Judge Brett Kavanaugh side-steps U.S. Supreme Court questions from Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and activists raise the civil rights alarm!
Outspoken trans kid Evie Macdonald schools Australia’s new Prime Minister Scott Morrison on gender identity and self-determination.
YouTube star Randy Rainbow lends some satirical relief with If You Ever Got Impeached.
India’s colonial sodomy law falls at last, a lesbian couple is caned in a Malaysian courtroom, a dangerous homophobe leads Brazil’s presidential polls, Chelsea Manning overcomes Australia’s speaking tour denial, and more international LGBTQ news.
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of September 10, 2018
Program #1,589 distributed 09/10/18
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): India’s Supreme Court unanimously
Feature: Partisan defiance, 200 arrests and a dissembling nominee all made the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice a Congressional battle royal. LGBTQ and women’s rights groups have been at the forefront of protests against the Trump Administration’s ultra-conservative choice for the high court. They’re concerned about just the kind of classic judicial double-speak Kavanaugh used in response to pressing questions by several Democrats on the committee about
Feature: Australia’s Liberal Party only just made Scott Morrison its new conservative Prime Minister in late August, and he’s already gotten into an ugly skirmish with the LGBTQ community. In response
Feature: YouTube star Randy Rainbow lends another dose of satirical
Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBT communities for the week ending September 8th, 2018 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Sarah Sweeney
India’s Supreme Court has finally overturned the anti-queer provisions of Penal Code Section 377, the remnant of British colonial rule that made same-gender sex a crime. The second-most populous country in the world – behind China, where gay sex is not specifically outlawed – is believed to have the second-largest LGBTQ population, estimated at 78 million people, making this the biggest decriminalization of private, consensual adult same-gender sex in history.
The unanimous five-member high court panel issued its ruling on September 6th that anti-queer provisions of Section 377 were unconstitutional and a violation of privacy rights. Those convicted faced prison terms of up to 10 years, and activists have been fighting to overturn the law since the early 1990s. A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year affirmed the constitutional right to privacy, which paved the way for the repeal of Section 377.
Banner front-page headlines such as “Love At First Right,” “Rainbow Nation” and “Independence Day” celebrated the verdict in most of the nation’s newspapers. An English-language newspaper for India’s Muslim community called the ruling “a step towards self-destruction.” A right-wing Hindu nationalist newspaper insisted that homosexual acts are “not natural.” But Chief Justice Dipak Misra wrote in the ruling that “We have to vanquish prejudice, embrace inclusion, and ensure equal rights,” and that beliefs of the majority about morality “cannot dictate constitutional rights.” Provisions of Section 377 against bestiality have been retained.
A spokesperson for India’s ruling BJP party, which had refused to take a position on the issue during the court proceedings, said that the government would support the decision. But several lawmakers have said they oppose granting further rights to LGBTQ people, such as workplace anti-discrimination protections or marriage equality. So, after dancing in the street in several Indian cities to celebrate the decision, LGBTQ activists say their work is just beginning.
Section 377 of India’s Penal Code, first implemented in 1860, served as a template for similar laws throughout much of the former British Empire. Colonial governors in Asia and Africa used the language of India’s Section 377 to outlaw so-called “unnatural acts” – generally understood to mean anal sex, or sodomy – while in the Caribbean, the laws were imposed against “buggery.”
Legal challenges to anti-gay sex laws are pending in the African nations of Kenya and Botswana, both of which inherited versions of India’s Penal Code during their colonial periods. Similar laws were overturned in 2015 in Belize, and in 2018 in Trinidad and Tobago. Same-gender sex remains illegal in 71 countries. In more than a half dozen countries, convictions can bring the death penalty. That includes Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and parts of Somalia and northern Nigeria. Members of the so-called Islamic State in Iran and Syria have also brutally executed LGBTQ people.
Two women who were caught having sex in a parked car earlier this year were caned in a Malaysian courtroom this week. Their punishment had been delayed due to what authorities called “technical reasons.”
Malaysia has a dual court system that punishes Muslims for violations of Islamic law, which include harsh penalties for infidelity and homosexual behavior. It’s not clear how many strokes of the cane the two Muslim women were forced to endure in the northern state of Terengganu, but they were reportedly struck six times by a female prison officer. Malaysia’s Star newspaper reported that the older woman didn’t wince, but that the younger woman sobbed as she was being caned. Each woman has also been fined the equivalent of more than a thousand U.S. dollars, and will be jailed for four months if she can’t pay.
Same-gender sex is banned in secular Malaysia as well under laws that date back to British colonial rule, which lumps it, with bestiality, as being “against the order of nature.”
Several global advocacy groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have condemned the barbarity of the latest punishments, and the steadily deteriorating plight of LGBTQ people in the Southeast Asian country.
A government minister recently ordered the portraits of 2 queer activists removed from a local art exhibit, and police raided a previously “untouchable” popular gay nightspot in Kuala Lumpur. Officials say these efforts are attempts to “mitigate the LGBT culture from spreading into our society.”
Islamic authorities in the large Malaysian peninsula state of Pahang are considering updating their laws to use canings to punish people convicted of engaging in same-gender sex.
In other news, Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales unequivocally rejected marriage equality in the most populous country in Central America during a lengthy speech on September 1st.
“Guatemala and our government believe in life,” he said. “Our government and Guatemala believe in the family based in the marriage of man and woman.”
Even though civil marriage is already defined in Guatemalan law that way, a bill called the Law to Protect Life and Family is advancing through the nation’s unicameral Congress to explicitly ban marriage for same-gender couples. It also effectively curtails the state’s ability to promote sexual and reproductive health and education, and forbids discussions of non-heterosexual sex.
The bill flies in the face of the January 2018 marriage equality ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is binding on signatories to the region’s American Convention on Human Rights, which includes Guatemala. “I remind the people of Guatemala,” Morales said, “that their institutions and their officials, according to Article 156 of the Political Constitution of the Republic, are not obligated to follow illegal orders.”
If the Law to Protect Life and Family passes, as expected, activists say they’ll sue in the country’s Constitutional Court. If they lose there, they’ll seek relief at the Inter-American Court.
A far-right homophobe is leading the polls to become Brazil’s next President. Jair Bolsonaro of the oxymoronically named Social Liberal Party surged ahead after former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was banned from running because he’s serving a 12-year prison term for corruption. Brazil’s current President Michel Temer, who’s not running for reelection, is also facing corruption charges.
The 63-year-old Bolsonaro has served in Brazil’s legislature for 27 years. He has a well-documented history of anti-queer comments. He said in an interview with Playboy in 2011 that, “I would be incapable of loving a gay son. I prefer that he die in an accident.” He repeated that sentiment during a 2013 interview. “No father would ever take pride in having a gay son,” he said. Bolsonaro also claimed that LGBTQ activists “want to reach our children in order to turn the children into gay adults to satisfy their sexuality in the future. So these are the fundamentalist homosexual groups that are trying to take over society.” He also claimed that, “90 percent of homosexual deaths” are from “drug-related situations, prostitution, or even [at the hands of] their own partners.” And he told Time magazine just last month that if he ever saw two men kissing each other on the street he would punch them.
The first round of presidential voting in Brazil is set for October 7th. If no candidate gets at least 60 percent of the vote, which is unlikely in a crowded field of contenders, a run-off will be held on October 28th.
Bolsonaro was stabbed in the abdomen during a rally on September 7th, and while he’s reported to be in serious but stable condition, aides say he would be able to take office if he’s elected.
Transgender U.S. whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been unable to secure a visa to enter Australia – supposedly based on a “character failure” – for several scheduled speaking engagements. A coalition of human rights groups argued that Manning’s freedom of expression and human rights work outweighed her criminal conviction for sharing thousands of confidential military and diplomatic documents exposing America’s failures during the war in Iraq, for which she spent 7 years in an Army stockade before President Barack Obama commuted her original 35-year sentence.
Last month far-right Pentecostal Christian Scott Morrison assumed the office of Australian Prime Minister. Amnesty International issued a press release condemning Manning’s inability to get a visa, saying that it sends a message that “this new Australian government places little value on freedom of speech.”
She was welcomed in New Zealand, however, and has appeared via a video link at all scheduled Australian events, including speeches in Brisbane, Melbourne, and even the Sydney Opera House. She discussed her work as a whistleblower and human rights activist, including her advocacy of LGBTQ rights.
At one point the Sydney Opera House moderator referenced her pre-transition name of Bradley Manning. “Please don’t ‘deadname’ me,” she quickly interrupted, which was met with sustained audience applause.
And finally, a lawsuit against four members of the U.S. House of Representatives for displaying LGBTQ rainbow Pride flags at their offices, which notorious homophobe Chris Sevier claimed to be a violation of the separation of church and state, has again been dismissed. He had targeted California representatives Susan Davis and Alan Lowenthal, Virginia’s Donald Beyer, and Ohio’s Earl Bluenauer.
A judge tossed out the original lawsuit in March, but Sevier appealed. An appeals court judge dismissed the case again last week, which Congresswoman Davis called “a good day for justice and equality.”
Sevier once tried to marry his laptop to protest U.S. marriage equality.