Alex Espinoza explores the radical art of Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime!
A Rainbow Minute recalls the beginnings of Gay Pride Worldwide!
Hong Kong’s High Court cans criminal gay sex laws, the W.H.O. cures its gender identity terms, Pakistan has its first transgender Human Rights Ministry staffer, the U.S. Supreme Court endorses school district trans-sensitive bathroom policies, two Stonewall vets get a “monumental” tribute, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of June 3, 2019
Program #1,627 distributed 06/03/19
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Hong Kong’s High Court strikes down
Feature: Alex Espinoza discusses the genesis and discoveries along the way
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending June 1, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Laura Dickinson-Turner and John Dyer V,produced by Brian DeShazor
A Hong Kong High Court judge has struck down several laws criminalizing consensual adult gay sex. In his May 30th ruling, Judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung overturned the colonial-era laws as discriminatory and unconstitutional because they specifically targeted gay men. He wrote that, “No comparable offences exist for heterosexuals or female homosexuals.”
The government had no defense for the charge of discrimination, so any appeal is “unlikely,” according to the Associated Press. Two of the laws criminalized the procuring of a man for buggery, or for gross indecency with another man. Another law carried a possible life sentence for buggery with a boy under the age of 16, while a man convicted of having sex with a girl under 16 faced a maximum of five years in jail.
Hong Kong decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults in 1991 when it adopted its current Bill of Rights and Basic Law after the British handover to China. However that constitutional document kept the archaic anti-gay sex laws.
A government commission had been reviewing those provisions, but an impatient activist from a Hong Kong LGBTQ rights group brought the court challenge. Michael Vidler, of the firm representing plaintiff Yeung Chu-wing, complained that, “This legal challenge should not have been necessary.”
Lawyers for Hong Kong’s government were also busy this week fighting a legal challenge to its heterosexual-only marriage laws. They argued on May 29th that opening civil marriage to same-gender couples would “dilute and diminish” the institution and make it “no longer special.”
Attorneys for a lesbian known only as “MK” are arguing in the Court of First Instance that preventing her from forming a legal union with another woman violates Hong Kong’s equality and privacy guarantees.
Government lawyer Stuart Wong countered that, “Not all differences in treatment are unlawful. You are not supposed to treat unequal cases alike.” He also rejected “civil unions” for lesbian and gay couples, and claimed that, “To recognize an alternative form of same-sex relationships which we say is tantamount to [marriage] is to undermine the traditional institution of marriage and the family constituted by such a marriage.”
“MK’s” lawyers responded that the government’s definition of marriage is equivalent to a “private members’ club” for heterosexual couples only.
Encouraged by the advent of marriage equality in neighboring Taiwan, the well-known lesbian heiress Gigi Chao has formed Hong Kong Marriage Equality. A press statement from the new group asserted that, “Marriage equality doesn’t make marriage less special, it makes it even stronger.”
This is only one of three same-gender couple cases currently being heard in Hong Kong’s courts. No rulings are expected any time soon.
The World Health Assembly voted on May 25th to remove gender nonconformity from its catalog of mental illnesses. The Assembly is the governing body for the United Nations-based World Health Organization, or W-H-O. The W-H-O also changed “gender identity disorder” to “gender incongruence” in its diagnostic manual, and moved it to a separate section on “sexual health.” The International Classification of Diseases is virtually the bible of health care providers around the world, including in the 194 countries represented in the Assembly.
In some countries a diagnosis of “gender identity disorder” is required for transition-related medical care or for a change of gender designation on government documents. It will be up to each country to update laws that use the old definition.
Human Rights Watch LGBTQ specialist Graeme Reid said that the move “will have a liberating effect on transgender people worldwide.” Reid noted that “it’s the stigma, discrimination, and bullying – and not anything inherent in gender nonconformity – that can inflict mental health problems in transgender people.”
Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister has for the first time hired a trans woman to join her department. Doctor Shireen Mazari made the announcement on Twitter on May 30th.
She wrote that Ayesha Moghul will work as a resource person.
The response thus far has been generally positive. One Twitter user called it a “great step,” while another said it was “refreshing.” Someone else tweeted, “They have a complete right to secure a respectful place in society.”
Dr. Mazari became the Minister for Human Rights last year after a long career as a professor of political science. She was also the editor of the Pakistani newspaper The Nation.
Parliament may have also helped lay the groundwork for this latest trans-advance. It passed the Transgender Persons (Protections of Rights) Act last year. That measure established sweeping protections for transgender people, including the right to self-identify on government documents, and the right to access public services, such as schools, hospitals, and public transit.
In another sign of progress, the police force in the province of Sindh is now accepting transgender candidates. The police chief told NBC News in April that it was time to offer more opportunities to transgender people, who he said are often relegated to “menial jobs” in Pakistan.
Italy has its first transgender mayor. Pink News reports that voters in the town of Tromello elected 40-year-old lawyer Gianmarco Negri by a 12-point margin on May 26th. In the town of 3,700, his nearest opponent in the four-candidate race was rightwing conservative Renato Cappa.
Talking about his journey on a local TV show, Negri said, “I’ve always felt like a man. I tried to repress my being a woman several times, but four years ago I took the first steps to transition.”
When asked if he considered himself to be a symbol for transgender rights, Negri said simply that “I try and do my part.”
Fabrizio Marrazzo of the LGBTQ rights organization Gay Centre told Gay Ireland News and Entertainment that his group was “hopeful that the coming elections will see more gay, lesbian and trans candidates elected for a more inclusive Italy.”
The United States Supreme Court has essentially upheld the right of local school districts to establish trans-friendly bathroom policies. The Court refused to hear an appeal of a case involving Boyertown Area High School in Pennsylvania. Both a federal district court and the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected a challenge by the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing a group of Boyertown students and families. The certifiably anti-queer hate group objected to the policy that allows trans students to use campus restrooms and other single-gender facilities that most comfortably match their identity. Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb told reporters that, “These types of school policies have serious privacy implications.”
The ACLU represented the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a coalition of LGBTQ youth organizations. It intervened on the school district’s behalf to defend the trans-sensitive policy. Staff attorney Rita Mar said it was “an enormous victory for transgender students across the country.”
The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear three cases in its next session to determine if LGBTQ people are protected from workplace discrimination in federal law. The session begins in October.
Maine and Colorado this week joined the 16 other U.S. states that have banned so-called “conversion therapy” for minors. The debunked practice claims to use prayer and other approaches to “change” LGBTQ people into conventional cisgender heterosexuals.
Maine’s new Democratic Governor Janet Mills signed the bill into law on May 29th, saying, “We send an unequivocal message to young LGBTQ people in Maine and across the country. We stand with you, we support you, and we will always defend your right to be who you are.”
An almost identical bill was vetoed last year by Maine’s previous governor, the controversial far-right Republican Paul LePage.
To no one’s surprise, on May 31st Colorado’s gay Democratic Governor Jared Polis signed a bill outlawing “change” therapy for those under the age of 18. Advertising such services is also specifically illegal in the state. Polis also signed a second bill that makes it easier for trans and non-binary people in Colorado to change the gender designation on their birth certificates. Both bills stalled in the previous session when Republicans controlled the state Senate. The new Democratic majorities sent them each sailing through both legislative chambers.
And finally, a monument to two trailblazing transgender activists of color will soon grace New York City – just as queers and their supporters begin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the fabled Stonewall Rebellion.
Legend has Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera among the leading rabble-rousers at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969, when customers fought back for the first time against what were then routine police raids and arrests at gay bars.
Both Johnson and Rivera were gender non-conforming and led the formation of a number of trans rights groups. Rivera led the movement to change the word “transvestite” to “transgender” in order to differentiate trans women from female impersonators.
A ten million dollar allocation from the city towards new public artworks will fund the monument project.
Johnson and Rivera’s monument will reportedly find its new home in Manhattan’s Ruth Wittenberg Triangle — close to their old “home” for fun and frolic … the Stonewall Inn.
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