“Mayor Pete” officially announces his U.S. presidential bid and shares a lesbian journalist-to-gay candidate chat with Rachel Maddow … but not all agree that his record is rosy.
Marriage equality debuts in Japan’s court system, European Lesbian Conference overcomes teargas-toting protesters in Ukraine, St. Petersburg “Day of Silence” activists arrested, Malaysian activist questioned on human rights UN speech, Trump’s trans military ban victims mount, Indiana evangelical college petition paints Pence as pariah, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of April 22, 2019
Buttigieg Blasts Off!
Program #1,621 distributed 04/22/19
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The apparently long road to marriage
Click here to view the petition.
members petition against the choice by Indiana’s evangelical Christian-based Taylor University of Vice President Mike Pence as commencement speaker because “Trump-Pence administration policies don’t represent Christianity, Jesus, or the Bible” (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by MICHAEL LEBEAU and JOHN DYER V).
Feature: The only thing growing faster than South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete
MSNBC’s RACHEL MADDOW about coming out. ANN NORTHROP and ANDY HUMM of GayUSA then discuss reactions to the “coming out” interview, and how focus on that media moment might mask some dubious aspects of Buttigieg’s record (with intro music by JIM NABORS and transition music by A&AF).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending April 20, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor,reported this week by Michael LeBeau and John Dyer V
A court in Japan began hearing the country’s first lawsuit challenging the definition of civil marriage as exclusively heterosexual. Article 24 of the nation’s Constitution says that, “marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes.”
Thirteen couples filed the lawsuit on Valentine’s Day. They range in age from their 20s to 60s. In addition to ending Japan’s marriage in-equality, they’re demanding financial compensation of 1 million yen and all trial costs.
On the first day of the trial, two of the plaintiffs described the challenges they face every day, including social stigma in the conservative country. 40-year-old breast cancer survivor Haru Ono has been with her partner for 14 years. She discussed the difficulties the couple faced during her treatment when the hospital denied her partner the right to participate in medical decision-making. She said that in addition to facing life-threatening illness, she had to worry about parental custody and inheritance issues involving the three children from previous heterosexual marriages that the couple has been raising.
Gay plaintiff Ikuo Sato is HIV-positive, and also worried about medical treatment and inheritance issues. As if to demonstrate Japan’s continuing social stigma, his deeply closeted partner is not a part of the lawsuit, and has not been in the courtroom.
And the first day of the trial was a genuine “baby step.” One of the lawyers for the couples, Shigenori Nakagawa, said that it could be up to five years before any ruling is announced.
Meanwhile, 157 same-gender couples are planning to apply for marriage licenses in Taiwan on May 24th. That’s the deadline set by the Constitutional Court two years ago when it ordered that civil marriage be opened to lesbian and gay couples. The Legislative Yuan has been unable to pass the necessary legislation thus far, and the Court said that marriage equality would automatically come into force on May 24th, 2019 if lawmakers fail to act by then.
The Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, the conservative Christian group that sponsored referenda on the November ballot, is calling on legislators to adhere to the results. Voters rejected marriage equality, while supporting less-than-marriage civil unions.
No one can predict what will happen between now and May 24th.
About 35 far-right religious zealots protested the start on April 11th in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv of the European Lesbian Conference. They blocked the entrance to the hotel and held signs saying, “homosexuality is a disease” and “go back to hell, sodomites.” Some of the protesters tried to break into the hotel carrying teargas canisters, but police were able to hold them off. They still broke windows and scrawled homophobic slogans on the walls outside.
The ultimately successful Conference went on with heightened security. Organizers said about 350 people from 40 countries attended the 3-day event.
“Are you scared?” one of the first speakers asked the crowd, which drew a loud chorus of “No!” Another speaker said that the protesters only represented a small minority of people in Ukraine. “The majority are too busy trying to make ends meet to care about us lesbians,” she said. “It’s our goal to make sure they don’t end up joining those protesters.”
At least 11 people with red tape across their mouths were arrested in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on April 17th during an annual Day of Silence for sexual and gender equality. According to organizers, about 45 people participated. The event is a student-led action to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ communities across Russia. The detainees, other than having red tape over their mouths, were walking peacefully toward the Church of the Savior when police took each of them into custody. They carried no placards, nor other LGBTQ-identifying symbols.
The police claimed that the arrests were for violating Administrative Code regulations governing rallies. But activists say that individuals don’t need government permission to walk down the street, and that the arrests were illegal. One of them blamed right-wing homophobes for calling the police.
Police in oppressively anti-queer Malaysia have been questioning activist Numan Afifi about a speech he gave at a United Nations conference in Geneva last month highlighting discrimination against the LGBTQ community. It came during the U.N. Human Rights Commission’s Universal Periodic Review of the Southeast Asian nation.
“The statement I read,” he told The Star news outlet, “was made [on behalf of] a coalition of 12 Malaysian organizations that work on gender identity and sexual orientation. … We commended the government for [its] anti-bullying campaign in schools,” he said, “but raised concerns that Malaysia has rejected [many other] recommendations” to improve its treatment of LGBTQ people.
He added that, “I will not bow down to these acts to harass or intimidate me as a human rights defender in Malaysia.” He said he’s yet to hear from police officials about any resolution of their so-called “investigation.”
Among the latest actions against Brunei and its ruling Sultan over new laws punishing gay sex with death – by stoning – the European Parliament adopted a resolution this week calling on the tiny Southeast Asian nation and its ruler to repeal them.
The final stages in Brunei’s complete conversion to Islamic law, or Sharia, became effective on April 3rd. The new Sharia-based Penal Code also punishes some other offenses with amputation. The Euro-Parliament’s Vice President Federica Mogherini said that, “No crime justifies an amputation or torture … [and] no person should be punished for loving someone. That can never be interpreted as a crime.”
But European lawmakers stopped short of punitive measures. Some had called for the freezing of assets of the Sultan and his family, visa bans, and the blacklisting of nine luxury hotels that the royals own.
Brunei officials continue to defend the harsh new laws. Government statements claim that such severe enforcement will be “rare,” and that whippings will be conducted only with “moderate force.”
You can find a list of those nine luxury hotels, and more about the ongoing boycott of all things Brunei HERE.
The fallout continues from Donald Trump’s ban on qualified transgender enlistees in the U.S. armed forces.
The nation’s military academies will not be admitting new transgender students under the new Pentagon policy that took effect on April 12th.
The Naval Academy has announced that it will reject transgender applicants starting with the 2020 school year. A spokesman said the Air Force Academy would conform to Defense Department policy when admitting future cadets. The Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut confirmed that it would also stop admitting trans candidates. The U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy are expected to fall in line in short order.
Meanwhile, at the University of Texas at Austin, a second-year scholarship cadet in ROTC, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, has now lost his scholarship. 19-year-old trans-man Map Pesqueira has had top surgery and takes hormones to support his transition. He’s been studying to be a filmmaker, and was looking forward to serving in the Army. He told reporters that the ROTC Army Department Chair at the University of Texas asked the Defense Department for a “grandfather” exemption to let Pesqueira continue in the program and keep his scholarship. Those exemptions have been given to some active duty trans troops who’ve already transitioned or are in the process. But the request was denied.
Since his story broke in the The Texan Daily newspaper, a GoFundMe page has been helping Pesqueira cover the costs of his continued education. He reportedly raised more than 6500 dollars in the first five days. His goal is 20,000 dollars. In an email message to Gay Star News Pesqueira said that he is “extremely grateful to be supported by so many people who are rooting for me.”
And finally, more than five thousand people have signed an online petition urging administrators of Taylor University, an evangelical Christian college in Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana, to dump the Vice President as commencement speaker because his professed religious beliefs “are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear.” Honoring Pence “and giving him a coveted platform for his political views,” the Change.org petition says, “makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration’s policies.”
Out 2007 Taylor University alumnus Alex Hoekstra started the petition. He told NBC News that the “Trump-Pence administration’s policies don’t represent Christianity, Jesus, or the Bible.”
The school’s student newspaper The Echo, reported that 61 of the university’s 113 faculty members supported a “motion of dissent” when Pence’s selection as graduation speaker was announced. But university administrators are sticking by Pence.
One of the more ridiculous reactions to the petition from the far right came from televangelist Franklin Graham. Apparently not wanting to “cloud the issue with facts”, he asked instead on his Facebook page, “What are these people smoking?”
[Ed. note: At press time, the online petition protesting Pence’s appearance has 6,688 signatures; a petition in support of Pence’s appearance has 4,808.]
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