Biden, Barrett and Burlesque!

The first U.S. presidential debate’s descent into chaos as a musical in three acts!

Our analysis of the nomination of ultra-conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court (including comments from Ann Northrop and Andy Humm of “GayUSA”)!

Star of stage and screen Stan Munro recalls the golden adventures of Australia’s “Les Girls” with correspondent William Brougham!

European Union leads global outcry against rising Polish homophobia, Human Rights Watch slams anti-LGBTQ torture in Egypt, Belizean anti-bias bill crucified by religious right, Cook Islands Parliament delays discussion of sodomy law reform, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of October 5, 2020

Biden, Barrett and Burlesque!

Program #1,697 distributed 10/05/20

Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below): The European Union and diplomats from some 50 nations around the world condemn Poland’s escalating homophobia, even as the ruling Law and Justice Party adds a far-right Education Minister to the cabinet who doubles down on the party’s opposition to “LGBT ideology” … Human Rights Watch details the latest examples of the ongoing crackdown on queers in Egypt … religious conservatives pressure Cook Islands lawmakers into stalling an LGBTQ-inclusive anti-discrimination bill … the Belize government backtracks on a queer-inclusive Equal Opportunities Bill after a religious right backlash … and the notoriously anti-queer legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom challenges Virginia’s recently-enacted LGBTQ-inclusive anti-discrimination laws in state and federal court because that inclusion “threatens” its clients’ religious freedom (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and WENZEL JONES, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).

Feature: “This Week In Trump: First Presidential Debate Edition” stars Donald Trump and Joe Biden, with referee – er, moderator Chris Wallace of FOX News, and a cameo by FBI Director Christopher Wray (in three musical acts, with outro music by JASON MRAZ).

Feature: The scene was the White House Rose Garden for President Donald Trump to announce his nomination of far-right religious conservative Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The September 26th ceremony itself may turn out to be a coronavirus super-spreader event that slows down Judge Barrett’s confirmation. We review some of her public positions on reproductive rights and her beliefs as a “constitutional originalist,” and feature brief excerpts from a length conversation about the nomination by Andy Humm and Ann Northrop on their GayUSA TV program (with music by THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH).

Feature: Last time on This Way Out, we began our commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Australian drag company, Les Girls. Stan Munro was the show’s star emcee, and he even became friends with Australian ballet star Sir Robert Helpmann, one of many celebrities who came to see the show.  Munro continues sharing memories of his many adventures with This Way Out Sydney-based correspondent WILLIAM BROUGHAM in the second of a three-part feature interview (Part 2 begins with a brief lift from Part 1, and with a billboard for next week’s concluding Part 3).

NewsWrap

A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending October 3, 2020
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Melanie Keller and Wenzel Jones,
produced by Brian DeShazor

The European Union is turning up the pressure on Poland, one of its most anti-queer member states. Meanwhile diplomats from more than 50 countries wrote an open letter to the government of Polish President Andrzej Duda this week condemning the anti-LGBTQ oppression he proudly promotes.

However Duda and his governing Law and Justice Party appear to be even more resolved to “stay the course.”  At the end of September, a far-right religious conservative was appointed to head the Ministry of Education.  University lecturer Przemyslaw Czarnek says LGBT people are “not equal to normal people.”  In remarks this week Czarnek echoed Duda’s winning campaign rhetoric reducing LGBTQ people to an “ideology.” He vowed to “not allow children to be exposed to an ideology [that contradicts] values that have been the foundation of Polish society for centuries.”

Robert Biedron is an out gay Polish politician who ran for president. He told Reuters that, “I remember from the schoolbooks that Jewish people [during World War II] were dehumanized, they were called ‘not humans’, and to me these resemble those times.”

Lawmakers in the eastern city of Kraśnik re-affirmed their “LGBT-Free Zone” declaration this week, and vowed to defend the town from “radicals striving for a cultural revolution.”  A significant number of other Polish cities have done the same. It’s cost some of them financially beneficial “sister city” ties to queer-affirming cities in the European Union.

The European Parliament and its chief executive have each condemned the Polish government for even tacitly encouraging those “LGBT-Free Zone” declarations and the anti-queer discrimination they represent.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the zones “humanity free zones [that] have no place in our Union.”

M.E.P. Terry Reintke co-chairs the European Parliament’s LGBTI Rights Intergroup. She argued in support of the resolution urging Poland to reverse course, saying that, “We are not an ideology.  We are human beings.”

Ambassadors, foreign ministers and other diplomats from more than four-dozen nations are also urging the Polish government to respect and protect the rights of its LGBTQ citizens. Their open letter this week carried signatures from Australia, Finland, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and Venezuela.  The letter asserts that, “Human rights are universal and everyone, including [LGBTQ] persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment.”

Not surprisingly Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski responded by denying the very existence of “LGBT Free Zones.”  He called reports of LGBT Free Zones “fake news,” and insisted that, “We believe that public debate should always be based on facts instead of false narratives invented by media or activists.” Sound familiar?

Egypt is another ongoing homophobic hotspot that equality activists say the civilized world must address.  Human Rights Watch is warning this week that security forces are intent on ”cleaning the streets” by using social networking apps like Grindr to entrap LGBTQ people.  Other “queer looking” people are picked up on the street during routine security force patrols. The detainees’ cellphones are confiscated to provide “evidence” of their queerness.  Then they are all tortured, including painful and invasive “anal exams,” which allegedly “prove” that someone is gay — but medical experts say do not.  The report also detailed other custodial abuse like repeated beatings, the denial of access to legal counsel and medical care, inciting abuse by fellow inmates, and coerced “confessions.”

Consensual adult same-gender sex is not specifically against the law in Egypt, but it’s a taboo subject among the North African country’s conservative Muslim and Christian-majority population.  In the past, queer people caught up in widely publicized raids have been charged with “inciting immorality” or “debauchery.”

Human Rights Watch LGBTQ researcher Rasha Younes said, “Egyptian authorities seem to be competing for the worst record on rights violations against LGBT people in the region, while the international silence is appalling.”

The Egyptian government has thus far declined comment on the report.

Efforts to overturn laws against consensual adult gay sex in the Cook Islands have stalled.  Parliament was scheduled to hear a report this week on suggested revisions to the Crimes Bill that included removal of those laws. Currently “indecent acts with men” are punishable with up to seven years in prison. Discussion of the reforms has now been delayed for at least three months, according to the New Zealand news site Stuff.co.nz. No reason was given for the delay.

It’s been a mighty struggle for Cook Islands activists for the past several years.  A select committee of parliament recommended in 2017 that two clauses criminalizing homosexuality be removed from the Crimes Bill. After they were removed, sustained pressure from conservative religious groups forced MP’s to backtrack and restore the clauses last year.

Stuff.co.nz notes that indigenous people on the islands were accepting of romantic same-gender relationships until the arrival of foreign Christian missionaries. The Cook Islands is now a self-governing nation in a free association arrangement with New Zealand.

Conservative religious pressure has won again, this time in Belize. The government is backtracking on its plans to enact an Equal Opportunities Bill that would have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other characteristics.  Angry protest demonstrations led by the National Evangelical Association of Belize broke out in the Caribbean island as soon as the introduction of the bill was announced.  Protesters burned piles of old tires in the middle of several roads, and about two-dozen angry demonstrators gathered outside a Christian radio station.

The government issued a press release lamenting what it called “purposeful misinformation” by opponents that forced its decision to withdraw the bill. The statement stressed, “very good elements of the bill that would bring about tremendous benefits for the Belizean people.”

 

Finally, 2 lawsuits filed this week in U.S. federal and Virginia state courts are challenging state laws banning anti-queer discrimination. That didn’t take long — Democratic Governor Ralph Northam only signed the legislation in April, and it went into effect in July.

It specifically outlaws bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public and private employment, housing and public accommodations, and access to credit.  Offenders are punished with fines of up to $50,000.

The notoriously anti-queer legal group Alliance Defending Freedom is representing plaintiffs in two cases. A coalition of two Christian churches and a religious school is bringing one case. The other involves a wedding photographer.  Their lawsuits argue that the Virginia anti-bias laws violate their First Amendment-protected expression of religious belief, and force them to “abandon and adjust their convictions or pay crippling fines.”  A.D.F. lawyer Denise Harle claimed that, “Such government hostility toward people of faith has no place in a free society.”

The Virginia Values Act was the first of its kind in a Southern U.S. state. A spokesperson for Virginia Attorney-General Mark Herring said his office was still reviewing the lawsuits, but that Herring “believes that every Virginian has the right to be safe and free from discrimination no matter what they look like, where they come from, or who they love.” His office said that Herring “looks forward to defending the Virginia Values Act in court against these attacks.”

© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)
 “Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!”

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