Transgender migrants trapped on both sides of the border by the U.S. asylum crisis speak out!
Famed photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston flirted with sex and gender!
South Korea’s first transgender soldier fights discharge, Israel abandons Russian orphans to anti-queer bias, Scotland’s Chick-fil-A lays an egg, Aussie Satanists claim rights under the proposed “Religious Discrimination Bill,” faint Pence praise promotes Trump’s impeachment, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of January 27, 2020
Bordering on Shame!
Program #1,661 distributed 01/27/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The first transgender service member
Feature: Gut-wrenching images of terrified children being separated from
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending January 25, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,and reported this week by Carole Meyers and John Dyer V,produced by Brian DeShazor
South Korea’s first out transgender soldier is suing the government for the right to continue her military service. A military panel decided to discharge Staff Sergeant Byun-Hui-su this week rather than allow her to stay in the army as a female. Byun underwent gender confirmation surgery in Thailand while on leave late last year. She will not be allowed to re-enlist as a female.
All able-bodied men are required to serve up to two years in the South Korean military, but Byun enlisted voluntarily in 2017.
Transgender people are legally banned from joining the military, but no regulations cover a service member who transitions while on active duty. Byun says she had intended to transition after finishing her service, but years of anxiety and depression got the best of her. As she told a press conference this week, after she transitioned she “felt much better.”
Byun wore fatigues to the press conference, and saluted the assembled reporters, saying, “I’m a soldier of the Republic of Korea.” She vowed to take her case all the way to the country’s highest court if necessary. In an emotional statement she pleaded, “I want to show everyone that I can be one of the great soldiers defending this country. Please give me that chance.”
South Korea has already faced international criticism for outlawing consensual same-gender sex in the military, even though it’s legal in civilian life. One Seoul-based human rights group called Byun’s forced discharge “truly cruel.”
Israel and Russia signed an agreement this week that bans Israeli same-gender couples from adopting Russian children. The move came ahead of Vladimir Putin’s January 23rd visit to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum.
Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government took heavy fire from opposition parties for the action. Left-wing opposition Meretz Party leader Nitzan Horowitz called the agreement “a spit in the face of the LGBT community.” Lawmaker Eitan Ginzberg of the even more progressive new Blue and White Party said that the Netanyahu government “is preventing us from being parents.” He called it “a continuation of Israel’s discriminatory policies.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, the two countries also signed agreements involving agriculture, energy, and pensions for immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit overruled Jerusalem’s municipal government this week. The city is ordered to allow anti-queer billboards to be posted ahead of a scheduled Pride parade. City officials demanded their removal ahead of a Pride celebration in June 2019.
The billboards directly attack LGBTQ families with the message, “A father and a mother equals a family.” Mandelblit called it a valid “expression of opposition to statements made during this [Pride] event.”
The right-wing group Hazon is responsible for the billboards. The Jerusalem Post says that they’ve already spent a lot of advertising money promoting anti-equality causes.
A U.S. federal appeals court has upheld the right of eight married Indiana lesbian mothers to have both of their respective spouses listed as parents on their children’s birth certificates. A lower court ruled for the plaintiffs in June 2016, but the state’s Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill appealed.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the original ruling by federal district judge Tanya Walton Pratt on January 17th. Pratt wrote that forcing the non-biological parent in a legal marriage with a same-gender partner to undergo the time and expense of adopting their spouse’s child was “discriminatory.” The 7th Circuit agreed, saying that having both parents listed on birth certificates was among the “constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage.”
The 7th Circuit ordered the state of Indiana to update all its relevant statutes to allow co-parent names on the birth certificates of same-gender couples. The rulings of the 7th Circuit cover Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. It’s not yet clear if Indiana will appeal the latest ruling. If not, the decision will only directly affect queer parents in those three states. The court itself noted that the original ruling could even be defined more narrowly to not apply to gay male couples, since all the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were lesbians. The appeals court charged the state legislature with fixing that complication.
The Atlanta-based U.S. fast food chain Chick-fil-A has failed to make inroads in the U.K., at least in part because of protests against the unabashed homophobia of the restaurant chain’s management. Anti-discrimination activists managed to shut down the first U.K. outlet in a shopping center in the British town of Reading. Shopping center owners declined to extend the outlet’s lease beyond a 6-month “trial period.” Now Chick-fil-A’s last remaining restaurant in the U.K., located at MacDonald Aviemore Resort in the Scottish Highlands, quietly shuttered its doors on January 18th. Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie had called for a boycott of other MacDonald’s facilities across the country, urging the resort company’s management to “end their commercial relationship with sponsors of prejudice and hatred.”
CEO Dan Cathy is an evangelical Christian who vocally opposes marriage equality on religious grounds. Chick-fil-A offers franchisees the recipe for a crowd-pleasing chicken sandwich, and franchise owners are required to close on Sundays for the Christian Sabbath. Reputable news outlets have reported that its management has funneled millions of corporate dollars into anti-queer groups and causes over many years. Despite public relations comments to the contrary, that practice reportedly continues.
A spokesperson for Chick-fil-A told Herald Scotland.com simply that, “we look [forward] to having a permanent location in the U.K. in the future.”
Meanwhile, officials in San Antonio, Texas have been forced to spend more than 300,000 dollars defending their decision to block a Chick-fil-A outlet from opening at the city’s international airport. The Trump administration also ordered a federal investigation into the City Council’s March 2019 decision to block the sandwich peddler from food court space because of it’s documented financial support for anti-queer groups. Local San Antonio TV outlet KENS puts the legal costs to the city thus far at $315,000.
The city is defending two lawsuits: one filed by the anti-queer San Antonio Family Association, and a separate suit lodged by notoriously homophobic Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed what was called the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill that was passed by the Republican-controlled Texas legislature in July 2019. It bans “any adverse action” against anyone based “wholly or partly on a person’s … sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction, including beliefs or convictions regarding marriage.”
San Antonio first assistant attorney Liz Provencio said that they’ll continue to argue that “the city did nothing wrong, and certainly did not violate any law, and we will continue to vigorously defend the city’s interests.”
Australia is currently suffering through unimaginable bushfires that have killed dozens of humans and millions of animals, and incinerated thousands of homes. But embattled evangelical Christian Prime Minister Scott Morrison may not have thought about the unintended hell-fire when his administration crafted its so-called “Religious Discrimination Bill.” While it would ostensibly protect people’s religious liberty, critics call it a “license to discriminate.” It would allow bigots to withhold goods or services to LGBTQ people based on opposition to civil equality.
The government is currently accepting submissions on the measure from the public. A submission by the Noosa [Queensland] Temple of Satan claims that the “Religious Discrimination Bill” is unnecessary “and a waste of the federal government’s time.” However the submission adds that if the proposal becomes law, “then Satanists across Australia will aggressively use this law to ensure that we can access all the privileges it guarantees.” That includes installing Satanist chaplains in schools with government support.
While some of its promises may be tongue-in-cheek, the group warns that passage of the bill would “open the gates of Hell onto the streets of Australia,” and urged others to submit their own submissions about the bill. The deadline fast approaches.
Finally, a Republican group called Defending Democracy Together supports the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump, and also favors the resulting elevation of Vice President Mike Pence to the presidency — grudgingly. The group’s website banner says of the infamously anti-queer Veep, “Well, I guess he’ll do.” It’s set to run an ad with that sentiment on Trump’s favorite TV outlet, Fox News.
Their 30-second TV ad supporting a Pence presidency sets a very low bar for a new homophobe-in-chief:
[sound with the tag line “at least it’s an improvement.”]
Meanwhile evidence continues to surface linking Pence directly to the Ukraine scandal for which Trump has been impeached. Maybe he’s not so much of an improvement after all.
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