With gay Ambassador Richard Grenell tapped for President Trump’s dirty work, international law professor Daniel Drezner and U.S. Congressman David Cicilline sound the alarm, but Congressman Jim Himes believes there’s nothing to fear — who’s right?
Reports from Alabama this week in 2015 and comments from President Barack Obama, homophobic GOP Senate hopeful Roy Moore, and lesbian married couple Tori and Shanté Wolfe-Sisson take on new meaning five years later.
A Rainbow Minute tribute to Acclaimed American Sculptor Edmonia Lewis (produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns and read by Ana Edwards).
Indonesia considers forced rehab for “deviants,” Vietnam schools flunk LGBTQ lesson planning, Mormons pronounce punishment for gender transition, prospective U.S. First Gentleman Chasten Buttigieg defends his hubby, Warren diss-misses Pence, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of February 24, 2020
Program #1,665 distributed 02/24/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Indonesia’s crackdown on queer people gets even worse with a draft proposal requiring sexual “deviants” to report to government rehab centers a Human Rights Watch report criticizes Vietnam’s schools for teaching that same-gender love is a “disease” or “mental disorder” Pakistani trans woman Aisha Mughal makes history as a member of the country’s official delegation to a U.N. panel on bias and violence against women the Mormon Church issues new policy guidelines that effectively penalize transgender members Pete Buttigieg’s social media “Nigerian Prince” turns out to be real – sort of Pete’s husband Chasten Buttigieg sounds off on bombastic talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s rant questioning the U.S. presidential contender’s masculinity on the campaign trail, rival U.S. Democratic presidential wannabe Elizabeth Warren barks out one of the best diss-missals ever of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by CAROLE MEYERS and WENZEL JONES, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: President Donald Trump has appointed U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to serve as his latest Acting Director of National Intelligence, making him the first openly gay member of a presidential cabinet. His temporary hiring by presidential tweet came immediately after the firing of his predecessor, who apparently angered Trump by lawfully warning Congress about the threat posed by Russian interference in the upcoming elections. We have reaction to the move by Tufts University Professor of International Politics Daniel Drezner, proudly out U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), and U.S. Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT).
Feature: Acclaimed American Sculptor Edmonia Lewis is fondly remembered in a TWO-expanded Rainbow Minute (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by ANA EDWARDS).
Feature: Remembering how rights were won is an important tool for fighting to retain them. Voting rights in the U.S. are still under attack today, five years after the 50th anniversary commemoration of Montgomery, Alabama’s “Bloody Sunday” march that was pivotal in securing those rights. And the marriage equality enjoyed by gay and lesbian couples today could face similar jeopardy, just as it was facing in Alabama at the time of that very commemoration. Days before, the state had revolted against federal marriage equality law. This Way Out’s GREG GORDON reported in early March of 2015 (featuring a report by Newsy’s JAY STUBBERG, and comments by Barack Obama, Roy Moore, and Tori Wolfe-Sisson and Shanté Wolfe-Sisson with Democracy Now! anchor AMY GOODMAN (with music by THE GRATEFUL DEAD and THE MOREHOUSE COLLEGE GLEE CLUB).
Feature: Promo for next week’s Queer Cosmos feature (voiced by JOHN DYER V and featuring author Colin Bedell).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending February 22, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Carole Meyers and Wenzel Jones, produced by Brian DeShazor
The lives of LGBTQ people in Indonesia have gotten worse. The leaked draft of a new “Family Resilience” law would require anyone “suffering” from “sexual deviations” to turn themselves in to a government rehab facility for “treatment.” The draconian bill outlaws “urges to achieve sexual satisfaction through unusual and unreasonable ways.” Among the penalties for non-compliance, anyone who fails to report to a rehab center can have their children taken away from them either temporarily or permanently. The same goes for family members who fail to report their queer relatives.
The proposed legislation defines the roles of a father and mother within the home in specific terms. For example, married women would be required to “take care of household-related matters” and “treat the husband and child well.” The draft law also punishes people engaged in surrogacy with up to seven years in prison.
The case of Reynhard Sinaga has added fuel to an already anti-queer atmosphere. As we’ve previously reported, Sinaga is an Indonesian studying in the U.K. who’s been dubbed “Britain’s most prolific rapist.” He’s been convicted of drugging and victimizing more than a hundred men in the Manchester area. Sensationalized coverage in his homeland focused more on Sinaga’s homosexuality than on his horrific crimes.
Same-gender sex is technically not illegal in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation – except in Aceh, the semi-autonomous Indonesian province governed under strict Islamic law. Still, a number of high-profile government and religious leaders have stoked the flames of homophobia with vitriolic rhetoric. Some have even called for virtual genocide to rid the country of LGBTQ people entirely.
Human rights groups and queer advocacy organizations have been quick to condemn the bill. It’s set social media afire, mostly with negative comments. Amnesty International calls it “a very patriarchal bill [that] will set back progress in gender equality and women’s rights protection.”
The bill reportedly has the backing of all four Indonesian political parties. Sodik Mujahid is one lawmaker who defends the bill. He told kompas-dot-com that homosexuality “disrupts the future of mankind.”
However passage of the bill requires the backing of President Joko Widodo, and he has yet to comment on it.
Students in Vietnam are being taught that same-gender attraction is a “disease” or “mental illness” that can be cured – this according to a report issued on Valentine’s Day by Human Rights Watch. It seems to contradict what appeared to have been the Southeast Asian country’s slow progress on queer rights. Starting in 2015, the government allowed transgender people who have undergone gender reassignment surgery to register as their correct gender, and Vietnam voted in favor of establishing an LGBTQ rights watchdog at the United Nations in 2016.
But homosexual orientation remains taboo in much of Vietnamese society. And Human Rights Watch found plenty of testimony from school administrators, teachers and students to back that up. Young people said that they frequently heard both teachers and family members call same-gender attraction a “mental illness” or “disease.” LGBTQ point-person for the rights group Graeme Reid told The Guardian that an increasingly vibrant and visible queer rights movement in Vietnam has led to more awareness and social acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity in recent years. But Reid said, “the government’s actions have so far not officially reflected these changes.”
Ngo Le Phuong Linh of the Vietnamese human rights advocacy group ICS Centre said that, “We need stronger steps from the government to tackle discrimination and create a safe and inclusive education environment for our youth.”
A transgender woman made history at the United Nations. Aisha Mughal of Pakistan’s Ministry of Human Rights became the first trans person to be part of a national delegation to the global body’s meeting on violence against women. However, Mughal was not the first trans person to participate in discussions at the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. There have been a few from non-governmental organizations. But Mughal was the first one to be part of a government delegation. She tweeted her appreciation, and wrote that she wanted to “acknowledge the efforts of my government for mainstreaming the transgender community of Pakistan.”
This latest advance in Pakistan comes on the heels of a major bill to offer transgender people free healthcare, and to establish separate hospital wards to insure they get the best non-judgmental care. Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his government is “taking responsibility” in response to a number of reports of harassment and outright denials of treatment for transgender people by hospital staff — and even by other patients. Mughal said, “With all the support from the government, I feel proud to be a Pakistani transgender woman.”
In the Mormon Church, however, gender is God-given and “eternal.” The newest edition of the General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expands on earlier pronouncements, replacing two earlier versions. Those were only available in print, and only to faith leaders. The latest edition was posted online this week for all to see.
The Handbook describes gender as “an essential characteristic of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness … [and] the intended meaning of gender … is biological sex at birth.”
The lengthy section on Transgender Individuals counsels Mormons “against elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition to the opposite gender of a person’s birth sex.” Any Mormon who adopts “changes in dress, grooming, names, or pronouns intended to reflect a gender identity different from the one assigned at birth” faces some serious Church restrictions. Trans men will not be allowed to participate in the all-male ordained Mormon priesthood. Official church assignments, or “callings,” are limited, and trans people cannot gain full access to Mormon temples.
Affirmation is a global organization of queer and queer-supportive Mormons. The group said in a press statement that, “Narrowly defining gender as the biological sex at birth negates the lived experiences of transgender individuals.”
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the new Handbook is now only available in English, but it will be translated into 51 languages.
Among the queer U.S. political stories this week, trailblazing married gay presidential contender Pete Buttigieg really does have a Nigerian prince … of sorts.
A Nigerian man named Chinedu confessed to Buzzfeed News this week that he really is a fan of the former South Bend, Indiana mayor — and that he really is behind the “mysterious” Twitter account supporting him. Conspiracy theorists have been charging that the account is a run by a Buttigieg campaign-controlled operative in the African nation.
Both Mother Jones and Newsweek have also confirmed the man’s identity, although he used only his first name because he’s been hounded as a fraud or worse on social media. Chinedu said, “I just support Pete passionately. Many others outside the U.S. support Pete as well.”
All the abuse has led the Pete-promoter to delete his #easychinedu account. He mostly blames supporters of rival candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
That could also be a tricky issue. It was revealed this week that Russia is not only working to help re-elect Donald Trump in the upcoming elections. Vladimir Putin’s minions have also been busy posing as rabid Bernie supporters on social media. The goal is perhaps to just disrupt the Democratic Party’s primary elections process. Or perhaps Putin and/or his paramour in the White House think that Sanders is the candidate Trump could most easily defeat – ironically, by branding the Democratic-Socialist candidate a “communist.”
Meanwhile, Chasten Buttigieg responded to rightwing talk show flame-thrower Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on his husband during an ABC-TV interview this week. It was, itself, something of a historic moment, since it was part of the network’s series of interviews with the spouses of the leading presidential contenders. And, of course, the Buttigiegs are the first same-gender couple. As for the radio show loudmouth’s rant …
[Chasten Buttigieg:] “Well, look, this isn’t new. I dealt with a multitude of Rush Limbaugh’s when I was walking through the hallways of my high school. And you have to realize that LGBTQ Americans have to come out every single day … when somebody asks who we’re married to, asks about our partner, or you feel like you want to share something about yourself, but then you have to second guess how that person is going to react if I say, well, my husband instead of my wife. I’ve been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life. What I’m actually worried about are the young people in this country who are watching the historic nature of this campaign, watching how people talk about it, watching how people react to it, and treat it, and wondering if this country is actually a safe place for them to be.”
That’s “Mayor Pete’s” hubby Chasten Buttigieg.
Finally, let’s catch up on a top quip by one of the Democratic presidential contenders on the U.S. campaign trail: Elizabeth Warren’s strong showing at the umpteenth and most-watched-so-far televised candidates debate this week netted a reported five-million-dollars in overnight campaign contributions. At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Warren offered one of the best-ever diss-missals of a Republican official. Asked if she whispered into her dog Bailey’s ear about a running mate, “Who is going to be my Mike Pence, who will look at me with adoring eyes?”
Warren didn’t miss a beat:
[Elizabeth Warren:] “I already have a dog.”
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