The David Dance waltzes with danger on the radio!
Outcasting Overtime’s queer youth examine the disturbing realities of trans patient care!
Cayman Islands court orders marriage equality, stones of the Sultan spark Brunei boycott, last barricade to Trump’s military trans ban falls, Google last to pull “cure” app from Play Store, Harvey Milk takes off as “tail fin hero,” and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of April 1, 2019
David Dance & Trans Rx Fail!
Program #1,618 distributed 04/01/19
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
Sultan’s hotels HERE
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Marriage equality finally comes to the
Feature: A doctor can be a formidable adversary, no matter how mature you
Feature: A movie about queers on the radio? What could be closer to our
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending March 30, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Christopher Gaal and John Dyer V
Marriage equality has finally come to the Cayman Islands. Chief Justice Anthony Smellie of the Grand Court issued his ruling on March 29th in a case brought by a lesbian couple, declaring that the law defining marriage as exclusively heterosexual is unconstitutional, and violates human rights. Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush were turned away when they sought a marriage license in April 2018, and then filed the lawsuit. The Chief Justice wrote that, “The Petitioners and their daughter are entitled to the indignities to which they have been subjected being put to an immediate end by the Court.”
This week’s decision, said Day, “shows that love wins.”
Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, however, told news reporters as he was leaving the courthouse that “The government will have to take some time to consider it and think about how to move forward.”
The Cayman Islands is an autonomous British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean Sea. With about 60,000 inhabitants on its 3 islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, it’s now the second most populated self-governing British Overseas Territory with marriage equality behind Bermuda, which opened civil marriage to same-gender couples last year.
Northern Ireland, of course, remains the biggest part of the United Kingdom without marriage equality, thanks to a totally dysfunctional government, and the British government’s reluctance to intervene.
New laws taking effect this week in the East Asian nation of Brunei include punishing consensual adult same-gender sex with death … by stoning. It would also punish Muslims convicted of adultery, sodomy, or rape with the same form of execution. Same-gender sex is already punishable in Brunei by up to 10 years in prison. The new statutes are part of a revised Islamic Law-inspired Penal Code that drew international outrage when they were first announced in 2014.
Brunei is ruled by its sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, who approved the changes. The global outrage included boycotts of several high-end hotels he owns, including the Hotel Bel Air, The Beverly Hills Hotel, the Dorchester in London, and other properties in the U.K., Paris, Rome, and Milan. That boycott faded in memory, even as the Sultan gradually enacted more parts of Brunei’s full conversion to Islamic law, known as Sharia. But calls for a boycott were renewed this week with the announcement on the official website of Brunei’s Attorney General that Sharia will come completely into force on April 3rd.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and several other global advocacy groups have condemned the harsh new laws in the strongest terms. The U.K. Foreign Office is warning queer British citizens about the potential danger of traveling to Brunei, while Australia has said it’s probably okay as long as the LGBTQ person is not “in your face” out.
Other governments are sure to weigh in in the coming days.
Filmmaker/activist George Clooney is leading a number of well-known figures in calling for renewed action in response to the death-by-stoning threat LGBTQ people in Brunei will face under the new laws. As Clooney wrote in an open letter this week, “I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”
You can find a list of the Sultan’s properties at this-way-out-dot-org.
Police raided an LGBTQ community center in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk this week. They insisted on inspecting the group’s headquarters in a non-descript office building while group lawyers, volunteers, and five visitors were prevented from leaving. While no one from the government has offered a comment so far, authorities probably acted under Russia’s so-called “no promo homo law” that criminalizes “the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations.” Vladimir Putin signed the law against “gay propaganda” in 2013. There’s been a steady rise in anti-queer violence ever since. The law has most often been used to deny requests for, or to shut down, LGBTQ Pride marches.
A spokesperson for the Arkhangelsk LGBTQ Center, known as Rakurs, said the police told them that their investigation this week was based on an unexplained “complaint” about the group.
Rakurs was one of the LGBTQ groups on the Russian government’s list of “foreign agents” in 2014, and was fined 300,000 rubles when the Putin administration decided that any group supporting human rights for LGBTQ people was clearly representing some sort of foreign ideology. But, in response to this week’s raid, the Rakurs spokesperson told the Barents Observer that lawyers for the group are ready to defend it – again – in court. It’s been holding lectures, organizing seminars, and offering psychological and medical counseling for more than 10 years, and may be one of the oldest groups of its kind in Russia.
A U.S. appeals court this week lifted the final hurdle to the implementation of Donald Trump’s ban on military service by qualified transgender people. While lawsuits challenging the policy are still making their way through lower courts, injunctions in four of them had prevented the Pentagon from moving forward on the policy. The Supreme Court struck down two of the injunctions, and a third district judge lifted his injunction based on the Supreme Court action. The D.C. district court had maintained that its fourth injunction still stood because a final order of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on the case, which had struck it down in January, had not been issued. But a three-judge panel of the D.C. appeals court issued its final order this week. This means, barring a last-ditch final appeal to the full court, that an estimated 13,700 transgender service members – out of a total of about 15,000 – will be kicked out of the U.S. armed forces on April 12th, and other openly trans people will not be able to enlist.
Defense Department officials insist that it’s not a “ban” on transgender service members. But the new policy allows a trans person to serve only if they do so in their birth gender, and vow not to transition while serving.
Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, approved a bi-partisan resolution this week opposing the ban and “the flawed scientific and medical claims upon which it is based.” Five Republicans joined all the Democrats in a vote of 238 to 185.
In other news, global online giant Google has bowed to pressure from LGBTQ groups and other human rights groups and removed an app that purports to help people change their sexual orientation. The last straw for Google this week was apparently falling from the Human Rights Campaign’s list of companies with a perfect “Corporate Equality Index” score. Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon have already removed the Living Hope Ministries’ “gay cure” app for violating terms of service. It was still available to Android Google users until this week.
The Texas-based Ministries claims that same-gender attraction is “a sexual sin,” and calls it a “sickness,” an “addiction” and “a destructive lifestyle.” Nearly every mainstream mental health organization – certainly in the Western world, at least – rejects the claims of its proponents, and considers so-called “conversion therapy” to be a danger to a patient’s mental and physical health.
The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention group serving LGBTQ youth, applauded the move in a statement that said, in part, that “We are glad Google has joined the rest of the technology sector in its rightful rejection of the dangerous and discredited practice which harms LGBTQ youth we serve each day.”
More than 140,000 people signed a Change-dot-org petition calling on Google to pull the app from its Play Store. According to Gay Star News, a separate petition calling on Apple to restore the app has, at last count, 47 signatures.
And finally, you might recognize Norwegian Airlines for it distinctive tail fins, which portray the likeness of different trailblazing historical figures “who have pushed boundaries”. Notables already featured include Roald Dahl, Henrik Ibsen, and Greta Garbo.
The Airline, which operates in all the Nordic countries, along with Spain, France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Argentina, and the U.S., announced the newest addition to its “tail fin heroes” fleet this week. He’ll be smiling on the airline’s newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which is based in London. But the service was set to launch on March 31st in San Francisco, the New York-born honoree’s adopted home. The airline has already feted queer icons Freddie Mercury and Oscar Wilde.
Have you figured out who the new “tail fin hero” is? A Norwegian Airlines’ media statement said that Harvey Milk is being honored for “bravery and courage … that will span the globe for years to come, reinforcing our joint commitment to making the world a smaller, friendlier, and more inclusive place.”
Stuart Milk, Harvey’s nephew and cofounder of the Harvey Milk Foundation, celebrated the news. “We look forward to seeing Harvey ‘flying’ into airports across the globe,” he said, “and continuing to spread his message of acceptance.”
Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!