Pat Humphries and Sandy O of Emma’s Revolution brought environmentalist Rachel Carson and literary icon Edna St. Vincent Millay to “This Way Out’s” Global Queer READ-In — and the folk duo perform a song based on a Millay poem!
Northern Ireland promises to ban conversion therapy, Russia’s parliament considers transgender erasure, Duterte pardons “Ganda’s” killer, Trump administration supports Catholic schools’ jobs bias, Polish-German bridge becomes pathway to Pride, Uganda’s top homophobe is toppled by voters, Georgia Methodist “misfits” divorce the denomination, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of September 14, 2020
Emma’s READ-In Revolution!
Program #1,694 distributed 09/14/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Three Northern Ireland Ministers jointly announce a government initiative to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” while the Republic of Ireland and the U.K. stall on promises to outlaw the practice; the latest initiative by the sponsor of Russia’s so-called “no promo homo” law bans trans people from changing the gender designation on their birth certificates, virtually erasing trans identity; Philippines President Duterte pardons the infamous murderer of Manila transwoman Jennifer Laude after he serves less than six years of a 10-year prison sentence for homicide; the Trump administration sides with the Indianapolis, Indiana Roman Catholic Archdiocese in a lawsuit filed by a gay teacher who was fired soon after his marriage to another teacher in the Archdiocese, whose school refused to fire him for the same reason; a symbolic bridging of Polish and German LGBTQ people and their allies takes the form of a Pride march by some 2,000 people across the bridge over the river that literally divides Slubice, Poland and Frankfurt en der Oder, Germany; Uganda’s Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo, the country’s leading homophobe and supporter of the death penalty for consensual adult same-gender sex, loses his seat in parliament; and Savannah, Georgia’s Asbury Memorial formally divorces the United Methodist Church for the denomination’s refusal to allow openly-queer clergy and its intensified hostility toward LGBTQ people (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by JOHN DYER V and WENZEL JONES, and produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR) + “This Week In Trump.”
Feature: Raging fires, devastating floods, the ice melting and the seas warming, a global pandemic engulfing the world — as the climate crisis comes out of the closet, it’s a good time to honor the mother of the modern environmental movement. That’s how Pat Humphries of the folk music duo Emma’s Revolution wanted to use her time during This Way Out’s Global Queer READ-In, our June 25th Virtual Pride event. Pat reads from the correspondence of Silent Spring author Rachel Carson; then Sandy O recites a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, which becomes a segment-ending song by the activist folk duo.
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending September 12, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by John Dyer V and Wenzel Jones, produced by Brian DeShazor
Northern Ireland’s Communities, Health and Justice Ministers have jointly agreed to introduce legislation banning so-called “conversion therapy.”
Northern Ireland’s LGBTQ advocacy group The Rainbow Project welcomed the September 8th announcement. Director John O’Doherty told Pink News that the discredited practice that’s supposed to turn people straight and cis-gendered, “cause(s) immense harm to LGBTQ+ people who have experienced these practices, including increased risk of self-harming behaviors and suicide, isolation from friends, family and community and, for religious LGBTQ+ people, a loss of faith.” Other anti-conversion therapy groups joined the applause … and the eager wait to see exactly what the legislation will ultimately look like.
The coalition government of the Republic of Ireland has also committed to banning conversion therapy. Thus far it has failed to act. The British government promised to ban the traumatizing practice two years ago. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in July that conversion therapy “has no place in a civilized society,” but claimed that more research is needed before a ban can be legislated.
The Russian parliamentarian who spearheaded the infamous law against disseminating “gay propaganda” to minors is at it again. Yelena Mizulinam is proposing changes to the Family Code that would legally prevent trans people from changing the gender designation on their birth certificates.
Tatiana Glushkova of the Transgender Legal Defense Project condemned the latest anti-queer action. She said that lawmakers are acting on what she called “a fantasy in their heads that people change their documents in order to enter into a same-sex marriage.” Kyle Knight of Human Rights Watch said the measure “accomplishes nothing but to score cheap political points.”
Forty-four-year-old trans-woman Irma Veller told the Moscow Times this was the final straw. She’s seeking political asylum in an unnamed, more welcoming country. Veller said, “My life is of no value here anymore. What angers me the most is I pay taxes just like everyone else … But I’m not treated as an equal citizen.”
The bill to ban transgender birth certificate changes will be debated in the lower house of Russia’s parliament later this month.
Despotic Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte announced a pardon this week for the U.S. Marine jailed for murdering transgender woman Jennifer Laude. The pardon abruptly halted an appeal of the decision to release Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton for “good behavior” after serving less than six years of his 10-year sentence. He was held in solitary confinement in a military prison.
Pemberton met Laude in a local bar in 2014 after his unit arrived in Manila for joint military exercises. They went to a motel room, and he choked Laude to death when he discovered that she was transgender. The Marine claimed self-defense and said he left his victim still alive. A police investigation called it a hate crime and he was convicted of homicide.
A number of human rights groups have condemned Pemberton’s pending release. Laude family lawyer Virginia Suarez called Duterte’s pardon “revolting … a mockery of our judiciary and legal system.” Cristina Palabay of the group Karapatan told the New York Times that the action adds “notorious proof that the U.S. continues to trump Philippine sovereignty.”
Speaking of “Trump,” the blustery Duterte is sometimes compared to the U.S. president. He’s smeared election opponents as gay, and joked about conversion therapy.
A presidential spokesperson said Duterte issued the pardon because he felt that Pemberton has been “treated unfairly.”
The murder of trans woman Jennifer Laude and its aftermath is documented in the award-winning 2018 film Call Her Ganda.
The administration of Donald Trump continues to reinforce its anti-LGBTQ reputation. His Justice Department filed a “friend of the court” brief this week with the Indiana Supreme Court in support of a Catholic high school’s firing of a gay teacher.
A lower court rejected efforts by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to have the teacher’s lawsuit dismissed. It claimed a First Amendment right to fire Joshua Payne-Elliot from teaching world language and social studies at Cathedral High School after he got married. His husband Layton teaches at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in the same Archdiocese. That school was stripped of its Catholic school status for refusing to fire Layton. Officials at Cathedral High bowed to the Archdiocese and fired Joshua.
The Archdiocese claims the right to fire married queer teachers because they are also tasked with educating students in Church tenets, like opposition to marriage equality. The Justice Department brief says its support for the Archdiocese is consistent with the administration’s push for greater “religious liberty.”
The case could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Strutting high-heeled drag queens in glittering attire led an LGBTQ Pride Parade from Poland into Germany to “symbolically bridge the two countries’ deepening divide over LGBTQ rights,” as Reuters put it. An estimated 2,000 people crossed the literal bridge that joins the Slubice and Frankfurt an der Oder on either side of the River Oder on September 5th. Riot police guarded the march when it began on the Polish side in case of violence. The marchers waved rainbow flags and chanted defiantly at a small group of about 20 hymn-singing Polish protesters.
There’s been marriage equality on the German side for years, and conversion therapy was recently banned. Poland is tightening the screws on its queer citizens, especially since the reelection of far right President Andrzej Duda. He demonized LGBTQ people in campaign speeches as “an ideology worse than under the Soviet Union.”
Slubice teacher Mewa Topolska helped organize the march because, as she told Reuters, “The only way we can change people’s opinions is through visibility.”
Meanwhile, Poland’s leading therapists and psychologists have sharply criticized last week’s announcement by Catholic Bishops about opening so-called “cure clinics” for LGBTQ people. The physicians’ open letter said, “We object to the ideas promoted under the guise of conversion therapy, no matter the form or name such therapy is given.”
Uganda’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, self-styled Roman Catholic moral crusader and foremost militant homophobe is no longer a Member of Parliament. Pink News cites local media reporting that Simon Lokodo lost a run-off election on September 5th to challenger Baatom Ben Koryang by a narrow 300-vote margin. Koryang’s attitudes toward LGBTQ people aren’t known, but local activists are hoping that he won’t be as horrifically homophobic as his predecessor.
Lokodo led the effort to impose the death penalty for same-gender sex. He’s claimed that, “there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools … promoting the falsehood that people are born like that.” He also boasted that Uganda “tolerate[s]” its LGBTQ citizens because the East African nation doesn’t “slaughter them.”
Finally, a queer-positive Savannah, Georgia United Methodist Church has formally quit the denomination over its failure to affirm equality. Longtime pastor Reverend Billy Hester says his Asbury Memorial Church affectionately self-identifies as an “island of misfit toys.” The substantially LGBTQ congregation voted 309-to-7 to leave the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. in September 2019, soon after the governing conference strengthened its bans on queer clergy and same-gender marriage. The formal dissolution became official at the end of August this year.
Hester said that, “Some of the earliest supporters of Asbury were LGBT folks,” and that they now make up about 35 percent of the membership. Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in 2016, his church stopped hosting weddings until the denomination allowed same-gender couples to marry — and that meant he did not allow his own daughter to tie the knot in her home church earlier this year.
Hester says that he’s tired of telling people Asbury Memorial doesn’t host marriage ceremonies. He’ll be hosting a virtual renewal of vows ceremony at the end of the month for those long-waiting couples of all kinds. The good reverend added that, “I think the denomination will get there one day.”
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