John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova backhand Margaret Court’s bigotry!
Plus: the declining State of Obama’s Union!
Gay couple sues India to civilize their sacred marriage, court order fails Croatian foster dads, U.S. state lawmakers target trans youth, Missouri politician disses drag queens, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of February 3, 2020
Court’s Critics & Grammy Glee!
Program #1,662 distributed 02/03/20
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): A gay couple who wed in a religious ceremony sue for civil marriage equality in India India’s Supreme Court accepts a challenge to the oxymoronically discriminatory Transgender Persons (Protections of Rights) Act 2019 Mumbai police ban a scheduled long-running annual Pride parade fearing that anti-government protests over India’s discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act will become part of it a Croatian gay couple is virtually back to square one after authorities in Zagreb ignore a court order and reject their foster parent application Republican lawmakers in South Dakota lead the pack of at least a dozen U.S. states with bills targeting transgender youth, and in some cases the healthcare professionals who care for them a Missouri lawmaker introduces a measure to strip state funding from public libraries that host Drag Queen Story Time – seriously! (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL LEBEAU and TANYA KANE-PARRY, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: As the U.S. and the world braces for the third State of the Union address by now-impeached President Donald Trump, we found some solace in going back to the first State of the Union by his predecessor. Ten years ago this week, President Barack Obama’s image of the nation was much different than the one we see today (with intro music by MARVIN GAYE).
Feature: When Tennis Australia wanted to recognize the 50th anniversary of Margaret Court’s championship year, they tried to tiptoe around the issues she’s been championing since then. Star players John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova have never tiptoe around anything (with intro music from Heartless by THE FRAY).
Feature: Two black gay men and a mix-mastering lesbian took home Grammys during the 62nd annual gala on January 26th (with intro music from I Love Music by THE O’JAYS, and the words and music of Tyler, the Creator, Tracy Young with Madonna, and Lil Nas X).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending February 1, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Tanya Kane-Parry, produced by Brian DeShazor
In India, a petition filed with the Kerala High Court claims that not allowing a gay couple to marry is unconstitutional.
Plaintiffs Sonu MS and Nikesh Pushkaran held a wedding ceremony in July 2019 at the Sri Krishna Temple in Guruvayoor. However religious authorities refused to issue a marriage certificate to the couple. The Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex two months later.
The lawsuit charges that denying lesbian and gay couples access to civil marriage violates constitutional guarantees of equality, individual dignity and personal autonomy. The couple also argues that the heterosexual only Special Marriage Act of 1954 is discriminatory on its face. Their petition references the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling.
The lawsuit faces numerous hurdles on its way up India’s judicial ladder.
India’s Supreme Court has accepted a challenge to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. The filing by trans activist Swati Bidhan Baruah cites constitutional guarantees of equality and privacy. According to the Hindustan Times, Baruah is charging that the recently enacted legislation actually violates the rights of transgender people and reinforces prejudices against them. The lawsuit is no surprise. Trans activists complained when the measure was first introduced last year, and when it was ultimately signed into law in December.
Sections of the Act require the certification of a trans person’s gender identity by a district magistrate. The filing points out that cisgender people don’t have to do anything to confirm their gender identity. It also claims that anti-bias protections in the Act are toothless because there are no provisions to punish violators.
In a landmark 2014 decision, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that discrimination against transgender people violates three Articles of India’s Constitution. This week’s filing says that the so-called Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights Act) is itself a violation of those Articles.
Police officials banned the annual Pride Parade in the Indian city of Mumbai this week ahead of its planned February 1st step off. Queer Azaadi Mumbai has organized the event there since 2008.
The group posted a letter from the police saying that officials worried about anti-government protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act spilling over into Pride. India’s streets have been filled with demonstrations since that Act was also signed into law in December. It pointedly excludes Muslims fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan from its expedited citizenship process for refugees. It specifically welcomes Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights calls it “fundamentally discriminatory.”
LGBTQ activists have been among those protesting the legislation. Mumbai activist and drag artist Harish Iyer tweeted that “We all are a mixture of identities. Queer is just one of them. … We don’t exist in the forefront or margins, we also exist in intersections.” Activist Rituparna Borah told “Al Jazeera” that, “Queer people are either disowned by their family or forced to leave homes. How would they acquire the documents that are necessary to prove citizenship?”
In other news, 10 young men in Mauritania are under arrest after appearing in a social media video of what local reports call the country’s first “gay wedding ceremony.” Consensual “acts against nature” can be punished with death by stoning in the Sharia-governed North African nation. However, no executions for gay sex have been reported in the past decade.
Police Commissioner Mohamed Ould Nejib said that the ceremony was held during a mid-January “birthday celebration of a homosexual” in the capital Nouakchott. An unnamed source told Agence France Presse that, “The prosecutor’s office sent the young homosexual delinquents to prison to await judgment for acts contrary to morality, committing acts forbidden by Allah, and circulating a ceremony of debauchery.”
According to the French news agency, Mauritania’s mostly Muslim population may tolerate lesbians and gay men in some circumstances, but sexual minorities are often publicly mocked and tend to keep a low profile.
Total-Croatia-news-dot-com reported this week that the Social Welfare Center in Zagreb has defied a court order by refusing to accept a gay couple’s foster care application.
As we’ve previously reported, the Croatian Administrative Court issued a binding judgment in December in the couple’s favor after a two-year legal battle.
Life partners Ivo Šegota and Mladen Kožić began the effort to expand their family in 2017. After passing all the psychological evaluations and screening tests, they were told that the Foster Care Act doesn’t expressly list life partners as possible foster parents. Croatia recognizes same-gender civil partners but doesn’t allow them to marry.
The couple said that they were shocked by the rejection because it refused to acknowledge the court’s direct order. They said after the December ruling that they had already started preparing their home for children. Welfare Center officials called the court order “an opinion” that contradicts existing law.
Šegota and Kožić say they will file another legal challenge to the denial of their application. Kožić said, “This is another small obstacle that Ivo and I will have to overcome together.”
Republican lawmakers in a dozen U.S. states have introduced bills to sharply curtail the rights of transgender young people and their parents, and in some cases to criminalize medical professionals who care for them.
South Dakota leads the pack. The state House passed a bill this week to throw a doctor in prison for prescribing puberty blockers or hormone treatment for young people under the age of 16 who’ve been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or for participating in parental-approved gender confirmation surgery.
Critics warn that the measure denies parents the power to decide what’s best for their children. Dr. Alexis Chavez is the medical director of the queer youth suicide prevention group The Trevor Project. She said that such proposals “not only contradict reality and majority medical opinion in the United States – they would also put young lives in jeopardy.”
The bill’s lead sponsor is South Dakota Republican state Representative Fred Deutsch. Deutsch had to apologize recently for his remarks comparing doctors who treat transgender kids to Nazis. Under his bill doctors could spend up to a year in prison and be fined up to two thousand dollars for each offense. Deutsch claims that his bill would “protect vulnerable children.” It passed in the House by a vote of 46-to-23, and is expected to be approved by the Republican-controlled state Senate. Republican Governor Kristi Noem has yet to weigh in on the measure.
Two more trans youth-related bills were filed this week in the South Dakota state Senate. One would require a public school counselor, psychologist or social worker to notify parents if a student expresses “feelings of gender dysphoria.” The other gives parents the right to refuse consent for any health care service to a minor if it would “induce, confirm, or promote” their child’s transgender identity.
Measures targeting transgender youth are also in the works in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.
According to “The Advocate”, 9 Republicans filed a bill this week in the Iowa House that would become the first time an entire category is removed from a state’s anti-discrimination protections. The bill would delete all references to gender identity from the Iowa Civil Rights Act that were added in 2007.
Some activists charge that the anti-trans efforts are being orchestrated across the country by rightwing groups like the Family Research Council, the Eagle Forum, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Finally, a Missouri state lawmaker is targeting librarians who host Drag Queen Story Hour.
Republican Ben Baker’s bill would withdraw state funding from any public library that allows the display of what it calls “age-inappropriate material.” Translated from the legalese, Baker explains that Drag Queen Story Hour is “something that I take objection to, and I think a lot of parents do.” The proposal has yet to be formally considered by any legislative committee. Defenders of Drag Queen Story Hour quickly pointed out that no one is forced to attend such events.
According to a website that tracks them, the first Drag Queen Story Hour was held in San Francisco in 2015. The colorful idea has since spread worldwide. The site says it’s meant to give kids “glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.”
Anyone with knowledge of queer culture knows that if you’re going to piss off anyone in the community, it had better not be drag queens. The Springfield News-Leader reported this week that plans are in the works for drag queens from across Missouri to converge on the state capital in Jefferson City on March 7th to protest the measure.
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