The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports that the number of people of the LGBT community killed in bias-motivated incidents increased by 28% in 2008. This is the greatest increase documented by the Coalition since 1999. Although the FBI reports slightly different figures – “the FBI doesn’t record bias crimes against transgendered people because gender identity isn’t covered by federal hate-crime law”. The figures reported by both the FBI and the Coalition might be a little lower than reality because some (understandably) fear retribution and do not report the crimes at all. Some victims also do not report the crimes because they are not ready to out themselves to the police – possibly fearing bias from the authorities themselves. Sharon Stapel theorized that some of the violence from 2008 was due to backlash against issues from the presidential campaign. She said, “The more visibility there is the more likely we’re going to see backlash, and that’s exactly what we see here.” Whether or not that is the reason for the increase – hopefully the Hate Crimes Bill will pass in the Senate and there will be more justice and less hate.
Fresno Hospital Denies Medical Access (June 15, 2009)
Meet in the Middle was held in Fresno CA the Saturday after the CA Supreme Court announced it would not overturn Prop. 8. Many people had already been planning their trip to Fresno prior to the decision. LGBT individuals and couples along with allies of our community came from all over the state – and also from other states. Kristin Orbin and Teresa Rowe were there – and they actively participated. When Kristin suddenly became ill an ambulance was called. Neither the ambulance driver or the hospital personnel allowed Teresa to see Kristin – even with medical documents and power of attorney. It just wasn’t allowed. Teresa tried to warn the hospital staff not to give her partner the drug Ativan due to previous medical problems – but medical personnel gave it to her against pleas from Teresa. Fortunately there was no permanent damage from the medication. When politicians say that the LGBT community has the same rights as everybody else – they need to be reminded that basic human rights are ignored every day.
GA Court Says Gay Dads Friends & Kids Can Meet (June 15, 2009)
Most parents take it for granted – their kids will meet their friends – even after a divorce. In fact many parents really look forward to introducing their children – because it can be very exciting. One former spouse became rather bitter after her divorce and was granted a court order that the children could not meet their dad’s Gay friends. Fortunately the Georgia Supreme Court disagreed with that order and ruled that Eric Duane Mongerson could introduce his children to his perspective partners as well as to his friends. Justice Robert Benham said, “…there is no proof exposure to homosexuals is harmful to children. Such an arbitrary classification based on sexual orientation flies in the face of our public policy that encourages divorced parents to participate in the raising of their children.”
UK Tribunal Rules in Favor of Gay Postman (June 15, 2009)
Liam Black had worked as a postman and had to put up with inappropriate comments made about him – both directly and when he wasn’t there. Finally last summer Mr. Black left work early for the same reasons. He then felt he couldn’t return and resigned his job with the Royal Mail. A panel at Ashford Employment Tribunal accepted Mr. Black’s claim and investigated. After investigating the panel ruled that the “stereotypical language” was “derogatory” and “discriminated against Mr. Black on the ground of his sexual orientation.” The panel also ruled that Mr. Black’s dignity had been “violated”, and in addition found that the Royal Mail had “failed to follow proper procedures after he made a formal complaint”. Mr. Taylor was the immediate superior – the line manager for Mr. Black. Liam Black accomplished a lot in a short period of time – using the resources of a small village.
Orbitz / HRC LGBT Friendly Commercial (June 16, 2009)
Recently a new television commercial was launched for Orbitz travel. This time there is not only a man wearing a blue shirt with an “HRC” logo – but as a comment (below the actual article) mentions – there is an LGBT Pride flag on one of the golf bags. Usually I skip over commercials (thanks to my dvr) but I watched the video a few times (with pauses) to look at everything carefully. I encourage you to watch the video for a proud moment of pro-LGBT viewing (the link is directly below the photo of the commercial).
Lithuanian Parliament Votes New LGBT Ban (June 17, 2009)
The new ban is an amendment to the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information. An anonymous worker in Seimas said, “The subject of homosexuality is not welcome in our schools.” A conservative coalition member Vilija Aleknaite-Abramikiene said, “We prefer a family model, the traditional family model, but of course if parents want to teach such propaganda they can, but according to our constitution, children are under protection.” Ms Aleknaite-Abramikiene voted in favor of the law but indicated she agrees with the ban against hate speech against homosexuals. LGBT organizations and activists are organizing along with students and supporters to petition the president. The president is given 10 days to sign the bill into law.
Poll Show Australians Support Same Sex Marriage (June 17, 2009)
A recent poll found that about 60% of Australians support Same-Sex marriage – a significant increase from the poll in 2004 which showed support to be at 38%. The poll was a Galaxy poll commissioned by the Australian Marriage Equality group. Peter Furness of Australian Marriage Equality has said that growing support for Same-Sex marriage and the recognition of LGBT couples married in other countries has increased pressure on the government to review its stance. Mr. Furness said, “This poll scuttles the only rationale put forward by the Rudd Government for opposing equality, namely that a majority of Australians believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman.” Looks like there is some new momentum for our brothers and sisters in Australia to build on.
Gay Referee in Turkey Stripped of License (June 17, 2009)
There are no laws in Turkey making homosexuality illegal. That hasn’t helped Halil Ibrahim Dincdag who is 33 – since he decided to come out proudly as Gay. He has since had to leave his home in Trabzon and go into exile. Mr Dincdag said, “I have not committed a crime, I have not defamed my profession. I’m only a homosexual.” Fortunately he still has the support of his family – including his brother who is an imam. The offices of KAOS-GL (the group for gay and lesbian rights in Turkey) sees his case as a step forward for the movement. Ali Erol – a KAOS-GL member- said, “Turkey, which has managed to break taboos on the Armenian genocide and the Kurdish problem, is yet to openly face the reality of homosexuality.” Mr. Dincdag vows to fight to restore his career and has indicated he will go as far as the European Court of Human Rights – if need be.
Obama Expands Some Bens to Federal Employees (June 18, 2009)
President Obama offered increased coverage of some benefits to LGBT partners of federal employees. The new benefits are limited – however – to health coverage only for long term illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, and the ability to use sick leave to care for an ill partner or non-biolgical child. The expanded benefits also include allowing LGBT partners of diplomats use medical facilities at foreign postings. Expanded coverage does not include comprehensive health insurance benefits nor does it include survivor benefits. The President indicated that the Defense of Marriage Act prevents more generous benefits for same-sex partners. Although Pres. Obama continues to insist that he intends to repeal the discriminatory policies our community faces – he has yet to act in that direction. LGBT families/partners in the military – need not apply for the expanded benefits (as long as they want to keep their jobs…).
NY Man Charged With Assault as Hate Crime (June 19, 2009)
In Central Islip NY three openly gay men were approached and two of them were physically assaulted by a man named Wenzola Rountree. Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks of the Hate Crimes Unit said that Mr. Rountree was charged with assaulting the men while they were walking out of a friend’s home. Anti-gay slurs were yelled and punches and kicks were landed – causing cuts, scrapes and bruises to the gay men. One of the victims needed nine stitches and also had a swollen eye. The officers indicated the men were attacked solely because of their sexual orientation. Mr. Rountree told police that he would attack his victims again if he could. In a statement released by Suffolk police, County Executive Steve Levy said, “Attacks on an individual or individuals simply due to their sexuality are not tolerated in Suffolk County, and the perpetrator will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the applicable laws.” Mr. Rountree was ordered not to make contact with the victims – hopefully he will abide by the court mandated order.
LGBT Movement Including Stonewall Changes Lives (June 24, 2009)
This is a history of LGBT events from another more personal perspective. The author was not at Stonewall itself – but was nearby. He has witnessed some more personal aspects of our history – and in a way which could be helpful to others. Tim Gay – the author – also shares insights he has learned from those he has been close to. His perspective is refreshing and seems to be an interesting way to reflect on the LGBT history gone by – as well as the LGBT history yet to be made.
Survey Shows Minority Discrimination in UK (June 24, 2009)
A recent survey done in Northern Ireland shows that those surveyed have several prejudices against folks who they consider minorities. Those surveyed were asked about living next door to a member of the travelling community (aka gypsies) and 51% didn’t like that idea. They also responded that they would not want a person with mental illness as a neighbor – nor would they want to even work with a member of the LGBT community. It is interesting that of those surveyed 92% also indicated a strong need for equality legislation. Please take a moment or two to listen to a message from the Equality Commission Chief Commissioner Bob Collins. He speaks about educating folks to better understand and be open to the needs of others – minorities. The message is included in the article.
Chicago School Will Be in Pride Parade (June 25, 2009)
Many of the families at Nettelhorst Elementary School decided they wanted to march together in the 40th annual Gay Pride Parade. The school proudly displays thousands of strips of dyed fabric – matching the colors of the LGBT Pride Flag – hanging on its black metal fence. The local community is excited that Nettlehorst “will be the first Chicago public school to march in the city’s gay pride parade.” The school also proudly displays a sign which reads, “We believe family means everybody.” Amy Goodman – a parent from Nettlehorst said, “I love that my kids will understand that there are all different kinds of families. When it comes to any kind of differences, I think the only way to realize how much we have in common is to celebrate and acknowledge our differences.” There is a delightful picture of Amy and her kids preparing for the parade – in the article.
Fed Suit Filed by Former GA State Employee (June 26, 2009)
U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story cleared the way for a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former state employee – fired because she was undergoing a Gender Reassignment procedure. Vandy Beth Glenn had been working as a legislative editor for the General Assembly before her boss fired her. U.S. District Judge Story on Friday “denied an attempt by Georgia legislators to dismiss the lawsuit on grounds that it could lead to a new round of court scrutiny of public employees.” Lambda Legal said, “Story’s decision is a signal that the state legislature can be challenged for violating her constitutional rights.” Hopefully this will help more Transgendered members of our community in their ability to fight for their rights – and equality will be gained in the process.
Play in India Sends Message to Government (June 27, 2009)
The play entitled “Karnataka Queer Habba” was staged to showcase the plight of sexual minorities. The entire cast of the play consisted of LGBT individuals and it took place in Bangalore. Another reason for the play was to send a message to the government and the people to repeal “section 377” of the Indian Penal Code – which makes homosexuality criminal. Other events took place as part of the celebration – including a pride march, public debates and a cricket match. The following organizations have been working hard in the campaign to decriminalize homosexuality – NAZ Foundation, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), The Law Commission of India, the Union Health Ministry, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Planning Commission of India. The article also mentions the United Nations messages to the government of India.
Now that I have reported the news I would like to apologize for not reporting last week – it was unavoidable. Some of the news items do go back a little bit in time – but I decided to included them as well. Also I want to personally acknowledge the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall. Hopefully this Anniversary will not only remind us of the past and what has happened since – but also bring more energy to the LGBT Community and our Allies – in our pursuit of Equality. Thank-you for your understanding. mj
pngwnz: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.