Goodbye Pete & Hello “Cosmos”!

Mayor Pete Buttigieg bows out, but still inspires a 9-year-old gay boy!

Gay astrologer and author Colin Bedell charts the Queer Cosmos!

“LGBT-Free Zones” proliferate in Poland, religious-based bias and queer family rights to clash at U.S. Supreme Court, Israel’s high court sanctions surrogacy for queer couples, homophobic Croatians burn gay family in effigy, Kenya and the UAE ban Bollywood’s landmark gay boyfriend rom-com, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of March 2, 2020

Goodbye Pete & Hello Cosmos!

Program #1,666 distributed 03/02/20

Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Homophobia escalates in Poland with the proliferation of “LGBT Free Zone” stickers and local “no promo homo” laws the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case involving queer couples’ right to be parents  Israel’s high court opens surrogacy to single men and same-gender couples a cheering crowd burns the effigy of a kissing gay male couple and their small child to cap a traditional pre-Lent parade in the Croatian town of Imotski and Bollywood’s first-ever gay romantic comedy opens to good reviews in India, but is banned in Kenya and the United Arab Emirates (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY and LAURA DICKINSON-TURNER, and produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).

Feature: The first viable openly gay candidate for president of the United States has ended his campaign. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg returned to his hometown to call it quits after his fourth-place finish in South Carolina’s Democratic Primary on February 29th [we have excerpts]. Buttigieg’s meteoric rise may have been aborted by his difficulty connecting with non-white voters, but his ability to connect with a young supporter showed one reason why his campaign was so significant. Nine-year-old Zachary Ro had a question for Mayor Pete at a February 22nd town hall in DENVER, COLORADO.

Feature: Is your life story written in the stars? Is your astro-self as queer as the down-to-earth you? This Way Out’s JOHN DYER V looks up with Colin Bedell, author of Queer Cosmos: The Astrology Of Queer Identities & Relationships — and finds that the subject is bigger than the sky (first of a 2-part conversation that concludes next time, with thanks to MARLENA BOND for invaluable production assistance).

NewsWrap

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 Michael Taylor-Gray and Laura Dickinson-Turner,
produced by Michael Taylor-Gray and Lucia Chappelle

A third of Poland’s population is now living in “LGBTQ-free zones.” Close to a hundred municipal or local governments have enacted measures to declare their jurisdictions “free from LGBTQ ideology.” Most have also outlawed so-called “LGBTQ propaganda” in a geographic area the size of Hungary.

The real-world effect of these moves is to deny local government funding for any non-governmental organization that promotes equal rights for and/or acceptance of LGBTQ people.

A resolution passed in the European Parliament in December condemned so-called “LGBTQ-free zones.” It noted “a broader context of attacks against the LGBTI community in Poland, which include growing hate speech by public and elected officials and public media, as well as attacks and bans on Pride marchers.”

Physical attacks by far-right thugs against peaceful Pride marchers in Lubin and Bialystok late last year were but two examples of escalating overt homophobia in the country. A conservative Polish newspaper may have sparked the current homophobic surge. The paper was distributing “LGBTQ free zone” stickers showing a crossed-out rainbow flag were in its print editions last year. A court eventually ordered the sticker distribution stopped.

Notoriously anti-queer President Jaroslaw Kaczyński and his ruling Law and Justice Party won recent national elections with a platform that included harsh anti-queer views. Kaczyński repeatedly claimed during campaign appearances that the LGBTQ community was “provoking” the country. He has rejected the European Parliament’s December resolution, just like he ignored previous calls from the E.U. to tone down his anti-queer rhetoric.

Deputy Mayor of Warsaw Pawel Rabiej is among a handful of government officials who are swimming against the tide. He compares the current movement against LGBTQ rights in his country to the Nazi era, saying, “German fascists created Jew-free zones. As you can see, this tradition finds worthy followers, this time in Poland.”

The United States Supreme Court agreed this week to hear the case of a Roman Catholic charity’s refusal to place abused and neglected children with same-gender couples. The issue is whether the Philadelphia-area agency can refuse applications from otherwise-qualified couples on religious grounds while accepting government funding from the city. A 30-year-old high court decision that religious beliefs do not exempt a group or business from obeying anti-discrimination laws that apply to everyone will be put to the test.

Catholic Social Services argues that Philadelphia’s laws protecting LGBTQ people violate its right to religious liberty. The city ended its contract with the agency in 2018 when they discovered that queer couples were not being considered as potential parents. Lower courts have sided with Philadelphia. The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld those rulings, stating that, “religious belief will not excuse compliance with general civil rights laws.”

Lawyers for the Catholic charity are arguing in their Supreme Court appeal that they have never had a same-gender couple apply to be foster parents, and that the appeals court ruling “allows governments to exclude religious foster-and-adoption agencies unless they speak the government’s preferred message regarding marriage.”

Faith-based foster care and adoption agencies that receive federal funding got the okay to reject prospective same-gender parents from the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights last year.

The case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia is among several “religious liberty” lawsuits spawned by the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in 2015. It pits laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination against opponents’ claimed constitutional right to act on their anti-queer religious beliefs.

Philadelphia’s attorneys say that the city took action against the discriminatory policy to guarantee, “that all qualified Philadelphians have access to governmental services provided by contractors and paid for by their taxes.” The city is being represented by the ACLU on behalf of the Support Center for Child Advocates and Philadelphia Family Pride. They argue that restricting the number of qualified couples available to foster or adopt based solely on sexual orientation deprives children in the social services system of secure and loving homes. According to the ACLU, “Nothing in the Constitution puts the religious beliefs of these agencies ahead of the needs of the children in their care.”

Equality activists are worried about the conservative majority on the court. A ruling in favor of Catholic Social Services could open the door to wholesale discrimination against LGBTQ people by any group or business that claims its bias is based on religious belief.

The high court will hear arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia during its next term, which begins in October. A decision is expected in mid-2021. The court is currently considering a trio of queer right-to-work cases

Israel’s high court has ordered lawmakers to enact legislation to allow access to surrogacy services by same-gender couples and single men. Only heterosexual couples or single women unable to conceive currently have the right to use surrogate mothers.

According to the Times of Israel, the advocacy group Proud Fathers petitioned the Court to overturn the legal obstacles that prevented same-gender couples from having children through surrogacy.

The unanimous five-judge panel gave Israel’s Knesset until March 1st, 2021 to legislatively implement the ruling. A summary of the decision released this week by the High Court of Justice said that current law is “illegal” because it violates “the right to equality and the right to parenthood of these groups.”

Israel’s largest LGBTQ rights group Aguda issued a statement saying that, “This historic decision is another incredible milestone in our fight for equal rights.”

Proud Fathers called it a “dramatic and exciting” ruling. But the group noted that there’s still a long way to go. A bill to allow same-gender couples access to surrogacy services was considered in the Knesset in October of 2018 – and it lost by a vote of 49 to 41. The celebratory statement by Proud Fathers this week cautioned that “Now we have to make sure the next government passes a new, equal law.”

A kissing gay male couple and their small child were burned in effigy in the southern Croatian town of Imotski. Onlookers – including small children – cheered.

The bonfire was the climax of a parade this week at the end a traditional weeklong carnival before the beginning of Lent in the heavily Roman Catholic country. According to local accounts, the face of the child set afire bore a resemblance to a member of Parliament who recently made national news with his support for allowing same-gender couples to foster children.

President Zoran Milanović called the act “totally unacceptable.” He said that, “hatred for others, intolerance and inhumanity are not and will not be a Croatian tradition.” Other government officials also condemned the action, including the Ministers for Education and the Economy.

LGBTQ people are technically protected by law from discrimination in Croatia. However, same-gender couples can only enter into less-than-marriage civil partnerships. Two-thirds of the voters in a 2013 national referendum favored a constitutional amendment to define civil marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Daniel Martinović of Croatia’s Rainbow Family Association said that “Burning a gay couple, and even worse, a child, directly calls for hatred against groups that are frequently discriminated against in society.” Arsen Baulk is a member of Parliament from the same political party as the lawmaker who supported fostering by queer couples. Baulk told Balkan Insight that he planned to file charges against the Imotski carnival organizers over the incident.

Finally, Bollywood’s much-anticipated first-ever gay romantic comedy hit movie screens in India this week. Be Extra Careful About Marriage stars one of India’s most popular actors, Ayushmann Khurrana, as an openly gay man. He and his boyfriend deal with one set of parents who refuse to accept their son’s sexual orientation and try to force him into an arranged heterosexual marriage.

The film opened to rave reviews in India. But it’s been banned in Kenya and the United Arab Emirates – that’s so far. Kenya’s Film Classification Board justified the ban by pointing out that homosexual acts are illegal in the country. Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua said that, “Kenya will not be the dumping ground for all manner of filth that seeks to destroy the institution of family and our cultural identity.” Kenya’s high court upheld the African nation’s antiquated laws against “unnatural sex” last year.

Bollywood films are particularly popular in the United Arab Emirates, which Reuters notes is home to a sizable South Asian community. Filmmaker Hitesh Kewalya told the news agency that government officials in the predominantly Muslim desert nation confirmed that the film has been banned there, but that was all the information he could get.

Kewalya hailed India’s Supreme Court ruling striking down the nation’s colonial-era anti-gay sex laws in late 2018. He said, “I am just happy and proud that I live in a country where homosexuality has been decriminalized, and we are able to make and watch films like these in a commercial space.”

© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

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