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Angola drops colonial-era anti-gay laws

Angola’s parliament voted to remove the so-called “vices against nature” provision in a newly adopted penal code, in effect decriminalizing all same-sex conduct.

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Photo by Priscilla Linda from Unsplash.com

Angola’s parliament voted to remove the so-called “vices against nature” provision in a newly adopted penal code, in effect decriminalizing all same-sex conduct. In addition, the government has also banned discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, with offenders liable to face up to two years in jail.

Speaking in Geneva, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) welcomed the development. Rupert Colville said that the Government has also prohibited discrimination against people based on sexual orientation.

The UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, added that such legislation “was one of the root causes behind grave and pervasive human rights violations against gay, lesbian, trans and bisexual people”.

Madrigal-Borloz urged other States to follow Angola’s move, adding that “all other countries that still criminalize homosexuality, must observe these processes of decriminalization as motivation to examine their own legal frameworks, and to bring themselves to full compliance with this human rights imperative”.

Of the 193 countries recognized by the UN, 68 still criminalize same-sex conduct.

Homosexuality remains illegal in several African countries, where antiquated colonial-era laws are maintained. In Nigeria, for instance, homosexuality is punishable by a 14-year jail term after an anti-gay law was passed in 2014; in Uganda and Zambia, the maximum penalty is life; and in Tanzania, an anti-gay crackdown, including arrests, has drawn international criticism and seen aid donors suspend donations.

Technology

Know thy history; revisit the first 10 years of San Francisco’s Pride

Even Pride gatherings are getting confused nowadays – e.g. Is it still to protest, or (even if the organizers claim it’s a “protest”) is it really just one big party? A revisit to Pride’s history – at least of San Francisco’s, in the US – has opened to help every-all see how everything was in the early days.

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Third World Gay Caucus contingent, San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade, 1977; photograph by Marie Ueda, Marie Ueda Collection (2006-12), GLBT Historical Society.

Even Pride gatherings are getting confused nowadays – e.g. Is it still to protest, or (even if the organizers claim it’s a “protest”) is it really just one big party? Should events highlight the not-that-pretty/sexy yet still ongoing struggles, or just focus on the glamour (and while at it, earn organizers big bucks)? And part of this confusion stems from the lack of awareness, if not appreciation of Pride’s history.

A revisit to Pride’s history – at least of San Francisco’s, in the US – has opened to help every-all see how everything was in the early days.

Organized by the GLBT Historical Society, with the support of San Francisco Pride, “Labor of Love: The Birth of San Francisco Pride, 1970–1980” showcases how San Francisco’s LGBTQIA community in the 1970s forged the annual celebration that would come to be known as the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade.

On June 27, 1970, a small group marched down Polk Street, and the following day staged a “gay-in” picnic in Golden Gate Park. Over the course of the decade, Pride became an annual San Francisco event, growing by leaps and bounds. Initially referred to as Christopher Street West — to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riot on that street in New York City — and then as Gay Freedom Day, Pride drew some 250,000 participants and spectators in 1980. 

“Labor of Love” revisits the first 10 years of San Francisco Pride using historic photographs, ephemera, artifacts, and film and sound recordings from the archives of the GLBT Historical Society and from community members. The exhibition explores the goals, the controversies, the hard work, the desires and the sometimes-competing spirits of struggle and celebration that laid the foundation for one of the city’s best-known public festivals. 

The exhibition is co-curated by Gerard Koskovich, a public historian and rare book dealer; Don Romesburg, professor of gender and women’s studies at Sonoma State University; and Amy Sueyoshi, dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. They emphasize that Pride has traditionally deployed both frivolity and protest to promote a positive cultural shift in how society views LGBTQ people. 

The exhibition is organized around four themes.

“Why Pride?” considers how organizers and community members explained the purpose of the annual gathering.

“The Work of Pride” explores the ever-increasing commitment to planning, fundraising, volunteer support and governance that the event required.

“Pride Fights” grapples with the debates over what Pride should be, who should be included, who should make the decisions and how they should be made.

Finally, “Big Gay Family” highlights how the creation of San Francisco Pride brought diverse people into a collective, yet often contested kinship. 

POSTER 1: “Christopher Street Liberation Day Gay-In,” offset flyer, 1970; Charles Thorpe Papers (1987-02), GLBT Historical Society.
POSTER 2: San Francisco Gay Pride program, 1972; Ephemera Collection, GLBT Historical Society.

The interactive final section of the show, “Pride: From Past to Future,” invites visitors to reflect on the history, then look ahead by submitting their responses to two questions: “How will the future of Pride be shaped? How should it be shaped?” The answers will be posted in the online gallery to spark an ongoing dialog about the heritage of Pride.

“Labor of Love” will also be installed as a physical exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society Museum at 4127 18th Street in San Francisco’s Castro district at a future date.

For more information, visit the GLBT Historical Society website at www.glbthistory.org.

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Taiwan to host world’s only physical LGBTQIA Pride at the time of Covid-19

On June 28, Taiwan will hold the world’s only physical LGBTQIA Pride parade for 2020’s Pride month of June.

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All rainbow roads lead to Taipei. That is: If you’re allowed to head there at all due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

On June 28, Taiwan will hold the world’s only physical LGBTQIA Pride parade for 2020’s Pride month of June.

This year marks the 50th year since the first LGBTQIA Pride march was held in Chicago in the US in 1970. But celebrations are on hold because of the need to be physically distant to other people to curb the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes Covid-19. Already, 475 Pride events across the world have been canceled and/or delayed. 

In a statement, Taiwan Gay Sport Association (TSGA) – the organizer of Taipei’s event – stated that “all is not lost” since “Taiwan is fortunate to (be) one of the very few countries in the world that never needed a lockdown, and has not had a single local case in over two months.” And so “to celebrate that fact and to honor our global (LGBTQIA) family… we will host the world’s only physical LGBTQIA Pride parade during Pride month 2020.”

Themed “Taiwan Pride March for the World!”, the event will be streamed live on TSGA’s Facebook event page

Taiwan’s numerous pro-LGBTQIA moves have been making the news. It is the first in Asia, for instance, to legalize marriage equality. Its law, however, only: 1. allows same-sex marriages between Taiwanese, or 2. with foreigners whose countries recognize same-sex marriage.

Taiwan also permits adoption of children biologically related to at least one of the same-sex pair.

Related to this, it eyes to profit from the pro-LGBTQIA efforts – e.g. by “selling” mementos to foreign LGBTQIA couples, even if it does not necessarily legally recognize some of these relationships.

There are also members of its LGBTQIA community who lament the direction of Pride there – e.g. in 2015, during Taiwan’s Pride, some members of Taiwan’s LGBTQIA community lamented the “hijacking” of an LGBTQI event because of the lack of opportunity to highlight “non-mainstream LGBTQI issues.”

LGBTQIA activist 徐豪謙, for one, noted at that time that “people only talk about the politically correct and popular issue of same-sex marriage, as if we don’t have other issues to face.”

Beyond the June parade, Taiwan is also slated to host Taiwan Pride 2020 on October 31, and people may join… again, pending travel restrictions. 

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Travel

To check while in U.S.: Key West installs permanent rainbow crosswalks

When in Florida and looking for a photo op: Key West City in Florida installed four permanent rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of Duval and Petronia streets in the heart of the island’s LGBTQIA entertainment district.

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Key West City in Florida installed four permanent rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of Duval and Petronia streets in the heart of the island’s LGBTQIA entertainment district. Spanning all four corners of the intersection, the crosswalks feature long bands of all six colors of the rainbow flag, an internationally recognized symbol of the LGBTQIA community.

Spearheaded by the city and the Key West Business Guild, the crosswalks are composed of pre-formed thermoplastic color stripes. After the stripes were laid on the street by city workers, they were heat-treated with propane torches to affix the colors permanently on the pavement.

“The rainbow crosswalks, to us in the City of Key West, mean that everybody is welcome, everybody is equal, everybody is recognized and that we do really abide by the ‘One Human Family’ spirit,” said Key West Mayor Teri Johnston. “Everybody is a part of Key West.”

“One Human Family” was adopted as the city’s official philosophy in 2000, proclaiming equality and acceptance for all. Key West is known for targeting LGBTQIA vacationers.

It is worth noting though that Florida, as a whole, still has issues with discrimination of minority sectors. As reported by FlKeysNews, citing a report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Florida has 63 active hate groups, ranking second in the whole of US among states with the biggest number of hate groups (California is first, with 79). Four of these are in Miami-Dade County.

The crosswalks’ installation was the final step in a project to repave and re-stripe Key West’s historic Duval Street from the 100 block to Truman Avenue.

Rainbow crosswalks were originally installed on Duval in 2015, becoming a city landmark and popular photo stop. Their replacement, necessitated by the repaving project, also allowed for a redesign that makes the rainbow colors stand out more vividly against the asphalt.

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Taiwan to tap ‘rainbow economy’ with mementos for foreign LGBTQIA couples

Eyeing to boost its status as an LGBTQIA tourist destination particularly when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Taiwan will be offering “commemorative certificates” to LGBTQIA couples visiting from abroad.

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Photo by TangChi Lee from Unsplash.com

Cashing in on #LoveisLove.

Eyeing to boost its status as an LGBTQIA tourist destination particularly when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Taiwan will be offering “commemorative certificates” to LGBTQIA couples visiting from abroad, announced by the city’s Department of Civil Affairs (DCA).

Taiwan became the first country in Asia to pass a marriage equality law last May, and according to Taipei City Councilor Lee Chien-chang (李建昌), the city can use this distinction to promote its pro-LGBTQIA creds by tapping the “rainbow economy”, particularly in the tourism sector.

And here, “commemorative certificates” will be given – for a fee, of course – to visiting LGBTQIA couples. These certificates will have no legal validity whatsoever because Taiwan still does not recognize transnational same-sex marriages (i.e. where one partner comes from a country where such unions are illegal).

DCA eyes to start promoting this in September, and have them available by October.

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NEWSMAKERS

US Supreme Court bars discrimination against LGBTQIA workers

In a 6-3 vote, the justices decided that gay and transgender people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as race, color, national origin and religion.

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The US Supreme Court backed LGBTQIA community members’ rights with a ruling that a longstanding federal law barring workplace discrimination also protects gay and transgender employees.

Specifically, in a 6-3 vote, the justices decided that gay and transgender people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as race, color, national origin and religion.

Two conservative justices joined the court’s four liberals in the decision: Neil Gorsuch, a 2017 Donald Trump appointee who wrote the ruling, and Chief Justice John Roberts.

Workplace discrimination is still legal in 28 US states because of the lack of comprehensive measures against employment discrimination. The ruling – in Bostock v. Clayton County – now recognizes new worker protections in federal law.

US has a federal civil rights law that somewhat touches on sex discrimination – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as gender, race, color, national origin and religion.

However, the text of the law bans only “sex” discrimination, not specifically stating discrimination based on a worker’s “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”.

The LGBTQIA-related cases filed at SCOTUS asked whether concepts like sexual orientation and gender identity – both tightly bound to the concept of sex (meaning gender, not sexual intercourse) – should also be included under its grasp.

Penning the decision, Gorsuch stated that “an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex… Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

Gorsuch added: “By discriminating against homosexuals, the employer intentionally penalizes men for being attracted to men and women for being attracted to women. By discriminating against transgender persons, the employer unavoidably discriminates against persons with one sex identified at birth and another today.”

In October 2019, Outrage Magazine was at Washington, DC in the US when the SCOTUS heard oral arguments on a major civil rights question: Are gay and transgender people covered by the law barring employment discrimination on the basis of sex?

It is worth noting that legal developments in many countries – including the Philippines – are affected by those in the US. For instance, when the Philippines’ Supreme Court heard oral arguments on marriage equality in the country, the civil rights movement in the US was mentioned, along with other international laws/statutes pushing for LGBTQIA human rights.

But the LGBTQIA struggle at the SCOTUS isn’t over.

SCOTUS still hasn’t decided on another case – R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC – that asks whether those discriminating should be given leeway to do so because of their religious beliefs.

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Trump admin revokes health care protections for transgender people

Under Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated that it would bar sex discrimination only based on “the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

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Photo by Cecilie Johnsen from Unsplash.com

Donald Trump’s anti-LGBTQIA initiatives continue, with his administration revoking Obama-era anti-discrimination protections for transgender people in the health care sector.

In 2016, Barack Obama enacted a federal rule wherein a hospital could be required to perform gender-transition procedures such as hysterectomies if the facility provided that kind of treatment for other medical conditions. This rule was meant to carry out the anti-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), which bars sex discrimination in health care but does not use the term “gender identity.” The Obama regulation thereby defined gender as a person’s internal sense of being male, female, neither or a combination.

Under Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated that it would bar sex discrimination only based on “the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

Trump’s move – right in the middle of the month of June, when LGBTQIA people observe Pride – is but one of his moves to please his conservative and extremist supporters, prior to America’s November presidential election.

According to Susan Bailey, president of the American Medical Association (AMA): “The federal government should never make it more difficult for individuals to access health care, during a pandemic or any other time.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)stated that it would fight the new regulation, which it warned would “embolden health care discrimination against transgender people and those seeking reproductive health care.”

LGBTQIA civil rights group Lambda Legal also stated it planned to contest the discriminatory policy.

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