Michigan Governor Furthers LGBT Protections in State Contracts and Bans State Agencies From Asking For Salary History

National Law Review Legal Publishing Hitting the ground running, Michigan’s new governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has imposed new requirements in the employment arena—but only for executive branch state employees and some contractors and grant and loan recipients. This could be a sign of things to come for employers everywhere in Michigan or at least a sign of building momentum within the state government.

In her first 10 days in office, Governor Whitmer signed 10 executive directives. Executive directives are limited in their power and apply only to the executive branch of the state government, meaning the governor’s directives only control internal policy of executive branch departments; they do not apply directly to private businesses.

As a follow up to former governor Rick Snyder’s Executive Directive 2018-07 , which requires certain state contracts, grants, and loans to prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination as a term of the agreement, Governor Whitmer increased protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. She has also issued an executive directive instituting a state government “don’t ask” policy with respect to applicants’ compensation histories, in order to reduce pay inequality. Executive Directive 2019-09

With Executive Directive 2019-09 , Governor Whitmer has extended the protections of Executive Directive 2018-07 by eliminating the exception that existed for 501(c)(3) religious organizations. Similar to the prior directive, effective immediately, all contracts, grants, and loans administered by a board, department, agency, or commission within the executive branch must include a requirement that the person or entity, any subcontractor under the contract, or sub-recipient under the grant or loan “not discriminate against an employee or an applicant for employment in hiring, any terms and conditions of employment, or matters related to employment because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, marital status, partisan considerations, or a disability or genetic information that is unrelated to the person’s ability to perform the duties of a particular job or position.” Within the definition of “sex,” the terms “gender identity or expression” and “sexual orientation” are included. By eliminating the nonprofit religious organization exception, this new executive directive expands the coverage of the prior, displaced directive.

As with the prior directive, the real effect of this directive will be seen in the contractual language that is included in the various agreements it covers. Only private employers party to, or subcontracting pursuant to, these contracts will be affected. However, the directive offers a glimpse at the governor’s views on—and perhaps even builds momentum toward—including gender identity and sexual orientation as protected characteristics in anti-discrimination laws as these laws continue to develop across the country. Executive Directive 2019-10

With Executive Directive 2019-10, another employment-related executive directive, Governor Whitmer has prohibited executive branch officials from inquiring into an applicant’s compensation history until the department or agency makes a conditional offer of employment, complete with an explanation of proposed compensation. It is the governor’s view that “[a]sking job applicants about their salary histories can inappropriately perpetuate the gender wage gap by enabling prospective employers to offer lower salaries to women than they otherwise would.” The directive also prevents the hiring agency from gathering an applicant’s salary history information elsewhere, but it does not prevent an applicant from voluntarily disclosing that information.

This directive is consistent with a nationwide trend. Various state and local governments have already passed laws prohibiting prospective employers from asking about applicants’ salary histories. Due to potential differences between state and local laws, this has resulted in a patchwork of laws that employers must navigate.

To avoid such a patchwork of laws in Michigan, the Michigan Legislature passed Michigan Compiled Laws Section 123.1384, effective June 24, 2018, which prohibits a local government from adopting an ordinance regulating information requested “on an application for employment or during the interview process.” As it stands, there is no state law prohibiting all employers from inquiring as to an applicant’s compensation history. This latest directive, with its limited application to certain state agencies, is the only official action toward prohibiting such an inquiry in any respect.

It remains to be seen whether the underlying protections provided by these directives will ever make it outside of the executive branch of the state government. We will continue to monitor developments in this area, as they could lead to laws that would govern all employers in the state.

Stormy Daniels has come out as bisexual: ‘I like to f**k men and women’

Stormy Daniels. | Photo: @thestormydaniels/Instagram Porn star and stripper Stormy Daniels has just come out as bisexual in a fiery Twitter argument.

The actress rose to international fame when she revealed she had an affair with US President Donald Trump. The relationship is detailed in her memoir Full Disclosure, published in 2018. Take that how you will, says Stormy

Prompted by a Twitter user, Daniels gave insight into her sexual orientation on 16 January. I’d enjoy using my fists on her…take that how you will. *wink wink* Besides she won’t be able to spew her nonsense with her mouth full. https://t.co/SI7ngI5j0S — Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) January 16, 2019 Nope…I like to fuck men and women. It’s called bisexual. — Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) January 16, 2019 ‘I’d pay good money to see @StormyDaniels beat the shit out of @TomiLahren,’ a Twitter user said, referring to Conservative pundit Tomi Lahren.

The porn actress replied with a cheeky tweet.

‘I’d enjoy using my fists on her…take that how you will. *wink wink* Besides she won’t be able to spew her nonsense with her mouth full.’

‘So now your lesbian? Besides she’d never. You’re out of her league girl,’ another Twitter user commented.

Daniels then clarified her sexuality in a further comment.

‘Nope…I like to fuck men and women. It’s called bisexual.’ ‘Thank you for promoting bi-visibility’

While some criticized her, many Twitter users approved the choice of coming out publicly. Thank you for promoting bi-visibility! It is needed and appreciated. — Anni Bruno (@Anni_Bruno) January 18, 2019 Full Disclosure

The actress is currently in a legal dispute with US President Donald Trump.

Daniels sued Trump and his former attorney Michale Cohen to void a nondisclosure agreement regarding an alleged affair she had with the president while his wife Melania was pregnant in 2006.

The actress detailed the encounters in her memoir Full Disclosure. Trump, however, denies ever sleeping with her. Read also:

Christian mom had best response when her church told her to disown her bi child

Susan (left), Annie (middle) and Rob (right) Cottrell | Photo: Supplied A Christian woman was convinced homosexuality was wrong until her own daughter came out to her.

Susan Cottrell has given a powerful TED talk on how her faith and family have changed over the years.

She spent two decades as a member of an Evangelical church. And while they told her to disown her bisexual daughter, she refused.

The mother of five’s world was shaken when her 20-year-old daughter Annie called from college. Christian mom makes the right choice

Annie told her: ‘Mom, I’ve got something to tell you. I’m attracted to girls. I think I’m bisexual. I prayed about it, Mom – I resisted, but it won’t go away.’

Cottrell immediately told her to ‘not give in’ and that she’ll support her.

Up until then, Cottrell regualarly attended a Bible study class where she was repeatedly told homosexuality is a sin.

But then she realized she was being forced to make a choice.

‘I realized I was being asked to choose between the two most important parts of my life: my child and my church. I chose my child,’ she said.

It took Cottrell some time to finally come to terms with Annie’s sexuality.

Eventually, Cottrell realized ‘God was telling me to serve the gay community.

She and her husband, Rob, started the blog FreedHearts.org. The blog offers messages of love and hope to counter the hateful ones spewed by many Christian churches.

‘As pastors, Rob and I represent the voice of God, and it’s a voice of love,’ she said. Dad feels the same way

Her husband Rob feels the same.

‘When my daughter came out, I realized that I was now part of ’the others’ within the church,’ he told Gay Star News.

‘My eyes were opened to the church’s tragic oppression and marginalization of the entire LGBT community.’

He added: ‘‘Most of the hurt and pain experienced by the LGBT community comes from parents and others who inflict that damage in Jesus’ name’.

‘Full love, acceptance, affirmation and inclusion of my daughter and others like her is actually consistent with my faith.’

LGBT Activists Are Using Visual Arts to Change Hearts and Minds in Bangladesh

Expand A Hijra in Dhaka, Bangladesh. © 2013 Shahria Sharmin In April 2016, the police found the bodies of Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Mahbub, two prominent LGBT rights activists, in an apartment in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital. This week, police arrested one of the main suspects in the murder, stating that the killers had plotted the attack over the past six months .

Mannan and Mahbub’s murders form part of a string of similar attacks on progressive bloggers and political commentators, and sent shivers through lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities in Bangladesh – leading dozens of activists to flee the country.

Mannan was the charismatic editor of Roopban, Bangladesh’s first LGBT-themed magazine, launched in 2014. He was a visible and openly gay human rights activist who supported and protected gay and trans people even in the face of threats against the community.

His close friend Mahbub was also an openly queer activist. The two were hacked to death with machetes in Mahbub’s apartment. An Al-Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility , calling Mannan a “pioneer of promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh”.

The gay and trans community in Bangladesh is under constant pressure. “Visibility can be life-threatening,” Boys of Bangladesh, an LGBT rights organisation, warned in 2015.

Even subtle displays of activism can attract unwanted attention. Visibility has become even riskier as the authorities have repeatedly failed to support freedom of expression – evidenced by police indifference to the killings of progressive public figures and new laws passed to stifle online content.

Amid such threats and attacks, queer activists in Bangladesh have developed creative strategies to raise awareness, educate the public and carve out safe spaces for expressions of diversity.

Visual arts have been an effective tactic.

In 2015, Boys of Bangladesh began a cartoon series called Dhee , the name of the main lesbian character. Activists used the cartoon series in private events across the countries to teach about diversity, sexual orientation and gender identity, and acceptance.

Audiences first meet Dhee as a schoolgirl and then follow her as she becomes a woman – including her attraction to a female classmate – and read about the sharp rejection and rebuke she faces for her “unnatural” feelings.

The story ends on a cliffhanger – the authors wanted audiences to think and discuss what Dhee’s opportunities might be amid very real social pressures in contemporary Bangladesh.

But while Dhee may have been changing hearts and minds incrementally, the government of Bangladesh has continued in its antipathy toward sexual and gender diversity.

The National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh has documented physical and sexual assaults on LGBT people by the police.

Government initiatives to improve opportunities for hijras ( a community of transgender women ) through official third gender recognition were derailed in practice, when they experienced humiliation and abuse at the hands of doctors.

At a United Nations review, the Bangladeshi government accepted a recommendation to enhance police training in terms of dealing with women and children, but rejected the call to protect LGBT people, stating “sexual orientation is not an issue in Bangladesh”.

Bangladesh retains a law that criminalises same-sex conduct, or “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” – the same remnant of British colonial law that India struck down last year .

But LGBT activists are not giving up.

Dhee’s adventures have taken hold amongst LGBT Bangladeshis – and the authors are now asking the world for help to continue the series. They have opened a campaign to raise funds to produce a new cartoon volume.

As one organiser wrote anonymously in an article for the London School of Economics: “People who identify as queer are more than just a statistic, or an alphabet in an acronym, or a policy, or a minority group that you place behind a comma. We are members of your community, of many large communities.”

The point was simple, they wrote: “We hold great knowledge and have radical stories to tell. And nobody can tell these stories like we can.” Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.

Lauren Jauregui: ‘The music industry clouds your soul’

‘I was trying to make my music sound like something else’ Last year, Lauren Jauregui had to rediscover her love of music.

As a member of the US girl group Fifth Harmony, she’d sold millions of records and scored global hits with the slinky R&B of Worth It and Work From Home.

But the band were burned out, forced into a punishing work schedule and recording songs they didn’t believe in.

"It’s overwhelming to have your whole, entire life planned for something you don’t feel passionate about," Jauregui told the LA Times in 2017 .

"You’re not seeing your family, your friends. You’re not doing anything for yourself. It was depressing, draining and sad."

Camila Cabello was the first to quit, allegedly on bad terms . The rest of the band struggled through one last album before announcing an "indefinite hiatus" last March.

All of the members have since released solo material, with Jauregui’s fierce-yet-vulnerable Expectations among the best of the bunch, showcasing the 22-year-old’s husky voice against a simple guitar riff.

It has a more organic, soulful sound than we’d come to expect from Fifth Harmony – harking back to Jauregui’s 2012 audition for the US X Factor , where she covered Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You.

But the singer only arrived at Expectations after a confusing and painful period in the musical wilderness.

"The industry clouds your soul," Jauregui tells the BBC. "They make you feel like you have to be a certain way to be accepted and I got lost in that.

"I had been pushed a psyche [mindset] of what successful music sounded like – so I had this backwards concept of what I thought was good for me, commercially."

It got so bad that the musician stopped writing, and even listening to, music. Fifth Harmony – smiling through the pressure in 2015 "It was weird for me, because I love writing in general," she says. "But everything I wrote was just sad poems.

"Then, as soon as the group dissolved and we started to go our separate ways, it kind of cleared a lot of blockages from my heart and I started getting back into music that I actually liked."

She delved into the albums that inspired her as a teenager – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, Songs In A Minor by Alicia Keys – and began to figure out her own sound.

"Last year was super-challenging in the sense of ripping away all the things that weren’t me any more and allowing myself to come through that.

"I was like, ‘Do you know what? I have to pull back. I like more organic sounding things, I like live instruments, I like writing lyrics that come straight from the heart.’"

One of the first songs she wrote in that frame of mind was Expectations, which quickly established itself as the perfect debut single.

Warning: The following video contains explicit language Warning: Third party content may contain adverts

Report

"I went on tour with Halsey – and that was one of the songs I had in my setlist. When I sang it for the first time in Sao Paolo, it was completely unreleased [but] by the end of the song they were singing the words back to me.

"English isn’t their first language in Brazil, so I was floored by the response. That’s why I chose it." Mighty Aphrodite

Jauregui started 2019 by following Expectations up with More Than That – a sassy, assertive takedown of a wannabe lover.

"You gon’ have to come stronger than this liquor/ Wanna take me home, better be more convincing / It’ll take more than that to get to me," she sings over a slick trap beat.

Hammering home her messages of feminine power and self-worth, Jauregui recreates Botticelli’s iconic 15th Century painting The Birth of Venus in the artwork.

The video, meanwhile, sees her playing Aphrodite , who comes to earth and visits a strip club (stick with us here) in a celebration of womanhood.

"It’s about taking that kind of rap video imagery and empowering the women who do this work," she explains.

"They’re stripping, but each woman’s spirit is captured in a way that’s revering her strength and her sensuality." The singer recreates The Birth Of Venus in the artwork for her new single Having dreamt up the video concept and cast the models, Jauregui found herself in awe of their athleticism.

"It was amazing. The number of hours they were doing these tricks and twirling and carving the pole. You’d think they’d be all oiled up – but they have to be completely dry, with chalk on their hands, so they can do their work.

"I was grateful we could capture that and really highlight them. They’re the centrepiece of the video for me."

And did she pick up any tips?

"Any tips?!" she laughs heartily. "Well, yeah, just by watching them. The way they used their bodies is so mesmerising." Fighting ‘hate rhetoric’

Jauregui, who was born in Miami to Cuban parents, came out as bisexual in a powerful column for Billboard magazine in 2016, which she wrote as an angry response to Donald Trump’s election victory.

"If I could tell every Trump supporter two things, it would be to travel and read a history book," she wrote . "Realise that your white skin is the result of immigration from Europe, that the only true ‘Americans’ are Native Americans. None of us belong here but all of us deserve the right to feel safe and live our lives in peace."

Two years into Trump’s presidency, she’s still exasperated ("every day something ignorant comes out of his mouth") but determined to turn her anger into something more positive.

"We’re all becoming aware of how atrocious the hate rhetorics are, and how destructive they are to humanity but instead of just trashing what’s going on – which I did for a while – I’ve shifted my focus into a more productive energy, of how can I convince people to get together and uplift each other." On her debut album: "I’m going to give myself a few more months at the top of this year to work with different people because I’ve honed in on the sound I want to create." Outside of her music, she’s leveraged her 10 million social media followers to campaign for gun reform and LGBT rights; and partnered with Amnesty International’s Write For Rights campaign, encouraging people to contact government officials in support of female human rights activists who find themselves in danger.

Was she warned against making political statements when she was in Fifth Harmony?

"Of course people advised me against it," she says.

"When you’re working in any industry that has to do with making people like you, they’re going to advise you against saying things that would turn anyone off.

"But I just happen to have a very powerful voice. I articulate myself well when I write and when I speak, so if God gave me that power, I have to use it."

Her beliefs have permeated her music – most notably on Strangers , a tumultuous LGBT duet from Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom album – but Jauregui says her debut album will be more personal than political.

"That’s just who I am. I’m a deeply emotional thinker, so a lot of my music is reflective of coming of age and finding yourself and clearing out the clutter in your heart.

"But I think that’s ok. I want to be someone who is about love and acceptance, no matter where you come from, no matter how you look, no matter what your story is.

"I want you to feel loved and heard and seen, through my music and through my energy." Follow us on Facebook , on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts , or on Instagram at bbcnewsents . If you have a story suggestion email . Lauren Jauregui – BBC Music Lauren Jauregui – BBC Music

BBC Music homepage

BBC Music News LIVE

Stormy Daniels comes out as bisexual in fiery Twitter argument

Stormy Daniels has revealed that she’s bisexual on Twitter (Tara Ziemba/Getty and stormydaniels/twitter) Porn star Stormy Daniels has come out as bisexual.

The adult film star , who was paid $130,000 for her silence about an alleged affair with President Donald Trump, made the revelation on Thursday (January 17) during an argument on Twitter .

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, told her followers: “I like to f**k men and women. It’s called bisexual.” Stormy Daniels came out in the most savage way

Daniels came out after her attorney, Michael Avenatti, got into an online spat with Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren over Trump serving fast food at the White House on January 14.

As the pair traded personal insults, a Twitter user commented: “I’d pay good money to see @StormyDaniels beat the s**t out of @TomiLahren.” “I like to f**k men and women. It’s called bisexual.”

In response, Daniels wrote: “I’d enjoy using my fists on her… take that how you will. *wink wink* Besides she won’t be able to spew her nonsense with her mouth full.”

A different tweeter asked: “So now your [sic] lesbian ? Besides she’d never. You’re out of her league girl.”

Daniels educated the user, saying: “Nope… I like to f**k men and women. It’s called bisexual.” Stormy Daniels educated some people about being bisexual (stormydaniels/twitter) The same person responded: “Hard to believe any women would want to lick your privates. Disgusting,” to which Daniels had a savage put-down. She tweeted: “And yet… here I am getting more p***y than I know what to do with. #winning.” Stormy Daniels detailed her alleged sexual encounters with Donald Trump

The bisexual porn star has previously written about the affair she claims to have had with Trump.

In her memoir Full Disclosure , released in October, she stated that the president’s penis was shaped like the “mushroom character in Mario Kart ,” according to The Guardian .

The porn actress also said Trump had “Yeti pubes,” and that sleeping with him was “the least impressive sex” she had ever experienced. Stormy Daniels has opened up about her alleged sexual affair with Donald Trump. (RALF HIRSCHBERGER/AFP/Getty) The sexual rendezvous allegedly took place in 2006, after the president had married his current wife, First Lady Melania Trump .

Daniels also described Trump’s penis as “smaller than average,” but “not freakishly small.”

She added: “He knows he has an unusual penis. It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool.”

The salacious revelations came after Daniels made a surprise appearance at gay club night G-A-Y in central London—for which she was reportedly flown in especially for the event.

The adult film star shocked nightclub goers as she joined the judging panel for G-A-Y’s infamous Porn Idol at Heaven nightclub.

Murdered transgender woman was a hero in her community

Amy Griffiths has been remembered as a "hero" in her local community (amy_griffiths/facebook) A transgender woman who police suspect was murdered has been hailed as a “hero” to her community.

Amy Griffiths, 51, was found dead on Monday (January 14) at her flat in Worcester , central England . West Mercia Police said that she had suffered throat and head injuries.

Martin Saberi, 53, has been charged with murdering the transgender woman and is due to appear at Worcester Crown Court on Friday (January 18), according to local newspaper Worcester News . Transgender woman Amy Griffiths remembered fondly

One of Griffiths’ friends in the local town of Droitwich, Connor Turner, told Worcester News that she was a “hero” to the area’s LGBT+ community.

“She didn’t have a selfish bone in her body. She helped me through some difficult times when I was younger,” said Turner, who works at the nearby Bell Inn pub.

“I knew her from when I was 15 years old. I ended up on the streets for a bit. She found me outside a local shopping market and offered to cook me tea.” “I was absolutely devastated when I heard about her death. I’m heartbroken.”

Turner, 21, said that Griffiths helped him as he was coming to terms with his sexuality .

“Our friendship blossomed, she taught me how to love myself and care for myself. At the time I was coming out as bisexual,” he recalled.

“I was absolutely devastated when I heard about her death. I’m heartbroken.” He added that Griffiths also helped performers with their drag acts and had a love of air rifles, cats and reptiles.

Mike Davis, who lived in the same building as the transgender woman, remembered her as “a lovely person with a good sense of humour.” Amy Griffiths reportedly helped local performers with their drag acts (amy_griffiths/facebook) The 24 year old first met her in 2015, when Griffiths “lived with her girlfriend at the time,” and said he was shocked to find out on Wednesday (January 16) that she had died.

An unnamed 52-year-old Droitwich resident said they used to see Griffiths at the bus stop, where they “exchanged pleasantries. She seemed friendly, she said good morning. It’s very sad.

“The only time we see police and ambulance up here is if someone’s taken poorly. I never expected this.”

A spokesman for West Mercia Homes, which owns the complex where Griffiths was found dead , said: “We are shocked and saddened by this incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of Miss Griffiths at this time.

“We continue to assist West Mercia Police with their enquiries and we are providing support for our residents at Chalverton Court.”

Saberi, of Brackley Close, Wallington, Surrey , was held in custody on Thursday (January 17), but failed to appear at his hearing at Kidderminster Magistrates Court.

The hearing took place in his absence.

The Latest: Missouri House votes against LGBT protections

Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr speaks to reporters Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018, during a press conference in the House Lounge of the state Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. Haahr was elected by colleagues to the top leadership position earlier Wednesday, which was the first day of the 2019 legislative session. (AP Photo/David A. Lieb) JEFFERSON CITY, MO (AP) – Missouri House members have voted against protecting staff from being fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

House members in a Tuesday voice vote rejected the proposed change to House internal rules.

Kansas City Democratic Rep. Greg Razer is gay and pushed for the change. He says that people should not be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Razer told colleagues that "your religious views may say we’re going to hell. But we also have the right to have a job."

Springfield Republican Rep. Curtis Trent raised concerns that adding those protections for LGBT House staffers could infringe on religious liberty. He said there needs to be more debate on the issue, and said it shouldn’t be decided in an internal rule change.

Court Decisions on LGBT Rights Echo ‘A Wild Wish’

Expand Indian members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community celebrate the Supreme Court decision to strike down a colonial-era ban on gay sex, in Kolkata on September 6, 2018. More than two centuries ago Mary Wollstonecraft laid the foundations for feminist thought with a simple premise: lack of equal opportunity diminished individual self-worth and hobbled social progress. In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Wollstonecraft made a “wild wish” for equality between the sexes. When women are treated as less than equal in law and society, she argued, it affects not only the practicalities of everyday life, but encroaches on autonomy, dignity and agency.

Her arguments apply today to people marginalized by prevailing social norms, including those who do not conform to sexual and gender stereotypes. It is these same issues – autonomy, dignity, equality and agency – that were addressed in 2018 in three landmark court judgments in India, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.

These decisions – each one striking down discriminatory laws – herald new legal dispensations and life possibilities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in these countries. But the judgments go much further than striking down archaic and discriminatory laws. They trace ignoble colonial histories, highlight the negative impact on individuals and society, and seek avenues for redress. In doing so they draw on and develop jurisprudence from countries in the global South, each grappling with the legacy of colonialism.

It is not often that a judgment reflects on the meaning of human existence and the nature of desire, but the long-awaited decision of the Indian Supreme Court, handed down in September, did so, poetically. The court drew on literature, philosophy, social science, queer theory and individual testimony to invalidate Section 377 of India’s penal code, which punished “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with 10 years to life in prison. In doing so, the court upheld individual autonomy, equality, privacy and dignity, stating that “homosexuality is a completely natural condition, part of a range of human sexuality.”

The decision rejected the idea that individual lives should be limited by “the bondage of dogmatic social norms, prejudiced notions, rigid stereotypes, parochial mindsets and bigoted perceptions.” It railed against the “tyranny of the majority” and reasserted the role of the court as a “threshold against an upsurge in mob rule.” By using “constitutional morality” to protect minorities against “societal morality,” the courts protect freedom for all: “Our ability to survive as a free society will depend upon whether Constitutional values can prevail over the impulses of the time.”

The India judgment references a broad sweep of comparative law from around the world, including Belize, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Fiji, Hong Kong, Nepal, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the US and the United Kingdom. Invoking the “sodomy” laws as a residual “yoke” of British rule, the court declared that “history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries.” The Indian Penal Code served as a template for similar laws imposed throughout the British Empire. Its demise will register globally; it is already referenced in a legal challenge to a similar Kenyan law and is inspiring a new challenge to Singapore’s colonial sodomy law as well.

The High Court in Trinidad and Tobago similarly ruled sections of the Sexual Offences Act that criminalize “buggery” and “serious indecency” unconstitutional, pointing out that – even when dormant – these laws send a message that “society hates homosexuals.” The judgment asserted the rights of individuals, including members of unpopular groups, above vague concepts such as tradition and religious morality. The court stated: “this is a case about the dignity of the person and not about the will of the majority or any religious debate.” The court also reflected that it was unfortunate when individual traits of race, gender, age, or sexual orientation were used as yardsticks to measure worth: “That is not their identity. That is not their soul.” In coming to these conclusions, judges referenced foreign precedent from courts in South Africa, Nepal, Fiji and Belize.

In November, the Caribbean Court of Justice struck down as unconstitutional a 125-year-old law against cross-dressing for an “improper purpose.” This law had been used disproportionately against transgender women in Guyana. The court traced the origins of the law, part of a suite of laws against vagrancy, to the coercive labor practices imposed in the aftermath of slavery and rejected them as relics of an oppressive past. The primary objective of vagrancy laws was to restrict mobility and force former slaves back to plantations as a way of maintaining a steady supply of cheap labor.

The court found that the law violated fundamental rights to equality, non-discrimination and freedom of expression. It condemned the role of gender stereotypes in restricting gender equality and individual self-determination. Pointing out that “[l]aw and society are dynamic, not static,” the court asserted the value of tolerance for individuals and society as a whole, recalling that “[t]oday’s heresy may easily become tomorrow’s gratefully embraced orthodoxy.” In this the court echoes the prescient insights of the feminist frontrunner Wollstonecraft and her wild wish:

A wild wish has just flown from my heart to my head, and I will not stifle it, though it might excite a horse-laugh. I do earnestly wish to see the distinction of sex confounded in society, unless where love animates the behaviour.

Taken together, these landmark judgments go to the heart of how restrictive and discriminatory laws harm individual lives and hamper social progress. When free expression is denied, said the Caribbean Court of Justice, “On the one hand, the human spirit is stultified. On the other, social progress is retarded.” Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.

Karen Pence’s anti-LGBT school sent 100 copies of John Oliver’s gay book

John Oliver created a pro-LGBT book called "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo" in a bid to mock vice president Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence. (Chronicle Books) LGBT+ suicide prevention charity The Trevor Project has sent 100 copies of John Oliver’s pro-gay book A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo to second lady Karen Pence’s school, which bans queer students.

On Tuesday (January 15), it was revealed that Karen Pence will take on a part-time job as an art teacher at Immanuel Christian School in Fairfax County, Virginia.

The school’s website states that students can be refused admission if they support or take part in “sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bisexual activity.” Karen Pence’s school to receive John Oliver’s pro-gay book mocking vice president’s pet rabbit

In response, The Trevor Project announced that it has sent 100 copies of a pro-gay book created by talkshow host John Oliver, which is a parody version of a children’s book illustrated by Karen Pence about the vice president’s family rabbit. Karen Pence (right) has begun working as an art teacher at a Christian school with a strict policy on LGBT students and staff. (Sergio Lima/AFP/Getty) “We hope Immanuel Christian School will adopt policies of inclusion for LGBTQ young people that make them feel safe, accepted, and loved,” said Amit Paley, executive director of The Trevor Project.

The charity said that each book includes a note that “encourages the school’s leaders to accept LGBTQ young people.” “We hope Immanuel Christian School will adopt policies of inclusion for LGBTQ young people that make them feel safe, accepted, and loved.”

—Amit Paley, executive director of The Trevor Project Former pupil, who is gay, says Karen Pence’s school harmed his mental health

In a press release sent out by The Trevor Project, Luke Hartman, a gay former pupil at Immanuel Christian School, explained the detrimental impact being a student there had on his mental health.

“As an alumnus of Immanuel Christian School, I am a living example that intolerance, both in policy and rhetoric, are harmful to the mental wellness and development of LGBTQ students, who are desperately looking for ways to fit in,” Hartman said.

“The silent and spoken messages of rejection that are constantly felt by LGBTQ students directly impact the relationship they have with their faith, education, and relationships with family and friends—ultimately resulting in a feeling of being less than when compared to their straight and cisgender peers.”

In March, Oliver created a parody version of a book, illustrated by Karen Pence and written by the Pence couple’s daughter Charlotte, called Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President.

The comedian described his gay take on the Pence’s book as being about a “very special boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny.”