Republican governor protects LGBTI govt employees on first day in office

Mike DeWine (Photo: Facebook)

Newly sworn-in Republican Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, signed an executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination in state employment on Tuesday (14 January).

Ohio is one of 31 states that lacks a statewide law barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

DeWine’s order also covers race, color, religion, gender, national origin, military status, disability, age, and genetic information.

Equality Ohio Executive Director Alana Jochum said the state was still ‘playing catch-up when it comes to welcoming LGBTQ people’.

‘Governor DeWine made a strong statement on his first day that he will be a Governor for all Ohioans’ he said.

‘The right thing’

LGBTI rights advocates Human Rights Campaign said DeWine ‘did the right thing’.

‘We hope his administration will push for the fair treatment of all LGBTQ Ohioans over the next four years’ the group said in a statement.

Importantly, DeWine’s executive order extends protections to trans and non-binary residents.

James Knapp of TransOhio urged the Ohio Legislature to now protect transgender employees in the private sector through the Ohio Fairness Act.

Last week, state governors in Michigan and Wisconsin moved to protect LGBTI state employees.

Both signed executive orders prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

But, the new Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, excluded LGBTI people from his executive order.

Equality Act

Earlier this month, newly-sworn in members of the House of Representatives promised to pass the US’s Equality Act.

The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was first introduced to the House in 2015.

If passed, it would outlaw discrimination against LGBTI citizens in work and services across the country.

Author: Rik Glauert

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Virginia LGBTI rights group launch employment equality awareness campaign

Equality Virginia

An LGBTI rights group in Virginia has launched a new awareness campaign about the discrimination sexual minorities experience in the state.

Equality Virginia’s month-long campaign will erect billboards throughout the state.

The billboards will read: ‘Someone you know is gay . . . They can be fired for who they are.’

This is a reference to the fact that it’s legal in Virginia to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

‘It is still legal to discriminate against people simply because they’re gay or transgender’

The campaign is designed to combat the lack of protections for LGBTI people in the state.

There is no anti-discrimination legislation protecting LGBTI people in employment or housing in Virginia, the Washington Blade reports.

Past moves to introduce anti-discrimination bills have received bipartisan support in the state’s Senate.

However, none of the bills have made it past the House of Delegates, as Republican leadership has resisted calls to hold a vote.

‘Many people are surprised to learn that it is still legal under our state’s laws to fire a hardworking employee, deny them an apartment, and otherwise discriminate against people simply because they’re gay or transgender,’ said Equality Virginia’s Executive Director, James Parrish.

‘The goal of this year’s campaign is to increase understanding of the lack of legal protections these communities face and demonstrate the toll discrimination takes on LGBT Virginians and their families,’ Parrish added.

Inherent optimism

Equality Virginia is working in conjunction with fellow LGBTI rights group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

‘Over the past several elections, Equality Virginia and HRC have worked to elect pro-equality champions at every level of Virginia’s state government,’ HRC said in a statement on their website.

Despite the difficulties in the past, the group remains optimistic about the future outlook.

‘The good news is, support for equality has grown by leaps and bounds and people from all walks of life have come to understand that we all have LGBT loved ones, coworkers, and friends,’ Parrish concluded.

Despite the poor record of LGBTI anti-discrimination laws, the state made history in November 2017, when trans woman Danica Roem was elected to the House of Delegates District 13 seat.

Roem’s victory was the first time in US history a trans woman had been elected to state office.

Author: Calum Stuart

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Zero Philippine companies are LGBTI-inclusive, survey finds

The Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce launches its report on LGBTI inclusivity in businesses (Photo: Facebook)

There are zero LGBTI inclusive Philippine companies according to a study by the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Only 17 per cent of companies in the country have policies against discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity or expression (SOGIE).

Importantly, these are all foreign-headquartered organizations or in the business-process outsourcing industry.

The Philippine Corporate SOGIE Diversity & Inclusiveness Index 2018 surveyed 100 companies in the Philippines. Together, these companies employ 267,231 people.

Furthermore, none of the 56 responding Philippine firms and government agencies have an anti-discrimination policy.

The survey also revealed that companies without LGBT-inclusive policies also did not plan to change in the next five years.

Research firm Cogencia with the support of the Netherlands conducted the survey.

No anti-discrimination law

Brian Tenorio, Chair of the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce, said the survey was a ‘wake up call’ to enact the Philippines’ Anti-Discrimination Bill.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill No. 1271 has been languishing in the Senate for nearly two years.

It would make it illegal to deny access to public services, hire or dismiss, impede access to education, or harass a person based on SOGIE.

‘In the absence of a SOGIE anti-discrimination law, LGBT+ professionals suffer discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry without any recourse’ Evan Tan, Vice Chair for Industry and Business at the chamber, also told Gay Star News.

What’s more, ‘every day, we hear anecdotes of discrimination in the workplace from our fellow LGBT+ professionals,’ he said.

’The data only shows that the problem is as widespread as we assumed it was’, he also said.

What is next?

The dismal results for Filipino companies led the chamber to launch a major project for 2019.

#ZEROto100PH plans to get 100 companies to pledge their commitment to make their businesses LGBT-inclusive.

Tan said the chamber will encourage local companies to conduct SOGIE training in the workplace. What’s more, they want companies to issue SOGIE-specific equal hiring opportunity statements.

‘Businesses must also realize that they are losing talented LGBT+ people because of their exclusionary policies and practices’ Tan said.

‘We know there is a clear economic impact by discriminating LGBT+ people, and the government and businesses must act together to solve that if we want to grow as a country’.

Author: Rik Glauert

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