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How the Supreme Court's Marriage Ruling Puts Some Gays and Lesbians at Risk

Jun 26, 2015

As a member of the City Council, the late Harvey Milk was nothing if not practical, becoming the first openly gay elected official in California in part by campaigning for a pooper scooper law. So it was in that spirit that one of his friends, the legendary gay rights activist Cleve Jones, recently mused to a meeting with local reporters in San Francisco about the possibility the Supreme Court would expand gay marriage nationwide.

“Now what?” Jones said, channeling his one-time mentor while standing not far from a statue of him. “What about that kid that’s still in Altoona, Pennsylvania? What about that lesbian couple in Birmingham, Alabama? What about that trans cop in Jackson, Mississippi? What about their lives?”

The answer may not be as uplifting as Friday's news promised. While the court's ruling in favor of gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges is a historic milestone in the gay rights movement that will help tens of thousands of Americans enjoy the benefits of a legal recognition of their unions, there is an undercurrent of risk too. In those parts of the country that do not bar discrimination in housing or employment, gay marriage may make some gays and lesbians more vulnerable.

Take Texas, a state where gay marriages have not been recognized. Pretty soon, a gay man might be able to head to Abilene City Hall for a marriage license and take his vows with his longtime partner. His boss could then fire him and his landlord start eviction proceedings based on his sexual orientation, and it would be perfectly legal.

“At the very moment that same-sex couples in the majority of states in this country partake in that new right that they have, to marry to person that they love, that wedding happens at 10 a.m. They can be fired by noon and evicted from their homes by 2 p.m.,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, tells TIME in an interview. “All in the same day, simply for posting the wedding photo on Facebook.”

And it's not just Texas. Indeed, more than 206 million Americans — nearly two thirds of the country — live in states where employers can be fired someone for being gay. Only 18 states and the District of Columbia prohibit housing discrimination based on a tenant’s sexuality or sexual identity. Three others prohibit discrimination on sexuality. The remaining 166 million Americans live in states where landlords can evict someone for their sexuality. Friday's ruling had no effect on what conservative attorney Ted Olson, who argued California’s landmark same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court, called a “crazy quilt” of laws that unequally treat gays and lesbians.

Chronicling the Struggles of LGBT People Around the World

Joseph Kawesi, 31 Uganda, March 2015 Joseph Kawesi, a transgender woman, sits at home in the Ugandan capital of Kampala with her mother Mai, 65. Kawesi still has nightmares about the night in December 2012 when she says police officers dragged her out of her home after a tip-off that she might be gay. She says the officers beat her, and then raped her with a club. Kawesi is now an activist working to support LGBT people affected by HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Uganda's president signed an Anti-Homosexuality Act into law in Feb. 2014, that broadened the criminalization of same-sex relationships, adding to colonial-era laws that already prohibited sodomy. The law was overturned on a technicality in August, but Parliament could pass a new anti-homosexuality bill this year.Robin Hammond
A posed posed portrait of 34 year old Human Rights Activist fighting for the rights of LGBTI people in Uganda and on the African continent, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera. She describes herself as one of the early pioneers of the LGBT struggle in Uganda and founder and former Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, the only exclusively Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Women’s rights organization in the country and currently founder and editor of Kuchu Times and Bombastic Magazine. She is the recipient of the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award and the Nuremburg International Human Rights Award. She has several times been evicted by landlords because of her sexuality. She has been physically attacked many times. Kasha can no longer use public transport. “Every time the media talks about homosexuality in Uganda my face appears, the visibility is so much that it exposes me. People have threatened me with death many times, especially on social media. People have wished for me to be knocked down by cars. They want to cut off my head, kill me.” “Even if I receive these threats, words hurt and depress me, at the same time it allows me to know where I need to improve in my work – attitude change – that’s why I keep doing what I do. It hurts, but it doesn’t really put me down. One day it will change. I am happy to be part of the foundation for future generations to build on.” Uganda. March 2015.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable
A posed posed portrait of Bad Black, a 25 years old transgender woman sex worker in Kampala, Uganda. “At the age of 16 in 2005 I was caught red handed kissing with my boyfriend. My father asked me to leave his home if I don’t want to be killed. I left home and came to Kampala where I started doing sex worker for survival. In 2009, I found out that I was HIV positive. I have been sexually harassed by the police every time on streets. The police arrested me several times for no reason. Early this year I was kidnapped by three men who tortured me for seven hours they beat me up and fixed a beer bottle in my ass smeared with hot pepper. The kidnappers took my phones and money.” He volunteers for an organization that supports other HIV positive sex workers. Uganda, September 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa
A posed posed portrait of Ishmel (left) and Gabriel (right) (not their real names) who are gay. In December 2013 they were taken from their homes by a vigilante group aligned to Bauchi City Sharia Courts who suspected them of being gay. They slapped and beat them with electric cables. He was held in prison for over 40 days. He made several appearances at the Sharia Court. They were lashed 15 times with a horse whip, but then acquitted of committing homosexual acts as there were no witnesses to the crime. Sodomy is punishable by death under Sharia Law but requires four witnesses. Since Nigeria’s president signed a harsh law criminalizing homosexuality throughout the country, arrests of gay people have multiplied, advocates have been forced to go underground, some people fearful of the law have sought asylum overseas and news media demands for a crackdown have flourished. Three young men were recently flogged 20 times in a northern Nigerian court room for being gay. Some consider them lucky. The penalty for gay sex under local Islamic law is death by stoning. Nigeria, April 2014.   While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down
A posed posed portrait of Buje (not his real name) who is gay. In December 2013 he was taken from his home by a vigilante group aligned to Bauchi City Sharia Courts who suspected him of being gay. They slapped him and beat him with electric cables. He was held in prison for over 40 days. He made several appearances at the Sharia Court. After being beaten in prison he confessed to committing homosexual acts. He was lashed 15 times with a horse whip as a punishment. Sodomy is punishable by death under Sharia Law but requires four witnesses. Since Nigeria’s president signed a harsh law criminalizing homosexuality throughout the country, arrests of gay people have multiplied, advocates have been forced to go underground, some people fearful of the law have sought asylum overseas and news media demands for a crackdown have flourished. Three young men were recently flogged 20 times in a northern Nigerian court room for being gay. Some consider them lucky. The penalty for gay sex under local Islamic law is death by stoning. Nigeria, April 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after
A posed portrait of Tiwonge Chimbalanga from Malawi. In 2009 Steven Monjeza Soko and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were arrested in their home country of Malawi and in 2010 they were both charged with buggery and permitting buggery, as well as with the offence of indecent practices between males in accordance with sections 153 and 156 of the Malawian Penal Code. Convicted, the two men were sentenced to the maximum penalty of fourteen years. According to the sentencing magistrate, the severity of the sentence was justified to protect Malawian society: “I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example.” This judgement took place in spite of Malawi’s own constitution and it being a signatory state to a number of human rights treaties. Consequently, the case attracted an international outcry and both men were later pardoned on condition that they do not have any future contact with each other. Following release, fearing for her safety, Tiwonge fled to South Africa. November 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homop
A posed portrait of Flavirina Naze from Burundi. “I left Burundi because of my sexuality. People were beating me and didn’t accept me”. Flavirina attended a Trans-geneder conference in South Africa, while there she was warned by a LGBT activist that it might be dangerous for her to return to Burundi as there were elections around that time and persecution of the LGBT community was increasing. Fearing for her life, she decided to stay. She was accepted as an asylum seeker but she could not afford to renew the permit. It expired and she is now in South Africa illegally. As she is unable to work legally, she started engaging in sex work to survive. South Africa. November 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution g
A posed portrait of transgender women Dolores (right) 24 and Naomi (left) 25. While travelling home with a male friend after spending an evening at a club they were stopped at a police check-point. Because they couldn’t produce ID they were taken to the police station. A police woman recognized Naomi and said to the other officers “I know this one, she is a homosexual”. That night in the police cells they were severely beaten by the police. The beatings continued every day for a week until they were sent to provisional detention. They stayed there for three months awaiting trial. They were taken in front of the judge and found guilty of homosexuality, and sentenced to the maximum punishment of five years. When sentencing the judge commented that they had admitted to drinking baileys – “a woman’s drink” and therefore further evidence of their homosexuality. Human rights campaigner and lawyer Alice Nkom appealed the conviction and won. The case was dropped for lack of evidence, Dolores and Naomi were acquitted. They had spent August 2011 to January 2013 in prison – 18 months. Dolores says, “Prison is the worst place I have ever been. And I was obliged to undertake any kind of activity to survive.” Yaounde, Cameroon. December 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 las
A posed portrait of 28 year old Amanda (not her real name). In 2007 Amanda was out with a friend, she went to buy cigarettes and started walking back to her friends house. A man approached her and said he would show here a shortcut. He asked if she was a lesbian “do you date girls he said? Amanda said “yes”, the man pulled out a gun, put it to her head and said “I’m going to show you are not a man, you are a girl”. He dragged her behind some toilets pushed the gun to her temple and raped her. “I was scared. I thought he was going to kill me” she said. When he was finished, he ran away. “After that. I hate guys,” says Amanda. The rapists was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison.  “God has helped me to get over the rape, but I’m still afraid. I don’t go out at night.” South Africa. November 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent
A posed portrait of Boniwe Tyatyeka, mother of Nontsikelelo Tyatyeka (in the framed picture) who disappeared 7 September 2010. A year later, on 9 September 2011, her decomposed body was found in the dustbin of a neighbor. She had been raped, beaten on the head, and strangled to death. The killer (the neighbor whose dustbin in which her body was found) said he did it to change her – she was a lesbian. Cape Town, South Africa. November 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all over the continent fleeing persecution have come to South Africa. Despite these laws, many lesbians have been victims of ‘corrective rape’ and homosexuals have been murde
A posed portrait of 35 year transgender woman Nisha Ayub who was arrested and received a three month prison sentence for cross dressing (under Section 66, of the Shariah Law of Malaysia). She was imprisoned in the male section. She was humiliated daily. She had breasts implanted that same year and was made to walk topless through the prison. She was regularly verbally and physically abused. The guards shaved her long hair off, an important part of her female identity. “My hair is my crown, it is my identity, it is the first thing I did when I got my independence – to grow my hair. I was in the chair crying as they cut it. I was begging, “please, please, please” he just ignored me. As each hair dropped, so did my heart.” On the first day she was forced to perform oral sex on six men: “I was scared, the guys were scary.” After that she sought protection from one of the prison guards in return for sex. Nisha says: “one of the worst things about being in prison is that you don’t feel like you own your body anymore, it’s like people have the right to do anything to you.” Once released she found she had lost the job she had in a hotel. In order to get money to survive she became a hostess in a bar which meant she had to perform sexual acts for money. “I heard there was a NGO in Kuala Lumpur helping trans people. When I went to prison, I didn’t even know that law existed. When I came out of prison I was determined to fight and I wanted to help other trans people so I went to KL to volunteer.” Now Nisha advocates for other transgender women in Malaysia with a non governmental organization. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. January 2015.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa i
A posed portrait of 33 Year old Abinaya Jayaraman, a transgender woman. Until the age of 19 she always considered herself a normal boy. It wasn’t until her late teens when other boys started to isolate her that she started to question herself. She googled “a man with female character” and started to learn about the transgender community. She went to see a doctor who told her she had a female’s soul trapped in a male’s body. At first she strongly rejected the idea. She wanted to tell her mum but she is from a very strict family and didn’t think it was possible. “I was so scared to tell her, and I started to cut my arm due to depression. I used to hate myself, and I used to hate God “Why did you create me this way?” It took me more than three years to accept who I am. Then I started to dress up in the house. And I would see my mum’s Saree and think “when will it be my turn to wear that?”. In June 2008 she told her mum “Ma, I’m not a boy, I’m a girl, please understand” Abinaya’s mother slapped her in the face and walked away. One evening in 2009, Abinaya came home after work “all my relatives were there. I asked “what’s going on?” – my mother told me – “we’re going to look for a wife for you” I was shocked. I said “what? Please understand I cannot carry her leg like this and bang her!”” Her mother replied “Don’t worry, once you have a child, everything will be okay”. Her relatives tried to introduce her to a woman. Abinaya met her wife to be, and told her “Look I can’t marry you” then Abinaya explained everything. The pressure continued though until Abinaya couldn’t take it any longer and in April 2009 she took a cocktail of sleeping pills and pain killers in an attempt to end her life. She ended up in hospital for 3 months. Her mother didn’t visit her once. Abinaya’s family continued to refuse to accept her gender identity. She was disowned and thrown out of the house. Abinaya worked in corpor
A posed portrait of Lesbian couple ‘O’ (27, right) and ‘D’ (23, left). They were on their way home after a jazz concert, it was late by the time they got off at their subway stop. They were alone as they went up the escalator to get to the street level apart from two men in front of them. As they traveled up to street level, they took each other’s hand and kissed. They came out of the subway and starting walking home. Suddenly ‘O’ felt a blow to the back of her neck: “fucking lesbians” the stranger yelled. He then turned and punched ‘D’ in the face. ‘O’ tried to defend her but was punched in the face too. ‘O’ screamed: “what are you doing? We are just sisters” he replied, “Don’t lie, I saw you kissing and you are spreading LGBT propaganda”. The remark was in reference to the ‘Anti LGBT Propaganda Towards Minors” law recently adopted in Russia. He continued to kick and punch ‘O’ and ‘D’ screaming “No LGBT” and finally “If I see you again I will kill you” and then left. All this time the attackers colleague was filming the attack with his phone. Talking about the attack ‘O’ says: “The real fear I experienced was not for myself, it was for the one I love. The fear struck me when I realized I couldn’t do anything to protect her.” ‘O’ continues: “Now, in Russia, holding hands is dangerous for us. But if the goal of these attackers was to separate us, they failed. They only made our relationship stronger”. St Petersburg, Russia. November 2014.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of
A posed portrait of 47 year old trans man Mitch Yusmar, with his partner of 17 years 39 year old Lalita Abdullah, and their adopted children, 9 year old Izzy, and 3 year old Daniya at home outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Mitch is the Senior Manager of Seed, an NGO that caters to the needs of homeless people in Kuala Lumpur. Lalita is the Regional Learning and Development Manager for an oil and gas company. Their relationship is not legally recognized and they live with the insecurity that their family could be torn apart should something happen to Lalita who is the only recognized parent. Malaysia. January 2015.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all
A posed portrait of Sally. Sally has been in Lebanon for 7 months. “I ran away from Syria because I was running away from ISIS. One of my family members is now with ISIS. Because of him I ran away here. He was in charge of investigations in ISIS. The want to catch and kill the gays. My last partner was kidnapped and interrogated by ISIS. I’m 90% sure they killed him.  To kill someone they will choose the highest building and push him from it. They are worse than the Syrian investigation services. The gay people are treated as if they have a contagious disease. In Islam you are given the chance to ask for mercy and to re-enter Islam and follow the Islamic law. But ISIS consider Gays as a contagious disease, so that’s why they kill them.” Sally says her friend will be forced to name all the LGBT people he knows, including Sally. Then they will be hunted done. “Some of my other gay friends were captured and stoned to death, one pushed from the roof of a building, one was shot in the head - because of their sexuality. They had no proof - in Islam they say you have to have three witnesses, and caught in action, but they didn’t have any, they just killed them because they knew they were gay.” “I can never go back to Syria, the door of my parents and my country has been shut in my face. If I went back, they would kill me. The regime will take me directly to military service where I will die. ISIS will execute me – they will throw me from a building. Before they would shoot them. Now they push everyone from the buildings.” Discussing his identity Sally says: “On the inside I’m a woman, from the outside – I don’t know maybe half/half” “I’m a woman and not a man, I don’t even consider myself a gay person, what can I do. I’m planning to do my sex transition.” Sally has a short-term job teaching literacy to refugees to survive as well as receiving some support from NGOs. She is waiting for resettlement. Beirut, Lebanon. February 2015.  Wh
A posed portrait of 36 year old Khalid, a gay man from Baghdad, Iraq. “I left Iraq because no one accepted me as Gay. I left because I suffered from the bad treatment from the normal people. I was insulted by many people at work, at home, in the neighborhood, in the street. They treated me like a girl, they would say things like “you are a beautiful girl, come with us” even though I never wore anything feminine or revealed my sexuality. I use to hear this stuff all the time.” The constant insults, gossiping and rejection by society “made me loose focus on everything including my work. I felt very sad and humiliated. I used to go to the bathroom and cry. I was a rejected person – I was like a white robe amongst millions of black robes.” Khalid did, on occasion, find someone who shared his secret. “In 2013 I was in a relationship. We’d been together for a year. We were in love. One day my boyfriend’s older brother found us in bed together. He beat us as badly. Then he went and told my family. The two families found out and rejected us. My family started to push me away. My older brother went to the leader of our tribe to find the right punishment for me. I don’t know what the leader of the tribe said, but we all know the punishment for being gay is death. My father used to ask my older brother ‘when are you going to see the boss of our tribe and see about the punishment?.’ In Iraq it is normal to kill a gay family member as it is a crime against the family’s honor. I was really afraid for my life. So one morning I went to work and didn’t come back home. I asked to be referred to another building that was in the Green Zone, that way no one can come in to kill me.” Khalid tragically learnt how real the threat towards anyone identified as gay is. “I had a gay friend who was feminine, he was a hairdresser. I had a small apartment. He asked if he could stay there. I went back (to the apartment) and found a lot of people at the entrance and
A posed portrait of 33 year old Gad (not his real name) from Homs, Syria. Gad arrived in Lebanon in July 2014. “I left Homs because my neighborhood was under attack, it was bombed many times. I moved to Lebanon to try to find a job. I found work at the hammam giving massage”. Hammams are known as places where gay men go for sex. “I was obliged to work like this so I can assist my parents in Syria. It also provided me a place to stay and not pay rent. I used to work for two months, go back to Homs for a short time, then come back again.” One evening in August 2014 we were raided by the police.” A policeman came in undercover, asking for a ‘massage extra’ meaning sex. The receptionist refused. 20 soldiers and police entered. “They took all those who worked in the massage rooms, and started beating those of us from Syria. Everyone inside, staff and clients, were arrested, 27 of us, and taken to the Hbeish, the morality police. 11 of them were Syrian, the rest Lebanese. “They punched and kicked me. They put a black cloth bags over my head. They continued to punch and kick me. I would never know where it was coming from. They were doing the same to the others. Sometimes we were alone in a room, sometimes there were two or three of us. We could hear each other being tortured. This went on for three days. They would beat us with water tubes” Gad was interrogated over the three days. The policemen demanded to know about the operation of the Hammam. They tried to get him to ‘out’ others working with him. “They beat me a lot. If they asked a question and it wasn’t what they wanted to hear they would start beating me again.” “I refused to give names.” Gad says that once you say what they want they will make you sign confession and document that implicates others. At night though the questions stopped, but the torture continued. Gad feels it was just a form of cruel entertainment for the policemen. Two of the police used to taunt him in convers
Joseph Kawesi, 31 Uganda, March 2015 Joseph Kawesi, a transgender woman, sits at home in the Ugandan capital of Kampala
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Robin Hammond
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“The freedom to marry would open many doors, but it does not eliminate discrimination and violence against LGBT people and people living with HIV,” said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal, a gay rights advocacy group. “And our well-funded opponents would not stop trying to roll back our advances.”

For instance, this population can, in most of America, be denied a job, a house or an education. At the same time, serving on jury can be predicated on a potential juror’s sexuality in most of the country. (Only in the liberal Ninth Circuit have courts found parties cannot exclude jurors based on their sexuality.) And religious liberty laws permit people of faith deny goods or services to gays and lesbians. Cakes, flowers and even pizza can be denied to same-sex couples in the name of religion.

At the same time, banks and other lenders can legally consider a person’s sexuality in determining creditworthiness, and institutions such as emergency management programs or homeless shelters can deny services to gays and lesbians. A report from the liberal Center for American Progress found that one in five homeless youths who were gay couldn’t access short-term services or shelters and another 16 percent rejected for long-term help because of their sexuality.

“Most Americans believe that there are these comprehensive protections in place because it’s so clearly, morally wrong,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign. “They can’t reconcile that with the fact that there aren’t these protections in every community. It’s why people think organizations like (the Human Rights Campaign) are going to pack it up and call it a day after marriage equality because it doesn’t comport with their view of how the world should operate.”

It’s one of the reasons the Human Rights Campaign is now turning its focus on to efforts to add city- and state-based protections, as well as gearing up for a fight on a federal non-discrimination law. Previous efforts have failed to gain traction and most Republicans oppose the proposals. Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon has been working on a comprehensive non-discrimination bill and aides say he could introduce it to the full Senate as early as July. When he does, the 1.5 million-member Human Rights Campaign plans to advocate for it.

“Even with a positive ruling, we’re still not totally equal,” said Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff whose case the Court decided. Obergefell has been traveling the country trying to rally support in places like Dallas, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio. “Everywhere I go, people come up and thank me.” His allies at the Human Rights Campaign liken him to civil rights leader Rosa Parks or Edie Windsor, whose 2013 case to the Supreme Court opened the rapid expansion of same-sex marriage rights.

“No one would could have predicted this would happen so soon,” said Griffin, who shares an Arkansas hometown with former President Bill Clinton and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. “You go back 6, 7, 8 years. We were losing every battle in the country. The opponents were beating the heck out of us at the ballot box and at state legislatures.”

Then, courts started siding with gay rights activists and public opinion started a rapid shift. Vice President Joe Biden came out in favor of same-sex marriage, followed by President Obama. The pair became the first political ticket to win the White House on a platform that backed same-sex marriage. The issue seems to have lost its political valence, although the culture warriors are hardly giving up. It is certain they will oppose the non-discrimination law when it is introduced later this summer.

“That’s going to take a very long time. It’s going to take us years to get there,” Griffin concedes. But he insists he is not disheartened that yet the victory is incomplete. “It’s our job to roll out our sleeves and get to work harder than we’ve even worked before, and say, ‘Now what?’ to that question that Harvey would have asked,” Griffin said. “We can’t slow down. We can’t kick back and we can’t step back. And we can’t be patient.”

Silent No More: Early Days in the Fight for Gay Rights

In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the last week in June as Gay Liberation Week and celebrated with a candlelight parade. The parade involved 300 male and female homosexuals, who marched without incident two miles from Gay Activists headquarters to a park near City Hall.
Caption from LIFE In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the last week in June as Gay Liberation Week and celebrated with a candlelight parade. The parade involved 300 male and female homosexuals, who marched without incident two miles from Gay Activists headquarters to a park near City Hall.Grey Villet—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the last week in June as Gay Liberation Week and celebrated with a candlelight parade. The parade involved 300 male and female homosexuals, who marched without incident two miles from Gay Activists headquarters to a park near City Hall.
When a bill guaranteeing equal job opportunities for homosexuals stalled in New York City Council last spring, militants demonstrated at City Hall. With fists raised, they shout a football style "Gay Power" cheer at police blocking the building.
Gay rights protest, 1971.
A homosexual activist steps between a pair of police horses to be interviewed during a New York demonstration. Militants often charge police brutality and welcome arrest for the sake of publicity. They also encourage press coverage of their protest actions.
Gay rights protest, 1971.
Gay rights protest, California, 1971.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Collared by a patrolman after he deliberately crossed police barricades at New York's City Hall, Gay Activists Alliance President Jim Owles submits to arrest. Members of his organization were protesting City Council reluctance to debate a fair employment bill for homosexuals.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Gay rights protest, New York, 1971.
Gay Pride, 1971.
Gay Activists Alliance, New York, 1971.
Gay rights rally, 1971.
Gay rights event, 1971.
Caption from LIFE In commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, militants this year designated the
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Grey Villet—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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