South Korea’s Rainbow Flag | Yay Images | 17096
A military court in South Korea sentenced an army captain to six months in prison on Wednesday for having sex with other servicemen, igniting an outcry against what rights groups called a homophobic “witch hunt” in the country’s military.
The prison term for the captain was suspended for one year, so if he did not break the law again in the next year, he would not go to prison but he will be dishonorably discharged (unless his conviction is overturned by an appeals court).
The captain, whose name was not disclosed, collapsed when the verdict was announced in military court, and was taken to a hospital after hurting his head, said Lim Tae-hoon, the director of the Military Human Rights Centre.
The South Korean military criminal code outlaws sodomy and other unspecified “disgraceful conduct” between servicemen, whether or not there is mutual consent and whether or not that conduct takes place in or outside military compounds. Those found to have violated the act face up to two years in prison.
In South Korea powerful right-wing Christian groups have intensified a campaign against homosexuality, scuttling a bill that would have given sexual minorities the same protections as other minority groups.
The captain was arrested days before he was scheduled to leave the army. All of his sexual activities were consensual and took place in private spaces, like his home. None of the servicemen the captain had sex with served in his unit.
The South Korean army is trying to weed out gay soldiers after a video emerged online of two of their male soldiers having sex.
Lim Tae-hoon of the Military Human Rights Center for Korea told the Associated Press that there are “credible reports” that army investigators have seized mobile phones and “outed” soldiers who were secretly using dating apps or threatened those who have already been identified as gay by the Army.
There is no rule against gay men serving in South Korea’s armed forces but they are banned from engaging in “homosexual activity” while serving and face two years in prison if prosecuted.
In a significant victory for gay rights, a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled Tuesday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay workers from job discrimination, expanding workplace protections in the landmark law to include sexual orientation.
The ruling today comes as concern grows about the potential rollback of protections under President Trump. While the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, many other legal protections, including in employment and housing, have not been extended at all levels to gay people.
Jeffrey John | Press Association | 17070
Here we go again. The Church in Wales has been urged to reconsider its decision to exclude Jeffrey John from its appointments process for the next bishop of Llandaff amid accusations of homophobia.
The chapter of St Albans Cathedral, where Jeffrey John is dean, said on Monday that “the fact that it appears Jeffrey’s sexuality and civil partnership have been used against him in the selection process is wholly wrong, and it is only right that the bishops in Wales review the process before making an appointment”.
Jeremy Pemberton of OneBodyOneFaith called for an inquiry into the Church in Wales’s process before an appointment and for a public apology to be issued to John “for homophobic remarks and attitudes”. The church’s behaviour had been “unjust and discriminatory”, and bishops must abide by their own guidelines regarding candidates who are gay and in civil partnerships.
In 2003, John was appointed as bishop of Reading but the then archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, asked him to stand aside after some traditionalists threatened to leave the Church of England if his consecration went ahead.
John has a long-term relationship with Grant Holmes, another C of E clergyman, and the couple entered a civil partnership in 2006.
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Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders admitted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers were often victims of discrimination. The three-star general is the commander of the Field Army. His comments come two years after the head of the Army promised a crackdown on bullying and sexual harassment.
Lieut Gen Sanders, the Army’s LGBT champion, says: ‘Under fire, no one cares if someone is black or white, gay or straight, because they value the individual for who he or she is, what he or she can do, and because they are so utterly dependent on him or her. But this experience is not universal. Away from the cauldron of operations or training, lazy or ingrained prejudice remains, ranging from outright bullying and discrimination, to the sort of casual but hurtful remark that refers to ice cream as “gay”.’
His comments drew criticism today from some people in the Army who felt he was exaggerating the problem. One soldier said: ‘Why focus on the LGBT community when the real problems are low morale, poor accommodation and low pay?’
An outdated law that allows shipping firms to sack staff for engaging in ‘homosexual activity’ looks set to be scrapped. Introduced in 1994, equality laws that have come in place over the last 20 years have made it defunct.
A group of MPs have put foward a bill to formally scrap it so that it is erased from the statute book. He told MPs: “When it comes to employment, in the merchant navy or anywhere else, what matters is a person’s ability to do the job—not their gender, age, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. Many will be surprised—astonished, even—to learn that this anomaly still remains on the statute book. There is no place in our society today for employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. These provisions are the last remaining historic legislation on our statute books which discriminate on grounds of homosexual orientation.”
Thankyou. But can we please stop talking about “sexual orientation” and talk about “sexuality”.
UK’s ‘last anti-gay law’ to be scrapped
MI6 with Rainbow Flag | Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images | 17016
A ban on gay men and women serving in Britain’s intelligence and security services was in place until 1991. The recruitment restriction was kept in force following a series of Cold War spy scandals involving gay men.
At least two of the Cambridge Five spy ring, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, were gay, while a third, Donald Maclean, is believed to have been bisexual. Being gay was seen in Whitehall at the time as leaving people vulnerable to blackmail.
Now they can be out at work. Gay spies work better when they can be open about their sexuality, says C, the head of MI6. Alex Younger – C – said it was important his staff were able to be “authentic” at work despite having to hide their real job from the outside world.
“Human intelligence is key to MI6’s success and we cannot be successful if we are unable to be authentic in our working lives. Here in MI6, we understand that people perform better when they can be themselves, within a working environment that accepts staff for who they are.”
Mr Spires (right) | Getty | 17013
A 91-year-old US serviceman who was sacked from the US Air Force in 1948 because he was gay, has succeeded in getting his dismissal reclassified as an honourable discharge.
Edward Spires served as a chaplain’s assistant before being removed because he was deemed “undesirable” and forced out of the military after a probe into his sexual orientation.
The Air Force announced a discharge upgrade today. Mr Spires filed a lawsuit in November.
He was initially denied an honourable discharge because the Air Force said his records had probably been destroyed in a 1973 fire. He is now entitled to financial benefits and a military funeral because of the discharge upgrade.
A U.S. appeals court will consider a closely watched gay rights case today in which Kimberly Hively, an Indiana college professor, who says she lost her job because she is a lesbian, is arguing that federal civil rights law should protect gay people from workplace discrimination.
The full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will hear Ms Hively’s appeal of a July decision by three of its judges who threw out her discrimination case against Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Indiana.
In order to rule in Hively’s favour, the appeals court would have to buck decades of rulings that gay people are not protected by a milestone 1964 U.S. civil rights law.
Ed Spires, a 91-year-old US Air Force veteran who was discharged in 1948 for being gay, is now fighting for equality. He wants the “undesirable discharge” label removed from his record and to receive a military burial.
For seven decades, Mr Spires kept it a close secret that he was kicked out of the Air Force for being gay. His long-time partner and husband David Rosenberg spoke yesterday on his behalf. “You’re humiliated and when you know that you served honorably without causing any problems, that’s even worse.”
Mr Spires served in the Air Force from 1946 to 1948, but received an “undesirable discharge” when he was outed for sexual orientation.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal is the ranking member of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee and says 100,000 vets received similar discharges for sexual orientation and only a small fraction of those have filed to have it upgraded.
Veteran discharged for being gay sues Air Force