// you’re reading...


New York Court: Calling Someone Gay Is No Longer Slanderous

Calling someone “gay” could be construed as homophobic, ignorant and/or crass, but it is no longer considered defamatory in New York. A unanimous New York Appellate Court reasoned that society no longer treats false comments that someone is gay, lesbian or bisexual as slanderous because there is nothing shameful about homosexuality. While I recognize that some LGBT activists are probably not thrilled with the ruling as bigotry and discrimination remains a part of every day life, it nevertheless is a step in the right direction:

An increasing acceptance of homosexual lifestyles has led a New York state appellate court to join a growing list of courts that have ruled it’s no longer defamatory to be falsely called “gay.”

The New York court threw out a lawsuit filed by a man who said a false accusation of his being gay or bisexual led to the break-up of a relationship with his longtime girlfriend and caused him emotional distress.

The lawsuit was “based on a false premise that it is shameful and disgraceful to be described as lesbian, gay or bisexual,” Justice Thomas Mercure of the New York Appellate Division’s Third Department wrote in the court’s unanimous decision to dismiss the suit, reversing decades of rulings to the contrary. “These appellate division decisions are inconsistent with current public policy and should no longer be followed.”

Mercure cited “the tremendous evolution in social attitudes regarding homosexuality” that excludes it from such defamation as “accusations of serious criminal conduct or insinuations that an individual has a loathsome disease,” the Associated Press reported.

New York last year legalized gay marriage, now allowed in six states. The U.S. military allows gays to openly serve, and President Obama has endorsed gay marriage.

The suit that Marky Yonaty of the Binghamton area brought against Jean Mincolla could still face another outcome on appeal.

Legal experts say such court rulings are becoming more common but are difficult to track because of relatively few slander suits and varying state laws, AP reported.

“The courts are all over the place on whether it is defamatory to refer to a person as gay,” W. Wat Hopkins, a Virginia Tech communications professor, said. “In some jurisdictions, a court would hold that such a reference is defamatory, and in others courts would rule as … the judge did in New York.”

As recently as 1993, actor Tom Cruise won a $10 million suit against a gay pornography star who falsely claimed he had a homosexual relationship with Cruise that ended the actor’s marriage to Nicole Kidman.


No comments for “New York Court: Calling Someone Gay Is No Longer Slanderous”

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On LinkedinCheck Our Feed