In the midst of the fire that time, legendary LGBTQ activists Morris Kight and Rev. Troy Perry brought back the story of the June 1973 UpStairs Lounge holocaust in New Orleans.
A Queer Serial shines a light on the pre-Stonewall movement.
Russia’s pro-Putin/anti-equality election results, Duda’s homophobic campaign meets his liberal challenger in Poland’s presidential runoff, Gabon’s Senate follows the House in voting to repeal the country’s year-old sodomy law, USA homeless shelters can religiously shut out trans people, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of July 6, 2020
Burned Into Memory!
Program #1,684 distributed 07/06/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Russians vote more than 4 to 1 to virtually elect Vladimir Putin for life and constitutionally define civil marriage as “one man and one woman” Poland’s homophobic President Andrzej Duda fails to win a majority in his re-election bid and will fade liberal pro-queer Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski in a July 12th run-off Gabon’s Senate follows last week’s House vote to decriminalize same-gender sex in the central African nation the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro enacts civil partnership legislation for its lesbian and gay couples India’s conservative government sets in motion bringing qualified transgender people into the Central Armed Police Force the Trump administration announces yet another overturned Obama-era rule that will allow U.S. homeless shelters to cite religious belief to turn away transgender clients residents of the small Spanish village of Villanueva de Algaidas overcome homophobic resistance to Queer Pride Day in hundreds of rainbow-colored waves (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by BRIAN DESHAZOR and WENZEL JONES, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: Despite all of the documentaries, plays, books and songs, you may not know the whole story of the deadly June 1973 fire at New Orleans’ gay bar The UpStairs Lounge that killed more than two dozen people. That history was lived in real time by pioneering activists Morris Kight and Rev. Troy Perry. Kight reported back shortly after the tragedy to KPFK-Los Angeles’ Richard Gollance, and Perry recalled his experience some months later for a documentary produced for Pacifica Radio by LUCIA CHAPPELLE (with music from History by ONE DIRECTION, from The World Outside These Walls performed by FRENCHIE DAVIS and the Original Off-Broadway Cast of The View UpStairs, and by ELTON JOHN).
Feature: A Queer Serial, produced and hosted by DEVLYN CAMP, is a podcast, now in its second season, which explores LGBTQ life in the years before Stonewall. Our JOHN DYER V learned his lessons and reports back (with the voices of “Lisa Ben” and Dr. Everlyn Hooker, and music by ONE DIRECTION).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending July 4, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Brian DeShazor and Wenzel Jones, produced by Brian DeShazor
Russian voters have given Vladimir Putin what amounts to a lifetime presidency, and constitutionally banned marriage equality in the process.
According to the Central Election Commission, 78 percent approved the package of constitutional amendments. They allow Putin to stay in power until 2036. He’ll be 84 years old.
The vote also amends the constitution to say that Russian values include “defense [of] the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.” Marriage equality has never been a realistic goal in Putin’s Russia. It will be even more challenging now, with inequality baked into the amended constitution.
A campaign ad featuring a homophobic depiction of a queer family that posed the question “Is this the Russia you want?” was so offensive that it was pulled after widespread criticism. Apparently the “Yes” campaign’s “Our country, our constitution, our decision” slogan appealed to Russia’s generally conservative electorate.
High profile Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny called the results “a huge lie.” He wrote, “I voted ‘no’, everyone around voted ‘no’, and the result is a solid ‘yes.’ This has nothing to do with the opinion of Russian citizens.”
Meanwhile, a number of Western embassies flew the rainbow flag in Moscow to salute Global Pride Day on June 27th. A statement by representatives from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States called on the Russian government to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, and to “affirm the inherent dignity of each individual as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the flag-waving, saying that, “any occurrence of propaganda of nontraditional sexual minorities in our country is prohibited by law.” That’s the so-called “no promo homo” law enacted in 2013 that forbids exposing minors to any pro-queer activities or speech, including Pride parades.
The Moscow Times reported several people posing for photos in front of the rainbow-flag-draped U.S. Embassy. Some people posted photos of themselves dressed in bright rainbow colors or make-up, or kissing their same-gender partners. Those are courageous actions in and of themselves. A recent poll found that one in five Russians believe that LGBTQ people should be “eliminated.”
The Russian U.S. embassy’s gesture flouts an early June order by President Donald Trump banning rainbow flags from official embassy flagpoles. Other U.S. embassies simply displayed the rainbow flag elsewhere on the embassy grounds.
Homophobic Polish President Andrzej Duda fell short of the 50% majority needed to win re-election outright in voting on June 28th. He’ll face queer-supportive liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski in a July 12th run-off. Trzaskowski won about 30 percent of the vote.
Duda’s campaign included repeated references to “LGBT ideology,” as in, “these are not people, it is an ideology … worse than Soviet indoctrination.” His Law & Justice Party has consistently preached “traditional family values” in the heavily Roman Catholic country.
Trzaskowski urged supporters of other candidates in the race to vote for him. In his words, “This result shows one thing that is most important. Over 58 percent of our society wants change. I want to say clearly to all these citizens – I will be your candidate … of change.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced authorities to move the original election from May to June 28th. As Duda’s support diminished in the interim, the main opposition Civic Platform Party replaced its original candidate with the more electable Trzaskowski. Pollsters are predicting an extremely close vote in the coming run-off.
Gabon’s Senate has voted to overturn the country’s law against same-gender sex. The office of President Ali Bongo Ondimba described the June 29th tally as a “landslide” – an even larger margin than passed the repeal in the House, according to Reuters. Ondimba is expected to sign the bill into law.
Gabon joins Angola, Seychelles, Mozambique and Botswana in overturning what were usually colonial-era statutes outlawing “crimes against nature.” However in Gabon’s case, the law was passed just last year. It’s not clear what prompted the repeal now. Opponents cited religious beliefs as their reason for voting against the measure.
Seventy-two countries on the planet still criminalize same-gender sex, and almost half of them are on the African continent.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s National Council of Provinces has approved a bill to prevent marriage officers from opting out of same-gender weddings. Provisions in the 2006 [two-thousand-six] marriage equality law allow them that right, usually for religious reasons. The change passed in the upper house this week had already been approved by the National Assembly in 2018, according to Times Live. The bill now goes to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his expected assent.
The tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro is now the first European country outside of Western Europe and the European Union to legally recognize same-gender couples. Lawmakers voted 42 to 39 to create civil partnerships on July 1st. The law gives same-gender couples most of the rights of marriage – just not the name, and the ability to foster or adopt children.
Montenegro’s Parliament rejected a similar proposal just last year. No wonder John Barac of the advocacy group LGBT Forum Progress told reporters that, “I honestly wasn’t expecting it.” Barac called it, “really extraordinary … it’s a big day for all of us.”
Montenegro would very much like to join the European Union, and the civil partnerships law is seen as a step to gaining approval. Opponents reportedly charged that civil partnerships were being imposed by “global world Satanists.”
India’s conservative government is opening the doors of the national Central Armed Police Force to qualified transgender candidates. Officials are pointing to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, passed in December 2019. Among other protections, it bans anti-trans discrimination in the workplace. Now the Ministry of Home Affairs says that the “level playing field” it gives trans people in employment should include combat policing.
The Ministry is now soliciting comments from the various departments of the Central Armed Police Forces, according to Press Trust of India. Then the Union Public Service Commission can prepare proper documents and procedures for transgender applicants. The Times of India reports that the Border Security Force has already expressed support for the move. Input is pending from the Central Industrial Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Officials say that applicants will still need to pass written exams, appropriate physical tests, and an interview process.
Upon final approval the Union Public Service Commission will be directed to modify relevant application rules and procedures to include “transgender” as a separate identifying category.
By contrast, the Trump administration continues its full-fledged war against transgender people. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson has announced a rule change that would allow federally funded homeless services to turn away transgender clients. Carson proclaimed that the umpteenth reversal of a policy established during Barack Obama’s presidency will, in his words, “better accommodate religious beliefs of shelter providers.”
The July 1st statement from Housing and Urban Development explains that, “The new rule allows shelter providers that lawfully operate as single-sex or sex-segregated facilities to voluntarily establish a policy that will govern admissions determinations for situations when an individual’s gender identity does not match their biological sex.”
Not surprisingly, a number of queer and trans-specific advocacy groups quickly condemned the latest Trump assault on transgender people. The ACLU’s Trans Justice Campaign Manager LaLa Zannell stressed that “This new rule would be particularly dangerous for Black and brown transgender women.” They are disproportionately represented among the country’s unemployed and homeless population.
The proposed rule change is subject to a 60-day public comment period before taking effect.
Finally, a Pride Month miracle has brightened the landscape of a small Spanish town. Three people in the Andalusian village of Villanueva de Algaidas complained about a rainbow flag flying over the council building. Spain’s Supreme Court decided recently that local government buildings could only fly official flags of Spain, its regions, or the European Union. Socialist mayor of the village Juan Civico said he would, indeed, have to take the flag down, noting, “But, the people can put what they like on their balconies.”
A shopkeeper in the nearby popular LGBTQ seaside resort of Torremolinos heard the Mayor’s sly message. He drove to the village and handed out close to 400 rainbow flags that had been languishing on his shelves because of the COVID-19 crisis. On Pride Day, June 27th, as Reuters described it, Villanueva de Algaidas was “awash with flags hanging from balconies, windows, and even a bar in solidarity.”
Torremolinos shopkeeper Antonio Carlos Alcántara marveled that “The village is full [of rainbow flags]! It is incredible!”
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