LGBT Rights Hub




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...

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Black Pastors Invoke Martin Luther King, Form Alliance Against Same-Sex Marriage - VIDEO

Stacy swimp
(Pastor Stacy Swimp)

A coalition of black pastors and supporters has said it will file legal briefs in more than 80 court cases involving lawsuits to legalize same-sex marriage, reports The Detroit News.

Flint, Michigan Pastor Stacy Swimp said at a press conference yesterday that he also wants to see a boycott against black-owned media and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for supporting marriage equality.

The press conference was organized by the coalition and right wing legal groups Thomas More Law Center which is filing the briefs on the pastors’ behalf.

Swimp announced that the coalition’s members will speak out against judges who have ruled in favor of lifting voter-approved bans on gay marriage.

Claiming that marriage was defined by god, Swimp argued that the Constitution does not indicate “that equal justice under the law is relative to marriage redefinition."

Invoking Martin Luther King and with a massive lack of insight that prejudice exists outside the vacuum of his own little world, Swimp also announced on Facebook that he is "compelled to fight against the injustice of redefining marriage and against any and all false comparisons of sexual orientation to being Black- anywhere and everywhere that this hijacking of civil rights is taking place."

However, Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president and CEO of the NAACP said:

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.”

Watch Swimp launch his defense of "traditional marriage," AFTER THE JUMP...

(Photo by Stacy Swimp.)

Continue reading "Black Pastors Invoke Martin Luther King, Form Alliance Against Same-Sex Marriage - VIDEO" »


Studies Show Domestic Abuse More Prevalent In Same-Sex Relationships

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 10.36.53

Two recent studies demonstrate the extent of domestic abuse in same-sex relationships and refute the myths that only heterosexual women are victims of domestic abuse, that men are never victims and that women are never the perpetrators, reports The Advocate.

The National Violence Against Women survey found that 21.5 percent of men and 35.4 percent of women living with a same-sex partner experienced physical violence in their lifetimes. This is compared with 7.1 percent and 20.4 percent respectively for men and women in opposite-sex relationships.

The Centers For Disease Control's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, updated in 2013, reports that the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner was 43.8 percent for lesbians, 61.1 percent for bisexual women, and 35 percent for heterosexual women, while it was 26 percent for gay men, 37.3 percent for bisexual men, and 29 percent for heterosexual men.

According to Beth Leventhal, executive director of The Network/La Red in Boston, thanks to the combination of reports like these and the Obama administration being active on LGBT issues, there has been increased funding for services to address domestic abuse in same-sex relationships.

Last year, Congress passed an LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act.


Jamaican Activist Fears Reprisals, Ends Legal Challenge To Anti-Sodomy Law - VIDEO

Javed Jaghai

A gay rights activist has withdrawn a legal challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy laws after growing fears of violent backlashes, reports WTOP.com.

Last year, Javed Jaghai initiated a constitutional challenge to an 1864 law that bans sex between men.  He argued that the law fuels homophobia and violates a 2011 charter of human rights that guarantees a right to privacy.

Jaghai is the Education and Outreach Officer at the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays (J-FLAG).

As it stands, the law bans anal sex and sets a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and hard labor. Anything interpreted as "gross indecency" between men is punishable with two years in prison.

When Jaghai initiated the legal challenge in 2013, several church pastors led crowded revival meetings to oppose overturning the anti-sodomy law.

However, Jaghai has issued a statement saying he is no longer in a position to continue pursuing the case because of fears of a backlash against his family.

Janet Burak of New York-based advocacy group AIDS-Free World said the fear that pushed Jaghai to end his court challenge is "the same fear that keeps gay men in Jamaica underground, away from effective HIV testing, prevention treatment, care and support interventions.”

Although Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller spoke in favor of gay rights in 2012 and has vowed to put the anti-sodomy law to a "conscience vote," there has as yet been no movement in that area.

Watch Jaghai discuss human rights in Jamaica, AFTER THE JUMP...

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