TCS first Tata co to include LGBT staff for health cover

TCS first Tata co to include LGBT staff for health cover

Udit Prasanna Mukherji & Namrata Singh | TNN
Kolkata/Mumbai: IT giant Tata Consultancy Services ( TCS ), the country’s largest private sector employer with over 4 lakh people on its payroll, has tweaked its health insurance policy to cover staffers involved in a same-sex relationship. It would perhaps be the first Tata Group company to do so.

In an email update to its employees, TCS announced the new changes which will benefit LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) employees. The new policy redefines ‘spouse’ as ‘partner’, thus broadening the scope to cover same-sex partners.

Some progressive companies have already extended medical cover/family health insurance cover to same sex partners and these include RBS India , Citibank , Capgemini India . Some of these policies have been extended to live-in partners as well.

TCS global diversity head Preeti D’mello told TOI the new policy was formalised last week. The definition of spouse will now include same-sex partners irrespective of their marital status.

Under the new policy, up to 50% of the cost of sex/gender reassignment surgery (up to a maximum of Rs 2 lakh) will be covered by insurance.

“Respect for the individual is one of our core TCS values, and built on this value, we continue our journey towards LGBTQ+ inclusion. We believe in building an organisation where everyone feels included, involved and respected. We want to make the ecosystem fare and conducive for all,” said D’mello, adding that the firm has already received one application for gender reassignment surgery.

KPMG India director and leader for inclusion and diversity Zainab Patel said: “When it comes to promoting LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual and many other terms) inclusion in the workplace, one of the issues that often provokes the most debate is the subject of employee benefits. To this effect, KPMG in India, has made fair amount of adjustments in the insurance cover and has extended references to ‘spouse’ to include ‘partner’ and clearly states that this may include partners of the same or opposite sex or live in partner.”

Patel said this has ensured that LGBTQIA+ employees’ partners are treated equally as family members and beneficiaries in medical, insurance, relocation and relevant leave policies (e.g. parental, primary caregiver or compassionate leave).

On the recent move by the government to pass the transgender person protection bill, Patel said it would be exemplary for India Inc to engage with medical insurance providers so as to make India medical insurance gender inclusive under which gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, etc. for transitioning transgender persons at the workplace is also covered within its ambit and also put in an effective complaints redressal mechanism in place.

Hiring LGBT, disabled and indigenous astronomers will lead to more significant discoveries, report says

Hiring LGBT, disabled and indigenous astronomers will lead to more significant discoveries, report says

Hiring more LGBT+ astronomers could result "in major discoveries and advances". (Envato) A paper published in an Australian science journal has said that hiring diverse astronomers, especially those from the LGBT+, disabled and indigenous communities, is essential for the country’s success in the field.

The report, published in the journal Nature Astronomy , said that astronomers from marginalised groups are likely to have fresh perspectives that could help Australia advance in the era of “mega-telescopes”.

Professor Lisa Kewley , director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics (ASTRO 3D), said: “Studies show that increased diversity up to the highest levels of organisations, and effective diversity management, leads to organisations outperforming their competition in innovation, productivity and profit because more ideas are produced.

“These might be ideas for new experiments, products, or new ways to become more efficient or profitable.”

Kewley said that Australia has already shown a “striking” improvement in the number of women working in the industry. Of the 500 astronomers working in Australia, 27 percent are women with PhDs and 37 percent are women studying for a PhD or lesser degree.

The Australian Academy of Science recommended that women should fill at least a third of positions at all levels by 2025.

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She added that many institutions have taken up an initiative called the Pleiades Awards, run by the Astronomical Society of Australia, which rates organisations based on the level of participation by women at all levels.

“The broad uptake of Pleiades Awards is remarkable,” she said. “Institutions are not required to do so, and there is no financial incentive for receiving one.”

Now, Kewley, is the time organisations to move beyond encouraging the participation of women to also actively recruit LGBT+, indigenous, disabled, and chronically ill astronomers.

She added: “It is reasonable to infer that greater levels of diversity in astronomy organisations will also produce a greater likelihood of outperforming competition in astronomy key performance measures in major discoveries and advances.” Jupiter says trans rights. https://t.co/TikKjuim0L

— ‍⚧️ Stella, the Final(s) Girl ‍⚧️ (@stellas2ndact) November 18, 2019 As astronomers move towards greater inclusion of LGBT+ people, so do the subjects of their research.

Jupiter was photographed in UV light by the Hubble Telescope late last year, but a tweet from a trans activist went viral in October when they captioned a photo of the planet with: “Jupiter says trans rights.”

LGBT activists in China seek to change marriage civil code

LGBT activists in China seek to change marriage civil code

By YANAN WANG
Associated Press BEIJING (AP) — It was only after her partner’s death that He Meili realized the full meaning of marriage. As a lesbian couple in China, He and Li Qin kept their ties largely unspoken, sometimes introducing themselves as cousins. This rarely bothered He until Li succumbed to complications from lupus in 2016, and Li’s parents demanded that He hand over the deed for their apartment and other property documents under Li’s name.

He, a 51-year-old nonprofit worker in southern China’s Guangzhou city, has joined LGBT activists and supporters in an appeal to lawmakers to allow same-sex marriage, using a state-sanctioned channel to skirt recent government moves to suppress collective action.

“I realized if LGBT people don’t have the right to marry, we have no legal protections,’’ she said. “Others will also experience what I did—and be left with nothing.’’

Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, space for civil society and advocacy has shrunk. Human rights activists and their lawyers have been detained, while internet censorship has increased.

LGBT activists have turned to a novel tactic: submitting statements to the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, which is soliciting opinions from the public on a draft of the “Marriage and Family’’ portion of the Civil Code.

The Marriage and Family section is among six draft regulations for which the legislature began seeking comments at the end of October. As of Nov. 28, the website showed that more than 200,000 suggestions had been submitted either online or by mail, the greatest number of any of the outstanding drafts.

A teacher wrote about experiencing discrimination at his workplace; others wrote about not being allowed to make medical decisions for their ailing partners.

“This is not just a symbolic gesture,’’ said Peng Yanzi, director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China, one of several groups running the campaign. “It really has an impact on our everyday lives.’’

Peng’s organization has outlined a desired revision to the language in the Civil Code, changing the terms throughout from “husband and wife’’ to “spouses’’ and from “men and women’’ to “the two parties.’’

Rather than adding specific language about same-sex marriage, the revisions seek to eliminate gendered terms from the legislation.

While activists and experts acknowledge that legalizing same-sex marriage is still a far-off reality in China, they said appeals through the official channel will push the government to take the demand more seriously.

“There’s a near-zero chance the suggested changes will be accepted and implemented, but this campaign makes China’s LGBT community’s demands for equality harder to ignore,’’ said Darius Longarino, a senior fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center who has worked on legal reform programs promoting LGBT rights in China.

Few legal protections are available for same-sex couples in China. One party can apply to be the other’s legal guardian, but those accompanying rights are just a fraction of those enjoyed by married couples, Longarino said.

LGBT advocates have garnered growing support from the Chinese public, using social media to raise awareness. They won a victory over the censors in April 2018, when one of the country’s top social networking sites backtracked on a plan to restrict content related to LGBT issues. Users flooded Weibo with hashtags such as “(hash)I’mGayNotaPervert’’ after the Twitter-like platform said “pornographic, violent or gay’’ subject matter would be reviewed.

But misconceptions and discrimination persist. A 2015 survey by the Beijing LGBT Center found that 35 percent of mental health professionals in a sample group of nearly 1,000 believed that being gay is a mental illness. Around the same percentage supported the use of conversion therapy.

Friends told He that she could file a lawsuit to recover some of her and Li’s shared property. She hired a lawyer to start the process, which required painstaking documentation of their relationship and signed statements from their neighbors and friends attesting to their long-term bond. In the end, He gave up on the lawsuit. It was too exhausting, she said, to have to prove their love to everyone. Related

TCS first Tata co to include LGBT staff for health cover

TCS first Tata co to include LGBT staff for health cover

KOLKATA/ MUMBAI: IT giant Tata Consultancy Services ( TCS ), the largest private sector employer with a strength of over 4 lakh people on its payroll, has tweaked its health insurance policy to cover employees involved in a same-sex relationship. It would perhaps be the first Tata Group company to do so.
In an email update to its employees, TCS announced the new changes which will benefit LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) employees. The new policy redefines ‘spouse’ as ‘partner’, thus broadening the scope to cover same-sex partners.

Some progressive companies have already extended medical cover/family health insurance cover to same sex partners and these include RBS India, Citibank , Capgemini India, among others. Some of these policies are extended to live-in partners as well. TCS global diversity head Preeti D’mello told TOI the new policy was formalized last week. The definition of spouse will now include same-sex partners irrespective of their marital status.

Under the new policy, up to 50% of the cost of sex/gender reassignment surgery (up to a maximum of Rs 2 lakh) will be covered by insurance.

“Respect for the individual is one of our core TCS values, and built on this value, we continue our journey towards LGBTQ+ inclusion. We believe in building an organization where everyone feels included, involved and respected. We want to make the ecosystem fare and conducive for all,” said D’mello, while adding that the firm has already received one application for gender reassignment surgery,” D’mello said.

KPMG India director and leader for inclusion and diversity Zainab Patel said: “When it comes to promoting LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex , queer/questioning, asexual and many other terms) inclusion in the workplace, one of the issues that often provokes the most debate is the subject of employee benefits.

To this effect, KPMG in India, has made fair amount of adjustments in the insurance cover and has extended references to ‘spouse’ to include ‘partner’ and clearly states that this may include partners of the same or opposite sex or live in partner.”

Patel said this has ensured that LGBTQIA+ employees’ partners are treated equally as family members and beneficiaries in medical, insurance, relocation and relevant leave policies (e.g. parental, primary caregiver or compassionate leave).

On the recent move by the government to pass the transgender person protection bill, Patel said it would be exemplary for India Inc to engage with medical insurance providers so as to make India medical insurance gender inclusive under which gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, etc. for transitioning transgender persons at the workplace is also covered within its ambit and also put in an effective complaints redressal mechanism in place.

This trans woman trolling Grindr guys with audio messages has officially won the internet

This trans woman trolling Grindr guys with audio messages has officially won the internet

Twitter user Chase has been trolling Grindr guys forays in an amazing way. (Getty) In the tiled torso world of Grindr, roiled by accusations of racism and body-shaming, users have to find their own ways to have fun on the dating app.

Well, not always that kind of fun.

Getting into the Holiday spirit this was one user who decided to troll some Grindr guys in the best way possible.

She pretended she could only respond to audio messages, leading to some oddly specific and dizzyingly wild situations. THREAD: me trolling men on Grindr by telling them I only respond to audio messages pic.twitter.com/8uyKo13DfX

— chase (@chasetraub) December 2, 2019 ‘I’m not a lesbian, if that’s what you’re asking.’

In the first chat, Chase explained to a guy she only responds to audio messages because they’re “more entertaining.

“Also, I’m blind and don’t have thumbs.”

The guy chuckled, and then asked if Chase is using her nose to hit the record button with.

“Actually,” she suggestively said, “I’m holding it down with something else…

“It’s the scar tissue where my right thumb used to be.”

The guy hit back: “Jesus Christ, you’re funny. Pt 3: MY BUDDY BAM BAM (editing courtesy of @grigiogal ) pic.twitter.com/JU6IjDk3tx

— chase (@chasetraub) December 2, 2019 “Uh, to be honest, it must kinda suck not having thumbs.

“I feel really bad,” the guy said, whose Grindr heading was “[love] twinks”.

“Do you still have your pinkie and your first finger?”

Chase responded: “I’m not a lesbian, if that’s what you’re asking.”

She even did a few follow-up videos, and we’re personally petitioning for this to become a Netflix Original series, to be honest.

Christmas even came early for her followers, as she posted a seasonal edition: me trolling men on Grindr by telling them I only respond to audio messages: HOLIDAY EDITION pic.twitter.com/DStxpzOpCr

— chase (@chasetraub) December 5, 2019 Twitter dubs it ‘the best thread ever made’.

Chase’s expert level trolling tactic went viral, tallying 61,000 retweets in just a few days.

From “brilliant” to “this has me so deceased” to “my grave is set”, countless Twitter users were practically hospitalised for laughing too much. i’ve been thinking about this thread for 3 days https://t.co/BQ3uH6048b

— corpsette (@nmjnb) December 6, 2019 I DON’T HAVE ANY AIR LEFT https://t.co/dxRoJNrJiB

— Amoral ©️ 666 (@AKAamoral) December 2, 2019 Get me off this ride https://t.co/rudImX2cno

— moral fixation (@ethan_bratti) December 2, 2019 The best thread to EVER be created https://t.co/Py2bMREmwV

— Veronga (@verongamichelle) December 5, 2019 Moreover, with the tweets going viral, Chase is now offering bespoke voice note messages for the low, low price of $5. BUY A *CUSTOMIZABLE* AUDIO MESSAGE FROM ME, UP TO 2 MINUTES LONG FOR ONLY $5 ….transitioning is expensive lol!! venmo, cashapp, paypal are all @chasetraub DM ME! pic.twitter.com/df867DDpvh

— chase (@chasetraub) December 6, 2019

Everyone hates this Republican lawmaker’s terrible, no good ‘compromise’ plan on LGBT rights

Everyone hates this Republican lawmaker’s terrible, no good ‘compromise’ plan on LGBT rights

Rep. Chris Stewart’s bill received a frosty reception (Samuel Corum – Pool/Getty Images) LGBT+ groups and lawmakers have rejected a Republican congressman’s attempt to forge a “compromise” on civil rights that hands small businesses and religious people an effective license to keep discriminating against LGBT+ people.

Utah GOP Rep. Chris Stewart unveiled the so-called “Fairness for All Act” on Friday, in a supposed attempt to reach a cross-party compromise on LGBT+ issues in Congress.

However, the proposals have been rejected outright by civil rights campaigners and lawmakers, who have pointed out that the legislation would end up doing more harm than good by creating an effective license to discriminate. Republican lawmaker ‘compromise’ bill will still allow a lot discrimination.

Stewart’s plan would outlaw some discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but at the same time would create broad opt-outs for “the owners of small businesses whose religious and moral principles prevent them from participating in activities that are contrary to their conscience and beliefs.”

Under the plan, businesses with 15 employees or fewer would still be permitted to discriminate against LGBT+ customers – despite having no such exemption from race and sex discrimination laws. Republican Rep. Chris Stewart’s bill has been rejected by LGBT+ campaigners (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) The bill also permits religious organisations, schools and businesses to continue to discriminate against LGBT+ people in employment, while also explicitly protecting foster care agencies that refuse to serve LGBT+ people.

Stewart claimed : “All of God’s children, regardless of sexual orientation or religion, deserve dignity, respect, and the right to pursue happiness. This legislation allows us to settle the legal questions and get back to the business of loving our neighbours.” Bill gets frosty reception from LGBT+ groups and civil rights campaigners.

Campaigners pointed out that the proposals fall well short of the Equality Act , a bill being blocked by Senate Republicans that would extend existing civil rights laws to LGBT+ people across all 50 states.

National rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Lambda Legal, NAACP, PFLAG National and the Transgender Law Center, issued a rare joint statement roundly rejecting the legislation.

The groups made clear that the “broad exemptions” amount to “essentially licensing discrimination against LGBTQ people and women.”

The statement said: “The Fairness for All Act is anything but fair, and it certainly does not serve all of us.

“It is an affront to existing civil rights protections that protect people on the basis of race, sex, and religion and creates new, substandard protections for LGBTQ people with massive loopholes and carve-outs.”

In a separate statement, LGBT Equality Caucus co-chair Rep. David N. Cicilline made clear: “This bill does not protect LGBTQ people. Instead it codifies discrimination.

“The House already overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan Equality Act, which will ensure equal protection under the law for LGBTQ Americans. The Senate should bring the Equality Act up without further delay.”

Meanwhile, Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso warned: “The so-called Fairness for All Act is an unacceptable, partisan vehicle that erodes existing civil rights protections based on race, sex and religion, while sanctioning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.

“For LGBTQ people living at the intersection of multiple marginalised identities, this bill is a double whammy of dangerous rollbacks and discriminatory carve-outs. This bill is both wrong and harmful, and we strongly oppose it.”

However, the bill has had some support – from the Trump administration.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere, one of the few out Trump administration officials , said: “President Trump has protected human dignity, fought for inclusion, promoted LGBTQ Americans and strongly protected religious freedom for everyone while in office.

“The White House looks forward to reviewing the legislation.”

Fairness for All Act seeks middle ground on LGBT rights

Fairness for All Act seeks middle ground on LGBT rights

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) has introduced the Fairness for All Act. (Photo public domain) Newly introduced legislation in the U.S. House backed by the Mormon Church seeks to strike a middle ground on LGBT rights and religious freedom in federal civil rights law, although major proponents of each refuse to support the legislation.

Introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) on Friday, the Fairness for All Act would strike balance between LGBT rights and religious freedom in way proponents say would protect the First Amendment rights. That way, however, permits anti-LGBT discrimination from religious institutions and small-business wedding vendors.

“All of God’s children, regardless of sexual orientation or religion, deserve dignity, respect and the right to pursue happiness,” Stewart said. “This legislation allows us to settle the legal questions and get back to the business of loving our neighbors.”

The Fairness for All Act is seen as an alternative to the Equality Act, legislation approved by the House in May under the Democratic majority — with five Republican votes. The Equality Act would make anti-LGBT discrimination a form of sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and clarify the Religious Freedom Restoration Act can’t be a justification for discrimination.

Much like the Equality Act, the Fairness for All Act would make anti-LGBT discrimination against federal law, but it would also institute a accommodation for institutions like religious organization and small-business wedding vendors.

The Fairness for All Act would prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, jury selection, credit, federal programs and public accommodations, but do so without defining anti-LGBT discrimination as sex discrimination. The bill would also expand the definition of public accommodations beyond the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But in contrast to the Equality Act, the Fairness for All Act would preserve Religious Freedom Restoration Act and protect the tax-exempt status of religious colleges and universities that oppose same-sex marriage, such as Brigham Young University, Bethel University and Catholic University.

The Fairness for All Act would also extend protections to small business whose owners refuse to provide services to same-sex weddings based on religious objections. Among them is Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who gained notoriety when his reached the Supreme Court and justices ruled narrowly in his favor based on the facts of the case.

Similarly,

The measure would prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination at “any store, shopping center or online retailer or provider of online services that has 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year,” but states the threshold doesn’t apply to claims of discrimination based on race, color or national origin or the small business wedding vendors excluded under the measure.

Similarly, the measure says “a property owned or operated primarily for noncommercial purposes by a non-profit religious corporation that holds itself out to the public as substantially religious, has as its stated purpose in its organic documents that it is religious, and is substantially religious in its current operations” is not a public accommodations under the legislation.

Lastly, the Fairness for All Act purports to protect religiously affiliated adoption agencies “so they can continue to serve vulnerable children and willing couples, while at the same time ensuring the ability of LGBT persons to adopt and foster children too.”

Among the proponents of the Fairness for All Act is the Church of Latter-day Saint and Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which expressed support for the legislation in a statement Friday.

But the nation’s leading advocacy group for LGBTQ rights says the Fairness for All Act doesn’t go far enough, and an anti-LGBT legal firm that purports to protect religious freedom also doesn’t support the legislation.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said he “strongly oppose[s]” the Fairness for All Act because it sells LGBTQ people short and erodes existing protections under federal civil rights law.

“The so-called Fairness for All Act is an unacceptable, partisan vehicle that erodes existing civil rights protections based on race, sex and religion, while sanctioning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people,” David said. “For LGBTQ people living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, this bill is a double whammy of dangerous rollbacks and discriminatory carve-outs. This bill is both wrong and harmful, and we strongly oppose it.”

David said the right path for advancing LGBTQ rights is the Equality Act, which he said is necessary because “LGBTQ people deserve full federal equality, period.”

“The Equality Act, on the other hand, has already passed through the House of Representatives with a bipartisan majority, the support of more than 260 leading companies and more than 500 civil rights, religious, medical and social welfare organizations, and is our movement — and, most importantly, our community’s — top legislative priority,” David said.

A spokesperson for Alliance Defending Freedom, the anti-LGBT legal firm that has represented Masterpiece Cakeshop and schools seeking to deny transgender kids access to bathroom consistent with their gender identity, referred to the Washington Blade to a 2018 statement from the organization against the Fairness for All Act Act.

“Every person should be treated with dignity and respect,” said ADF Senior Vice President of U.S. Legal Division Kristen Waggoner. “Unfortunately, sexual orientation and gender identity laws like the so-called ‘Fairness for All’ proposal undermine both fairness and freedom. This proposal is a SOGI law under different branding, with special — and likely temporary— exemptions that protect only a favored few.

A chief proponent of the Fairness for All Act, however, is the American Unity Fund, a pro-LGBTQ Republican organization backed by philanthropist and GOP donor Paul Singer. Another supporter of the legislation is Republican LGBT ally Margaret Hoove r, who voiced support for the measure in an interview last month with the Los Angeles Blade.

The Fairness for All Act is introduced as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering litigation that would clarify whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex in employment, also applies to cases of anti-LGBT discrimination.

If the court rules in favor of LGBT workers, it could have far reaching implications and make federal legislation against anti-LGBT discrimination moot in employment, housing and education (although a legislative change would still be necessary to ban anti-LGBT bias in public accommodations and federal programs). If the court rules against LGBT workers, they would have no protections under federal law, and a legislative fix would be all the more needed.

The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the White House seeking comment on whether President Trump supports the Fairness for All Act.

Federal Protections Still Needed for Members of the LGBT Community

Federal Protections Still Needed for Members of the LGBT Community

Commentary The Supreme Court now has the opportunity to affirm that all LGBT people should be able to work hard and support themselves and our loved ones without fear of humiliation, harassment or discrimination at work.

Elizabeth F. Schwartz.Partner.Elizabeth F. Schwartz P.A..Miami In just a few short months, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue rulings on three cases involving LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people who were fired from their jobs. We’re a community on pins and needles, tapped out from the marriage equality struggle and now having to gear up to fight hard, new battles for our basic dignity. Want to continue reading?
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The little-known story of the nationwide queer protest which happened three whole years before the Stonewall uprising

The little-known story of the nationwide queer protest which happened three whole years before the Stonewall uprising

A march to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, New York City, USA, 26th June 1994. The banner reads ‘The 1994 International March on the United Nations to Affirm the Human Rights of Lesbian and Gay People’. (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images) The Stonewall riots of 1969 are often cited as the moment that gave rise to the modern LGBT+ rights movement. It was a seminal moment for LGBT+ people in the United States – but it wasn’t the first time gay people had protested against mistreatment.

Three years before the Stonewall riots kicked off, gay people in cities across the United States gathered to protest against their exclusion from the armed forces. The protests had been a long time coming. The US armed forces introduced a policy during World War II which excluded gay people from serving. They were often discharged by doctors for displaying “homosexual tendencies.”

“The discharge policy increased fear, reinforced hostility and prejudice, encouraged scapegoating and witch hunting, and helped to solidify gay men and women into a political movement against the military’s exclusion of homosexuals,” writes Alan Berube in Coming Out Under Fire .

The protests of 1966 came at a politically charged moment in time. As the Vietnam War gained steam, many gay people were starting to ask the question: why should they want to serve in the armed forces in the first place? The fight for inclusion had started to be seen as “old fashioned” by the “baby-boom generation of gay activists” who were questioning why gay people would want to serve in the face of war, according to Berube. A ‘loose confederation’ of gay groups was formed to protest the armed forces’ exclusionary policies.

Despite reservations from some sections of the community, there was ample support for protests against the armed forces’ exclusionary policies. The idea of gay people mobilising was first conceived at the National Planning Conference of Homosexual Organizations in Kansas City. More than 40 gay activists attended the meeting and discussed how they could improve the standing of gay people in America. Out of this emerged the Committee to Fight Exclusion of Homosexuals from the Military, a “loose confederation” of homosexual groups across the US. They came up with a plan to launch the biggest ever gay demonstration the world had seen. The government’s categoric rejection of all persons it knows to be homosexual is un-American and based on ignorance and superstition. On May 21 that year, gay people gathered and protested against discriminatory military policies in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington D.C. The protest on Armed Forces Day was “the largest group of homosexual protestors” gathered up until that point in the United States, Josh Sides writes in Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco .

Gay activists at the protests did not shy away from speaking out about their exclusion from public life. Activist Don Slater was asked by a Newsweek reporter why they were protesting, according to a contemporary report in Tangents magazine.

“Who wants to be drafted? Surely not the homosexual,” Slater replied. “But the government’s categoric rejection of all persons it knows to be homosexual is un-American and based on ignorance and superstition. Homosexuals are asking for equal rights and benefits from their country. At the same time they recognize their equal duties and responsibilities.”

Meanwhile, Cecil Williams addressed the crowd at the San Francisco demonstration, and said: “There is a homosexual revolution here and across the land. We protest against the Armed Forces’ policy of discharging ‘discovered’ homophiles under less than honorable conditions.” Taking part in protests in 1966 was ‘a daring adventure’ for LGBT+ people.

The protests did not come without risk for the gay people taking part. Writing in a letter at the time, Del Martin – one of the founders of the protests – wrote: “This is quite a daring adventure for us. It is not like any other civil rights demonstration – having no popular support and being somewhat hazardous, if not disastrous, to the individual who reveals himself.”

While the protest did not encourage the military to overturn its discriminatory policy, it did raise the profile of gay people significantly. Media outlets across the country covered the protests. They were picked up by newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle , the New York Times , the Los Angeles Times and Newsweek . While not all the coverage was positive – the San Francisco Chronicle ran the story with the headline “Deviates Demand the Right to Serve” – it gave gay people a platform they had previously not had access to.

Bob Ross, secretary of the Tavern Guild, wrote that the public response to the protests was “favourable.”

“This was the communitys [sic] first try at demonstrating nationwide, and we understand that reaction was quite favourable across the country… we must move forward now, there can be no turning back.”

It is now more than 50 years since the protests took place – but that doesn’t mean the battle is over. In 1994, the Clinton administration introduced the infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which encouraged gay people to stay in the closet while serving in the military. That policy was finally repealed in 2011.

Furthermore, a longstanding ban on trans people serving in the military was lifted by the Obama administration in 2016. However, current US President Donald Trump quickly reversed that decision, and reintroduced the ban. The legacy of those activists who fought for their inclusion in the armed forces in 1966 lives on because the fight is not yet won for LGBT+ people.

Study to investigate surrogate decision challenges for LGBT patients with Alzheimer’s

Study to investigate surrogate decision challenges for LGBT patients with Alzheimer's

Facing Alzheimer’s disease in a loved one is challenging under any circumstances but may be even more challenging when the patient is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Regenstrief Institute Research Scientist and Indiana University School of Medicine faculty member Alexia Torke, M.D., M.S. is working to gain insight into needs and experiences of LGBT older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Credit: Regenstrief Institute Facing Alzheimer’s disease in a loved one is challenging under any circumstances but may be even more challenging when the patient is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).

Regenstrief Institute research scientist and Indiana University School of Medicine faculty member Alexia Torke, M.D., M.S., has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to gain insight into the needs and experiences of this doubly vulnerable population—LGBT older adults with Alzheimer’s disease—and their surrogate decision makers .

"With this study we are taking a step on the path towards decreasing health disparities among the LGBT community in the context of end-of-life care," said Dr. Torke. "We need to know more about their needs and experiences so we can develop tools and resources supporting high-quality decision making and enabling care that aligns with their own goals and preferences."

"This is the first generation of LGBT individuals who are out and through this study we hope to learn more about their knowledge and engagement with surrogate decision making and more about the barriers encountered by their surrogates," Dr. Torke said.

After encountering significant prejudice throughout their lives, LGBT individuals are known to confront even more prejudice as they grow older, according to Dr. Torke. Compared to heterosexual individuals, LGBT individuals are twice as likely to be single as they age, twice as likely to live alone, three to four times less likely to have children to support them, and Dr. Torke notes that because of these factors, LGBT individuals have increased challenges in advance care planning.

One third of LGBT older adults live in poverty. Currently there are 1.1 million LGBT individuals in the United States who are 65 years of age and older. By 2030, it is estimated that this population will grow to 7 million. Because of social stigma , older LGBT individuals are known to refrain from disclosing their sexual orientation or going back in the closet as they age according to Dr. Torke. She notes that healthcare providers often operate without clear guidance on how to interact with LGBT individuals about care decisions and practices based on heteronormative assumptions.

The inclusion of same- sex partners in decision making and treatment planning has been shown repeatedly to be a priority for LGBT patients facing life-limiting illness.

In this newly funded study, Dr. Torke and colleagues from Regenstrief Institute, IU School of Medicine and Carey Candrian, Ph.D. from the University of Colorado Denver will explore the emotional, spiritual and religious experiences of both LGBT Alzheimer’s disease patients and their caregivers. Caregivers, who may be partners or spouses, children, other relatives or friends, will be interviewed and surveyed.

The researchers will explore the impact of communication quality on decision making quality and surrogate well-being, including post-traumatic stress. They will also examine religious and spiritual dimensions of surrogates and the extent to which they impact medical decision making as well as the actual care received by the LGBT individual with Alzheimer’s disease. The findings will inform the development of innovative aids to improve both the quality of medical care for incapacitated patients and the well-being of the decision makers.

Provided by Regenstrief Institute