- November 30, 2015
ATTENTION CYBER MONDAY SHOPPERS! THE HRC BUYER’S GUIDE IS HERE: Before you start ticking presents off your holiday shopping list, check out HRC’s Buyer’s Guide to find out which stores and companies are treating their LGBT employees fairly. HRC’s popular annual consumer guide, Buying for Workplace Equality, rates hundreds of American companies based on how they treat LGBT employees. The 2016 guide features more than 570 companies and a total of 5,496 affiliated businesses and brands and is easy for consumers to reference -- displaying companies from best to worst in green, yellow, or red. More here: http://bit.ly/1RgBS7w
TURING PHARMACEUTICALS TO CONTINUE OUTRAGEOUS PRICE HIKE ON LIFESAVING DRUG: Just before Thanksgiving, Turing Pharmaceuticals' Martin Shkreli announced that he would continue the price hike on Daraprim, a lifesaving treatment for people living with HIV, pregnant women and other patients. The announcement came two months after the company first made headlines for an outrageous 5,000 percent overnight price increase on Daraprim and despite widespread scrutiny. Last month, at HRC’s urging, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began investigating whether Turing Pharmaceuticals may have violated antitrust laws by limiting distribution of a drug that is essential to the lives of medically vulnerable people. HRC is also calling on Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce; and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to fully investigate and put a stop to Turing's outrageous price hike. More here: http://nyti.ms/21oV8nM
CDC FINDS THAT 1.2 MILLION PEOPLE SHOULD BE ON PrEP: A new report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found that an estimated 1.2 million Americans should be on PrEP in order to prevent HIV. PrEP, a one-daily pill regimen that can help you stay HIV-negative, is sold under the brand name Truvada® and is the only FDA approved medication for use as PrEP. The CDC found that one in four gay and bisexual men, one in five injectable drug users, and one in 200 heterosexual adults should use PrEP. When taken as prescribed by a knowledgeable healthcare provider, PrEP has been shown to reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission by more than 90 percent. Find more on PrEP here http://bit.ly/1HzOBQB and read more here: http://bzfd.it/1XCBlwy
MARCO RUBIO SAYS HE COULD NOT ABIDE BY OBERGEFELL RULING: Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has now joined the list of presidential candidates who have claimed that marriage equality is not the law of the land despite the Supreme Court’s historic decision this past June (via Advocate). In a troubling interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Rubio said that he “cannot abide by” laws regarding same-sex marriage and that “God’s rules always win.” Supreme Court experts believe the next president could appoint as many as 4 justices given the current makeup of the bench, which would have lasting consequences for the next several decades. This makes Rubio’s comments and long record of opposition to marriage equality all the more disconcerting. Rubio has recorded robocalls for the beleaguered National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which named him a “real marriage” champion, and helped raised money for the Florida Family Policy Council, whose leader said that being gay is an “artificial, social construct” that is “dangerous.” A recent HRC poll found that 55 percent majority of voters are less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes allowing same-sex couples to marry, including 40 percent who strongly oppose. Find out more on Marco Rubio’s anti-equality record here: http://www.hrc.org/2016republicanfacts.
MISSOURI SCHOOL DISTRICT ADOPTS DISCRIMINATORY ANTI-TRANSGENDER POLICY: Marionville School District in Missouri has adopted a new discriminatory policy that would force students to either use the designated bathrooms of their biological gender or use gender-neutral facilities, despite prevailing federal guidance on this issue. Several other school districts have adopted similar policies following protests earlier this year when a transgender student at Hillsboro High School was allowed to use the women’s locker room. According to the Associated Press, “The new Marionville policy allows students to change their name once every school year, use whatever pronoun they prefer and dress in the same manner as the gender with which they identify, as long as they are consistent with school dress code.” More here: http://bit.ly/1Nl8f3h
WI SCHOOL FORCED TO CANCEL READING OF I AM JAZZ: Following the threat of a lawsuit by the right-wing Liberty Counsel, a Wisconsin School District cancelled plans for a reading of I Am Jazz, a book based on the real-life experiences of transgender teenager Jazz Jennings. According to the Liberty Counsel, which claimed "a violation of parental rights," “concerned parents” reached out to them after they learned that the book was assigned. The Liberty Counsel, which is currently representing infamous Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, has been labelled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its long history of anti-LGBT work. Find out more about the Liberty Council’s work here: http://bit.ly/1IvdDLz. More here: http://bit.ly/1IvdGqS
A.M. MUST READ: The Indy Star editorial board recounts the city’s battle over its Human Rights Ordinance in 2005 and how, “a decade later, it’s obvious that opponents’ fears were unfounded.” Citing Indianapolis as an example of the economic benefits of inclusion and unfounded ‘religious liberty’ concerns, the largest newspaper in Indiana urges lawmakers to expand the state’s civil rights law: “There’s much that state leaders can learn from Indianapolis’ experience as they consider the proposed expansion of Indiana’s civil rights law. The evidence that a strong human rights law has been overwhelmingly a net positive for the city is clear. The same almost certainly would be true for the state if legislators and Gov. Mike Pence do the right thing by expanding the civil rights law this winter.”
AROUND THE WORLD
VICTORY FOR TRANSGENDER BOLIVIANS: In a landmark decision, last week the Bolivian Justice Ministry issued an administrative order that will grant transgender Bolivians the right to officially change their name and gender on legal documents. According to Bolivia’s Trans, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals Collective, the Law of Gender Identity will positively affect an estimated 1,500 trans people in the country. Telesur reports that there have been at least 55 targeted killings of LGBT people in Bolivia, 11 of which were transgender. More here: http://bit.ly/1OzAYAs
CYPRUS APPROVES CIVIL UNIONS LAW: The Cyprus House of Representatives has overwhelming approved a civil union law that will grant both heterosexual and same-sex couples in civil unions legal recognition outside of marriage and access to all the rights of married couples, except joint adoption. The bill got a majority 39 votes in favor, 12 against, and 3 abstentions. More here: http://bit.ly/1lU1hrR
MEXICAN FIRST CHAMBER APPROVES MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN MEXICAN STATE OF JALISCO: Last week, the First Chamber of the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice ruled in favor of marriage equality in the Mexican State of Jalisco. According to On Top Magazine, the chamber struck down an article in the Jalisco Civil Code which refers to marriage as “An institution of public character and social interest, through which a man and a woman decide to share a state of life in search of personal fulfillment and the foundation of a family.” In June, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, but the legal precedent unfortunately did not invalidate any of the state laws. Marriage equality is already the law of the land in Quintana Roo, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Guerrero, the city of Santiago de Querétaro and the Federal District of Mexico City, but continues to be denied to same-sex couples in over 20 of Mexico’s states. More here: http://bit.ly/1Nl9ak8
NEW LAW IN UGANDA AIMS TO LIMIT AID GROUPS: Last week, the Ugandan Parliament passed a new law that would allow the government to shut down aid groups that are not in line with its mission -- a move that local activists say is aimed at pro-LGBT organizations. According to The Advocate, “The bill would first require NGOs to get a license, and would then revoke that license if the aide groups have engaged in "any act, which is prejudicial to the interests of Uganda and the dignity of the people of Uganda.” Openly LGBT Ugandans continue to face tremendous stigma, violence, and harassment in their communities. Following the nullification of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) in February of last year, the Ugandan Parliament introduced the Prohibition of Unnatural Sexual Practices Bill of 2014 – a harsher and even more extensive bill than the original AHA. The AHA focused on prosecuting individuals for practicing or abetting homosexuality. The new bill is much broader, prohibiting any attempt to promote LGBT rights and sentencing anyone found guilty of promoting LGBT rights to up to seven years in prison. This past September, HRC Global released LGBT Uganda Today: Continuing Danger Despite Nullification of Anti-Homosexuality Act, which gives an in-depth analysis of the situation for LGBT individuals in Uganda. More here: http://bit.ly/1SrMcYQ
VIETNAM APPROVES PRO-EQUALITY TRANSGENDER LAW: In a historic move last week, Vietnam's National Assembly unanimously passed a first-of-its-kind pro-transgender law. The law, which takes effect in 2017, will allow those who have undergone gender affirmation surgery to register under the gender appropriate to their gender identity. Local advocates are hopeful that this will pave the way for gender affirmation surgery which is currently illegal in Vietnam to become available and reduce bias and discrimination. According to the Associated Press, “There are estimated 270,000 to 450,000 transgender people in Vietnam, which has a population of 90 million people.” More here: http://abcn.ws/1YD6OB4
NEW POLL FINDS THAT MAJORITY OF JAPANESE PEOPLE SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY: According to a new poll by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 51 percent of Japanese people support marriage equality, though 72 percent of participants said it would be difficult for them to accept their own child being gay. Shibuya Ward became the first in the country to grant marriage certificates earlier this month, and though the certificates have no legal binding power, officials have been encouraging real estate brokers, hospitals, and other businesses and facilities in the ward to treat same-sex couples with the certificate the same as opposite-sex married couples. More here: http://bit.ly/1OzBaj9
Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times looks at the effort to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance in Jacksonville, Florida in the wake of Houston….Vice News explores what it’s like to be transgender in Pakistan… The Casper Star Tribune profiles the patchwork of protections for LGBT Wyomingites… And the New York Times looks at the epidemic of violence against transgender women in Argentina.
Check out this piece in queerty.com, which names HRC Foundation’s Noel Gordon as one of “five incredible activists” helping defeat HIV. Noel, senior specialist for HIV prevention and health equality, is cited for his “youthful vitality and a laser focus on the most vulnerable population in our community: young gay and bisexual men of color” and for his “personal quest to make pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) a household name.” Queerty says that the 24-year-old activist has “grabbed every opportunity – HRC events, magazine covers and even his own Grindr profile – to highlight the benefits of the once-daily pill to prevent HIV infection.” Rounding out the list of five incredible activists are Marco Castro-Bojorquez of Lambda Legal Defense Fund; Charles Sanchez, creator of the web series Merce; Matt Ebert of ACT UP; and David Ernesto Munar, head of Chicago’s Howard Brown Health Center.