Ty Herndon harnesses country music to help queer kids with the newly-released video So Small, featuring LGBTQ youth from Nashville’s The Rainbow Squad, and a benefit for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 50th Anniversary (interviewed by Brian DeShazor).
Patricia Arquette and Billy Porter bring out the 71st annual Emmys with liberating acceptance speeches!
And in NewsWrap: a doctor-activist seeks the “cure” for Singapore’s anti-gay sex law, Beirut and Montego Bay are stripped of Pride, South Korean queer kids suicide at shocking rates, gay Russian dads seek U.S. asylum, “hate” groups howl at U.S. government stumbling blocks, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Jon Beaupré and John Dyer V (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of September 30, 2019
Herndon Centers on Queer Kids!
Program #1,643 distributed 09/30/19
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Prominent Singapore activist Dr. Roy Tan
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending September 28, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Jon Beaupré abd John Dyer V,produced by Brian DeShazor
A prominent queer activist in Singapore has filed a lawsuit challenging the city-state’s ban on consensual sex between adult men. Dr. Roy Tan filed his case with the Singapore High Court on September 20th. The Attorney General is named as the defendant.
The punishment for “gross indecency between men” under Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code is up to two years in prison. Dr. Tan’s lawsuit argues that the “archaic and discriminatory” statute violates both Article 9 and Article 14 of Singapore’s Constitution. Those are the guarantees of life and personal liberty, and freedom of speech and expression.
Singapore’s Supreme Court upheld the legality of Section 377A in 2014. Tan hopes last year’s overturning of a similar statute by India’s High Court is a good omen for a pro-LGBTQ ruling this time.
Defenders of Section 377A claim that the British colonial-era statute is essentially harmless because it’s rarely enforced. Dr. Tan’s lawsuit argues that, “By institutionalizing discrimination, it alienates [gay men] from having a sense of belonging and purposeful place in our society.”
The retired physician and LGBTQ activist was the leading organizer of Singapore’s first Pink Dot “freedom to love” gathering in 2009. Attendance at that annual LGBTQ Pride event has grown exponentially every year since.
The entire schedule of Beirut, Lebanon’s planned nine-day LGBTQ Pride festival has been suspended until further notice. It was set to kick off with a free concert on Saturday night, September 28th at the well-known capital city venue, The Palace. Multiple threats against the organizers, attendees, and the venue itself forced the cancelation of the concert on September 26th.
The organizers’ statement said, “Religious institutions called for the cancellation of the concert, linking it to the promotion of same-sex marriage and associating it with debauchery and immorality.”
Lebanon is considered to be one of the region’s more queer-tolerant countries. Same-gender sex was decriminalized in 2013. Still, there are no affirmative rights for LGBTQ people. One of the Beirut Pride organizers was arrested and temporarily detained last year, and a number of events were cancelled then. This year the team is re-grouping to determine which of the other festival events might still be held.
Organizers of LGBTQ Pride in the Jamaican resort city of Montego Bay announced on September 26th that their events would be cancelled. They cited security concerns and the difficulty of finding a welcoming venue. Both Mayor Homer Davis and City Councilor Charles Sinclair expressed opposition to queer events being held at a government-owned cultural Center.
A statement from Montego Bay Pride charged that, “no other venue will rent to us at a reasonable rate.” Organizers also claimed that “The local police have advised that the hysteria whipped up against LGBT Jamaicans by the mayor and the councilor is so violent right now that the police can’t provide security … without extraordinary measures and expense.” Some three thousand people had been expected to attend the festival kick-off “Walk for Rights” on October 13th.
Montego Bay Pride also plans to take legal action alleging violations of their constitutional rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. They said that the city officials’ “dangerous and reckless words and actions … have brought international shame on Montego Bay and Jamaica.”
The English-speaking Caribbean island nation is considered to be one of the most queer-phobic places on earth. Discrimination, harassment, verbal abuse, and physical violence against those perceived to be LGBTQ are commonplace.
An alarming survey conducted among South Korea’s LGBTQ teens reveals that 45% have tried to commit suicide. More than half have attempted some kind of self-harm. Those shocking statistic prompted the LGBTQ advocacy group Chingusai to open an LGBTQ telephone helpline. Chingusai means “Between Friends.”
Same-gender sex was declassified in South Korea as ”harmful and obscene” in 2003. However a recent nationwide survey found that almost one in two South Koreans don’t want to live near or work with an LGBTQ person. Another poll found that 92% of LGBTQ people worry about becoming targets of a hate crime. The influential Protestant Christian Community calls sexual and gender minorities “unethical and abnormal.”
The depressing teen suicide survey is no surprise to Dr. Park Jae-wan. He works in a hospital by day and runs the Connecting Hearts helpline as a volunteer at night. Dr. Park told the BBC that young callers “usually talk about feeling alienated, isolated, feeling like they are a burden to someone.” Even though queer sex is no longer a crime, South Korea offers no legal protections for LGBTQ people. Dr. Park thinks that passing affirmative laws would be a good first step. “We need to seriously think about how to embrace sexual minorities, and think about what they need,” he said.
A gay couple who fled Russia out of fear that their two young sons would be taken away from them are seeking asylum in the U.S. Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev were vacationing with their sons abroad when they got word that police had searched their home and their families’ homes. They decided that it was no longer safe to return to Russia.
Vaganov adopted Denis and Yuri as a single parent in 2010. In July, the government announced an investigation of the Moscow social welfare agency that allowed the adoption. Vaganov legally wed Yerofeyev in Denmark in 2016. Since Russia does not recognize their marriage, Yerofeyev has no legal relationship to the couple’s children. No one has explained why the social workers are suddenly under investigation for “criminal negligence” after the family’s happy and uneventful years together.
The gay dads also face criminal charges under the 2013 law against so-called “gay propaganda”. Vaganov told German broadcaster Deutsch Welle that the law “immediately turned us into criminals because of our sexual orientation.”
According to the Russian LGBTQ group Coming Out, Denis and Yuri have started school in the U.S. and are adjusting to their new home.
According to former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Vladimir Putin is all about making babies. In his new memoir For The Record, Cameron recounts an “icy” exchange with Putin about Russia’s 2013 law banning “the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations.” Cameron writes that Putin bizarrely “said that Russia’s problem was a declining population, and he needed men to marry women and have lots of children.”
Finally, two U.S. anti-queer hate groups made news this week.
Tony Perkins of the far-right evangelical Family Research Council warned that Democrats were out to get their tax-exempt status. His urgent email to followers followed a decision by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee that more than 60 so-called “Christian” groups should not enjoy such status. Committee chair John Lewis said in a press release that, “I believe the federal government should not sponsor or support groups whose hatred seeks to divide us.”
The Family Research Council calls same-gender love “unnatural” – and worse. In his call to arms, Perkins warned that, “If they succeed in making the Bible ‘hate speech,’ they’ll march on to America’s churches – and then to anyone with politically incorrect views.” Pink News reports that several white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups were also among those named by the committee.
And a federal judge ruled this week that the Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries could be identified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Coral Ridge sued the civil rights organization in 2017. Amazon cited the designation to disqualify the Ministries from getting donations, so Coral Ridge sued them, too. They claimed that they were “recklessly” labeled among similar “pro-family groups that stand for traditional marriage and God’s rules for marriage – as haters.”
In response to the filing of the lawsuit in 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center insisted that, “The fact that Coral Ridge claims its statements about the LGBT community are biblically based doesn’t immunize it from criticism. We have a First Amendment right to express our opinions, just as Coral Ridge has a right to express its opinions.”
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson carefully avoided weighing in on whether or not Coral Ridge is, in fact, a “hate group.” However he did rule for the civil rights group’s free speech right to label the Ministries that way.
The Law Center said in a press release this week that organizations on it’s hate group list, “vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity – prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines.”
The statement also pointed out that, “The FBI uses similar criteria in its definition of a hate crime.”
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