A gay Muslim cleric reads the Quran with a queer consciousness!
Northern Ireland’s marriage equality impasse withstands Commons sense, Pakistan’s sweeping trans rights bill awaits presidential assent, Portugal’s president vetoes a trans teen I.D. bill, Greece allows gay and lesbian foster parenting, U.S. Methodists remain muddy on queer inclusion, a hip-hop mogul’s lesbian mom makes music history, and more queer news from around the world!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 14, 2018
Imam Nur: Gay and Muslim!
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): A Tory MP blocks second reading debate in Britain’s House of Commons on a Northern Ireland marriage equality bill … Pakistan’s Parliament legislates sweeping rights and protections for transgender people, but Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa vetoes a bill to allow trans people as young as 16 to change their legal gender … Greek’s Parliament allows same-gender couples in civil partnerships to foster – but not adopt – children … Bishops of the U.S.-based United Methodist Church endorse a proposal to forestall a growing internal schism and allow local congregations to ordain queer clergy and/or bless the church weddings of same-gender couples … hip hop mogul Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) and his now proudly out lesbian mom Gloria Carter “Smile” at the New York City edition of this year’s GLAAD Media Awards [with snippets from the “Smile” track from Jay-Z’s “4:44” album] … and more LGBTQ news from around the world (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by MICHAEL LEBEAU & SARAH SWEENEY).
Feature: Just as it is with Judaism and Christianity, the popular assumption is that ISLAM and the other Abrahamic religions uniformly condemn homosexuality and gender variance. LGBTQ Christians and Jews have made great strides in proving that that assumption is false, and groups within Islam are beginning to turn the tide in their faith, too. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-based IMAM NUR WARSAME is the founder of the queer Muslim support group Marhaba, Inc. and a welcoming “healing center.” While in SYDNEY for Mardi Gras, he chatted with “This Way Out” correspondent BARRY McKAY about the changes — and the resistance to change — in the Muslim community (with intro/outro music from “A Secret Life” by BRIAN ENO & DAVID BRYNE, a “TWO” I.D. by JANIS IAN at about 7:46 into the segment, and a tease and promo for next week’s concluding Part 2). [www.imamnur.com]
“Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!”
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBT communities for the week ending May 12th, 2018
As broadcast on “This Way Out” Program #1,572 distributed 05/14/18
Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, and reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Sarah Sweeney
A bill in Britain’s House of Commons to open civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples in Northern Ireland was blocked from coming to the floor on May 11th by a backbench Conservative Party MP. The move prevented the scheduled second reading of the bill, which generally has cross-party support, and would have provided the first chance for MPs to debate it.
Northern Ireland-born Labour Party MP Conor McGinn’s private member’s bill sought to bypass the essentially non-functioning Northern Ireland government. Its 2 major parties have been unable to reach a power-sharing agreement for more than 17 months. Marriage equality is one of the major stumbling blocks. The ruling Democratic Unionist Party, or D.U.P., staunchly opposes equality, while the Sinn Féin Party strongly supports it.
The most recent public opinion polls in Northern Ireland show that close to 3 in 4 respondents in the last major part of the U.K. without it strongly favor marriage equality.
Because private member’s bills don’t often become law in the U.K., queer activists have been calling on the government of Prime Minister Theresa May to resolve the impasse by offering its own Northern Ireland marriage equality bill. But May has insisted that the issue needs to be addressed by the Northern Ireland Assembly – if and whenever the government there begins to function again.
According to McGinn, the next chance for lawmakers in the House of Commons to debate his bill won’t come until October 26th. “We are not going away,” he said, “and we are not giving up.”
A companion private member’s bill is currently under consideration in the House of Lords.
But John O’Doherty of the Love Equality campaign said that “Responsibility for legislation now sits primarily with Theresa May, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, and the new Equalities Minister, Penny Morduaunt [MOR-dunt], and we will seek urgent meetings with them to discuss the next steps.”
Pakistan’s National Assembly approved the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018 on May 9th. Queer activists are celebrating what are seen as sweeping upgrades to the rights and protections of trans people, as the bill calls for their “protection, relief and rehabilitation of rights.”
Among its specific provisions, the measure punishes anyone who kidnaps or forces a trans person to engage in non-consensual sex with up to life in prison, or even execution. It also allows trans people to legally change the gender designation on their government documents without a medical board’s approval, and specifically outlaws discrimination against trans people in employment, education, medical services, public transportation, inheritance, housing, voting, and holding public office. Even transgender prisoners are to be kept in separate facilities away from the general population to protect them from being assaulted.
As if to demonstrate the urgent need for this legislation, the 57th Pakistani transgender woman since 2015, and the fourth this year, was brutally murdered this week – in this case simply for being unable to break a 1,000-rupee bill into smaller currency.
The Senate has already passed the Protection of Rights Bill. It now needs the signature of President Mamnoon Hussain to become law.
But Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa vetoed a bill this week that would have made it easier for trans teenagers to change their gender on government documents. Portuguese lawmakers passed the bill almost a month ago. It would allow citizens as young as 16 to legally change gender as long as they have the consent of their parents or legal representatives. But de Sousa demanded that the additional approval of a medical board be mandatory for minors.
The bill would also ban unnecessary surgery on intersex children, which activists say can cause lifelong problems.
Portuguese equality supporters remain hopeful about eventual passage of the bill. The country’s constitution allows lawmakers to either pass a revised bill that incorporates the president’s demands, or overturn his veto of the original bill by a simple majority vote.
Its enactment would make Portugal the sixth European country to adopt a “self-identification” gender recognition law, joining Malta, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Belgium.
The Greek legislature has taken another baby step in the advance of LGBTQ rights by voting to allow same-gender couples in civil partnerships to be foster parents. However, they’re still not allowed to adopt, so the familial relationship would be only temporary.
The bill was approved by a vote of 161-to-103 in the 300-seat parliament on May 9th. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that, “Fostering provides for the return of the child to its natural parents, who must retain contact with the child during its fostering time.” He added, however, that, “It would not be an exaggeration to say that fostering is an act of altruism, solidarity and service of those who choose it.”
Greek lawmakers allowed gay and lesbian couples to enter into less-than-marriage civil partnerships in 2015, and passed a bill to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination a year later. And in 2017 they removed the requirement that trans people be sterilized before being allowed to legally change their gender.
In other news, the Council of Bishops of the U.S.-based United Methodist Church endorsed a proposal this week to essentially pass the buck on resolving sharp differences about the role of LGBT people in the church, and let local congregations decide what suits them best. The proposal calls for the removal of language in the Church’s Book of Discipline that labels homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching” and says that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” cannot be ordained as ministers, appointed to serve, or married in the church. The elimination of that language allows local pastors and congregations to ordain out clergy and/or welcome church weddings of same-gender couples if they so choose. The Bishops endorsement is seen as an effort to forestall a threatened schism in America’s second-largest Protestant denomination over the role of LGBTQ parishioners in the Church. It comes ahead of a special session of the General Conference in February 2019 to address the queer-related issues that have roiled the denomination for more than 20 years. The Bishops say that the so-called “One Church” proposal would allow United Methodist congregations, particularly in more traditionalist African nations, to maintain their opposition to LGBT inclusion. However, critics note that a similar proposal failed in committee at the General Conference in 2016. There are 2 other proposals that are expected to be advanced at the General Conference special session. One keeps the existing language condemning homosexuality in the Book of Discipline, while the other allows regional conferences to determine which stance their congregations will take. But Jan Lawrence of the church’s queer-inclusive Reconciling Ministries Network told the “Christian Post” that none of the options provide “equity and justice to the LGBTQ community, or welcomes and celebrates the lives of LGBTQ people.”
And finally …
[Jay-Z “Smile” snippet]
Jay-Z – real name Shawn Carter – dedicated “Smile”, one of the tracks on his latest album “4:44”, to his mother Gloria Carter, who also appears on the track reading her “coming out” poem. The now out lesbian mom of the hip-hop mogul emotionally accepted a Special Recognition Award from queer media watchdog GLAAD in a ceremony in New York City on May 5th.
As is often the case in close-knit families, Gloria Carter’s sexual orientation was apparently known to most of her children and relatives, but just not discussed. In her acceptance speech, she revealed that Jay-Z cried when she finally came out to him. “It must have been horrible to live that way for so long,” she quotes him as saying.
In an earlier interview she said that, “the song came about because I was sitting there one day, and I just finally started telling [my son] who I was … that made him want to do a song about it.”
She said she was initially reluctant to participate on the album. “I wrote [my verse] on the plane going out to L.A.,” she said. “I gave it to him, and he said ‘start reading this,’ and he was taping me!”
Here’s how Gloria Carter concluded her GLAAD acceptance speech, and a taste of her part on the award-winning track:
[Gloria Carter mix]