Detained HIV-Positive Asylum Seeker Goes on Hunger Strike:
The gay Venezuelan claims he was denied medical care, including his HIV regimen, in the ICE-run processing center.
Free speech absolutists often imagine an open public square, in which everyone has access to the same podium, and can advocate for whatever they wish—whether that’s socialism, capitalism, or the extermination of certain racial groups. If all opinions are equally protected, all people are equally free. The job of the courts and the government, in this view, is to make sure no one is silenced for what they say or believe.
The problem is that, in practice, people are most often silenced not for what they believe but for who they are. Totalitarianism rarely looks like 1984, in which everyone is equally repressed, and the party members with more power are most policed. Rather, totalitarianism usually looks more like the Jim Crow South, in which one stigmatized group was terrorized in the name of preserving freedom for their oppressors.
This is very much true of the experience of LGBT people. Gay, lesbian and queer history is one of painfully enforced silence. In the US, freedom of speech protected the right of LGBT people to say anything, as long as they did not discuss the truth of their identities. This position was codified through the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which mandated that LGBT soldiers could stay in the military as long as they lied about their sexuality. This was a government policy that literally punished people for speech—because that speech was about their own marginalized identity. Though scholars argued that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” violated the First Amendment, it was not struck down on those grounds.
If the Supreme Court allows Masterpiece Cakeshop to discriminate against LGBT people, it will be a step back into the closet—which is to say, it will be a step toward silencing gay, lesbian, and queer people in public spaces. If businesses can refuse service to LGBT people, then there is a powerful incentive for LGBT people to censor or silence themselves when trying to buy cakes—or do anything else.
Today’s the day: SCOTUS hearing arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop discrimination case:
Today, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Colorado bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple based on the owners’ religious beliefs. The case has been brewing since 2012, when the bakers first turned the couple away.
The BuzzFeed article linked above includes a thorough analysis of what’s at stake here and why this case is so important. Here’s the TL;DR:
This is the highest-profile case over gay rights to reach the Supreme Court since the justices legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015. It’s seen as a test of whether, despite that marriage ruling, businesses open to the public can refuse to sell wedding-related products to same-sex couples.
It also could have implications for civil rights more broadly, depending how the court rules. While the facts of the case are about a cake, in an overarching sense, it explores whether business owners have a constitutional right to sidestep nondiscrimination laws aimed at protecting groups of people if the business owners believe adhering to the laws would trample their moral beliefs.
Lambda Legal is livetweeting the scene here. Regardless of the outcome of this case, it will have huge implications for how businesses can treat LGBTQ people. Keep your eye on this one; big things are coming.
Egypt ‘escalates LGBT crackdown’:
Thirty-two men and one woman have now been detained since rainbow flags were displayed at a pop concert in Cairo last month, according to activists.
The flag-raising provoked a public outcry and prompted the public prosecutor to order an investigation.
Homosexuality is not explicitly criminalised under Egyptian law.
But the authorities routinely arrest people suspected of engaging in consensual homosexual conduct on charges of “debauchery”, “immorality” or “blasphemy”
U.S. votes against U.N. resolution condemning death penalty for LGBTQ people; is this who we are?:
Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory manner such as consensual same-sex relations. Along with 13 other nations, the United States voted against it. Instead, the U.S. sided with allies such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Bangladesh, China and India also voted against the measure, which still passed along a 27-13 margin.
“The resolution asked countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not ‘applied arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manner’ and that it is not applied against persons with mental or intellectual disabilities and persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, as well as pregnant women,” according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA).
The resolution does not outlaw the use of the death penalty. Instead, it merely condemns its use in cases of “apostasy, blasphemy and adultery” an other similar instances.
Brazilian judge lifts ban on conversion therapy, rules homosexuality a disease:
In Brazil, a federal judge has ruled to overturn a years-old ban on conversion therapy. Judge Waldemar de Carvalho overturned a 1999 ban on the practice in favor of the idea that homosexuality is a disease that can be treated.
The judge ruled in favor of an evangelical Christian woman named Rozangela Justino, whose license to practice as a psychologist was revoked last year when it was found that she was practicing conversion therapy.
In a 2009 interview with the Folha de S Paulo newspaper, Justino said she saw homosexuality as a “disease”, advised patients to seek religious guidance and said: “I feel directed by God to help people who are homosexual.” She did not respond to a request to comment.
The Federal Council of Psychology said in a statement that the decision “opens the dangerous possibility of the use of sexual reversion therapies” and promised to contest it legally.
Council president Rogério Giannini, a psychologist based in São Paulo, said its 1999 decision prohibiting “sexual conversion” therapy had already faced off other legal actions and even a proposed bill in Congress.
“There is no way to cure what is not a disease,” Giannini told the Guardian. “It is not a serious, academic debate, it is a debate connected to religious or conservative positions.”
This is deeply disappointing and extremely dangerous. We have a lot of work to do, and I am certain this is not the last we’ll hear of this fight.