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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:46 am 
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When Intolerance Becomes Intolerable

By MARCI ALBOHER
June 2, 2008

Many career shifts involve an "aha" moment. In Lisa Sherman"s case, the moment was not only the catalyst for a career change but also led her to tell her boss she was gay.

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Lisa Sherman

And her experience ultimately became memorialized in a case study for the Harvard Business School.

It all started in 1993 with a diversity training seminar at what was then Bell Atlantic, where Ms. Sherman was a vice president for marketing. She kept the fact that she was a lesbian to herself at work because, she said, she worried that being openly gay would derail her career. She was, by her own account, a master at what she calls the "black art of pronoun puppetry, substituting "him" and "we" for "her" and "she." "

During the seminar, participants were asked to write on flip charts, filling in the blanks on a variety of sentences: "Blacks are ...," "Asians are ...," "Jews are. ..." Ms. Sherman said that many of the answers reflected certain stereotypes. "Latinos are family oriented," "Asians are hard workers," "Jews like big offices." (She admitted writing that last one.) But when she got to the page with gay people on it, she said that seeing the words written by her colleagues literally made her sick. "Pathetic," "perverse" and "immoral" were among the ones she recalls. Some were written by people she had worked with for 15 years, many of whom she considered to be friends.

At that moment, she said, she decided she had to leave the company since she could not imagine working with people who thought those things about her. But before she left, she made an appointment to see the chief executive of the company, Raymond W. Smith, with whom she had a good relationship. She told Mr. Smith, she said, what had happened at the diversity seminar, and in the process, told him about being a lesbian. Even though Bell Atlantic officially supported diversity, including sexual orientation, under its antidiscrimination policy, she said she wanted him to know the real atmosphere that people like her worked in.

The meeting lasted several hours. She said she told him about her life and about her partner, a side of her personal life she had never shared with him. She called the meeting "extraordinary," yet she stuck by her decision to leave the company, using this incident as a push to try other things in her career.

After a foray into entrepreneurship and another stint in corporate America (both in environments where she was open about her sexual orientation), Ms. Sherman, who lives in New York, is now the executive vice president and general manager of Logo, the gay television channel owned by MTV. As she puts it, "I went from being in the closet to being a professional gay person."

Last year, Ms. Sherman told a version of this tale in a speech at the annual Reaching Out Conference, a gathering of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students in master"s of business administration programs. After her speech, Jens Audenaert, a gay student in the audience, asked her if she would agree to be interviewed for a case study for a class at the Harvard Business School taught by Bill George, author of the book, "True North" and the former chief executive of Medtronic. Ms. Sherman agreed, and Mr. Audenaert wrote up the case with guidance from Mr. George.

Mr. George said in an interview that he believed the case study was the first at Harvard to take a look at sexual orientation and leadership that also revealed the subject"s name. But he said the case has far broader implications than the issue of sexual orientation. "The color of our skin and our genders are obvious, but many of us have hidden differences," he said. And in using this case, he said he wanted students to ask themselves the question, "Why am I afraid to tell you who I really am?"

The case consists of two parts, with the first part ending just as Ms. Sherman leaves the diversity training seminar. That way the students can place themselves in Ms. Sherman"s shoes and discuss what they would do at that moment.

According to the rules of the class, if students know the actual outcome of a case, they should debate the issues as if they did not know. The case identifies four courses of action. She could quit. She could "face her reality and try to change her work environment for the better." She could meet with Mr. Smith and seek his advice. Or she could "just continue to do her job and build her career without saying anything."

"The question is what would you do in this situation, and these are not easy questions," Mr. George said. "Would you be a whistle-blower?

Ms. Sherman"s coming out left its mark on Bell Atlantic, where her departure spurred Mr. Smith to take significant steps to enhance policies and instill the kind of inclusive culture that Ms. Sherman thought was lacking. Now the chairman of Rothschild North America, an investment firm, Mr. Smith said he was disappointed but not completely surprised by Ms. Sherman"s colleague"s comments in the training seminar.

He testified before Congress in 1997 in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a proposed federal law that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. And he wrote accounts of that experience for internal company publications to ensure that the entire company knew his views. He also made sure that the company moved forward on changing its benefits policies to include domestic partners, something that Ms. Sherman told him was being delayed by the committee responsible for putting through the changes. "I met with the group on a Thursday and made sure the policy was in place by the following Monday," he said.

Mr. George said he believed that policies and training could create an inclusive culture and change the minds of people who "wrote such ugly things."

"I"ve done it," he said. "But, to be blunt, some of them will have to leave."

Mr. Smith also takes a realistic view. "In any organization, there will be people with these kinds of intolerant and illegitimate feelings, so you can"t be surprised when people behave this way," he said. "You do your best to enact policies, which can affect behavior if not what is in people"s hearts. After a while, if people behave in a tolerant way, they may start to think in a tolerant way."

Source: The New York Times.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:27 pm 
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Gay man training for lay clergy 'bullied by sex obsessed female manager'
By Caroline Gammell
10 June 2008

A gay man training to become a member of the lay clergy quit his job at a church college after he was bullied by his "sex obsessed" female manager, a tribunal has heard.

Stephen Price, 25, said he was constantly taunted about his sexuality by Mair Jones and that "every conversation" turned to sex.

The assistant church centre manager said Mrs Jones, 40, loved making double entendres about homosexuals and described herself as the "Queen of Innuendos".

Mr Price, who is claiming sexual harassment, constructive dismissal and sexual discrimination by the Presbyterian Church of Wales, said he was driven out of the residential post after less than a year.

"I was bullied consistently for no other reason than my sexuality, daily having to put up with either being referred to as a poof or having her talk of homosexuality or sex," the philosophy graduate told the employment tribunal in Cardiff.

"Every conversation would somehow end up being a conversation about sex. I asked for a big ruler and she responded: "Ooh, you like them big do you?" in obvious reference to a man's penis size.

"This happened continuously and was part of her repertoire.

"Another double entendre related to an upcoming talk by a minister. Mair referred to this talk not as "Receive My Peace" but as "Receive My Piece."

Mr Price, of Clydach, south Wales, said he was delighted to get a place at the 250-year-old Trefeca College run by the Presbyterian Church near Aberhonddu in Powys.

The 37-bed centre - first set up as a Christian community in 1752 - is run as a religious retreat and conference centre to "deepen understanding of the Christian faith among church members".

But Mr Price said Mrs Jones took every opportunity to taunt him about sex, even when they were away from the college on day trips to the surrounding countryside.

"Mair delighted in telling me about the local landmark called Lord Hereford's Knob and about a village called Three Cocks and how funny this was," he told the tribunal.

"Everything imaginable that I would say would be repeated back to me as a double entendre.

"She joked once that I could have her for sexual harassment and that she was the Queen of Innuendo as she would find a sexual twist to even the most innocent comment.

"Sex and sexuality seemed to be the only subjects Mair was interested in talking to me about. She would say something about gay sex every day.

"I was and still am shocked to have been referred to as a poof. I am very proud of both my faith and my sexual orientation."

Mr Price said he visited a garden centre with Mrs Jones and she bought a female Father Christmas outfit.

"She made reference to how she had never been seen with a good-looking man around here before and how good it made her feel," he said.

"I was also made to answer her questions about male sexuality and the difference between her and her partner's views upon their sex life."

Mr Price said he was moved from Trefeca College to another office in Cardiff but resigned when he was told to return to the training centre.

The Presbyterian Church of Wales deny all claims.

The hearing continues.

Source: The Telegraph UK

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:13 pm 
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Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Church woman denies anti-gay digs

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Stephen Price said he was bullied by Mair Jones's constant talk about sex

A woman who runs a religious centre near Brecon, Powys has denied sexually harassing a gay man who worked for her.

Stephen Price, 25, of Clydach near Abergavenny, claims he was bullied out of his job by Mair Jones, 40, because she made anti-homosexual taunts.

Ms Jones told an employment tribunal a birthday present to Mr Price of a toilet roll with pink fairies on it was innocently chosen.

The Presbyterian Church of Wales denies sexual harassment and discrimination.

Mr Price, who is openly gay, had worked alongside Ms Jones at the church's 250-year-old Trefeca centre, a 37-bed retreat visited by church groups from around Britain.

He had told the hearing he was forced to quit as the assistant manager because of Ms Jones's non-stop comments about sex, which included calling him a "stupid poof" and telling other staff he "batted for the other side".

But giving evidence on Wednesday, Ms Jones said she did not even know Mr Price was gay and denied driving him away from the centre.

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When I think of Oscar Wilde I think intellect, good looks and wit - not the fact he was a homosexual. Mair Jones on her choice of birthday card for Stephen Price

She said: "He never told me about his sexual orientation and I have never called him a poof.

"I did not tell other colleagues that he batted for the other side - that is not even language that I would use."

Asked why Mr Price would have fabricated his claims against her, Ms Jones replied: "I don't know."

Philosophy graduate Mr Price told the tribunal that she gave him an "offensive" 24th birthday present of toilet roll with pink fairies on it and a card with a picture of Oscar Wilde.

But Ms Jones said the gift was an innocently-chosen birthday present and the card came from an assorted box.

"He had only worked with us for a week when I found out it was his birthday and I wanted to mark the occasion," she said.

"I had a pack of toilet rolls with the Christmas designs and I just happened to pick the one with fairies on.

"When I think of Oscar Wilde I think intellect, good looks and wit - not the fact he was a homosexual.

"I was not aware he found my gift extremely offensive."

The tribunal heard that an internal church investigation had upheld claims of aggressive behaviour, foul language and bullying by Ms Jones, who had worked at the church centre for 10 years.

But the Presbyterian Church of Wales failed to take any disciplinary action against her. On Tuesday, Mr Price told the hearing Ms Jones made constant jokes about sex and every conversation involved innuendo and double entendre.

"I was and still am shocked to have been referred to as a poof. I am very proud of both my faith and my sexual orientation," he said.

Mr Price said he was moved to another office in Cardiff after less than 12 months but resigned when he was told to return to the college. He is also suing for constructive dismissal.

The tribunal hearing was adjourned. It is expected submissions will be made at a future hearing, ahead of a judgement.

Source: BBC News.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:13 pm 
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I could be wrong but to me she's not only a frustrated bitch but also a pathetic liar. I've had to work with women like that myself over the years and Ms Jones fits the profile perfectly. Around 40, sexually frustrated, and basically hates it that a good looking young man is only interested in other men sexually rather than a "real" woman like her.

Get over it, cunt, he's not interested.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:33 pm 
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Thursday, 19 February 2009

Gay firefighter abuse 'must end'

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Very few firefighters are openly gay or lesbian, it is claimed

Fire brigades must do more to ensure gay and lesbian firefighters are not bullied or insulted at work, unions, ministers and equal rights groups say.

Campaign group Stonewall claimed staff had experienced name-calling and physical abuse and even had safety equipment tampered with as a joke. And 25 UK brigades had not signed up to its diversity programme, it added.

Fire minister Sadiq Khan has written to fire chiefs urging them to "eradicate" homophobic behaviour. The Fire Brigades Union estimates that just 0.5% of firefighters, less than 250, are openly lesbian, gay or transsexual.

'At risk'

Pat Carberry, secretary of the FBU's gay and lesbian committee, said those who came out as homosexual often faced mockery and intimidation. Services often did not "know how to deal with" complaints, while one gay firefighter had committed suicide after facing discrimination and bullying at work.

Mr Carberry said: "When you are a firefighter, there are times when you have to concentrate totally on the job. If you don't you are putting yourself and your colleagues at risk. "Traditionally, firefighters spend a lot of time sitting and talking and it is very hard to keep up a pretence about your personal life. If you are trying to hide something it is very stressful. That's something that could affect performance and endanger staff and the public."

Michelle Fullerton, manager of workforce programmes at Stonewall, said the fire service as a whole had scored 45% in its in its "equalities index". The police had done 15 points better with 60%.

'Terrifying'

Ms Fullerton said: "Homophobia is a real and current issue for the fire service. The big thing is the macho culture. If you are not seen to fit in with their attitudes then that gets noticed. That can get very serious. There have been instances of equipment being tampered with, even masks and breathing apparatus. These are terrifying things. If you can't trust colleagues, you compromise safety. But, as well as that really serious stuff, what seems to be happening is that people are still using insults like 'poof' and that kind of thing. It seems that making fun of lesbian and gay people, even while including them as part of the gang, is happening. That means you would look rather miserable if you didn't go along with the joke. It's a very strange sort of progress."

Some 31 of the UK's 56 brigades have signed up to Stonewall's Diversity Champions Programme. Mr Khan's letter urges the rest to follow suit, saying bullying, harassment and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality have "no place" in the modern fire service. It is essential to make brigades more diverse and recruit staff from the "widest pool of talent", it adds.

The letter has been countersigned by Stonewall, the FBU, the Local Government Association, the Chief Fire Officers' Association, Unison, the Asian Fire Service Association, the Fire Officers' Association, the GMB, the National Disabled Fire Association, Networking Women in the Fire Service and the Retained Firefighters Union.

Source: BBC News.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:52 am 
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Struggle for gay rights hits football in Turkey
by Burak Akinci
June 18, 2009

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Referee Halil Ibrahim Dincdag is pictured in Istanbul.
(AFP/Bulent Kilic)

ISTANBUL (AFP) — The fledgling homosexual movement in Turkey has ventured into the roughest of fields — the macho world of football — after a referee "came out" on television, dropping a bombshell in this football-mad country and leaving authorities confused.

Already stripped of his refereeing licence, Halil Ibrahim Dincdag, 33, vows to fight on to restore his career and, if need be, go as far as the European Court of Human Rights. "I have not committed a crime, I have not defamed my profession. I'm only a homosexual," he told AFP from Istanbul, where he was on "self-exile" after leaving his home in Trabzon, a conservative bastion on the Black Sea coast.

Dincdag's "coming out" last month was an act of unprecedented courage in a country where gays are widely ostracised and derisive words such as "fag" are among the favourite booing chants against referees at the stadiums.

"Since then, my life has turned into hell," he said, explaining that he lost not only his licence but was also "thanked" for his services by a radio station in Trabzon, where he used to do a programme. "I have inadvertently become a standard-bearer of the homosexual struggle" in Turkey, he said timidly, adding he still had the support of his family, which includes an imam brother.

The Turkish Football Federation dug around to find an argument to revoke Dincdag's licence: since he was exempt from military service due to his homosexuality, thus falling into the army's classification of "unfit", the federation said he would be physically unfit for a refereeing job as well. Scrambling to defend the move, federation vice president Lutfi Aribogan argued that Dincdag was a mediocre referee lacking "talent" and would have never made it anyway from the amateur to the professional league.

But as criticism of the decision mounted, the head of the referees' board said the door remained open for Dincdag to return to the fold even though he did not explain how.

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Halil Ibrahim Dincdag

"They are not sincere... In any case, they would not like to see me at the matches," Dincdag said. Despite his pessimism, Dincdag is bent on fighting to restore his licence and has already lodged an appeal at the courts. "If necessary, I will go even to the European Court of Human Rights," he said.

Despite his personal plight, Dincdag's "coming out" is a cause for celebration at the offices of KAOS-GL, the increasingly outspoken group for gay and lesbian rights in Turkey, where the referee's case is hailed as a step forward for the movement.

Turkey's bid to join the European Union, in which respect for human rights is a key condition, has already "contributed to a better understanding of homosexuals" in the country, said Ali Erol, a senior KAOS-GL member. He complained, however, that "Turkey, which has managed to break taboos on the Armenian genocide and the Kurdish problem, is yet to openly face the reality of homosexuality."

Unlike most Muslim countries, which punish homosexuality — some with death, Turkey has never criminalised same-sex relationships and homosexual traditions can be traced back to the palaces of Ottoman sultans. But even though gays today figure among the country's top celebrities, prejudice against the ordinary homosexual remains strong in daily life.

Police are notoriously harsh against transsexual prostitutes. Several of them have been killed in "hate murders" in recent years. "While an openly homosexual mayor is running Paris, we are still at the point of discussing whether a homosexual can run a football match," grumbled Murat Soylemez, Dincdag's lawyer.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:53 am 
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Gay referee gets red card in Turkey

After coming out on TV, Halil Dincdag sues football federation over sacking

By Nicholas Birch in Istanbul
25 June 2009

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To football fans in Turkey who shout 'faggot' to insult referees, Halil Dincdag says, 'Well, here I am'

Turkey's football authorities were at the centre of a growing scandal this week after a referee they had sacked for homosexuality and outed to the press began fighting back in the courts and the press.

"They thought I was an ant that they could crush, they thought I would run away and hide in a corner," Halil Ibrahim Dincdag said. "But they have destroyed my life and I will fight them to the end."

Mr Dincdag, 33, from Trabzon, had been refereeing in the local league for 13 years when he was informed this May that his licence would not be renewed. Two days after he appealed his dismissal to the football federation, stories about him began appearing in the national press. As a result he was sacked by the local radio station he worked on and forced to flee to Istanbul to spare his family from an influx of journalists. It was at this point that he decided to come out as gay, while appearing on a popular television sports programme.

"The day the press started writing about me, I went into a coma, and the day I appeared on TV I died," he said in his lawyer's office. "Thirty-three years of my life had disappeared. Since then, I have been trying to resurrect myself."

Mr Dincdag's television appearance was an act of considerable courage. Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, unlike in some other Muslim countries. But homophobia is widespread, no-where more so than in the world of football. "The crowds shout 'faggot' at referees whose decisions they don't like," Mr Dincdag said. "Well, here I am."

His principled stance brought him a wave of support. Three-quarters of Trabzon's 80 referees rang him up to congratulate him. Thirty thousand people signed a petition launched by Turkey's most influential newspaper backing his campaign. One columnist even compared him to Harvey Milk, America's first openly gay politician. Turkey's deputies brought his case to parliament. Most importantly for Mr Dincdag, his pious family, from whom he had kept his homosexuality secret, stood behind him.

Caught off balance by the outcry, Turkey's football federation began back-pedalling fast. Its vice-president Lutfi Aribogan said Mr Dincdag's sacking had nothing to do with his sexuality and everything to do with his lack of "talent". The head of the referee's board then said the door remained open for Mr Dincdag to return to the fold, insisting that it was Mr Dincdag's lawyer, not the federation, that had leaked his name to the press.

"Do they have no fear of God," Mr Dincdag asked, pointing to a sheaf of match reports dating back a decade that show him to have ranked among the best local referees. "I've already gone to the courts over this, and I'll go all the way to Europe if necessary."

Empowered by Turkey's European Union accession bid, the Turkish gay and lesbian rights lobby has become increasingly outspoken over the past decade. Activists say Mr Dincdag's fight for his rights has the potential to become a landmark case. "For years, the European Union has been talking about the importance of legislation on sexual discrimination in the workplace," said Ali Erol, a spokesman for KAOS-GL, an Ankara-based gay and lesbian rights group. "So far Turkey has not taken one step forward."

Old-fashioned views of homosexuality remain widespread. Speaking on television shortly after Mr Dincdag came out, Turkey's most popular football commentator Erman Toroglu, himself a former referee, said he didn't think the 33-year old should be given his job back. "I reckon [homosexual referees] would have a tendency to give more penalties to good-looking, tough footballers," he said.

Mr Dincdag's eyes glaze over with anger at the recollection. "Does Toroglu assault every pretty girl he passes in the street?"

Source: The Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 5:41 am 
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Gay News Anchor Speaks About Firing
August 11, 2009
By Julie Bolcer

Image
Charles Perez

Gay News Anchor Speaks About Firing

Charles Perez, the openly gay news anchor fired by Miami ABC affiliate WPLG after he filed a discrimination complaint last week, wrote about his potentially career-ending decision to challenge his employer in The Daily Beast. In a column called "Why I Committed Career Suicide," the 46-year-old anchor reasserts his conviction that sexual orientation was the reason for his termination from the Washington Post—owned company, which he says also pressured him not to get married and have children.

"Bottom line, I believe they sold me out as soon as my being gay became too widely known," Perez wrote about WPLG-ABC Channel 10, owned by Post-Newsweek Stations. "It made them uncomfortable and made me, in their eyes, less advertiser-friendly. They"d demoted me two weeks earlier from main weekday anchor to weekend anchor. It was a move I quickly recognized was leading to the door, and I wasn"t prepared to watch my career circle down the drain."

Perez was fired on Thursday after he filed a complaint with the Miami-Dade County Equal Opportunity Board, charging that he was demoted from weeknight anchor to weekend anchor two weeks earlier because of the station"s "discomfort over the increasingly high profile" of his sexual orientation. He believes that WPLG was uncomfortable with the publicity surrounding his difficult relationship with his former partner.

The station has called Perez"s claims "outrageous."

Perez also wrote in his column about being discouraged from taking steps that would remind viewers of his identity as a gay man.

"One of my colleagues, a higher-up at the station, told me: 'The weekends will be better for you, anyway, Charles. You and Keith [my partner] want to have kids. It"s a lot less high-profile there.'"

"In fact, over the previous five months, I"d been told, 'Don"t get married, Charles. We don"t need that.' I"d also been told not to have children. In essence: "You"re the main anchor and you"re gay, but let"s not push it.""

Perez, who added a retaliation charge to his discrimination complaint after the firing, said his case relies on a new country ordinance that includes sexual orientation as a protected class. The case will go before a three-judge panel, which has the power to award damages.

Source: The Advocate.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:58 am 
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Whether to come out at the office
Thursday, July 2, 2009
By SAMANTHA LOONG and JACKIE HOFFART
Special to The Japan Times

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Put it in the schedule?: Increasingly, gays and lesbians in Japan feel comfortable coming out to some of their coworkers. Most often, the decision depends more on the culture of their company than anything else. SAMANTHA LOONG PHOTO

Gays and lesbians in Japan try to navigate the gay gray zone in a 'closeted' society

"Do you live on your own?"

It's a perfectly casual question at work, one that would naturally arise in conversations. For many gays and lesbians, however, if they happen to live with their partner, queries such as this often become the moment of truth — or the moment of avoiding the truth.

In the four years since Osaka's Kanako Otsuji showed her true rainbow colors and became Japan's first out politician, there has been a notable increase in gay and lesbian visibility across the country.

From Fuji TV's drama "Last Friends," in which characters explored issues of gender and sexuality, and NHK's "Heart TV," which had panelists talking openly about their struggles coming out, to the massively popular Japan DVD release of "The L Word," the American cable-TV series from the broadcaster HBO, queers appear to be here to stay.

So what about Japan's everyday gays and lesbians? Since there are no laws against homosexuality in Japan — it was even encouraged among samurai and monks before the Meiji Restoration in 1868 — is coming out even controversial anymore?

In a word: Yes.

Although gays and lesbians generally manage to find each other through the Internet or through the anonymity of any of Japan's big cities, coming out to colleagues remains a gray zone.

In conversations with gay men and women living in Japan, the key factor for them in deciding whether or not to come out at work has everything to do with how close they feel to individual people at their workplaces and just as much to do with the culture of their company. Think of the closet as having a revolving door.

At her previous job in the IT industry, 33-year-old Ai was openly gay among her coworkers.

"There was another gay guy working there, so it was no big deal when I came out," she says, adding, "the staff were also much younger."

Image

Ai is now a caregiver for the elderly at a government-run nursing home and is not out at work. She worries about upsetting older colleagues or the families of the people she cares for — and the possibilities of rampant gossip. (Yet, a couple of the women under her care at the home have come out to her.)

Likewise, Maki, who works at a conservative male-dominated trading company, says that "it's a case of whether or not they'll respect you and your privacy." Although she prefers to only be out to people who she is already friends with, the 35-year-old also refuses to hide who she is. "An ex-girlfriend used to meet me for lunch outside my office building. We'd always give each other a hug or a kiss, and I wouldn't be surprised if people from my office saw us, but it hasn't affected my work life at all," she says.

A dislike of gossip-hunters is one of the reasons why Alex, 39, who works at a conservative advertising agency, also prefers to only come out to coworkers who seem genuinely interested in getting to know him. "There are some people in Japan who think that just because you're a foreigner, they can ask you anything," Alex says.

Even though many Japanese people "just don't get the whole gay thing," being seen as a foreigner can have its advantages, notes Ayumi (not her real name), a 28-year-old postgraduate student who is half Japanese. "If you are a foreigner, Japanese people will be more accepting of your 'strangeness,' " she says, noting that in certain professions, there are advantages to being out even for Japanese. "My girlfriend is in arts and media, so being gay is almost an asset. It's viewed as 'edgy.' "

On whether or not people should come out more at work, Ayumi cuts to the chase: "I think it all comes down to the fact that Japan is a 'closeted' society, not just about sexual orientation, but about one's personal life in general."

Jennifer (not her real name), a 35- year-old teacher who is reluctant to come out to Japanese colleagues, believes that the Japanese phenomenon of separating honne (true feelings) and tatemae (the facade) tends to lengthen the process of getting to know and trust someone. "If somebody asks me if I have a boyfriend," she says, "I'm never, ever going to out myself to this person because they've already made this assumption about me."

Indeed teachers seem to have the most reservations about coming out of any group interviewed.

"Educational institutions are the last bastion of homophobia, partially because of parents' expectations over what you can and can't talk to the kids about," says Teresa (not her real name), a teacher at an international school, who is out to her colleagues. She feels that teachers are wired to be social, and there is a culture to become friends. "If you don't come out it could seem a bit strange, a bit standoffish," she says. But she draws the line at telling students and parents.

Lisa (not her real name), a 29-year-old assistant language teacher who lives in the countryside, has found that same friendly culture disappointingly absent among the teachers and staff she works alongside. After three years of working with the same people, the American had hoped that she would feel comfortable enough with her Japanese English teachers to do more than divert conversations away from boyfriend- related topics. She acknowledges that she sometimes has to lie, and says she feels guilty about introducing her girlfriend as her "friend," but has her reasons: "I had problems in the past gaining acceptance from my own parents and schoolmates, so I can't help but feel cautious and protective over that area of my life."

Despite careful approaches to coming out at work, the number of gays and lesbians out to their coworkers is likely to increase in Japan. There is always a chance that if there was an about-face in America with regards to gay issues, this could nudge U.S.-trend-conscious Japan toward more queer-friendly politics and increased acceptance of gays and lesbians in society. The signs seem positive, especially when, earlier this year, the Japanese government made it possible for Japanese nationals to marry their non-Japanese same-sex partners if they were from a country where such marriages are legal. Although this is a big step, the move does not allow same-sex marriage in Japan, suggesting that homosexuality — at least between Japanese — is still difficult to accept.

Until homosexuality is fully recognized in Japanese politics and by society, gays and lesbians in Japan — whether Japanese or not — will continue to reveal themselves only to those who are deemed trustworthy, while in a noisy izakaya or on a cigarette break behind the building.

Perhaps one day, though, gays and lesbians in Japan will find that the corporate closet has become more of an open-plan office. One person did point out that at her workplace she feels that there is more stigma attached to her tattoo than her sexuality. Even though she is out to coworkers, she tries to hide her ink.

Source: Japan Times.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:06 am 
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Gay soldier: German Army discriminates
25 November 2009

BERLIN (UPI) -- A former paratrooper in the German Army says discrimination against gays continues almost two decades after it was officially abolished.

Udo Kappler, 42, told Deutsche Welle he went form being in the top 20 percent of his division to getting poor performance evaluations after he came out of the closet two years ago. He said no reason was given for the change.

"From one day to the next, I was all of a sudden the 'worst soldier' in my company," he said.

Kappler fought his poor evaluations and won. He was then faced with an even worse charge when a group in his unit said he had sexually assaulted another man but he then fought that charge, and also won.

Kappler remains in the Bundeswehr but is no longer a paratrooper. He works in an office, living with his partner.

"Around here gay soldiers are viewed as wimps or as feminine," Kappler said. "It's a big problem for men anywhere to be labeled 'effeminate,' especially in the military. On the one side there is the heterosexual soldier with his big gun -- and then there's the gay soldier with his pink hand bag."

Source: UPI.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:11 pm 
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Bank employee undergoing sex change objects to genderless toilet
27 August 2009

Hong Kong (dpa) — A bank worker assigned a genderless toilet by his employer HSBC after he started dressing as a woman in the first stage of a sex change has logged a complaint against the banking giant, a news report said Thursday.

The 55-year-old senior IT manager claims he has been not been able to use either the men's or ladies' staff toilets since he officially switched genders at the beginning of August. Instead, he claims his employer has assigned his a "genderless toilet" in an act of discrimination against him.

The worker, surnamed Wong, is currently taking female hormone tablets and is set to have the sex change operation in November, the report in the Hong Kong Standard said. In the meantime, he claims he should be allowed to use the female washroom and has taken his fight to the Equal Opportunities Commission.

He also claims he has suffered discrimination in the office because of his gender switch and is afraid he will lose his job. Wong said his requests for a departmental transfer and early retirement have been ignored and his performance rating has been downgraded.

His complaint is now before the Equal Opportunity Commission and awaiting an official response from bank.

A HSBC spokeswoman told the Standard the company was aware of the situation but stressed that the HSBC treats all employees with the same respect.

Source: Earth Times / dpa.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:45 pm 
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Brussels says churches must lift ban on employing homosexuals

EU decides British government was wrong to allow exemptions under equality law

by Jamie Doward
Sunday 22 November 2009

The British government is being forced by the European commission to rip up controversial exemptions that allow church bodies to refuse to employ homosexual staff.

It has emerged that the commission wrote to the government last week raising concerns that the UK had incorrectly implemented an EU directive prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of a person's sexual orientation. The ruling follows a complaint from the National Secular Society, which argued that the opt-outs went further than was permitted under the directive and had created "illegal discrimination against homosexuals".

The commission agreed. A "reasoned opinion" by its lawyers informs the government that its "exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for religious employers are broader than that permitted by the directive".

The highly unusual move means that the government now has no choice but to redraft anti-discrimination laws, which is likely to prompt a furore among church groups.

In anticipation of a possible backlash from the commission, the government has already inserted new clauses into its equality bill. But even if the bill is jettisoned, future governments will be bound by the commission's ruling. Under the new proposals being drafted by the government, religious organisations will be able to refuse to employ homosexuals only if their job involves actively promoting or practising a religion. A blanket refusal to employ any homosexuals would no longer be possible.

"This ruling is a significant victory for gay equality and a serious setback for religious employers who have been granted exemptions from anti-discrimination law," said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. "It is a big embarrassment for the British government, which has consistently sought to appease religious homophobes by granting them opt-outs from key equality laws. The European commission has ruled these opt-outs are excessive."

The employment directive outlawing discrimination in the workplace was finalised by the European commission in 2000 and became law in the UK in early 2003, following a public consultation exercise. At the time there were accusations that the government had "caved in" to religious groups that mounted a fierce lobbying campaign to be exempted from the new laws.

Under the terms of the exemption, religious groups were allowed to refuse a position to a homosexual employee "so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion's followers".

"In other words, if a significant number of followers of an organised religion didn't like it, there was no protection for a gay employee," said Keith Porteous-Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society. "Now the government must demonstrate its commitment to equality, rather than continuing to jump to the church's tune."

The EU's equal opportunities commissioner, Vladimir Å pidla, said: "We call on the UK government to make the necessary changes to its anti-discrimination legislation as soon as possible so as to fully comply with the EU rules." But religious groups expressed alarm at the move. The Christian charity, Care, said: "If evangelical churches cannot be sure that they can employ practising evangelicals with respect to sexual ethics, how will they be able to continue?"

Source: The Observer UK.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:12 pm 
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Munich hosts homosexual job fair

4 March 2010
Online: http://www.thelocal.de/jobs/20100304-25665.html

Europe"s first career fair for homosexuals comes to Munich this weekend. Moritz Honert from Der Tagesspiegel spoke with the founder of Milk 2010 about job prospects for gays and lesbians in Germany.

There are less dangerous places for coming out of the closet than Singapore. Swede Anders Wikberg knew this when he lived in there for a year in 2003. Homosexuals in the country are threatened with a several-year prison sentence, but Wikberg finally had enough. "I just didn"t want to lie anymore," he says. In hindsight, it was good decision. The openness not only strengthened his relationship to friends and family, but also helped his career. Before he"d often been afraid admitting he was gay would lead to trouble. "Since I no longer have to constantly watch out for what I say, I can concentrate much better," he says.

Today the 31-year-old lives in Munich. There he no longer fears a prison sentence like in Singapore, but still feels that the professional lives of gays and lesbians aren"t always made easy in Germany. "Many firms consider themselves open, but it doesn"t appear so to me at all," he says.

That"s why together with his business partner Stuart B. Cameron, Wikberg brought "Milk 2010" to life — which he says is Europe"s first career fair especially for homosexuals. The event takes place on Friday and Saturday in Munich for the first time. Wikberg and Cameron borrowed the name from Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. "He was an example," Wikberg says. "Milk was the first US politician that was openly gay and still successful."

The event is meant to be a networking platform. At the same time there will be speeches on topic such as, "Are we different? — Homosexual executives put to the test," or "Outing at the workplace — curse or blessing?" Additionally there will be a presentation of an index that promotes firms that champion equal rights for homosexuals.

Eight companies plan to send representatives to Milk 2010, among them Google, SAP, Cisco, Ford, Volkswagen Financial Services and IBM. "If we want to win the best workers for our company, then we can"t afford to shut anyone out," says Uta Menges, who ensures employee diversity at IBM Deutschland. She also points out that colourful mix within the company is extremely desirable, because it helps creativity. Other companies make similar arguments, though they don"t make a secret of the fact that the commitment has a positive effect on their corporate image.

The job fair organisers also have frequently discussed what kind of image they are projecting. They accept that by putting the differences between gays and heteros into focus, they could torpedo their goal of equal rights. "We simply believe that the demand for such an event persists," Wikberg says.

The organisers expect up to 2,000 visitors in the first year. The hope it will become an annual event that could eventually expand to Berlin. They"re also getting support from Germany"s Lesbian and Gay Federation (LSVD). Spokesperson Renate Rampf says that while the professional situation for homosexuals in Germany has improved, there's still discrimination. "When there"s a post to be filled, in Germany it"s still the case that heterosexuals with the same skills are favoured," she says.

The Milk 2010 event runs March 5-6 in Munich.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 5:47 pm 
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Homosexual police officer threatens woman over anti-gay taunts

A lesbian policewoman bit and kicked fellow officers when they tried to prevent her attacking a woman who had allegedly insulted her partner, a court heard.

By Ben Leach
2 June 2010

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PC Helen Cound Photo: GLOS NEWS

PC Helen Cound, an officer with West Mercia Police, threatened the woman with an empty wine bottle after she made "ignorant and intrusive" comments about the sexuality of her partner, Sharon Wallace. She then had to be restrained by two fellow officers after she attempted to attack the woman, Cheltenham Magistrates Court heard. While being restrained she kicked one of the officers and bit the other.

The incident occurred during a staff Christmas party at the Crown Inn, in Hallow, near Worcester on December 5 last year.

Graham Dono, prosecuting, told the court: "During the evening a great deal of drink was consumed and some people were more intoxicated than others. [A woman] approached the defendant's partner and there was an altercation between them. Miss Cound then became enraged and verbally abusive towards [the woman], calling her a '******* slag' and threatened to 'get' her."

He added she then picked up an empty wine bottle and threatened the woman with it. It was then that she was restrained by two other police officers at the event, John Cooper and Stephen Ballard. "As they restrained her, PC Cooper was bitten on the arm and PC Ballard was kicked," Mr Dono added.

Cound was originally charged with affray and common assault but this was reduced to using threatening words and behaviour. Defending, Simon Hunker told the court that Cound was a "very promising officer" who had recently passed a course to become a detective. He said she had been given a number of "glowing" references, both professional and personal.

"She is normally the epitome of calm and a calming influence on others, but on this occasion they had all been drinking" he added. "She is ashamed of her behaviour and has sought help from a therapist to try and find out why this happened, and to stop it happening again."

Cound, 35, of Droitwich, Worcs, admitted using threatening words and behaviour. She was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £250 towards prosecution costs and £100 in compensation to PC Cooper.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:01 pm 
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Gay KLM stewards want to avoid Iran
2 June 2010

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Trouble is brewing at Dutch airline KLM, where a number of homosexual stewards want to be excused from flying to Iran.

Iran is one of the most intolerant countries in the world when it comes to homosexuality, and the stewards — who have to spend the night there because of their work — do not feel safe. Dutch newspaper AD reports that they asked KLM for alternative destinations but were turned down.

KLM has already allowed a number of stewardesses not to serve on flights to Iran because "unpleasant things happened to them there", but the company says it cannot make any more exceptions. No further changes will be made unless it becomes really unsafe for personnel.

The FNV trade union confederation is aware of the dispute but says finding a solution is complicated. Female cabin crew personnel who work on flights to Iran have to wear headscarves on arrival. According to the union, they regard this as unpleasant.

Source: Radio Netherlands.

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