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INDONESIA: A gay ex-policeman takes his battle to court, a landmark case

Tri Teguh Pujianto, a 31-year-old former police brigadier was fired in 2018 after 10 years on the job, after police apprehended him and his partner.

 

By Stanley Widianto

 

Reuters (09.12.2020) – https://bit.ly/2WjIASL – The first gay Indonesian policeman to sue the conservative country’s police force for wrongful dismissal due to sexual orientation was back in courts this week, determined to be reinstated.

 

Tri Teguh Pujianto, a 31-year-old former police brigadier was fired in 2018 after 10 years on the job, after police in a different town apprehended him and his partner on Valentine’s Day when they were saying goodbyes at his partner’s workplace.

 

The landmark case in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation was initially thrown out last year after a judge told Teguh he had to wait until the police internal appeals process was completed. That is now over and Teguh refiled his suit in August in what rights groups say is the first case of its kind.

 

“This is my fight, my last-ditch effort,” Teguh told Reuters.

 

“Why won’t they judge my service for all those years? Why exaggerate my mistakes, which I don’t think were mistakes anyway?”

 

With the exception of sharia-ruled Aceh province where same-sex relations are banned, homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia although it is generally considered a taboo subject.

 

The Southeast Asian country is, however, becoming less tolerant of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as some Indonesian politicians become more vocal about having Islam play a larger role in the state.

 

A survey by the Pew Research Center this year also showed that 80% of Indonesians believe homosexuality “should not be accepted by society”.

 

Discrimination and violent attacks against LGBT people have increased in recent years and police have prosecuted members of the community using anti-pornography and other laws. Lawmakers from four political parties this year have also been trying to garner support, so far unsuccessfully, to pass a bill requiring LGBT people to seek treatment at rehabilitation centres.

 

The Central Java police have accused Teguh of violating “ethical codes of the national police… by the deviant act of having same-sex intercourse,” a court document shows.

 

Teguh’s legal team said they are challenging what they call the “elastic” nature of the police code of conduct given there is no mention of sexual orientation in police regulations.

 

Representatives for the Central Java Police, National Police and the National Police Commission did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

 

Dede Oetomo, a gay scholar who runs the advoacy group GAYa NUSANTARA, said Teguh had made history, whether he wins his case or not.

 

“He’s broken the mould because he’s brave,” he said. “My hope is that more activists will emerge from cases like his.”

 

Teguh now runs a barber shop, a side business that he started in 2013. He said he’s always had the support of family and his friends in the force for his efforts to regain what has been his dream job since high school.

 

Asked why he is persevering, Teguh said he was fighting not only for himself.

 

“I want to fight for basic human rights, so there will no longer be arbitrary actions taken against minorities,” he said.





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US Supreme Court rules federal civil rights law protects LGBTQ workers

By Melissa Quinn

CBS News (15.06.2020) – https://cbsn.ws/2AFab9B – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is illegal for an employer to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, delivering a major victory in the fight for civil rights for LGBTQ people.

 

The court’s 6-3 ruling extends the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion, to include LGBTQ people. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch, who authored the majority’s opinion, joined the liberal wing of the bench in ruling that “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.”

 

“Judges are not free to overlook plain statutory commands on the strength of nothing more than suppositions about intentions or guesswork about expectations,” Gorsuch wrote. “In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”

 

The cases involving Title VII, of which there were three before the court, were the first involving LGBTQ rights to reach the justices since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018. Kennedy authored the majority opinions in all major gay rights cases decided by the court, and President Trump replaced him with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, an appointment that shifted the court rightward.

 

The justices heard oral arguments in the legal battle over Title VII at the start of its term in October, during which Gorsuch, appointed to the high court by Mr. Trump, emerged as the likely swing vote.

 

Two of the three cases before the court involved gay men who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation.

 

Donald Zarda, who has since died, worked as a skydiving instructor in New York and argued he was fired after a woman accused him of touching her inappropriately and telling her he was gay during a tandem skydive in 2010.

 

Zarda filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) arguing he was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation and gender. He then sued his employer, Altitude Express, in federal district court in New York, alleging his firing violated Title VII.

 

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Zarda, finding “sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination for purposes of Title VII.”

 

Like Zarda, Gerald Bostock, a child welfare services coordinator for the Clayton County Juvenile Court System in Georgia, said he lost his job because of his sexual orientation. Bostock was fired for “conduct unbecoming of a county employee” after he started participating in a gay recreational softball league in 2013.

 

Bostock sued Clayton County, alleging he was fired because of his sexual orientation in violation of Title VII. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s dismissal of the case.

 

The third legal battle before the justices raised the question of whether Title VII prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.

 

At the center of the case is Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman, who was fired from R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan after she told her employer in 2013 she suffered from gender dysphoria and would dress as a woman at work. Stephens died in May.

 

Stephens filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC arguing she was illegally fired based on sex and gender identity in violation of Title VII. The EEOC then filed suit against the funeral home.

 

The federal district court ruled for Harris Homes, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Stephens. In its ruling, the lower court said “discrimination on the basis of transgender … status violates Title VII.”

 

In a dissenting opinion on Monday, Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, accused the majority of legislating from the bench and likened the opinion to “a pirate ship” that “sails under a textualist flag.”

 

“There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation,” he wrote. “The document that the Court releases is in the form of a judicial opinion interpreting a statute, but that is deceptive.”

 

In a separate dissent, Kavanaugh said it’s the role of Congress and the president, not the court, to alter Title VII.

 

“When this Court usurps the role of Congress, as it does today, the public understandably becomes confused about who the policymakers really are in our system of separated powers, and inevitably becomes cynical about the oft-repeated aspiration that judges base their decisions on law rather than on personal preference,” Kavanaugh wrote. “The best way for judges to demonstrate that we are deciding cases based on the ordinary meaning of the law is to walk the walk, even in the hard cases when we might prefer a different policy outcome.”

 

Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House the decision from the high court was “very powerful,” adding, “they’ve ruled and we live with the decision.”

 

The Supreme Court’s ruling was cheered by former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who called it a “momentous step forward for our country.”

 

“Today, by affirming that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Supreme Court has confirmed the simple but profoundly American idea that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity,” he said in a statement.

 

The cases before the court pitted the Trump administration against the EEOC, which has said Title VII’s protections extend to LGBTQ people. The Justice Department, however, believes Congress needed to clarify the reach of the law.





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UK: Half of LGBT+ women are outed at work

By Jamie Wareham

 

Forbes (20.04.2020) – https://bit.ly/2RRI6kO – Half of LGBT+ women are being outed at work, a new survey reveals.

 

Women are going back in the closet when they get their first job, feeling unable to report issues to HR and struggling in “male-dominated and heteronormative environments.”

 

Released ahead of Lesbian Visibility Week, the new research by DIVA Magazine and Kantar looked at the experiences of LGBT+ women’s work life, financial stability, well-being, relationships and their overall feelings of safety.

 

The survey shows that LGBT+ women are fed up of male-dominated LGBT+ spaces and campaigns, feel most safe at home due to the violence and uncertainty they face out in the world and are facing disproportionate problems at work.

 

Unsurprisingly the women surveyed, who already face a higher number of barriers in the workplace, feel they are a ‘minority within a minority’ because of their queer identity.

 

Although three in four respondents are open about their sexual orientation to most of their work colleagues, the youngest age group (16-24) are far less likely to be out at work.

 

Only one in three of those under the age of 24 feel able to be out at work, which Kantar concludes that with LGBT+ people coming out younger than ever, that many are ‘going back into the closet’ when they get their first job.

 

It’s currently estimated in the graduate LGBT+ community, that six in ten, regardless of their gender identity, go back in the closet when they get their first job.

 

In a worrying statistic, the most common homophobic experience LGBT+ women face in the workplace is being outed. Half of the respondents saying they have been through this discriminatory ordeal.

 

The research, which also looked at trans women’s experiences found that one in four transgender people feel that they have faced barriers in their current workplace due to their gender identity.

 

Research reveals discrimination LGBT+ women face for Lesbian Visibility Week

 

“The DIVA research highlights the challenges that LGBTQI women face; feeling invisible and unsupported in key areas of their lives,” Linda Riley, Publisher of DIVA magazine, says.

 

The research is being launched as part of a week of events, extending the Lesbian Visibility Day on 26 April each year, into an extended celebration of queer and trans women’s experiences.

 

Claire Harvey, MBE, GB Paralympian, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and DIVA Development Week Lead, believes with the current COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever it is vital that there is a focus on women’s lives:

 

“We use the word community all too often, but what does it actually mean? For me, it means a sense of belonging, visibility and value.

 

“LGBTQI women are a diverse, talented and often unheard group – so now, more than ever, it’s important that we build up our community and help those who are most isolated feel connected.”





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Famous Belgian lawyer does not hire women because of #MeToo

By Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times (09.03.2020) – https://bit.ly/2TQY9Rk – A Belgian high profile lawyer, Sven Mary, recently stated in an interview with a Belgian newspaper that his law firm no longer hires women because of the #MeToo movement.

 

When a woman applies for a job at Sven Mary’s law firm, she will be rejected out of fear for #MeToo, he said in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws on Friday.

 

According to an analysis by the Harvard Business Review, men are less inclined to hire attractive women since #MeToo, a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault, took off. Mary said that this was true, and that his firm no longer hires women in general since there had been “an incident with an intern,” he said.

 

“It’s a shame, because a lot of competent and intelligent ladies graduate. But I once had a problem with an intern who claimed that she owed her poor evaluation to the fact that she hadn’t accepted my advances,” Mary said, adding that the complaint was “based on nothing” but that “today, as a man, you are vulnerable” and that he did not want to expose himself to such risks.

 

“I understand that such accusations cut in. But basically, saying that no woman is going to be hired? I’m afraid he won’t get away with that,” labour market expert Jan Denys told De Morgen. “Women who are working in good faith are being punished here. I’m assuming, in time, Mary will come to understand that,” he added.

 

In addition, rejecting applications from a specific group of people is prohibited by law. “It does not differ a lot from employers who say they have a problem with Moroccans, for example,” Denys said, adding that in reality, an employer takes on whoever they want. “Those who effectively do not want to recruit women can still hide behind the fact that the woman in question is not competent enough,” he added. “However, by Mary’s saying it, he is not making it easy on himself,” Denys stressed.

 

On social media, Mary’s remark has garnered a lot of attention, and many people on Twitter have called for an investigation by Unia, the Belgian centre for equal opportunities.

 

Assita Kanko, a Belgian MEP and human rights activist tweeted “Lawyer for serious criminals. Afraid of victims of sexual violence,” pointing to several of Mary’s clients, which include Salah Abdeslam, who is a suspect of the terror attacks in Paris, and Fouad Belkacem, who was an extremist member of the radical Islamic organisation Sharia4Belgium.


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