The U.S. Supreme Court hears three cases involving employment protections for LGBTQ people!
For LGBTQ History Month, we recall what it was like to be In the Life during the Harlem Renaissance!
Uganda’s Parliament considers a new bill to mandate the death penalty for homosexuality, Brazilian judge overrules Bolsonaro’s move to deny government funding to queer films, Trump administration nixes visas for foreign queer diplomats unmarried domestic partners, Danish pro hockey player Jon-Lee Olsen comes out, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of October 14, 2019
SCOTUS Works on Job Rights!
Program #1,646 distributed 10/14/19
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): A resurrected “Kill the Gays” bill is expected to pass before the end of the year in Uganda a Brazilian judge overrules homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro’s move to deny government funding to LGBTQ-themed films Danish pro hockey player Jon-Lee Olsen becomes the first in his country, and the third pro in the world, to come out as a proud gay man leftwing openly gay Polish politician Robert Biedron is hailed as a hero for helping to rescue a 2-year-old boy and his father from a burning car based on social media, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren had one of the best responses to a question about LGBTQ people at the marathon CNN-broadcast 9-candidate 4-and-a-half-hour Human Rights Campaign-sponsored Democratic presidential candidates “Town Hall” on queer issues (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by ROB LECRONE and JESSICA ANDREA, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: An expanded Rainbow Minute remembers being In The Life during the Harlem Renaissance (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by ANA EDWARDS).
Feature: Does discrimination based on sex include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity? The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 8th in three cases that will determine whether or not federal law protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace. Two cases involve gay men who were fired simply for being gay. In the other case, a transgender woman was fired for her failure to adhere to strict gender-based dress codes. Our comprehensive coverage includes comments by John Bursch of the far-right Alliance Defending Freedom; gay plaintiff Gerald Bostock and his attorney Brian Sullivan; trans plaintiff Aimee Stephens; and analysis by New York School Of Law Professor Arthur Leonard (with ANN NORTHROP and ANDY HUMM on GayUSA); ACLU/HIV Director James Esseks with AMY GOODMAN and JUAN GONZALEZ on Democracy Now!; and veteran gay journalist REX WOCKNER).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending October 12, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Rob Lecrone and Jessica Andrea, produced by Brian DeShazor
Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill is coming back to life. Expect the latest edition of the proposed law to mandate the death penalty for homosexuality to be introduced in Parliament within weeks. The last version of the law passed in 2013, but a court overturned it on a technicality the following year. The government of President Yoweri Museveni signaled at the time that it would eventually try again.
The same government remains in power today. It’s five-year-old arguments were regurgitated by the ironically titled Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo. He told Reuters that, “Homosexuality is not natural to Uganda, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that.”
Uganda’s British colonial-era penal code already punishes consensual adult gay sex with up to life in prison. Lokodo confirmed that the “new edition” is still a “Kill the Gays” bill, saying, “Our current penal law is limited. It only criminalizes the act.” Now the government is looking beyond the sex acts. Lokodo stressed that, “We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalized. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence.” He affirmed that President Museveni again supports the bill.
It’s not easy being queer in the east African country. Pepe Julian Onziema of the group Sexual Minorities Uganda warned that, “When the law was introduced last time, it whipped up homophobic sentiment and hate crimes.”
Uganda faced widespread condemnation and economic sanctions when the original law was signed in 2014. The European Union and the United States are contemplating such sanctions again this time, but Lokodo said his government remains undeterred. He insisted, “We don’t like blackmailing. We can’t just bend our heads and bow before people who want to impose a culture which is foreign to us.”
Onziema fears that the law’s passage will lead hundreds of queer people to flee the country. The activist said, “It will criminalize us from even advocating for LGBT+ rights, let alone supporting and protecting sexual minorities.”
Edwin Sesange of the African Equality Foundation told Pink News that the re-introduction of the bill is the government’s desperate attempt to stem the growing popularity of opposition candidate Bobi Wine. They’re charging that Wine is “supported by western gay people.”
Parliament could vote on the new “Kill the Gays” bill before the end of the year.
U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration continued their assault on LGBTQ rights and dignity this week, even as impeachment looms overhead. Secretary Mike Pompeo’s State Department now requires that lesbian or gay foreign diplomats be legally married if they want to get their partners spousal visas. A policy initiated in 2009 during the Obama administration had granted visas to the “domestic partners” of diplomats serving in the U.S. That policy covered those working at the United Nations, the World Bank, NATO, and in foreign embassies and consulates across the United States.
A State Department spokesperson claimed that the policy change is meant to “ensure and promote equal treatment”, since unmarried domestic partners of heterosexual foreign diplomats are also ineligible for spousal visas. There’s one big difference. Less than twelve percent of the U.N.’s 193 member states have opened civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples. Especially in Africa and the Middle East, consensual adult same-gender sex is harshly punished, even with execution. A foreign diplomat and their same-gender partner could face criminal charges – or worse – when they return home if they legally marry in the U.S. to get the spousal visa.
U.N. Globe is a group that promotes equality for all LGBTQ staff at the world body or in its peacekeeping operations. They point out that, “[S]ame-sex couples, unlike opposite-couples, have limited choices when it comes to marriage.”
Obama U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power described the policy change as “needlessly cruel and bigoted.”
Brazil’s “proudly homophobic” President Jair Bolsonaro suffered a judicial setback this week. Under “Trump of the Tropics” Bolsonaro’s direct orders, the national film agency yanked grants totaling more than 17 million U.S. dollars for about 80 films. Only four of them had LGBTQ themes or content. Bolsonaro said in August that funding those kind of films was “throwing money away.” So Brazil’s Citizenship Minister Osmar Terra ordered the suspension of all film funding a few days after Bolsonaro’s remarks.
Judge Laura Carvalho granted federal prosecutors’ request for an injunction against the funding freeze. Carvalho wrote that, “Freedom of expression equality and non-discrimination deserve the protection of the Judiciary power.”
Prosecutors argued that Citizenship Minister Terra should be fined and banned from holding elected office for up to eight years for “administrative misconduct.” They charged that, “As there was no legal way to prevent only the four [LGBTQ] projects from being excluded, the ‘solution’ found was to sacrifice the entire process.”
Director Emerson Maranhão’s film was one of the four queer-specific funding contenders. He told Reuters that, at least for now, “Justice was done. … We are living lonely times, but decisions like this make me feel like we are back to living in a democracy.”
Bolsonaro’s government can appeal the decision.
Danish professional hockey player Jon-Lee Olsen has become the third in the global sport to come out as a proud gay man. The 27-year-old goaltender plays for Rungsted Seier Capital. Olsen made the announcement during a live TV interview this week, and said that he was “ready to show that you can be gay and play ice hockey.” He said that he got nothing but support when he told his teammates in August, but he expects to be heckled when he plays. He said that “it’s something I have to be ready for and be mature about.”
Canada’s Brendan Burke and Sweden’s Lars Peter Karlsson preceded Denmark’s Jon-Lee Olsen out of the closet.
Openly gay Polish lawmaker Robert Biedron was hailed as a hero this week for helping to rescue a 2-year-old boy and his father from a burning car.
The Associated Press reported that the father’s car had collided with a truck and burst into flames in a city south of Warsaw. Local firefighters posed with Biedron and praised him in a Facebook post. The caption read, “[L]ike a real fireman, he went to the burning car with a fire extinguisher.”
Biedron’s heroics probably will not help the political fortunes of the opposition left-wing alliance that his Spring Party belongs to. Polls have it in third place prior to mid-October’s national election day, far behind the ruling far-right Law and Justice Party.
Finally … the 4-and-a-half hour October 8th LGBTQ Town Hall on CNN hosted by the Human Rights Campaign in Los Angeles was a lot for some people to endure. Nine of the leading candidates participated in individual half-hour interviews by rotating CNN anchors that included openly gay news anchors Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper. According to most analysts, openly gay contender South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg did well. So did New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke.
There was general consensus that perennial front-runner Vice President Joe Biden did not do very well at all, particularly with his rambling denunciation of old San Francisco gay bathhouses.
If social media is the best indicator, the question and answer of the night belonged to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. In case you haven’t already seen or heard it:
Question: “You’re on the campaign trail …”
Warren: “I have been …”
Question: “… and a supporter approaches you and says, ‘Senator, I am old fashioned, and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman.’ What is your response?”
Warren: “Well, I’m going to assume it’s a guy who said that. And I’m going to say, then just marry one woman … I’m cool with that … assuming you can find one.”
Senator Warren jumped ahead of Biden in some polls this week to narrowly lead the pack.
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