#Discrimination

Police Arrest and Wreck the Lives of 13 Men Caught Having Sex in South Florida Pleasure Emporium

A forced outing is damn traumatizing and always causes nothing but harm.

Well, never mind all that if you’re Hollywood, Florida police, who last week raided an adult store and arrested 13 men who were having consensual sexual encounters in a private area.

Police officers went to the trouble of paying $25 to enter locked, private rooms at the back of the Pleasure Emporium in South Florida where men were masturbating and engaging in oral sex.

After the arrests, several news outlets reported on the incident, revealing the men’s names, their hometowns, ages and mugshots.

The smearing has justifiably led to bitter backlash. According to the Miami New Times, an attorney for one of the men says her client was fired from his job in the medical field as a result of the coverage.

It gets worse: the man (we’re not using his name and no outlet run by humans with a shred of decency would) had fled Cuba 20 years prior to avoid persecution.

"He was persecuted in Cuba because of his sexuality," says his attorney, Abbie Cuellar. "He was thrown out of his home and thrown out of school because he was gay. He fled as a result and thought America was going to be this beacon of 'freedom.' He now basically has lost everything he has worked for... He is horribly suicidal.”

Just to repeat, these men were arrested, humiliated and worse—their lives are probably wrecked— for having consensual sex in private.

The raid cost taxpayers $240, as the two police officers got four hours of overtime pay a piece.

Hollywood PD has made a habit of raiding the Pleasure Emporium. They arrested six men there in February. In a statement, they defended last week’s raid, calling the locked, private rooms that you have to pay to get into at Pleasure Emporium a “public space."

"Clearly, this was a private setting within a private setting — you would have to pay to get into it," Cuellar says. "It's not in a residential neighborhood. There's no danger a kid would ever walk past, even. The fact that they’ve been made out to be these sexual deviants, I feel like I’m back in the 1960s! I don't understand the point of this arrest other than smearing and humiliating these men."

For the full story: Miami New Times

h/t: Pink News

New Defense Department Policy Could End Military Service For HIV+ Folks

It was one year ago today that Donald Trump tweeted his intention to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. armed forces.

Now, the Trump administration seems to be turning his attention to HIV positive service members.

A February 14 Department of Defense memo announced a new “Deploy or Get Out!” policy which goes into effect on October 1.

The new policy orders the Pentagon to discharge those service members who are unable to be deployed outside the U.S. for more than a year. According to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the point was to ensure “readiness” within the U.S. military.

But an existing DOD policy dating back to the height of the AIDS epidemic prohibits HIV+ service members from being deployed overseas. Therefore, the new guidance would appear to make it impossible to serve their country.

HIV+ folks are prohibited from enlisting in the Armed Forces. Soldiers who are already serving but later seroconvert are allowed to stay in the military, but cannot be deployed in combat or overseas.

Two soldiers have filed separate lawsuits - Doe v. Mattis and Harrison v. Mattis - hoping to stop the new policy from going into effect.

Forty-one-year old Sgt. Nick Harrison is afraid his life would be dramatically affected by the new policy.

From HIVPlusMag:

Sgt. Harrison hopes to make a difference for other members of the Armed Forces. He isn’t being secretive about his identity, either. Harrison was deployed to both Afghanistan and Kuwait, but was diagnosed with HIV shortly after returning home from Kuwait in 2012. “This case is not just about me,” Harrison said. “This is about every person living with HIV knowing that they can perform any job in the world, including serving in the military. Together, we must stop the Pentagon from closing its doors to successful and talented service members. I look forward to the day that I can serve my country to the full extent of my abilities, based on my performance and unfettered by unfounded fears and misperceptions about HIV.”

Harrison also claims that the military’s policy wrongfully blocked him from ascending to Judge Advocate General officer of the D.C. National Guard, reports Bloomberg, because members living with HIV also cannot achieve officer status.

Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, issued this statement regarding the discriminatory policy:

“Soldiers, sailors, fighter pilots and marines are seeing their promising careers cut short, their dreams of service shattered and their health jeopardized due to antiquated notions about HIV and the stigma that results. This must end. If the court doesn’t intervene, the Trump administration will continue to discharge more promising service members living with HIV, denying them the ability to continue serving their country. Every day, people living with HIV are suffering professional setbacks and losing out on career advancement opportunities, and we are asking this court to put an end to these harmful actions.”

According to HIVPlusMag, approximately 1,200 service members could be affected by the policy change.  

(h/t HIVPlusMag)

Married Lesbian Couple Turned Away By Senior Living Community In Missouri

A senior same-sex married couple in Missouri have been turned away by a senior housing community because of the couple’s sexual orientation.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting on a new law suit filed by Bev Nance, 68, and Mary Walsh, 72, who have been denied housing by the Friendship Village senior living community because they are married to each other.

The couple, who have been together for almost four decades and legally married since 2009, had toured the Sunset Hills location several times and even put down a $2,000 deposit. 

According to the lawsuit, the couple were denied housing because their same-sex relationship violated Friendship Village’s cohabitation policy that views marriage as “the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible.”

The St. Louis Post Dispatch received a statement from Friendship Village which read: “We have just been made aware of a lawsuit that we have not yet seen and have not had an opportunity to review. This matter will be discussed with legal counsel and (we) have no further comment at this time.”

Nance and Walsh are being represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the ACLU and Washington-based law firm of Relman, Dane & Colfax.

The couple’s legal team says the policy violates the Fair Housing Act in terms of sex discrimination. Since the women are married to females, not men, the decision to deny them occupancy is, in essence, discrimination based on their sex.

However, Missouri’s public accommodation laws don’t explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Mary and Bev were denied housing for one reason and one reason only — because they were married to each other rather than to men. This is exactly the type of sex discrimination the Fair Housing Act prohibits,” said Julie Wilensky, an attorney for the NCLR,  in a statement to the press. “Their story demonstrates the kind of exclusion and discrimination still facing same-sex couples of all ages.”

The couple attempted to move into Friendship Village in 2016. After multiple visits and several conversations with the staff they put down a $2,000 deposit in order to get on a waiting list. It was only after that they were informed of the “longstanding” policy on cohabitation.

From The Post-Dispatch

The Friendship Village website says it is a nonprofit that provides “a fulfilling, worry-free lifestyle” to more than 1,000 seniors in Chesterfield and Sunset Hills. Its mission statement says, “Guided by Biblical values, continually serve the senior community with quality offerings that promote lifelong well-being.”

Walsh and Nance considered other housing but said Friendship Village was the only place in the St. Louis area “that can provide increased levels of care without an increased monthly cost to residents.”

According to the lawsuit, a letter to Walsh dated July 29, 2016, from Michael Heselbarth, a top administrator with the retirement village, said: “ Your request to share a single unit does not fall within the categories permitted by the long-standing policy of Friendship Village Sunset Hills.”

Legal experts are divided on the possibility of winning the lawsuit.

Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University, told the Post-Dispatch, “My gut instinct is they’re probably out of luck."

“When a private body doesn’t want to rent a room to you, for them, that’s freedom of association," he added. "They’re probably entitled to their deposit back.”

But Marcia McCormick, an employment and labor law expert, says Friendship Village’s religious freedom claim “does have to be sincere. The defense of the First Amendment does not excuse discrimination in the Fair Housing Law.”

Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older people, issued this statement via email.

“The horrible discrimination experienced by this older lesbian couple – for something as basic as senior housing – is a stark reminder of the challenges that many LGBT elders face. We know that this story is far from unique. Research shows that 45 percent of same-sex couples who apply for senior housing in Missouri are discriminated against. This lawsuit will help ensure that Mary and Bev – and all older same-sex couples—will have the same access to senior housing as everybody else.”

 

(h/t St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

A Crowd of Over a Thousand Shouts Insults and Jeers as Gay Men Are Publicly Beaten in Indonesia

More than a thousand people crowded the courtyard of a mosque in Indonesia’s Aceh province on Tuesday, jeering and shouting insults as two young men, 20 and 23, were publicly flogged over 80 times for having consensual gay sex.

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia to practice Shariah law; this is the first public caning for the crime of homosexuality there.

Five robed and hooded figures doled out the punishment as the young men winced and cried out in pain. Many spectators took photos and videos on their mobile devices.

The young men were sentenced to 85 lashings last week (100 is the maximum); they were arrested in March. Authorities (vigilantes) had suspected them of being gay, then raided a hotel room they rented and found them having sex.

This public flogging had a significantly higher turnout than usual, because people wanted to witness the first-ever public caning for gay sex.

Sarojini Mutia Irfan, a female student, weighed in on the punishment:

"What they have done is like a virus that can harm people's morale. This kind of public punishment is an attempt to stop the spread of the virus to other communities in Aceh.”

A total of 15 people were punished at the flogging, though the others received fewer lashings for crimes like showing affection outside of wedlock and selling alcohol. Lashings are also commonly served to women who wear tight clothes and people who don’t pray.

Homosexuality isn’t technically illegal in Indonesia outside of Aceh, yet the LGBTQ+ community has nevertheless felt violent discrimination throughout the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

A banner was raised in Aceh’s capital, Banda Aceh, demanding that Shariah law upheld at whatever cost necessary, courtesy of the The Islamic Defenders Front.

A case before the country’s highest court is pushing to make gay sex and all sex out of wedlock illegal throughout Indonesia.

On Monday, 141 men were arrested in a raid on a gay sauna in Indonesia’s capital.

Human Rights Watch has publicly called for Indonesia’s President President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to denounced the “medieval” torture and human rights violations.

h/t: The Telegraph

h/t: Pink News

Hawaii: B&B Owner Loses LGBTQ Discrimination Case - Again

In 2007, Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford of Long Beach, California, traveled to the Aloha state to visit a friend who had just given birth.

The child apparently was having some health issues at the time, so the couple decided to seek accommodations nearby. The closest option was The Aloha Bed & Breakfast.

But when the couple called Phyllis Young, owner of The Aloha B&B in Honolulu’s Hawaii Kai area, Young told the couple same-sex relationships are "detestable" and “defile our land.

Hawaii’s public accommodation law specifically bans establishments that provide lodging to transient guests from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, race, color, ancestry, religion, disability and sex —including gender identity or expression.

Later that year, Cervilli and Bufford filed a complaint with Hawaii’s Civil Rights Commission. 

Although Young asserted she had the right to discriminate since her business was in her home, the commission determined Young had openly discriminated against the couple.

Cervilli and Bufford consequently filed a lawsuit against Young in 2011.

In 2013, a Hawaii First Circuit Court judge ruled that Young had violated the state’s public accommodation laws and ordered her to stop discriminating.

Young appealed the decision and in February of this year, the Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court ruling.

In a last ditch effort, the B&B owner asked the state’s Supreme Court to review the case. The high court declined to do so, and effectively affirming the lower court ruling that Young had discriminated.

Earlier this year, Bufford told QVoiceNews, “I can’t tell you how much it hurt to be essentially told, ‘we don’t do business with your kind.’ It still stings to this day.”

“We thought the days when business owners would say ‘We’re open to the public – but not to you’ was a thing of the past,” she added. “You don’t have to change your beliefs,” she said, “but you do have to follow the law just as everyone else does.”

Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn hailed the decision saying in a statement

“In letting the existing decision stand, Hawai‘i today joined a long line of states across the country that understand how pernicious and damaging a religious license to discriminate would be.”

“In fact, since the U.S. Supreme Court’s narrow ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop in early June, three state courts – in Arizona, Oregon and now Hawai`i – have either ruled against or refused to review rulings against business owners who have claimed religious justifications to discriminate.”

Instagram's Removal of Same-Sex Kiss Due to "Community Guidelines" Sparks Fury

Instagram stirred up some hot water after removing a photo of a gay kiss for “violating community guidelines.”

The controversial pic in question? Photographer Stella Asia Consonni’s snap of long-term gay couple Jordan Bowen and Luca Lucifer smooching passionately, with the caption, “is pizza is the only thing better than love? [sic]”

Instagram’s removal sparked some immediate outrage. Among those who spoke out in support of Consonni were musicians Olly Alexander of Years and Years and Jade Thirlwall of Little Mix.

Bowen wrote on his Instagram account:

“My relationship of seven years with @iamlucalucifer reduced to a Community Guideline. Earlier this was removed from @stellaasiaconsonni and flagged as inappropriate. @instagram spoon feeds us with rainbows and hashtags to appear in solidarity but it seems real people in love have no place here. Earlier this was removed from @stellaasiaconsonni and flagged as inappropriate. @instagram spoon feeds us with rainbows and hashtags to appear in solidarity but it seems real people in love have no place here.”

 

An Instagram spokesperson said in a statement: “This post was removed in error and we are sorry. It has since been reinstated.”

“This is just a teeny tiny event in the grand scheme of things,” said Consonni once the photo was restored to her page, “but seeing all the amazing response certainly restored a little of my faith in humanity.”

“There is still a long way to go in the fight against homophobia,” she continues in another rainbow post. “This goes to all my beautiful friends that have to deal with this BS all the time.”

h/t: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/07/02/instagram-apologises-for-taking-down-gay-kiss-photo/

'Montana Locker Room Privacy Act' Fizzles And Will Not Appear On November Ballot

An initiative requiring people to use public restrooms and locker rooms according to the gender designated on their birth certificate fell far short of the support needed to qualify for the November general election.

In Montana, supporters of Initiative 183, dubbed the “Montana Locker Room Privacy Act”, appear to have gathered only 8,079 of the 25,468 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot. The deadline to submit the signatures was June 20, then verification would last until July 20 and then send them on to Montana’s Secretary of State Office.  Looks like those final steps will not need to happen.  To that we say, "YES!"

Non-Discrimination Ordinances (NDO) have failed in Montana in recent years, for example, in the state's largest city, Billings.  The failure was attributed largely because of the efforts of the Montana Family Foundation,the sponsor of Initiative 183.

The bathroom debate in Montana and other states has been going on for a few years now. A law similar to the initiative failed in the 2017 Montana Legislature, as well. Opponents countered that the Montana Family Foundation's concerns were absurd and that the initiative threatened the civil rights of transgender people.

For more on this story, head over to billingsgazette.com.

Texas GOP Solidifies Its Homophobic Party Platform, 15 Years After Sodomy Ban Was Repealed

The Texas Republicans have reaffirmed their homosexuality this weekend at their convention in San Antonio this past weekend.

In an act right out of Gay Cake Wars IV, the party released the document titled Report of 2018 Permanent Platform & Resolutions Committee which includes multiple negative policies toward our community, some calling for the repeal of local, regional, or state nondiscrimination statutes which protect LGBTQ persons.

The entire platform may be read and searched here.  Some of the more volatile ones against our LGBTQ+ community are:

14. Counseling and Therapy: No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to sexual orientation counseling for self-motivated youth and adults.

102. Hate Crimes: We urge the complete repeal of the Hate Crimes Law since ample laws are currently in effect to punish criminal behavior towards other persons.

240. Gender Identity: We oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity. We call upon our legislature to enact laws prohibiting the use of hormones before the age of 18 in an attempt to change gender. We believe it should be illegal to remove healthy body parts in minors in an effort to try to transition to the opposite sex.

303. Religious Freedom for Business Owners: We support the removal of laws and regulations that are used to force business owners and employees to violate their sincerely held beliefs.

319. Overturn Unconstitutional Ruling: We believe this decision, overturning the Texas law prohibiting same-sex marriage in Texas, has no basis in the Constitution and should be reversed, returning jurisdiction over the definition of marriage to the states. The Governor and other elected officials of the State of Texas should assert our Tenth Amendment right and reject the Supreme Court ruling.

According to OutSmart Magazine, “In response to the efforts of the Log Cabin Republicans, delegates removed an especially heinous anti-gay sentence from the platform stating that, ‘Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible.'”

We expect society to go backwards as 45 has given many of the more conservative and backwards thinking citizens a voice.  They've been here before but the moral compass was progressing in such a good way.  Now, it's clicking back down.

Let us not forget that June 26, 2018 is the 15th anniversary of the legalization of gay sex in Texas–and other states.

Despite practice by heterosexual couples, the laws were specifically designed to target and to punish same-sex couples. In 1960, every state had an anti-sodomy law. That all changed with the case of Lawrence v. Texas, which fortified the right of consenting adults to engage in private sexual behavior–of any kind. - thegavoice.com

In June of 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6 to 3 that such laws were illegal. Prior to 2003, 15 American states had laws banning sodomy, even between consenting private adults (Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Utah, Texas, and Virginia). Many of these states did not take these laws off the books, but these old laws are considered null and void and cannot be used by the state to punish LGBTQ or any citizens.

Will we see the rise of Texas and its anti-LGBTQ+ laws?

h/t: thegavoice.com

 

YouTube Takes To Twitter To Apologize To LGBT Users Just Before The Closing Bell Of Pride Month

Is this a little too late? Haven't we been dealing with this issue for the past year and then some?

YouTube apologized to the LGBTQ community on Saturday over its enforcement of certain policies on its platform that have been criticized by LGBTQ YouTube video creators.

It's all about the money as well as tagging appropriately.  YouTube acknowledged that it "had issues" with "inappropriate ads" and concerns over how it enforces its monetization policy. YouTube was stripping ads from videos that seemed to violate its monetization terms of service, a practice which prevents the video’s creator from making a profit off of the video.

 

 

 

 

“We're sorry and we want to do better.”  Are we all good now?  A tweet fixed everything, right?  Well, it was a 4-part tweet.

The limiting of air time for and monetization of LGBT videos was mentioned quite well in this video from Arielle Jane and was shared originally on August 18, 2017, where she mentions videos tagged with LGBT were buried because at one point they were deemed not safe for the youth, but more recently, not safe for advertising.

 

 

The company's tweets, coming at the end of LGBT Pride Month, follow criticism from members of the LGBTQ community earlier this month over YouTube's enforcement of its ad and monetization policies.

There was also a point where YouTube seemed to be swinging the wrong way completely and becoming anti-LGBT. In some cases YouTube was placing anti-LGBTQ ads next to LGBTQ content.  Whoops,  an engineering issue, sorry, said YouTube.

YouTube, we get enough discrimination and weeding out, not being heard and pushed aside.  Put your money(tization) where your mouth is and follow through with being a welcoming place.

 

What Does Each Stripe On The Raibow Flag Mean? Do You Know What You're Changing?

In 1978, Harvey Milk, San Francisco city supervisor and the first openly gay man elected to public office in California, tasked artist and activist Gilbert Baker with creating an emblem of the queer community. The goal was to replace the pink triangle, a symbol that has negative ties to the Nazis an its use to identify homosexuals.

The original flag had eight stripes, however there have been many iterations since. When the rainbow pride flag was unveiled in 1978, its colors were hot pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo and violet.

Each stripe of the original flag has a meaning.  The colors that are no longer present on the Pride flag and their meanings are:

Hot Pink for sex
Turquoise for magic

We're not sexual and magical anymore? What!?!

After the assassination of gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978, demand for the rainbow flag greatly increased. To meet demand, the Paramount Flag Company began selling a version of the flag using stock rainbow fabric with seven stripes: red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, and violet. As Baker ramped up production of his version of the flag, he too dropped the hot pink stripe because of the unavailability of hot-pink fabric. Also, San Francisco-based Paramount Flag Co. began selling a surplus stock of Rainbow Girls flags from its retail store on the southwest corner of Polk and Post, at which Gilbert Baker was an employee.[14]

In 1979 the flag was modified again. When hung vertically from the lamp posts of San Francisco’s Market Street, the center stripe was obscured by the post itself. Changing the flag design to one with an even number of stripes was the easiest way to rectify this, so the turquoise stripe was dropped, which resulted in a six stripe version of the flag — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. - Gilbertbaker.com

The remaining colors meanings are: 

Red for life
Orange for healing
Yellow for sunlight
Green for nature
Blue for harmony or serenity
Purple for spirit.

So when it comes to the Pride Flag not representing you, what are you saying? Which one of the colors is not representing you? 

When the transgender flag was triangulated and over the left side of the rainbow flag, didn't it make you think, how are we mixing in the bisexuals, the asexuals, the gender fluids, oh, and hey, the lesbians?  When you add a different color stripe to the flag to signify a race, ethnicity, where are all the others? What about a color for the fats, the femmes, the Asians?

"When you convenience yourself, you inconvenience others." 

It is a motto I live by, it is a motto I share with people that are doing hurtful things, and it is something we all need to hear again. "When you convenience yourself, you inconvenience others." To borrow a lesson learned from the Prodigal Son fable, when you put yourself in the place of honor, know that someone will soon follow that deserves it more than you.  When you start adding this badge and that badge, this stripe and that stripe, please remove the BLUE stripe for you've just degraded its meaning.  To remind you, BLUE stands for harmony. 

This has been the opinion of this writer and former teacher and is not the opinion of the Magazine or the other contributing writers.

And since I was a teacher and am still involved in academia, here's a little homework assignment. See if you can identify all the different subsections our rainbow family has and then develop one flag to represent them all.  Here's a video to help you in your homework. And if you need a sample from a previous student, look at the pic at the beginning of this post.  Test your knowledge over at https://www.myumbrella.org.uk/identities

 


Once again, this has been the opinion of this writer and is not the opinion of the Magazine or the other contributing writers.

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