Slain Northern Ireland lesbian journalist Lyra McKee leaves a lasting message about opening hearts and minds!
Outcasting Overtime trans teen Amalee takes “decent people” to pronoun protocol school!
LGBTQ job rights cases head to U.S. Supreme Court, Turkish court frees Ankara Pride, Ukrainian cops play rough in Dnipro gay club raid, Tampa rides U.S. lesbian mayor wave, Taipei readies for marriage equality, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of April 29, 2019
Honoring McKee & Proper Pronouns!
Program #1,622 distributed 04/29/19
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear
Feature: Lesbian freelance journalist Lyra McKee left her BELFAST,
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending April 27, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,produced with Brian DeShazor,reported this week by John Dyer V and Te’Juana Johnson
The U.S. Supreme Court announced on April 22nd that justices would review 3 separate cases dealing with LGBTQ workplace bias. The central question asks whether or not Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans employment discrimination “on the basis of sex” also protects lesbigay and transgender people. Lower courts have arrived at different conclusions. There have been split decisions on cases involving sexual orientation and cases involving gender identity or expression – though most federal district courts have ruled that both are covered under Title VII. The highest court in the land is being asked to settle the issue.
The first case comes from Michigan and involves the firing of funeral director Aimee Stephens after she told the devout Christian owner of Harris Funeral Homes that she is transgender and would be coming to work as a woman. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Stephens’ favor in March 2018, saying that the funeral home violated Title VII when they fired her.
Daniel Zarda lost his job as a skydiving instructor in New York. He tried to reassure a female customer who was nervous about the closeness they’d share during the dive by telling her that he was gay. Altitude Express fired him for that gentle “coming out” gesture. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February 2018 that Title VII does, indeed, apply to sexual orientation.
But Gerald Bostock was fired from his job as a County Child Welfare Services Coordinator in Georgia when management found out that he played in a gay recreational softball league. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Bostock’s appeal in May 2018, deciding that sexual orientation is not covered by Title VII.
The Obama Justice Department argued that Title VII does prohibit workplace bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Conversely, the Trump administration has claimed that Title VII offers no such protections to L-G-B-or-T people.
Lawyers will argue the cases during the U.S. Supreme Court session that begins in October. All eyes will probably be on Chief Justice John Roberts as the potential swing vote. There are four reliably pro-queer votes on the high court. Roberts often – but not always – votes with the conservative majority that’s likely to vote against LGBTQ employment rights. A decision is expected to be announced in June 2020, just as things are heating up in the U.S. presidential campaign.
Democrats have re-introduced legislation to add workplace protections for LGBTQ people to federal law – legislation that most people in the country believe already exists. Passage of such a measure could steal the high court’s thunder. That’s probable in the House, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not likely to let such legislation see the light of day in his chamber.
A court in Turkey has overturned a ban on LGBTQ Pride events in the nation’s capital city, Ankara. The ban was established in November 2017 under emergency powers given to the government after an attempted coup the year before. Local authorities had banned LGBTQ Pride activities because they could “provoke reactions within certain segments” – like sometimes violent anti-queer protests by rightwing religious groups. The 12th Administrative Court’s April 20th decision favored the plaintiffs, Turkey’s leading queer rights group KAOS-GL. A similar effort had been rebuffed last November. One of the group’s attorneys told reporters that, “the court ruled that the state must protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of [LGBTQ people].” Amnesty International called it “a momentous day” for LGBTQ people in Turkey, adding that, “Love has won once again!”
Pride events have also been banned in the country’s largest city, Istanbul. But elections in March replaced the homophobic mayors of both Istanbul and Ankara with moderate leaders whom The Middle East Eye described as being more supportive of queer rights.
The European branch of the global LGBTQ advocacy group ILGA recently ranked Turkey third from the bottom among all countries in Europe and Western Asia – two places below notoriously anti-queer Russia. Only Armenia and Azerbaijan were considered in the survey to be worse for LGBTQ people than Turkey.
Police in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro invaded the gay nightspot Potemkin at about 1:00 a.m. on April 20th. According to the queer rights group Nash Mir, there were about 30 people in the venue at the time. Police forced all the customers and staaff to lie on the floor while they confiscated mobile phones and other personal property, along with a supply of condoms. Consensual adult gay sex is not a crime in Ukraine, although sometimes-violent animus towards LGBTQ people in the socially conservative nation is common.
Several accounts describe the police officers as abusively homophobic during the raid. Two foreigners who were visiting the club were forced to sing the Ukrainian national anthem. One customer was reportedly injured.
The official website of the Dnipro Police Department claims that the club was raided for breaking laws involving prostitution and human trafficking.
A statement issued by Nash Mir complained that, “At the time when there is no shortage of genuine criminal offense in Ukraine, including hate crimes based on sexual orientation, the police actually engaged in the fight against gay sex between consenting adult men.”
Management and some of the Potemkin customers swept up in the raid have filed formal complaints with city authorities.
In other news, the Florida city of Tampa has elected a proudly out lesbian, Jane Castor, as Mayor. The city’s first female Police Chief won in overwhelming fashion with close to 73 percent of the vote over her businessman opponent David Straz — this despite what the Tampa Bay Tribune called his “record spending on the race.”
Former out Houston Mayor and current LGBTQ Victory Fund head Annise Parker hailed the 59-year-old Castor as “the first openly lesbian big city mayor in the Southeastern United States.” During her victory speech the mayor-elect called her partner and political consultant Ana Cruz “invincible.” Castor said that her victory “sends a resounding message to our community – no, the nation – that Tampa celebrates its diversity and lifts everyone up in a positive way.”
Castor’s victory follows the elections in Chicago of out lesbian Lori Lightfoot, and in Madison, Wisconsin of Satya Rhodes-Coway. Another candidate, Jolie Justus, is vying in a Kansas City, Missouri run-off this June to be the fourth lesbian city chief executive to be elected in 2019 — which Parker is calling “the year of the lesbian mayor.”
And speaking of out city mayors, South Bend, Indiana’s Pete Buttigieg continues to be among the top tier of candidates competing for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Former Vice President Joe Biden finally announced his bid this week, solidifying his current “leader of the pack” status.
Buttigieg was condemned by right-wing evangelist and Trump apologist Franklin Graham this week, who urged Pete to “repent” or face “eternal damnation.” The Indiana mayor responded on CNN that, “God does not have a political party.” According to Buttigieg, “the core of faith is regard for one another.” There were at least two articles this week about how Buttigieg’s Midwestern married Christian persona is “driving the religious right nuts.”
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia Democrat Don Beyer, this week became the first federal lawmaker to endorse Buttigieg’s candidacy. Beyer said, “Everybody I talk to – even my Republican brother-in-law — is excited about him.”
And finally, officials in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, announced this week that the city’s Department of Civil Affairs has started to take in-person and telephone bookings for marriage registrations from lesbian and gay couples. The April 23rd announcement comes ahead of the May 24th deadline set by the island’s Constitutional Court for the beginning of marriage equality if lawmakers fail to act by then. The Court ruled on May 24th, 2017 that denying civil marriage to same-gender couples is unconstitutional, and ordered the Legislative Yuan to pass marriage equality laws within two years.
In a series of referenda last November sponsored by an anti-queer group, voters favored a separate status of “civil unions” for same-gender couples and rejected civil marriage. That has put lawmakers between the proverbial rock and a hard place, even though referenda cannot overturn Constitutional Court decisions. They’ve been unable to pass any measures that could meet the judicial requirement. However, they’ve still got a few more weeks.
Nevertheless, a traditional Wedding Banquet is being planned to celebrate marriage equality outside the Presidential Office Building in Taipei on May 25th.
Unless lawmakers come up with a stopgap measure, Taiwan will become the first in Asia to legalize the marriages of same-gender couples.
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