US Gay workers still lack protection

Today the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by a Georgia security guard who said she was harassed and forced from her job because she is a lesbian. The court therefore avoided an opportunity to decide whether a federal law that bans gender-based bias also outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Reuters notes:

The justices left in place a lower court ruling against Jameka Evans, who had argued that workplace sexual orientation discrimination violates Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Workplace protections are a major source of concern for advocates of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.


Working abroad? Be careful

Pride In London

Getty Images | 17167

Relocating abroad for work is incredibly exciting but if you’re LGBTI it can also be fraught with additional difficulties. The BBC has been looking into the matter and identifying what precautions members of the community need to take when working in various countries.

The writers conclude that

… multinational companies have two choices. One is to turn a blind eye to the challenges faced by LGBTI employees and subsequently suffer the consequences of premature assignment returns and failed assignment costs. The other is taking an equally challenging path by acknowledging the challenges and concentrating on efforts to support LGBTI people through their international assignment experience.

Potential good news from Sri Lanka

After a number of recommendations from the United Nations, the Sri Lankan government plans to decriminalize homosexuality.

Gay sex is currently illegal in Sri Lanka under the “gross indecency” law inherited from the country’s colonial past.

Deputy Solicitor General, Nerin Pulle, has pledged to reassess and change the country’s penal code in response to their third Universal Periodic Review, the United Nations Human Rights Council process in which U.N. countries scrutinize the human rights records of other U.N. members.

The Sri Lankan government received seven specific recommendations to amend penal code sections that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, which is currently punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Other recommendations aimed to help fight anti-LGBT discrimination.

Gay couple win custody of surrogate baby

The rights of gay couples using surrogacy to create their families appear to have been strengthened this past week by a new ruling of the UK High Court.

A surrogate mother who decided not to hand over the baby lost custody of her child. The court ruled the child would be better placed with the gay couple who arranged for her to have the baby. The child’s “identity needs as a child of gay intended parents” would be better fulfilled if he lived with the couple.

The woman and her husband changed their minds about giving the child up, and did not tell the men about the birth for more than a week after it took place last April. The male same-sex partners began legal proceedings. Last year a High Court judge ruled that the child, now 18 months old, should live with them. The surrogate mother and father appealed.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the original decision to give custody to the gay couple with limited contact six times a year with the surrogate mother and father was correct. While surrogacy arrangements had no legal standing, the child’s genetic relationships and welfare were the most important factors for deciding where he or she should live.

Blackmailers sentenced

Two men blackmailed a man out of thousands of pounds by threatening to reveal that he was gay, and spent all the money they extorted from him on their drug habits, a court heard.

Between March and November 2015 Michael Rose, 20 and Elliot Haynes, 19 blackmailed their victim into handing over £3,360 to keep quiet about his sexuality, posted Facebook messages calling the victim a “sick paedophile” and threatening to beat him up.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, lost his job and had to sell his car to pay Rose to keep quiet about his sexuality.

In June, Rose, of Hill Park Crescent, Greenbank, pleaded guilty to two counts of demanding money with menaces from a man. Haynes, of Exeter Road, Ivybridge, initially denied the joint charge of blackmail but changed his plea to guilty on November 14.

Rose was sentenced to 28 months in prison. Haynes received a 12 month sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to complete 240 days of unpaid work, 20 days of rehabilitation and 19 sessions in thinking skills.

Gay Botswana student goes to court for his human rights


Moreri Sejakgomo | 17164

A 21-year-old University of Botswana student, Letsweletse Motshidiemang, has filed papers in the Lobatse High Court challenging the constitutionality of Section 164(a) and 167 of the Botswana Penal Code, which criminalise homosexuality. Motshidiemang says the law interferes with his fundamental right to liberty, his right to use his body as he sees fit, which includes expressing his sexuality through the only means available to him as a homosexual, and he has a right to equal protection of law and the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. The student wants the court to declare that the said sections interfere with his fundamental right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment or other such treatment.

“The law violates my fundamental right and freedom to privacy in that it interferes with an intimate and personal aspect of my life that causes no disrespect to the rights and freedoms of others and also causes no harm to the public,” he states. He says arguments that Batswana do not accept homosexuality do not hold any water as evidenced by remarks made by Members of Parliament Botlogile Tshireletso, Duma Boko and some chiefs to the effect that there should be no discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Scotland apologises

Scotland’s first minister Ms Sturgeon will apologise on behalf of the Scottish government to gay men convicted prior to 2001 under discriminatory laws against same-sex sexual activity that is now legal, on 7 November. It coincides with new legislation giving an automatic pardon to those affected.
The legislation was promised by Ms Sturgeon when she presented her programme for government in September.

Such crimes will be removed from criminal records.