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UK Government Urged to Pardon the 49,000 Men and Women Who Were Persecuted Under Anti-gay Laws

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Spurred to action in response to the public's newfound awareness of gay World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, actors and activists are now calling on the British government to pardon the tens of thousands of other British citizens who were persecuted under draconian anti-gay laws of the past. 

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing, who committed suicide after being convicted of "gross indecency" for being gay.

Following a screening of The Imitation Game in London Wednesday, actor Stephen Fry said the pardon was only the start of what should be done to honor Turing. 

Via The Hollywood Reporter:

Fry

"Should Alan Turing have been pardoned just because he was a genius," Fry asked, "when somewhere between 50 to 70 thousand other men were imprisoned, chemically castrated, had their lives ruined or indeed committed suicide because of the laws under which Turing suffered? There is a general feeling that perhaps if he should be pardoned, then perhaps so should all of those men, whose names were ruined in their lifetime, but who still have families." He continued, "It was a nasty, malicious and horrific law and one that allowed so much blackmail and so much misery and so much distress. Turing stands as a figure symbolic to his own age in the way that Oscar Wilde was, who suffered under a more but similar one."

[Benedict] Cumberbatch, meanwhile, emailed THR from the set of the next Sherlock series to offer his full and enthusiastic agreement with Fry's idea. "Alan Turing was not only prosecuted, but quite arguably persuaded to end his own life early, by a society who called him a criminal for simply seeking out the love he deserved, as all human beings do. 60 years later, that same government claimed to ‘forgive’ him by pardoning him. I find this deplorable, because Turing’s actions did not warrant forgiveness — theirs did — and the 49,000 other prosecuted men deserve the same."

HRC president Chad Griffin ran an ad in Friday's New York Times on the campaign to pardon the other 49,000 persecuted gay men and women. You can check out the full ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

There's also a Change.org petition underway for the campaign HERE

Continue reading "UK Government Urged to Pardon the 49,000 Men and Women Who Were Persecuted Under Anti-gay Laws" »


HRC Likely Won't Defend Plano, Texas Equal Rights Ordinance, Calls It 'Transphobic'

Planopetition

Things are not looking good for Plano, Texas' recently passed Equal Rights Ordinance. 

As we reported earlier this week, opponents of the ordinance turned in over 7,000 signatures on petitions to repeal it — more than double the number needed to put it on the ballot. 

Granted, these folks may be prone to fraud and forgery, but still, given that the evangelical megachurch serving as their base of operations has almost 40,000 members, you'd think they'd be able to gather enough valid signatures. So chances are there's gonna be a ballot measure in May.

Ballot measures on nondiscrimination ordinances haven't gone well for LGBT people in conservative Southern cities of late, even when the community is united. But that won't be the case in Plano, because the Human Rights Campaign says it's probably not going to help defend the ordinance, according to a report from The Texas Observer.  

HRC, which has poured hundreds of thousands into similar fights in some other cities, called the Plano ordinance "transphobic" because of an exemption that would bar people from using restrooms, locker rooms and similar facilities according to their gender identity. 

The exemption apparently was included to pre-empt attacks over transgender bathroom use. But here's the thing: Anti-LGBT groups are making those attacks anway, and the strategy has backfired by dividing the community. 

Equality Texas and a local LGBT group say they'll defend the ordinance despite the exemption because it's a step in the right direction. But HRC's Cathryn Oakley told the Observer:

“The language in Plano is very problematic and in terms of investing a lot of resources in an ordinance that has a lot of problems, it’s difficult to see why that’s necessarily the best use of resources. If we had been consulted in the drafting of this bill, we would have withdrawn our support, and given that, it’s hard to justify defending it as valid. .. 

"I think the story coming out of Plano is about a city that really wanted to do the right thing, and I wish that this had unfolded differently, because I think that there were good intentions, but things fell apart. I think incremental process is important, I think municipal work is incredibly important, but incremental doesn't mean leaving part of the community behind. That's not an acceptable version of incremental."

Somewhere, the haters are sitting aroud licking their chops, because we've just played right into their strategy: Divide and conquer. 

Watch a report on the petition to repeal the ordinance from Fox 4, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "HRC Likely Won't Defend Plano, Texas Equal Rights Ordinance, Calls It 'Transphobic'" »


Former Lowe's Employee Sues For Antigay Discrimination And Harassment

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Former Lowe's employee Adam Haimowitz claims he was the target of homophobic taunts, verbal harassment and subsequently fired for testifying in a colleague's discrimination case against the hardware giant reports The AdvocateHaimowitz, 32, worked at the Lowe's in Orangeburg, N.Y. for 11 years, and he regularly filed complaints with the company's human resources department regarding the anti-gay harassment he endured. Haimowitz's complaints yielded no results as the alleged harassment continued.

Haimowitz's lawsuit claims a female manager called him a "whore," and said to him that the promiscuity of gay men was well-documented. The lawsuit also contains details about an incident where a male supervisor asked Haimowitz for oral sex, and that a coworker "joked" that someone might contract AIDS when Haimowitz inadvertently cut his finger. "They got a kick out of it. I guess they got pleasure out of it," Haimowitz told Journal News. 

The lawsuit claims that Haimowitz was fired based on trumped-up reasons that only turned into formal complaints in the months following his 2012 testimony in support of a gay colleague who sued the company for "sex-based harassment." That lawsuit, filed by an Edward Marse, settled in April 2014 under the agreement Marse would not discuss the terms of the settlement. Prior to Marse's settlement, Haimowitz held a perfect record with the company in the four years leading up to his testimony. However, a month after the company reached a settlement with Marse, Haimowitz claims he was written up twice for a "time and attendance" infraction and for "using strong language on the floor," reports Journal News. Haimowitz's lawsuit contends he was terminated under the pretext of "making inappropriate comments on the floor."

A spokeswoman for Lowe's declined to comment to Journal News, but the company has long held a rough relationship with the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign's latest Corporate Equality Index gave Lowe's a score of 30 out of 100, and noted that although the company's nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity, it does not offer equal spousal benefits to same-sex couples, nor does it offer trans-inclusive health care coverage, LGBT cultural competency training or LGBT employee groups.


ACT UP Planning An Organized Protest of the HRC's Upcoming Corporate Gala

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Members of ACT UP are organizing a protest at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual gala where the organization plans to celebrate a number of Fortune 500 companies highlighted in its problematic 2015 Corporate Equality Index. Representatives in attendance will receive awards for meeting the HRC’s guidelines that only require that corporations have basic equality measures, despite many having awful track records when it comes to their involvement in funding anti-LGBT legislation. In particular, the protesters are taking issue with the HRC’s seeming lack of widespread support for large-scale HIV awareness and prevention initiatives:

“We demand that HRC include several criteria to evaluate companies on their treatment of employees living with HIV, as well as their contributions to organizations and causes relate to reducing the incidence of HIV among LGBT Americans, particularly among the young,” the protest’s Facebook page reads. “For over 30 years, too many have been fired, harassed, outed and discriminated against at work for having HIV.” The promoters of the protest add,

“Also at this gala, many of the corporations that HRC will honor actively work against the interests of middle-class and poor Americans, including people with HIV. ACT UP denounces this frequent practice of '"pinkwashing" whereby corporations with policies and practices that undermine the people's well-being are given positive publicity in exchange for maintaining LGBT-friendly (or just equal) workplaces.

This is short-sighted and divisive. We demand that HRC develop other criteria that takes into account the impact of companies' policies on every American, not just LGBT Americans.”


HRC Suspends Saks Fifth Avenue's Corporate Equality Index Rating for Disgusting Display of Transphobia

LeythJamal

The other day we told you that high-end department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue was taking the position in court that it has every right to discriminate against transgender employees — despite a decision from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that trans workers are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  

In response to a lawsuit from transgender woman Leyth Jamal (above), a former sales associate at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Houston Galleria, attorneys for the company also blatantly misgendered Jamal in court documents and alleged the retailer isn't bound by its own nondiscrimination policy, which covers transgender workers.   

Towleroad wasn't the first to report on Saks' transphobic response to Jamal's lawsuit, but our analysis helped break open the story — and since then it's been picked up by outlets from Slate to Business Week. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign has announced it is suspending Saks' score of 90 on the Corporate Equality Index.

BuzzFeed reports: 

Saks"Saks’ arguments are hugely concerning to us,” the director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program, Deena Fidas, said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. “In its court filings, Saks attempts to secure a motion to dismiss Ms. Jamal’s allegations by simultaneously calling into question the validity of its own non-discrimination policy and the larger, crucial protections afforded by Title VII.”

Regarding its Corporate Equality Index, an effort to alert consumers to pro-LGBT or anti-LGBT policies of companies, Fidas added: “The policies our CEI advances are not window dressings for any company to prop up or disregard in the face of individual allegations of misconduct. Saks is publicly undercutting the applicability of its own policies reported in the CEI and we must suspend Saks’ CEI score until further notice.”

Not surprisingly, Saks isn't commenting on the controversy beyond generic statements pledging its pseudo-support for the LGBT community. From Business Week:

RuizAsked whether Saks indeed maintains that transgender people are not protected under the Civil Rights Act, and whether it has any issue with its attorney using “[sic]” to refer to Jamal’s gender, Saks Senior Vice President Kathleen Ruiz e-mailed that the company did not comment on pending litigation, but “we feel it is important to state that it is Saks Fifth Avenue’s position that we did not discriminate in anyway, [sic] and the allegations are not supported by the facts known to Saks.” Ruiz added that the company “maintains a long history of policies and practices that are fully supportive of the LGBT community and our LGBT associates.” ... Saks’s attorney told Businessweek he was “not allowed” to discuss the case, and referred inquiries to the company.

Needless to say, this isn't going well for Saks. TransGriot reports that trans activist Mariah Lopez, a leader in the fashion-consuming ballroom community, is calling for a boycott of the company's stores — a sentiment widely echoed on social media in recent days:  


HRC Publishes 114th Congress Anti-gay 'Faces of Inequality'

Inequality

The Human Rights Campaign has published a listing of six of the 114th Congress’s most ardently anti-LGBT members. The six Republicans featured in the “Faces of Inequality” hail from a wide range of different professional backgrounds, but their track records regarding gay marriage, ENDA, and anti-bullying legislation are all exactly what you would expect:

  • Jody Hice (R-GA): compared marriage equality to bestiality and incest, and said “The concept of ‘love’ is not the issue when it comes to marriage!”

  • Glenn Grothman (R-WI): promised to be “an outspoken” opponent of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) because it gives “preferences” to LGBT employees.

  • Tom Emmer (R-MN): said he would not sign anti-bullying legislation to promote safe schools because “I don’t want the government doing that for us.”

  • Cresent Hardy (R-NV): was one of only 13 lawmakers who voted against Nevada’s bill banning housing and job discrimination against transgender people.

  • Mike Bost (R-IL): opposed any form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, saying, “I didn’t vote for civil unions and I won’t be voting for gay marriages.”

  • Thom Tillis (R-NC): has continued his fight against marriage equality in North Carolina, hiring a rabidly anti-LGBT activist attorney from the fanatical anti-equality National Organization for Marriage.

Check out the full list here.


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