More courts rule calling someone ‘gay’ is not slander

New York appeal court throws out lawsuit based on false claim it is 'shameful' to be called gay

More courts rule calling someone ‘gay’ is not slander
02 June 2012

More courts across the United States are ruling that calling someone ‘gay’ is not slanderous.

The latest court to do so is an appeal court in New York City last Thursday (31 May), and was hailed by gay rights groups as a small but important victory.

A woman was being sued for allegedly spreading a rumor that a New York man was gay in the hope of breaking up his relationship with another woman.

In a 4-0 decision, the New York Appellate Division’s Third Department threw out the lawsuit before it went to trial, and said calling someone gay was not defamatory.

The court said the lawsuit was based on ‘the false claim that it is shameful and disgraceful to be described as lesbian, gay or bisexual.’

New York gay legal consultant Curtis Houlihan said: ‘This word has been sort of de-fanged in some ways. I suppose some would say this is empowering…but that is not going to change the level of bigotry and discrimination in this country. But we’ll take every little victory.’

In 1994, North Carolina’s Court of Appeals said a person can sue over being called a homosexual only if he or she can prove actual damages. The court said the law cannot automatically assume such remarks will inflict damages.

In 2003, actor Tom Cruise won $10 million (£6505000, €8056000) in a case against a gay porn actor who claimed to a French magazine that he had an affair with the star that led Cruise to leave Nicole Kidman. Cruise said the claim had affected his ability to land leading man roles.  

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Orange Is The New Black stars have a very special message for London Pride

Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks and Laura Prepon from the hit Netflix show film a video for this year's celebrations
No thumbnail available

On Star Wars Day, let's take some lessons from LGBTI comrades C-3PO and R2-D2

C-3PO and R2-D2 were never out, but GSN loves them for their example of LGBTI solidarity
No thumbnail available

Bomb squad sent to Irish gay charity's office after package arrives with note saying 'Goodbye'

Sinister package arrives just weeks after equal marriage victory
No thumbnail available

India gets first 24 hour LGBT phone counseling service

The Saahay Project aims to provide 24/7 support for Indian gay and bisexual men and transgender women in need of health information and counseling
No thumbnail available

Chris Brown saying faggot is just like using ‘N word’, Lance Bass says

Gay *NSYNC star has slammed the R&B singer after his alleged attack against out artist Frank Ocean
No thumbnail available

Kamalesh Sharma backs gay and bi rights at UN

Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma speaks out against discrimination but fails to rebuke nations who criminalize gays
No thumbnail available

Omar Sharif Jr. joins GLAAD

Egyptian Canadian actor and LGBT rights advocate joins US gay media advocacy organization as a spokesperson and fundraiser
No thumbnail available

Pro-gay marriage Michelle Bachelet wins Chilean presidential election

The woman who won Chile’s presidential runoff election over the weekend wants her country to join Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay as South American countries that allow same-sex couples to marry
No thumbnail available

Notoriously anti-gay member of Republican National Committee asked to resign by party leaders - he refuses

Michigan's Dave Agema has made series of controversial comments and calls Russia's anti-gay propaganda law 'common sense'
No thumbnail available

UK celebrities back Brighton Gay Men's Chorus

Top UK stars send messages of support to gay choir's charity event