The History Of LGBT Laws Around The World: Part II

Today we’ll explore the historical influence of LGBT-related laws in Ancient India, Ancient Israel, and Assyria. Although many of these societies existed at the same time, they treated homosexual activity very differently — ranging from no big deal, to a minor fine, to death. Why was there such a broad range of views regarding homosexuality? Well, the answer is religion. The answer is always religion.

Ancient Indian law punished any non-vaginal intercourse whether a person was homosexual or not. Notably, however, unlawful heterosexual behavior was punished much more severely. Older texts place a larger penalty on taking a woman’s maidenhood than anything else. But in Ancient India, the fines for homosexual behavior were typically minor — and morality was rarely mentioned in religious texts important to Hinduism. 

Assyria was another society in which homosexual behavior seemed to be no big deal. In fact, sexualized crimes did not differentiate between homosexual and heterosexual behavior — you were prosecuted for the same crime either way. An Akkadian tablet read: “If a man copulates with his equal from the rear, he becomes the leader among his peers and brothers.” 

This meant that consenting adults even of the same sex could legally have anal sex with one another, and it might even have been seen as a “lucky” event. Notably, it was more frowned upon in lower social classes or in the military than it was in the upper tiers of the social hierarchy. 

And then we come to Ancient Israel, where we transition from homosexuality as “no big deal” to homosexuality as “you need to die.” Ancient Israeli law stems from the Torah, where several passages seem to suggest that men who have sex with one another are actively subverting God’s will. Thus, those who were found to have violated these biblical laws were most likely put to death as a result.

Does Sexual Abuse Influence Sexuality?

When we discuss sexual abuse (occurring at any age), we often discuss depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or feelings, eating disorders, addiction, and relationship difficulties. The latter category might sometimes fall under the umbrella of sexuality, which encompasses all of our sexualized thoughts and feels. It doesn’t necessarily include sexual orientation in the case, but we’ll discuss it anyway.

According to Roller, Martsolf, Draucker & Ross, “The sexual functioning and sexual identity in adolescence and adulthood is a particularly vulnerable factor in survivors. When a child suffers sexual abuse, sexual arousal becomes activated prematurely and can largely impact the survivor’s sense of autonomy over their body and sexual sence of self.”

No one can deny that men in particular associate sex and sexual thoughts with feelings of power and control — but also immense guilt. It’s also not uncommon for men and women to feel fear, confusion, or shame while exploring sexual arousal during late childhood and early adolescence. Others will feel a connection to pain. 

One of the most psychologically damaging aspects of abuse is that the victim can feel pleasure in response to that abuse — and it would be totally normal. This leads to shame later in life, but more commonly a distrust of the body’s physiological responses to normal sexual stimuli. This can lead to conditions like sexual aversion or sexual anorexia. 

Sexual aversion occurs when a victim tries to avoid all genital contact with a partner. Those with sexual anorexia might avoid intimacy altogether. Either condition can result in connected conditions like impotence. Neither condition is a guaranteed indicator of sexual abuse.

If you’ve been the victim of abuse here in LA, a California sexual abuse attorney might be able to help determine whether or not now is the time to cast light on your past trauma. Doing so can be very difficult and painful, but it can also help a person move on from the pain. Alternatives include therapy and possibly medication.

Another condition that most people probably don’t associate with abuse is sexual addiction. This term refers to those people who cannot control their actions and have sex compulsively — often with associated feelings of shame and depression. 

Research on whether or not childhood sexual abuse can affect later sexual orientation is severely lacking, but what limited research we do have says “probably not.” Orientation is primarily dependent on biological factors like epigenetics or chemical reactions in the mother’s womb after she has already had several children. And of course there’s a ton we simply don’t know!

One of the reasons why we don’t understand whether or not abuse is connected to sexual orientation is because of the “correlation versus causation” argument. In other words, are the children who others perceive to be gay or transgendered more likely than their straight counterparts to be abused? The answer to that question based on research is “yes.” And that could have a large impact on whether or not childhood sexual abuse has an impact on orientation. 

The History Of LGBT Laws Around The World: Part I

To say that the history of civil rights laws protecting the LGBT community has been long is an understatement if ever there was one. We’ve had to fight every step of the way, and in many parts of the world many LGBT individuals are still forced into hiding or treated as criminals simply based on who they love. This series will explore how laws here at home and abroad have evolved in relation to LGBT rights.

Let’s first discuss the strides that the LGBT movement has made in recent decades. Only a decade ago, gay marriage was still illegal in the United States — and although we were not the first ones to pass a law reversing course, there are now twenty-nine states where gay marriage has been officially recognized by law! The only country known to still execute members of the community is Iran.

There are still laws that levy a death penalty for homosexual behavior in other countries as well, including: Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, parts of Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). None of these countries continue to enforce these barbaric laws. 

Only a decade ago in 2011 did the United Nations Human Rights Council pass a revolutionary resolution to recognize that LGBT rights were human rights. This occurred after the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a comprehensive report on human rights violations that were born out of hate for gay people, including criminal activity and legislation that criminalizes homosexual activity. 

These new laws have been a long time coming. There were LGBT laws on the books as far back as the human eye can go! In the next part of our series, we will look at human rights in Ancient India, Ancient Israel, and Assyria — and perhaps ask the question “why did homosexual activity go from no big deal to the most heinous crime ever?”

Can I Sue For A Hate Crime?

Oxford Languages defines the term “hate crime” as such: “A crime, typically one involving violence, that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds.” Because hate crimes so often involve violence against one or more victims, that means the perpetrator has two types of liabilities: criminal and civil. Criminal liability means you might owe the jurisdiction where you were arrested money in the form of fine or restitution for the victim (plus get put in jail), and civil liability means you might be sued for any financial losses incurred by the victim because of your crime.

In most cases, victims will want to consult with a personal injury lawyer immediately after the crime takes place or as soon as they have recovered from their injuries. Needless to say, but a victim cannot recover damages without first consulting the police. In some cases, it might even be prudent to report the crime to the FBI!

Victims almost always have means to recover damages from the perpetrator because 47 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books to determine punishments for crimes that fit the category of “hate.” The federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 might also mean the perpetrator committed a federal crime.

Not sure if the criminal activity fits the definition of a hate crime? No problem. You can consult with a personal injury attorney to find out, or check UCLA Law Library’s section on hate crime statutes for a state-by-state list.

There are several types of “damages” or recompense for which a victim can sue. These include physical damages to the body, pain and suffering damages to the mind, lost wages both during and after recovery, reduced productivity damages, and punitive damages. Most of these categories are self-explanatory, but the last is based on a judge’s decision to punish the perpetrator for gross negligence — in this case through voluntary action, which is when punitive damages are most likely stacked with the rest.

Victims of a hate crime should document everything from the bills they pay and the hours they miss at work to the feelings they experience during recovery. Keeping a journal of the entire ordeal can help a personal injury attorney file a successful claim on a victim’s behalf.

What should you expect? What you shouldn’t expect is to move mountains. You are owed recompense for any losses sustained, but the vast majority of criminals who owe criminal or civil restitution pay it back slowly over a period of years — if at all. The criminal justice system has yet to find an efficient way to expedite or guarantee that restitution is paid, and you should be prepared to wait a while.

That said, you should still file a lawsuit. A crime without serious consequences is a crime that will happen again. Not only could a strong lawsuit help you but it could also help those who would have been future victims. We owe it to ourselves to hold those who would do us harm accountable for their actions!

LGBTQ Community Rejoices As Biden Presidency Certified (Kind Of)

Biden certainly made a large number of promises to the LGBTQ community. We expect him to move fast to pass an Equality Act. He’s also expected to focus on the worldwide community as well, which has undeniably faltered under President Trump’s leadership (or lack thereof). Although a Biden presidency is certainly cause for the community to rejoice, some LGBTQ groups are more skeptical than not. 

Biden supported a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military. He did not support Trump’s ban of trans folk serving, nor did he support Trump’s dozens of other rollbacks and Obama-era policy reversals. 

Pittsburgh Equality Center Acting Chair Patrick Zabasnik said, “There’s a lot of happiness, obviously, a celebration, but I think there are some reservations.”

Those reservations are based on pragmatism. Overturning Trump’s policies is not as simple as waving a wand and having it done. This is especially true when the hope is to utilize federal law to supersede those more relaxed laws at the state level — which is more difficult to do with Republicans in positions of power. Now that Democrats have won control of the Senate, Biden supporters hope the transition to fair laws will be more rapid.

Zabasnik added, “ Part of that Equality Act entails looking at mental health and health care resources and rural areas and housing for seniors. But also even I think for people who are who identify as transgender or non-binary having identification documents that are matching how they present and who they are specifically.”

The Equality Act actually already passed through the Democrat-controlled House last year. The Senate has yet to take it up, more than likely because Bill-Killer McConnell hasn’t allowed a vote (which is a matter of his purview as Majority Leader, a position he is set to lose when the new administration comes to power on January 20).

Others admit that any president’s power might be considered great but it is limited all the same.

Executive Director of Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation Sarah Rosso said, “Biden’s reach is going to be somewhat limited in the executive branch. We hope that we don’t see any rollback of marriage protections or other equity pieces that we’ve won.”

Disaster In Florida: Federal Appeals Court Okays Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapy is the practice of “teaching” a gay person to be straight. These practices do not work. They have been consistently debunked by researchers and members of the medical community, and are usually conducted by people who do not have the victim’s best interests at heart. Conversion therapy leads to increased rates of alcoholism, drug use, suicide, and depression. And that’s not surprising, since conversion therapy only “works” by first deconstructing the victim as a person.

A preposterous legal ruling by an appellate court in Florida overturned a previous ban on conversion therapy, in a harsh, inhuman blow to the LGBTQ people who live there.

One 29-year-old Orlando, Florida resident named Jordan Hunter remains psychologically broken and battered by his own experience with conversion therapy. But LGBTQ members who live there believe themselves part of an Orlando Family Team — and there’s no breaking their support for one another. Hunter has their undying support.

Hunter said, “You don’t tell anyone about this secret, because then they would know. They would know that you are different. That you are sinful. That you are broken. You keep this secret locked away.”

He is talking about his own interest and affection for men, of course.

“But one day you will confess. You will tell your pastor.”

And that’s exactly what happened. But the pastor didn’t accept that homosexuality was a feeling deep within a person rather than an existential choice in favor of evil. The pastor told Hunter he would have to “overcome homosexuality” by casting it out in front of his church’s members. 

19 cities and three counties in the sunshine state already enforced bans on conversion therapy because of the overwhelming evidence that not only does it not change a person’s sexual orientation, but also that it actually leads to a great deal of personal damage. 

Democratic House member Michael Grieco sponsored a 2020 bill that was designed to protect members of our community from the damages of conversion therapy.

Grieco said, “Conversion therapy is a dangerous, despicable and non-scientific practice that only harms people it is supposedly meant to ‘help.’”

Two relevant laws that banned conversion therapy in Florida were struck down by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Palm Beach County.

Openly gay Commissioner Michael Gongora said, “This decision is legally and morally wrong. There is no First Amendment right to practice junk science on LGBT minors, and the decision this week should be reversed before anyone else is harmed by this scientifically rejected practice.”

The ruling will likely be challenged by attorneys in Boca Raton and Palm Beach. Should that fail, the Supreme Court of the United States could theoretically take up the case. 

The lawsuit leading to this ruling was filed by nonprofit law firm Liberty Counsel on behalf of Christians. Senior pastor and chief counsel Matthew Staver said that the phrase conversion therapy should not be used to describe the practice he chose to defend. 

He wrote: “The counselor is like a GPS and the client has the right to choose the goal of counseling. Like a GPS, the counselors do not impose their predetermined course on the client.”

What A Joe Biden Presidency Means For The LGBTQ Community

It’s no secret that President Donald Trump has rolled back protections for the LGBTQ community — especially federal employees. In fact, simply having Trump in office has resulted in statistically relevant increases in crime against members of the community (in addition to other minority groups like those of Islamic faith). We have every reason to believe that the community outlook will improve greatly under soon-to-be President Joe Biden.

Biden previously promised to pass LGBTQ protections in his first 100 days. That job will become more difficult now that we know that there is a strong likelihood that the Senate will continue to be controlled by Republicans. Biden could use executive orders to keep his promises, though, and we expect him to do exactly that.

Biden team LGBTQ engagement director Reggie Greer described the incoming administration’s goals to NBC news only a week after Biden won the election: “The president-elect and the vice president-elect put together the most comprehensive plan to advance equality here at home and abroad ever put forth by a presidential ticket, and as a result it lays out a pretty strong blueprint on what the incoming administration can do.”

This involves the Equality Act, which would essentially reimpose all of the Obama-era legislation that Trump stripped away during his four years in office (hint: there was a lot of it). One of the most controversial aspects of discrimination law is religious freedom, which many suggest is simply another way to excuse overt hate. We expect Biden’s Equality Act to limit so-called religious freedoms more permanently. 

The legislation would also seek to reduce LGBTQ homelessness, especially for youth members of the community. It would also remove the transgender ban in the military, which was a Trump-era imposition. 

Greer said, “President-elect Biden and the vice president-elect have spent their entire careers forging bipartisan coalitions to get bills through the Congress.”

Why Do Lawyers Target Injured LGBT Workers When Searching For New Clients?

If you perform a quick Google search for LGBTQ workers compensation attorneys, you’ll find more than one direct match — which might be surprising since workers compensation is all about providing workers with free healthcare when they are injured on the job. What does being a member of the LGBTQ community have to do with it? Well, it turns out that businesses have been creating distrust between management and LGBTQ employees forever.

The problem isn’t obvious, but it exists. You might assume that anyone with an LGBTQ employee isn’t necessarily homophobic. The workplace is inclusive, after all. Sometimes this is a legal thing, but oftentime not. But employers are somewhat more likely to contest an LGBTQ person’s right to workers compensation than they are to contest anyone else’s. 

Earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ workers are legally protected from certain actions like termination or workplace discrimination. But the ruling has further implications. 

Epstein Becker & Green attorney David Garland said, “An employer may not discriminate with respect to benefits provided to any group of similarly situated workers that includes members of a protected class. That would be particularly true with respect to health care coverage, parental leave and similar emoluments.”

In our case, it means protection from undue contestation of workers comp benefits. It doesn’t guarantee an LGBTQ employee’s right to workers comp in every case, it simply guarantees free judgment. If you hurt yourself at work, you have the right to apply. And if the workers comp would normally be granted to an employee who was similarly injured, then you have the right to receive it. When an LGBTQ individual believes discrimination might be a factor in whether or not they receive this universal benefit, they should contact a lawyer to file a claim immediately.

Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale attorney Amy Blaisdell said, “The Supreme Court’s decision not only prohibits an employer from refusing to hire or discharging an employee based on LGBTQ status, but also prohibits treating employees differently in the spectrum of compensation, terms or conditions of employment because of the individual’s LGBTQ status.”

One of the reasons LGBTQ individuals worry about workers compensation is because HIPAA privacy rules are different for this benefit — meaning that a person who chooses to remain in the closet at work might risk having their sexual orientation disclosed to an employer, who might then choose to deny the benefit altogether retroactively. This is an unlikely scenario, but it’s important for employers, employees, and lawyers to understand what’s at stake.

Many people have wondered whether or not the future of the law is at stake with a now conservative-dominated Supreme Court. It’s too early to tell for sure, but the Constitution doesn’t necessarily guarantee protections for one class of people in particular. It simply says that we’re all created equal. Justices have interpreted the Constitution in different ways. The newest, Amy Coney Barrett, believes in a strictly literal interpretation — which means she might be willing to overturn the law if a case ever presented itself.

Election Day 2020: How To Reduce Your Stress

Our community has been through a lot these past four years, which have been wildly different than the preceding eight — those were filled with victories, warmth, and mutual respect. It seems like much of that was left behind when Trump was elected in 2016. Hate crimes committed against the LGBTQ community — and toward transexuals in particular — skyrocketed from 2015 and on, in part fueled by Trump’s caustic rhetoric toward minorities.

Today’s the day the country decides whether or not the self-inflicted wound will continue to gape wide open. There’s a great chance Biden sweeps tonight, which means that wound should hopefully close over time. Until then, here’s how to reduce some of your election cycle stress.

First, get outside! Natural environments help release the happy hormones that make us less aggressive and reduce our inclination toward arguments. Plus, they help us get away from the people who are most likely to start those arguments! This is a great time to go backpacking or camping.

Being outside will also help you stay away from the constant barrage of Trump-related news, which will almost certainly continue even if Biden is elected president. 

If you can’t spend much time outdoors, then at least stay away from social media as much as you can and try to avoid the news when you switch on the TV or computer. Instead, marathon your favorite series or watch a few movies. Need to work? Then focus on the tasks at hand and keep your phone in your pocket. Your bosses will appreciate it too. 

Spend time with your loved ones. Cuddle! Body warmth releases the “love” hormones that relieve stress. Listen to music together. Watch the sunset. Read a book. Play with your children or toss a ball to Fido. Do whatever you need to do to take your mind off of what’s likely to happen tonight and over the next few days.

What Are The Top Hate Crimes Committed Against The LGBTQ Community?

New studies on how often hate crimes are perpetrated against certain minorities and what kind of crimes are most likely have been conducted during President Trump’s time in office, and the outlook is much as expected — the LGBTQ community is targeted at a disproportionate rate than other minority communities. They are almost four times more likely to become the victim of a hate crime.

These crimes often involve violence, which is what most of us think about when we hear the phrase “hate crime.” But there are other types of hate, and much of it is directed at property instead of people.

For example, many LGBTQ individuals who publically flew a rainbow flag in their yard acknowledge that the flag was vandalized, stolen, or destroyed. Minneapolis resident Troy Kriech decided to fly his own flag when he lived in Webster with a friend — but that it was quickly taken. He posted a video on Facebook of a fellow resident using homophobic slurs while burning the flag in full public view.

Brandt said, “I called the cops. They came over and took my statement. We had [the flag] screwed onto the house. There are still pieces of the flag hanging there. Then the video blows up on Facebook on Saturday. People are posting it and reporting it, just doggin’ him out and everything. I showed the cops the video before he deleted it. Then someone else had managed to save the video.”

Sadly, Day County State Attorney Danny Smeins doesn’t seem to acknowledge that vandalism is a crime! Smeins said to Forum News, “I don’t think there’s a crime itself in the burning of the flag. It’s a crime to steal it and it’s a crime to trespass on property to remove it. I haven’t seen the video year to see if there’s a threat being stated in it. There’s some loose ends as far as the investigation goes. I don’t know what going to happen with this. It’s complicated by the fact is the person complaining about it abandoned it, so it’s really not his property unless there was an agreement.”

Property damage attorney Ray Collins does not agree. Collins said, “Mr. Kriech lived on the premises where the flag was taken and then vandalized, and there was also damage to the property itself. Yes, trespassing is a crime. Yes, theft is a crime. But willful destruction of another person’s property is a crime too. Burning someone’s flag is something that opens the perpetrator up to both criminal and civil action — and both should be taken in conjunction with one another to show the person responsible for doing this that these actions are unacceptable in our society.”

The video depicts an obvious hate crime, which is also against the law and carries additional criminal penalties. 

The South Dakota Attorney General’s website defines a hate crime as “a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity/national origin.”

And yet, the burning of the flag is still controversial when someone says it is a hate crime: