Out Leadership | Global Pulse on LGBTQ+ Equality - Issue #31
Russia experiences LGBTQ+ societal acceptance in reverse, the upcoming "Safe to Be ME" conference in London, and who is to blame for the anti-LGBTQ+ bill in Ghana?
Welcome to this week's edition of the weekly equality news digest, the Global Pulse on Equality from Out Leadership, where I share important news, updates, and commentary about the LGBTQ+ equality movement globally. Questions, feedback, and comments are always welcome. Would you mind sharing with your networks to continue helping us in moving the LGBTQ+ equality conversation forward?
Lambda Legal's Kevin Jennings urges North Carolina senators to pass the Equality Act.
Lambda Legal's Executive Director Kevin Jennings, a native of the State, encouraged Senator Richard Burr (contact him here) and senator Thom Tillis (contact him here) to vote in favor of the Equality Act, a natural bi-partisan bill, in an op-ed titled "We must do better for LGBTQ kids."
State Department issues the first passport with a neutral gender marker.
Today, the State Department is expected to issue the first passport featuring an "X" in the Gender section. The option will be available routinely to the public in 2022. Special Envoy Stern presented the policy change at a press conference on Tuesday.
In the US, Churches are disconnected from youth on LGBTQ+ issues.
If only the Vatican would read the WSJ (this week…only this week because it is not a beacon of progressiveness). The most significant disconnect involves LGBTQ+ rights. 71% of youths said they care about gay rights but feel that only 44% of religious communities care about the same issue, according to the survey of 10,274 people representing various faiths.
The "I" in LGBTI.
Yesterday was US International Intersex Day. Our friends at InterACT had a global campaign, #IAmIntersex accompanied by a guide for corporations. While the issue makes some people uncomfortable or disinterested, the fact is that medical procedures on intersex children without their consent are an egregious violation of human rights. Unfortunately, because of the stigma around intersex, the law excludes non-consensual and unnecessary surgery. Take a minute to read this article about 11 years old Noah to understand the issue.
Our condolences to Representative Mark Takano, the gay Japanese American congressman who lost his mother this week.
UK: Lord Nick Herbert goes full speed for "Safe to be me."
The Global Equality Conference will take place from 27 to June 29, 2022, in London. It will bring together countries, international civil society, and businesses to improve the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ people around the world. Herbert met with UK conference partners recently.
UK: A strange report echoed by the BBC.
The conversation over respect for the human rights of trans people in the UK has taken another strange turn. The BBC reported this week that a report claims some lesbians feel pressured into having sex with transgender women. Not sure how public policy can respond to that one. Perhaps more interestingly, another study found that London has more statues of animals than of named women.
Netherlands: a new openly gay Global Fortune 500 CEO.
Former Accenture executive Sander van 't Noordende has been named the new chief executive officer of Randstad. The job is a crucial position in the current labor market scarcity. He joined an exclusive club of openly gay CEOs in global Fortune 500 with Tim Cook at Apple and Jim Fitterling at Dow. Beth Ford (Land O'Lakes) is the only lesbian CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Previously Sander had also joined the Board of AECOM.
Russia: most Russians oppose same-sex relationships.
While negative societal attitudes do not justify state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia, these survey results (69% opposed same sex-relationships) are a reminder of the need to support grassroots movement in the country. The only silver lining is that younger Russians are increasingly tolerant.
Ghana: the abhorrent anti-LGBTQ+ bill back in the news.
While the President of Ghana, caught between a rock and a hard place, has called on the parliament to slow down, others focus on the churches' role. Church leaders in the UK have strongly criticized Ghanaian bishops over their support for a draconian anti-LGBTQ+ law. Others have highlighted the role of US churches in ghostwriting the bill.
Another warning: how "gender ideology" is translated as "fascism" by conservatives.
This interesting piece in The Guardian by Judith Butler discusses a concerted effort to picture trans rights as a form of totalitarian attack on reality. Ultimately the responsibility is on us, activists, to reframe the debate to appeal to the public rather than playing into their fears of a dystopian future. Data, not feelings, must drive our campaigning.
The multilateral corner
ILO: LGBTQ+ inclusion is a universal labor standard.
This week, I joined Christophe Margaine of L'Autre Cercle and CV Viverito of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates for the International Labour Organization's Academy on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The session on "Centering LGTBIQ+ people for the future of work" hosted by ILO's Gurchaten Sandhu was an opportunity to reiterate the universality of LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace.
The United Nations Standards of Conduct Gap Analysis Tool.
A new tool for companies to self-assess how aligned they are with the corporate LGBTQ+ human rights standards I co-wrote in 2017 has been developed by the Boston Consulting Group, OHCHR, and the United Nations Global Compact (see the FAQ here). While it has been launched quietly under the tagline "Assess your company's LGBTIQ+ policies and practices and get guidance for improvement," it is worth checking out.
Asian Development Bank: Chantale Wong's Senate hearing.
Chantale Wong, the first lesbian appointed to ambassador rank, had her Senate Confirmation Hearing this week. You can listen to her introductory remarks at 43:00 and her intervention on gender equality at 1:30. After the 2020 election, we championed her profile with the Biden administration: she is an exceptional individual with an amazing journey and, incidentally, an excellent eye for photography.
World Bank: recruiting a firm for SOGI Training in the Balkans.
The World Bank is looking for a firm or a consortium of firms to develop training on SOGI inclusion for government officials in Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. The deadline for submitting a proposal is November 2.
In other news
My speech on the urgency for global social change.
In a keynote for diversity week at UNC Kenan-Flagler, I reminded the future business leaders of the world's largest economy that a private sector eager to regain public trust is a natural ally for embattled LGBTQ+ people in a "post-human rights world." Read the full speech here.
A memoir of a gay Nigerian refugee.
A mentorship program for LGBTQ+ refugees.
Edafe also announced the launch of a mentorship program that will enable asylum seekers to receive one-on-one guidance and support from an LGBTQ professional or ally at a large company. The program focuses on developing career goals, strengthening one's resume and cover letter, and expanding one's professional network. More than 20 companies offer mentorship in the United States, including Hilton, Sony, PayPal, Under Armour, and TD Bank. Interested applicants can apply directly here.
Aron le Fèvre joins the Global Equality Caucus.
After producing a flawless Copenhagen 2021 WorldPride & EuroGames human rights forum, Le Fèvre announced he joined the Global Equality Caucus, the international LGBTQ+ parliamentarian group, as Deputy Director.
Gay in the Red Army.
"Firebird," a love story set in the Soviet Air Force during the Cold War, premiered at the New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival, is out in UK movie theaters. I love uniforms, personally.
Giving Tuesday is coming up.
GivingTuesday is always the first Tuesday following Black Friday, which marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. This year, GivingTuesday will take place on November 30, 2021. $2 billion was donated on GivingTuesday last year. Think about directing your friends to donate to LGBTQ+ organizations such as the Outright Action International, Witness to Mass Incarceration, or the David Mixner LGBTQ+ ICWA fellowship.
See you next week. In the meantime, feel free to email me with any comments or suggestions, or news items I may have missed. I look forward to hearing from you.