U.S. Supreme Court takes on LGBT equality
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U.S. Supreme Court takes on LGBT equality

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three landmark court cases challenging the fact that you can still be fired for being LGBT.

Even though this is taking place in America, it’s a pivotal moment for global equality and we should all be paying attention.

These cases are just one part of the wider attacks against LGBT rights by the Trump-Pence administration since they took office over two years ago. Whether that’s rolling back protections for trans people against discrimination in healthcare or creating policy that makes enables people to justify anti-LGBT discrimination, this administration has shown they do not value equality.

If the U.S. decides LGBT people don’t deserve the same rights as others, it will become much easier for people to argue other minority groups should also be excluded.

The Supreme Court will hear three challenges from people who were fired just because they are LGBT:

  • Donald Zarda, a New York skydiving instructor, who was fired after telling a client he was gay. Zarda has since passed away, but his sister and partner are continuing with the case
  • Gerald Bostock, a Georgia county government employee, who was let go from his job after coming out to his employer about his sexuality
  • Aimee Stephens, a funeral home director, who was fired after coming out as trans

Despite the Supreme Court’s recent expansion of LGBT rights in the past few years, like same-sex marriage in 2015, there are no nationwide protections for LGBT people in American workplaces. Only half the country’s states have laws forbidding anti-LGBT discrimination at work. It is this gap in protections that has led us to the situation we’re in today.

There are no nationwide protections for LGBT people in American workplaces. 

What’s also deeply worrying is that this is the first major LGBT rights case to come before the Supreme Court since Justice Anthony Kennedy stepped down. He famously championed LGBT equality, whereas his replacement -  Brett Kavanaugh -  has no judicial record on LGBT rights and was sworn in under the cloud of a historic sexual assault complaint, a moment was seen as huge loss for feminism in America and around the world. Not to mention that it’s the Trump-Pence administration who are arguing against employment protections for LGBT people in court.

No one should ever lose their job simply for being open about who they are and/or who they love.

No one should ever lose their job simply for being open about who they are and/or who they love. The fact that this is even up for debate is outrageous. But sadly, that’s what’s being decided now.

Stonewall, along with many other LGBT people and human rights defenders around the world, has long been concerned about the growing threat the Trump-Pence administration pose in the fight for equality. These Supreme Court cases represent a loosening of the foundations of equality and freedoms that so many people have fought hard for.

What’s particularly frightening for trans people is that in Aimee Stephen’s case, the administration is considering adopting a definition of ‘sex’ that effectively denies trans people exist. This is a move that not only directly targets the already marginalised trans minority, but one that could affect the whole LGBT community. Narrow definitions of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ not only erase a person’s gender identity, but lead us where anyone who doesn’t conform to gender norms, like butch lesbians or camp men, face abuse and discrimination.

The progress we’ve made towards equality is fragile. 

The alarming potential consequences the U.S. Supreme Court cases could have should be a wake-up call that the progress we’ve made towards equality is fragile. When we question one group’s rights, we expose the rights of everyone to be questioned and debated. We want a different future, and it’s one we must fight for together.

We stand in solidarity with LGBT people in the United States and with all those fighting for equality across the world.

We stand in solidarity with LGBT people in the United States and with all those fighting for equality across the world. Division is the aim of the anti-diversity politics we’ve seen over the past two years from groups including the Trump-Pence administration. Pitting minority communities against each other is a means of control from those who seek to stop us from achieving equality. We must resist this. Together, we are stronger than any hate that might try to divide us.