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Namibia High Court Overturns Law That Banned Gay Relations 

A high court in Namibia has overturned a law that previously criminalized gay sex in what is being hailed as a victory for LGBTQ+ campaigners after their continuous, and difficult, fight for human rights in African countries. 

In 1990, Namibia adopted a law after gaining independence from South Africa that banned “sodomy” and “unnatural offenses” relating to the LGBTQ+ people. 

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“I feel elated. I’m so happy. This really is a landmark judgment, not just for me, but for our democracy,” said Friedel Dausab, the Namibian LGBTQ+ activist who brought the case.

“I’m sitting next to my mum and we’re hoping that this message filters through to all families, so that kids are no longer estranged.”

“What threat does a gay man pose to society, and who must be protected against him?” the judgment said. 

“We are of the firm view that the enforcement of private moral views of a section of a community (even if they form the majority of that community), which are based to a large extent on nothing more than prejudice, cannot qualify as such a legitimate purpose.”

UNAids, the UN agency that advocates for global action on HIV and Aids, said “the law had fuelled discrimination against LGBTQ+ Namibians in healthcare facilities and that the ruling would encourage more people to come forward for HIV testing and treatment.”

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“By decriminalizing same-sex relationships, Namibia creates a safer environment for LGBTQ+ communities,” said Anne Githuku-Shongwe, UNAids’ regional director for east and southern Africa.

According to the Human Dignity Trust, a UK legal charity, it revealed that of the 64 countries around the world that criminalize relationships between same-sex couples, 31 of them are in Africa. 

“In a pan-African survey of 34 countries conducted between 2019 and 2021, Namibia ranked as the third most tolerant on the question of how people felt about having gay neighbors, with 64% of respondents saying either that they would like it or not care about it,” wrote Rachel Savage for the Guardian

“The picture on progress in LGBTQ+ rights across Africa is mixed. Gay sex bans were lifted in Namibia’s neighbours Angola and Botswana, in 2021 and 2019 respectively. However, Uganda strengthened its anti-LGBTQ+ legislation last year, imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, which includes gay sex with a disabled person or someone over the age of 75,” Savage concluded

Elton John States Gay Rights Are Going Backwards In The US

Famous singer Elton John has stated that gay rights are moving backwards in the US in response to the slew of anti-LGBT+ legislation being brought up throughout the nation’s governments.

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Singapore To Repeal Law Banning Gay Sex, ‘A Win For Humanity’

Singapore will repeal a law that bans gay sex in the city-state, effectively making it legal to be homosexual, which activists are calling a “win for humanity.”

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LGBT+ Advocacy And The Four Major Sports Leagues Of America

In America, there are four major sports leagues. The National Football League, the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball. Of all four of these giant groups, not one athlete currently playing for a national league identifies as LGBTQ+. In the past, Jason Collins became the first athlete EVER in a major league to come out and identify as gay while still playing. Since then, Collins has retired from the NBA, but almost seven years after he came out, there’s still a major lack of representation in LGBT+ athletes. While it’s legitimate to say that there might just not be any athletes who identify as anything but cis-gendered and heterosexual, it’s just as legitimate to say that in the mean time there’s still work to be done surrounding the culture of sports and its acceptance of all identities. 

Billy Bean, former MLB player and current MLB Vice President of Social Responsibility and Inclusion, recently discussed the culture surrounding gay athletes. Bean was a player for multiple teams back in the late eighties and early nineties. He retired in 1995 and came out in 1999, becoming only the second ever Major League baseball player to identify as gay, according to Yahoo News

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Billy Bean wears the Tampa Bay Rays special WE ARE ORLANDO t-shirt while he throws out the ceremonial first pitch

“There are so many people that have been afraid up until recent times and still many in the workplace that don’t want to be identified specifically based on their private life or their sexual orientation or gender identity expression because of the way that others are going to view them unfairly. Sports are a great lens into, you know, society. There is some reticence to [come out] because of the way the media will sensationalize that. Jason Collins, a great, great friend of mine, has been the only professional athlete to come out while he was an active player. He’s been an incredible ambassador for the sports world,” Bean said to Yahoo.

Bean is now currently the MLB’s first ever ambassador for inclusion; his duties include providing training and guidance to any efforts that are in support of the LGBT+ community, and diversity in general. Bean went on to tell Yahoo News that his main goal from the start was to enforce to other players that their actions “really resonate in the outside world.” It’s not a means of forcing a certain lifestyle or message to be spread among players and onlookers, but instead is about opening up the door for conversation and acceptance. Athletes in the major leagues are role models for so many young individuals across the country, if these young minds are seeing players promoting equality and ensuring that there’s space for all identities on the field or court or rink, than the world would become a lot more inclusive. 

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Jason Collins attends the 19th Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner

“I still think there is a ways to go with respect to the male professional sports leagues. In the meantime, it’s incumbent on all of us to continue to create an environment of inclusion and acceptance. Everyone lives with fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, and I try to tell those players that you can look at my example. If you are a good teammate, they will support you and accept you for who you are … but it’s up to each individual person. I don’t tell someone what they should and shouldn’t do,” said Jason Collins to Reuters magazine. 

Collins now serves as the NBA Cares Ambassador. NBA cares has done amazing work with embracing the LGBT+ community into the world of professional athletes. In 2016, the NBA became the first of all four major US sports leagues to have a float in New York City’s annual pride parade. Additionally, many teams in the NBA now host “pride nights,” according to Reuters, which celebrates overall inclusion and invites hundreds of members and supporters from the community. 

When it comes to acceptance and equality, strength comes in numbers. That doesn’t mean that we need every other athlete to come out, although some more representation wouldn’t hurt, but instead we need to ensure that these spaces are outspoken as safe and accepting. That’s why individuals like Collins and Bean and the work that they’re both currently doing is so important to the world of major league sports. We need to keep the conversation going until the whole country feels like they can turn on their TV and feel truly seen.

Supreme Court

Supreme Court To Vote On LGBT+ Workplace Discrimination Laws

The last time a LGBT+ issue was brought to the Supreme Court was in 2015, when they historically voted to pass marriage equality, guaranteeing marriage privileges to any American regardless of sexual orientation. Now, nearly five years later, the fight continues but this time it’s for equality within the workplace. In nearly 30 states it’s still legal to not hire an individual, or fire them, solely based on their sexual orientation/gender identity. 

The Supreme Court will be deciding on Tuesday, October 8th, whether or not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act should specifically include sexual orientation in its specifications. Currently, the Title only covers a barring of discrimination based on race, religion, sex or national origin. Throughout the years lower courts in state systems have rejected sexual orientation as a means of sexual discrimination, basically making it legal for employers to fire someone, or refuse them business, based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This leaves members of the LGBT+ community constantly vulnerable to discrimination, and minimizes their job market, simply for being themselves. 

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People line up to hear oral arguments on the first day of a new term at the US Supreme Court – October 7, 2019

Throughout the past decade or so many lower level courts have also made sure that LGBT+ individuals were protected from business/employment discrimination. For example, just last year New York’s Second U.S. Court of Appeals officially ruled that Title VII does cover and protect LGBT+ people, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

“The opinion by Chief Judge Robert Katzmann reasoned that ‘sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination’ because it necessarily takes sex into consideration. ‘Logically, because sexual orientation is a function of sex and sex is a protected characteristic under Title VII, it follows that sexual orientation is also protected,’ Judge Katzmann wrote, finding for the late Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor who claimed he was fired in 2010 for being gay” (WSJ).

While this opinion does seem like it should be universally enforced, the wording of the Civil Rights Act isn’t as clear as Katzmann’s ruling, making discrimination a technically legal act in cases of employment. The court will hear from two individuals who were victims of the lack of clarity in Title VII, one man who said he was fired after his employer learned he was in a gay softball league, and a transgender woman who was denied a job as a funeral director, both individuals employee’s claimed the decision was made since both employee’s lived “lifestyles” that went against their “core beliefs”. 

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Supreme Court Scene In 2015 when Marriage Equality was passed. 

Luckily around 20 states have also reached similar rulings to that of Chief Judge Katzmann, and made sure they have rules that legally protect LGBT+ people from discrimination, such as these examples. In addition, according to The Wall Street Journal, large companies that employ hundreds of thousands of Americans, such as General Motors and J.P. Morgan and Sons, have signed company policies that ensure all of their employees are protected and can’t be discriminated against based on identity in any way, shape, or form. 

Conservatives have been able to use the vagueness of Title VII for years, using “originalism” and “textualism” arguments. Both of those mean that based on the general wording of the 1964 Act, it can’t be legally assumed that the Title was meant to protect LGBT+ individuals, but instead more so covers discrimination against someone being “male” or “female”, sexual orientation does not apply in terms of the use of the word “sex”.

It’s a language debate, individuals are aware that by the end of the day on Tuesday, one grouping of individuals is going to be really happy and one is not. The question over traditional values trumping progressive ones has once again become a national debate, it’s now up to the powers of our court system to make a decision.