Switzerland has voted to make homophobic and transphobic crimes punishable with up to a three year prison sentence.
The National Council voted to criminalise homophobic and transphobic acts, putting it on a par with the way the country treats racism.
The council voted 118 for and 60 against to introduce a prison sentence for homophobia and transphobia.
However, the motion still needs to be passed by the Council of States before it can become law.
National councillor Mathias Reynard, who put forward motion, posted on Twitter on September 25: “National Council accepts my parliamentary initiative against homophobia and transphobia!
“A magnificent success for human rights! Final response in December to the Council of States. # LGBT 🏳️🌈🇨🇭.”
Speaking to Shorlist, Reynard said: “The Swiss Parliament’s decision is great news because it sends the powerful message that homophobia is not an opinion; as for racism, it’s a violation of the law.”
He added: “I tabled the motion after speaking to friends of mine who have personally been victims of verbal and physical homophobic violence.
“And working on this law I found out that the Swiss case-law doesn’t punish either hate speech or incitement to hatred towards LGBT+ people. During the last few years, this loophole in the law has been pointed out several times at an international level.”
The vote has been praised by LGBT+ groups in the country, where equal marriage remains illegal.
Rene Schegg, secretary general of Pink Cross, told Swiss newspaper Le Temps: “The decision of the day is an important step. It will likely bring Switzerland back to the rankings of the International Association of LGBTI People, where our country currently ranks 22nd behind Estonia and Hungary.
“With his stage success, Mathias Reynard said now want to focus on the fight for marriage for all.”
A statement posted on Pride in London’s official Twitter account reads: “Good to see that Switzerland has strengthened the punishment for homophobia and transphobia. People who are found guilty could now get up to three years in prison.”
Another person wrote: “Fantastic news! 🏳️🌈 Well done Switzerland 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 .”
And one person said: “Just found out that Switzerland made homophobia and transphobia illegal, im so so happy this shd be the goal for all countries 🌈.”
Thornton claims that it is unconstitutional for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to exclude her from claiming benefits because she was unable to marry her partner before she died.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in all 50 states in the US in June 2015, following a Supreme Court decision.
“The federal government is requiring surviving same-sex partners like Helen to pass an impossible test to access the benefits that they’ve earned through a lifetime of work: they need to have been married to their loved ones, but they were barred from marrying by discriminatory laws then in existence,” said Lambda Legal counsel Peter Renn.
“We are beyond the day when the government can deny equal treatment to same-sex couples. But, by withholding these benefits, the federal government is breathing life into the same discriminatory marriage laws that the Supreme Court has already struck down.”
In the US, couples are generally required to be married for a minimum of nine months before their spies dies in order for the living partner to get survivor’s benefits.
The amount of money given in these benefits is based on the income of the deceased partner.
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Thronton and Brown met at a women’s art group in 1978 and started a relationship a year later, which lasted until Brown’s death in 2006.
“Margie and I were fortunate to share 27 years of love and commitment together on this earth,” said Thornton.
“Like other committed couples, we built a life together, formed a family, and cared for each other in sickness and in health.
“Although we wanted to express our love for each other through marriage, discriminatory laws barred us from doing so before Margie’s death.”
She added: “Now, in my retirement years, I’m barred from receiving the same benefits as other widows, even though Margie and I both worked hard and paid into the social security system with every paycheck.”
Thornton, 63, is semi-retired and has a job looking after animals to supplement her income.
She applied for survivor’s benefits in 2015, when she was 60 years old, which is the age surviving spouses are eligible to receive the benefit.
However, the SSA rejected her application because the couple were not married at the time of Brown’s death.
“Same-sex couples who weren’t able to marry faced discrimination throughout their lives, and now the surviving partner faces it all over again, after their loved one has died. It’s like pouring salt in a wound. Denied equality in life, they are denied equality once again in death,” Renn added.
The other woman, 18-year-old Vontashia Bell, was found in a street in Shreveport, Louisiana, with gunshot wounds to the chest and wrist.
Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, recently told PinkNews: “There is a growing epidemic of violence targeting transgender people, particularly Black transgender women.
“This is an urgent crisis that is a by-product of the toxic and violent combination of transphobia, misogyny, and racism. As a society, our policymakers and lawmakers must do more to combat this violence.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults aged between 10 and 34 in the US.
The latest data revealed that transgender and non-binary teens—aged between 11 and 19—are at a significantly greater risk of attempting suicide than their peers who are cisgender, meaning
Nearly two in 10 (18 percent) of cis female teens, and 10 percent of cis male adolescents, had tried to end their lives, according to the study.
Russ Toomey, an associate professor at the University of Arizona, who led the research, based his findings on an analysis of data from the Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors survey—a national survey of 120,617 adolescents in the US.
The survey, carried out between 2012 and 2015, included data from 202 transgender teenagers, 70 per cent of which were trans male adolescents.
Commenting on his research, Toomey said: “Transmasculine youth and non-binary youth are the two populations that often are the least focused on in the transgender community.
“So really reorganising our efforts to focus in and try to really understand and learn about the experiences of these youth is critical.”
Past research has shown that a shocking proportion of transgender people have attempted suicide.
In 2016, a study by the NationalCentre for Transgender Equality found that 40 percent of transgender people had tried to end their lives.
Other studies have also revealed that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) young people are more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts.
A 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) young people are almost three times as likely to seriously contemplate suicide than heterosexual youths.
It also found that LGB youth were five times more likely to have attempted suicide than heterosexual young people.
If you are in the US and are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. If you are in the UK, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
And, on September 2, arsonists set fire to the corridor outside Zabarauskas’ flat on fire in a possible homophobic incident, after the director hung a Pride flag on his balcony.
Speaking to PinkNews, Zabarauskas said that, following the arson attack outside his flat, a police offer had told him to take down his Pride flag.
“The next morning, after the initial shock, I realised that not only I won’t take the flag down, I need to do something more to send a strong message and not to give in into fear,” he explained.
“So I made this story public, emailed some people and we quickly raised enough funds to buy 500 flags.”
Zabarauskas said that supporters of his and Ilja’s initiative are posting their own Pride flags on social media using the hashtag #LGBTdraugiškaLietuva, which means “LGBT+ friendly Lithuania.”
The first 400 Pride flags were handed out for free to LGBT+ supporters at the gay-friendly Paviljonas jazz club on Friday in the city.
A further 100 flags will be distributed for free during the queer festival Kreivės in Vilnius.
The initiative has been supported by politicians across the city, including Vilnius city councillor Mark Adam Harold, who attended the event on Friday and hung the Pride flag on the Vilnius City Municipality building. He has also supported the campaign on social media.
Zabarauskas also said that Vilnius city mayor Remigijus Šimašius has expressed support for the campaign. PinkNews has contacted Šimašius for comment.
Zabarauskas continued: “Taking down a flag and hiding your true identity never makes you feel safer. Freedom of expression and acceptance do. I’m currently surrounded by rainbow flags—I can see one in each of the three buildings around mine. That makes me feel great.”
“Lithuania is a free country and we’ll defend our freedom with Pride,” he added.
“I care about LGBT+ visibility. I truly think it’s the main way to go if we want to achieve equality in our region. And it feels better to live your true life.”
Zabarauskas explained that he could not be certain that the arson attack outside his flat was a homophobic incident, but added that it “deserves to be investigated.”
He said, however, that the attack on LGL was “clearly a hate crime.”
PinkNews has contacted the police in Vilnius over the arson attack on LGL, and was directed to the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania, which has also been contacted for comment.
A black trans women shot dead in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning has become the 19th reported case of a trans person being killed in the US so far this year.
Shantee Tucker, who had celebrated her 30th birthday on Sunday (September 2), was found suffering from a gunshot wound by police at about 1am on a highway in the Hunting Park area of the city, according to local media reports.
She was taken to Temple University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.Police are reportedly looking for a suspect in connection with the murder.
According to local magazinePhiladelphia, a police report state that Tucker had been arguing with an unidentified person or persons in a black Ford truck, who then started shooting at Tucker.
Philadelphia Police Department are appealing for any witnesses to contact the Homicide Unit on 215-686-3334.
Friends have paid tribute to Tucker on social media.
One friend, Samantha Jo Dato, wrote on Facebook: “R.I.P Shantee Tucker I was just on your live checking in on your birthday. May you forever live in our hearts and justice be swift and ruthless.
“This is so close to home Philly Stay Strong and wrap one another in love.”
Another friend, Tameer Harris, posted on Facebook: “Omg I can’t believe the news I just got R.I.P Shante !! you was really like another big sister to me!”
Harris added: “I really can’t even believe this phone call I got ❤️❤️❤️ this morning I woke up to a confirmation that I can’t even stomach to believe 😔 May you Rest In Peace baby 💋 I Love You So Much!”
Sarah McBride, national press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign, told PinkNews: “There is a growing epidemic of violence targeting transgender people, particularly Black transgender women.
“This is an urgent crisis that is a by-product of the toxic and violent combination of transphobia, misogyny, and racism. As a society, our policymakers and lawmakers must do more to combat this violence.
“Our hearts go out to the family—both blood and chosen—of Shantee Tucker, and we must never forget that behind the headlines was a real person whose life of love, hopes and dreams was tragically cut short.”
Born on May 21, 1923, the pastor marched at early gay rights protests, years before the Stonewall Riots in 1969.Wood reportedly came out as gay to the public when his article titled “Spiritual Exercises” was published in a gay magazine, showing him photographed in a clerical collar.
He published his groundbreaking book Christ and the Homosexual in 1960, which called for church-approved equal marriage and for Christian clergy to welcome gay people.
Wood wrote that the “saving message of Christ and the freely flowing grace of God are as much for the homosexual as the heterosexual,” adding that “the church must minister equally to both; that the demands of Christ apply to both; that both are capable of being moral, as well as immoral and amoral.”
In 1960, Wood was honoured with an Award of Merit from The Mattachine Society, an early gay rights group.
Wood was also known to have carried out same-sex marriage ceremonies many years before it was enshrined in law across the entirety of the US in 2015.
In his younger years, Wood studied as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, and went on to be enlisted as a soldier during World War II.
He was injured during the invasion of Italy and honourably discharged for his efforts.
In 1962, Wood met his long-term partner, Hugh M. Coulter, an artist and cowboy, who was also a World War II veteran.
The pair met in a gay leather bar in Manhattan.
Wood and Coulter were also present at the country’s first gay picket line in 1965, reportedly protesting outside the Civil Service Building after it had been revealed that the head of the Civil Service Department said it would not employee gay people.
The couple spent 27 years together until Coulter’s death in 1989 and each wore a gold wedding ring.
In 2001, Wood was honoured as a gay pioneer by the Christian Association at the University of Pennsylvania.
And, in 2004, the United Church of Christ Coalition of LGBT Concern gave him its pioneer award.
New research suggests that LGBT+ people want companies to implement support services, instead of just sponsoring Pride events or using the rainbow flag in their marketing.
The latest research by YouGov indicates that queer people would prefer businesses to actively implement networks that will support LGBT+ staff and customers over actions such as paying to have a float at a Pride parade.
The study of 1,711 adults in the UK—136 of whom were LGBT+—revealed that nearly three quarters of LGBT+ people said they would feel “more positive” if companies introduced services or policies to support their LGBT+ customers.In comparison, half of LGBT+ allies, and more than one third (36 percent) of the general British population, said they felt this way.
Two thirds of LGBT+ people also said they would feel more positive if companies introduced policies to support their LBGT+ colleagues, compared to 48 percent of LGBT+ supporters, and more than one third (34 percent) of the general population.
However, a lower proportion—65 percent—of LGBT+ respondents said they would feel happier if their company sponsored or took part in a Pride event.
And nearly six in 10 (59 percent) of LGBT+ people surveyed said that they would feel more positive if companies used the rainbow flag in their marketing to show support for the LGBT+ community.
Chantel Le Carpentier, a researcher who carried out the survey for YouGov, told PinkNews: “Our data shows that while the majority of LGBT+ people support brands using the rainbow pride flag in their marketing to show their support, a greater number would be more impressed by a company that introduced policies actively supporting LGBT+ employees or customers.
“This is certainly something crucial for brands to consider when it comes to drawing up their marketing plans for the next Pride season, and of course in the coming year ahead.”
Similarly to LGBT+ respondents, a lower percentage of respondents who said they were supporters of gay rights, or were part of the general population, said that they would feel more positively about businesses sponsoring a Pride event or using the rainbow flag for marketing purposes.
Commenting on the results, Sam Bjorn, a spokesperson from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, which marched at Pride in London and Brighton Pride this year, told PinkNews: “Companies need to do more for LGBT+ employees than marching in Pride or using the rainbow flag in their advertising.
“More important are the policies and practices that organisations have and how they affect all LGBT+ people and all people who face persecution and oppression that was once targeted at us.”
Bjorn also criticised companies, including British Airways and private security company Serco, for using “Pride to show how tolerant they are while remaining complicit in the violent persecution of migrants, including LGBT+ people fleeing persecution.”
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More than 400 companies sponsored or took part in Pride in London’s parade in July this year.
Tanya Compas, a youth engagement officer at UK Black Pride, told PinkNews that the new statistics were unsurprising.
She said: “To me, these results just show what I already knew, those of us from the LGBTQ+ community can see the tokenism of our identities by companies during pride month, compared to the CIS-Het [cisgender-heterosexual] population who just don’t get it or don’t care to understand, because it doesn’t affect them.”
Compas added that the results show that companies need to implement support services for LGBT+ people, highlighting an incident in November 2017 when Topshop staff reportedly barred non-binary performance artist Travis Alabanza from using the changing room of their choice.
“Look Topshop, they tend to be the first people to put rainbows outside their flagship store in Oxford Circus, but equally their changing rooms are not safe spaces for our trans and gender non-conforming siblings,” said Compas, adding: “They’re ally-ship was fake, they were and are—like many companies—chasing the pink pound.”
Compas continued: “Every year that pride comes around, I see these companies coming out with these really disingenuous campaigns including LGBTQ+ people, in ‘support’ of pride, but many often neglect Black and people of colour (POC )from their campaigns, our trans and gender non-conforming siblings, our otherwise abled siblings, our muslim siblings…They keep it safe.
“There seems to be more emphasis on our CIS-Het white ‘allies’ than people from the community itself.”
The front door and door blinds of the organization’s office were set on fire, according to LGL.LGL said that a passing taxi driver stopped to put the fire out.
The group described the incident as a “vicious homophobic attack,” adding: “LGL believe that the incident was motivated by hate towards the local LGBT community and organization which represents their interests.”
“This incident clearly indicates that hate crimes on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity remain an important issue in Lithuania,” said LGL’s executive director Vladimir Simonko in a statement released to PinkNews.
“It is dissapointing [sic] to see that such horrific crimes still take place in 2018 in the heart of our beautiful capital Vilnius.
“We would like to kindly thank the taxi driver who took the initiative to extinguish the fire and saved our offices from more major damages. We hope that the true motives of the incident will be duly clarified.”
PinkNews has contacted Vilnius’ police department for comment.
Founded in 1993, the LGL works for the progression of LGBT+ rights for people in the country.
Lithuania has a generally poor record on LGBT+ rights.
Although homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993, civil partnerships and equal marriage remain illegal in the country, and there are widespread socially negative attitudes towards sexuality and gender.
Same-sex adoption is also effectively illegal in the couple as, generally, parents must be married in order to adopt a child.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was made illegal in 2005.
It is also difficult to legally change gender in Lithuania, which is normally only permitted following a court ruling and after surgery.
However, a European Court of Human Rights decision in April 2017 has meant that two trans men in Lithuania were allowed by the country’s courts to legally change their gender prior to having surgery.
The country’s LGBT+ groups are calling on the government to scrap the requirement for trans people to have gender reassignment surgery before they can change their gender on official documents.
Lithuania’s government has also taken some steps to show support for LGBT+ people in the country.
In May 2017, the country’s parliament marked International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia by lighting up Vilnius’City Hall in rainbow colors and hosting an exhbition with LGBT+ artists.
The first gay pride parade in the country took place in Vilnius in 2010.