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Croatia’s high court slams gay foster parent bias, Swiss voters outlaw homophobic hate, Putin restates marriage equality opposition, Ireland’s gay P.M. falls with party in election defeat, eight gay Mauritanians jailed for “dirty dancing,” and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of February 17, 2020
History Fix & Oscar Time!
Program #1,664 distributed 02/17/20
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Croatia’s Constitutional Court opens the
Feature: If you were waiting for that other shoe to drop, it has. Pete Buttigieg’s status as a Democratic US presidential front-runner has been
Feature: “Don’t know much about history?” That’s the point of this
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending February 15, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,and reported this week by Michael Taylor-Gray and Marlena Bond,produced by Brian DeShazor
Croatia’s Constitutional Court acted swiftly to resolve the denial of a gay couple’s application to be foster parents. High court President Miroslav Separovic explained that the year-old Foster Care Law specifically excluding queer couples “produces generally discriminatory effects” on those couples. According to Separovic, the Court “has ordered the courts to directly apply the Constitution … and not to discriminate against persons in same-sex communities.” The late January ruling was published on February 7th.
The Zagreb Administrative Court had ruled in December that prospective gay dads Ivo Segota and Mladen Kozic had the right to be foster parents. They had passed all the qualifying hurdles with flying colors, including psychological evaluations. But the city’s Social Welfare Center called the Administrative Court ruling just “an opinion.” The Constitutional Court is Croatia’s highest court, so it gets the last word. Its ruling applies to couples “living in informal and legal same-gender life partnerships.”
Conservative voices in the heavily Roman Catholic country claims it is harmful to children, but Rainbow Families Croatia applauded the decision. To them it’s a historic moment in the Balkan nation for qualified same-gender couples “to finally have the right to be foster parents on equal terms.”
We briefly reported last week on Switzerland’s February 9th anti-queer hate speech and discrimination referendum. In the final tally, more than 63 percent of Swiss voters were in favor of giving gays and lesbians the same protections in law already afforded to people based on race or religion.
Coca Cola bought front-page ads in all the major Swiss newspapers urging a yes vote — and took some rightwing heat for it. The tabloid Blick called the referendum result “a bad day for intolerant people.”
The rightwing Swiss People’s Party is the biggest single voting block in parliament. They said the vote would “silence unwelcome opinions and voices.”
Switzerland is one of Europe’s few holdouts on marriage equality. A bill to open civil marriage to same-gender couples is currently working its way through parliament. Access to medically assisted procreation for those couples is a more contentious issue, probably to be left for another time.
The country’s leading queer advocacy group Pink Cross commissioned a survey the day after the anti-bias vote. In it, four in five Swiss supported marriage equality. The group’s director Roman Heggli said that, “Parliament now needs to take a step forward.”
Stepping forward is not what Russia’s Vladimir Putin has in mind. During a meeting this week with a commission reviewing changes to Russia’s constitution, Putin said that “As far as ‘parent number one’ and ‘parent number 2’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again: as long as I’m president this will not happen.” That could be a long time. The commission is seen as part of Putin’s efforts to maintain power even after his scheduled departure from the presidency in 2024. He’s been able to maintain that power as either president or prime minister since 1999, thanks in part to an informal alliance with Russia’s Orthodox Church. They both reject so-called “Western values,” including acceptance of divergent sexual orientations and gender fluidity. Both supported the law against promoting so-called “gay propaganda” to minors in 2013. During the commission meeting this week Putin also expressed support for enshrining heterosexual-only marriage in the constitutional revisions currently being considered.
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron recalled “an icy exchange” on LGBTQ rights when Putin told him that “Russia’s problem was a declining population, and he needed men to marry women and have lots of children.”
Putin has also all but ignored the continuing genocidal persecution of queer people in the semi-autonomous mostly Muslim Russian region of Chechnya.
This week St. Petersburg police cited the law against “promoting gay propaganda to minors” when they shut down a video shoot. It was for a song called Rage featuring dozens of mostly female and LGBTQ people backing the defiantly feminist pro-queer Russian punk band Pussy Riot.
The political party of openly gay Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar placed a disappointing third in national elections this week. His tenure is likely over. Varadkar’s center-right Fine Gael party fell behind rival center-right party Fianna Fáil and the leftwing Sinn Féin. Polls showed that voters were disappointed in the current government’s progress on health and housing issues.
The more progressive voices in Ireland’s LGBTQ community criticized Varadkar for not doing more to advance queer rights, but he was defended by his partner, Matthew Barrett. Barrett said, “I’m disappointed in the country, not disappointed for Leo. I know he did a great job.”
Ireland’s first lesbian cabinet minister blames a “hate-filled” social media campaign for the expected loss of her seat, according to Pink News. Katherine Zappone famously proposed to her partner Ann Louise Gilligan on live television in 2015 following the successful marriage equality referendum. Gilligan died two years later after a brief illness.
Green Party candidate Roderic O’Gorman celebrated his election victory in Dublin with a widely televised kiss with his partner Ray Healy.
Four men are under arrest in connection with the murder of Northern Ireland’s crusading lesbian journalist Lyra McKee. The 29-year-old was shot to death while covering anti-government riots in Londonderry in April 2019. The New IRA soon took responsibility, but claimed that their guns were aimed at police officers and that McKee was shot accidentally.
One of the men detained under the Terrorism Act this week is 52-year-old Paul McIntyre from Derry. He’s been charged with murder, possession of a firearm, and membership in the banned Irish Republican Army. The BBC reported a scuffle outside the courtroom between more than 40 police officers and protesters with placards calling McIntyre a “political hostage” and a “British scapegoat.”
McIntyre’s next court appearance is scheduled for February 27th.
McKee had just signed a book deal and was planning to propose to her girlfriend Sara Canning at the time of her death, but she never lived to see marriage equality come to Northern Ireland. A number of prominent British and Irish politicians joined hundreds of mourners at her funeral. A mural dedicated to her was painted in Belfast.
Eight men were sentenced to two years in prison this week in Mauritania for “indecency” and “inciting debauchery.” Police officials originally claimed that they had found the men “imitating women” at an illegal “gay wedding” posted on social media. Police Commissioner Mohamed Ould Nejib said the detainees were charged with “acts contrary to morality, committing acts forbidden by Allah, and circulating a ceremony of debauchery.”
The defendants had all pleaded not guilty. Human Rights Watch’s Graeme Reid said the convictions make “singing and dancing at a birthday party … a crime.”
Two other men caught up in the raid were acquitted. And a woman who was also at the party received a suspended one-year sentence.
Two years in prison is not as bad as it could have been. Mauritania is one of 11 countries that execute people convicted of illicit sex. Convictions in the Northwest African nation call for death by stoning – though no such executions are known to have taken place.
A worrisome bill that would have criminalized South Dakota transgender teens and their healthcare professionals is dead – at least for this legislative session. The Republican-controlled state Senate killed the measure this week that the House passed in late January. A Senate committee defeated it by a 5-to-2 vote.
The proposal would have sent doctors to prison for providing hormone treatment or puberty blockers to minors. It would also have punished medical professionals for participating in a minor’s gender-affirmation surgery – an operation that’s not usually performed on minors anyway.
Any celebrations over South Dakota were quashed the following day, however. Two Republican lawmakers in Ohio announced that they were introducing similar legislation.
Finally, the Lone Star State is suing the Golden State. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the U.S. Supreme Court this week to overturn a 2017 California law that bans government-funded travel to states with discriminatory anti-queer laws. Texas is one of 11 such states, and Paxton himself is notoriously homophobic. The targeted state of Oklahoma retaliated last month with its own ban on state-paid travel to California.
A statement from the office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said only that they were reviewing the legal filing.
Ricardo Martinez of Equality Texas said that Paxton has used “religious liberty” to justify a number of attacks on LGBTQ rights. He told the Texas Tribune, “States that pass discriminatory legislation face economic consequences. The California travel ban is one example.”
Equality California’s Samuel Garrett-Pate said that other state officials “don’t have the prerogative to tell Californians how to spend our money.”
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