And in NewsWrap: Trump allows U.S. doctors to discriminate, Brazil’s Bolsonaro rejects queer tourists, United Methodist Church confirms “traditional” bias, ten Central American trans-women win U.S. asylum, lead Dragon Imagines an end to “change” therapy, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 6, 2019
Cards & Stars!
Program #1,623 distributed 05/06/19
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The Trump administration issues new
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending May 4, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Sarah Sweeney and Christopher Gaal
[Trump sound:] “[T]oday we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students, and faith-based charities. We’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, right, Mike?”
That’s U.S. President Donald Trump during his May 2nd National Day of Prayer speech in the White House Rose Garden – and the “Mike” he was addressing was anti-queer favorite Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services later confirmed that the new policy establishes so-called “conscience rules” for healthcare professionals allowing them to refuse to treat someone based on their religious or moral beliefs. Critics are calling it a “license to discriminate,” and believe that the targets of the new rules are LGBTQ people, such as transgender people seeking hormone therapy and a host of other medical services, and people with HIV and AIDS needing preventative and long-term care, as well as women seeking contraception or abortion services.
A number of surveys have revealed that LGBTQ people, fearing discrimination, sometimes avoid seeking medical attention. Queer activists charge that the new policy only exacerbates the problem. The Human Rights Campaign’s David Stacy said that, “Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because of who they are or who they love.”
Roger Severino, who heads up the Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, insisted in a statement explaining the new rules that, “People do not have to shed their religious beliefs to participate in health care.” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly criticized what she called the new “bigoted” rules as “immoral, deeply discriminatory and downright deadly.”
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has already filed the first of what could be several lawsuits seeking to block the implementation of Trump’s new “conscience rules.” Calling it “reprehensible,” Herrera said in a press release that “This administration is willing to sacrifice patients’ health and lives – particularly those of women, members of the LGBTQ community, and low income families – to score right-wing political points.”
The Trump administration continued its assault on the healthcare of all Americans this week by filing a brief in a federal appeals court arguing that the entire Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” should be struck down as unconstitutional. Republicans who claim to have a better healthcare plan in the wings have yet to reveal any specifics.
The Equality Act, the latest legislative attempt to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in the U.S., was approved this week by the House Judiciary Committee. It would add the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity to those already protected in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that includes race, gender, and a number of other characteristics. Advocates have already argued in several court cases that Title VII of the Act, which specifically bans bias “on the basis of sex,” also protects LGBTQ people. Many in the U.S. falsely believe that such protections already exist. And a recent poll by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found that close to 70 percent of respondents supported the idea of protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. But the anti-queer hate group American Family Association called the measure the “Pedophile Protection Act.”
The Equality Act outlaws anti-queer discrimination, including bias in employment, housing, and public accommodations. All the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee were in favor, while all the Republicans said no in the 22-to-10 vote.
Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York expressed his strong support. “It is time that the federal government recognizes that discrimination in any form is wrong,” he said, “and … we should move forward with these common-sense protections that simply build on existing statutes.”
The bill also has the enthusiastic backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. While the Equality Act is eventually expected to pass in the full House, controlled by Democrats, the Senate’s Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not likely to even allow a vote on it in his chamber.
The man described as the “Donald Trump of the Tropics” and considered to be one of Trump’s strongest allies, Brazil’s self-identified proudly homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro, has told LGBTQ tourists to go someplace else. “We can’t be known as a paradise for the gay world,” he said during a meeting with reporters at the end of April. “Brazil can’t be a country of … gay tourism. We have families,” he added.
While actual numbers are elusive about how much revenue queer tourism generates for Brazil, millions flock to Sao Paulo for the city’s annual LGBTQ Pride Parade, which some believe is the largest in the world, and to Rio de Janeiro’s queer-friendly Carnaval. Alfredo Lopez of the Brazilian Association of Hotels told Reuters that Bolsanaro’s comments are “going to have an impact.”
Proudly out British performer and activist Stephen Fry actually interviewed Bolsonaro in 2013, during which the president-to-be complained about “homosexual fundamentalists brainwashing” children, and asserted that, “Brazilians don’t like homosexuals.” Fry later called it “one of the most chilling confrontations I’ve had with a human being.”
Bolsonaro has claimed that he would prefer his child to “die in an accident” than be gay. He’s also said that the government should not pay for anti-retroviral drugs for people with HIV/AIDS.
David Miranda, a longtime Brazilian queer activist, described Bolsonaro as “a national disgrace … he is staining the image of our country in every imaginable way,” he said, adding that, “You can be certain that we will resist and we will resist in the streets.”
In other news, the United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council has endorsed the anti-queer policies enacted by delegates to the denomination’s General Conference in February. The Judicial Council action on April 26th maintains the Church’s ban on the ordination of “self avowed homosexuals,” and its opposition to marriage equality. Penalties now specified for United Methodist clergy who officiate weddings of same-gender couples range from suspension to expulsion.
Congregations that don’t approve of the “Traditional Plan” approved at the General Conference and confirmed by the Judicial Council can leave the denomination if two-thirds of its members vote to do so, and if certain financial obligations are met.
Pro-queer forces in the Church, led by the group Reconciling Ministries, have vowed to stay in the Church and continue to fight for reform.
And a group of teens at the First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska, who had spent more than a year preparing for their confirmation and to take a formal vow of membership in the Church, announced in a joint letter read to the congregation during what was supposed to be their Confirmation Service on April 28th, that they were postponing the action:
[sound:] “We want to be clear that while we love our congregation, we believe that these United Methodist policies on LGBTQ plus clergy and same sex marriage are immoral. Depending on how this church responds to the General Conference action, we will decide at a later time whether or not we want to become officially confirmed. But until then, we will continue to stand up against the unjust actions that the denomination is taking.” The United Methodist Church is the third-largest Christian denomination in the United States, behind the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Ten transgender women from Central America who were part of Donald Trump’s dreaded “Caravan” of refugees seeking a better life late last year have been granted asylum in the United States. A Honduran immigrant named Estrellita told CBS News that, “I love my country and wouldn’t have left but for the persecution I suffered [as a trans person).”
She was part of a smaller contingent of about 80 LGBTQ people who split off from the major caravan because of anti-queer attitudes that surrounded them. Things didn’t get much better when they reached the Mexican border town of Tijuana, where they faced hostility from local residents, and at the South Texas Detention Center, which wasn’t prepared for transgender detainees. As the Advocate reports, “Estrellita knows she’s one of the lucky ones; she plans on opening a women’s shelter once she’s settled” in the U.S.
According to immigration activists, the rest of the transgender women in the detention center are either still awaiting court dates, or have already lost their asylum cases.
And finally, according to Gay Star News, almost seven hundred thousand LGBTQ people in the U.S. have undergone so-called “conversion therapy” that falsely promises to make them straight, and about half of them were teenagers.
Queer young people were supported in an unexpected way at the widely-televised Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on May 1st by ally Dan Reynolds, lead singer of Top Rock Artist winners Imagine Dragons, during his acceptance speech:
[Dan Reynolds sound:] “I just want to take this moment to say there are still 34 states that have no laws banning conversion therapy. Thirty-four. And on top of that, on top of that, 58 percent of our LGBTQ population live in those states. This can change, but it’s going to take all of us talking to our state legislation [sic] pushing forward laws to protect our LGBTQ youth. And lastly I just want to say we have seen with conversion therapy that our LGBTQ youth have double the rate of depression, triple the rate of suicide after conversion therapy — it’s not working and needs to change. Thank you guys.”
Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds.
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