More to do, Forces

We all know how easy it is to gain “accreditation” for some kind of award by going through a questionnaire and ticking all the right boxes, and gaining an award for being a gay friendly employer because you have all the right words in your personnel policies.

What is really important is what things are actually like for gay and lesbian people where they work, and that often paints a completely different picture of so called award winning organisations.

The gap between the policy and reality is the measure of how much more there is still to do and achieve.

An SAS soldier claims underlying prejudice against gay personnel is hampering their promotion – despite a senior general saying he wants to spearhead sexual equality.

The decorated soldier says he was pushed aside for promotion to sergeant – despite his outstanding military pedigree on operations – because many senior officers refuse to accept gay soldiers in the elite regiment.

The experienced special forces Corporal was listed for a promotion board to sergeant after returning from operations last year, but while many of his colleagues were successful he failed and was told he needed to gain more time on operations.

But just three weeks after the promotion board sat the soldier, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was told by a close friend that senior officers had discovered that he was gay and that had affected his chances.

Come on, Forces.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/30/sas-soldier-says-faced-anti-gay-discrimination/

Remembering and marching for freedom and rights

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Associated Press | 17105

Hundreds of thousands of gay citizens marched in cities across the United States in pride and protest this weekend, celebrating and demanding full rights for our community. The Equality March in Washington and the Resist March in Los Angeles were just two major events this weekend.

Many of the marchers noted what they believe is the setback in the progress made under the Obama administration, in the new Trump White House.

Several members of the new President’s Cabinet have been openly critical of the gay community, including Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Unlike Obama, Trump did not declare June Gay Pride Month.

Sunday’s marches came on an especially poignant day as many remembered the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, one year ago, when a pro-Islamic State gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 people.

https://www.voanews.com/a/lgbt-pride-marches/3896483.html

Where we are on gay rights

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ILGA | 17090

Sweden has failed to make any progress in the newest edition of a review of European LGBTI human rights, continuing in 12th place as the worst performer in Scandinavia as other countries introduce more comprehensive policies, reports The Local.

Sweden was once considered to be the top country in Scandinavia and the fourth best in Europe for gay rights, but it fell to 12th position in 2016 and has failed to improve this year according to ILGA-Europe.

“Sweden has remained in the upper ‘green’ section of our Rainbow Europe Map for several years. Of course that’s a positive thing, but other countries have bypassed them on the ranking by introducing more comprehensive, inclusive laws and policies,” said ILGA’s Emma Cassidy.

The ILGA Rainbow Index gives a % for each country to indicate how equal gay citizens are with other citizens in those countries. Malta is ahead at 88% while the UK has reached 76%. For Russia, the figure is merely 6% and Turkey is little better at 9%.

https://www.thelocal.se/20170517/sweden-stagnates-in-european-gay-rights-rankings

Digusting

A gay man is suing a funeral home in Mississippi, alleging that it refused to cremate his husband because it did not “deal with their kind.”

John “Jack” Zawadski, 82, and his nephew filed a lawsuit against the Picayune Funeral Home’s owners, seeking damages.

The lawsuit accuses them of backing out of a verbal agreement to provide final services for Zawadski’s husband, Robert Huskey, in May 2016, after discovering he was gay.

The funeral home denied all the claims in a response to the lawsuit.

“I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me,” Zawadski said in a statement. “Bob was my life, and we had always felt so welcome in this community. And then, at a moment of such personal pain and loss, to have someone do what they did to me, to us, to Bob, I just couldn’t believe it. No one should be put through what we were put through.”

Zawadski and Huskey met in 1965 in California. They moved around the country, teaching special education classes and running an apple orchard, before retiring in Picayune, Mississippi in 1997, for the friendly neighbors and warm climate, the lawsuit states. They finally married in July 2015, weeks after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage settled.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/02/health/mississippi-funeral-home-gay-couple-lawsuit/

Let off for Christmas

A Moroccan judge has acquitted two teenage girls put on trial for homosexuality. LGBT rights groups in Morocco have long argued that same-sex relationships should not be a crime.

The girls, who are 16 and 17, had faced up to three years in prison according to a law forbidding “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.”

One of their mothers reported them to the police in October.

The judge in Marrakech ruled that the girls must remain under parental authority until they turn 18. Rachid El Ghorfi, their lawyer, expressed relief at the acquittal. “They should have never been in front of the prosecutor or the judge.”

Women and girls are seldom charged under Morocco’s laws prohibiting homosexual activity.

http://www.njherald.com/article/20161209/AP/312099752

Ugandan gays flee

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ABC | 16498ga

Uganda is one the most intolerant places in the world for homosexual people. Many have fled to neighbouring Kenya and are now refugees, waiting to be relocated to a country that will protect them, reports ABC.

Many of them now live in poverty.

The conditions are not much better than Uganda and it is a tough existence. Some turn to prostitution, others make handicrafts, but living and working in dense settlements means there are very few secrets. It is also dangerous.

Umar Walusimbi escaped from Uganda to Kenya.

“Now I’m also here in Kenya. Life is not OK.” Recently he was attacked while walking home. “They called me, “You gay — where you going? Give us money”. They slapped me, I fell down. They wanted even to burn me. They do everything to me.”

This cannot continue.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-29/gay-refugees-flee-uganda/8074964

I want my record cleansed, says Veteran

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

They really like us, don’t they

African states have launched a bid at the United Nations to halt the work of the first U.N. independent investigator appointed to help protect gay and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.

The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council created the position in June and in September appointed Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand for three years to investigate abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

“We … call for the suspension of the activities of the appointed Independent Expert pending the determination of this issue,” Botswana’s U.N. Ambassador Charles Ntwaagae, speaking for the 54-member Africa group, told the committee. The group was concerned that “non-internationally agreed notions such as sexual orientation and gender identity are given attention, to the detriment of issues of paramount importance such as the right to development and the racism agenda.”

Ntwaagae said that sexual orientation and gender identity “are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments.”

The UN does not have a great record on protecting our rights. In June a group of 51 Muslim states blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from officially attending a high-level U.N. meeting on ending AIDS, which led to a protest by the United States, Canada and the European Union.

http://www.voanews.com/a/african-nations-seek-halt-work-united-nations-gay-rights-investigator/3581758.html

The not so secret teacher

The Guardian has a “secret teacher” section. One of their contributors tells the story of coming out.

I told my new head of department that I was thinking about revealing my sexuality at school. Her only concern was that some members of the team might offend me by making jokes – though with the aim of making me feel part of the team. I then broached my intentions with the headteacher. He’s old-school, in a good way, traditionalist but totally living in the real world. He didn’t bat an eyelid and told me to get on with it.

Then the teacher wondered how to manage the event with pupils, and what their reaction was going to be.

An opportunity came when I took on a Y11 tutor group as a maternity cover. In our first session, one of the students asked straight out if I was gay. I answered with an emphatic “Yes”. I waited for the booing or the pretending-to-be-sick noises, but none came. A group of girls wanted to know if I was single (I’d recently broken up with someone) and whether I’d have a civil ceremony (yes, if I met the right guy) but otherwise it was a non-event. I do think my honesty served to make them trust me quickly – vital in a pastoral role – but my sexuality was ultimately quite boring.

Being out at work means you can just get on with things without it following you around. Eventually everybody forgets, because you have been accepted for what you are.

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2016/oct/29/secret-teacher-school-gay-tell-pupils

Bi men paid less, says study

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Uncredited file photo | 2nd Story | 16486ga

Bisexual men are paid on average a third less than their heterosexual counterparts. The study by Professor Alex Bryson, of UCL’s Institute of Education also shows that gay men and lesbians earn about the same as heterosexuals, as do bisexual women.

In an article in the journal Work, Employment & Society, published by the British Sociological Association, Bryson explains that the average gross hourly earnings for bisexual men were £9.39, compared with £12.30 for heterosexual men, a gap of 31%. Conversely, average hourly earnings for gay men were £13.33, £1.03 more than for heterosexual men.

The study, which used data from the Workplace Employment Relations Survey conducted in 2011 and 2012, also showed that the average hourly earnings for lesbians were £9.87, similar to the £9.97 earned by heterosexual women. The average hourly earnings for bisexual women were £9.58.

The study included 312 gay men and lesbians, 118 bisexuals, 18,635 heterosexuals and 986 people who declined to identify their sexuality.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/22/bisexual-men-earn-30-per-cent-less-than-gay-colleagues