A turning point in the decline of the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ten years ago this week is recalled to encourage transgender servicemembers fighting Trump’s ban on their service — which went into effect a year ago this week!
A Rainbow Minute reveals the Undercover Gays the U.S. Navy hunted down!
Chile’s top court “civil-unionizes” lesbian couple’s Spanish marriage, Poland moves to criminalize sex education, Virginia leads U.S. South in LGBTQ rights protections, Peru pulls gender-based lockdown rules, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of April 20, 2020
Don’t Tell, Don’t Transition!
Program #1,673 distributed 04/20/20
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Chile’s Constitutional Court reduces a
Feature: Transgender U.S. service members and prospective trans recruits
Feature: Truly music hath charms to soothe the savage COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns — and queer performers around the world are proving that with
Boston Gay Men’s Chorus and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus each paid tribute to first responders, frontline healthcare personnel and other essential workers (and enjoy the entire “virtual concert” performance videos of each Chorus at thiswayout.org!).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending April 18, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Laura Dickinson-Turner and Michael Taylor-Gray,produced by Brian DeShazor
Two late-breaking stories top our queer world newscast this week.
Chilé’s Constitutional Court has rebuffed a lesbian couples’ bid to have their legal Spanish marriage fully recognized at home. Two sections of Chiléan law were at issue. One of them restricts civil marriage to one man and one woman. The other requires foreign legal marriages of same-gender couples to only be registered as civil unions. The justices upheld both by a 5-to-4 vote.
However, the legal battle over marriage equality in Chilé is far from over. It’s one of 20 North, Central, and South American and Caribbean countries bound by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. A November 2017 decision by that Court requires gay and lesbian couples to have equal access to civil marriage. Six of the countries already have marriage equality, but Chilé is one of the 14 that still do not.
Meanwhile, one of South America’s marriage equality countries hit a complication this week. According to El Spectador Colombia’s Constitutional Court upheld a Civil Code provision defining one of the primary purposes of civil marriage to be procreation.
Polish lawmakers are considering jailing sex education teachers for “promoting underage sex.” Supporters of the “Stop Pedophilia” bill claim that sex education teachers often “groom and familiarize children with homosexuality.” They accuse LGBTQ activists of leading a sex education “lobby” in the country.
Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party has a long anti-queer track record. Its leaders consistently call LGBTQ rights an invasive foreign influence that threatens heavily Roman Catholic Polish society. If the bill passes, critics fear it will be used to imprison educators who discuss sexual orientation, discrimination, or reproductive health in their classrooms. Sentences could range up to 3 years.
Thousands protested the equation of homosexuality with pedophilia this week, braving the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown by waving flags and banners from their cars. Some were also protesting a complete “Stop Abortion” bill that’s also in the works.
It’s “a very cynical move”, according to Amnesty International Poland spokesperson Draginja Nadazdin. She told Reuters, “Instead of listening to tens of thousands of people who defied the lockdown, participated in protests both online and offline, they decided to continue working on [the Stop Pedophilia Bill].”
Hillary Margolis of Human Rights Watch also chided, “The Polish government’s focus during the pandemic should be to protect people’s health and rights, not diminish them.”
But Ola Kaczorek of the LGBTQ rights group Love Does Not Exclude Association said the proposal’s referral to parliamentary commission is a good sign. She notes that its “a tradition for bills the government [doesn’t] want to pass, but still won’t outright vote ‘no’ for, so as not to enrage some lobby groups.”
Virginia is now the first state in the southern U.S. to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Values Act into law on April 11th. Northam’s signing statement said that the measure “sends a strong, clear message – Virginia is a place where all people are welcome to live, work, visit, and raise a family.”
The Democratic majority that took over the state legislature in the November 2018 election “Blue Wave” has passed a string of pro-queer bills that had no chance under state Republicans.
They include a bill to prohibit health insurance discrimination against transgender patients sponsored by transgender lawmaker Danica Roem. A separate bill allows voters to cast ballots without showing photo ID – a ploy used to disenfranchise minority voters that’s also a potential stumbling block for trans people.
Gay state Senator Adam Ebbin sponsored a bill that formally repeals Virginia’s ban on marriage equality. According to Mara Keisling of The National Center for Transgender Equality, the governor has signed a bill mandating equal educational opportunities for trans students.
Northam signed a law banning so-called conversion therapy in March.
The state of Idaho and its Republican Governor Brad Little are being sued over a bill that penalizes transgender girls. The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act bans transgender girls from competing in women’s sports in the state’s public schools and colleges. One provision in the law particularly alarms civil rights activists – that’s the invasive “gender verification” procedures it allows.
HB 500 made Idaho the first U.S. state to force trans people out of scholastic athletics. The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho filed suit in federal court on April 15th. They’re representing two female plaintiffs: an un-named 17-year-old cisgender student at Boise High School who’s concerned about the bill’s gender verification requirements, and 19-year-old Boise State University trans athlete Lindsay Hecox, who says that she just wants “to run with other girls on the team.” Their lawsuit challenges what it calls a “hateful, unconstitutional” law. ACLU of Idaho Legal Director Ritchie Eppink told the Idaho Statesman, “Businesses, major employers, schools, doctors, and counselors have all warned that this law is terrible for Idaho.”
Activists now say that transgender Peruvians are experiencing the same kind of COVID-19 lockdown harassment previously reported by trans people in Panama. Transpeople in Panama are only recognized by their self-identified gender if they can prove they’ve had reassignment surgery. Both countries have gender-based rules governing who can go out when. Men and women can be on the streets to shop or run other needed errands on alternating days during the week. And no one is allowed out on Sundays. Transgender Peruvians can be arrested whichever day they go out. It happened to Peruvian transwoman Alexandra Arana this week. She described to El Comercio how police stopped her as she walked to the market on a women’s day out. Her national ID card says she’s male, so police ordered her to immediately get off the street. At least the gender-based guidelines have been rescinded in Peru – according to the BBC. A government spokesperson explained that in a patriarchal society where women do most of the shopping, the guidelines were ineffective. It may be no coincidence, however, that the lockdown protocol changed a week after Peru’s embarrassing defeat in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The government was found guilty of not prosecuting police for the rape and torture of a transgender woman.
In queer COVID-19 news this week, Manhattan real estate agent and LGBTQ philanthropist Robby Browne died of complications from the coronavirus on April 11th. The outgoing activist and queer cause fundraiser rubbed shoulders with celebrities ranging from Whoopi Goldberg, Olympian Greg Louganis, and actresses Hillary Swank and Uma Thurman, to Rosie O’Donnell, rocker Jon Bon Jovi, CNN’s Don Lemon, and Law and Order’s Mariska Hargitay.
At least three men who attended the annual Miami Beach Winter Party have succumbed to the disease. The yearly fundraising gala for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force drew some 10,000 mostly gay male attendees from March 4th through 10th. Dozens of them have since tested positive for the virus.
The first Winter Party-goer to reportedly die of COVID was 40-year-old Miami resident Israel Carreras. He was a radiologist, performed as a go-go boy at various events, and had no known health challenges. Carreras’ boyfriend Franco Conquista urged young people in particular to take the pandemic seriously. COVID-19 “doesn’t just kill old people,” as Conquista told local media.
The Task Force is also mourning the death of volunteer Ron Rich from COVID-19 complications. The 65-year-old Fort Lauderdale musician was a former high school band director.
Sixty-seven-year-old Fort Lauderdale real estate agent and concert pianist Thom Carr is the latest reported Winter Party death. Carr is survived by his husband of 35 years J. Heider.
Finally, the week after Easter one Liberty University student is refusing to be financially crucified by the Christian college founded by the late televangelist and Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell. Jerry Junior is now in charge.
BuzzFeed News reported this week that an anonymous student is suing Liberty for keeping the Lynchburg, Virginia campus open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but refusing to refund thousands of dollars in fees to students who have opted to stay elsewhere. Those campus service fees include prepaid housing, meals, and healthcare.
The lawsuit charges that refusing to consider pro-rated refunds – especially after on-campus classes had been cancelled – was “not only illusory and empty … but it was also extremely dangerous and irresponsible.”
Liberty University’s statement to BuzzFeed calls the lawsuit “without legal merit.”
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