Belgian activist and political scientist Remy Bonny goes to Warsaw to assess Poland’s anti-queer crackdown and homophobic efforts elsewhere in Europe.
OutCasting Overtime gay teens Lucas and Justin stand with Black Lives Matter on the scene in Ossining, NY.
Queensland stifles conversion therapy, Beirut blast batters queer groups, trans people win twice in U.S. federal courts, Jamaicans strongly support the island’s gay sex ban, U.S. Democrats top their ticket with queer allies, and a “wascally wabbit” wins the U.S. Post Office drag race, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of August 17, 2020
Poland Crisis & Gay Teens at #BLM!
Program #1,690 distributed 08/17/20
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Queensland lawmakers make it the first Australian state to outlaw “conversion therapy” queer Lebanese activists pick up the pieces after the horrendous explosion in the port of Beirut that killed hundreds and left tens-of-thousands homeless, while ex-pats and Outright Action International lead fundraising efforts to help rebuild the city’s once-vibrant LGBTQ community a U.S. federal appeals court upholds a ruling against a Florida school district for denying a transgender male teen access to the boys bathrooms, while a federal court in Idaho nixes Republican attempts to go around the same court’s 2018 ruling allowing trans people to change the gender designation on their birth certificates a survey conducted by a conservative Jamaican newspaper finds overwhelming support for keeping laws on the books that criminalize “buggery,” private consensual adult gay sex with presumptive Presidential nominee Joe Biden’s pick of woman of color Kamala Harris as his Vice Presidential running mate, U.S. Democrats offer the most queer equality-supportive ticket in history just released Bugs Bunny “Forever Stamps,” with the “wascally wabbit” as a mermaid in blond tresses and ruby red lipstick in one, and a second with Bugs as the blond-bedecked gold-winged headpiece-wearing “Brunnhilde” in the classic What’s Opera, Doc? animated short, provide the first depiction of drag on U.S. postage stamps (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by CHRISTOPHER GAAL and LUCIA CHAPPELLE, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: The LGBTQ community in Poland has good reason to be pessimistic … and optimistic at the same time. Belgian gay activist and political scientist Remy Bonny travelled to Warsaw to support the movement in the wake of the re-election of homophobic President Andrzej Duda. Activists have been arrested, pro-queer MPs harassed, random gays have been beaten in the streets — and yet the powerful response from the community has been called “Poland’s Stonewall.” Bonny talked last time with This Way Out ‘s Sydney-based correspondent WILLIAM BROUGHAM about the on-going crisis. Their conversation now links that situation to right-wing activity throughout Europe (with intro/outro music from an instrumental version of Poland Is Not Yet Lost, their national anthem).
Feature: The home of the infamous U.S. federal prison Sing Sing may seem like a strange place to get an education in anti-racism and join up with the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality, but queer teens LUCAS and JUSTIN of OutCasting Overtime went to Ossining, New York to do just that (produced by MARC SOPHOS, with brief intro music from Get Up, Stand Up by BOB MARLEY).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending August 15, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Christopher Gaal and Lucia Chappelle, produced by Brian DeShazor
Queensland became the first Australian state to outlaw “conversion therapy” on August 13th, and a few other jurisdictions in the country are following the lead of its Legislative Assembly. “Conversion therapy” is the widely discredited practice that claims to change a queer person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. At least in the Western world, virtually every professional medical and mental health organization has condemned it as a waste of time at best. More often it’s a psychologically traumatizing experience for its victims. Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles calls it “harmful, deceptive, and unethical,” and told Parliament that, “Being LGBTIQ is not an affliction or disease that requires medical treatment.”
Convictions carry 12 months in prison, or 18 months if the victim is under 18 years of age. Opponents like the Australian Christian Lobby complained that the bill would “turn doctors into criminals.”
However, survivors of the quack therapy are worried because the legislation only applies to healthcare professionals. Two survivor advocate organizations said in a joint statement that, “the bulk of the harm occurs over time in informal settings … not in therapeutic contexts.” In most of those cases, the alleged “conversion” has a religious component, which critics call trying to “pray the gay away.”
A bill to ban “conversion therapy” for minors was introduced this week in the Australian Capital Territory. The state government in Victoria began public consultations in October on similar legislation.
That horrendous August 4th explosion in Beirut that killed hundreds and injured thousands decimated the city’s queer neighborhood and at least two of its organizations. The blast left an estimated 300,000 homeless, including thousands of LGBTQ people. Almost 3 tons of highly volatile ammonium nitrate had been unsafely stored for six years in the city’s port area. Lebanon’s entire government resigned in the face of massive street protests in the aftermath of the explosion. They had already faced heavy criticism for corruption, rising unemployment, and a crumbling economy.
Lebanon’s leading queer advocacy group is Helem, the Arab World’s first LGBTQ rights organization. Their offices almost a half-mile from the epicenter of the explosion were reduced to ruble. Helem’s Executive Director Tarek Zeidan said, “Nothing much of inside the center remains: doors, windows, fixtures, furniture, everything was blown out.” He says that several staff members were hospitalized, but was thankful that no lives were lost. Zeidan declared, “We are going to survive, and the center will survive.”
Proud Lebanon is a smaller queer rights group in Beirut whose offices were also badly damaged. Some staff members were seriously injured, according to the queer advocacy group AllOut.
Fundraising efforts are underway by members of Lebanon’s queer expat community in the U.K. through a GoFundMe page. The global queer rights group OutRight Action International is also raising funds to support Helem’s rebuilding efforts and to help “countless LGBTIQ people who have been left homeless.”
Transgender rights advanced in two U.S. federal courts this week.
A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a lower court decision against a Florida school district that had denied a trans male student access to the boy’s restrooms. Drew Adams was attending Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra in 2017 when he filed suit, represented by Lambda Legal. He’s now 19 and a student at the University of Central Florida. Adams said in a statement released by Lambda that he was “very happy to see justice prevail,” and that, “High school is hard enough without having your school separate you from your peers and mark you as inferior.”
That was on August 7th, and the same day the U.S. District Court of Idaho rejected the state’s refusal to allow transgender residents to change their birth certificate gender designations. The same court took similar action in 2018 but the Republican-dominated state legislature tried to get around that ruling. Lambda Legal also represented the two transgender Idahoans who jumped to file the successful lawsuit. A press release issued by the queer legal advocacy group said that “The court could not have been clearer: What was discriminatory in 2018 remains discriminatory today.” Lambda accused the Idaho legislature and Republican Governor Brad Little of trying “to deny the very existence of transgender people by stripping them of their identity.”
A set of two recent public opinion polls commissioned by the conservative Jamaica Observer newspaper yielded discouraging results for LGBTQ people in the Caribbean nation. Ninety-three percent of respondents support the colonial-era laws that criminalize private consensual adult gay sex.
“Buggery” is an antiquated term for sodomy. A section of the Offenses Against the Person Act punishes “buggery” with up to 10 years in prison at hard labor.
The surveys were conducted March 12th thru 15th and July 9th thru 12th. Twelve hundred voting-age Jamaicans were asked if they wanted that law to be changed. Only three percent in March and five percent in July said yes. The sampling error is 2.5 per cent.
Jamaican government officials have been discussing a public “super referendum” for such socially contentious issues as homosexuality and abortion since 2016. No concrete steps have been taken as yet to initiate such a vote.
Former U.S. Vice President and presumptive nominee Joe Biden’s choice of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate made the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket the most queer-supportive in history. Harris is the daughter of immigrant parents — a Jamaican father and an Indian mother – born in Oakland, California. She’s the first woman of color on a major political party ticket. Echoing the racist, Trump-fueled “birther” attacks on Barack Obama, Republican operatives are already circulating the absurd theory that Harris is not eligible to hold the office because she’s not a U.S. citizen by birth.
The new Democratic duo acknowledged the fight for queer equality in their first joint appearance. Biden praised Harris for being an early voice for marriage equality. Harris praised all those in the streets fighting for racial justice, including, in her words, “the LGBTQ Americans who know that love is love” and those “who are saying that yes, Black lives matter.”
Virtually every major U.S. queer rights group praised the Biden-Harris ticket. They’re already salivating with anticipation over the Presidential debates pitting Biden against Liar-In-Chief Donald Trump. Veteran queer Democratic activist Richard Socarides also predicts that Harris “will eat Mike Pence alive at their [Vice Presidential] debate and spit him out on the floor – as he deserves.”
And the cherry on top of a White House filled with LGBTQ allies in January would be the highly-regarded Haitian-American lesbian political operative Karine Jean-Pierre as Vice President Harris’ Chief of Staff.
Finally … the U.S. Post Office has released the first depiction of drag on a U.S. postage stamp. [sound — Bugs: “Eh … what’s up, doc?”]
The San Francisco-based Bay Area Reporter was first to report that Bugs Bunny is in drag in two of the 10 new stamps featuring the cartoon rabbit. The series was released on July 27th, the 80th anniversary of the “wascally wabbit’s” debut in A Wild Hare.
One of the new stamps shows Bugs as a mermaid in blond wig and ruby red lipstick, from one of his Merrie Melodies Warner Brothers cartoons. The other has Bugs with blonde braided trusses and a gold-winged headpiece as the Brunnhilde of Richard Wagner’s Siegfried in the classic 1957 animated satire What’s Opera, Doc?, with Elmer Fudd as the heroic lead.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his sycophantic followers are trying to completely gut the U.S. Postal Service. He even admits that his handpicked Postmaster General is working to undermine this November’s presidential election, most of which will need to be conducted by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bugs Bunny series are “Forever Stamps,” so if the Postal Service survives Donald Trump they’ll forever be enough postage for first class mail of one ounce or less. You can get the series online at u-s-p-s-dot-com-slash-bugs-bunny-80.
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