed 33-29.

The Human Rights Campaign says "the amendment would dismantle President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination in federal contracting based on sexual orientation or gender identity, under the guise of religious liberty."

HRC adds that the amendment, which is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, "would allow sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination in an attempt to promote anti-LGBT religious-based discrimination in the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. With far-reaching intended and unintended consequences, the vague amendment could even undermine existing nondiscrimination provisions that protect workers, and perhaps even beneficiaries, against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more."

The Coalition Against Religious Discrimination, a coalition including 42 secular and religious organizations, sent a letter to the Committee to oppose the Russell Amendment, warning it "would authorize taxpayer-funded discrimination in each and every federal contract and grant. The government should never fund discrimination and no taxpayer should be disqualified from a job under a federal contract or grant because he or she is the 'wrong' religion."

April 14, 2016

In a Modern Economy Gay Rights are Not Optional, ask NC



                                                                                           

Supporters of the new law gathered at a rally at the North Carolina state capitol
 in Raleigh on April 12. (Gerry Broome/AP)


North Carolina is supposed to be the heart of the new South. The state's economy is no longer all about tobacco and textiles. It's a big player in financial services and high-tech, and it wants to keep adding high-skill, high-wage jobs in those sectors.

But there's an issue: A lot of lawmakers and voters in North Carolina have a problem with the gay stuff.

As in many states in the South, sodomy was actually illegal in North Carolina until 13 years ago, when the Supreme Court overturned such laws. State voters passed a gay-marriage ban with 61% of the vote in 2012.

The global power centers in high-tech and financial services are places where it is socially unacceptable to not be cool with the gay stuff. New York. San Francisco. Frankfurt. Pro-gay-rights norms are strong in these industries, both imposed from the C-suite and expected by workers.

So it was probably inevitable that North Carolina would be put in the position of choosing between its business stuff and its problem with the gay stuff, as we've seen with Tuesday's announcement that Deutsche Bank has canceled plans to add 250 high-paying financial-services jobs in the state.

Deustche did that because in March the state hastily enacted a law that prohibits local governments from protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations. The state did this because Charlotte (not coincidentally the heart of North Carolina's financial industry) had passed an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting LGBT people.

Republican state lawmakers have hysterically characterized the law as being about bathrooms — that is, the law was needed to stop the supposed threat of men using the guise of transgenderism to enter women's restrooms in Charlotte and watch women pee.

Maybe bathroom panic will fly with some bigoted or ignorant voters who fear trans people. But this isn't just a matter of the anti-LGBT preferences of North Carolina voters. Besides Deutsche Bank, PayPal also canceled plans to add hundreds of new high-paying jobs in the state because of the law. The state may also lose next year's NBA All-Star Game, currently planned for Charlotte.
There has been a lot of talk in this presidential campaign about the problems wrought by global economic integration — not all of it unreasonable. There have been real, negative job impacts from global-manufacturing trade in certain parts of the US. But one advantage of global economic integration is that the most economically productive places tend, on average, to have the most enlightened social ideas.

In this case, global economic integration is furthering the export of good ideas like LGBT equality from places like San Francisco and Frankfurt to places like North Carolina.

This probably seems terribly unfair to a lot of social conservatives. Who are these German bankers to tell North Carolina what kind of laws to have? Besides, they say, this law isn't anti-gay. It's about individual rights and the freedom to run your own business in whatever pro-gay or anti-gay way you see fit — social conservatives just want the law to stop us from oppressing them.

To that, I would say this.

Not long ago, social conservatives wanted to use the power of the law to punish non-normative sexuality. Really not long ago: Gay sex was illegal in North Carolina in this century. Only since public opinion and the Supreme Court have moved in the direction of gay rights have the goals of social conservatives gotten smaller and supposedly focused around individual rights.

Well, if individual rights are the new goal, where's the "I'm sorry I made your sex life illegal"? Where is "I'm sorry I tried to deny you equal marriage under the law, as a separate matter from my feelings or my organization's principles"?

We're not hearing that because they're not sorry.

The new "opt-out" anti-gay agenda is just about expanding the zone of oppression as far as the current political environment will allow. The underlying principles, the ones that formerly led these same people to feel gay sex should be a crime, remain the same. There is no reason to assume their arguments about individual rights and "freedom" are in good faith.

And so, to the German bankers standing up against that, I say danke schön. Deutsche Bank is just another participant in the long tradition of outsiders dragging the South, kicking and screaming, toward equal treatment of minority groups.

March 9, 2016

China Censors Chinese Gays on TV




A scene from Chinese Web series 'Addicted.' (Photo: YouTube) 
Depictions of same-sex couples, drugs, and witches—all have landed on a laundry list of scenes that can no longer be shown on television in China. That’s according to a new set of government-sanctioned regulations banning content broadcast officials in the Asian nation say is immoral.
The nine-page guide, written by the government-sanctioned TV Production Committee of the China Alliance of Radio, Film and Television and the China Television Drama Production Industry Association, was released in December. However the details of the new censorship rules were only leaked this week after Li Jingsheng, a broadcast regulator for the government, mentioned them during a nationwide TV production conference, according to Gay Times. 
The guidelines prohibit content that depicts “abnormal sexual relationships and behaviors, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.” The document goes on to discourage extramarital affairs, one-night stands, and any excessive on-screen sex. Shows glorifying superstitions—such as witchcraft and reincarnation—and the consumption of drugs and alcohol also fall under what the guidelines call “morally hazardous content.”
While the new rules are not currently enforced by law, Li encouraged those in the television industry to follow the “professional guideline.”
“Television programs should have not only attractive actors, but they should also demonstrate value. They should not only be easy on the eyes, but also be nurturing for the heart. They should not only entertain, but they should also be educational,” Li said at the conference, according to The New York Times’ translation of a report by The Beijing Times.
Though homosexuality was decriminalized in China nearly 20 years ago, prejudice persists, and media representation of LGBT individuals remains sparse. A small victory was achieved last September when regulators allowed the release of Seek McCartney, a Chinese and French film about a secret affair between two men. The film was the country’s first to feature gay lead characters. 
The recent censorship crackdown also impacts online content. The guidelines were issued along with a series of new policies forcing online content to adhere to the same standards as broadcast television. Online content creators are now required to bring in full-time regulators and undergo training from China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
As a result, several online Chinese shows, which have traditionally enjoyed looser restrictions, have been blocked from the Internet. Chief among them was Addicted, a popular drama series about a teenage gay couple.
The increased policing of LGBT-focused content arrives on the heels of a Chinese court decision to hear a case that could grant same-sex couples the right to marry. The outcome of case could drastically shape the country’s attitude toward sexuality and LGBT rights.
takepart.com
Alex Reed is an editorial intern at TakePart and a senior at the University of Southern California.
 

December 12, 2015

Zimbabwe’s New Constitution Protects LGBT Rights but Police, Machetes and stones can’t read




                                                                             
                                                                      


An article titled, “Government clamps down on gays” in the NewsDay edition of November 30, 2015 makes sad reading. From a human rights perspective, one wonders about the rationale behind pulling down of an exhibition stand and the confiscation of display material by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority belonging to gay rights activists attending the International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa currently underway in Harare.

It is high time Zimbabwe understands that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are human beings like any other and should have their fundamental human rights and freedoms protected, promoted and fulfilled, especially in this era of advancing human rights.

Firstly, the government must understand that it is a reality that we do have LGBTI people in Zimbabwe, some not by choice but by nature. Secondly, it is high time that Zimbabweans understand that total denial of the recognition of LGBTI people as part of humanity is the same as denying that there is day and night. Thirdly, it is high time that Zimbabwe understands that human rights should be accorded to all human beings by virtue of being born human regardless of their sexual orientation.

Zimbabwe, thus, must quickly embrace the protection, promotion and fulfilment of the rights of LGBTI people who have endured severe violence, hate speech, discrimination and marginalisation for a long time, if we are earnestly an open and free democratic state founded on the principles of rule of law, tolerance and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms. The issue of homophobia, though not even a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe, must be relegated to the dustbin of our history. For the past years, politicians, church leaders and court officials have vilified homosexual orientation as “un-cultural” and “a threat to nationhood”.

President Robert Mugabe is on record for lashing out at homosexuals, describing them as “worse than pigs and dogs”. 

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has not also spared LGBTI people and their representative organisations. Arbitrary arrests and detention are common experiences for LGBTI people, while police raids are the order of the day for the LGBTI representative organisations. A number of reasons ranging from religious, cultural and morality issues are given for the suppression of the rights of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe.

Lesbian couple laughs during the third annual gay pride celebrations by members of the LGBT community in Entebbe, southwest of Uganda's capital Kampala

However, the point we are driving home is that it is not necessary to have a total clamp down on LGBTI people without understanding their cause and without giving them audience and space to co-exist with their human counterparts. LGBTI people do need the same rights and equal protection, especially in these times of fighting against the deadly HIV and Aids. Zimbabwe really needs the input of LGBTI people if the war against HIV and Aids is to be won. Political bickering aside, Zimbabwe just needs tolerance towards LGBTI people because the continued denial of the reality that LGBTI people do exist is suicidal if the nation has to realise fundamental human rights and freedoms and if the nation wants to win the war against HIV and Aids.

From a legal perspective, a lot needs to be done to co-opt LGBTI people. Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution that came into force on August 22, 2013. The non-discrimination clause in the first drafts provided for non-discrimination on the basis of “circumstances of birth”, “natural difference or condition” and “other status”. However, such grounds were rejected in the drafts the main argument advanced by then being that, such provisions could be read as including non-discrimination based on sexual orientation. The final provisions on equality and non-discrimination in the Constitution thus deliberately left out sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

In the circumstances, the height of suppression of the rights of LGBTI people was evidenced by the intended exclusion of sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Thus, the constitution-making process in Zimbabwe was full of mockery for homosexuals and the very concept of gay rights.

To exacerbate this position, the non-discrimination clause’s scope is limited due to the fact that it is a self-contained clause. In other words, the non-discrimination clause is not open-ended so as to admit grounds that are not explicitly listed.

The position would have been different for the LGBTI people if the non-discrimination clause was not exhaustive, as is the position with the non-discrimination clause of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (to which Zimbabwe is a ratifying party) or the South African Constitution, where analogous grounds of discrimination, not specifically mentioned, are also included by use of terms such as “other status” or “including” among the list of protected grounds.

The Constitution further provides that “persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other”. Thus, the main problem in Zimbabwe is the definition of marriage as excluding same-sex marriages. The provisions are an explicit denial of sexual minority rights in Zimbabwe.

Be that as it may, it can still be argued that the Constitution only prohibits same-sex marriages but does not extend the prohibition to same-sex relationships. There is also no definition of what marriage entails under the Constitution.

Furthermore, LGBTI people can still find protection under other generous human rights provisions of the Constitution which are as follows; the founding values and principles under the Constitution include the recognition of fundamental human rights and freedoms. The recognition of the inherent dignity and equal worth of each human being is also provided for. In the same breadth, section 51 of the Constitution provides that every person has inherent dignity in their private and public life and the right to have their inherent dignity respected and protected. It is submitted that the Constitution extends cover to LGBTI people to that extent. The recognition of the inherent dignity and equal worth of each human being is important, especially for LGBTI people who are normally treated without dignity.

Furthermore, rights protected under the Constitution also extend protection to LGBTI people, especially the right to privacy and the right to freedom of assembly and association. It is submitted that privacy includes one’s sexual behaviour and orientation. LGBTI representative associations can also find protection under the right to freedom of association. Moreover, when interpreting the Constitution, courts of law and other tribunals are mandated to promote the values and principles that underlie a democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom. International law and all conventions that Zimbabwe is a party to have to be also taken into account when interpreting the Constitution and relevant foreign law may be considered. It is submitted that such provisions are important in that developments at the international level pertaining to the promotion, protection and fulfillment of the rights of LGBTI people are guiding principles to be applied in Zimbabwe. To that extent, the Constitution at least consolidates the rights of LGBTI people.

Similarly, the Constitution provides that freedom of expression does not include incitement of violence, advocacy of hatred or hate speech, malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity, malicious or unwarranted breach of a person’s right to privacy. The Constitution is, therefore, commendable in that statements like “homosexuals are worse than pigs and dogs” are to be rendered unconstitutional in Zimbabwe in that they constitute hate speech.

So without arguing from a misinformed basis, the government has to understand that there is no need to clamp down on gay rights, but rather, the solution is to promote a culture of tolerance and acceptance of the diversity of humanity. Let us all relegate the past to the past and start on a new page where LGBTI people are allowed to co-exist with others and their rights are guaranteed.

In conclusion, change at individual level is of paramount importance. Hate speech, stigma and homophobia can be changed at the individual level. It is high time that Zimbabweans recognise and respect human difference. The time is also opportune for Zimbabweans to value and accept same-sex behaviours and identities. LGBTI people are part of humanity and have equal rights and bear equal obligations to the nation. As long as the culture of denial persists, this will further fuel discrimination and the spread of HIV and Aids.

 Esau Mandipa is a lawyer and law lecturer. He writes in his individual capacity and can be contacted at esaumandipa@yahoo.com or 0773 429 047.

November 11, 2015

Pres. Obama Endorses Legislation to Add Sexual Orientation to ’64 Civil Rights Act




                                                                         



The White House endorsed legislation Tuesday that would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, plunging into the next front in the national battle over LGBT rights.

Speaking to reporters, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration has been reviewing the bill “for several weeks.” “It is now clear that the administration strongly supports the Equality Act,” he said, adding that it would advance the civil rights of “millions of Americans.”

Earnest said the White House will work to ensure that the legislative process produces something that balances “the bedrock principles of civil rights with the religious liberty that we hold dear in this country.”

Although there is little chance that this Congress will approve the legislation — which was introduced in July by Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) — President Obama’s support elevates to greater prominence the question of whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans need greater legal safeguards. Last week, Houston residents rejected an ordinance that would have barred discrimination against gay and transgender people after opponents said it would allow men disguised as women to enter women’s restrooms.

The White House’s endorsement of the Equality Act came on the same day that Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to be featured on the cover of an LGBT publication, after he was named OUT magazine’s “Ally of the Year” for 2015.

[Obama’s mother and an Occidental professor shaped his views on gay rights ]

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to legalize same-sex marriage, activists have been pressing for expanded protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity beyond employment discrimination, which had been the traditional focus of legislation in the past. A bill that would have banned workplace discrimination passed the Senate with bipartisan support in 2013 but did not advance in the House.

With Republicans now in control of both chambers of Congress, there is little chance that the Equality Act, which has the support of 37 Democrats and two independents in the Senate and 170 Democrats in the House, will become law before Obama leaves office.


Still, the decision by the nation’s first African American president to back the measure is significant. Some of the nation’s leading civil rights groups — including the NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights — have been slow to endorse the legislation.

Although those groups support the idea of a broad LGBT anti-discrimination bill in concept, they have been skeptical about reopening the landmark 1964 law for revisions.

Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in an interview that the civil rights community has “supported the concept of the Equality Act from its very inception.”

“It recognizes, however, there are questions that could benefit from further analysis,” he added. “Before it moves forward, there’s hope that those can be addressed.”

A majority of Americans, including Republicans, say in public surveys that they back civil rights safeguards based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Over the past six months, for example, the Public Religion Research Institute has found overall support at 68 percent or higher.

After Earnest’s announcement Tuesday, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement that “the White House sent a strong message that it’s time to put the politics of discrimination behind us once and for all.”

“The unfortunate reality is that, while LGBT Americans can legally get married, millions remain at risk of being fired or denied services for who they are or who they love because the majority of states still lack explicit, comprehensive non-discrimination protections,” Griffin added.

Although support for protecting gay men and lesbians has traditionally had greater political support than safeguards for transgender Americans, a series of lawsuits as well as the media coverage about celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have increased the profile of transgender people. Jenner accepted Glamour magazine’s “Woman of the Year” award Monday night; Cox was one of the award’s recipients last year.

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Iowa and lawyers at the Des Moines law firm Babich Goldman filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission against the Drury Inn for discriminating against a black transgender woman in July.


Meagan Taylor and a friend, who also is black and transgender, checked into the hotel in West Des Moines on their way to a funeral and were interrogated by the staff there, according to the complaint. At some point between check-in and the next morning, the ACLU statement said, Drury Inn staff members called the police to report that they suspected Taylor and her friend were prostitutes because they were “men dressed like women,” and Taylor was arrested and placed in solitary confinement.

Local police charged Taylor with possessing hormone pills without a copy of the prescription, but those charges were later dropped.

“This ordeal was humiliating, scary and traumatizing,” Taylor said in the complaint. “I felt powerless and degraded. I realized I was not welcome in a public place simply because of who I am.”

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.


September 14, 2015

In 2011 NY got Gay Marriage now*Gov.Cuomo Wants data to see What else is needed for Inclusion



                                                                       

It was amazing when most New Yorkers, straights and gays and even some Republicans got together four years ago to make gay marriage happened. After the disappointment of the previous Governor who promised to sign the legislation that kept passing with only a few votes short he promised he would sign it. When the legislation finally passed all it needed was the signature of the Governor but going against his promises he was persuaded by the black churches in NY to not sign or he would loose their votes in the following elections. He vetoed the bill. He went along with the anti agy black religious lobby even though he wouldn’t get any votes on that election. He decided not to be humiliated since the Democrats were not going to vote for him and so he didn’t even run. So the black religious vote did not mattered matter after all.

When the next Democrat Governor was elected, Gov. Mario Cuomo, he had a different take to an election promise. He went and talked to the few republicans needed to pass the legislation and they did go along even knowing that it will cost some of them their jobs which it did. This was the year that masks were taken off politicians. There were politicians getting money from the Gay lobby and promising to vote for the legislation but when it passed they had a sudden conciseness problem.

 We know they could not have had problems on something they did not have and as a consequence those people ceased to count. That was NY  that year of 2011 but with a governor convinced NY had to show the world we still New York the Empire state with ‘cojones’ with his determination he convinced everyone to get on board. That was a great time to be in NY and to be a New Yorker. 

Same Sex marriage was not going to affect me but still I thought it was my duty as a citizen to protest sign petitions, write on the blog because it was a matter of civil rights and we needed to be treated the same as the straights. One thing is to say everyone is treated equal and another is thing is when the metal hits the asphalt, no this is not for you, you are not like us. In New York it did mattered and it made a lot of noise but it was only that,  noise.  With everything stupid and crazy anti gay people say to treat us below the standards, it not they listen to their conscience (they don’t have one) and not their bible they don’t even read, nor understand; It is just noise. Those that oppose to others to have what they have themselves, not to give because is not theirs to give but to support for other or just not stand at the door to impeded to have  the same equality they enjoy. Gay rights, gay civil rights, gay human rights, same sex marriage, what ever is called it is the easiest argument to win. Its like tissue paper and you know what you do with it after holding it a few seconds.
If the person has common sense and a conscience with the right information they will support equal rights for every human being.

Now the Governor is got more in mind. When you have centuries of denying people their constitutional rights (as per our Supreme Court) it takes more than a marriage certificate to bring everyone into the tent. This is what Governor Cuomo understands and he is going to make it still better.
Adam Gonzalez, Publisher
                                                                         
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Albany’s chambers waves after Victory in passing gay marriage legislation. Next the signing!
                                                                    

[ From Albany] Gay marriage has been legal in New York since 2011, and there’s nothing happening today that compares to the recent jailing of a rural Kentucky town clerk who refused to issue licenses to same sex couples.

But the drive to expand gay rights continues, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announcing a new SUNY Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy that includes a new data collection tool to determine the sexual orientation and gender identity of all students.

“Students will be able to select one of seven options (straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, questioning or unsure) or write-in an orientation not identified,” Cuomo announced. “Within the same tool, students will be able to select one of seven options (man, woman, trans man, trans woman, genderqueer/gender-fluid, questioning or unsure) or write-in an identity.”

“Key to SUNY’s efforts to be inclusive, students will have the opportunity to update this data each semester; and SUNY will be able to review retention and completion patterns for students who self-identify by campus, by sector, and across SUNY to inform student support services,” Cuomo said. 

The new policy also includes “cultural competency training” for SUNY staff, appointing a Chief Diversity Officer on every campus, and faculty research to advance the goals laid out in the policy.

The new policy is intended to address “race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and expression, age, socioeconomic status, status as a veteran, status as an individual with a disability, students undergoing transition (such as transfer, stop-out, international student acclimation), and first-generation students.”

To Rev. Jason McGuire, the director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, the new laws, court rulings and regulations pertaining to government oversight of sexual matters is an affront to religious freedom.

“The ongoing effect is it forces people with strong religious convictions not to get involved in public life,” he said Friday.”That’s really the untold story — it removes those people from running for office and getting involved in government.

“Where does it stop?”

A Siena Poll released this summer indicated views like McGuire’s are in the minority in New York. By a margin of 64-28 percent, New Yorkers supported the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, with or without a law like New York has.

“Upstaters agree with the decision by a 21-point margin, New York City voters support it by a 35-point margin and downstate suburbanites agree with the decision by an overwhelming 75-19 percent margin,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in announcing the results.

The news that SUNY is creating a sexual and gender orientation database on its student body has attracted little attention, unlike the strident support and opposition to the marriage equality bill Cuomo pushed through the Legislature in June 2011.

Advocates on both sides of the issue demonstrated in the Capitol as the voting took place in the state Senate, where four Republicans switched positions at Cuomo’s request and voted yes.

They have all since left the Senate, either by not running or being defeated. One of was Roy McDonald, who was defeated in a primary by Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione (R-Marchione), who went on to win the general election.

The marriage law has settled into the routine now, with an estimated 10 percent of all marriages in New York now between same sex couples. After its adoption, a handful of town clerks who do not support gay marriage on religious ground either stepped down or assigned marriage license duties to other employees.

None were brought in before a federal judge like town clerk Kim Davis was in Kentucky, which does not have a marriage equality law but must abide by the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex unions.

When lawmakers return to Albany in January, a top issue will once again be GENDA — the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

The gay rights lobbying group Empire Pride Agenda says the bill “would outlaw discrimination in New York State based on gender identity or expression. GENDA also would expand the state’s hate crimes law to explicitly include crimes against transgender people.”

The bill is modeled on laws now in effect in 10 places around the state, including Albany County, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton and New York City. That latter location means that about 60 percent of New Yorkers are already covered by a local gender non-discrimination law.

The bill follows a 2003 law called SONDA, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, which forbids discrimination against gays in “employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights.”

The law was the basis of a $13,000 penalty levied last year against the owners of Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, Rensselaer County, for turning down a lesbian couple who wanted to get married there.

McGuire said his group helped pay the money to show their support for fellow Christians who don’t accept the gay marriage law.

“We’ve heard this mantra from the left for so long that we need to get government out of our bedrooms,” McGuire said. “And literally this is now where they are going, forcing this family to have to open their bedrooms to these lesbian couples for their weddings, at least in this case.”

Kyle Hughes, NYSNYS News

July 24, 2015

State Dept brings Japanese LGBT to Miami to observe the Gay Rights Fight




                                                                            

South Florida’s palm trees, sand and beaches were not the only things admired by a group of Japanese LGBT activists. 
“I felt the passion of the LGBT community in Miami,” said Maki Kimura, president of Nijiiro Diversity in Japan, which promotes LGBT equality in the workplace.
Kimura, along with Roma Koiwa, a freelance writer for IG Press; Anri Ishizaki, a teacher at Ooike elementary school in Japan; Yuya Makizono, director of HACO Gay Men’s Health Information Center and Kazuyuki Minami, Japanese attorney, were in Miami last week to explore and examine local LGBT rights, laws and community support. 
The trip was arranged by the Institute of International Education as part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
Global Ties Miami administered the itinerary for the Japanese group locally. 
“Global Ties Miami is the conduit for these future leaders to engage with their local counterparts,” said Annette Alvarez, the company’s executive director. “We are always looking for people and organizations in South Florida that are doing valuable work so that we might give them an opportunity to share their best practices with a wider audience.” 
The activists arrived Friday, followed with a welcome dinner on Saturday with the committee of the World Out Games Miami.
Ivan Cano, chief executive officer of World Out Games Miami, believes sharing ideas of the community to foreign visitors is important.
“As a member of the U.S., we are blessed in the fight for equality because we are able to be open and honest,” Cano said. 
The World Out Games Miami will be hosted in 2017, with events in sports, culture and human rights.
“This is a great opportunity where they can experience a united community and to inspire them to push for a change,” Cano said.
For Muraki, meeting the committee of the World Out Games Miami gave her ideas to promote it back home.
“We will hold a meeting in Osaka to let people know about the World Out Games Miami in 2017,” Muraki said. “I am interested in how mainstream organizations in America get involved in supporting this cause.”
The Japanese group also met with South Florida LGBT-rights group SAVE, which promotes community outreach, advocacy efforts and other initiatives.
Aurelio Hurtado de Mendoza, deputy director of SAVE, spoke about similarities of the LGBT communities in Japan and the United States.
“The difficulties that the trans community faces in Japan, specifically in assimilating in school, work and home, is exactly the same here,” Hurtado de Mendoza said. “I was struck with the similarities in the struggle and the desire they have to make life better for their LGBT community against long odds.”
Kazuyuki Minami, who has an openly gay law office in Japan, saw SAVE’s efforts in promoting local, state and federal policy as an important action to promote in Japan. 
Minami and the group met with the Miami Beach Police Department and learned about the initiatives to build relationships between law enforcement and the LGBT community. 
“I was very interested to meet the LGBT liaison for Miami Beach Police,” Minami said. “I will introduce the success and challenges of the Miami Beach Police to our bar association.”
The agenda for the week also included a meeting with the Miami Design Preservation League; Miami Beach attorney Elizabeth Schwartz; Jim Wilets, a NOVA Southeastern University professor; Pridelines Youth Services and Detective Juan Sanchez, the Miami Beach Police Department’s LGBT liaison. 
“They gleaned valuable information that will help them when they return home and continue their efforts to make progress in advocating and working towards rights for the [LGBT] community,” Alvarez said. “They’ve been able to meet with people in Miami who have been at the front of advocating for human rights, others working with youth, and another group promoting a global sporting and cultural event.”




Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article28437595.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article28437595.html#storylink=cpy

July 16, 2015

Supremes Ruling Seems to have Changed Jamaican LGBT debate


     
                                                                           
                                                                      
The focus of the debate for LGBTI human rights in Jamaica has changed since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality.  Here are  examples of recent op-eds in the Jamaica Gleaner (three opposed, one in favor), with excerpts:
Disgraced former Jamaican Prime Minster calls the Supreme Court decision undemocratic

“The views of the Jamaican people, no matter how overwhelming, will have no more weight than those of the Greeks who voted against austerity demands. The issue of gay rights is no longer just a cause célèbre; it has been elevated to a ‘human-rights’ issue whose universality must transcend public opinion and legislative or electoral decisions.”
Senior journalist claims Christian persecution
“Gay activists have become a major threat to free speech and liberty. They are not willing to live and let live, or to leave religious objectors alone. They want to control not just our actions but our very thoughts. If they are thought of as sinners or immoral, they can’t abide that. They must drive that out of religious people’s heads or drive them underground.
“There is a profoundly undemocratic, totalitarian proclivity in many gay people, perhaps as psychological overcompensation for so many years of oppression, prejudice and bigotry. It’s often the case that the oppressed become the new oppressors.”
Fundamentalist lawyer claims marriage equality distorts the universal order and is very different from Loving v Virginia because of race.
“Describing same-sex ‘family life’ as ‘a life which harms no one else’ is like ignoring an elephant in plain sight. How does one explain the fact that this ‘life which harms no one else’ is reordering society in its image? What about harm to the individuals themselves? Shouldn’t the society be concerned about undeniable medical statistics on the consequences of high-risk sexual behaviour for the participants?
“It should be clear to all that the homosexual lifestyle is not a harmless one, neither to the individual nor to society. Furthermore, it is not a lifestyle that is prepared to stay in the bedroom but, instead, insists on forcing itself into the centre of the public square.
Today’s op-ed supports public health benefits of marriage equality 
“High-risk sexual behaviour in our society is related to having unprotected sex with multiple partners, whether gay or straight. Sexually transmitted infections can be transmitted in straight sex as well as gay sex.
“Marriage is supposed to encourage people to settle down, commit to each other, build a life together and give up high-risk behaviours. I am aware that this does not always happen in straight marriages and, conversely, in gay marriages as well, but the ideal remains true in many cases.”
 

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