We mourn an LGBT+ icon, hold our fingers crossed for Australia, are shocked by all the hate in the UK and are questioning how far technology should be able to go. This is our weekly news recap.
This week the world lost one if it’s heroines. In 2013 Edith Windsor took the United States to court and successfully paved the way for same-sex marriage. When Windsor’s lifelong partner and wife died in 2009, the government claimed more than $300,000 in estate taxes. An amount she would not have owed, had her marriage to a woman been recognised. Many lawyers declined to take Windsor’s case. After all, she was an elderly lesbian woman, suing the federal government for a large tax refund. It seemed hopeless, but Windsor didn’t give up. Her infamous case United States vs Windsor successfully defeated the Defense of Marriage Act (also known as DARMA) and opened the door for so many other same-sex couples who suffered under the unfair separation between homosexual and heterosexual couples. By successfully taking the federal government in front of the supreme court, Windsor started a movement that led to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the United States two years later. May she rest in peace and may she never be forgotten
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Australia’s gay and lesbian couples are still fighting to get their relationships legally recognised. After years of debates and setbacks the Australian government announced a public postal vote, asking the public the simple question, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” The non-binary vote could lead to a snap election in the government once the result will be revealed on November 15th. The campaigns for both sides are running at full speed. A survey conducted in August saw over 60% of all Australians in favour of the bill and Sydney has seen one of the biggest rallies, with tens of thousands of people joining the march supporting their gay and lesbian Australians. While some of the opposition leaders welcome the fairness and democratic approach that comes with the postal vote, others using dirty tricks and propaganda to convince people to vote no. Completely unrelated statements like “same-sex marriage causes to women getting raped in public restrooms” and “same-sex marriage threatens freedom of speech” were sent out via post. Things have gotten so out of hand, the government had to introduce new legislation that will fine people up to AU$12,000 for threats and false statements. Play fair Australia, make the right choice.
While we’re mourning one of our LGBT+ icons and holding our fingers crossed for our friends in Australia, official polls in the UK show shocking numbers of homophobic hate crimes. YouGov’s statistics show an increase by almost 80 per cent in the past four years. More than one in five Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Intersex or Queer individuals have experienced a hate crime or incident because of who they are in the past year. Unofficial numbers suggest that nine in ten people were being “insulted, pestered, intimidated or harassed.” With LGBT+ organisations pressuring the government to act, a new plan to go after social media hate speech is in the works. Since the World Wide Web is THE PLACE to hate on everyone and everything and we are spending most of our days online, maybe it is time for some sort of regulations to be put into place.
Just imagine all those people that are out to hurt the LGBT+ community equipped with a weapon that shows them exactly if you’re gay or straight. Just imagine hostile places such as Chechnya, Iran or Egypt equipped with a machine that accurately detects one's sexual orientation. Oh wait, researchers from Stanford University found that an Artificial Intelligence could distinguish between straight and gay men correctly 4 out of 5 times, 3 out of 5 for women. A ‘gaydar’ machine that detects facial features and tells you more than some people are ready to even admit to themselves. While the study gives more evidence about the biological roots of sexual orientation, this kind of technology could be used as a dangerous weapon against the LGBT+ community. Nick Rule, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto told the Guardian: “What the authors have done here is to make a very bold statement about how powerful this can be. Now we know that we need protections.” And it’s not just your sexual orientation the AI can detect. According to the study also psychological conditions, personality and political views can be read of people’s faces. Practice your poker face folks, who knows when we’ll need it.
SIGN UP to myGwork, the global networking and recruitment hub for LGBTI professionals and graduates