What’s the thing about Tiger King?
OutCasting Overtime’s young trans woman Amalee speaks courageously about voice dysphoria!
Steve Abbott’s Beautiful Aliens abduct queer life and literature commentator Janet Mason to a world of avant garde voices!
Costa Rica jumps its last marriage equality hurdle, Albania bans conversion therapy, Chechnya’s queer purge despot catches COVID-19, Hungary prohibits gender changes on official papers, U.S. top court nixes block on Idaho inmate’s transition surgery, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 25, 2020
Voices Found & Tigers Roar!
Program #1,678 distributed 05/25/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Marriage equality finally comes to Costa Rica after a failed last-ditch effort by rightwing lawmakers to further delay it Taiwan celebrates its first marriage equality anniversary even as activists push for access to the civil institution by some queer bi-national couples who live on the island but still can’t tie the knot Albania becomes the latest country to ban so-called “conversion therapy” the “Uganda 19,” LGBTQ people caught up in an anti-queer raid on a homeless shelter at the end of March and accused of violating COVID-19 lockdown rules, are somewhat surprisingly released without charge after almost seven weeks behind bars Chechnya’s despotic leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who engineered a genocidal purge of LGBTQ people from his mostly Muslim region of Russia, is reportedly flown to a Moscow hospital with possibly serious health challenges after he contracted the virus Hungarian lawmakers approve autocratic leader Viktor Orban’s proposal to change “sex” on government document gender designations to “sex assigned at birth,” which will deprive trans and intersex people from changing that gender marker on their official IDs the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to block the continuing care of a transgender Idaho prison inmate ahead of her scheduled confirmation surgery the makers of Skittles (“Taste the rainbow!”) change their packaging and rainbow-colored candy to gray as a bow to the rainbows that flourish during the traditional LGBTQ Pride month of June (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by LAURA DICKINSON-TURNER and CHRISTOPHER GAAL, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: A courageous young trans woman has just one question: can you hear her now? (OutCasting Overtime “OutCaster” BRIAN intro’s and outro’s AMALEE, produced by MARC SOPHOS, and with intro music from Voices by MOTIONLESS IN WHITE).
Feature: She missed out on a personal encounter with writer Steve Abbott in the 90s, but he came back from the past to give This Way Out Queer Life and Literature commentator JANET MASON some helpful ideas in her review of Beautiful Aliens: A Steve Abbott Reader from Nightboat Books (with intro music from A Voice From the Past by MARILLION).
Feature: A lot of people want to hold this tiger … many more would rather let it go. This Way Out’s JOHN DYER V takes the Netflix series Tiger King by the tail (with intro music from Hold That Tiger by JOE JACKSON, and audio excerpts and music from the series).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending May 23, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Laura Dickinson-Turner and Christopher Gaal, produced by Brian DeShazor
Marriage equality has finally come to Costa Rica. About two-dozen right-wing lawmakers tried to delay the inevitable by proposing an 18-month extension on a 2018 Supreme Court order because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those efforts failed this week with a vote of 33 against and 20 in favor. The first gay and lesbian couples are expected to start tying the knot in Costa Rica on May 26th.
It’s been a long and bumpy road that began with a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in January 2018 ordering all members of the Organization of American States to open civil marriage to same-gender couples if they had not already done so.
Several Costa Rican court rulings later, the Central American nation’s Supreme Court ordered the Legislative Assembly to enact marriage equality in November 2018, and gave them up to 18 months get it done.
A two-hour “Yes I Accept” celebration of the historic event is planned for television and Facebook Live broadcast the day before.
A number of other Organization of American States member countries continue to defy the Inter-American Court’s marriage equality order.
Taiwan celebrated the first anniversary of marriage equality this week. LGBTQ ally President Tsai Ing-wen declared in a social media post that “values that people want to protect still stand. At the same time, we have allowed more people to have happiness.” A whopping 92.8 percent of respondents to a survey released on May 15th said that opening civil marriage to same-gender couples has not affected them personally in any way, according to the Taiwan News.
Equality activists are now pushing for the right of all bi-national queer couples to marry in Taiwan. That’s only allowed under the current law if the foreign national also comes from a marriage equality country. About a thousand same-gender couples are said to be unable to marry because of that restriction. There’s no such barrier for bi-national heterosexual couples.
A government survey conducted in early May found that 53 percent of respondents believe that all same-gender couples should enjoy the same marriage rights as their heterosexual counterparts – an impressive increase of more than 15 percent since a similar question was asked in 2018.
The government’s China News Agency reports that an online petition launched on May 9th to demand that all qualifying same-gender couples be allowed to get married in Taiwan. Activists are hoping to gather at least ten thousand signatures to push the government over the marriage equality finish line.
Albania has become the latest country to ban “conversion therapy.” The “therapy” that falsely claims to make queer people straight usually includes prayer and various questionable behavioral “techniques.”
Albania’s Order of Psychologists said in its announcement that any of its members who continue to insist that they can “cure” LGBTQ people would be punished. The Order was created by legislation in 2017 (twenty-seventeen) and oversees all registered psychologists in Albania. The move runs counter to the country’s otherwise relatively low rating when it comes to LGBTQ acceptance and rights.
The European Union officially condemned “conversion therapy” in 2018, and urged all of its member states to ban the practice. Albania is the third to do so, joining Malta and Germany. According to Pink News, Switzerland has a de facto ban, and lawmakers in Spain and the United Kingdom are considering similar actions.
The “Uganda 19” were released by court order on May 18th, and prosecutors have dropped all charges. The thirteen gay men, two bisexual men, and four transgender women had been taken into custody on March 29th in a police raid on an LGBTQ homeless shelter outside Kampala. They were charged with violating COVID-19 lockdown rules that bar gatherings of more than 10 people.
The defendants were denied bail and spent almost seven weeks in jail, where coronavirus has been spreading rampantly. It’s not known if any of the detainees actually had COVID-19 or had even been tested for it. They were only allowed to see lawyers a few days ahead of the scheduled trial.
Uganda is notoriously one of the worst places on the planet to be queer. Human Rights Watch called the arrests and detentions “arbitrary, abusive, and contrary to public health.”
The detainees were represented by the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum. Lawyer Patricia Kimera said that the ban on public gatherings does not apply to homeless shelters. She called it, “the right decision … to withdraw the charges, since it was a targeted arrest with trumped up charges.”
Chechen despot Ramzan Kadyrov is reportedly one of the latest world leaders to be hospitalized with COVID-19. A number of reports say that Kadyrov was flown from Chechnya’s capital of Grozny to a hospital in Moscow for treatment this week. Some say he’s suffered serious lung damage from the virus, but his actual condition remains a mystery.
Like some other autocrats, Kadyrov initially downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic. Then he ultimately instituted some of the strictest lockdown rules on the planet.
Kadyrov came to power in 2007 in the wake of two bloody bids for independence from Russia during the 1990’s after the Soviet Union collapsed. He’s governed with an iron fist in relative independence from Russia’s federal government, but is a well-known ally of Vladimir Putin.
One of Kadyrov’s claims to fame has been his genocidal effort to rid his mostly Muslim region of all LGBTQ people. Despite widespread condemnation, Putin and Kadyrov have both repeatedly denied documented evidence of LGBTQ Chechens held in concentration camps. Some prisoners have been tortured to give authorities the names of other LGBTQ people. At least a few reportedly have died behind the barbed wire fences.
Lawmakers in Hungary voted in lockstep for rightwing Prime Minister Victor Orbán’s proposal to change “sex” on legal documents to “sex assigned at birth.” Article 33 makes it virtually impossible for transgender and intersex people to change their gender on Hungarian government documents. The May 19th vote was 133 to 57.
Hungary fared poorly among European countries in reports issued last week by the regional branch of the global queer rights group ILGA and by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency. Eight-four percent of Hungarian transgender people said in a recent survey that widespread prejudice against them was due to the “negative stance and discourse by politicians and/or political parties.”
Article 33 is one of the escalating attacks on LGBTQ rights disguised as COVID-19 pandemic responses by some countries. According to The Advocate, that list includes Cameroon, Egypt and South Korea.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant Idaho’s request to block a transgender inmate from receiving gender confirmation surgery. Native American inmate Adree Edmo’s gender dysphoria is well-documented, and she has been undergoing pre-operative transitional care. The May 21st decision said that preventing her from continuing the process amounted to constitutionally forbidden “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The state contracts with the private company Corizon Health for correctional facility medical care. Corizon doctors determined that gender confirmation surgery was not medically necessary for Edmo, who suffers from mental illness in addition to gender dysphoria. Based on their opinion, Idaho’s Republican Governor Brad Little insists that state taxpayers should not have to pay for the surgery. Yet Edmo’s condition has grown so severe that she has twice tried to castrate herself.
Justice Elena Kagan issued the decision without further comment, except to note that Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have granted the state’s request. It upheld lower court and Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rulings to rebuff Idaho’s objections to Edmo’s trans-related care. The order said that the state’s lawsuit challenging having to pay for the gender confirmation surgery was still under consideration. But that will soon be a moot point. Edmo’s surgery is reportedly scheduled for July.
Finally, the makers of Skittles …
[TV commercial audio: “Taste the rainbow!”]
… are celebrating the LGBTQ Pride month of June by turning their rainbow-colored candy and packaging gray in the U.S.
It’s already a well-established Pride month sign of support in Canada, Germany, and the U.K. – but as Pink News reports, it’s a first in the U.S. … and the queer media watchdog group GLAAD will be glad. They’ll get one dollar for every pack of Skittles purchased in the country in June, up to $100,000.
A statement said that the multi-colored candy would defer to Pride month … for “the one rainbow that matters.”
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