The election of queer Democrats adds color to the U.S. midterms!
Scotland puts queer culture in the books, election anxiety kills an LGBTQ Christian forum in Armenia, Indonesia’s latest round-up nets lesbians for “rehab,” Tanzanian terror continues despite denials, prominent voices bite the eraser off Trump’s trans-exclusion plans, Aussie ex-Judge Michael Kirby concedes to a 50th anniversary wedding, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of November 12, 2018
Blue Wave, Rainbow Tide!
Program #1,598 distributed 11/12/18
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Scotland’s government claims to be
Feature: According to the LGBTQ candidate-supporting Victory Fund,
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 November 10th, 2018 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, and reported this week by Sarah Sweeney & Michael LeBeau
The government of Scotland claimed this week that it’s the first country on the planet to require queer-inclusive content in history and other social studies curriculum in every public school, without exception.
The action was prompted by a study conducted by the Time for Inclusive Education campaign, which found that 9 of 10 LGBTQ students reported experiencing homophobia on campus, and 27 percent said it drove them to attempt suicide. In the same study, four of five teachers said that they don’t feel that they’ve been adequately trained to combat homophobia, and very few teachers or students are aware of the challenges that intersex people face.
Jordan Daly, co-founder of the Time for Inclusive Education campaign, called it “a monumental victory,” that “sends a strong and clear message to LGBTI young people that they are valued here in Scotland.”
The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert joined the few dissenting voices, charging that LGBTQ people are “radical” and “intolerant of traditional religious views.”
But Education Secretary John Swinney disagreed. “Our education system must support everyone to reach their full potential,” he said. “That is why it is vital [that] the curriculum is as diverse as the young people who learn in our schools.”
The U.K.’s infamous Section 28, which outlawed the “intentional promotion of homosexuality” in public schools, was only repealed in Scotland in 2000, and in Britain and Wales in 2003.
But Armenia’s Police Chief Valeriy Osipyan forced the cancellation this week of an LGBTQ Christian forum in the capital city of Yerevan, organized by the N.G.O. New Generation, after it had become a political football ahead of next month’s elections. “I don’t consider it appropriate to hold the forum in Armenia,” the Eurasian country’s top cop said, “considering the risks and security considerations.”
The conference was announced in August, using a Gospel verse as the theme: “The spirit of our Forum is love in Christ which knows no boundaries, be it country, denomination, gender, or anything else.” But in succeeding weeks the four-day forum that was scheduled to kick off on November 15th became the subject of heated debate in Parliament. Karekin II, the Armenian Orthodox Church’s top leader, called same-gender sex “a sin.” The denomination claims the vast majority of the country’s population. The government of Levon Petrosyan would prefer that the issue not complicate the President’s high approval ratings ahead of the elections. “It’s a headache,” he said.
Forum organizers cited “constant threats” and “organized intimidation” in their November 6th cancellation announcement. They pointed to 13 similar events they’ve held across the region with no trouble, and said that they didn’t expect any in Yerevan. They asked people of faith to “pray for the LGBTI persons in Armenia, their safety, freedom, and rights.”
Homophobia is making headlines again in Indonesia. Government and religious officials in the predominantly Muslim nation’s most populous province, West Java, called last month for the arrest and “rehabilitation” of LGBTQ people. Two men in the provincial capital of Bangdung were detained soon thereafter in a police raid of their home. They were charged with distributing indecent material online because of their Facebook page for same-gender couples that some reports described as a “gay hook up site.” There were also local news reports that provincial police in Lampung had been harassing trans-women.
Ten women accused of “deviant lesbian behavior” were arrested in Padang, the provincial capital of West Sumatra, on November 4th. Police officials said that the allegations were based on social media photos of some of them hugging and kissing “like men and women.” They range in age from 23 to 31.
According to Human Rights Watch, police across the country in 2017 raided saunas, nightclubs, hotel rooms, hair salons, and private homes on suspicion that gay or transgender people were inside. At least 300 people were detained because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity – the highest number ever recorded in Indonesia. People have been publically flogged for same-gender sex in Aceh, the only province allowed by the theoretically secular federal government to fully enforce Sharia, or strict Islamic law.
Same-gender sex is not specifically against the law in Indonesia – at least not yet. So the ten accused lesbians in Padang will be sent to the Office of Social Services for what officials ominously described as “guidance.”
Federal government authorities created a task force in February to stop “the LGBT disease.”
The crackdown on LGBTQ people apparently continues unabated in Tanzania. The federal government has disavowed last week’s announcement by Dar es Salaam Governor Paul Makonda that all homosexuals would be arrested, urging citizens to report suspects to the police. Some media outlets last week said that people’s homes were already being raided ahead of the announced November 5th start of the round up, and that panic was spreading across the country, not just in Dar es Salaam.
Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the eastern African nation will continue to abide by the constitution and to respect human rights treaties it has signed. That didn’t satisfy the European Union, which has recalled its ambassador. And the U.S. embassy in Tanzania issued a warning to American citizens in the country to carefully review their social media profiles to avoid being caught up in the crackdown.
Ten men were arrested at a beach resort on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar on November 3rd and charged with being part of a same-gender wedding ceremony. According to The Guardian, they each faced forced anal exams. Several human rights groups call the medically discredited procedure to supposedly discover evidence of homosexual activity torture.
All of the men were released on bail on November 8th, but they face further proceedings. It’s not clear whether or not the invasive anal exams had been or will be conducted.
Same-gender sex is illegal in Tanzania under a colonial-era penal code that punishes offenders with up to 25 years in prison.
In better news for LGBTQ people, a rainbow-tinted blue wave swept Democrats into the governing majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in midterm elections held on November 6th. A record number of LGBTQ candidates, women, and people of color were elected, including the country’s first openly gay man elected to a state governorship – Colorado’s Jared Polis; and the re-election of bisexual Oregon Governor Kate Brown and trailblazing lesbian U.S. Senator from Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin. However, Vermont Democrat Christine Hallquist, who had already made history as the first transgender nominee of a major political party, lost her bid for governor. But Massachusetts voters soundly approved anti-bias protections for transgender people, the only LGBTQ-related measure on the midterms ballot.
A Kansas Congressional district elected the country’s first Native American lesbian to the U.S. House, an Indiana district elected its first openly gay state legislator, Michigan has the state’s first out lesbian Attorney General, and Guam elected its first openly gay Lieutenant Governor. A few critical races remain too close to call as we record this newscast. But few tears are being shed in the queer community over the loss in her bid for re-election of notorious marriage certificate-denying Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.
We’ll have extended coverage and analysis of the rainbow-hued U.S. midterm elections following NewsWrap – on most of these same This Way Out stations.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s efforts to erase transgender people from U.S. anti-bias protections seem to be going nowhere. More than 50 transnational companies ranging from Facebook and Google and Chase Bank to both Pepsi and Coca Cola have issued a Business Statement for Transgender Equality opposing the Trump agenda. Nine Nobel Prize winners were among more than 1,600 scientists signing an open letter calling on the Trump administration to abandon its trans-erasure plans. And almost a hundred soon-to-be-in-the-majority House Democrats have signed on to their own letter telling Trump to back off.
And finally, proudly gay retired Australian High Court Judge Michael Kirby is being dragged kicking and screaming down the aisle by his longtime partner Johan van Vloten.
Well, not literally. The lifelong champion of human rights first announced that he was boycotting last year’s marriage equality postal plebiscite – though he later changed his mind and said he voted “yes.”
“But because we’ve been together now for 49 years and eight months,” he said, “[marriage] just seemed a little artificial. It seemed a little late for the confetti. And it also seemed to us a little bit patriarchal.”
But he said the long-term spouses – he insists that they won’t call each other “husband and husband” – decided to bow to what has now become convention. “We ultimately decided that we are going to get married on the 50th anniversary of our meeting,” Kirby said, “which is the 11th of February, 2019.” It’ll be at home, not in the since-torn down hotel bar where they met. But he said they’d go back the next day to what is now a bustling bistro and ask for a table. “Is that weird?” he asked. He answered his own question. “No,” he said, “I think it’s a bit romantic.”