Germany protects minors from “conversion therapy,” Indonesian exorcists claim queer “cures,” acclaimed Egyptian actor supports trans son, Turkey cracks down on kids’ COVID rainbows, Hungary accepts gay and bi men’s blood donations, two black gay U.S. writers bag Pulitzers, Sulu’s phaser stuns Breitbart homophobes, and more international LGBTQ news!
Gould Mines 1998 Gold!
Program #1,676 distributed 05/11/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Germany becomes the fifth country in the
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending May 9, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Michael LeBeau,produced by Brian DeShazor
Germany’s Bundestag voted on May 7th to outlaw so-called “conversion therapy” for anyone under the age of 18. The legislation was introduced in the parliament by Health Minister Jens Spahn, the country’s highest-ranking out public official. It was backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is expected to sign it into law. That will make Germany the fifth nation on the planet to ban the practice for minors.
“Conversion therapy” claims that anyone who is not cisgender and heterosexual can find the “straight and narrow” through therapy. Prayer is often a prime component in the widely discredited “cure,” sometimes accompanied by bizarre methodologies.
Anyone engaging in the practice can get up to a year in jail and/or tens of thousands of dollars in fines under the bill. There are also penalties for parents or guardians who force or deceive a minor into undergoing “conversion therapy,” as well as for anyone who advertises or promotes it.
The Greens and other leftist parties pushed for the same protections for people aged 18 to 26. Most of Germany’s LGBTQ organizations are applauding the legislation except for that omission. However, a provision of the new law apparently does protect those young adults if the so-called “conversion therapy” was coerced.
Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, Taiwan, and some U.S. and Australian states have already enacted similar legislation. Canadian lawmakers are currently considering banning the bogus practice there.
Indonesia seems to be going in the opposite direction when it comes to “converting” queers. Lawmakers there are likely to pass a so-called “Family Resilience” bill that would essentially require LGBTQ people to undergo “rehabilitation” to expunge their variant sexual orientations or gender identities. The resulting anti-queer rhetoric by Indonesian religious and government leaders has brought media attention to the practice of performing so-called “exorcisms.”
Indonesia is by population the world’s largest predominantly Muslim country. But a traditional shamanist strain runs through the Southeast Asian island nation, and it’s a widely held belief that evil spirits possess LGBTQ people. The Bangkok Post talked this week with some queer Indonesians who have been traumatized by these “exorcisms,” and with some practitioners who claim that they have successfully “cured” queer people.
A transgender woman said she was locked in a room for days while being bombarded by verses from the Quran. She was also doused with freezing water by an imam to purge her “disease.” One exorcist who claims to have “cured” about 10 clients told the Post that he places his hands on a client, reads from the Quran, and watches for signs that the evil spirits are being expelled.
The “Family Resilience” bill would specifically ban same-gender and S&M sex, and threaten offenders with losing custody of their children. Former Indonesian Women’s Commission member Budi Wahyuni spoke up for the minority position, telling the Post, “Conversion therapy, such as exorcisms, amount[s] to violence against LGBT people.”
Indonesia has an ostensibly secular federal government, but allows its province of Aceh to be governed by harsh Islamic law. Gay and lesbian people there are regularly caned in the public square.
A well-known actor in predominantly Muslim Egypt has made history by proudly embracing his transgender child.
Sixty-two-year old Hesham Selim shocked many viewers during a television interview this week when he and his son Nour discussed the difficulties Nour has faced. Selim said, “As his father, I have to help him to be able to live the life that we wants. … The problem in Egypt is we have either female or male, we don’t have anything in between.” The now-26-year-old Nour came out as transgender to his father at the age of 18.
Transition surgeries are rare in Egypt, and require religious approval if they’re performed at all. The father and son told Jaafar Talk that they decided not to seek approval for the surgery Nour got because they expected to be condemned. Nour said that only God could judge him.
LGBTQ people suffer routine discrimination and physical violence in Egypt. Homosexual acts are not specifically outlawed, but gay men are routinely targeted in police raids and social gathering places. Typically the charge is debauchery, which is against the law. Transgender people don’t fare any better. Under Egyptian law Nour is still legally female.
Social media response to Hesham and Nour’s televised revelation has been mixed, though mostly positive. Father and son were damned by some for violating Islamic law, but praised by others for their courage. One Twitter user called it “a conversation that has been missing for so long.”
Nour said during the interview, “Try to understand me … don’t hate me without knowing me at all.”
Secular democracy also seems to be waning in Turkey – for LGBTQ people as much or more than for everyone else. Leading Muslim cleric Ali Erbaş kicked off Ramadan with a sermon in which he said, “Islam curses homosexuality [which] brings with it illnesses and decay … Let’s work together to protect people from such evil.” Erbaş heads Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs.
His remarks made in late April were criticized by the Ankara Bar Association and a number of human rights groups. However the increasingly autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the cleric’s comments “totally right,” adding that, “an attack against [Erbaş] is an attack on the state.”
Now the government is taking action against a “sinister” rainbow connection. Children in COVID-19 lockdown around the world have drawn and posted rainbows as a sign of hope for those in isolation and in support of healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic. Turkish teachers urged their locked-down children to join in, and some of their artwork was posted online by the Istanbul Modern Art Museum.
But Turkey’s Education Ministry called the project a “plot” to turn kids queer. It ordered schools to prevent children from drawing what it labeled the “LGBT symbol of perversion.” Teachers who encouraged the rainbow paintings are accused of “spreading LGBT propaganda.”
Turkish queer advocacy group the Social Policy Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association tweeted, “There is no color of hate in the rainbow!”
On one hand Hungary’s despotic leader Viktor Orbán [VEEK-tohr OHR-ban] is using the COVID-19 pandemic to suppress the human rights of his transgender citizens. He’s pushing a bill to replace “gender” with “birth sex” on all legal documents.
On the other hand, Hungary leapt over most of the industrialized world this week by completely lifting its ban on blood donations by sexually active gay and bisexual men. Just as it is for heterosexual donors, risky behavior is disqualifying.
Activists are lobbying for similar action in a number of countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom. Despite a desperate need during the pandemic, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is sticking to its recently announced reduction in the celibacy requirement for blood donations by gay and bisexual men from one year to three months.
Two African-American gay men won Pulitzer Prizes in literature this week. Michael R. Jackson’s musical A Strange Loop made him the first Black writer to win the prize for musical theater. The New York Drama Critics Circle named A Strange Loop the Best Musical of the 2019-2020 season, and it’s been nominated for six Drama Desk Awards.
Poet Jericho Brown won a Pulitzer for his collection The Tradition. It was also a National Book Award finalist. Copper Canyon Press says its poet “questions why and how we’ve become accustomed to terror: in the bedroom, the classroom, the workplace, and the movie theater. … Jericho Brown is a poet of eros: here he wields this power as never before, touching the very heart of our cultural crisis.”
Finally, famed helmsman “Hikaru Sulu” of Star Trek’s “Enterprise” has phasers locked on Donald Trump. This week his alter-ego George Takei shared with his 2.9 million Twitter followers a novel approach to keeping homophobes indoors during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The 83-year-old actor wrote, “I’m starting a rumor on the Breitbart chats that COVID-19 turns you gay. … That should keep a lot of these idiots at home.”
The conservative website published a story about the Takei tweet, apparently feeling it necessary to warn its more gullible readers that the proud gay Asian human rights activist was just kidding.
[Takei sound: “Oh myyyyyy!”]
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