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A Rainbow Minute honors the movie poster master who passed before his time due to AIDS!
A salute to the child who refused to salute!
Singapore’s High Court rejects three “gross indecency” challenges, Ankara court re-paves the way for Pride, Idaho enacts two anti-trans bills, notable queers succumb to COVID-19 as unique queer contributions fight the pandemic, UK sheds Chick-Fil-A, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of April 6, 2020
Amsel=Art & COVID-19≠AIDS!
Program #1,671 distributed 04/06/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Even as COVID-19 continues to engulf the
Feature: Are we condemned to repeat the history of AIDS in this age of
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A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending April 4, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Michael Taylor-Gray and Tanya Kane-Parry,produced by Brian DeShazor
COVID-19 continues to engulf the world, and we’ll have LGBTQ-related updates on the pandemic later in this newscast. Meanwhile other major events made queer news this week.
Singapore’s High Court rejected calls to overturn the city-state’s colonial-era statute that outlaws “gross indecency between men.” A challenge to the ruling has already been filed in the Court of Appeal on behalf of well-known disc jockey Johnson Ong Ming and veteran LGBTQ rights activist, retired Dr. Roy Tan – that’s according to their respective lawyers quoted in the Straits Times on March 31st. Lawyers for plaintiff activist Bryan Choong in the third, separate legal challenge to Penal Code Section 377A said that they’d be filing their challenge soon.
In his 105-page ruling, High Court Justice See pointed to a Court of Appeal decision in 2014 upholding the statute, and said that he saw no “cogent reasons … to depart from binding decisions of the highest court in the land.”
LGBTQ groups, of course, condemned the Singapore High Court ruling. A statement issued by Ready4Repeal, which gathered more than 44,000 signatures on a 2018 petition advocating repeal, called it “a bitter blow” to LGBTQ Singaporeans who “yearn to be treated as equals in their country.”
Organizers of the massive annual Pink Dot “rally in the park” for LGBTQ rights said that the ruling “effectively upholds, entrenches and continues the discrimination of a minority group.” Pink Dot was among the hundreds, perhaps thousands of Pride-related events that have been cancelled or postponed around the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pink Dot will become a virtual “shine a pink light from your home” event on June 27th.
A literally worldwide virtual LGBTQ Pride celebration on that day is also in the works.
Government bans on LGBTQ Pride events in the Turkish capital of Ankara have been ruled unlawful.
A March 23rd decision by the 2nd Administrative Court reaffirmed its April 2019 ruling on the illegality of the ban. Ankara’s Governor had still banned a planned Pride event after that ruling, which forced the LGBTI Associations of Ankara back into court. Once again it was found that the government failed to provide any concrete evidence to justify the ban.
Activists said that they hope Ankara officials will finally relent.
The U.S. state of Idaho’s Republican Governor Brad Little has signed two bills that target the rights of transgender people. One denies trans people the ability to change their gender on state birth certificates. The other bans trans schoolgirls from participating as girls in school athletics.
Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights told the Washington Blade that he expects queer legal advocacy groups to file lawsuits challenging both anti-trans laws.
Governor Little signed both bills into law on March 30th — the day before the Transgender Day of Visibility. Alex Schmider of the LGBTQ media watchdog group GLAAD slammed Little’s ill-timed action. Schmider said, “… while the United States is overwhelmed with a massive public health crisis, Little passed legislation targeting some of the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community – transgender children.”
A global pandemic is apparently no reason to put a pause on hate. A report issued by the highly respected Southern Poverty Law Center warns of a huge spike in the number of anti-queer groups across the United States during the past year.
The Center tracks far-right extremism around the country on many fronts. This week’s report says that the number of anti-LGBTQ groups they’ve monitored in the last 12 months has mushroomed from 49 to 70.
The report lays at least part of the blame on Donald Trump. It claims that a number of high-profile Trump appointees have links to homophobic groups, and charges that “staffers from organizations that vilify the LGBTQ community have been hired by the Trump administration and have influenced and written its policies.”
Contrary to candidate Trump’s promise to “protect LGBTQ people,” his administration has filed a number of briefs in federal anti-discrimination cases generally supporting religious-based bias against LGBTQ people.
The White House trotted out a gay Trump apologist to dismiss the Southern Poverty Law Center report. Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere accused what he called “the radical left,” and without specifics dubbed the report a “far-left smear.”
The COVID-19 crisis and mounting political pressure has prompted a relaxation of the rules on blood donations from gay and bisexual men by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The F.D.A. yielded to the call from more than a dozen Senators and the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD. Regulations established in 2015 banned male blood donors who had had sex with another man during the previous 12 months. Now it’s cut to three months.
That falls short of scientifically based evidence supporting a complete removal of the ban. Lesbian Senator from Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin led the lawmakers’ approach to the F.D.A., and lamented that “It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic and the resulting urgent blood shortage.” A GLAAD statement applauded the policy change, but promised to “keep pushing for the ban to be lifted entirely.”
Sexually active gay and bisexual men in the U.K. and Australia are also banned from donating blood. Veteran Australian activist Rodney Croome pointed to warnings by experts of a looming blood shortage Down Under because of the pandemic. Croome pointed out that, “The risk of passing on diseases like HIV through blood donation is created by unsafe sex, not gay sex. … We can’t allow old prejudices to get in the way of saving lives.”
Among a number of prominent deaths in the LGBTQ community from COVID-19 this week, 60-year-old New Jersey emergency room doctor Frank Gabrin died in his husband’s arms only a few days after displaying symptoms. In addition to praising his husband as “a person who just wanted to help people,” Arnold Vargas urged everyone to demand adequate personal protective equipment for healthcare providers.
Progressives in New York City and beyond are mourning the COVID-19 death of Mexican immigrant and transgender activist Lorena Borjas. New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she was “heartbroken” by the news. Trans ACLU attorney Chase Strangio praised Borjas for “saving more people than almost anyone I have ever known.”
Another casualty of COVID-19 this week was top South African scientist Gita Ramjee, who dedicated her life to fighting and preventing HIV/AIDS. The 64-year-old was well-known for her work expanding access to HIV treatment to disadvantaged women. UN-AIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima described Ramjee’s death as “a huge loss” at a time when the world needs her most.
The British man credited with founding Manchester’s world-famous gay village is also among the dead this week. His brother announced that Glenn Stevens died in the hospital after showing symptoms of COVID-19 before suffering a fatal stroke.
On the brighter side, a British medical fetish store called Medfet has donated its entire stock of hospital scrubs to the National Health Service.
Producers of gay creator Ryan Murphy’s acclaimed TV series Pose have donated everything useable from their hospital set – including genuine medical supplies – to area hospitals. Pose is set in New York City during the AIDS pandemic. Murphy also personally donated $50,000 to a fund created to assist people in the creative arts who’ve lost their jobs because of the virus.
Finally, prejudice and protest, not a pandemic shutdown, forced the closure of the last remaining Chick-fil-A fast food outlet in the U.K.
Pink News reports that the notoriously anti-queer restaurant franchise established in The Oracle shopping center in Reading closed its doors after Oracle management decided not to renew its “six month pilot period” lease.
Despite a P.R. effort to the contrary, Chick-fil-A’s reigning rooster Dan Cathy recently wrote a letter to the far-right American Family Association re-affirming that the Atlanta, Georgia-based company continues to fund anti-LGBTQ groups and causes.
Very visible and vocal protests by LGBTQ activists and their supporters at each location have now made the U.K. Chick-fil-A-less. Martin Cooper of Reading Pride told BerkshireLive that it was not about the conservative religious beliefs of the company’s management. Cooper said, “It was about their reported actions, that’s where we drew the line and decided to act.”
Chick-fil-A’s only other U.K. outlet was located inside the Macdonald Aviemore Resort in the Scottish Highlands. It shuttered its doors in January.
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