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Library Drags, Villains & Heroes

Louisiana librarians let kids check out diversity during Drag Queen Story Hour!

Queer Life and Lit commentator Janet Mason sails with Juliana to Paris, Adrift!

Randy Rainbow pins his hopes on Omarosa! … a flashback of then-Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 nomination acceptance speech — humor and history to soothe your Trump Distress Disorder!

Australia’s P.M. polka imperils equality prospects (with analysis by Barry McKay in Sydney), anti-queer Ghanaians organize “cure” facilities, a Hong Kong lesbian sues for partnership rights, Brazil’s closed Queermuseu reopening overwhelms protestors, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Sarah Sweeney (produced by Brian DeShazor, written by Greg Gordon).

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of August 27, 2018

Library Drags, Villains & Heroes!

Program #1,587 distributed 08/27/18

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Looking ahead to national elections, Australia’s ruling (conservative) Liberal Party replaces Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, considered too moderate on social issues by some of his party members, with farther-right Pentecostal Christian Scott Morrison, who opposed marriage equality and supports “religious liberty” measures to allow discrimination against LGBTQ people; Malaysian authorities continue to turn the screws on gay people, this week via the arrests and Islamic authorities-ordered counseling for “illicit behavior” of 20 men following a first-ever raid on a popular Kuala Lumpur gay nightclub after some 30 unfettered years of operation, while two women are convicted of having sex in a parked car and sentenced to canings; organizers of a “gay cure” camp in Ghana announce that about 400 people have voluntarily signed up; a lesbian files an unprecedented lawsuit against the government of Hong Kong for refusing to allow her and her partner to enter into a civil partnership; Russians arrested earlier this month for “attempted Pride” in St. Petersburg get fined, while the first minor believed to have been convicted of violating the country’s “no promo homo” law files an appeal; and Brazil’s controversial Queermuseu re-opens in Rio to record-breaking art-loving crowds (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by MICHAEL LEBEAU & SARAH SWEENEY) [9:25] + Analysis of our lead story about Australia’s new Morrison administration by SYDNEY correspondent BARRY McKAY.

Feature: It’s who reads the book that’s the issue in Lafayette, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama, where Drag Queen Story Hour events are being planned at local libraries. The programs geared for 3 to 8-year-olds feature men in drag reading approved picture books and leading other activities. They’re intended to teach individuality, diversity and acceptance. Lafayette mayor Joel Robideaux says he wants to find a way to get the event cancelled. Drag Queen Story Hour supporters turned out en masse to the August 21st Lafayette City-Parish Council meeting, but the mayor left the meeting rather than hear the arguments of citizens like Rhonda Kim Gleason. Meanwhile, conservative pastors and the Alabama Tea Party are making a stand against an upcoming Drag Queen Story Hour in Mobile, and protests are spreading across the country with the help of always subtle Infowars! host Alex Jones.

Feature: In Paris, Adrift, two Americans head for the City of Lights in 1955, and This Way Out Queer Life and Literature commentator Janet Mason is thrilled to make the trip with them and their creator, Vanda.

Feature: Who are you betting on to stop the Trump Administration “American carnage?” Special Counsel Robert Mueller? The U.S. Congress? Porn star Stormy Daniels? Internet sensation comedian Randy Rainbow tells us who his money is on this ersatz “news interview” and song pardoy, Omarosa! (with an intro sound bite starring U.S. President Donald Trump).

Feature: Comforting memories: It may feel like a lifetime away, but Hail To The Chief once did not set off alarms about what rights might be next on the chopping block. Just a decade ago this week (August 28, 2008) in Denver, Colorado, Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

“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 August 25th, 2018

Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Sarah Sweeney

Australia has its 6th new Prime Minister in 11 years, and it marks a rightward shift for the already-conservative government coalition led by the Liberal Party. Scott Morrison was promoted from Treasurer to Prime Minister by his party on August 24th to replace Malcolm Turnbull, who consistently caught flack from some Liberal MPs for his more moderate positions on social issues. He saw the writing on the wall and stepped aside earlier in the day.

Even more hardline rightwing lawmaker Peter Dutton had originally challenged Turnbull’s leadership. But Morrison was seen as a more palatable choice in the narrow 45 to 40 party room vote. He’s a Pentecostal Christian who strongly opposed marriage equality, and favors “religious liberty” measures that would allow discrimination against LGBTQ people. During a brief stint as Home Affairs Minister Morrison took harsh measures to prevent asylum seekers from living in the country, including a partnered gay Pakistani man.

Unlike many other Western democracies, Australian voters elect a political party rather than the party’s candidate for Prime Minister. This allows the ruling party to change Prime Ministers in mid-term. Both parties have virtually admitted in recent years to changing Prime Ministers because of falling poll numbers ahead of a national election, and this week’s shift was no exception. No sitting Australian Prime Minister of either major party has finished a full term in office since 2007.

And as the expression goes Down Under, many Australians, who are required by law to vote, have “had a gutful,” complaining about a governing political party virtually nullifying their votes before the term ends for the person they think they elected. Some have taken to social media to lampoon the situation. As the Associated Press reported, “One set up a tongue-in-cheek Twitter account that names Australia’s prime minister, with hourly updates. A popular meme circulated purporting to be a public service announcement: “Remember, Australia: Change of prime minister means change your smoke alarm battery.”

[BARRY McKAY in Sydney:] Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not predicted to last very long in office. There is talk of the Parliament holding a no confidence vote in the government in two weeks time when Parliament sits again. If that passes there will be an election in October and it is very likely that the conservative Liberal Party will get voted out.

Former PM Malcolm Turnbull is resigning from Parliament and there will be a by election in his electorate. Former PM Tony Abbot’s lesbian sister Christine Forster may stand as the Liberal Party candidate. However, if the Liberal Party fails to hold the seat, they lose their one seat majority in Parliament and the government again could be at risk of holding onto power if they do not get support from the cross benches.

If all goes well, then the next federal election has to happen by May next year. The general feeling is that as the Australian public is sick of a constant revolving door of prime ministers and disunity in the Liberal party. The Labor party are likely to take power again. Labor Party leader Bill Shorten was very vocal in his support for marriage equality last year.

Life for LGBTQ people in Malaysia has got even worse than we’ve previously reported. There was a first-ever raid on a venerable gay nightclub this week, and the sentencing of two women to potential jail time and canings under Islamic law after they were caught having sex in a parked car.

Same-gender sex is a criminal offense in mostly Muslim Malaysia. But each state can also punish Muslims for violations of Islamic law.

Equality advocates had hoped that the recent defeat of the rabidly anti-LGBTQ ruling party would mean at least a less vocally anti-queer government. But Malaysia’s new Deputy Health Minister has said that LGBTQ people suffer from an “organic disorder.” The Deputy Prime Minister opposes the idea of recognizing a transgender identity because it would “cause chaos in society,” and has urged all LGBTQ people to stay in the closet.

On August 18th police raided Blue Boy, a nightclub in the nation’s capital of Kuala Lumpur that’s long been popular with LGBTQ patrons. Officials had, for some 30 years, largely allowed the club to operate in peace. Local Islamic authorities ordered the 20 men caught up in the raid to undergo counseling for their “illicit behavior.”

And Human Rights Watch this week called for Malaysian authorities to stop the canings of those two women in the northeastern state of Terengganu, calling it “the latest blow to Malaysia’s LGBT community, which had hoped for better protection under the country’s new government.”

Some 400 people have reportedly volunteered for so-called “gay cure therapy” at an anti-queer conference in Ghana called “Exploring the myths surrounding LGBT rights.”

The event, to be held at an undisclosed location in the northwest African country, is being organized by the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values.

Its leader, Moses Foh-Amoaning, also announced plans to open a “Holistic Sexual Therapy Unit” at a teaching hospital in the capital city, Accra, which, according to the state-owned newspaper The Daily Graphic, will also attempt to “cure” queer people of their sexual orientation.

Gay sex is currently punishable in Ghana by three years in prison. However, Foh-Amoaning wants to make “cure therapy” a mandatory part of the sentencing. “We will make our punishment corrective,” he said, “instead of punitive.”

The moves come on the heels of an announcement by Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo that the government has “no authority” to overturn anti-queer sex laws, “and we will not seek any authority to do so.”

Speaker of Parliament Aaron Mike Oquaye said he would rather resign than allow discussion of pro-LGBTQ legislation.

Some see the latest wave of homophobia as a backlash to calls by British Prime Minister Theresa May at a Commonwealth Nations conference earlier this year for member states with laws against same-gender sex to consider repeal. Foh-Amoaning claims that it was part of a secret Western plan to reduce the continent’s population.

Ghana is among 37 of the Commonwealth’s 53 member nations to still criminalize LGBTQ people.

According to court documents released on August 24th, a lesbian is suing the Hong Kong government for denying her the right to enter into a civil partnership with her female partner. The woman, known only as “Mk,” filed the unprecedented lawsuit in June, but details of the case only emerged during a preliminary hearing at the High Court late this week. Her attorney, Ng Gene-bond, said during a 30-minute hearing that denying the woman’s request was unconstitutional, and violated the city’s Basic Law and Bill of Rights. “We want legal status for everyone,” Ng said, “regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Hong Kong lawyers said they needed input from all 13 government departments before they could respond. The South China Morning Post reported that Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming agreed to the extension, saying he expected the case to be heard during the first half of next year.

Hong Kong, while part of China, is considered to be a special administrative region of the People’s Republic, and as such, enjoys a relative degree of autonomy. The city’s only openly gay lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen called the lawsuit “a direct challenge to the whole system… The government has no way to escape from studying all levels of policies dealing with same-gender couples in the process,” he said.

But Michael Vidler, who’s litigated other queer rights cases in Hong Kong, worries that the lawsuit may be premature, and that successes by same-gender couples in Europe and the Americas might not necessarily work in Asia. “If this challenge fails,” he said, “it would set a bad precedent that will take many, many years to overcome.”

And finally, a controversial LGBTQ Museum in Brazil that was forced to close following an online petition by anti-queer conservatives has defiantly relocated and re-opened to record crowds. The Queermuseu debuted in the southern city of Porto Alegre a year ago, and was the first major exhibition dedicated to LGBTQ subject matter in the country. Conservatives accused organizers of promoting “pedophilia, bestiality, and blasphemy.”

Its grand re-opening at the private Parque Lagos’ School of Visual Arts in Rio de Janeiro on August 18th drew unexpectedly large crowds. The exhibition runs for one month, and features 223 works by 83 artists from around the world. The country’s biggest crowdfunding campaign raised some one million reals – about 275 thousand U.S. dollars – to cover relocation and related costs. The exhibition is free to the public.

Curator Gaudencio Fidelis told Agence France Presse that he’s hired 20 security guards and installed extra security cameras to protect people from rightwing protestors. “It is a very important moment for Brazilian democracy,” he said, “a convincing demonstration that the most progressive sectors of society will not accept censorship.”

Fabio Szwarcwald, the visual arts school director, said the exhibition has set a new attendance record. More than 8,000 people came to see the show on its first weekend.

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