The genesis of the National March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights in October 1979 — kicking off LGBTQ History Month — features Harvey Milk, Robin Tyler, Frank Kameny, Ray Hill, Susan McGrievy, Rev. Troy Perry and more!
Queer youth fight Mauritius’ same-gender sex ban, thugs attack Pride events in Lubin and Budapest, Iowa town defies Trump’s Pride crosswalks decree, Russian court shutters two LGBTQ rights groups, first U.S. Trans Visibility March brings thousands to D.C., Oglala Sioux hate crime laws protect LGBT and two-spirit people, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of October 7, 2019
Program #1,645 distributed 10/07/19
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Four young Mauritian gay men challenge the Indian Ocean island nation’s colonial era law criminalizing consensual adult same-gender sex homophobic thugs attack LGBTQ Pride-goers in Lubin, Poland anti-queer thugs disrupt the screening of a film about anti-queer bullying in Budapest, Hungary Ames, Iowa defies a Trump administration directive and keeps its “inclusion” crosswalks with rainbow flag and trans pride colors a court in the Russian city of St. Petersburg orders two major LGBTQ groups to disband for posting “gay propaganda” on the country’s equivalent of Facebook more than a thousand people take to the streets of Washington, D.C. for the first-ever National Trans Visibility March the Oglala Sioux in South Dakota are reportedly the first Native American tribe to specifically punish hate crimes against LGBTQ people Australia Post releases two commemorative stamps celebrating the 2017 postal plebiscite vote opening civil marriage to same-gender couples (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported by TANYA KANE-PARRY and WENZEL JONES, produced this week by BRIAN DESHAZOR and MARLENA BOND).
Feature: The late great San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk may have been the first to promote the idea. Or it may have started with what comic Robin Tyler originally intended as a joke. Whatever sparked it, the idea of a mass demonstration in Washington, DC for the rights of LGBTQ people caught fire and spread across the United States. It was February 1979. There was no Internet. Could it really be done? Representatives from dozens of local organizations gathered in the historic city of Philadelphia to answer that question. And once the die was cast, dozens of queer activists took the journey of a lifetime aboard Amtrak’s whistle-stopping “Freedom Train” from Oakland, California to the nation’s capital (featuring the voices of Frank Kameny, Steve Endean, Ray Hill, Steve Ault, Susan McGrievy, Robin Tyler, Rev. Troy Perry, and many others; bible-thumping homophobic UTAH lawmaker REV. ROBERT L. HARRIS; and activist-reporters BILL BOGUN, JOK CHURCH, JOAN SPRAGUE, ART ARATIN, and BRUCE PENNINGTON; with music by MARGIE ADAM and ART GARFUNKLE).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending October 5, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Wenzel Jones, produced by Brian DeShazor and Marlena Bond
Four young queer activists in the Republic of Mauritius are challenging their country’s law against consensual adult same-gender sex. It’s the palm tree-lined white beaches and turquoise seas that draw tourists to the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa. But do the tourists know that anyone convicted under Section 250 of the Mauritian Criminal Code Act of 1838 faces up to five years in prison?
Najeeb Ahmad Fokeerbux is the lead plaintiff. He told the LGBTQ website The Rustin Times that “LGBT people in Mauritius are your friends, family, and neighbours and deserve the same rights to have loving, caring relationships as everyone else. It’s time to get rid of this colonial-era law, and we ask all Mauritians to support our effort.”
The four plaintiffs are all members of the Young Queer Alliance, and come from Hindu, Christian and Muslim backgrounds. They filed their lawsuit on September 30th. It argues that Section 250 is an unconstitutional violation of LGBTQ people’s fundamental human rights and freedoms. Fokeerbux told Reuters that, “Many LGBT+ people and others do not want to come on holiday to a country where they cannot relax and be free. By scrapping the law, Mauritius will be telling the world that all people are welcome and they can come and be safe here.”
The case could take up to two years to litigate, but the plaintiffs are all ready for the long legal battle. Fokeerbux admitted, “We know that homophobia won’t end with the law being scrapped. But it’s a step in the right direction.”
Death threats from conservative religious leaders and other homophobic groups forced the cancellation of Mauritius’ annual Pride Parade last year.
Eggs, bottles and flash grenades rained down on an LGBTQ Pride Parade in Lubin, Poland on September 28th. For the second year in a row, almost as many police officers were needed to protect the march as there were marchers. Organizers had advised Pride participants to hide any LGBTQ symbols while traveling to and from the event. Far-right nationalists protesters arrived carrying banners equating same-gender love with pedophilia. Police tear gas and water cannons dispersed the violent mob. 29-year-old filmmaker and parade organizer Bartosz Staszewski told Reuters that, “It’s a horrific atmosphere we’re living in.”
A similar scene took place in July in the Polish city of Białystok, Pride marchers said that right-wing thugs beat them — despite police protection.
Poland is primarily Roman Catholic, and it’s ruling right-wing Law & Justice Party has a long history of stoking anti-queer fears. Ahead of the October 13th national elections, it’s gotten even worse. The party calls same-gender love a “threat to Polish identity” –a successful rallying cry, especially with the party’s conservative rural base. Analysts expect Law & Justice to win another parliamentary majority for four more years.
Homophobic far-right thugs burst into a community center in Budapest, Hungary hurling homophobic epithets and shouting “Stop LGBT Propaganda.” Budapest Pride was ironically scheduled to screen a short film about anti-queer bullying on September 26th. Organizers say that the “violent” invaders were given virtually free reign by police – that is until someone poured yogurt on a “Zero Tolerance” banner being carried by one of the thugs.
Pink News reported that the human rights NGO Hungarian Helsinki Committee has filed a formal complaint over the failure of officers to remove the protesters immediately.
A statement by Budapest Pride vowed to “replace the disrupted program” sometime soon. They blamed Hungary’s far-right President Viktor Orbán for further enflaming anti-queer sentiment. Orbán recently proposed a constitutional ban on gay and lesbian adoption.
The city of Ames, Iowa will ignore a written request from the Trump administration to remove the Pride-themed crosswalks at a busy commercial intersection. Two of the crosswalks are in rainbow flag colors, with brown and black added for inclusion. Another crosswalk has the trans Pride flag colors of pink, blue and white, and the fourth has stripes of purple, black, yellow and white to represent gender non-binary people. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration demanded that Ames replace the queer colors with white-only crosswalk markings “for safety reasons.”
Ames is the home of Iowa State University. City Attorney Mark Lambert advised the City Council this week to disregard the dictum. Lambert told the Ames Tribune that federal officials “couldn’t explain to me how they had jurisdiction over city streets.”
Russia’s so-called “no promo homo” law has once again been invoked to shut down queer activism. A court in St. Petersburg this week ordered two LGBTQ rights groups to disband for violating the law that criminalizes the promotion of “gay propaganda” to minors. It was signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2013.
The Oktyabrsky District Court decided that postings on the Russian equivalent of Facebook by the Russian LGBT Network and the Russian LGBT Community “deny family values, propagate nontraditional sexual relations, and cause disrespect to parents and other family members.”
The Russian LGBT Community has more than 187,000 online members, according to Agence France Presse.
Russian LGBT Network spokeswoman Svetlana Zakharova complained that “The court spends about five minutes blocking LGBT Internet resources and the decisions have identical wording.” Network attorney Alexander Belick promised the Moscow Times that they’d appeal. He maintained that the ruling violates “our right to freedom of information.”
Just days before we mark the 40h anniversary of the first National March On Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, a first-of-its-kind National Trans Visibility March drew thousands to the U.S. capital on September 28th.
Speakers focused on the crisis of brutal transgender murders, especially trans women of color. At least 28 trans people are known to have been killed in the U.S. so far this year.
Philadelphia trans activist Alonda Talley told local D.C. TV station WUSA that, “Every morning I have to step out and worry about my safety. I would want somebody to be out here to represent me.”
The event came less than a week before the U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing 3 critical workplace rights cases. Those rulings will determine whether or not qualified LGBTQ people can be denied a job or fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Trans actress and activist Angelica Ross told WUSA that Congress needs to provide federal workplace protections for LGBTQ people. Ross said, “The Equality Act needs to be passed. “All Americans should be free to live and to work.”
The Oglala Sioux Tribe has become the first Native American jurisdiction to enact hate crime laws to protect LGBTQ and two-spirited people. Indian Country Today says it could not find other laws specifying queer or two-spirit people anywhere else in the country. The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council approved the new statute in mid-September. It punishes hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression committed by any member of the tribe with up to a year in jail.
The tribe’s home is the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The state itself does not include LGBTQ people in its hate crime laws.
Native American tribes are not subject to federal law in some circumstances, and have limited rights to enact specific laws governing their own lands.
Out of 573 federally recognized tribes, the Oglala Sioux is one of just 35 that have opened marriage to same-gender couples.
Felipa De Leon and her spouse Monique Mousseau are both citizens of the tribe. They lobbied the Council for both the marriage equality and hate crime laws. DeLeon told “Indian Country Today” that, “I have children and grandchildren. I don’t know how they will identify themselves when they grow up, but I want to know they will be safe.”
Finally, two new $1 domestic base rate stamps are now available at a post office near you – if you live Down Under. They commemorate the advent of marriage equality in Australia.
One stamp features the traditional queer Pride rainbow and proclaims the catchphrase chanted from across the country during the 2017 postal plebiscite campaign, “Love Is Love.” An overwhelming majority of Australian citizens who mailed back their ballots supported opening the civil institution to lesbian and gay couples.
The other stamp says, “Yes” with a design based on photos taken of a lesbian and a gay couple. One is in Melbourne. The other is at the announcement of the vote in a Sydney park that was recently renamed “Equality Green.”
Co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich called it “a historic stamp to mark an historic achievement.”
If you’re a collector outside Australia, you can try to get the stamps online this month at auspost.com.au/stamps – “while supplies last,” of course.
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