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Symantec Web Filter Lifts Block On Gay Sites

WebSymantec, a California-based technology firm known for its web security tools, has updated its popular web filtering software so that it no longer blocks content that merely mentions homosexuality. In the past a number of widely used content monitoring programs like Symantec’s Web Gateway failed to differentiate between sexually explicit media and media that simply included words like “gay,” “lesbian,” or “bisexual.”

Typically web filters are deployed to open wi-fi channels that are provided to the public in open settings like retail establishments, public parks, and libraries. Schools often make use of filters to ensure that students’ focus remains on schoolwork. In 2011, however, the ACLU was compelled to launch its “Don’t Filter Me” campaign after receiving thousands of complaints that students were unable to access LGBT websites geared towards providing teens with resources and social support networks.

“Schools harm students by denying them vital information,” said Joshua Block, the ACLU LGBT Project’s staff attorney at the time. “Schools not only have a legal duty to allow students access to these sites, it is also imperative that LGBT youth who are experiencing discrimination and bullying be able to access this information for their own safety.”

SymantecSymantec’s update, the software company told the Associated Press, will still grant its users granular access to block out offensive, age-restricted content, but it will no longer use sexual orientation to gauge a website’s appropriateness.

“Having a category in place that could be used to filter out all LGBT-oriented sites was inconsistent with Symantec’s values and the mission of our software,” insisted Fran Rosch, an executive VO of Symantec’s Norton Business Unit. “Making this change was not only the right thing to do, it was a good business decision.”


Bologna, Italy Begins Formal Recognition Of Foreign Same-Sex Marriages, Catholic Church Calls It 'Surprise Attack'

Giovanni_silvagniThe city of Bologna, Italy instated a formal recognition policy on Monday for all out-of-country same-sex marriages, and the Catholic church is not pleased. The diocese for the city described the move as a "surprise attack" and the church is urging city politicians to rethink the decision.

Gazzetta del Sud reports:

After a decree came into effect Monday, allowing gay couples to have their marriages abroad added to Bologna's civil register, Monsignor Giovanni Silvagni denounced the move. "These are sensitive subjects that are dealt with slogan attacks and and an approach a bit ideological", said Silvagni. He said that "haste and approximation are always bad ideas....imposing thoughts that are slightly weak and young, not sufficiently matured or tested..."

In contrast, Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said he would follow Bologna's lead and start the process in Italy's capital city "for the recognition of marriages contracted abroad, both heterosexual and homosexual couples."

Two couples had already filed applications for recognition on Monday, but prefect Ennio Mario Sodano has asked Bologna's mayor to withdraw said marriages from recognition.


Fox News Correspondent Todd Starnes Thinks Gay Marriage Will Lead to Man-Dog Marriage: VIDEO

JoniShow

Appearing on the Daystar talk show "Joni" last month, Fox News commentator Todd Starnes felt the need to get some personal woes off his chest and lament the redefinition of marriage at the hands of the gays. 

In one segment, Starnes agreed with another guest in saying that same-sex marriage allows for countless other forms of commitments to be made, including a man wanting to marry his dog--all this from a conversation about the Denver bakery that refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

And in another segment, Starnes said that he believes "the government is going to have to start coming after pastors in the pulpit," lamenting the probability that stricter hate crime laws (like the ones censoring anti-gay speech on Christian talk radio in Canada) will make their way to the United States. "I think that we're going to see some pastors who, quite frankly, may have to go to jail to protect their religious beliefs." If that weren't enough, he also throws out the old religious freedom argument, saying: "If I wanted to be persecuted for my faith I would go move to China. I like to live in America where we don't get beat up on the way to church." A classy line coming from someone boo-hooing about hate crime laws.

Check out the videos (provided by Right Wing Watch), AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Fox News Correspondent Todd Starnes Thinks Gay Marriage Will Lead to Man-Dog Marriage: VIDEO" »


UCLA Study Reveals Hollywood May Not Be So LGBT-Friendly After All

Lgbt-hollywood

The film industry specializes in illusion: actors can play anywhere along a gay spectrum and full storylines are effectively created for gender non-conforming, bisexual, or transgender persons, even if American "culture" is not reflective of the willingness necessary to accept those representations. The "liberal Hollywood" archetype may be revealed as just an illusion, however, thanks to a new study out of UCLA's Williams Institute. 

In a survey of 5,700 SAG-AFTRA members, over half the lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents reported hearing anti-gay comments from the crew. 53% "believed that directors and producers are biased against LGBT performers." These are surprising statistics when one considers the rapidity with which actors and actresses have been coming out in recent years, egged on by increasing levels of awareness and equal rights throughout the country. 

Deadline reports:

“We found that LGBT performers may have substantial barriers to overcome in their search for jobs,” said the authors of the study, M. V. Lee Badgett, a Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, and Jody L. Herman, manager of Transgender Research at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law...

According to the study, “gay men were the most likely to re­port they have experienced some form of discrimination, with one in five reporting an experience. Bisexual actors were about half as likely to report discrimination as gay or lesbian actors. Gender nonconforming gay and bisexual men were more likely to experi­ence discrimination, as were men who were out professionally...”

The study also found that LGBT performers are less likely than heterosexual performers to have agents, “which may put LGBT performers at a disadvantage when looking for work.

Still, 72% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents reported that coming out had had no ill effect on their career, and they recommended that other LGBT actors follow suit. The damning first-person accounts included in the study (gay actors being recast, fired, or told they "aren't right" for a role) would seem to suggest otherwise, but SAG-AFTRA is confident that the study will make an impact.

“Although our industry is heading in the right direction, there is clearly work left to do as certain attitudes and behaviors persist and continue to put pressure on actors to stay in the closet,” wrote Traci Godfrey and Jason Stuart, national co-chairs of the SAG-AFTRA LGBT Committee. “We are confident that this unprecedented study will have profound ramifications for the entertainment industry as a whole. By utilizing the data it contains as it reflects the realities performers face, we can identify the obstacles to equal employment opportunities and full inclusion.”

Image via Deadline.


Cameroon's Anti-gay Laws Often Invoked Based On Stereotypes and Trickery Rather Than 'Sexual Relations'

Michel-TogueAnti-gay legislation in Cameroon is meant to punish "sexual relations with a person of the same sex" and can result in prison sentences up to five years in length. One attorney, Michel Togue (right), is speaking out against the injustice not only of the law itself, but also the shoddy, treacherous ways in which it is reinforced. According to Togue, article 347 of the Cameroon penal code is more often than not invoked based on stereotyping and entrapment.

Think Progress reports:

Togue told ThinkProgress that of the dozens of such cases he has represented, very few people were actually caught in the act of actually having sex. Once an accusation of homosexuality is made, police make arrests based solely on how individuals present themselves. For example, if a man is found to be cross-dressing, that could be used as proof that he is gay in court. If somebody has a job that doesn’t fit their gender, like a male hairdresser, that too could be used against them. A judge convicted one of Togue’s clients for feminine mannerisms and for drinking Bailey’s Irish Cream, which he felt only a woman would drink...

Cameroon2One of the most high-profile cases was that of Jean-Claude Roger Mbede (left), who texted a picture of himself holding a sign that read, “I’m very much in love w/u” to another man. The recipient reported the image to the police as “sexual harassment,” then invited Mbede over to his home, where the police were waiting to arrest him. Mbede was sentenced to three years in prison. “If Roger was sentenced as a homosexual,” Togue asked, “with whom did he have sex?” Mbede was provisionally released on medical grounds in 2012 and went into hiding; he died earlier this year after he could no longer afford hospital treatment for a hernia.

While the widespread misuse of the penal code is disturbing, the reinforcement of anti-gay laws by the Catholic church is spreading a message of hate further than it would otherwise reach. in 2013, bishops from around the country issued a statement reading: "homosexuality opposes humanity and destroys it." The cultural ramifications of such fear-mongering are incredibly dangerous.

This stigma is also having a negative impact on health care in the country, particularly when it comes to HIV outreach. “They can’t go to the hospital for the treatment or even for a test because they’re afraid,” Togue explained. He knows of at least one case where an individual admitted to a nurse that he’d had same-sex relations and she called the police on him.

CameroonTogue remains hopeful, however, and believes that the work of LGBT organizations in Cameroon could positively impact the cultural milieu surrounding homosexual identity.

Togue hopes that local organizations in Cameroon will help people learn that “a homosexual is our friend, is our brother, is our sister, is part of our family — is not a stranger, not someone coming from outside.”

Image of Togue via Global Rights.


New Zealand Gay Rights Proponents Angered By Heterosexual Pair's 'Gay Wedding'

ZackTravisNZ

New Zealanders Travis McIntosh and Matt McCormick are jumping the broom and getting hitched this week. The "aww"-inducing announcement has been tampered, however, by the two friends' status as heterosexual pals out to win a trip.

The Edge radio station in New Zealand recently hosted a contest to see which bromance could make the ultimate cut. The prize? An all-expenses paid excursion to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. The catch? Travis and Matt have to get married. Since same-sex marriage was legalized in New Zealand just last year, many gay rights groups see the heterosexual union as a mockery of what they spent so long trying to achieve.

News.com.au reports:

LegaliseLove Aotearoa Wellington co-chairman Joseph Habgood told the Otago Daily Times that the competition attacked the legitimacy of same-sex marriages.

“The point of this competition is that men marrying each other is still something they think is worth having a laugh at ...

“Maybe on the day that statistics around mental health for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people are better, when high schools are safe places for LGBTI youth, we can look back on all this and laugh.

“But competitions like this don’t bring that day any closer.”

Though Zack and Travis likely support same-sex marriages, and are apparently quite confident in their heterosexuality, their statements about the ceremony are admittedly lacking in sympathy or nuance.

“We are not here to insult anyone. We are here to do our own thing and travel our own path,” McCormick told the Otago Daily Times.

McIntosh said the wedding was not mocking the institution of marriage.

“It’s just seeing how far two good mates would go to win a trip to the Rugby World Cup."

As one gay rights group commentator noted, the language of "how far" the pair are willing to go seems to suggest that same-sex marriage on the whole is "something outrageous that you'd never consider." Of course Zack and Travis's ceremony can also be chalked up to a lark and an occasion to celebrate their friendship.

What do you think of the wedding? Sound off in the comments below.


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