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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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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.”

LIVING HISTORY

Rainbow’s beginning

You know why LGBTQIA Pride is observed in June? It’s all because of an uprising that happened in June 1969 in a somewhat nondescript bar in New York City, Stonewall Inn.

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You know why LGBTQIA Pride is observed in June? This is because of the uprising that started in a bar in 1969: the Stonewall Inn, which is located in the Greenwich Village of Manhattan, New York City.

That uprising is widely accepted to have helped in paving the way for the modern fight for LGBTQIA rights. And so it can be said that at Stonewall Inn, the rainbow started – well – rising.

Now, this is worth emphasizing: The struggle for human rights of the LGBTQIA community did not just start in 1969 in New York City.

In the Philippines, for instance, often-repeated is the claim that prior to the colonization of the country by the Spaniards in 1521, the natives already had “babaylans” (roughly: shamans/spiritual leaders) who, at times, were males who lived as females (not always; but some were). These people had positions of power, respected for traversing realms/realities. Not surprisingly, therefore, and even if the term re “LGBTQIA” still did not exist in those days, these people ave often been used as examples of how “accepted” gender-non-conforming people were in the past; until they were demonized by West-introduced dogmas (e.g. Christianity).

Now, this is worth emphasizing: The struggle for human rights of the LGBTQIA community did not just start in 1969 in New York City.

In the West, social reformer Jeremy Bentham is largely considered to have written the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England sometime around 1785, when the legal penalty for “buggery” (anal sex) was death by hanging. Too bas his essays were only published in… 1978 (!).

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Then there’s France, which – in 1791 – became the first nation to decriminalize homosexuality.

The LGBTQIA movement as we know it now is (very) anchored in the West – e.g. because of the anti-LGBTQIA sentiments in Victorian England (around 1890s), English socialist poet Edward Carpenter started a concerted effort to campaign against discrimination; and movements were also started in Germany at the turn of the 20th century. Heck, even one of the very first “homosexual organizations” in the US – called ONE Inc. – pre-dated the Stonewall uprising, having been founded in 1952; while the Mattachine Society was established in 1950. There was also a lesbian organization, Daughters of Bilitis, established in 1955. And still in the US, there was a 1962 gay march held in front of the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which some historians consider as the actual “beginning of the modern gay rights movement”.

Suffice to say, though, before the Stonewall uprising, LGBTQIA Americans already faced an anti-gay legal system. In fact, in the 1950s and 1960s, very few establishments welcomed gay people. And those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay (at the time, the Stonewall Inn was supposedly owned by the Mafia).

Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s. And on June 28, 1969, a police raid was done at the Stonewall Inn.

But the officers lost control of the situation because the patrons fought back.

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The tensions between New York City police and LGBTQIA patrons and then residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next days as the abused eventually held a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against the police raids and, yes, State-sanctioned abuses.

Within months since the uprising, LGBTQIA organizations (to emphasize: THAT WERE MORE POLITICAL) were founded across the US. And a year after the uprising, in June 1970, the first pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s. And on June 28, 1969, a police raid was done at the Stonewall Inn.

The Stonewall National Monument was established at the site in 2016.

Today, LGBTQIA pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June.

On June 26, 1994, ProGay Philippines and Metropolitan Community Church helmed a march in Quezon City. Dubbed as “Stonewall Manila” or as “Pride Revolution”, it was held in remembrance of the Stonewall Inn uprising, and coincided with a bigger march against the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT). With this, the Philippines gained the distinction of being the first country in Asia and the Pacific to host a Pride-related march.

Pride now marks that uprising that happened in a somewhat nondescript bar, Stonewall Inn.

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Travel

LGBTQIA travel guide in Ireland

Due to the abundance of icons and interesting spots and events, here is a list of the best and must-see in Ireland.

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Ireland currently sits up there with the most progressive countries in the world. Having legalized gay marriages in 2015 and generally legalizing homosexuality in 1993, the country has quickly become a mecca for the LGBTQIA community.

Gay Dublin

Merely walking around the city, you are bound to see several icons that will intrigue you as a member of the LGBTQIA community. For example, simply walking around the famous Stephen’s Green Park will lead you to Oscar Wilde who was not just one of the most famous Irishmen in history, but also an iconic playwright. His statue shows a lot about how highly Ireland regards its LGBTQIA community.

However, due to the abundance of icons and interesting spots and events, I have taken it upon myself to list the ones I believe are the best and must-see.

  • The George Gay Club
    Your visit to the country wouldn’t be complete without a night out at this iconic gay club. The club was opened in 1985, long before homosexuality was legalized in the country. And even then, it was a safe haven for homosexuals. A place they could come to have fun while being themselves.
    In the present day, this hasn’t changed a bit as the club has retained its reputation for being a fun, loud, and raucous place for gays to have fun. You can always check out their social media pages for up to date information.
  • The Panti Bar
    If you are a fan of drag shows, then this is by no mistake the best place for you to be. Some have even proudly called it the best gay bar in Europe and they definitely have their reasons.
    Run by the Irish drag queen and icon, Panti Bliss, it has been the perfect LGBTQIA spot for more than a decade.
    Panti Bliss is well known in the Irish community because of her part in the fight for LGBTQIA equality and rights. The bar opens daily from 2pm and runs till very late.
  • The Dublin Gay Pride Parade
    The parade which was established in 1974 has since evolved from a one-day event into a full-blown 2-week annual festival that takes place in June. The festival rounds up with a huge street celebration which always proves to be massive fun for everyone.
    The party is attended by the whole city and even some Irish leaders like Leo Varadkar, have been known to attend.
No trip is complete without a taste of the local cuisine. Enjoy the unique taste and flavor that Ireland has to offer by sampling their food and craft beer.

Other Highlights

Naturally, being gay doesn’t define who we are. Like everyone else, we have a liking for the finer things in life and Ireland will never be found wanting of such great attractions. Apart from the obviously gay activities, there are a lot of other fun things to do in Ireland, and some of them include:

  • Guinness Storehouse
    Located at the Saint James’s Gate Brewery in central Dublin, this exhibition space was where the renowned stout was first brewed back in 1759.
    A visit here will take you through a fun journey of how the iconic stout is created. You will even get to taste some variants. You can finish your trip here with a free pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar on the seventh floor while taking in a spectacular view of the city.
  • Book of Kells/Dublin Castle
    This right here is the embodiment of Irish heritage. A visit to this monument will take you through a journey of discovering some of the most important parts of Irish history.
    It is known for its incredible artistry and its numerous secrets and mysteries which date as far back as 800AD. 
    After this, a trip to explore the Dublin Castle will be the perfect way to round up the trip.
  • Irish Food Walking Tour
    No trip is complete without a taste of the local cuisine. Enjoy the unique taste and flavor that Ireland has to offer by sampling their food and craft beer. Eat and drink your way through the various restaurants and cafes, while basking in the ambiance of the Irish hidden gems.
Merely walking around the city, you are bound to see several icons that will intrigue you as a member of the LGBTQIA community.

Traveling Tips

Deciding to visit Ireland is probably the best vacation decision that is possible to be made. However, as a visitor who is probably visiting for the first time, there are a couple of things that need to be known in order to ensure you have the best possible experience.

  • Mobile Apps
    Being a stranger in a new land, one of the best apps that you can have at your fingertip is Google Maps.
    The app offers you both an offline and online mode. This means that if you are not sure if you will have access to the internet where you are going, you can pre-download a map of the area. And if you have an internet connection, you can easily access the app for up to date information on how to get around in the area.
  • Travel Insurance
    This is not even up for debate. You should have travel insurance as it protects you against travel risks and incidences like loss or theft of valuables, cancellation cover in the event you are unable to travel because of unforeseen medical issues, and even medical expenses while traveling.  To get the best travel insurance quote from different Insurance companies you should visit AA Insurance and find more information about right type of travel cover.
    It is important to keep safe while traveling overseas by always making sure you do not go out alone or stay out late. However, in the event of an accident, your travel insurance can protect you from unexpected costs. 
  • Money
    Although a lot of the businesses accept credit cards, some of the smaller ones prefer getting paid in cash. Therefore, it will be of great advantage to you to come along with some cash to aid in your transactions.
  • Tripadvisor
    This app comes quite handy when you are looking for which hotel to stay or which restaurant to eat around.
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Switzerland votes for law against homophobia

Under the new law, publicly denigrating or discriminating against someone for being gay or inciting hatred against that person in text, speech, images or gestures would be banned. Homophobic comments made in a family setting or among friends would not be criminalized.

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Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Unsplash.com

Rainbow development in Switzerland, with voters strongly backing a new law against homophobia in a referendum.

Switzerland actually does not yet have laws that specifically protect LGBTQIA people from discrimination, so that the vote – according to Mathias Reynard, a politician from the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland which initiated the reform, in an interview with Swiss channel RTS 1 – is “historical”.

Over 60% voted in favor of widening existing laws against discrimination of incitement to hatred on ethnic or religious grounds to include sexual orientation. The highest approval rate was in Geneva with 76.3%; with the rural cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Schwyz and Uri voting against.

Photo by Morgan Thompson from Unsplash.com

The change was passed by the Swiss parliament in 2018 but critics obtained the 50,000 signatures necessary under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy to put the matter to a vote.

All of Switzerland’s major parties except the populist right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the biggest political force in parliament, support the law.

Under the new law, publicly denigrating or discriminating against someone for being gay or inciting hatred against that person in text, speech, images or gestures would be banned. Homophobic comments made in a family setting or among friends would not be criminalized.

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Nepal to count LGBT population in census for first time

The Himalayan nation is about to count a third gender in its next population census, the first time that counting LGBT people will be done as a minority group that can be allocated government jobs and education.

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Photo by Sanjay Hona from Unsplash.com

Rainbow progress in Nepal.

Beyond the once-a-year now-largely-commercial Pride parade, a more lasting effort involving the LGBT community is happening in Nepal, with the Himalayan nation about to count a third gender in its next population census, the first time that counting LGBT people will be done as a minority group that can be allocated government jobs and education.

The country’s LGBT community has long demanded the census – which is taken every 10 years – to count sexual minorities. This is also largely because Nepal’s laws prescribe special quotas for minorities in workplaces, schools and colleges; as well as access to discounted healthcare. The absence of census data on LGBT people, obviously, omits them from such programs.

According to Dhundi Raj Lamichane, an official at Nepal’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the national census is planned for summer of 2021 but a trial will be done next month in selected districts.

Citizens will be able to identify themselves as male, female or other gender.

It is worth noting that the change does not actually specify SOGIESC of LGBT people, as it is specific to gender rather than any person’s sexual identity. But the move is being welcomed particularly by local activists for “increasing the visibility of the LGBT community.”

It is estimated that about 900,000 of Nepal’s 29 million people are LGBT.

This isn’t the only pro-LGBT move occurring in Nepal. In 2015, the constitution that was adopted forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, reaffirming a 2008 Supreme Court ruling. Also, citizenship certificates and passports now offer a “non-male, non-female” option in the gender category.

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Five of the safest places to visit in Asia

To give you a sense of what the safest places in Asia are for travellers, let’s take a look at the top five.

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The unknown is always a bit scary and travel involves a confrontation with the unknown on a regular basis. If you are a travel newbie, then Asia can seem a bit intimidating. You may be wary of travelling to its many diverse and wonderful countries for reasons of personal safety, for example. 

However, the continent is actually home to some of the safest countries and cities on the planet. It would be a shame to avoid seeing their natural and cultural beauty simply because you were misinformed. Travel safety involves taking the time to get travel insurance quotes that are competitive, preparing yourself before you get going and seeking out good information about your destination so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

To give you a sense of what the safest places in Asia are for travellers, let’s take a look at the top five.

Japan

Japanese culture is known for being extremely polite, especially to foreigners. This is just one of the factors that make Japan one of the safest countries to visit in Asia. Japan is a highly developed nation and, though it maintains its unique cultural identity, is highly welcoming to internationals. Many people will be happy to speak English with you and will help you to find your way. You can also be confident that you will not encounter petty crime such as pickpocketing, as this is quite rare. 

South Korea

South Korea is another one of the safest countries to visit in the vastness of Asia, just be sure that your plane ticket reads South Korea! Its rapid industrialisation in the second half of the last century has led to the creation of a highly modern country that has much to offer for tourists. It is so safe that it was even the host to the Winter Olympics in 2018. In fact, the country is also filled with many ex-pats from English-speaking countries around the world, as it is a popular TESL destination. You may love the place so much that you will want to stay for yourself.

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Taiwan

Although the country’s very existence is upset to the mainland Chinese government, you will find that Taiwan is actually very safe once you arrive. The country has a very low crime rate and offers many amenities to make your stay comfortable. Locals are helpful when it comes to interactions with tourists. You can make things even easier on yourself by learning a bit of the language.

Cambodia

Do not let the horrific history of this country steer you away. Modern Cambodia is now one of the safest places to be in Asia. The low crime rate and friendly locals make it a great stop on your backpacking itinerary. While you may think that a country with killing fields is not a place that screams “safety,” you are sure to find serenity while exploring its rich cultural life and ancient religious sites.

Singapore

Singapore is routinely cited as one of the safest cities on the planet. The country is notoriously harsh when it comes to law and order, and even offences such as spitting out gum can carry hefty penalties. While this may seem extreme, this makes the city immensely safe for tourists and visitors. Even during the night, you can stroll through the city streets without feeling uncomfortable. Not only that, but the city is very welcoming to international visitors. There are many things to do throughout the area and even the airport is known for being one of the world’s best.

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Practice Safe Travel Habits

While some places rank higher than others when it comes to safety statistics, the best way to stay safe while travelling is to practice good habits. Be sure to exercise caution regardless of the destination that you choose. Try to avoid trouble and purchase adequate travel insurance coverage before you leave. This will protect you from most contingencies and allow you to have a safe and enjoyable Asian adventure.

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Why a used car could be perfect for a backpacker in Australia

If you are giving the matter some serious thought, let’s look at why a used car makes for an ideal solution for a backpacker in Australia.

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While backpacking around Australia is one of the best ways to see the country, sometimes it can be a bit difficult to sort out transportation. Ridesharing is an option, but it is not always feasible. When you are roughing it and living out of your backpack, you may also not always have the budget for plane flights and more luxurious travel options. 

For these reasons, investing in a used car can make a lot of sense for a backpacker in Australia. If you are a little light on funds, or if you want to use your savings for other purposes during your travels, you can easily find low rates when it comes to financing a used car loan

If you are giving the matter some serious thought, let’s look at why a used car makes for an ideal solution for a backpacker in Australia.

Freedom Of Movement

One of the biggest advantages of having access to a used car as a backpacker in search of adventure is the ability to move freely at your own pace. Used cars will allow you to move around the country where you want and when you want. This makes it ideal for spending more time seeing the things that intrigue you the most and to bypass the areas that are less interesting to you.

Conversely, relying on public transportation or even plane flights places you at the mercy of the schedules set by the companies involved. You are also likely to be more confined to larger urban centres where this type of infrastructure exists. Used cars, on the other hand, will provide you with the ability to venture into areas that are less commonly explored in the country.

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Fits With A Backpacking Budget

The great reason why buying a used car is good for a backpacker is that the price is usually just right for such a travel budget. While a new model may be out of reach for a traveller with a shoestring budget, a used car can be a prudent investment. After ensuring that the used car you are thinking of buying is in good working order and not in need of major repairs, you can be confident that the investment will provide you with affordable transportation for at least the duration of your trip.

Store Your Belongings

While a car is not always the safest place to store valuable possessions, it does represent a reasonable option for keeping your things secure. It can get tiring to constantly have to watch your backpack. Lockers are usually available at hostels and major transportation hubs, but these places are a hassle to travel back and forth to constantly.

When you have a used car at your disposal, you will be able to keep your belongings locked in the vehicle or even hidden from view in the trunk. This provides you with a more flexible means of keeping your possessions close by but does not require you to continually check in on them.

Split The Cost

Travelling with a used car also allows you to fill up the remaining spaces with fellow travellers. Beyond the benefits of meeting new people and making friends along the way, this will also allow you to cut down on the cost of fuel for your trip. By ridesharing with friends or even with trustworthy strangers, your travel budget will be able to take you further down the road.

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Used Car, New Adventures

For the reasons outlined here, consider making the investment in a used car as a backpacker. While it might seem like a bit of an investment, you will be pleasantly surprised at the many benefits that it can bring to your travel experience.

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