LGBT Brazilians Won't Stand for Bolsonaro's Intolerance

It has been written on Instinct and on other platforms that the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is a homophobe (and proud of it) whose influence perpetuates hatred towards LGBTQ people. However, Brazilian politicians are no longer standing for it and are preparing to retaliate against his regressive policies, according to Openly News.

One politician who will fight against Bolsonaro's policies is David Miranda, an openly gay man who replaced Jean Wyllys as Federal Deputy after he fled the country after he received multiple death threats. Miranda is determined to fight for LGBTQ rights in Brazil after Bolsonaro's election, saying "I felt like this was a big blow for democracy... but at the same time, I know the work that I'm going to do... and that makes me eager to fight for my country." 

Miranda is far from the only person who feels that way. There is an increasing number of liberal-minded, tolerant people with some holding seats in the Brazilian government. People like Marcelo Calero, the third openly gay man to be elected to Brazil's lower House of Parliament and Fabiano Contarato, Brazil's first openly gay senator are among others who are willing to lead a "revolution" against Bolsonaro. 

Erica Malunguinho, a transgender deputy in Sao Paulo, commented that because the president is so bigoted that "It's become even more important...to be a guiding force in guaranteeing our rights." Miranda has said that while he is afraid for the future of LGBTQ rights in Brazil, he needs to tackle such issues with courage in order to ensure that there is no regression, only progression. He also wants to open an LGBTQ center in Rio de Janeiro and is optimistic that he will be able to gather the necessary support. 

While Brazil may have a homophobic president that can create problems for LGBTQ Brazilians, it seems that many people, politicians both governmental and local, are willing to fight for what's right and oppose any legislation that actively harms marginalized groups. 

h/t: Openly News

Conversion Therapist Sues NYC Over Therapy Ban

New York City is being sued by an anti-LGBT hate group after the decision to ban conversion therapy for minors at a statewide level, according to Pink News.

In 2017, the New York City Council passed legislation that outlawed conversion therapy for minors and then last month the Council created a statewide ban 

Dr. David Schwartz, a therapist based in Brooklyn, spearheaded the legal battle with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF. The Alliance has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Center. Schwartz is against this ban as he claims that it is a direct violation of his religious freedom and his freedom of speech.

The ADF agrees with Schwartz, as they say "Dr. Schwartz has a right to use his professional skills to assist patients to live in accordance with their shared religious faith, including the religious mandates of the Torah."

The ADF is known for filing lawsuits against anti-discrimination laws. Their most noticeable instant in which they fought against anti-discrimination is when the group defended Jack Phillips, the anti-gay banker in the Mastepiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court case. It is not surprising given their bigoted history that they would fight to get conversion therapy written back into law.

Living so close to New York, I can assume that, given my knowledge of what direction NY swings politically, the state will not reinstate conversion therapy for minors. However, the Supreme Court did side with Jack Phillips so it's really anybody's guess how this lawsuit will settle.

h/t: Pink News

LGBT History is Now Required Teaching in the Garden State

New Jersey: the birthplace of iconic people such as Whitney Houston, Wendy Williams, Grover Cleveland, and, of course, me. For as long as I've been alive, this state has generally been great for LGBTQ equality and has been reliably liberal. Now, with the passing of a recent bill, New Jersey will continue its progression of LGBTQ rights and recognition by requiring middle school teachers to teach their students about LGBT history, according to NorthJersey.com.

New Jersey is now the second state in the nation after California to require LGBT history be taught in schools. Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill on January 31, as a way to promote LGBT equality. Jaime Bruesehoff, a mother of a transgender child, said, "By learning about LGBTQ people who have made amazing contributions to their country, they are seeing possibilities for themselves and hope for the future.” I agree with her - in schools I was never taught about the contributions and sacrifices that LGBTQ people made and had to seek that information out myself. By requiring LGBT history to be taught in middle schools, American youth can familiarize themselves with important LGBT figures and learn about their accomplishments. Additionally, LGBTQ students will finally have representation which, in turn, can make them feel accepted. 

However, not everyone is happy with this bill being signed. Some conservative groups are opposed to students being taught about LGBTQ history as they believe that it could potentially lead to children questioning their sexuality. Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, opposes the bill as he thinks that it "further erodes the right of parents to discuss this sensitive issue with their children." LGBTQ history is only a sensitive issue if someone makes it into one. 

I think that teaching LGBT history is something that is long overdue and I'm glad that it is finally getting done. Now I only hope that the other 48 states follow suit. 

h/t: NorthJersey.com

Utah Lawmakers Want to Make it Impossible to Correct Gender Markers

House Bill 153, a new bill in Utah that will be in consideration for the legislative session next week, will potentially prevent transgender and intersex people from correcting their gender identity on identification cards, according to the Advocate.

The bill states that females have ovaries and "anatomical characteristics that appear to have the purpose... of providing eggs and receiving sperm from a male donor" and males have testes and the reproductive function of producing and delivering sperm to females. While this is technically true in terms of sex, gender and sex are separate entities. 

Merrill Nelson, a Republican politician said that the bill is not motivated by "phobia" or "hate," but instead a way to "maintain the integrity of the birth certificate." However, Nelson works for a law firm that represents the Mormon church that I've recently written about.  He also said that gender is much like race in that it is innate and immutable personal characteristic. Ralph Okerlund, the politician sponsoring the bill, said, “What is a physical fact at birth, gender, is put on the birth certificate and should stay at all times of life.” This ignores the fact that some people's gender identity doesn't match their biological sex.

LGBT activists say that this bill unconstitutional and discriminatory, as the definitions of gender in the bill are problematic and that many feel that the Supreme Court should not have the authority to approve gender changes on birth certificates. 

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, said that the bill is also transphobic because Nelson hasn't made much effort to actually to get to know any transgender people and the unique struggles they face. 

I don't fully understand how transgender and intersex people correcting their gender markers on birth certificates or other identifiers is anyone's business other than the people correcting it, so it doesn't make sense to me why people would try to legislate something like this. However, with the influx of anti-gay and anti-trans bills and laws in the United States, anything may happen. 

Hopefully people will realize that this will only hurt people and not get this bill passed.

h/t: The Advocate

Oxford Students Want Professor Fired For Writing Homophobic Papers

Over 400 students at Oxford University signed a petition to get John Finnis removed from his position as a law professor due to “a long record of extremely discriminatory views against many groups of disadvantaged people," according to The Guardian. 

A collection of Finnis' essays was published in 2011 which included a claim from a paper written in 1994 that said that homosexuality “never a valid, humanly acceptable choice and form of life” and that it is “destructive of human character and relationships" because "it treats human sexual capacities in a way which is deeply hostile to the self-understanding of those members who are willing to commit themselves to real marriage.” 

The petition calls for Finnis' removal because they feel that because a university is an institution of learning, not a place to fight against or be taught by a person who promotes hate. Finnis does not see his writing as containing any homophobic language. Instead, he says that "the 1994 essay promotes a classical and strictly philosophical moral critique of all non-marital sex acts and has been republished many times.” 

Alex Benn, one of the authors of the petition, said that Finnis' arguments are incorrect and have been discredited and that he wants Oxford University to be firm in their dedication to providing a safe space for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. 

h/t: The Guardian

Intersex Now an Option On German Identification

For years in Germany, intersex people have had to either lie or opt out of selecting a gender identity on official documents, but now, because of a law that was passed in December, they can legally identify as intersex, according to BBC.

Intersex people, to put it simply, are people who were born with reproductive anatomy that does not fit the traditional definitions of male and female. Because of this, they are neither just male or just female, but are a combination of both. Luckily, now intersex people can mark "diverse" on the sex requirement on official documents, indicating that they are intersex. 

However, a few other countries have now approved laws that recognize intersex identities, such as Austria, New Zealand, India, Canada, and Malta. 

Historically, intersex people have faced stigma, discrimination, and even forced "corrective" surgery in order for them to appear either male or female. By allowing intersex people to identify as such, Germany took the first step in decreasing the stigma surrounding intersex identities, which will hopefully stop the discrimination altogether. 

h/t: BBC

Refusal to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage Prompts Couples to Sue Japanese Government

Same-sex couples are suing the Japanese government over failing to recognize marriage equality, according to Japan Times.

The ten couples expressed disappointment with the government's position on same-sex marriage as it actively ignores marriage equality under the law and freedom of marriage that is promised in the constitution. 

In Article 24 the Constitution, it says that “marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes.” There is some disagreement about the interpretation of the article, as the government says that it only refers to heterosexual couples, but legal scholars do not see it as a prohibition of same-sex marriage.

The government also says that using the terms "husband and wife" in civic law and family registration law indicates a man and a woman, and, as such, cannot accept same-sex marriage applications. 

Marriage equality has been increasingly more accepted around the world, with the Netherlands first legalizing it in 2001 which caused other European nations to legalize it as well. Outside of Europe, countries in North America have legalized same-sex marriage. Hopefully, the Japanese government will recognize that same-sex couples deserve the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples and that the constitution will be amended to allow marriage equality. 

h/t: Japan Times

New Canadian $1.00 Coin Will Celebrate LGBTQ Equality

In 2019, the Royal Canadian Mint will be releasing a redesigned loonie to celebrate the decriminalization of homosexuality, reports CBC.

In 1969, homosexual activity between consenting adults was decriminalized after previous justice minister Pierre Trudeau introduced amendments to the Canadian Criminal Code, "there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." Pierre's son, current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian government approved the new design. 

However, the design will not be shown nor will the artist's name will be released until it is unveiled next year, as to "maximize the impact." However, a cabinet order described the design as a "stylized rendering of two overlapping human faces within a large circle, the left half of the left face in front view and the right face in profile facing left, the two faces forming one whole face in front view composed of two eyes with eyebrows, a nose, a mouth and two ears with a small hoop earring on the left ear." The years 1969 and 2019, as well as the word "equality" in both English and French, will be printed on the coin. 

This new design came about after the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act was announced, which allows people who were found guilty of performing homosexual acts, to apply for the permanent removal of those criminal records, which affects approximately 9,000 people. 

Alex Reeves, the Mint spokesman said that two LGBT groups were sought out during the planning for the coin. The two groups are Egale Canada, which is based in Toronto, and the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD), based in Ottawa. The spokesman for CCGSD, Cameron Aitken, took issue with saying that homosexual activity was decriminalized in 1969, as the term "consenting adults" only applied to people aged 21 and over. He commented that many people were still arrested. 

As an American, sadly I will probably never be in possession of this coin and as a person who likes the way that Canadian currency looks, I would really like to. Regardless, I think that this is a nice way to celebrate equality, as I'm sure many people will get these coins. However, it is important to remember that the partial decriminalization happened only half a century ago, and, relatively speaking, that is a short period of time. But the decriminalization was definitely a good thing. 

h/t: CBC

LGBTQ Elected Officials Urge Congress to Advance Equal Rights

Approximately 150 elected officials wrote an open letter to Congress asking to focus on LGBTQ rights in the next cycle, according to LGBTQ Nation.

The letter that will be sent to the next Congress and features LGBTQ city council members, state legislators, and mayors instead of higher-up politicians, such as governors or senators. Following the rainbow wave in November, many politicians found that the US Congress is not doing enough to advance the rights of LGBTQ Americans and that such a thing should a central concern. 

In the letter, the politicians urge the next Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would amend the Equal Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation, sex, and gender identity as prohibited categories of discrimination and/or segregation. Currently, many LGBTQ people live in areas of the United States where they are not granted non-discrimination rights in the workplace, and, as such, are subject to potential discrimination and firing that could have a significant impact on LGBTQ people and their families. The Equality Act would ensure that non-discrimination policies be put in place in areas of employment, housing, education, and in public places, among others.

Another thing that the politicians wish for the Congress to prioritize is reducing HIV/AIDS in the United States. In 1995, former president Bill Clinton created the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, or PACHA, to develop appropriate responses to the AIDS epidemic, but Donald Trump effectively dismantled the organization in December of last year by dismissing all existing members of the PACHA. Bio-medical scientists have invented things that have helped stop new infections and reduce HIV+ people's viral loads to such levels that they are undetectable. However, although such inventions have done a great deal of good, HIV transmission continues to persist, with rates of infection disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities.

Because of this, the politicians are asking the next Congress to do three things:

  1. Create a Congressional Advisory Commission on HIV/AIDS,
  2. Advocate for the complete eradication of the disease, and
  3. Address the disparities in HIV diagnoses and treatment in communities of color. 

Additionally, the politicians want the Congress to oppose any actions that would discriminate against transgender and intersex people as well as oppose any measures that would change the definition of gender to erase transgender identities like Donald Trump and the Department of Health proposed.

Finally, they want the Congress to strengthen their commitment to international LGBTQ equality, as many non-heterosexual people are still attacked, kidnapped, murdered, among other things around the world. The politicians are asking the Congress to oppose efforts to change the asylum system to make it more difficult for LGBTQ people to be granted asylum and that LGBTQ rights are a cornerstone of the United State's foreign policy and around the world. 

The increase in Democratic politicians is a relatively good sign that such policies will be enacted by the next Congress, but with anything, there is a degree of uncertainty from both sides. Hopefully, though, the Congress will make the right decision and agree to what is written in the letter.

h/t: LGBTQ Nation, Victory Institute


While Kansas Elected LGBTQ Politicians, the State Still Has Much More to Go for Equality.

Next month, Kansas will swear in two openly LGBTQ lawmakers and Laura Kelly, Kansas' new Democratic governor, has promised to end LGBTQ discrimination in employment, LJ World reports.

While Kansas achieved a large milestone, LGBTQ activists  may be disappointed that their goals could potentially very difficult to meet, even though Laura Kelly promised to break with Republican tradition.

The legislature of Kansas is still very much red, with the Kansas government being mostly Republican. It is projected that Kansas will become more conservative after the 2018 election, which will make it harder for Kelly and LGBTQ activists to reverse anti-LGBTQ policies in the state.

Tom Witt, the executive director of Equality Kansas, notes that it's not the decision of the governor whether or not hearings take place and bills get passed, which means that while Kansas elected an ally to be governor, it is not certain that Kelly was be able to accomplish all that she wants to get done. Kelly, however, is planning on issuing an executive order on the first day that she takes office that would prevent employers from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Kansas, though, still has a great deal of catching up to do, as the legislature has added at least six conservatives at the cost of moderate seats as well as elected a more conservative Majority leader. 

Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference (nice alliteration) said that "most Kansans understand the nature of the family,” implying that a family should have a mother and father only, and not two mothers or two fathers. Backing up Weber's comment (as much as I hate to do so), in 2005, Kansas added a ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution. This addition was met with a 70% approval rate. However, since Obergefell v. Hodges, the ban hasn't been enforced.

In 2007,then Democratic governor Kathleen Sibelius issued an executive order that banned anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment but in 2015, Republican governor Sam Brownback repealed it because he felt that such a decision should have been made by legislators and the conservative members of Kansas' government would have most likely not agreed to the pro-LGBTQ policy.

Brownback is no longer the governor but was replaced by conservative Jeff Colyer, who signed a measure that would allow adoption agencies to refuse sending children to a same-sex household based on religion reasons.

Additionally, just this June, Kansas' Republican Party's election platform called for an amendment to the US constitution that would bar same-sex marriage so that “judges and legislatures cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it.” Are they talking about incest and/or bestiality? Because that argument is just not a good one.

The party also expoused the idea that "The benefits and privileges of marriage exist only between one man and one woman," which we know now is objectively false.

Yes, Kansas electing openly LGBTQ people such as Laura Kelly, Sharice Davids, or State Representatives Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard, who were elected in the Kansas City suburbs, is a step forward toward LGBTQ equality, it is not known just how widespread this progress is. But big change does not happen overnight and the best we can hope for is for Kansas to eventually turn blue. 

Right now it's looking pretty in purple.

h/t: LJ World