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June, 2015

Homosexuality to become legal in African country

Maputo, Mozambique--As of June 29, homosexuality will no longer be criminalized in this African nation.

Mozambique was already one of the most tolerant African nations when it came to LGBT issues, behind South Africa, but last December former Pres. Armando Guebuza signed a new penal code into law that rescinded laws against homosexuality, which dated from the country’s time as a Portuguese colony.

When the penal code was updated, Guebuza left 180 days for it to come into effect, which expires at the end of June.

The old law called for up to three years in prison with hard labor, but was seldom enforced. Mozambique now joins 20 other African nations that either allow same-sex sexual activity or have no laws regarding it.

The Mozambican news service referred to the old penal code as a “musty colonial legacy,” at the same time that other countries like Uganda claim that homosexuality, not the proscriptions against it, were the result of European colonialism.

Mexico Supreme Court: Marriage bans unconstitutional

México, D.F.--The Mexican Supreme Court ruled on June 3 that the country’s constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.

The high court and other lower courts had issued similar rulings in the past, but the Mexican legal system is somewhat byzantine, so marriage equality was a patchwork in the country, much like in the United States.

However, an opinion slated to be published in about a week and discussed in a blog post by clerk Geraldina Gonzalez de la Vega, is a “generic jurisprudence” that will affect the entire country.

She quotes, translation by Google Translate, “The federal law of any entity that, on the one hand, considers that the purpose of that is procreation and/or that defines it to be held between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.”

The decision will now require judges throughout the country to follow that definition. However, it does not require the administrative authorities to do so because the law has yet to be officially changed. Gonzalez de la Vega believes, however, that some authorities will be inclined to grant marriage licenses even without a legislative change.

WNBA marriages don’t last long

Phoenix, Ariz.--A month after marrying fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson-Griner, Brittney Griner announced that their marriage would be annulled.

Johnson-Griner announced on June 4 that she was pregnant and would not be playing this season. The following day, Griner announced the annulment, although a spokesperson for Johnson-Griner said the basketball player had not been told.

The couple were married in early May, three weeks after being arrested for domestic violence. Griner agreed to 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling, and both women were suspended by the WNBA for seven games.

Griner said that she had tried to delay the wedding until after she had completed counseling, but went through with it anyway.

HRC faces issues with diversity

Washington, D.C.--A report commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign found that the organization only promotes white men to leadership positions, and the organization is “homogenous.”

The report, compiled from focus groups by the Pipeline Project, was provided to Buzzfeed and other LGBT news outlets.

The lead consultant on the study, Clarence Patton, released a statement saying that, while HRC was not at the top of the class, there are organizations in far worse shape, and that given the organization’s size, the findings were not surprising.

“Seven out of 31 men who have been promoted have been on staff less than two years (some promoted two times),” the report says. “No women under two years have been promoted.”

The report also notes that most transgender or gender queer people in the organization believe that “they have poorly handled gender pronouns, name changes, email changes during transition.”

“Like many organizations and companies throughout our country, HRC has embarked on a thoughtful and comprehensive diversity and inclusion effort with the goals of better representing the communities we serve -- and hiring, nurturing and retaining a workforce that not only looks like America but feels respected and appreciated for the hard work they do every day,” HRC president Chad Griffin said in a statement.

The organization also released a report of progress since the Pipeline Report, along with upcoming changes.

OSHA: Workers’ restroom use should be by their identity

Washington, D.C.--The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers in early June, urging employers to allow workers to use restroom facilities in line with the employee’s gender identity.

“Regardless of the physical layout of a worksite, all employers need to find solutions that are safe and convenient and respect transgender employees,” the four-issue document reads. “Under these best practices, employees are not asked to provide any medical or legal documentation of their gender identity in order to have access to gender-appropriate facilities.”

“In addition, no employee should be required to use a segregated facility apart from other employees because of their gender identity or transgender status,” it continues.

The OSHA advisory notes that, while it does not carry any force of law, court rulings that prohibitions on sex discrimination apply to transgender individuals, so federal contractors cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It also lists some states and the District of Columbia that have specific legal requirements themselves.

District: Students should not be punished for pro-gay T-shirts

McKinney, Texas--A middle school’s administration was in error when it told over a dozen students to remove shirts emblazoned with the motto “Gay O.K.,” sending home those who refused to do so.

The students were wearing the shirts to bring attention to anti-gay bullying going on at the school. A student who had come out as bisexual was harassed, and the vice principal of the school allegedly took no action when the harassment was reported.

“We told the campus administration that they should not have asked the students to take off their shirts, or change shirts,” a spokesman for the McKinney Independent School District told BuzzFeed News. “We told them that students have every right to wear the shirts.”

While the school’s policies bar students from wearing clothing that is disruptive to the educational process, the girls said that staff members started the disruption by lining the girls up and taking them out of the lunch room.

Obama appoints trans man to federal commission

Washington, D.C.--National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director Shannon Minter was appointed to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

The commission judges applications for fellowships, granting graduate students the chance to work with high-ranking politicians.

It is the first time a transgender man has been appointed to a commission, although Pres. Barack Obama has appointed other transgender men and women to posts.











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