Showing posts with label Gay Discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Discrimination. Show all posts

October 30, 2019

'Tone Down Your Gayness Officer'

Credit...Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press

A jury in St. Louis has awarded a gay police sergeant nearly $20 million in a discrimination case involving claims that the department failed to promote him based on sex stereotyping and retaliated against him for filing a lawsuit.

The sergeant, Keith Wildhaber, 47, said that he was told to “tone down” his sexuality while working for the St. Louis County Police Department and that he was transferred to another precinct after he filed a discrimination complaint.

The county executive released a statement Monday promising leadership changes to the police board, which oversees the police chief.

“Our police department must be a place where every community member and every officer is respected and treated with dignity,” Dr. Sam Page, the county executive, said on Twitter. “Employment decisions in the department must be made on merit and who is best for the job.”

The lawsuit was sparked by a conversation in February 2014 between Sergeant Wildhaber and a member of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners who owned a restaurant. Sergeant Wildhaber had applied for a lieutenant position with the Police Department at the time. 
While at the restaurant, the owner, John Saracino, told Sergeant Wildhaber that he was aware that the sergeant had applied for a promotion.
“The command staff has a problem with your sexuality,” Mr. Saracino said, according to Sergeant Wildhaber. “If you ever want to see a white shirt,” — meaning a promotion — “you should tone down your gayness.”
Court documents show that an assessment of Sergeant Wildhaber, who had more than 15 years of experience on the force, landed him in the top three of 26 candidates, but he did not get the job. Over the course of five and a half years, he was turned down for 23 promotions, the lawsuit claims. 
In April 2016, Sergeant Wildhaber filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. One month later, he was transferred to another precinct around 27 miles from his home, where he was assigned to work an overnight shift, according to court documents. He then filed a second charge of retaliation.

During the weeklong trial at the St. Louis County Circuit Court last week, Chief Jon Belmar testified that issues unrelated to Sergeant Wildhaber’s sexuality prevented his promotion, including tipping off the target of an F.B.I. investigation and failing to submit official reports, according to The St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Chief Belmar said that he had not punished Sergeant Wildhaber for being gay nor quashed his advancement and that he had been unaware of the transfer, which the county’s lawyer attributed to other reasons. The St. Louis County Police Department declined to comment on Monday.

On Friday, the jury capped the proceedings with three hours of deliberations before awarding Sergeant Wildhaber $1.9 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages on the discrimination allegation. The jury also awarded Sergeant Wildhaber $999,000 in actual damages and $7 million in punitive damages for the retaliation allegations.

“We wanted to send a message,” the jury foreman told reporters, according to The Post-Dispatch. “If you discriminate, you are going to pay a big price.”

Four jurors told The Post-Dispatch that they were affected by testimony from the widow of a former police officer, who said the police Capt. Guy Means had called Sergeant Wildhaber “fruity” at an event in 2015, and that he would never be promoted because he was “way too out there with his gayness and he needed to tone it down if he wanted a white shirt.”

Captain Means testified Thursday that he did not know the widow. But on Friday, the widow produced a photo showing them together, according to The Post-Dispatch.

“The county should be ashamed,” Mr. Wildhaber’s attorney, Russell Riggan, said during his closing argument to the jury. “Our community deserves better.” 
Mr. Riggan said Sergeant Wildhaber was not available for comment. Attempts to reach Sergeant Wildhaber on Monday were unsuccessful.
County Counselor Beth Orwick said that her office was reviewing its legal options and would do “what is in the best interest of the citizens of St. Louis County.”

The St. Louis County Police Union said in a statement Monday that it was “extremely embarrassed” by the reported actions of some of its senior commanders.
“We look forward to the healing process that can begin to take place now that this has been heard in open court,” the union said.

May 2, 2019

If Part of The Joke is “That’s So Gay” It’s Not Gay and It’s Not Funny

                        Image result for thats so gay

In today’s Perspective produced as part of Youth Takeover week at KQED, Olive Savoie stands up to confront a bigoted phrase uttered by her peers.

“That's so gay,” joked the boys at the bus stop. It was raining buckets, and, umbrella-less, our hair was matted to our faces. Freezing water dripped from atop my head down my cheeks, but no rain could compete with my blood's temperature, which ran cold.

“Oh sorry,” he stammered trying to redeem himself. “I didn't realize you were here.”

I ducked my head down and tucked my short, stubborn hair behind my ear, a defense mechanism I use to hide. “The boy sees me as gay. That is all. Nothing more. In his mind, I am just gay. Never mind that I am an empathetic human, regardless of my sexuality,” I thought.

The downpour intensified, as my anger did. “What do you mean by that?” I snap at the boy. “And why would you say it, regardless of if you're standing next to a gay person or not?” 

“Hey chill out! It was just a joke!” he digressed. Just a joke? I'm not buying it. “Just a joke” makes a whole audience laugh, not just the straight people. “Just a joke” is objectively funny, not cruel. “Just a joke” is not “that’s so gay.” It can't be!

To use “gay” to describe an action or a look makes zero sense. Why do I so often hear that a haircut is gay, or a person's walk, or dancing? Is a haircut attracted to a haircut of the same sex? Does a person's walk spend hours in the closet, hiding a crucial part of itself from loved ones? Does a dance feel shame? Does it know pride? Saying something or someone is gay as an insult strips the word from its oppressive history and erases the experiences of truly gay people. “That's so gay” is a weapons phrase meant to demean and generalize. It pushes people back into the closet and is never “just a joke”.

Confrontation is critical when entire groups of people are put down. Next time you hear “that’s so gay “ I invite you to be a change-maker by simply asking, “What do you mean by that?” Chances are, like the boy at the bus stop, the speaker will be shocked by what they learn.

With a Perspective, I’m Olive Savoie. 

Olive Savoie is a senior at Lincoln High School in San Francisco. Her Perspective was produced as part of KQED’s Youth Takeover week.

April 23, 2019

Sri Lanka Arrested Novelist Over Gay Buddhist Monk Story~~Gays Are Outlawed on This Backward Nation

Representatio  arrests-handcuffs.jpg

Representational photo Bigstock
Shakthika Sathkumara, 33, was arrested in the north-central town of Polgahawela on Monday and remanded in custody for nine days after monks complained about his writing

A Sri Lankan novelist has been arrested for writing about homosexuality in the Buddhist clergy and charged with violating international human rights law, officials said Tuesday, outraging free speech advocates.

Shakthika Sathkumara, 33, was arrested in the north-central town of Polgahawela on Monday and remanded in custody for nine days after monks complained about his writing.

The short story contained indirect references to homosexuality among the clergy, who hold considerable sway in the Buddhist-majority nation of 21 million.

The story was published on Sathkumara's Facebook page and in local Sinhalese language publications. 

"A group of monks complained that the reference to homosexual activities among the clergy insulted Buddhism," a police spokesman said.

Buddhist monks are expected to be celibate. Homosexuality is also outlawed in Sri Lanka under an 1883 colonial-era law, but it is rarely enforced. 
The police spokesman said the monks who complained refused to settle the matter out of court and insisted on Sathkumara being prosecuted.

He was taken before a local magistrate who charged him with inciting "religious hatred" under the United Nation's international human rights treaty, to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

Local activists decried what they called abuse of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to clamp down on free speech.

"The police have abused their powers and carried out an arbitrary arrest," the Free Media Movement, a local watchdog, said in a statement.

"We condemn this action of the police."


Sri Lankan novelist arrested over gay Buddhist monk story

A file image of newly ordained Buddhist monks praying at a ceremony marking their entry into priesthood in Colombo on June 15, 2016.  
Quintus Colombage, Negombo 
Sri Lanka 

A post-modernist novelist has been arrested and charged with violating international human rights law in Sri Lanka for authoring a story about homosexuality and child abuse at a Buddhist temple.
Shakthika Sathkumara, 33, was arrested on April 1 after a group of monks complained to the police when he posted the short story called Ardha on his Facebook page and in local Sinhalese language publications.

Homosexuality is outlawed in the island nation, where about 70 percent of the population of 21 million identify as Theravada Buddhists and monks swear vows of celibacy.
The writer and poet was detained by Polgahawela police until April 9 after the monks refused to settle out of court.

He was charged by a local magistrate with inciting religious hatred and breaching the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a multilateral treaty adopted by the U.N. General Assembly.

The ICCPR prohibits advocacy of racial, national, religious hatred that helps incitement discrimination, hostility or violence.

The story makes only indirect references to homosexual behavior among Buddhist clergy, but this was enough to inflame local religious sensibilities.

The Free Media Movement (FMM), a rights watchdog, expressed its dissatisfaction over the incident and said police should not have such extensive powers to control or censor works of art.
It pointed to numerous occasions where the government, in deciding on works of art and literature by independent thinkers, has violated people’s freedom of expression.

"When Sri Lanka signed the ICCPR, the promise given to the people of the country and the international community was that freedom of expression would be further strengthened and protected by the charter," C. Dodawatta, convener of the FMM, said on April 3.

"But it is clear this particular charter challenges freedom of expression. When there is an issue with the content of a piece of art, it cannot be judged by a single point of view." 
Sathkumara was named the best Sinhala short story writer in Sri Lanka’s National Youth Literary Festivals of 2010 and 2014.

The FMM said the decision to immediately prosecute him shows how little respect Colombo has for basic human rights.
"Once again, the FMM appeals to all state officials not to proceed with this kind of arbitrary action," Dodawatta said.

In an opinion piece published in the Colombo Telegraph on April 3, Sarath de Alwis wrote: "In medieval times creators of beauty, truth and human squalor were persecuted. In the new age of fake righteousness attempted by statute and proclamations we seem to be returning to our tribal roots.
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"Our free press — print and electronic — did not report the incident. The incident has gone viral on the internet. The international news agency AFP has reported the Orwellian ordeal of Shakthika Sathkumara to the world."

Vijeykumar Vidhusan, 18, is also being detained for 10 months under the ICCPR for posting New Year’s wishes on his Facebook account on October 2018 showing pictures of the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Jayathilaka Kammallaweera, one of the leading short story writers in the country, said the authorities have abused the international covenant to clamp down on free speech. "Freedom of expression should be strengthened and protected. Sathkumara is not against the philosophy of Buddhism at all," he said.
Kammallaweera expressed concern about the extremist Buddhist group who filed a complaint against Sathkumara.

Tenison Perera, president of the Writers Organization of Lanka, said his network would rally behind the persecuted writer. "If he has done anything wrong, the Buddhist group can work according to the rule of law, but not violate his rights by force," he said.

Gamini Viyangoda, co-convenor of Purawesi Balaya, a civil society movement, said the monks hope to intimidate and silence the award-winning writer.
Meanwhile, human rights defenders have signed a petition demanding he be released.

"The ICCPR is intended to ensure citizens’ civic and political rights," they wrote. "It is not to be misused to intimidate artists and censor works of art in the guise of preserving religious harmony. The publication does not amount to any disrespect towards Buddhism.

"[His] arrest and detention is not merely a threat to our freedom of expression but also paves the way to creating a culture of regulating and censoring artistic expression based on the whims of religious and extremist groups." 

Sarath de Alwis wrote in the Colombo Telegraph that in ancient India homosexuals were simply identified as the third nature, trithya prakthi. "Whether it is a deviant practice or not is not the issue in Shakthika’s story. It is the realism embedded in the yarn that has upset the holy hornet’s nest."

August 20, 2018

San Francisco Gay Police Officer Sues City for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination



A San Francisco police officer was harassed because of his sexual orientation in a yearlong bullying campaign by superiors that only got worse when he reported the behavior, according to a lawsuit filed this week against the city.
Brendan Mannix, 28, accused members of the Police Department of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination based on his sexual orientation, and retaliating against a whistle-blower. Mannix’s attorneys filed the suit Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court.
Mannix said two sergeants at Central Station frequently made comments about his sexual orientation, including calling him a “queen,” “too dramatic” and insulting his masculinity, attorney Lawrence Organ wrote. When he tried to report the behavior, Mannix allegedly faced retaliation, and he said the department didn’t do anything to stop the harassment. 
The Police Department said it could not comment on the lawsuit but takes “allegations of discrimination and officer misconduct seriously and will thoroughly investigate all complaints.”
“The San Francisco Police Department is committed to diversity, tolerance and respect for the public and all of our members,” said David Stevenson, a police spokesman. “Department members are sworn to hold each other accountable and required to act swiftly to report any misconduct.”
The San Francisco city attorney’s office said it has not been served with the lawsuit and could not comment on it.
“The city of San Francisco, including the Police Department, has been a leader on LGBT rights for decades and remains committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment for all,” said John Coté, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office.
Mannix — who is still employed as a San Francisco police officer — graduated from the police academy in May 2015 and was assigned to the Richmond Station, where he completed his field training over a probationary period.
In the fall of 2016, he transferred to the Central Station, where officers are assigned to patrol the Financial District, the Embarcadero, Chinatown and North Beach.
That’s when the trouble started, Organ said.
“Mr. Mannix quickly noticed the ‘Old Boys’ Club’ atmosphere of the station: Anyone who did not fit a precise mold — broadly speaking, straight, cisgender, white and male — was targeted for mistreatment; those who complained about it were treated even worse,” Organ wrote.
The bulk of Mannix’s accusations focus on two sergeants. One suggested Mannix was in a sexual relationship with the other gay officer at the station, and when Mannix did or said something the sergeant believed was stereotypically gay, he would say “ugh, you gays!” or “God, you gays!” Organ said.
The sergeant, Organ said, would also mock Mannix’s hair style and physical appearance, making comments like, “Is that hair big enough?!” and “How much do you weigh? One hundred pounds soaking wet?”
In one instance, when they discovered a dead body in the water at night, the sergeant told him, “don’t be such a queen,” when Mannix said he was cold, Organ said.
Mannix later confronted the two sergeants in a station conference room, asking them to stop the harassment, Organ said. The second sergeant, he said, got in Mannix’s face and told him, “if you think I am a bully, file a f—ing complaint.” In another instance, a sergeant “talked positively about how ‘back in the day,’ the police would ‘round up’ all of the ‘trannies’ ” who were prostitutes, which Mannix found offensive and concerning, his attorney said.
Mannix claims the sergeants then began retaliating against him. In April 2017, he chased a robbery suspect down Market Street and radioed for backup. No one from his station immediately showed up to help and Mannix apprehended the suspect himself, Organ said. Officers from a neighboring station eventually arrived on the scene to assist, he said.
The alleged harassment began to take a toll, Organ said, prompting Mannix to take a three-month leave beginning May 1, 2017, to “maintain his mental health.”
When he returned in August, Mannix filed a formal complaint, but the sergeant who took the report was “dismissive” and omitted many of the incidents he reported, Organ said. The complaint was later closed.
In September, Mannix and his partner responded to a domestic violence call and the suspect shot at them, forcing them to retreat. Backup later arrived and shot the man. Mannix complained that he had to accompany the suspect to the hospital, where he waited through the night, spending more than 12 hours on shift.
Mannix said he was later given unfavorable assignments at the station.
He was later summoned into a meeting with a lieutenant to discuss the harassment complaints with his sergeant. The sergeant “told him that he had inappropriately addressed her and violated policy by discussing an active Internal Affairs investigation,” Organ said.

Evan Sernoffsky is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @EvanSernoffsky 
Evan Sernoffsky is a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle specializing in criminal justice, crime and breaking news. He’s covered some of the biggest Bay Area news stories in recent memory, including wildfires, mass shootings and criminal justice reform efforts in San Francisco. He has given a voice to victims in some of the region’s biggest tragedies, carefully putting himself in challenging situations to make sure their stories are told. He works out of San Francisco’s Hall of Justice where he keeps watch on the city’s courts and hits the streets to expose the darker side of a city undergoing rapid change. He moved to the Bay Area from Oregon where he grew up and worked as a journalist for several years.

August 17, 2018

Man’s application rejected as authorities say he did not walk, dress or act like he was gay

 Refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, at the Westbahnhof train station in Vienna in September 2015. Photograph:   Christoph Schlessmann/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, at the Westbahnhof train station in Vienna in September 2015. Photograph: Christoph Schlessmann/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
This story appeared on the Irish Times and written Derek Scally 
An Afghan man seeking asylum in Austria because he is homosexual has had his application rejected because he didn’t appear sufficiently gay for the migration authorities.
The 18-year-old man sought refugee status in 2016 because he said he faced persecution in Afghanistan. The application was refused because, in the words of the official, “neither your walk, your affectations nor your clothes give even the slightest indication that you could be homosexual”.
The asylum case-worker noted that the man, who was living in a hostel with other underage migrants, had been involved in fights, indicating “a potential for aggression . . . that would not be expected from a homosexual”.
Other reports from the hostel suggested the young man preferred small groups or his own company, prompting the official to ask: “Are homosexuals not more the sociable type?” A gay loner, the report adds, is not behaviour that “fits with an alleged homosexual”.
The official goes on to dismiss as “completely unthinkable” his claims that non-homosexual youths could have kissed him. “If you had really done that with a non-homosexual youth, then you would have received a terrible beating.” 
Finally, the official dismissed a claim the Afghan asylum applicant felt drawn to his own sex from the age of 12.
“In an under-sexualised society like Afghanistan, in which there are no public sexual allurements through fashion and advertising, it is not very likely to have been ‘sexualised’ so young.”
The final ruling of the official: “You are not homosexual and, on your return to Afghanistan, have nothing to fear.”


Homosexuality in Afghanistan is largely taboo and often linked with prostitution and paedophilia. After their takeover, the Taliban criminalised all non-heterosexual relationships outside marriage and executed in public men and women accused of adultery and same-sex acts. 
After the American invasion in 2001, a handbook for US marines noted that “homosexual behaviour is relatively common, but taboo, in rural Afghanistan, because there are no other outlets for normal sexual energies”. European and Austrian courts have ruled that homosexuality can be a legitimate reason for asylum if returning a gay man or lesbian to their homeland meant they faced likely persecution.
Even Austria’s migration authority admits in its 118-page report that bisexuals, homosexuals and transsexuals in Afghanistan face “brutal rejection” by mainstream society.
NGOs, the report continues, report of gay men being detained, robbed, raped and even killed. But the migration authority ends its report by telling the young man: “you are not homosexual, you just want to trick the authority.”
Determining homosexuality as grounds for asylum has proven one of the trickiest issues for authorities in Germany and Austria on the front lines of the 2015-2016 migrant surge. But a leading Austrian gay group said on Wednesday that the report, leaked to Vienna’s Falter magazine, was “so filled with prejudice, stereotype and cliche” that it disqualified itself.
The 18-year-old Afghan man has appealed the decision. The asylum authority is standing firm, saying that “viewed objectively, one cannot assume that the person in question is, in fact, homosexual”.

July 31, 2018

Alaska Airlines Bumped Gay Couple To Make Room For Straight One to Seat Together

Image: David Cooley

 “I have never been so discriminated against while traveling before,” Cooley, owner of iconic Los Angeles gay bar The Abbey, wrote in a public Facebook post. He said he and his travel companion were “removed” from their flight “to give preferential treatment to a straight couple.”
“After my traveling companion and I had been seated in our assigned seats for a while, we were approached by the flight attendant and my companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a couple could sit together,” Cooley wrote. “I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together. He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane.”
Cooley and his travel companion decided they “could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight,” and so they deplaned. 

“I cannot believe that an airline in this day and age would give a straight couple preferential treatment over a gay couple and go so far as to ask us to leave,” he added.
At the end of his Facebook post, Cooley called on LGBTQ people to boycott Alaska Airlines.
“Thank you to Delta Air Lines for getting us home safe,” Cooley wrote. “If you are an #LGBT person, please spend your travel dollars with an LGBT friendly airline like Delta.”
A spokesperson for Alaska Airlines told NBC News the incident is currently being investigated, claiming the situation arose after “a couple was mistakenly assigned the same seats as another couple in Premium Class.” 
“We are deeply sorry for the situation, and are investigating the details while communicating directly with the guests involved to try and make this right,” the spokesperson said. “Alaska Airlines has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind, and our employees value inclusion for our guests and each other.”
The claims against Alaska Airlines are not new to the industry. Over the past several years, passengers flying Southwest AirlinesAmerican AirlinesEmirates and others have claimed to have experienced anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
by Tim Fitzsimons
NBC News

June 16, 2018

Men Can Not Give Blood in America{ There is no Medical Reason Only Political

This page by Josh and Levi is in THENIB. I thought it is a simple page yet powerful enough and it should be spread on a day like yesterday (and everyday) which we have set aside to bring attention about the discrimination about blood and Gay men. Yes blood which at one time it used to scared doctors and All other medical peronnel is no longer scary, I hope. We went from using blood which is always been a life saver to use it as an instrument of division and discrimnation. Blood still blood. It still saves lives. Gay men should not be set aside as not capable, not good enough to save our borthers and sisters lives with or blood. This is one more brick on the wall of discrimination and like all other walls not grounded on truth it will have to fall.🦊Adam Gonzalez

It’s 2018, and Gay Men Still Can’t Give Blood in America

Posted Today 

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