Highlights from the October 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights — the first one! Happy LGBTQ History Month!
Plus: Nana Miss Koori (aka Graham Simms) celebrates as Sydney, Australia wins its bid to host World Pride 2023!
Same-gender partnerships lose in Hong Kong, Hungary fines Coke for its “zero prejudice” Pride posters, Uganda’s “Kill the Gays Bill” dies again, Chick-fil-A gets flayed in Berkshire and New Orleans, the Shepards snub a U.S. Justice Department ceremony to honor Matthew, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of October 21, 2019
A March to Remember!
Program #1,647 distributed 10/21/19
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): A Hong Kong court rejects a lesbian’s
Bulletin! This just in: The team responsible for the Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras is bringing World Pride to their city in 2023. Sydney’s bid won
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending October 19, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Laura Dickinson-Turner and Travis Avery,produced by Brian DeShazor
A Hong Kong lesbian has lost her quest for queer civil partnerships. The Court of First Instance heard arguments in May, and issued its ruling on October 18th.
The government’s opposition to equality relies on a hackneyed claim — that civil partnerships or their equivalent for gay and lesbian couples would “dilute and diminish” civil marriage, making marriage “no longer special.”
The plaintiff is identified as just MK. Her attorneys argue that denying MK the right to a legally recognized civil partnership with another woman violates her constitutional rights to privacy and equality. They cite one of the provisions of the Basic Law and Bill of Rights Ordinance. Article 37 specifies that, “the freedom of marriage of Hong Kong residents and their right to raise a family freely shall be protected by law.”
But Judge Anderson Chow Ka-ming decided that Article 37 only applies to heterosexual couples. His ruling acknowledges what he calls “diverse and even diametrically opposed views” on the matter. However, he says he needed to take a “strict legal approach.” In Chow’s words the judgment “expresses no view on the associated social, moral and/or religious issues.” He suggests that the question would best be resolved by lawmakers and not judges.
The group Hong Kong Marriage Equality agrees that it’s the government’s duty to change the laws.
Conscience and commerce clashed in Hungary this week. Coca Cola is looking at a fine of about 1700 U.S. dollars from the Consumer Protection Department for a Pride-themed poster campaign. The Budapest Coke Zero ads featured queer couples and the slogan “zero sugar, zero prejudice.” The watchdog agency is charging that Coca Cola breached the Advertising Act. According to Hungary Today, that law bans advertising “that may damage the physical, mental, emotional, or moral development of children and adolescents.”
The posters appeared on buses and other forms of public transportation in August. Lawmakers from the rightwing ruling party condemned them immediately. Some called for a boycott. An online petition demanding that the ads be removed because they were “popularizing homosexuality” got tens of thousands of signatures.
The global beverage conglomerate responded at the time that, “both heterosexuals and homosexuals have the right to love the person they choose.” That statement said their advertising reflects those company values.
Now Coca Cola says they’re weighing their options. They may appeal the decision.
Is the battle between Jamaica’s Montego Bay Cultural Centre and the local Pride organization over? Let’s hope not.
Montego Bay Pride had requested a permit to use the government-owned Cultural Centre for a weeklong series of events in mid-October. A public forum on marriage equality was included. Mayor Homer Davis said that city officials denied the permit to preserve what he called the “sacredness” of the space.
The queer advocacy group challenged the city’s decision. Supreme Court Justice David Batts ruled in their favor. Then Mayor Davis appealed Batts’ decision. A three-judge Court of Appeal ruling handed down on October 18th overturned the pro-Pride decision, according to the Jamaica Gleaner news outlet.
What next steps might be open to lawyer and Montego Bay Pride leader Maurice Tomlinson? That’s uncertain. As it now stands, the Cultural Centre is off limits. Tomlinson said from the beginning that his group is not able to pay the much higher fees private facilities would cost – and that’s if there were a venue whose owners were willing.
Jamaica ranks high on the “most anti-queer places” lists of human rights activists. One unidentified businessman told the Gleaner this week that Mayor Davis has “a right to stand up against this nastiness.”
Uganda is another top contender on those “most anti-queer places” lists. 28-year-old LGBTQ activist Brian Wasswa was savagely killed on October 5th. Wasswa identified as gay and gender-nonconforming, and he worked as a paralegal for the legal aid organization Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum. The group advocates for vulnerable minorities like LGBTQ people. Wasswa was found unconscious in a pool of blood, allegedly bludgeoned with a short-handled garden hoe. Neighbors rushed him to the hospital, but he was declared dead soon afterwards. It’s at best unclear if police will launch a legitimate investigation into the crime. Wasswa is at least the fourth known victim of a brutal homophobic murder in the past three months.
On the brighter side, it seems that Uganda’s unaffectionately tagged “Kill the Gays bill” will not be resuscitated after all – that’s according to a government spokesperson’s tweet. It follows Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo vowing last week that the Anti-Homosexuality Act would soon be re-introduced in Parliament. The 2014 version of the measure had included the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” It passed, but was struck down by the courts on a technicality. Lokodo is one of the east African country’s most vocal queer-phobic government officials. When he announced the bill’s revival, he even expanded it to include imprisonment for anyone who just promotes LGBTQ rights. He was promising passage of the bill before the end of the year.
However, government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo took to Twitter this week to counter Lokodo’s claims. In Opondo’s words, the government “hereby clarifies that it does not intend to introduce any new law with regards to the regulation of LGBT activities in Uganda because the current provisions in the Penal Code are sufficient.”
What are those provisions? They include penalties of up to life in prison for consensual adult same-gender sex.
The avowedly anti-queer Baptist owners of the Chick-fil-A fast food chain might be eating their words this week. Nearly 2400 U.S. outlets make the eatery the third largest fast food company in its home country, biting at the heels of McDonald’s and Subway.
Chick-fil-A’s owners are infamous for opposing marriage equality. They’ve funneled millions of corporate dollars into notoriously anti-queer organizations and programs, such as the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and a youth home that requires their recipe for biblical obedience in all matters sexual.
The unfortunate Toronto franchise owner of the devout sandwich-maker drew daily protests when he opened a first-ever outlet in Canada in September.
Chick-fil-A’s first outlet in the U.K. opened on October 10th in Reading, Berkshire’s Oracle Shopping Centre, but it won’t be there for long thanks to very visible protests by queer rights activists and their supporters. A spokeswoman for the Centre announced this week that “the right thing to do” was to not extend the franchise’s lease beyond the “six-month pilot period.”
New Orleans, Louisiana’s Lusher High School principal Steven Corbett also made Chick-fil-A news this week. Corbett rejected the offer of a free chicken sandwich lunch catered by the nearby outlet for “Teacher Appreciation Day.”
As Corbett told WWL-TV, “Out of respect to our LGBTQ staff, we have chosen to not serve Chick-fil-A at an employee lunch.” Lusher’s school motto is “Be Kind.” The principle said that the franchise’s proudly espoused political viewpoints are “not part of Lusher’s culture of kindness and community.”
“Teacher Appreciation Day” is sponsored by the College Football Playoff Foundation. The Foundation hosts the year-end holiday College Football Championship Game in the Crescent City’s Sugar Bowl, and is not usually embroiled in controversy. It announced that it would bring food from another restaurant to the educators to celebrate their Day.
Finally, the parents of Matthew Shepard spoiled a party thrown by U.S. Attorney General and Trump defender William Barr this week. Judy and Dennis Shepard’s gay son was brutally murdered in October 1998. They declined Barr’s invitation to attend a Justice Department ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the passage of the law named for the Wyoming college student, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Black Texan James Byrd, Jr. was dragged to death behind a pick-up truck by white supremacists the same year Shepard was killed.
The Shepards did send an executive from the queer rights-advocating Matthew Shepard Foundation to the event. Cynthia Deitle read a letter from the Shepards that condemned the Attorney General for inviting them to the ceremony, while his Justice Department is telling the U.S. Supreme Court that LGBTQ people have no legal right to a job in three cases currently under consideration.
Barr himself was not at the event. The New York Times reported that his chief of the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband “sat stoically” behind Deitle as she read the statement.
The Shepards told Barr in their letter that, “Either you believe in equality for all or you don’t. We do not honor our son by kowtowing to hypocrisy.”
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