Archive for October, 2011

USAID ‘strongly encourages’ contractors to prohibit LGBT job bias

Repost from Washington Blade

New policy implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development “strongly encourages” businesses contracting with the organization to have non-discrimination policies in place for their LGBT workers.

The new policy, spelled out in an executive message dated Oct. 11, encourages companies contracting with USAID to go beyond mandatory non-discrimination protections — including protections based on race, religion and gender — and put in place additional policies to prohibit job bias against LGBT employees and other workers.

According to the memo, the agency is making the change to “encourage all USAID contractors and recipients, including those performing solely overseas, to apply comprehensive nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, and any other conduct that does not affect performance.”

The memo notes that the change isn’t mandatory, so contractors aren’t bound to have the policies to continue working with USAID. Still, the policy is likely the first from any U.S. agency encouraging federal contractors to have non-discrimination policies for LGBT workers.

LGBT advocates said the memo is an important step in addressing workplace discrimination, but noted the change doesn’t have a lot of teeth. Continue Reading

Huffington Post names inspiring LGBT leaders

The Huffington Post religion section has published a list of inspirational LGBT faith leaders. Originally billed as “15 Inspiring LGBT Religious Leaders”, the photo slideshow with brief bios features a diverse array of LGBT faith leaders.

The initial list featured LGBT faith leaders who are recognizable from recent media attention. Reverend Ouyang Wen Feng received media attention for being Malaysia’s only openly gay pastor. The Rt. Rev. V Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and Bishop Mary Douglas Glasspool, Assistant Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, were the first and second openly gay bishops in The Episcopal Church. Rev. Scott Anderson is the first openly gay minister to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church since the church formally dropped all barriers to ordination for LGBT individuals. Continue reading

Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest, today’s LGBT History Month Icon

Join us in congratulating our colleague, Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest, Senior Advisor to The Council for Global Equality in being today’s LGBT History Month Icon. To learn more about one of Michael’s many contributions to our community, watch the short video.

Reflections on Frank Kameny’s Impact

Frank Kameny

Frank Kameny, center, holding "Gay is Good" sign

By Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest, Senior Advisor, The Council for Global Equality

Word of Frank Kameny’s death yesterday at age 86 seeped in slowly – less thunderbolt than a brewing sadness that a man I would have liked to know better is now gone.

Frank and I met only once, so I hardly can call him friend, and I can add little to the many obituaries that rightly mourn his passing.  But I am so deeply grateful to him for his principled and clear-eyed commitment to fairness in America.  That quality made him a constant presence in my life, and in the lives of so many other gay federal employees.  He truly will be missed.

Not many years before I began my Foreign Service career, gays and lesbians were excluded from the State Department, which irrationally judged us to be security risks.  Frank challenged that notion, and fought indeed to ensure that government service, in all agencies, was open to all.  That I and countless others were empowered to pursue the careers of which we had dreamed can be laid squarely at Frank’s feet.

Later, when I wrestled with Department policies that discriminated against the families of gay and lesbian Foreign Service personnel, it was Frank’s passion and principle that gave me the courage to continue that fight.  Frank knew that equality is an absolute, not an abstract concept.  He was and remains an inspiration.

Frank inevitably will be remembered as a “gay activist,” and that of course he was.  But look closer at how enormously our COUNTRY has benefited from Frank’s activism!  In calling for gays to be treated fairly, Frank aligned himself with America’s founding principles.  And by insisting that gay and lesbian citizens be allowed to serve their country, he has opened up a choice of talent that otherwise would be unavailable to our country’s challenges and interests.

Frank served in our country’s military, and so it’s fitting that he lived to see the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  I wish, too, that he had lived to see the wider victories in employment law that we know lie ahead.  And I hope that our community leaders will draw from his life’s example the realization that change will only come if we demand it, not patiently request it.

The spirit of America’s promise was always at the core of Frank’s life.  Now he is at rest.  It’s up to us to fulfill the balance of his mission.

First openly transgender Member of Parliament elected

Anna Grodzka

photo: Getty Images

Repost from Transgender Europe

On October 10th, we have learned that Anna Grodzka, president of TGEU member organization Trans-Fuzja, has become the first openly transgender woman to be elected into Polish parliament.

Grodzka, who has been working for transgender and intersex issues for more than 4 years now, was a candidate of the Palikot Movement, a new political party which has come forward with progressive ideas especially on LGBTQI matters during elections.

“This is an incredible step forward for Poland” says Wiktor Dynarski, TGEU CEE Working Group coordinator. “We were aware of the fact that Anna’s decision to actually become a candidate would bring a lot more discussion on transgender issues into Polish politics, but we have never even dreamt of achieving such an incredible success!” Continue reading ‘First openly transgender Member of Parliament elected’

Remembering LGBT Hate Crimes in October

Hate Crime October 7, 2011 – Thirteen years ago this week, Matthew Shepard was attacked and left to die on a deserted road in Laramie, Wyoming. The month of October, in addition to being LGBT history month, is also an appropriate month to remember the tragic legacy of LGBT hate violence. Matthew Shepard was killed in October. Eleven years later, in October 2009, President Obama signed a law named after Matthew Shepard that extends federal authority over LGBT hate crimes. And every October, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also meets in Warsaw, Poland to discuss a range of human rights issues in Europe and North America, including persistent patterns of hate violence targeting LGBT individuals.

The OSCE is an obscure but influential international organization that focuses on a range of security and human rights issues. Created as a mechanism to engage the Soviet Union and its satellite states, in the messy aftermath of the Cold War, the OSCE has emerged as an important platform for promoting tolerance and non-discrimination. Every October the OSCE holds a human rights conference in Warsaw, and for several years now, the issue of LGBT rights has been an important topic. During the Bush administration, the United States worked with the Vatican to block discussion of LGBT human rights concerns. In the Obama administration, the United States is now one of the leading voices insisting that the OSCE must respond to LGBT concerns in Europe and North America. Indeed, the head of the official U.S. delegation to the meeting, Ambassador David Johnson, addressed a reception on Wednesday that was dedicated to the many LGBT activists who traveled to Warsaw to expose the violence that continues to shatter lives and destabilize communities. Continue reading ‘Remembering LGBT Hate Crimes in October’

Global Post begins series on the global battle over LGBT rights

Turkey Pride photo:Jodi-Hilton, GlobalPost

photo: Jodi Hilton/GlobalPost

Global Post an international news publication has begin its series “The Rainbow Struggle: A Global Battle Over Gay Rights“.  A team of four writers and photo journalists will present 12 reports on the international struggle for LGBT equality. The first installment was launched today “The Rainbow Struggle: A primer for the global gay rights battle” and it features quotes from Senior Advisor to The Council for Global Equality, Julie Dorf,  as well as from Council member Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch.

Global Post describes the series as “From the streets of New York City to the townships of South Africa, the LGBT rights movement and its opposition are engaged in an unprecendented international battle. Throughout October and November, we will present 12 in-depth reports from key locations at this pivotal time in history, telling highly personal, often overlooked stories from the fight.

You can read the first installment of this series here

Anti-Defamation League, GLSEN and StoryCorps Highlight LGBT History’s “Unheard Voices”

Gay Liberation Day 1970

photo: Anti-Defamation League

Guest blog from Council member Anti-Defamation League

Written by: Scott Hirschfeld, Director of Curriculum and Sarah Woodbury, Operations and Field Outreach Coordinator, Government and National Affairs Office

LGBT History Month is an important opportunity to bring to light the “Unheard Voices” of LGBT history throughout schools and school communities.    The historic contributions of the LGBT community are for all intents and purposes invisible and too rarely acknowledged in the lessons we teach and their histories are all but imperceptible in the instructional materials we count on to describe the world. Continue reading ‘Anti-Defamation League, GLSEN and StoryCorps Highlight LGBT History’s “Unheard Voices”’

Senior Advisor to the Council for Global Equality, Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest honored

Please join us in congratulating our colleague and friend, Senior Advisor to the Council for Global Equality, Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest in being honored as an 2011 LGBT history month icon. LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Icons. You can learn more about LGBT History Month here. Look for Michael’s full icon profile to be posted on October 13, 2011

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