Poland’s homophobe-in-chief re-elected, Russian lawmakers follow Putin’s path to inequality, Sudan stops executions of sexually active gay men, Colorado’s governor signs four pro-LGBTQ bills, Maine and Oregon expand gender marker options, Trump’s lesbian niece analyzes her family’s dysfunction, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of July 20, 2020
Mason’s Lavender Lincoln!
Program #1,686 distributed 07/20/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Rapidly anti-queer Andrzej Duda narrowly wins re-election to another five-year term as Poland’s president, but Polish courts annul “LGBT-Free Zone” declarations in two Polish cities as violations of constitutional guarantees of equal treatment and bans on discrimination Vladimir Putin-supported Russian lawmakers move to solidify a voter-approved constitutional ban on marriage equality and enact other anti-queer-family measures Sudan’s government removes floggings and the death penalty as possible penalties for consensual adult gay sex, but maintain prison terms ranging from up to five years to life behind bars Colorado’s gay Governor Jared Polis signs four pro-queer bills into law, including banishing the so-called gay/transgender “panic defense” to rationalize murderous anti-queer violence Maine and Oregon expand the ability to identify as non-binary instead of male or female on government documents and acclaimed out lesbian MSNBC news anchor Rachel Maddow breaks viewership records with her interview of Donald Trump’s niece Mary, a married lesbian parent, about her explosive and already best-selling psychological analysis of her uncle, Too Much and Never Enough (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL LEBEAU and CHRISTOPHER GAAL, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: The works of writer, performer and educator Roger Q. Mason span theatre, television, film, and public thought. He’s the recipient of the Chuck Rowland Pioneer Award, the Hollywood Fringe Festival Encore Producers Award, and he’s been a finalist for the Lark Playwright’s Week and the Screencraft Play Award. This Way Out’s Global Queer READ-IN producer BRIAN DESHAZOR zoomed in to chat with Mason about his latest offerings.
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending July 18, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Christopher Gaal, produced by Brian DeShazor
Poland’s president Andrzej Duda has narrowly won re-election with anti-queer rhetoric as a cornerstone of his campaign. He defeated liberal queer-supportive Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski with 51.2 percent of the vote in a run-off election on July 13th.
Trzaskowski supports civil unions for lesbian and gay couples, and marched in his city’s controversial Pride parade in 2019.
Duda’s stump speeches condemned what he called “LGBT ideology” and said it was worse than Soviet indoctrination.
He was backed by the Roman Catholic Church, which wields considerable political power in the country. The far-right Duda enjoyed the support of older and rural voters.
A near record 68.2 percent turnout gave Duda the smallest electoral victory of any Polish president since the fall of Communism in 1989. With their policies based on the primacy of the “traditional family,” Duda and his Law & Justice Party will have another five years to oppress LGBTQ people.
Queer activist Bartosz Staszewski told London’s Independent that close to 50 percent of voters “don’t want to live in a society based on hate.” He said, “Young people do not believe in the primitive propaganda of the Law and Justice party,” and maintains that he has “hope that young Poles will be the change we desperately need to see.”
Polish courts annulled two local governments’ “LGBT-Free Zone” declarations this week. Close to a hundred local jurisdictions have dubbed themselves “LGBT Free” – that’s about a third of the country. The two zones were found to violate constitutional guarantees of equal treatment and bans on discrimination. Poland’s constitution specifically says that, “no one shall be discriminated against in political, social or economic life for any reason whatsoever.”
In east-central Poland, the “LGBT-Free Zone” of Klwów was struck down on July 15th. In addition to citing the constitutional violations, the judge said that the town council did not have the legal authority to make such a declaration.
A similar “LGBT-Free Zone” declaration was struck down on July 14th in the southwestern municipality of Istebna. Lawyers for the town council echoed President Duda’s claim that they were not banning LGBT people, just “LGBT ideology.” The judge called that argument “turning a blind eye to reality.”
Both judgments were filed in response to complaints by the office of Poland’s Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar, and both can be appealed. But LGBTQ activists and allies are savoring the victory of the moment. Bodnar spokesperson Anna Błaszczak-Banasiak said the rulings set precedent, and “will definitely go down in the history of the fight for human rights in Poland.”
Meanwhile, European Union member states have been discussing restricting E.U. funds for the parts of Poland that claim to be “LGBT-Free Zones.”
On the heels of his unsurprising re-election, Russian President Vladimir Putin is tightening the screws on what few rights there might be for LGBTQ people.
Bills to “protect the family” were introduced this week in the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament. The proposed laws solidify the ban on marriage equality voted into the Constitution earlier this month. The same referendum gave Putin a virtual lifetime presidency – until 2036. According to the Russian Interfax news agency, the legislation bans adoption by same-gender couples and transgender people – also nothing new. Same-gender unions legally registered outside Russia that had reportedly been using a loophole in the Family Code to gain recognition would likewise be banned.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the legislative package basically formalizes the referendum vote.
Max Olenichev is a lawyer with the queer advocacy group Coming Out. He told NBC News that, “there will be more hate speech and hate crimes, and … LGBT people will suffer more violence.”
Putin and his political allies are backed by the influential Russian Orthodox Church.
The governing Sovereign Council of Sudan has removed floggings and the death penalty for consensual adult gay sex, according to the Cairo-based Bedayaa LGBTQ rights group. However convictions in the East African nation can still bring prison terms of up to five years for the first offense, and up to life in prison for repeat offenders.
Maria Sjödin of the global queer rights group Outright Action International nevertheless called it “an important step for the human rights of LGBTIQ people, and human rights in Sudan overall.” Among other reforms, female genital mutilation has been banned. Apostasy — that is, the formal disaffiliation from religion — has been decriminalized. It had also been punishable by death.
Almost half of the 72 countries that still criminalize consensual adult same-gender sex are in Africa, according to the U.K.-based Human Rights Trust. Nine countries in the world punish it with execution, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Kenya’s high court recently voted to maintain their country’s colonial-era sodomy laws. But life for queer people on the African continent has slowly but surely started to improve. Last month, Gabon repealed its laws banning queer sex. It joins Angola, Seychelles, Mozambique, and Botswana.
Colorado’s gay Governor Jared Polis signed four LGBTQ-positive bills into law this week.
One of them makes Colorado the 11th U.S. state to limit the use of the gay or transgender “panic defense.” That’s the dubious principle cited by attorneys to justify murderous attacks on LGBTQ people.
It’s still used in most U.S. states, the exceptions being California, Connecticut, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington – and now Colorado. The American Bar Association has urged the other states to fall in line.
Polis also signed bills allowing qualified pharmacists to prescribe HIV prevention drugs, and requiring health insurance providers to cover the cost.
Another measure makes it easier for Colorado minors to change the gender on their birth certificates. They’ll need to provide a statement from a licensed healthcare provider attesting to their gender dysphoria. A previous requirement that they had undergone transition procedures is removed. That bi-partisan bill was championed by four lawmakers, including Democrats gay Senator Dominick Moreno and Representative Brianna Titone, the state’s first transgender lawmaker. Titone said at the signing ceremony that the bill especially meant, “protecting Black trans women, who are the most vulnerable of the communities we’re trying to protect here.”
A non-binary gender option on birth certificates is now possible in two U.S. states.
Parents in Maine can now choose a non-binary designation on the birth certificate of their child. People over the age of 17 can also request forms to make a gender change on their existing birth certificates. Legal consent by a parent or guardian is required for anyone under 18. The non-binary designation will appear as an “X.” Non-binary Mainers are already able to get the “X” designation on their state I.D.s or drivers’ licenses. The change in the gender marker rules comes from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Oregon, the Court of Appeals ruled that 53-year-old Jones Hollister has the right to legally change their gender to non-binary. The non-binary option is already available on state birth certificates and drivers’ licenses. But those changes are only administrative, not legal, according to Oregon Public Radio.
A county circuit court judge had rejected Hollister’s petition for a non-binary gender marker. The appeals court said on July 15th that a circuit court judge has the “authority to grant the requested change of legal sex,” and that “[t]he new sex designation must affirm the petitioner’s gender identity, whether that is male, female, or non-binary.” There was no opposing side in the appeals court case, so the ruling stands without further action.
Hollister celebrated by having cake with their spouse. They said they look forward to receiving paperwork from the court with their correct gender marker.
Finally, a “lesbian in the woodpile” poured gasoline on U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal bonfire of vanities this week with the publication of an explosive tell-all book. Trump’s niece Mary describes him as an incompetent, narcissistic sociopath in Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.
Mary Trump is a clinical psychologist herself, and her “insider” analysis of the family dysfunction confirms what other professionals have written about the president as outside observers. Her book sold almost a million copies on its first day of publication, despite efforts by family lawyers to stop it.
Mary also talks in the book about being reluctant to come out to the Trump clan after her grandmother used the “F-word” regarding Elton John’s appearance at Princess Diana’s funeral. She now has a wife and daughter.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interviewed Mary Trump for a full hour on July 16th – a show that brought the lesbian broadcaster her highest ratings ever. The president’s niece revealed during the interview that, “it was sort of normal to hear [family members, including Donald] use the n-word or use anti-Semitic expressions.” Doing her usual meticulous job, Maddow got her guest to definitely confirm that the uncle in question used that language himself.
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