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Berlin’s Queer Treasures!

Berlin’s Gay Museum (Schwules Museum) captures German queer life and culture from the 19th Century to the present!

Trump’s team takes aim at human rights using “weaponized” religious “liberty” at home and abroad!

Thousands protest Japanese MP’s homophobic slurs, two Zambian men face 14-years in jail for sex in private, record Jerusalem Pride crowd keeps the heat on “Bibi” over surrogacy exclusion, Qatar may be out of bounds on World Cup anti-queer bias agreement, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of August 6, 2018

Berlin’s Queer Treasures!

Program #1,584 distributed 08/06/18

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Horrible homophobic comments by two Japanese ruling party lawmakers spark a rare public discussion of LGBTQ rights in the conservative Asian nation; two consenting adult men in Zambia are convicted of “performing unnatural acts” in a hotel room and face up to 14 years in prison; Hong Kong’s government responds to widespread criticism and reportedly returns 10 children’s books with queer-supportive themes to public library shelves after being pressured to remove them by conservative Christian groups; LGBTQ islanders and their allies celebrate Pride for the first time in both Saipan and Trinidad and Tobago, while a record crowd in Jerusalem uses that city’s annual Pride march to protest the Israeli parliament’s refusal to include queer couples in surrogacy law reform; and Qatar gets a jump on homophobia ahead of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup by deleting several stories about LGBTQ people from the international edition of the New York Times that’s distributed in the tiny Arabian Peninsula country (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, reported this week by FRANCES O’BRIEN and WENZEL JONES).

Feature: This Way Out correspondent BARRY McKAY usually reports from Australia, but this week he goes into his personal museum for a memento from his 2004 visit to Berlin’s LGBTQ Museum (guided by Museum spokesman Gert Horbacher.

Feature: The Trump administration has ratcheted up its efforts to “weaponize” anti-queer religious bias. The first blow in last week’s double-barreled attack was delivered by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney at a U.S. State Department Ministerial To Advance Religious Freedom. Soon thereafter, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the formation of a Religious Liberty Task Force in the Department of Justice.

Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!

A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending August 4th, 2018

Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Frances O’Brien

Two homophobic lawmakers from Japan’s ruling party have sparked an unusual public discourse on LGBTQ rights in the conservative Asian nation. Liberal Democratic Party M.P. Mio Sugita argued against LGBTQ people being able to receive welfare in a magazine article published in mid-July because they’re “unproductive” members of society. “These men and women don’t bear children,” she wrote. Sugita also staunchly opposes marriage equality because, she claims, it would allow people to marry their pets, and lead to society’s ultimate destruction. She even discounted LGBTQ youth committing suicide at 6 times the rate of their straight peers as being less important than preventing LGBTQ issues from being discussed in public schools.

More than 5,000 people gathered outside the headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo on July 27th to call for Sugita’s resignation. Similar protest demonstrations were held in Fukuoka and Sapporo.

A statement from the Party issued late this week said that Sugita’s comments “showed a lack of understanding of the problem and failed to take into consideration the involved parties.” But there was no suggestion that any disciplinary action would be taken against her.

M.P. Tom Tanigawa caused a minor kerfuffle of his own – though it was so ridiculous as to not warrant any serious response – when he told the Japan Times that “It’s not that I don’t approve of diversity, and it’s fine if women like women and men like men. But it’s not necessary to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s like a hobby.”

Two consenting adult males in Zambia were convicted this week of “performing unnatural acts” in a hotel room. 30-year-old Stephen Sambo and 38-year-old Japhet Chatba each face up to 14 years in prison. According to a report by Agence France Presse, they’ll be sentenced at a later date.

Prosecutors presented what were described as incriminating “videos and photographs” of the two men. They were turned in by a hotel employee who spotted them through a window having sex.

Same-gender sex is illegal in the south central African nation for both men and women.

Government leaders have been harshly critical of LGBTQ people in recent years. President Edgar Lungu infamously said in 2013 that, “Those advocating gay rights should go to hell… That issue is foreign to this country.”

The fact is, however, that Zambia’s laws against same-gender sex are a holdover from British rule of the former colony of Rhodesia, which, not coincidentally, was frequently visited by fundamentalist evangelical Christians during that time. Rhodesia became the independent country of Zambia in 1964.

In better news for LGBTQ people, Hong Kong’s government has apparently restored 10 children’s books with pro-queer content to public library shelves.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which governs Hong Kong’s 82-branch public library system, was reportedly responding to widespread criticism of its decision a few weeks ago to remove the books after being pressured by far-right fundamentalist church groups. The books include Molly’s Family, Daddy and Papa and Me, The Boy in the Dress and Different Dads. The move comes after Hong Kong Public Libraries was accused by Human Rights Watch and many others of “appeasing hate groups” and threatened with lawsuits.

An email message from the Libraries department reportedly said that the books are now considered “suitable to remain in the library collection for public reading,” adding that, “the community has diverse opinions on the handling of the 10 books” and that the department was “committed to safeguarding the principle of free access to information and does not seek to promote any specific beliefs or points of view through its collection.”

Thirteen members of the Paper Dolls, a transgender performance group, headlined a first-ever celebration of LGBTQ Pride at a local nightspot in the Northern Mariana Islands capital city and largest island, Saipan. The local Marianas Variety newspaper reported that “They danced, lip-synched, and modeled their colorful costumes.”

A health component was added to the July 29th celebration on the Western Pacific Ocean island when the Division of Public Health Services asked if it could provide STD and HIV testing and related services. Staff set up a small table at the bar, handed out informational brochures, gave away T-shirts, and did HIV testing, according to Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation Communicable Diseases Bureau manager John Moreno. He told the newspaper that “We want to be seen, as part of Public Health, as individuals concerned about this special community. We want to help fight the stigma [that] can lead to depression and to health disparity. Public Health is here,” he said. “We want to make sure that we also celebrate health.”

Event organizer Sharmaine Casquero told Marianas Variety that the success of the U.S. Commonwealth’s first-ever Pride celebration inspires her to begin planning next year’s event.

Encouraged by an April Supreme Court decision that laws against private consensual adult same-gender sex were unconstitutional, activists in Trinidad and Tobago celebrated at the twin Caribbean islands’ first-ever LGBTQ Pride Parade on July 28th in Port-of-Spain. According to a report in the local Newsday newspaper, the parade was the culmination of six weeks of activities organized by the TT Pride Arts Festival Committee intended to heighten public awareness of LGBTQ issues. A health fair prior to the parade was held at Nelson Mandela Park. Representatives of several civil society groups joined queer organizations and individuals from across the country, along with their straight supporters, in the celebration.

Committee Chairman Rudolph Hanamji told the newspaper that “The main message is that the LGBTQI community is just like any other community in TT and we simply want to exist and enjoy our human rights.”

Colin Robinson of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation told Newsday that, “We are part of the nation. The laws and the Government need to catch up with us.”

Equality activists used the annual Pride celebration in Jerusalem to keep the heat on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government over its refusal to include same-gender couples in revised surrogacy laws. Netanyahu publicly supported adding single men to the proposal that expanded access to surrogacy services to single women, but bowed to pressure from the most conservative elements of his coalition government and voted against that proposal two days later. Surrogacy was, until the addition of single women, only available to infertile married heterosexual couples. Most commentators believe that adding single men to the equation would have allowed access to those services by same-gender couples.

Jerusalem’s LGBTQ Pride Parade on August 2nd mixed celebration with palpable anger. Some chants during the march called Netanyahu a “homophobe.” Others held signs saying “proud to be equal” and “I want to be a father.”

The estimates ranged from 15 to 30 thousand participants, but most reports agreed that it was the largest crowd on record. Because of violent attacks on Parade participants in the past – including a deadly knife attack by an ultra-orthodox Jewish extremist in 2015 – there was a heavy police presence and tightened security.

One participant tweeted that “U.S. Jerusalem Consulate staff are marching … What would Mike Pence think?”

Another noted that a “dear Hassidic man stood near the spot where [16-year-old marcher Shira Banki] was murdered three years ago by a religious fanatic. He is holding a sign that says: ‘You will love your neighbor as yourself.’”

And finally, the nation of Qatar is getting a jump on homophobia ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup – placing it in a competition with this year’s host, Russia, for “most anti-queer host.”

The U.S. ABC-TV network reported this week that 8 articles between April and July of this year dealing specifically with LGBTQ issues were deleted from the New York Times International Edition published in the tiny country on the Arabian Peninsula. There were blank spaces in place of the stories, each bearing a small note that the material had been “exceptionally removed.” The missing stories included coverage of the proposed ban on military service by qualified transgender recruits, reports on queer rights in Africa, homophobia-related tensions at the World Cup in Moscow, and a piece remembering a murderous fire at a New Orleans gay bar, the Upstairs Lounge, in June 1973.

The Times told ABC that the censorship was at the behest of either the Qatari government or the local printing vendor. “While we understand that our publishing partners are sometimes faced with local pressures,” a spokesman said, “we deeply regret and object to any censorship of our journalism and are in regular discussions with our distributors about this practice.”

Private consensual adult sex between men is a crime in Qatar, punishable by floggings and up to three years in prison. Government and societal condemnation of sexual minorities is pervasive. So in order to win the right to host the World Cup in 2022, Qatar agreed with football’s world governing body to meet international human rights standards, including freedom of the press, and protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch filed a formal complaint with FIFA this week, charging that Qatar’s censorship has already violated that agreement.

Qatar government officials claim to be “investigating” the situation.

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