Young straight activist Dhruv talks about how his work at OutCasting Overtime has taught him that being an ally is much more than just not opposing LGBTQ people!
Arizona’s Supreme Court blesses religious bias with a ruling in favor of a wedding invitation business that refused service to a gay couple!
Welsh rugby icon Gareth Thomas races out of the HIV closet with a heartfelt announcement and a triathlon triumph!
Indonesia’s president stalls draconian anti-sex laws, Kharkiv and Belgrade Pride parades survive protests, damning voices don’t deter newly-out Rwandan gospel star Albert Nabonibo, U.S. HUD Secretary Ben Carson shelters transphobia, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of September 23, 2019
Ally Analysis & AZ Marries Bias!
Program #1,643 distributed 09/23/19
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Indonesia’s President erects at least a temporary obstacle to Parliament’s passage of a new Criminal Code that, among other harsh provisions, makes consensual adult sex outside of heterosexual marriage a crime Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, holds its first-ever LGBTQ Pride march despite unruly protesters Serbian P.M. Ana Brnabic and her female partner also brave protesters as they march in Belgrade’s annual LGBTQ Pride parade popular Rwandan gospel singer Albert Nabonibo shocks the central African nation by coming out as a gay man U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson shocks San Francisco office staff by describing trans-women as “big hairy men” who want to abuse women in homeless shelters the latest edition of the venerable American English Miriam-Webster Dictionary includes an additional definition of “they/them/themself” as singular gender-neutral pronouns of choice by non-binary people (most recently British pop singer Sam Smith) who identity as neither male nor female (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by TANYA KANE-PARRY and TRAVIS AVERY and produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: Retired Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas came out as a proud gay man in 2009. But he says keeping another big secret has “taken its toll.” After a tabloid newspaper threatened to reveal his status, Thomas posted an emotional video on September 14th to announce that he’s HIV positive. He successfully completed a grueling Triathlon the next day.
Feature: The issue of discrimination in commercial services jumped off of the wedding cake and onto the invitation in the U.S. state of Arizona this week. This Way Out Associate Producer LUCIA CHAPPELLE’s report includes comments by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Christian businesswoman Joanna Duka, and Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jonathan Scruggs (with brief intro music from Welcome 2 AZ by CHE CHE).
Feature: Friends are to life what allies are to social change. The non-LGBTQ youth of OutCasting Overtime are learning what friendship and being an ally really mean (ANDREW intro’s and outro’s Dhruv, produced by MARC SOPHOS, and with intro music by BETTE MIDLER).
Feature: For those who are not allies — and for some who only think they are — consider this classic poem by the late great lesbian-feminist African-American poet Pat Parker: For The Straight Folks (Who Don’t Mind Gays But Wish They Weren’t So Blatant).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending September 21, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Travis Avery, produced by Brian DeShazor
Indonesia will not be making consensual adult sex outside of heterosexual marriage a crime – at least for the time being. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has put the brakes on the expected passage of a revised Criminal Code that was loaded with just such draconian proposals. Widodo’s September 20th press statement said he was responding to the mounting criticism of some provisions in the bill. He did not specify which provisions he thinks need to be “thoroughly reviewed,” but the president said that he has asked the Law and Human Rights Ministry to convey his position to Parliament. The Criminal Code was expected to pass on September 24th, but Widodo’s statement said that further consideration should be postponed, and that “the bill should not be passed during the current sitting period.” Its opponents say that the code would be “criminalizing normal activities,” and call it a threat to civil rights, including free speech and privacy in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. The Post reports seeing a late draft of the bill with provisions they say try to regulate morality and criminalize cohabitation outside of marriage and the promotion of contraception.
A press release from Human Rights Watch called the proposed revised Criminal Code “disastrous not only for women and religious and gender minorities, but for all Indonesians.” Couples convicted of having private consensual adult sex outside of “traditional marriage” would face up to six months in jail. A woman could be sent to prison for up to four years for having an abortion, and anyone who helps her terminate her pregnancy would face up to five years.
A ban on sex outside of heterosexual marriage would have an impact queer people as well. Jessica Stern of OutRight Action International pointed out that current laws against “immorality” or “obscenity” in the Southeast Asian nation are often used to prosecute gay people. Stern warned that “The proposed changes to the criminal code will introduce specific references to same-sex acts, and as such, will give authorities in Indonesia even more legal backing to persecute LGBTQ people.” The Jakarta Post noted that the next sitting of Indonesia’s Parliament is scheduled to begin on October 1st – that’s when new and returning lawmakers could consider any proposed changes to the revised Criminal Code.
This week’s LGBTQ Pride birth announcement comes from Kharkiv, the second largest city in the Ukraine. An estimated two thousand marchers were protected by some 2500 police officers as they filled a square outside a downtown subway station on September 15th. Authorities restricted the event to the station, so participants marched back and forth there for about 2 hours. A report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, described marchers waving rainbow flags and chanting, “We Are All Equal, We Are All Different.”
A request by Mayor Gennady Kernes to a local court to ban the march was rejected. Right-wing opponents had threatened violence if the march went ahead, and eggs were thrown at the Pride marchers. Many scuffled with riot police in a nearby park. There were at least 17 arrests, and two officers were injured by tear gas. A few opponents also laid down in the middle of the procession in a failed effort to block it. Peaceful marchers simply walked around them.
Far-right protesters also clashed with police after failing to stop a September 15th LGBTQ Pride March in Belgrade. The center of the Serbian capital was cordoned off by police to protect the participants, which included lesbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and her partner. About 150 protesters gathered before the march, many of them holding Orthodox Christian banners and crosses and singing religious songs. Five protesters were arrested for refusing to move away from the route of the parade. Earlier Pride marches were plagued by violent ultranationalist attacks, but there have been no serious incidents since 2014. This year’s banners proclaimed, “I will not be silent,” and “We do not decide about your marriage.”
Brnabić issued a celebratory statement saying, “Today we are sending a message of tolerance which has to be preserved in Serbia. I think we are heading in the right direction.” However, Brnabić has been criticized by queer activists for doing nothing to advance LGBTQ rights since she took office in 2017. She’s also been charged with using her position to secure rights not generally available to other LGBTQ people in the country. Her partner gave birth via in vitro fertilization overseas earlier this year. According to the Associated Press, a banner held up at the start of the march asked, “Prime Minister, how is it living with all those privileges?”
Shock waves continue to ripple across Rwanda following the self-outing of one of the country’s most popular gospel singers. Albert Nabonibo came out recently during an interview with a Christian YouTube channel. Even though Rwanda is not an example of the blatant and aggressive governmental and religious homophobia that’s common in the region, same-gender love is still a generally taboo subject in the central African nation. Most LGBTQ people in Rwanda stay closeted.
The 35-year-old Nabonibo nevertheless told the Associated Press that he could no longer “live in denial.” However he said the reaction from family, friends and fans has been mostly “horrible.” But Nabonibo says, “there is no going back, because I have to live my real life.” Aside from his gospel ministry, Nabonibo works as an accountant. He said he’s been ostracized since his coming out announcement and worries about losing his job.
Some of his best friends spoke with the AP only if they were not named. “I don’t understand why he thinks this is normal,” one said. Another said he has blocked Nabonibo on his phone because he wants to “keep safe.” But Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister tweeted his support, encouraging Nabonibo to continue his worship ministry. He wrote, “All Rwandans are born and remain equal in rights and freedoms.”
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was quoted this week describing transgender women as “big hairy men” who threaten to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters. It’s just the latest Trump administration anti-queer revelation. The Washington Post cites three people who were present when the remarks were made during an internal meeting at the agency’s San Francisco office. Many jaws dropped among the approximately 50 staff members who attended the meeting, according to those who were there. At least one woman reportedly walked out in disgust.
Aside from holding a medical license, Carson is certifiably trans-phobic. He opposes military service by qualified trans personnel, and regularly refers to transgender people as “abnormal.” As Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Carson has weakened Obama-era protections for transgender people. He insists that he believes in equal rights, but “not special rights.” One government official told the Post that Carson’s latest comments are not unusual, saying, “His overall tone is dismissive and joking about these people. It’s disrespectful of the people we are trying to serve.” All the insiders who spoke with the Post did so anonymously because they said they feared retaliation.
A chorus of human rights activists quickly condemned the Housing Secretary. Newly-installed Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David remarked that “during a year in which at least 19 transgender people – 18 of them Black trans women – have been killed in the United States, these remarks serve to only exacerbate this crisis, further dehumanizing the most vulnerable among us.” Referencing the same statistics, Gillian Branstetter of the National Center for Transgender Equality called Carson’s comments “gravely insulting.”
But finally, within days of queer British pop singer Sam Smith declaring a preference for the pronouns “they/them/themself,” the newest edition of the influential American English Merriam-Webster Dictionary has acknowledged non-binary people’s use of those words as singular gender-neutral pronouns. According to Pink News, “they/them/themself” has already been recognized as such by the Oxford English Dictionary and dictionary.com.
Merriam-Webster explained in a blog post that the move was “an expansion of a use that is sometimes called the ‘singular they … they has been in consistent use as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s … [and] regardless of what detractors say, nearly everyone uses the singular they in casual conversation and often in formal writing. They is taking on a new use, however: as a pronoun of choice for someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female.” In a series of tweets, singer Smith declared that “After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out. … I hope you can see me like I see myself now.”
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