Law - Gay, LGBT Hub




Four New Laws to Protect LGBT People in California

Edmund_G_Brown_JrNow this is a far cry from "I think gay marriage should be between a man and a woman."

California Governor Jerry Brown (pictured) has signed four new laws that bolster LGBT rights in the Golden State.

ThinkProgress has a round-up of the four laws. The first makes "gay panic" and "trans panic" legal defenses illegal. Previously, the state's policy was to tell jurors not to be influenced by the plaintiff or defendent's orientation. The Bar Association voted to ban "gay panic" defenses outright, and CA is the first state to act on this.

Another law stipulates that transgender people will have their gender identities respected after death. This law was brought on by the posthumous, tragic misgendering of filmmaker/activist Christopher Lee in 2012.

Health professionals will now have to be trained specifically to work with LGBT and intersex people. The law says it will specifically call for "understanding and applying cultural and ethnic data to the process of clinical care...pertinent to the appropriate treatment of...the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities.”

The final law listed by ThinkProgress, while not explicitly aimed after LGBT people, will have a major impact on the community. It protects sex workers from being prosecuted/arrested solely on the grounds of carrying condoms. Trans people are particularly effected, ThinkProgress argues, given that 43% of Trans people have turned to sex work for money at some point.

[h/t ThinkProgress]


What's Happening at the Supreme Court Right Now

Scotus

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

The justices of the Supreme Court are meeting right now to discuss a slew of petitions for hearings. There are seven such petitions on marriage equality cases from Oklahoma, Indiana, Utah, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

Regular Towleroad readers will recall our review of these cases here (discussing the Tenth Circuit decision declaring Utah's ban unconstitutional), here (discussing a similar decision about Virginia's ban at the Fourth Circuit), here (discussing the "Posner treatment" that lawyers for Indiana and Wisconsin got at the Seventh Circuit), and here (discussing the Seventh Circuit decision). 

Even though these cases are "ripe" -- the legal term for "ready" -- for review and even though both sides of all seven cases agree that the Supreme Court should take the case, do not expect the Court to take any of the cases today.

Supreme CourtThere are several reasons the Court may take at least one case:

First, everyone wants it. Freedom to Marry has an ongoing campaign urging the Court to take a marriage equality case and end marriage discrimination nationwide. Anti-gay and pro-equality attorneys filed briefs urging the Court to take their cases, both sides confident they can win. And that does not always happen. Generally, the party that wins in the appellate court is rarely inclined to have a higher court review the decision. Here, many people think it has to happen.

Second, all the decisions are stayed pending Supreme Court review. Every day that passes without a Supreme Court decision is another day in which gay couples face discrimination even though several federal appellate courts have said that the discrimination is unconstitutional, wrong, and must go. The orders stemming from those decisions are on hold pending a final word from the Supreme Court.

Third, these cases pose all the issues. Sometimes, the Court will decline to take a case because the case before it does not raise all the issues or because a quirk at the lower court prevents it from making a complete decision. It happens quite a bit: Imagine a criminal case where an attorney fails to make an objection or a defendant concedes a question of law. If that happens, an appellate court can rarely address those controversies. Here, all issues are in play, including heightened scrutiny.

There are, however, many more reasons why the Court may not take a case just yet.

First, there is no circuit split. Every appellate court to hear a marriage equality case has decided against the ban, declaring them all unconstitutional. Sure, the Seventh Circuit did it in flamboyant, unanimous fashion, but that's just icing. The Supreme Court most often takes cases when there is a disagreement between the circuits. Here there is none. And, a decision at the Eighth Circuit from before the Supreme Court decided Windsor does not count. There has been intervening case law that could impact the decision and, as such, the Eighth Circuit decision does not create a circuit split.

Second, there are several other cases pending. We have cases in the Ninth Circuit and, more importantly, in the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit hearing, which we discussed here, did not give us obvious clues as to its outcome. One judge seemed inclined to vote against the ban, another judge was in favor of discrimination. A third judge, a George W. Bush appointee and a conservative, is more of a wild card. If the Sixth Circuit goes against marriage equality, that would create a circuit split and would force the Supreme Court to act.

Third, there may be no need for the Supreme Court. If the Sixth Circuit goes with its sister courts -- an eventuality made more likely when someone as conservative and well-respect as Judge Posner eviscerated all anti-equality arguments -- there still will be no circuit split. The Ninth Circuit will decide its cases shortly, and will very likely strike down the bans. A couple of circuits are left, but it is not clear any of them will push the Court to act.

GinsburgFourth, Justice Ginsburg wants to wait. In a talk at the University of Minnesota, the dean of the Court's liberal wing suggested that she was inclined to wait for the Sixth Circuit (and perhaps other circuits) to act. There is no rush, she said. The Court will act when it is necessary.

Waiting might also be a good thing for the marriage equality journey in the long run. The longer we wait, the more federal circuit victories we can rack up, proving to wary conservative justices that the American consensus has emerged. Few -- maybe Justices Scalia and Thomas -- are going to want to stand in the way of that.

***

Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook. Check out my website at www.ariewaldman.com.

Ari Ezra Waldman is a professor of law and the Director of the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School and is concurrently pursuing his PhD at Columbia University in New York City. He is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. Ari writes weekly posts on law and various LGBT issues.


Grindr Warns Egyptian Users That Police May Be Using App For Entrapment - VIDEO

Grindr message

Grindr has sent a message to all Egyptian users this week warning that police officers may be “posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you,” reports Buzzfeed.

GrindrAccording to state-owned Egyptian news site Ahram Online, six men were sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison with labor for allegedly advertising their apartment on Facebook for men to have sex with each other for a fee of $200 per night.

The warning comes after Egyptian authorities arrested nine men for "debauchery" but later concluded that "the men tested negative for homosexuality."

It was also reported earlier this month that authorities in Egypt intend to use new online monitoring software See Egypt to hunt down LGBT people.

As Egypt has stepped up arrests of gay people - around 80 since October last year - human rights activists had speculated that authorities were targeting people through social media. Officials have already confirmed that Facebook groups for gay Egyptians are being closely monitored.

Although Egyptian Human Rights groups filed a lawsuit on June 17 alleging that monitoring software “threatens private life and public freedom,” the lawsuit could take years to work its way through the courts. In the meantime See Egypt will continue to be used.

Watch a report on Egypt's online surveillance system, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Grindr Warns Egyptian Users That Police May Be Using App For Entrapment - VIDEO" »


GLAD Sues Walmart on Behalf of Employee Denied Health Coverage For Same-Sex Partner

Cote

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) has filed a charge of discrimination on behalf of Jacqueline Cote [right], a Walmart employee in Swansea, Massachusetts who was denied spousal health insurance for her wife, reports The Rainbow Times.

Cote’s wife, Diana Smithson is currently battling ovarian cancer.

According to GLAD, Walmart’s refusal of health insurance for Smithson violates both state and federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment.

Between 2006 and 2012, Cote attempted to add Smithson to her insurance. However, when she entered her spouse’s gender as “female,” Walmart’s online system would stop her from proceeding further.  When she called the retailer’s home office to investigate further, she was told that Walmart did not offer health insurance coverage to same-sex spouses.

By the time Walmart announced that it would change its policy in 2013, Cote and Smithson had racked up medical bills of more than $100,000.

Janson Wu, senior staff attorney at GLAD, said “all that Jackie wanted was to be treated like all other Walmart employees and to take care of her spouse. Instead, Walmart chose to discriminate against its gay and lesbian employees.”


Philippine Province Among First In Country To Ban LGBT Discrimination

Agusan del norteAgusan del Norte has become one of the few areas in the Philippines to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that protects people irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, reports Outrage.

Provincial Ordinance No. 358-2014 also prohibits discrimination in the province on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, health status, physical appearance, political affiliation, religion, and social status.

The ordinance “recognizes as a policy...to value the dignity of every human person and guarantee full respect of human rights to promote equality and to effectively eliminate all forms of discrimination that violate and offend the guarantee of equal protection of human rights.”

The ADO prohibits denial of services; refusing admission/dismissal from educational institutions; denial of access to use private and public establishments, facilities and utilities; employment rejection; publication and/or use of derogatory/humiliating images and/or statements against persons; and uploading/posting of images and/or videos online to debase and humiliate a person.

BacasmasYsang Semacio Bacasmas [pictured right], executive officer of LGBT rights group Ladlad Caraga Inc., said:

“I feel very happy and at least we now have this that can help our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA community. To our fellow LGBTs, hopefully we continue the fight for us to have a peaceful and good lives.”

According to HapiHumanist.org, Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch reported that a total of 103 killings from 1996 to 2011 in the Philippines have occurred on account of sexual orientation.


Gay Asylum Seekers In Australia Could Be Resettled In Anti-Gay Papua New Guinea: READ

Manus island PNG

Several gay asylum seekers in Australia who fled persecution in their home countries could be resettled in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, reports Time.

The asylum seekers are currently being held by Australian immigration on Manus Island in PNG, where they could eventually live permanently.

The Guardian claims to have seen six letters written in Farsi by four gay Iranian men in the detention center which appear to detail persecution in their home country and the fear of being resettled in PNG. The authenticity of the letters has not yet been confirmed.

In a suicide note to his mother, one of the men wrote:

Camp“I couldn’t return to Iran and be executed by the Iranian government. Hence living in PNG was not any better, because being gay is considered a crime in PNG as well, and the punishment for such crime is 14 years imprisonment.

“I am so sorry that I was born gay. I never meant to hurt you, mum.

“I wish our boat had sunk in the ocean and stopped me living the most painful year in my life.

“I thought Australia and its people would be my protector, but they taught me otherwise.”

The Guardian also obtained a copy of a Salvation Army orientation presentation shown to asylum seekers on Manus which shows a picture of two men kissing with a large red cross through it. The presentation warns:

“Homosexuality is illegal in Papua New Guinea. People have been imprisoned or killed for performing homosexual acts.”

According to Graeme McGregor, Amnesty Australia’s refugee-camp coordinator, the human rights group has “consistently raised the issue of gay men on Manus” with Australian immigration but “never had a clear response."

Ben Pynt, director of Humanitarian Research Partners, says there are around 36 gay men detained at Manus and several others who are too afraid to reveal their sexual orientation.

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in December he was unaware of any claims of homosexuality among Manus inmates.

Morrison has also denied allegations in a December report by Amnesty International that detainees at the facility have been told that anyone found engaging in homosexual acts will be reported to the PNG police.

Earlier this year the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees raised concerns about the living conditions for asylum seekers being held at the Manus Island detention center.

Read two of the asylum seekers' letters, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Asylum Seekers In Australia Could Be Resettled In Anti-Gay Papua New Guinea: READ" »


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