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How national parks support the LGBT community

Visiting all of the national parks in America is a dream for many individuals, although some LGBT people can be concerned about their safety in and around rural areas of the States.

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Visiting all of the national parks in America is a dream for many individuals, although some LGBT people can be concerned about their safety in and around rural areas of the States. However, the national parks have recently developed schemes to show their support of the LGBT community now and in the future, preserving some of the most important moments of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history and helping everyone to enjoy the parks whatever their sexuality.

What are the National Park LGBT Heritage sites?

In recent years, the National Park Service has gone to great lengths to be inclusive in their marketing and story-telling. The National Park LGBT Heritage scheme has recently been set up by the National Park Service to commemorate and memorialize some of the most important historical monuments and sites in the USA. This is especially vital in 2019, which is the 50th year since the Stonewall riots, one of the most important moments in gay, lesbian and transgender history.

One of the main sites that the National Park Service has decided to care for is The Stonewall National Monument in New York, which is now accessible for tours and recreation. However, many of the national parks also have LGBT history which is currently being promoted, such as the Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey, which contains ‘Clear Comfort’ the home of the prolific lesbian photographer, Elizabeth Alice Austen.

One of the main sites that the National Park Service has decided to care for is The Stonewall National Monument in New York, which is now accessible for tours and recreation.

Are LGBT travelers safe in National Parks?

Although some states that surround national parks are known for their intolerance of gay issues and travelers, the National Park Service commits itself to ensuring the safety of visitors regardless of their sexual orientation. When traveling to national parks, you do not need to be concerned about your experiences within the park, but you may have to be wary when leaving the park within some of the gateway communities. For instance, although Yellowstone is tolerant of LGBT travelers, Wyoming and Montana are not known generally as acceptant of LGBT tourists, and so you may need to choose discretion when visiting these communities.

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What is the best way to experience National Parks?

If you are concerned at all about visiting the national parks and surrounding areas, you should research your accommodation before you visit and take guided tours. Read on for some of the best ways to explore the parks.

  • Driving is one of the best ways that you can explore national parks, and going on road trips will give you easy access to some of the most stunning locations in the national park system. Bryce Canyon is a great place for LGBT travelers to explore, and Bryce Canyon ATV tours can help you to see the park up close, in an active and unique manner that will rival alternative hiking or cycling options. Not only this, but the guided aspect of the tour will allow you to visit more of the park and learn about some of its most famous sights.
  • You may also want to stay in accommodation close to the parks, or even within the parks themselves, away from gateway communities in generally conservative areas, which may cause you discomfort.
When traveling to national parks, you do not need to be concerned about your experiences within the park, but you may have to be wary when leaving the park within some of the gateway communities.

Travel

Top 5 places to visit in Los Angeles

While the city offers so much more, these places are destinations that you simply cannot miss.

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If you plan to spend some time in Los Angeles you might wonder where you should go first. There are a lot of amazing places in LA so it can be hard to choose. Make sure you have your accommodation booked click here for some ideas and then think about what you want to do.

Below you will find five of the best places to visit in Los Angeles. While the city offers so much more, these places are destinations that you simply cannot miss.

The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is one of the most-visited observatories on the planet. This incredible destination is visited by more than one million people every single year. When you arrive at the Observatory you will understand why.

One of the very first places in the country that was dedicated to science for the public, entrance is free. This is all thanks to the former owner who in his will gave the land to the city of Los Angeles.

The Griffith Observatory is one of the most-visited observatories on the planet.

When you’re at the Observatory enjoy the shows that take place at the Samuel Oshchin Planetarium. You don’t have to pay to watch the shows but it is encouraged. The good news is you don’t have to pay very much. You can also enjoy a few presentations and talks at the Planetarium. There are also events held throughout the year so you might be lucky to catch one or two of them.

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Finally, you might want to take a look at the incredible view that the Observatory allows you. Just make sure you climb to the very top of the Observatory so you can take it all in.

The Beautiful Beaches

Los Angeles is home to some beautiful beaches. In fact, some of the world’s most beautiful beaches are found here. Head down to Venice Beach to spot all of the beautiful people. Alternatively, you might want to head to Santa Monica as it’s the ideal location if you want to relax and unwind. Santa Monica has been used as the destination for many different movies so it’s likely you’ll recognize it if you’re a movie fan. 

Head down to Venice Beach to spot all of the beautiful people.

You might also want to indulge in a spot of celebrity-spotting while you’re in the area. The beaches and the nearby sidewalks are the ideal locations to spot many celebrities who call this part of Los Angeles their home. Don’t forget to make your way to the Santa Monica Pier where you’ll find a wonderful carousel that you just have to jump on.

The Walk of Fame

You simply cannot spend any time in Los Angeles without visiting the Walk of Fame. This internationally-celebrated destination is one of the most popular places to visit. Spanning an incredible 1.3 miles from the East of Hollywood to the West, you will find more than 2,500 stars on the sidewalk.

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When the Walk of Fame came to fruition in the 1960s it was originally meant to help redevelop the area and it appears that it has. The Walk of Fame sees up to 10 million people from all over the world visit this iconic location.

This part of Los Angeles can get very busy at times but if you head there in the early morning you should beat much of the rush.

Many celebrities have been nominated for a star and many of them have had their names and their palm prints embedded in the sidewalk for eternity. Why not take the opportunity to have your photograph taken with the star that represents your favorite actor or singer?

Please note, this part of Los Angeles can get very busy at times but if you head there in the early morning you should beat much of the rush.

The Getty Museum

Designed by Richard Meier and opened back in 1997, this incredible museum is home to some amazing and internationally-renowned art. Found in Brentwood and look over the city of Los Angeles, the Museum offers you an experience of a lifetime.

Take a trip on a hover-train from the parking lot to the very top of the mountain. Enjoy the garden that spans an incredible 134,000 square foot and take your time walking around the area.

Designed by Richard Meier and opened back in 1997, this incredible museum is home to some amazing and internationally-renowned art.

Don’t forget to spend at least an hour walking around the Getty Museum. Some of the exhibits there are truly phenomenal and will take your breath away.

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The Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign is one of Los Angeles’ most iconic structures. Located up in the mountains, the sign was part of an advertising campaign that told the locals about a housing development that would provide many homes. However, it seemed that the 43 foot tall and 30 foot wide letters became iconic in their own right.

Unfortunately, the development of the homes fell victim to the Great Depression but the sign remains there to this day. Did you know that the Hollywood Sign originally said “Hollywoodland”? The city removed the “Land” from the sign and created what we can now see from many miles away.

If you do plan to visit the Hollywood Sign please make sure you respect the locals. Refrain from parking in their driveways or opposite their homes. They will be grateful that you made the effort.

Did you know that the Hollywood Sign originally said “Hollywoodland”?

As you can see, Los Angeles is quite a remarkable place to be. It is full to the brim of incredible places to visit and stunning sites to see. It’s so easy to fall in love with this truly vibrant city that has something for everyone. Visit the Griffith Observatory, spend some time on the beaches and visit the Walk of Fame. Lastly, take a trip to the Getty Museum followed by a visit to the Hollywood Sign. Trust me, by the time you get to the sign you would have already fallen in love with Los Angeles.

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Travel

Tired of the Mykonos crowds? Visit Paros instead!

There is no denying that Mykonos has changed a lot over the years. If you think it is a little too busy for your liking now, you might want to go somewhere else. Paros might just be your new perfect destination.

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Everyone has a holiday in the Greek islands on the travel bucket list. The islands if the Aegean Sea are all so different and they call many types of travelers back over and over again. One of the most popular islands is Mykonos. With its famed beaches and amazing nightclub scene, it attracts religious holiday-makers back who are happy to visit no matter how popular it has become.

However, there is no denying that Mykonos has changed a lot over the years. If you think it is a little too busy for your liking now, you might want to go somewhere else. Paros might just be your new perfect destination.

All Walks of Life

One of the best things about Paros is that it attracts people from all walks of life. Both the young and the old love to visit here and marvel at the stunning beaches and picturesque towns. Other islands like to play up a certain niche whereas Paros is happy to sit back and simply be. If you are someone who likes to do a little bit of everything on your holiday, you won’t have to compromise here.

Privacy When You Need It

Trying to find the perfect villa Paros can offer you is easier than you might suspect. This island is packed with perfect getaways which you can rent for complete privacy. There is something truly wonderful about being able to escape back to your villa after a long and busy day. BlueVillas offers a fantastic selection of private villas which you can take advantage of. They range from the ideal villa for a honeymooning couple to large complexes suited for big groups of friends or bug families.

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Whether you want to be right in the action in the middle of town or somewhere a little more secluded, you will be able to find it. Take the time to find the right villa for your needs and you will find that everything else for the holiday just falls into place.

History Lovers

If you are heading to Greece to indulge in a passion for its history then you are going to want to check out Paros. This is one of the best islands for getting in touch with the Ancient Greeks and you are going to be spoiled with choice for things to do.

The first thing you should visit should be the amazing archaeological museum. This has exhibits dating back to the Neolithic age and can tell you lots about what life was like on the island throughout history. You should also make sure to check out the Panagia Ekatontapiliani church, a 4th century Byzantine church and a destination you should visit even if you are not that big on history. Also make sure that you visit Paroikia for the 13th century castle which offers fantastic views.

Nightlife

Some people love to jump in and out of bars on their holiday. If you are in the mood for a party when you are away, you can definitely find it on Paros. This island really knows how to hearken back to the days when Greek tourism was uncomplicated and cheap.

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You will be able to find plenty of things to do on Paros from foam parties to all-day dancing on the beach. Head to either Paroikia or Naoussa for a good time that never stops.

Hit the Water

One of the best ways to see the Greek islands is from a boat and Paros is no exception to this. From the sea, you will be able to navigate your way around the coast and discover some amazing hidden nooks and inlets.

If you are into water sports, you will also find that Paros is a haven for all types of activities. With kitesurfing, kayaking, windsurfing and more, you could easily spend an entire holiday out on the water having a good time. Don’t forget to check out some scuba equipment too; the underwater sites are just as amazing as those you can find on land.

Having a boat also allows you just that little bit more freedom. If you want to head across to Antiparos, the island next door, you can explore at your leisure with your own boat.

Consider Paros Today

Paros has a timeless quality about it which many enjoy. It often feels like you are stepping back into the era of quiet Greek tourism before the islands became such holiday hotspots. If you feel like the more popular islands like Santorini and Mykonos are just getting too crowded for your liking, Paros might be able to offer you something special. Take a look at what the island has to offer you and consider heading there for your next holiday. You never know what might make you fall in love with the place.

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SCOTUS to decide whether LGBTQ people should be protected from workplace discrimination

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in three cases to determine whether LGBTQ people are protected from workplace discrimination by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

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Photo by Matt Popovich from Unsplash.com

On October 8, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will hear oral arguments in three cases to determine whether LGBTQ people are protected from workplace discrimination by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

The Court will ultimately decide whether the definition of “sex” in Title VII includes sexual orientation and/or gender identity – despite numerous legal precedents supporting that it does.

The opportunity for judges to weigh in on this politically sensitive issue will come after they hear the consolidated oral arguments for Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, two cases brought by employees who contend that their sexual orientation led to their dismissal.

The employees claimed that their dismissal violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But exactly because the statute was written in 1964, its language does not specify legal protection for employees fired because of their sexual orientation. The employers, therefore, countered that when Congress passed Title VII more than a half-century ago, it never intended that the law prohibit discrimination based on other categories like sexual orientation.

Another case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, will also provide an opportunity for the justices to weigh in on transgender rights.

In this case, a funeral home employee who was assigned male at birth was hired in 2007 and then fired in 2013 after revealing plans to live as a woman. The funeral homeowner, a “Christian”, testified that he fired the employee because “[he] wanted to dress as a woman.”

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When the employee filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asserting that discrimination based on gender identity violated Title VII, the commission agreed. But the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a lower court decision in favor of the funeral home.

The Supreme Court agreed to rule on the matter.

The justices must decide whether Title VII bars discrimination against transgender employees “based on 1) their status as transgender or 2) sex stereotyping under Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989).”

The Price Waterhouse ruling made it possible for workers to sue their employers for gender stereotyping as a form of sex discrimination.

“We already live in a world where people who don’t fit societal conventions of gender expression are subject to stigma, discrimination, verbal and physical abuse, and even being killed for who they are,” Charles King, co-founder and CEO of Housing Works, said in a statement provided to Outrage Magazine. “This is compounded for our transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming brothers, sisters, and siblings. We are mobilizing this action because we are deeply concerned and angered that the gates could be opened to losing rights and protections in the workplace, in education, healthcare, the military, and beyond.”

“This is a potentially catastrophic development,” said Armen Merjian, senior staff attorney for Housing Works. “If Title VII is found not to include sexual orientation or gender identity, it will be perfectly legal under federal law to discriminate against and even fire members of the LGBTQ community on those grounds. Such a conclusion requires an antediluvian and myopic understanding of discrimination based upon ‘sex’ and would return our country to the dark ages of bigotry and exclusion.”

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“Our National LGBTQIA family has been under a series of attacks under this current administration,“ said Kiara St. James, co-founder and executive director of New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG). “It has been exact and intentional in stripping many recently hard-won protections in the workplace and healthcare. If the court decides it is legal to discriminate against LGBTQ workers, it is Black trans women who will be the most impacted, and it will only increase the national epidemic of violence towards them. October 8th will set the tone as to whether our nation will continue to slide down the abyss of intolerance or begin to push back against it.”

This summer, over 200 corporations in the US, including Apple, Facebook, Uber, Walt Disney and Coca-Cola, wrote to the justices to extend Title VII protections to LGBT employees, saying that uniform rules governing such matters across the country would provide a welcome “consistency and predictability.”

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Coastal appeal

Perhaps this has already been well-documented, but the coastal drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles is truly one of the most scenic drives in the world. Outrage Magazine checks out this route.

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There’s much to see in the US; this is a given. But tourists will (arguably) almost always focus on what they (regularly) see in Hollywood flicks – e.g. Times Square in New York, Rockefeller Center (still in NY), those steps in Philly/Philadelphia where fictional character Rocky supposedly did his exercising, Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, Griffith Observatory (still in Los Angeles), The Strip in Las Vegas, and so on…

And though there’s this place that may already be well-documented (perhaps particularly by non-Filipinos), I’d argue that – particularly for those who aren’t exactly tourist-y – there’s this place in the US that’s worth checking out because it isn’t necessarily as well-trodden. Yes, it’s also been used for location by films like Point Break, Inception, The Usual Suspects, The Craft and The Karate Kid; but even in these films, the place wasn’t really sold as a standalone “product”. This makes this area… less “abused”, if you will.

So we head to the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

WHERE’S IT AT

PCH starts in Southern California at Interstate 5 south of San Juan Capistrano; ending at US 101 in Leggett in Mendocino County.

If coming from San Francisco and then heading to Los Angeles, the coastal drive is via Highway 1 to San Luis Obispo; and then via 101 to Los Angeles. Visitors can take the PCH/Highway 1 and go to Malibu and Santa Monica.

The coastal drive is around 500 miles. It can take 10-12 hours without stops.

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But – as it is one of the most scenic drives in the world – you may want to drive slow. And if you want to really, really enjoy the trip, spend a night or two along the way.

WHAT’S THERE

There are lots of places worth a stopover.

Muir Woods
Start at the fringe of SF, where – just beyond the city – lies a a forest almost reminiscent of the woods of Lothlórien (yes, where Galadriel resided; in The Lord of the Rings). Here, you can find Redwood trees that are over 500 years old. So – can’t afford to fly to Middle Earth (i.e. New Zealand) but keen to experience something… ethereal? This is a good place to start.

Half Moon Bay
Heading out of SF (I’s say about 30 minutes south of the city) is Half Moon Bay/Spanishtown, one of the oldest settlements in San Mateo County. If you’re fond of small town appeal, this one’s worth a visit, indeed, as the aim here is to preserve its past (beautifully), giving you that rustic sense.

Monterey
Here you can check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, or Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Big Sur
Considered a destination in itself. Big Sur is a designated American National Scenic Byway. When you see it, you’d understand why – e.g. wildlife-watching (say, whales and elephant seals), cliffside waterfall (in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park), and so on.

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To reach Big Sur, travel over the Bixby Bridge, one of the tallest single span concrete bridges in the world. Measuring 714 feet long and 280 feet high, it is one of the most photographed bridges on the West Coast (and even the world).

Santa Barbara
If you think everything here is… just views of the coast, fear not. We have the likes of Santa Barbara, too, where visitors can shop, wine and dine, and so on. If you happen to be in town when there’s a wine fest, you’re in luck; otherwise, you need not worry, as there are a number of award-winning wineries you can check out here.

Dana Point
Considered as the “Whale Watching Capital of the West”, you’d get your chance to see the marine mammals in their natural habitat here. So even if you don’t intend to swim in Doheny State Beach, the Salt Creek Beach or Baby Beach, this is worth considering.

Venice Beach
Heading closer to LA, you’d see Venice Beach, a somewhat… quirky location if ever there is one. Start the walk there from Santa Monica Pier and then discover this… area full of, well, Bohemian people. Yes, people watching is a must here – e.g. check out the people working out in Muscle Beach, birthplace of the physical fitness boom in the US, and where Arnold Schwarzenegger used to train out in the open; the skater boys; the artists selling their crafts; the abundant recreative drug users; the health buffs; the surfers braving the cold waters; and so on…

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This one’s truly a must-visit.

To fully enjoy this trip, remember that it is not a race. So… take it slow, and you’re certain to be rewarded.

WHY HEAD HERE

It is unlikely you will get lost on this trip; there are just two roads all the way down: 1 and 101.

But you may lose network signal in some areas.

But who cares, really, when you can put that gadget down and just enjoy what nature has to offer. And in the end, this is why you ought to head to these parts of the US – to see nature, experience small town living, and basically take it slow before getting swallowed again by the hustle and bustle of city living and, yes, life for that matter.

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Going traveling? Top tips for peace of mind

Whatever type of traveling you intend to do, whether going up into the wild with a tent or traveling an entire continent, you need to be prepared. Some people are more inclined to do this than others.

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Photo by Deanna Ritchie from Unsplash.com

Sometimes people forget what kind of undertaking traveling is. They seem to think about it as an extended holiday, but if you really want to get off the beaten track and see a country for what it really is you need to take heed and really make time for some in-depth and wide-ranging research. If you don’t, you could end up in trouble at the far end of the spectrum or just not have the time you envisaged in the best-case scenario.

Whatever type of traveling you intend to do, whether going up into the wild with a tent or traveling an entire continent, you need to be prepared. Some people are more inclined to do this than others.

Some people just like to wing things, but winging such a large undertaking isn’t by no means advisable. There are many tips out there that can help you get on the right track.

The tips below are meant to give you the best start possible.

Make Sure You Plan In Some Chill Time

Traveling isn’t always all fun and games. It can take its toll. There are long bouts of transportation. Nights spent in questionable accommodation, or no accommodation at all. Wherever you are, and wherever you’re planning to go, you must make sure there is some down time. The way you relax is ultimately up to you, but just spending some time by a pool or in the local spa can drain the stress away, leaving you ready to hit the road once more.

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Traveling is by no means the same as a de-stressing vacation, but you just have to make sure you spend a little bit of time taking some rest. You can even do this in keeping with the culture your making the effort to immerse yourself in. Plan it beforehand too so you know exactly what you’re doing and when.

Some people just like to wing things, but winging such a large undertaking isn’t by no means advisable.
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Take A Friend

It isn’t always an option, but if you can, traveling with a friend can make for a much better and more rounded experience. Sharing your time with others makes it a less lonely time and acts as a true bonding event. It’s also a lot safer. Two is always better than one. If something goes wrong they can get help. If you go missing or get lost they can call the police.

If you don’t take a friend, you have to think extra hard and do more research than you usually would to make sure all the routes and places you’re going to are safe.

Pack Bug Repellants

This depends on where you are going, but most places in Asia and Africa have problems with mosquitoes and other nasty bugs. You’ll be able to buy it out there, but it’s always better to take it with you to avoid any distress if there is none available. Look at where you are going and research what kinds of bugs there are in the area.

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Take the good stuff. Preferably the repellant that comes in a cream or gel that you rub in instead of a spray, they can rub off too easily. A mosquito net can also help avoid miserable nights and itchy bumps the next day.

Be Contactable

It’s getting easier with the advent of technology but even now some places are hard to reach. Ensure you’ve got phone signal, and if you know you won’t make sure someone knows exactly where you are going.

If you’re going out away from civilization for an extended period, you might want to take a power pack for your phone too. If you lose your phone, have a contingency. You can buy a prepaid one for pretty cheap these days. It might be worth even taking one of these with you as a spare in your bag. Drop in from time to time with your family at home too. It’s easier said than done, but if you just give them an update every time you swap accommodation they’ll know where you are if something goes wrong. Besides, they’ll be worried about you anyway so see it as a common courtesy.

Know Where Not To Go

You’ll want to see all of the places you’re going too, and it’s understandable. But just like there are bad places in your home city, there are in wherever you’re going. Know them. Don’t go there. Even if you’re tempted by some sight or place, make sure you do some proper research just in case. Certain places have higher crime rates. It’s a simple fact. If you avoid the areas with a high crime there’s less of a chance you’ll be affected, and all your travel plans waylaid.

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New York City to repeal ‘conversion therapy’ ban to safeguard broader LGBTQIA protections

So-called “conversion therapy” is the term most often attributed to practices which seek to change, suppress, or divert the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of people who do not fit the presumed norm of cis-gender heterosexuality. This is widely recognized – including by the World Psychiatric Association – to be based on junk science, and cause deep and lasting trauma on those upon whom it is inflicted.

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Backing out in the fight against hate as a step to hinder hate.

In New York City in the US, council speaker Corey Johnson introduced a bill which would see the city’s ban on so-called “conversion therapy” lifted. This seems like a bad move, but it is seen as a needed effort to – ironically – safeguard protections for the human rights of LGBTQIA people by avoiding a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban reaching the Supreme Court and setting a nation-wide precedent for “conversion therapy”.

So-called “conversion therapy” is the term most often attributed to practices which seek to change, suppress, or divert the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of people who do not fit the presumed norm of cis-gender heterosexuality. Also called reorientation therapy, reparative therapy, reintegrative therapy, gay cure therapy, or, more recently, support for unwanted same-sex attraction or transgender identities. These practices are widely recognized – including by the World Psychiatric Association – to be based on junk science, and cause deep and lasting trauma on those upon whom they are inflicted.  

In the US, 18 states ban “conversion therapy” on minors, including New York state. The city’s ban preceded the state ban and is among the most comprehensive bans in the country, as it applies to “any individual” offering any form of “conversion therapy”, not just licensed health professionals, and bans such practices on all people, not just on minors.

The constitutionality of the comprehensive city ban was challenged through a lawsuit filed in January 2019 by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, using pseudo-human rights language to argue that adults have a right to such “therapy”. Lifting the ban is a move to avoid the lawsuit reaching the conservative Supreme Court and setting a precedent allowing the harmful practices to continue. 

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Maria Sjodin, deputy director of OutRight Action International, said that “ADF’s challenge and the necessary move to repeal the ban on conversion therapy in New York City is symptomatic of the growing attack on human rights, and the human rights of LGBTQIA people in particular, that has soared in the US under the current administration. Initiatives such as the Commission for Unalienable Rights, and broad attacks on gender and sexual and reproductive health and rights, have emboldened groups such as the ADF to be more visible, and ramp up their attacks on the human rights of LGTBQIA people and women.”

Sjodin added that “proponents of so-called conversion therapy have begun using human rights language to support their efforts, claiming that those who want such services have the right to them. But make no mistake – this is not an effort to safeguard freedom of speech, or the right of LGBTQIA people to seek mental health support, but rather an effort to make more people conform to outdated perceptions of cis-gender heterosexuality as the only acceptable norm.”

The report “Harmful Treatment: The Global Reach of So-Called Conversion Therapy” issued by OutRight Action International last month found that so-called “conversion therapy” practices are prevalent across the world. Total bans on such practices exist only in four countries (Ecuador, Brazil, Taiwan, and Malta), with a further ten, including the US, having partial or policy bans in place. 

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“The existence and prevalence of ‘conversion therapy’ is directly related to just how deeply unaccepted and feared LGBTIQ people are in many societies around the world. These practices hinge on the belief that cis-gender heterosexuality is the only accepted norm, and gender identities beyond the one assigned at birth and same-sex attraction are an anomaly, a sickness, and something to be ‘reoriented’, changed or ‘cured’, if need be by brutal, inhuman force. It is shocking that over forty-five years after the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Manual of Mental Disorders, and over 20 years after it first condemned ‘conversion therapy’, there are forces fighting for these harmful practices in the US,” Sjodin ended.

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