TIME LGBT

The New Case for LGBT Rights: Economics

Diversity
Getty Images

Even though the LGBT community is relatively small, the economic costs from unequal treatment can add up quickly

What’s the secret to convincing the world to back a movement? Figure out how it could impact the global bottom line.

Economic reasoning is part of what propelled the modern women’s empowerment movement. And now, it’s informing an emerging argument for LGBT inclusion: Unequal treatment of LGBT people, as it turns out, can cause economic harm, leading to lower economic output for individuals, businesses, and even countries. And on the flip side, inclusive policies can boost a country’s GDP.

This argument is taking shape as treatment for LGBT people is deteriorating or stagnating in many places around the world. In Egypt last month, eight men were sentenced to three years in jail after showing up in a video of what looked like a “gay marriage” to Egyptian officials.

Over the last year or so, countries as diverse as Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, and Brunei have implemented new laws that increase penalties for homosexuality or for supporting rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Anti-LGBT arrests, discrimination, harassment, and violence are pervasive – cropping up in schools, workplaces, health care facilities, and within families.

So how does this translate into economic loss? The link between discrimination and the economy can be direct. Those eight men sitting in an Egyptian jail, for example, will not be contributing to the economy for three years and instead create an avoidable cost for the government. Their skills and knowledge might be less valuable when they get out, and if future employers are likely to discriminate against people assumed to be gay, their options might be limited to work in less productive jobs. In other cases, links are indirect, though still strong: Injuries from physical violence or the mental health effects of stigma will mean poorer health for LGBT workers, in turn reducing their productivity at work.

More broadly, disadvantaged workers can be bad for business. Absenteeism, low productivity, inadequate training and high turnover make for higher labor costs and lower profits.

Multinational companies know they’ll have trouble convincing an openly gay executive to accept a transfer to a country that is LGBT intolerant. Tour operators steer LGBT tourists away from hotels and attractions in unfriendly countries.

The numbers back up these contentions. Even though the LGBT community is a relatively small percentage of any country’s population, the economic costs from unequal treatment can add up quickly. A recent World Bank case study of the cost of stigma and LGBT exclusion in India shows how the losses could be calculated. Similar studies of gender inequality and other forms of discrimination have shown the billions of dollars lost by national economies from discrimination.

Unfortunately, data on LGBT people in India are not available to estimate the effects as precisely in that study. But my own back-of-the-envelope calculation using what we do know about the costs of discrimination and big health disparities for LGBT Indians gives us a good idea of how large the effect could be. Even with conservative assumptions that make costs low, the estimated losses to the Indian economy range from 0.1 percent to 1.4 percent of national output, a meaningful loss that no country–rich or poor–would want to bear. The bottom line: India could be throwing away more than $26 billion a year by stigmatizing LGBT people.

Luckily, there’s a way to recoup those costs: A study that I co-authored, just released by USAID and the Williams Institute at UCLA, finds that countries that treat LGBT people equally also have better-performing economies. In our study of 39 countries, we compared a measure of rights granted by each nation related to homosexuality—decriminalization, nondiscrimination laws, and family rights—to GDP per capita and other measures of economic performance.

The positive link between rights and development is clear: countries that come closer to full equality for LGBT people have higher levels of GDP per capita over the 22 years we studied.

Even after we take into account other differences across countries that matter for GDP growth, like capital stock and international trade, we still find a strong positive effect of gay rights. Each additional right is associated with a $320 increase in per capita GDP, or about 3 percent of the average output produced by an economy.A better environment for LGBT individuals can be an attractive bargaining chip for countries seeking multi-national investments or even more tourists. On a recent trip to Peru, I talked with people in businesses, universities, and government ministries who expressed concern that because their country lags behind many other South American countries on LGBT rights, they fear they could be less competitive globally. They are right to be worried. A conservative climate that keeps LGBT people in the closet and policymakers from recognizing the human rights of LGBT people will hold their economy back from its full potential.

Of course, passing a non discrimination law may not lead to an immediate boost in economic output (although less discrimination should eventually lead to more output). Another explanation for our findings is that countries may become more concerned about minority rights as the country gets richer and less worried about economic subsistence. The 39 growing countries we studied averaged one right for LGBT people in 1990, but the average was more than three rights by 2011.

Still, considering the economic perspective on human rights is valuable because it challenges us to think about these issues in a different way – to think about how much we all lose when any group is denied full and equal participation in society. Discrimination and violence against LGBT people who could contribute more to a country’s economy has put many of the world’s economies in a kind of permanent recession. The road to recovery is clear.

V. Lee Badgett is a professor of economics and director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also a Williams Distinguished Scholar and former research director of the Williams Institute at UCLA. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Culture

This is What Intersex Means

A brief introduction to the word

A longer version of LGBT is LGBTQQIA, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and allies. The last few letters tend to get far less attention than the first, but a woman who claimed she was dating the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps at the time of his DUI recently has raised interest in the “I.”

“The truth is I have been living with secrets my whole life,” Taylor Lianne Chandler wrote on Facebook on Nov. 13. “I was born intersex and named David Roy Fitch at birth.”

Intersex is a term that refers to someone whose anatomy or genetics at birth—the X and Y chromosomes that are usually XX for women and XY for men—do not correspond to the typical expectations for either sex. The “I” is distinct from the “T” for transgender people, who are typically born with a biological sex that fits the norm for male or female and then grow up to identify with the opposite gender. Intersex babies are not obviously male or female to begin with, according to society’s general rules about what one’s physical characteristics and chromosomal makeup are supposed to signify.

As University of Oregon professor and intersex expert Elizabeth Reis writes in her book Bodies in Doubt, “In the United States and most other places, humans are men or they are women; they may not be neither or both. Yet not all bodies are clearly male or female.” That may mean a child has typical female chromosomes and ovaries but external bodies parts of a male. Or it could mean the body parts that a doctor typically looks to when declaring a baby to be a girl or boy are incompletely formed, or ambiguous. Sometimes it’s clear in the delivery room, sometimes intersex people don’t become aware of their status until they are teenagers and puberty doesn’t happen as expected.

Performing surgery on an intersex baby is controversial. In South Carolina, the parents of an adopted intersex child are suing a hospital and its employees for surgically assigning “M.C.’s” sex as female at 16-months-old. Now around 10 years old, the child identifies as a boy. “Genital ‘normalizing’ surgery does not create or cement a gender identity; it just takes tissue away that the patient may want later,” writes the Intersex Society of North America in their position statement. Some in the intersex community choose not to have any medically unnecessary surgeries to change how they were born, even after they are old enough to identify their own gender and sexual orientation.

Though it’s hard to say exactly how common being intersex is (since it’s debatable which people belong under that umbrella term), medical experts say that genital anomalies occur in about 1 in 2,000 babies.

It’s worth noting that the word hermaphrodite is considered insensitive and stigmatizing by many who see it as “vague, demeaning, and sensationalistic, conjuring mythic images of monsters and freaks,” as Reis writes. Some parents have also balked at the word intersex, pushed by activists in the 1990s, feeling it suggests their child has a third gender and can not be a girl or a boy. In the medical establishment, the wide variety of conditions that might be referred to as intersex are typically referred to as disorders of sex development. Reis has advocated shifting that to divergence of sex development, to avoid the connotations of disorder, much as gender identity disorder was rebranded gender dysphoria by medical professionals addressing transgender people.

TIME Media

Thank You, Duggars, Your Homophobia Is Really a Public Service

Duggar family - Woodbridge, VA
Reality telvision celebrities, Jim Bob Duggar, center, and his wife, Michelle Duggar make a stop on their "Values Bus Tour" outside Heritage Baptist Church on Wednesday October 16, 2013 in Woodbridge, VA. The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

When gay marriage is passing in state after state, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is on the bandwagon

You would think that, decades after Anita Bryant went on a crusade to rid gay people from public life, we’d be sick of hearing D-listers call us names and voice their hatred against us in public. The latest to really take a stand against gays is Michelle Duggar, the human baby factory who is the matriarch on the reality show “19 Kids and Counting.” This may sound strange, but I would actually like to thank her for her recent behavior.

The Duggars stirred up controversy when they recently asked for people to post pictures of married couples kissing on their Facebook page and then deleted a picture of a gay married couple kissing. (Hello? Who do you think is keeping TLC in business?) When the news of this leaked, activists directed people to sign a Change.org petition to “end LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars” and calls for the show to be canceled because of their behavior. It now has well over 120,000 signatures.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t Michelle’s only recent offense. She also recorded a robocall asking that the people of Fayetteville, Arkansas, vote to repeal a law that stops discrimination based on gender identity. Basically she wants people to be able to discriminate against transgender men and women.

Now some people think that we need to silence the Duggars and those like them. I think we should let them keep going. Nothing defeats complacency like knowing exactly where gay people stand with millions of Americans. Now, it’s not a shock that the overly religious Duggars don’t like gay people. That’s sort of like saying that Paula Deen likes butter. But, when gay marriage is passing in state after state, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is on the bandwagon. There are still large groups of Americans out there who want to rob us of our rights, and if we don’t stay vigilant, we’ll never win the war.

Right now we’re having a bit of success in dealing with pop culture homophobes. In May, HGTV decided to cancel a show they were planning to air featuring David and Jason Benham when it was discovered that they had made some nasty comments about gay people very publicly.

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty made some very homophobic comments to GQ this January, and was mouthing off once again this May about how gay sex is unnatural. He was suspended from A&E briefly for his behavior and the ratings for the show tanked after his disclosure.

That’s why we need these people to keep talking. There’s no doubt in my mind that there is hatred in the hearts of many people for LGBTQ men and women in this country, but if that hatred just stays in their hearts they’ll be working against us without our knowledge. The louder they become, the easier it is to target them. And when we can target them, well, we’ve seen that we can do things to shut them up. If only we could give them all a pie in the face like Anita Bryant got.

Having loudmouth opponents also serves as an effective recruiting tool for allies to gay civil rights causes. Like it or not, reality stars like the Duggars and especially the Robertsons–whose most recent season finale still clocked almost 4 million viewers–have a huge stage. When they make these sorts of remarks there is always a media firestorm and each time that happens, I would like to think that there is at least one fan out there who thinks, “God, what an idiot.” Hopefully that opens up some minds and shows those out there who may not be very hospitable to the “gay lifestyle” that bigotry is distasteful no matter how it manifests itself.

We don’t get to teach these lessons, show our strength or fight these battles if these people are silent. We need people like Michelle Duggar to be loud in order to get the hard work of activism done. So no matter how much it sucks, we have to just take it on the chin every time one of these yahoos has the bright idea to spout off. Trust me, it’s for the greater good. Every time a reality star says something ignorant about the LGBT community, a gay angel gets her wings.

Oscar Wilde, one of the world’s most public and tragic gay men, said “True friends stab you in the front.” There is no doubt in my mind that there are plenty of misinformed people in America carrying daggers against gay people, including those who have a public forum to discuss those views. Why would we want them hiding that hatred in the shadows when, out in the open, it can be diffused, acted on and used as a teaching tool to get more people on our side. We should all thank Michelle Duggar. She thinks that she’s stabbing gay Americans in the front, but what she’s really doing is bloodying herself.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

Prop. 8 Plaintiffs: Charles Manson Can Get Married, But We Still Can’t

Charles Manson and friends
From Left: Afton Elaine Burton and Charles Manson, imprisoned for life for association with a series of murders in the 1960s in Corcoran, Calif. on Aug. 14, 2011. Manson Direct/Polaris

Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami were plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court decision in the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8 in California.

By not ruling on marriage equality, murderers are afforded more fairness and dignity than our LGBT brothers and sisters

When the news broke that Charles Manson had obtained a marriage license while serving out his life sentence in a California prison, we were mad. Really mad. This man was sentenced to death—a sentence later commuted to life in prison—after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit mass murder. The Supreme Court has told him that his right to marry is federally protected. That same court has yet to affirm that same right for the LGBT community. The only thing we are guilty of is falling in love with a member of the same sex.

So while Manson and his bride-to-be make their wedding plans, thousands upon thousands of LGBT couples in 15 states, which accounts for nearly 30% of the U.S. population, are left at the altar. Opponents of marriage equality surely can’t say that Manson is more worthy of the right to marry than the couples in these states, can they? Would Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins rather have a dinner in our loving home or in the jailhouse cafeteria with a man who has no regard for human life? Would Cardinal Timothy Dolan prefer Manson and his “Helter Skelter” cult to the God and churches that many good and decent LGBT couples pray at and want to be married in? Would National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown prefer the sanctity of this sham Manson marriage–to a woman he is not even permitted to have a child with–over the marriage of loving and committed gay couples who are already raising children?

Our society is affording prison inmates more fairness and dignity than that of our LGBT brothers and sisters. Ted Olson and David Boies, who were our attorneys in the Prop 8 case, underscored this dichotomy to Chief Judge Vaughn Walker in court when fighting for our right to marry. Frankly, we don’t care if Manson gets married. It’s his right. Good for him. What we can’t stand by and tolerate is inaction by the Supreme Court on this issue. The piecemeal approach with which the Court has “ruled” in favor of marriage equality–by not ruling on the issue–is not nearly enough. Now that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the right for states within its jurisdiction to discriminate against its LGBT citizens by preventing them to marry the person they love, the Supreme Court must agree to hear one or all of the cases and do the right thing. You did it for Manson and now the prison has assigned him a wedding coordinator. We plan great weddings. What about us?

Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami were plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court decision in the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8 in California.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Music

Country Singers Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman Both Come Out

The stars took to media -- traditional and social -- to reveal their sexual orientation

Not one, but two country music singers publicly revealed they were gay on Thursday, marking a significant event in the country music world.

First Ty Herndon, the 52-year-old singer of hit singles in the ’90s such as “I Want My Goodbye Back” and “Loved Too Much”, told People, “I’m an out, proud and happy gay man.” Herndon also said that he’d been out to family and friends for some time and that his ex-wives — he’s been married twice before — knew of his sexuality.

Following Herndon’s announcement, 26-year-old Billy Gilman, whose song “One Voice” was released when he was only 11 years-old, felt emboldened to make his own announcement, this time on YouTube.

In the video, Gilman reveals that he’s in a relationship and that he wanted to come out on his own terms, after he and his partner were photographed by a reporter.

The news marks a momentous occasion for the country music industry, which both artists suggested had an intolerant outlook. In his video, Gilman reveals, “It’s difficult for me to make this video, not because I’m ashamed of being a gay male artist, or a gay artist or a gay person, but it’s pretty silly to know that I’m ashamed of doing this knowing that I’m in a genre and an industry that’s ashamed of me for being me.”

 

TIME faith

Pope Francis Says Children Have a Right to a Father and a Mother

VATICAN-POPE
Pope Francis kisses a baby during an audience with members of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican on Nov. 15, 2014. Filippo Monteforte—AFP/Getty Images

The statement seems at odds with the Vatican leader's push to make the church more accepting of nontraditional families

Pope Francis caused quite a stir on Monday with a statement that was criticized as a rolling back of his much lauded attempts to make the Catholic Church more inclusive of the LGBT community.

“Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother,” said the Pope during a speech at the Complementarity of Man and Woman conference in Rome.

The statement, made to the attending conservative religious leaders around the world, was the only concrete reference the Pope made to heterosexuality, with the rest of the speech remaining largely ambiguous on the concept of complementarity between man and woman.

Many religious leaders present at the conference took this to mean an unequivocal support of traditional families. “Pope Francis made clear that male/female complementarity is essential to marriage and cannot be revised by contemporary ideologies,” Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention tweeted.

However, the Pontiff’s announcement at the conclusion of his speech that he will attend Philadelphia’s World Meeting of the Families in September was conversely deemed a nod toward more acceptance of nontraditional families.

Sister Simone Campbell, an advocate on various social-justice issues who has taken on the church in the past, predicted that there would be several nontraditional families present at the Philadelphia conference. “He’s bringing in the various realities and letting people speak for themselves, and that creates change,” Campbell told the Washington Post. “He’s opening hearts. He’s not changing definitions.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 17

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. America needs a national service year: “Citizenship is like a muscle that can atrophy from too little use; if we want to strengthen it, we need to exercise it.”

By Stan McChrystal in the Washington Post

2. It’s time to pay college athletes.

By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Jacobin

3. So-called ‘conversion therapy’ to change someone’s sexual orientation is discredited, dangerous and should be classified as torture.

By Samantha Ames in The Advocate

4. Wikipedia searches are the next frontier on monitoring and predicting disease outbreaks.

By Nicholas Generous, Geoffrey Fairchild, Alina Deshpande, Sara Y. Del Valle and Reid Priedhorsky at PLOS Computational Biology

5. Many kids lack an adult connection to spur success in school and life. A program linking them to retired adults with much to offer can solve that problem.

By Michael Eisner and Marc Freedman in the Huffington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME faith

Pope Francis’ Modern Family Evolution

Extraordinary Consistory On the Themes of Family Is Held At Vatican
Pope Francis greets cardinals as he arrives at the Synod Hall for the morning session of Extraordinary Consistory on the themes of Family on February 21, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Franco Origlia—Getty Images

Christopher Hale is a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial.

Thorny issues surrounding family life, the LGBT community and divorced and remarried couples will be at the fore of the Pope's 2015 visit stateside

After months of speculation, Pope Francis made it official Monday: he plans on visiting the United States in September 2015. For his first ever trip to the nation, Francis will go to Philadelphia for the 8th World Meeting of Families.

This much anticipated gathering will take place just weeks before the Vatican’s 2015 Synod of the Family. The meeting and the synod will serve as the conclusion of a year long discernment process by the Church on the best way forward in approaching thorny issues surrounding family life, particularly pastoral outreach to the LGBT community and communion for divorced and remarried couples.

Last month, the Church began this discernment process at an extraordinary synod called by Pope Francis. The meeting’s blockbuster midterm report affirmed the “gifts and qualities” of the LGBT community and courageously asked, are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?” Though the attending bishops rejected this language in the final report, it’s clear that this conversation about family life has advanced forward and will dominate the Church in the next year.

On all these issues, Pope Francis has consistently been revealing his cards throughout the process. For one, Francis has asked the Church to be open to a new way forward. In a September homily, the pope debunked the worst myth in and about the Catholic Church: that it doesn’t change. In fact, the Church asks us, Pope Francis says “to leave aside the old structures: they are of no use! And to take up new wineskins, those of the Gospel.”

The Church that Pope Francis dreams of is a home for everyone: “the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.” This Church is with people and engaged in their sufferings. Francis puts it this way: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” And finally, this is a Church that distributes its sacraments widely and doesn’t use them as a weapon to divide its flock. The Eucharist, Francis says, “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

Pope Francis is hoping that the Church that gathers in Philadelphia will be open to what he calls the “newness” of God. But clearly not everyone is on board with the Francis agenda. American Cardinal Raymond Burke–who was recently demoted–has been Francis’s most vocal critic: “The pope rightly speaks of the need to go out to the peripheries….The people have responded very warmly to this. But we cannot go to the peripheries empty-handed….Faith cannot adapt to culture but must call to it to convert. We are a counter-cultural movement, not a popular one.”

Cardinal Burke’s critique perhaps lays out the biggest question of the 2015 meeting in Philadelphia. Yes, the Church must go and encounter the world. But what must be the contours of this engagement look like? And how far is the Church willing to modify its practices in this effort? Even Francis doesn’t know the answer to these detailed questions, but less than a year away from this historic gathering in the City of Brotherly Love, he’s sure of his basic hope: “Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.”

Christopher Hale is a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial. He helped lead national Catholic outreach for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Health Care

Why New FDA Recommendations Against a Gay Blood Ban Are Meaningless

The National Gay Blood Drive is happening in 63 cities nationwide
Courtesy of Alexandra Sifferlin

New steps to ease the ban on gay blood donations might not change much

Gay men are prohibited from donating blood and tissue, regardless of their HIV status, if they’ve had sex with a man since 1977. And though technology and society have radically changed since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented the ban in 1983, the measure—which still bans donation by gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men (MSM)—has not.

It began as a measure to prevent the spread of HIV through blood donations, back when there was no simple way to detect HIV in blood. Today, testing is simple, fast and effective.

Several prominent medical groups like the American Medical Association, America’s Blood Centers and the Red Cross have opposed the ban, calling it scientifically unsound and discriminatory. In 2013, 86 members of Congress wrote to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) admonishing their delay in addressing what they believed to be an unnecessary ban.

Since 2010, the FDA and HHS have considered revising the ban, and on Nov. 13, they finally moved forward with an advisory panel voting 16-2 to adopt a one year deferral which would allow men who have had sex with other men to give blood after remaining abstinent—not HIV negative—for one year.

Advocates are calling the solution flimsy and unrealistic, telling TIME it’s one step forward and two steps back.

“It doesn’t matter whether we go from a lifetime ban or a one- or five-year deferral, because I’m in a same sex marriage and, happily, having sex more than just once a year. I am still banned from donating, so in effect, it really doesn’t change anything,” says Jason Cianciotto, Director of Public Policy at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). “I’ve been in a monogamous relationship for 11 years, married for 7 years, and I am not eligible to donate blood, but a person who identifies as heterosexual and admits to having sex with someone who is HIV positive is only deferred for 12 months.”

Proponents for a more lenient ruling say that even despite the high number of sexually active gay men who will still be banned from donating, the current standards also provide a false sense of security. The ban places risk on individual identities and not on behavior, meaning a sexually active gay men who practices safe sex and is HIV negative is still deemed ineligible.

Other countries have had success in changing their policies to behavior-based deferral, prioritizing a person’s actual risky sexual practices above their sexual orientation. Italy, for example, bans donations from anyone who has recently had unsafe sex. They allow donations from gays and bisexuals who have had their blood tested and sexual activity deemed safe. The country has provided data showing MSM HIV-positive individuals do not outnumber HIV-positive individuals of other groups.

MORE: This National Blood Drive Is Fighting the FDA Ban on Gay Donors

A recent analysis from The Williams Institute estimates that if the ban were to be lifted, an additional 130,150 men would likely be able to donate 219,200 additional pints of blood each year. However, an August article published in the New York Times reports that the blood industry is shrinking due to the fact that blood transfusions are on the decline. Medical innovation has eased the need for transfusions, and therefore donations, the New York Times says.

“Changing the ban has never been a top priority for the FDA, and so I do not see this as an obstacle in allowing eligible gay/bisexual men to donate blood,” says Ryan James Yezak, founder of National Gay Blood Drive. “Part of our push for policy reform is to make the blood supply safer overall—regardless of the donor’s sexual orientation or the amount of blood that is needed at any given time.”

In July, the National Gay Blood Drive held its second annual drive in more than 60 U.S. cities to bring attention to the ban. The drive asks gay and bisexual men to show their willingness to donate blood by bringing eligible “allies”—friends or family members—to donate in their place. In the New York City drive, a total of 3,000 individuals participated in the event, saving up to 4,500 lives. The group also collected 44,326 signatures for a White House petition urging the FDA to change the ban.

Yezak calls the latest development a step in the right direction, though it doesn’t eliminate sexual orientation from the process. But to others like GMHC’s Jason Cianciotto, a one-year deferral ultimately doesn’t even budge the issue forward.

TIME Malaysia

Malaysian Court Legalizes Muslim Cross-Dressing

A judge called the law 'degrading, oppressive and inhumane'

An appeals court in Malaysia Friday struck down a law prohibiting Muslim men from wearing women’s clothing, calling the ban “degrading, oppressive and inhumane.”

“It has the effect of denying the appellants and other sufferers of GID [gender identify disorder] to move freely in public place,” Judge Hishamudin Yunus said of the ban, according to the BBC.

Though Malaysia technically allows for freedom of religion, many Malaysian states mandate Shari’a law for Muslims and maintains a separate court system to enforce it. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights are not readily recognized in the country.

Aston Paiva, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the decision was a significant step forward.

“This will be a precedent. This court binds all other high courts,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

[BBC]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser