Showing posts with label Commerce Diversity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commerce Diversity. Show all posts

July 4, 2019

200+ Major Int. and U.S. Companies Petition the Supreme Court to Add LGBT Workers Rights








More than 200 major U.S. and international corporations signed an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court on Tuesday arguing that excluding sexual orientation and gender identity from federal civil rights law “would undermine the nation’s business interests.”

“The 206 businesses that join this brief as amici collectively employ over 7 million employees, and comprise over $5 trillion in revenue,” the brief states. “These businesses — which range across a wide variety of industries (and some of which are even competitors) — share a common interest in equality because they know that ending discrimination in the workplace is good for business, employees, and the U.S. economy as a whole.”

The brief, filed by several LGBTQ-rights groups, argues that LGBTQ people deserve to share in the fruits of a free market economy, with “the opportunity to earn a living, excel in their professions, and provide for their families free from fear of unequal treatment.” 
 
The signatories include Airbnb, Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Bayer, Bank of America, Best Buy, Domino’s, Facebook, GM, Google, Hilton, IBM, JP Morgan Chase, Marriott, Macy’s, Morgan Stanley, Nike and Comcast-NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News. According to the Human Rights Campaign, one of the LGBTQ advocacy groups behind the brief, said it “has more corporate signers than any previous business brief in an LGBTQ nondiscrimination case.”

The brief comes before the high court hears arguments Oct. 8 in three cases involving LGBTQ workplace discrimination. In Altitude Express v. Zarda, a skydiving instructor was fired after a customer complained that the instructor disclosed that he is gay. In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC and Aimee Stephens, a trans woman was fired from her long-time job at a funeral home after she announced her gender transition. And in Bostock v. Clayton County, a man was fired from his job as a county child welfare services coordinator after his employer learned he is gay.

While lower courts ruled in favor of the employees in the first two cases, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the employer in the Bostock case, setting up incongruity between the lower courts, and thus, a Supreme Court review. The high court justices are expected to rule on whether workplace discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.”  

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group known for advocating against LGBTQ rights, is arguing for the court to reverse lower courts’ expanding definition of sex discrimination.

“Substituting ‘gender identity’ for ‘sex’ in nondiscrimination laws also threatens freedom of conscience,” the ADF’s petition reads. “Statutes interpreted that way have the effect, for instance, of forcing doctors to participate in — or employers to pay for — surgical efforts to alter sex in violation of their deeply held beliefs….”

Without a federal law explicitly banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a number of states across the United States have passed their own measures to outlaw such discrimination. However, it is currently legal in 26 states to fire someone solely due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ think tank.

Should the Supreme Court side with the LGBTQ employees in the three cases at hand, discriminating against an employee due to their sexual orientation or gender identity would become illegal under federal civil rights law.

March 2, 2019

Walmart Features Gay Couple on Date But The *AFA Has Raised Hell and Built a Backlash Against The Company











































The American Family Association has petitioned against Walmart’s promotional video featuring a gay couple. (Photo: Walmart via Facebook)


                           
 
The American Family Association has petitioned against Walmart’s promotional video featuring a gay couple. (Photo: Walmart via Facebook)
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*The American Family Association is taking aim at Walmart after the superstore released a promotional video featuring two gay men.

After the company produced the second episode of a series called “Love is in the aisle: A dating show at Walmart,” which follows couples going on blind dates through Walmarts across the country, AFA president Tim Wildmon called on people to ask Walmart to remove it.


“It’s clear that Walmart is on the path of elevating homosexual relationships to the same level as the male-female model of marriage,” a post on the AFA site reads. “We have no choice but to ask our supporters to let the company know how they, the customers, feel about Walmart’s shift away from neutrality on this controversial issue to full support for same-sex relationships.”

The post goes on to explain the “betrayal” that the AFA feels, saying it would expect this from a company like Amazon that has been “liberal from the outset.”

“This seems more like a betrayal from a well-known friend. Sam Walton is probably turning over in his grave,” the post reads.

The AFA included a petition asking Walmart to go “back to its founding principles” and “remain neutral on the controversial issue of homosexuality.”

Many of the comments on Walmart’s Facebook video, however, are from people praising the store for the representation of a gay couple.

“Love this acceptance, keep it up!!!!” one person wrote. Another joked, “I don’t think Walmart is a great choice for a date, but the couple is super cute!!”

Neither the AFA nor Walmart has responded to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

• Little Caesars employee fired after writing ‘gay’ on receipt
• Parents outraged at first-grade teacher’s decision to read a book about gay bunnies to students
• Prominent Mormon gay conversion therapist comes out as gay

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.

August 20, 2018

In Brazil, Coca-Cola Turned An Anti Gay Expression Into A Symbol of Pride








Just like in English, Spanish-speaking countries have different homophobic expressions for gay men. In Argentina, we’re “sword swallowers.” Spain calls us “pillow biters.” And in Brazil, the Portuguese expression is “Essa Coca é Fanta,” which literally translates to “That Coke is a Fanta.” But earlier this year Coca-Cola took that homophobic expression and turned it into a super cool, empowering campaign by filling cans of Coke with orange Fanta.
Being told “That Coke is a Fanta” might sound like a harmless idiom, until you realize the expression pops up everywhere in Brazilian culture: in memesYouTube videos and social media. It’s used repeatedly to mock anyone deemed too expressive, flamboyant or not macho enough. Over time, it can wear you down.
Aware of the expression, Coca-Cola decided to produce cans of Coke with orange Fanta inside.
These special cans came in the customary Coca-Cola red, but printed in Brazilian Portuguese on the side they read “Essa Coca-Cola é Fanta — e dai?” (“This Coca-Cola is a Fanta — so what?”)
That Coke is a Fanta 02
They released the can during Pride season in Brazil, and it was an immediate hit. LGBTQ Coca-Cola fans started discussing the drink in social media videos, making shirts with the slogan on it and even a very popular drag queen singer named Pabllo Vittar (she’s basically the Brazilian Britney Spears) made a video showing his delight.
Hundreds of millions of people saw and shared the campaign online, and Google searches for “That Coke is a Fanta” gradually changed from being grouped with other homophobic slurs to being grouped with “So what?,” “Pride” and other more empowering queries.
In short, Coca-Cola took a homophobic expression and turned it into a symbol of Pride.

Here is an ad showing the “That Coke is a Fanta” campaign: 


Coca-Cola is the most popular soft drink in Brazil by far. And considering the largely queer-friendly country has an ongoing problem of violence against LGBTQ people, it’s great that Coca-Cola got people to reconsider their attitudes about queer people and show it’s pretty cool when that Coke is a Fanta.
 


July 15, 2018

Georgia's Lawmakers Anti LGBT Antics Is Cost Them Much in $ Business $








By Jeff Graham   –  Executive Director, Georgia Equality 

The anti-LGBT antics of some Georgia lawmakers have made national headlines for several years, and their relentless pursuit of archaic and discriminatory policies is yielding another, and not unexpected, economic consequence. CNBC announced July 10 that Georgia dropped from number two to number seven on its 12th annual scorecard of "America's Top States for Business.” A drop by in position by five points should be of concern to us all.

This is an incredible time to live in Georgia - and we can stop this backward slide before it’s too late. One of the most immediate ways we can course-correct is by telling our lawmakers that, rather than spend yet another year gridlocking over discriminatory measures that would harm our state, they could finally advance a comprehensive civil rights law that protects Georgians from all walks of life.

At a moment when states are struggling to maintain a competitive edge, Georgia lawmakers should be doing everything in their power to entice businesses to invest in the state. The future success of Georgia’s economy relies on its ability to attract businesses to relocate to the state and to attract the best and brightest talent. A statewide civil rights law would send the message that Georgia is truly open for business to all.

Georgia ranked particularly low in CNBC’s Quality of Life category, scoring a ‘D’ in a category that includes the health of the population, environmental quality, and inclusion - namely, a state’s anti-discrimination law and the ability of cities to set its own standards. Georgia is one of only a handful of states that lacks any statewide civil rights law. And for the past several legislative session, lawmakers have clashed over anti-LGBTQ bills, including 2016 legislation that Governor Nathan Deal vetoed which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers. Despite the business community rallying in opposition to that License to Discriminate and rightly praising Governor Deal, some lawmakers continue to target LGBT people, recklessly ignoring the economic consequences.

Georgia lawmakers’ anti-LGBT bills have taken a toll on our state’s brand, imperiling not just our ability to attract job-creating giants like Amazon, but also threatening our state’s tourism industry – which brings in about $50 billion annually and is responsible for about 400,000 jobs. And the lack of comprehensive nondiscrimination protections takes a toll on those already living and working here. A 2017 report from the Williams Institute found that the stresses and stigmas of vulnerable legal standing impacts the productivity and well-being of LGBT Georgians in the workplace. According to that study, reducing those stresses by even just a quarter among Georgia’s LGBT workforce would gain the state’s economy upwards of $147 million in revenue. 

We all know that North Carolina paid dearly for its deeply discriminatory HB2, which cost the state approximately $630 million in lost revenue in just the first year after it passed. Major corporations, including PayPal, Deutsche Bank and CoStar withdrew expansion plans, which included millions of dollars in investments and hundreds of jobs, from North Carolina. Indiana’s economy and world-famous “Hoosier hospitality” was damaged after its religious exemptions act was signed into law. Since the law’s passage, the state lost more than $60 million in economic opportunities, including the loss of at least seven conventions. 
 
But what’s become increasingly clear is that it’s not enough to merely avoid greenlighting discrimination. The CNBC report is one early indicator that our state’s progress isn’t set in stone, and the failure of lawmakers to update our laws could cost us dearly in the years to come.

Last year, we made progress toward advancing a bill that would protect all Georgians from discrimination – including both LGBT people and people of faith. The idea that treating people fairly and equally under the law somehow erodes religious freedom is, frankly, false. We believe in open and welcoming dialogue with all Georgians – dialogue that focuses on what we have in common. We can all agree that discrimination is wrong, and that common-sense policies that protect Georgians from harm can lift all of us up, strengthen our communities, and ensure Georgia can continue growing into one of the most competitive states in our 21st century economy.

Supporting equal opportunity is the right thing to do, and the impact it has on our economy’s bottom line is impossible to ignore. Strong businesses lead to strong communities. When everyone can live their lives free from discrimination, our communities are stronger and our state is a healthier, more vibrant place to live, work, and raise a family

June 2, 2018

LGBT Pride Clothes to Kids by J.Crew


Featured Image
 (LifeSiteNews)  A popular clothing retailer is launching a line of rainbow-themed apparel for June’s “LGBT Pride Month,” targeting children and fundraising for a pro-homosexual lobbying group in the process.
J.Crew has revealed its “Love First” collection on its website, a selection of T-shirts, socks, and a tote bag featuring the phrases “love first” and “love to all.” Some of the items feature a rainbow motif, while others are adorned with the logo and the color scheme of the left-wing lobbying group Human Rights Campaign, to whom the company is donating 50% of the items’ purchase price.
“HRC is America’s largest civil rights organization working to ensure LGBTQ people are safe, equal and free in every community,” the company claims. HRC donates heavily to Democratic candidates including Hillary Clinton, opposes religious adoption agencies’ right to operate in accordance with their beliefs, and has gone to court to force small towns to accept “gay pride” parades.
One of J.Crew’s promotional images causing alarm on social media features a group of small children wearing rainbow “Love First” shirts. The shirt’s product page says it comes in sizes for kids as young as age two. J.Crew has also set aside Saturday, June 9 as a special “pride” day in their stores, where customers can “[g]et ready for a parade or just come in and share the love with free flags, temporary tattoos and so much more!”
This is just the latest in a long line of pro-homosexual moves by the retailer, which has featured same-sex couples in its catalogs for years and featured same-sex “wedding” editorials on its website. Its former president and creative director Jenna Lyons dated Courtney Crangi from 2011 to 2017.
The pro-homosexual clothing comes shortly after the company came under fire for partnering with progressive online shirt retailer Prinkstop to offer “I am a feminist too” T-shirts, intended specifically for boys and also for children as young as two.
The product description says the shirt is meant to teach boys that “women deserve Equal Pay, Equal Rights, Equal Respect.” A portion of the proceeds for each shirt goes toward the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, which largely focuses on health, safety, and violence in several third-world nations, but also endorses “reproductive health and rights,” which is commonly a euphemism for abortion.
Pro-homosexual activists are naturally cheering J.Crew’s “Love First” campaign, but others have responded with harsh criticism.
Commentary Magazine’s Sohrab Ahmari called it “repugnant” to “frame children at that age as sexual and sexualized beings, whatever the orientation.”
“What defines homosexuality is a sexual appetite for intimate physical activities with people of the same sex,” Catholic Vote’s Stephen Herreid noted. “Introducing it to minors means explicitly discussing arousal and genital contact with kids. The idea of strangers introducing homosexuality to children is unacceptable.”

April 23, 2018

Amazon Employees Pushing Execs to Seek Gay Friendly City for HQ








 Brian Huseman, an Amazon vice president, earlier this year sent a memo to members an employee group in an effort to reassure them that the company would keep LGBT issues in mind when selecting a second headquarters location. 

As Amazon was starting to dig into the 20 communities in the running for its second headquarters, some of the retailer’s employees were pushing internally for the company to place HQ2 in an LGBT-friendly city.

In late February, Brian Huseman, a vice president of public policy at the company, responded to those concerns in an email to members of glamazon  — an employee mentorship and advocacy group on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues  — reassuring them that the company would keep their interests in mind when selecting HQ2. 

“I am personally very proud of our long-standing track record of supporting our LGBT employees and advancing legal protections for LGBT people,” Huseman wrote. “And we’ll continue to join the business community in efforts to oppose laws that discriminate or encourage discrimination, no matter where HQ2 lands.”

During Amazon’s monthslong search for a second headquarters city somewhere in North America, outside observers have been comparing bidders’ data points — from labor market indicators to educational statistics and gauges of housing markets and transit options. The company announced 20 finalists in January, and has been conducting site visits since, with a goal of making a decision sometime this year. 

There have also been questions about what weight social issues would have on Amazon’s thinking, and whether the company, with its first headquarters in progressive Seattle, would seriously consider a second city that was less accepting or had fewer legal protections for LGBT people.

The Washington Post on Friday reported that Amazon had “quietly made rights for and acceptance of gay and transgender people part of its criteria” for a second headquarters, citing two unnamed sources. The newspaper said that company representatives have asked elected officials about policies related to LGBT rights.

In February, No Gay No Way, a coalition of activists, started a campaign to push Amazon to avoid places with a history of discrimination. The group placed advertisements on trucks driving through Amazon’s Seattle campus, and on banners towed from planes above, to get Amazon’s attention. They also went the direct route, sending Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos a letter. The group highlighted nine states, home to cities under consideration for HQ2,  that they said lacked comprehensive protections for LGBT people.

Amazon employees raised similar concerns inside the company, prompting Huseman’s response.

“I have appreciated the opportunity to hear from glamazon about the HQ2 selection process, and wanted to respond directly to you about our efforts to ensure a positive climate for Amazon’s diverse employee population,” Huseman wrote.

Huseman cited language in Amazon’s original request for proposals, noting that the project “requires a compatible cultural and community environment for its long term success.”

Matt Day 

This article is for registered and Int.readers only.  

December 27, 2017

Amazon Seems to be Looking for an LGBT Friendly City for HQ2




A rendering of Baltimore’s Port Covington neighborhood, one of many contenders for the new Amazon HQ2. (Image courtesy Plank Industries).


(WB) In a little-noticed development, Amazon’s surprise announcement in September that it plans to open a second headquarters has prompted growing speculation on whether the corporate giant will consider a state or city’s laws on LGBT issues as a factor in choosing the location of the new headquarters.
Based on the size and scope of its current corporate headquarters in Seattle, observers familiar with the tech company say the new headquarters will likely result in a workforce of 50,000 and a $5 billion boost to the local economy of the city and state Amazon chooses.
LGBT rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, have noted that Amazon is among the most LGBT supportive corporations in the nation. It received a perfect 100 percent score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.
In October, HRC named Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos the winner of its National Equality Award for his and his company’s LGBT supportive policies, including his personal financial support for efforts to bring about marriage equality. Bezos appeared as one of the lead speakers at HRC’s annual national dinner in D.C. at the time he accepted the HRC award.
Given Amazon’s strong support for LGBT rights, many in the LGBT and the business community have speculated that the company would at least consider a state and city’s record on LGBT issues as a possible condition for selecting the state and city for its new headquarters.
In some cities, such as Atlanta and Houston, which are considered to be among the top contenders for the new Amazon headquarters, LGBT activists have expressed concern that their respective states’ poor record on LGBT rights could jeopardize their chances of landing the Amazon headquarters, even though the two cities have strong records of support for LGBT equality.
“The reality is many of the big cities in America, particularly in Texas – Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, El Paso – are islands in a big toxic red state,” said lesbian activist and former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who was named earlier this month as CEO of the Victory Fund.
“And it’s painful to have the cities where many of our LGBTQ community live and work and where many of our officials are elected be penalized because of state actions that are discriminatory,” Parker told the Washington Blade on Tuesday.
Parker said she doesn’t know the status of Houston’s bid for Amazon’s new headquarters, which is being referred to as “HQ2.” But she said that as someone who represented Houston in the recent past she doesn’t want to see the city penalized.
Jeff Graham, executive director of the statewide LGBT advocacy group Georgia Equality, said he was hopeful that Amazon and other corporations considering moving to Atlanta would look past efforts by some in the state legislature to pass an anti-LGBT “religious liberties” bill.
Georgia’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, vetoed a so-called religious freedom restoration act, or RFRA bill, in 2016 and has urged the state legislature not to jeopardize Georgia’s effort to attract Amazon by trying to pass a similar bill again next year.
LGBT rights advocates say the RFRA laws give businesses and some individuals a right to refuse to sell products or provide services to LGBT people on grounds of their personal religious beliefs.
“While Amazon has not been explicit about the impact that legislation such as RFRA would have on any specific bid, most observers agree that this is likely to be a factor in the determination of where their new headquarters will be located,” Graham said.
“It also should be noted that while the state lacks LGBT protections, the city of Atlanta has had an inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance on the books for nearly 20 years,” Graham said. “Finally, it’s important to point out that some 700 companies throughout Georgia have signed the Georgia Prospers pledge,” said Graham.
He said the pledge explicitly states that a prosperous business environment is dependent upon communities that are open and welcoming to a diverse population, including members of the LGBT community.
Other cities and states that have announced they have placed bids for the new Amazon headquarters include D.C., Virginia, Baltimore, Miami and Pittsburgh.
An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to a request from the Washington Blade to confirm whether its criteria for selecting a city and state for its new headquarters include supportive laws and policies for the LGBT community.
Amazon observers have pointed to the request for proposals that Amazon released when it announced it was looking for a location for its new headquarters. Among the criteria mentioned in the RFP was a reference to a “cultural community fit” for its workers along with the “presence and support of a diverse population.”
Some have interpreted that to mean the company wants the new host city and state to be supportive of LGBT people who would be expected to be part of Amazon’s workforce.
The Seattle Times, which closely covers Amazon-related developments in the company’s Seattle headquarters, reported that the company has disclosed some factors it would also look for in a new location include a close proximity to an international airport, a tech talent pool in the workforce, and a relatively low cost of living in the city or state.
Sara Warbelow, HRC’s legal director, said HRC is closely monitoring the impact companies like Amazon have on efforts by LGBT rights groups to push for supportive laws and policies in states and cities.
“One of the things we have asked corporations to do is weigh in with governors and state legislators explaining to them why it’s bad for business to target LGBTQ people in negative ways and to not adopt common sense nondiscrimination policies for LGBTQ people,” Warbelow said.
Warbelow was cautious in her response when asked whether HRC has specifically called on Amazon to adopt a state’s record on LGBT rights as criteria or condition for selecting a location for its new headquarters.
“We do a lot of education to a variety of corporations using our tools, including the Corporate Equality Index, the Municipal Equality Index and State Equality Index,” she said. “We are constantly providing information to corporations about the rights of LGBTQ people and impacts on us.”

— Lou Chibbaro Jr, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.
South Florida Gay News

October 16, 2017

The Reasons Japanese Business' are Endorsing The LGBT Community






In faraway Toronto, an art exhibition titled “The Third Gender – beautiful Youths in Japan” is an eloquent statement on Japan’s attitude towards gender. Long before the term LGBT came into vogue, Japan went its own way regarding gender definitions, as the exhibition shows. It harkens back to a more relaxed era, depicted in art as the “Floating World”, before the Meiji restoration in the 19th Century opened Japan to Western ideas and concepts, including a more Victorian attitude towards sex roles. That is changing rapidly in Japan, led by big business seeking to tap into the underappreciated market for lesbians, gays and transgender people estimated at US$50 billion.

Japan schools a ‘hateful’ place for LGBT students, says rights group

The online shopping mall operator Rakutan earlier this month announced that it would recognise same-sex relationships for spousal benefits. Under the new rule, employee couples of the same sex can receive the same benefits and treatment as married couples, including condolence leave and condolence payments.
Supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT) take part in the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade. Photo: AFP
“We are very proud to support and provide an inclusive work place with services and benefits that recognise same-sex partners,” said Akio Sugihara, managing executive.
Rakuten is known as a trend-setter in Japanese business circles. It made news earlier when it announced that it was demanding that all 13,000 employees learn to speak English for the company to work better in a global setting. But other more venerable Japan Inc. companies are following suit.

Hong Kong to propose hosting the gay Olympics: ‘the Gay Games needs to come here because we need to improve LGBT rights’

The massive electronics emporium Panasonic announced it too would recognise employees in same-sex relationships by conferring on them paid leave and other benefits. One motivation is the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo. It has a rule prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Panasonic aspires to be a prime sponsor.
Drag queens take part in a gay pride event in Tokyo. Photo: AFP
Japan Airlines and its affiliate Trans Ocean Air Company together sponsor the Pink Dot festival on Okinawa, becoming the first Japanese airlines to sponsor a private LGBT event. Beginning this year, JAL will also allow officially certified same-sex couples to share their frequent flier miles as family members. Both JAL and Trans Ocean, based in Naha, rely heavily on tourism.

Indonesian LGBT groups set up safehouses as ‘cacophony of hatred’ reaches fever pitch

“We can see the ripple effect among numerous additional Japanese companies”, says Ayumu Yasutomi, a professor of social ecology at Tokyo University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Asia.
Like its counterpart in the United States, Tokyo Disneyland sponsors an LGBT Pride event. This includes a popular marriage hall, which performs a kind of symbolic marriage ceremony for same-sex couples. Nomura Securities, was one of the first major LGBT-friendly companies in Japan when in 2008 it bought the US investment bank Lehman Brothers and adopted its marriage equality policies.
Two women take part in a gay pride event in Shibuya, which has introduced “Proof of Partnership” documents. Photo: AFP
Hakuhodo DY Holdings, a major Japanese advertising firm, this spring established a think tank, the LGBT Research Institute, to cater to Japanese firms that feel they need to learn more about sexual minorities and their buying habits. “The LGBT market is still largely uncharted territory,” declared institute chief Takahito Morinaga. His research shows that LGBT people tend to spend more on travel, art and pet goods, he says. “I believe there are tremendous big business opportunities,” he said.

Hong Kong’s LGBT community left disappointed by long awaited report on discrimination against sexual minorities

Change is coming, albeit more slowly, in the public sector. The self-governing Shibuya district of Tokyo created quite a stir when in February 2015, it declared that it would begin issuing “Proof of Partnership” documents, providing same-sex couples with rights traditionally reserved for married couples, stopping just short of fully–fledged same-sex marriage certificates.
The Setagaya district quickly followed suit, but since that initial outburst, no other Tokyo district has done so, although the small city of Iga in Mie prefecture became the first government entity outside of Tokyo to issue Proof of Partnership documents for same-sex couples.
A gay pride event takes place in Tokyo's Shibuya and Harajuku shopping districts. Photo: AFP
One might reasonably question that if these districts are issuing documents for same-sex couples that are practically marriage certificates, why not take the next logical step and fully legalise same-sex marriages. The answer has less to do with views on homosexuality, which are fairly relaxed in Japan, as it does to more practical concerns such as inheritance and the definition of the family under law.

Hong Kong’s annual LGBT festival: where pink means party

In Japan, couples can go through any “marriage ceremony” they wish, from the most traditional Shinto wedding ceremony to marriage halls in Disneyland and Hawaii (combining the wedding with the honeymoon). But no one is actually and legally married until they go to the city hall and enter their names in the family register or koseki. For married couples only one family name must appear.
The koseki system performs by itself the roles taken on in other countries through several documents, including birth certificates, death certificates and of course marriage or adoption. So many conservatives are loath to tinker with it.
Two Japanese men take part in an LGBT rainbow rally in Tokyo. Photo: AFP
As a rule, then, Japanese don’t have much cultural hostility to LGBT people. Homosexuality has been legal in Japan since 1880. Neither of the two main religions, imported Buddhism and the native Shinto, has any position on sexuality. (The tiny Christian minority does not much exert influence.)
A law passed in 2002 allows transgender people to change their legal gender after obtaining sex re-assignment surgery. There are no laws governing which bathrooms to use. Indeed, there are occasional signs in front of public toilets saying this stall is gender free.

Two-thirds of Macau’s LGBT community face ‘high’ discrimination, survey finds

The current exhibition of Japanese wood-block prints running in Toronto is itself a fair indication of Japanese attitudes towards gender. In the kabuki theatre men play women’s roles, while in the Takarazuka review women play the men’s roles.
Supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT) take part in the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade. Photo: AFP


































Japan’s politicians have been slow to react to LGBT issues. In the recent upper house election in July, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s manifesto contained some vague language of support for LGBT issues but was placed towards the end of the document.
“The Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would probably try to get by without dealing with LGBT issues. Without outside pressure [the Olympics] things might not have gotten this far,” says Akiko Shimizu, associate professor of gender and sexual studies at Tokyo University. “But doing nothing looks bad.”

Actor Ian McKellen urges India to ‘grow up’ in its attitude towards LGBT rights

Japan’s constitution, written by occupying Americans in 1947, goes farther than even the US constitution in guaranteeing women’s rights and specifically places women on an equal plane with men in terms of consent and inheritance, but does not mention partners of the same sex.
For the first time since the war, the ruling LDP has enough votes in both houses of parliament to call a national referendum on amending the constitution, which has never been changed since it was first promulgated.
However, the LDP’s proposed amendments, which it published in 2012, contain no references to same-sex marriage, and indeed, proposes strengthening definitions of family. These proposed amendments can be changed, of course, but it doesn’t seem likely that the conservatives who now dominate the government will be willing to go down that road.
Todd Crowell has been a journalist in Asia for 30 years, in Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan
South China Morning Post

June 27, 2017

Apple, Microsoft and Another 48 Companies Urge The Court to Back Gay Workers








Dozens of companies, including Alphabet's Google, Microsoft, CBS and Viacom urged a federal appeals court on Monday to rule that a law banning sex discrimination in the workplace offers protections to gay employees.

The brief submitted by 50 companies to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan marks the first time such a large group of businesses has backed arguments about employment discrimination that LGBT groups and the administration of former President Barack Obama have made for years.

The companies said the bias against gay employees is widespread, with more than 40% of gay workers reporting harassment and other forms of discrimination in various studies. The lack of a federal law clearly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has hindered recruitment in states that have not adopted their own, the companies said. 

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"Recognizing that our uniform federal law protects LGBT employees would benefit individual businesses, and the economy as a whole, by removing an artificial barrier to the recruitment, retention, and free flow of talent," wrote the companies' lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

The companies asked the 2nd Circuit to revive a lawsuit by the estate of Donald Zarda, who claimed he was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor on Long Island after he told a customer he was gay and she complained. Zarda died in a skydiving accident after filing the lawsuit.

In April, a panel of three 2nd Circuit judges dismissed Zarda's case, saying the court's decision in a separate case in 2000 that said discrimination against gay workers is not a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 foreclosed his claims.
Tim Cook Is Getting More Praise for His Work in LGBT Advocacy

Tim Cook Is Getting More Praise for His Work in LGBT Advocacy
He’s the first openly gay CEO in the Fortune 500.
 
But last month, the full court, which can overturn the prior ruling, agreed to review the case. That came weeks after a different appeals court in Chicago became the first to rule that Title VII protects gay workers.

Zarda's former employer, Altitude Express, says Congress did not intend for Title VII to apply to gay workers when it passed the law more than 50 years ago, and courts do not have the power to change the meaning of the law.A different appeals court in Atlanta, Georgia, is currently considering whether to revisit a March decision that dismissed a lawsuit by a former hospital security guard who said she was harassed and forced to quit because she is gay.

Reuters

May 13, 2017

Target Launches LGBT Products So As to Stand Together with the Community




Featured Image (LifeSiteNews) — Target stores are promoting a gay pride line of products dubbed "Take Pride" despite facing huge losses from a boycott against the company's transgender bathroom policy.
The retailer is merchandising the gay agenda for the second year in a row, with rainbow-adorned shirts, pants, shorts, swim trunks, iPhone cases, and other items honoring Gay "Pride Month" in June.
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The gay-affirming merchandise is accompanied by a promotional flyer with the promise: "For each PRIDE item sold, Target will donate 50 percent of the purchase price to GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network)."
When Target began its "Take Pride" line of merchandise, the company issued a statement:  
"We’re making our message loud and clear: Target proudly stands with the LGBT community … through all that we do," Laysha Ward, Target’s executive vice president and chief corporate responsibility officer, boasted. She cited gay demonstration "volunteer efforts" and "partnerships" with homosexual groups such as the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network "to the very products we carry in our stores and online."
Target's "Take Pride" promotional campaign follows a controversial transgender bathroom policy allowing men to use women's restrooms, changing rooms, intimate facilities, and vice versa. The corporate giant also eliminated all gender references in its toy and bedding departments, taking down "boys" and "girls" signs to support gender fluidity.  
In 2015, Target signed a "friend of the court" supporting homosexual "marriage." Their commercial for a “Made to Matter” line of products featured two gay men painting with a child.
The homosexual-affirming policies resulted in a massive boycott (#BoycottTarget, #FlushTarget) of the retailer by an estimated 1.5 million customers and declining Target stock value.
The transgender bathroom policy also resulted in complaints of sex offenses in Target changing rooms and bathrooms in California, IdahoNew Hampshire, Oregon, Texas, Washington state, and Ontario. 
The American Family Association (AFA) noted that dramatically declining sales and stock value forced Target to cancel expansion plans, fire five top executives, and cut CEO Brian Cornell's salary by one-third.

May 4, 2017

Should Companies Be in the Forefront of The Gay Rights Fight?







Last week, Nikki Haley, America's ambassador to the United Nations, issued a statement reaffirming U.S. commitment to non-discrimination and calling for accountability for Chechen authorities who, according to reports, haveg arbitrarily detained, tortured and killed gay men in concentration camps, thus evoking Nazi Germany’s persecution of LGBT people.

Those shocking reports are a reminder of the complex and often dangerous landscape LGBT people face across the globe.

In 23 countries same-sex couples can get married, but in 76 countries we can be arrested just for being who we are.

Given this paradox of progress and backlash, it’s more important than ever to consider the role business leaders can play to shift culture and advance LGBT equality around the world. New research shows how far we’ve come—though we still have much to do.

A new study, which included nearly 700 companies from 50 countries, found that 81 percent offer the same life, medical and retirement benefits to LGBT couples as they do for opposite-sex couples. Twenty-seven percent offer health benefits that include gender-affirming care.

In the U.S., more than 8 in 10 workers with spousal health benefits have access to same-sex spousal benefits. 

These benefits are transformative. In the U.S., most people get their health insurance either through their jobs or family members, and LGBT people have long been cut out of these opportunities. Transgender people, in particular, have often been denied health coverage for necessary care.

But employee benefits are just one piece of a complex puzzle: Many firms also have internal policies which prohibit discrimination on the basis of an employee's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Most of those firms also aim to strengthen the communities in which they operate.

By showing public support for LGBT anti-discrimination legislation, they are merely seeking to extend to society as a whole the standard to which they hold their own employees.

A couple and their child take part in the Sydney gay and lesbian Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney on March 5, 2016. Selisse Berry and Ken Janssens write that in recent years there has been a remarkable “coming out” by multinational companies as supportive of equal rights around the globe, whether that’s anti-discrimination legislation in the U.S. or Hong Kong or marriage equality in Australia or the U.S.

Laws that prevent LGBT equality across many state and country borders impose a significant burden on these companies and harm their ability to attract and retain the best employees. That’s why multinational firms must speak out for equal rights wherever they do business.

For companies that do business in many countries, there are often added legal and cultural challenges to workplace equality. After all, how can a worker in a country where being LGBT is highly stigmatized or even criminalized be “equal” with a colleague at that same company who lives in a country with marriage equality?

It’s not surprising that multinationals have become important bridge-builders given their unique perspective on the global landscape.

Recent years have seen a remarkable “coming out” by multinational companies as supportive of equal rights around the globe, whether that’s anti-discrimination legislation in the U.S. or Hong Kong or marriage equality in Australia or the United States.

At J.P. Morgan, with local LGBT Employee Resource Group (or ERG) chapters in 15 countries, we hear from employees around the world. Just a few weeks ago, one of our international ERGs reached out: They wanted the company to publicly call on the local legislature to pass anti-discrimination legislation.

We considered many factors, including public support for the measure in the country, the impact on our employees there and the political landscape.

Ultimately, we were proud to show our support. These decisions are complex ones for businesses to make, but with the full support of our leaders and employees in the region we were able to speak out.

Business leaders know that embracing LGBT employees means being able to recruit and retain more top talent, attract investment and create business opportunities. When business leaders have worked hard to make their companies welcoming to LGBT people, they don’t want to see that progress undermined when they do business in a country that projects hostility to those same communities.

We understand that being out at work and welcomed by your boss and co-workers is good for employee morale and the bottom line. As any senior executive can tell you, employees who feel comfortable and welcome at work are more likely to succeed in their careers and contribute to their team, company, or organization.

When companies fail to protect their LGBT employees against discrimination in the workplace, the consequences can be serious. Imagine what it would be like to go to work every day and hide who you are. Imagine not being able to put family photos on your desk, changing pronouns when you talk about your weekend, or living with the constant fear that you can’t go about your daily life like other people.

There are economic consequences as well. When LGBT employees don't feel comfortable and welcome, they are not able to fully participate and thrive in their careers. When a company discriminates in hiring, retention or promotion, they sacrifice getting the best person for the job in favor of pointless discrimination.

We can and must do more. Many companies have created ERGs that foster community for LGBT employees and allies and advocate internally for workplace equality, an important first step. But we also need more engagement at the leadership level: Companies that want to deepen their commitment to equality should also create LGBT Executive Councils made up of senior executives who are out.

If your company doesn’t have any out senior executives, it’s a good time to ask why.

In addition, more companies should allow employees to self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender for the purposes of workforce analytics (known as Self ID) in as many countries as it’s legal and safe to do so. Currently, 28 percent of companies have rolled out Self ID.

As we learned recently from the backlash over excluding LGBT people from the U.S. Census, LGBT people don’t exist if we are not included in data collection. Like governments, companies need data to measure whether LGBT talent is being attracted, developed, promoted and retained.

Finally, companies can do more to embrace all the letters of the LGBT rainbow, including by increasing visibility of bisexual and transgender employees and ensuring that they are represented in ERGs and Executive Councils.

Welcoming LGBT employees into the workforce is one of the great business success stories of the last 20 years, and today, some of the most powerful and vocal advocates for LGBT equality in the world are multinational firms. Whatever may happen in domestic politics, business leaders are prepared to stay the course, continue to welcome LGBT people into the workplace, and support our LGBT employees and their loved ones around the globe.

Our world is stronger and more just when we treat all people equally under the law.

Ken Janssens is managing director, deputy CIO for EMEA, J.P. Morgan, and a board member of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates.


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