Subscribe with Bloglines The Privacy Lawyer: NY Court rules that false allegations of homosexuality are defamatory.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NY Court rules that false allegations of homosexuality are defamatory.

New York Judge just held that false allegations of sexual preference, where a man was accused of being “gay,” are defamatory under NY law. What does this mean? It means that a frequent tactic in cyberharassment (of adults) and cyberbullying (of minors), where the bully/harasser makes allegations of sexual preference – “You’re gay!” “He’s gay!” She’s a lesbian!”- can be grounds for a defamation lawsuit in NY if the allegations are false.

This matches recognized “defamation per se” law in the US, where sexual promiscuity allegations (if false) are grounds for a defamation law suit. “Defamation per se” means that everyone recognizes how serious a false allegation of sexual promiscuity can be to your reputation. Because of this, you don’t have to prove the monetary loss related to the damage to your reputation.

Generally sexual preference allegations, whether true or not, are designed to hurt the target. If target is gay, lesbian, bi or trans-sexual, they are designed to either “out” them, humiliate or exclude them. If they aren’t, it’s designed to start rumors, target them for exclusion, hate attacks or drive potential romantic interests away.

While this provides straight teens and adults grounds for a defamation lawsuit, it sadly, also means that allegations of gay, lesbian, bi or trans-sexual preferences are considered very damaging to your reputation, generally. This speaks to ongoing bias among the general population, as reflected in the law.

One step forward, another step back.

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