The Front Runner has crossed the finish line: an obituary for famed author-activist Patricia Nell Warren.
How memorializing “Rainbow Man” Gilbert Baker became a touchstone in the life of one queer youth.
Randy Rainbow’s latest musical parody channels Madonna to cut through Trump’s Border Lies!
Taiwan’s marriage equality proposal pleases no one, Nuevo Leon joins Mexico’s matrimonial equity states, U.S. ambassador targets global anti-same-gender sex laws, cops shift Smollett hate probe to false report charge, Serbia’s lesbian Prime Minister becomes proud mama, and more international LGBTQ news!
“Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!”
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of February 25, 2019
Program #1,612 distributed 02/25/19
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Taiwan’s government becomes the first in
Feature: The race may be over, but her inspiring trail will never be erased:
Feature: Gilbert Baker, the longtime activist and creator of the rainbow flag,
Feature: Randy Rainbow offers another tune to tango with the Trumpster
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending February 23, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Christopher Gaal
The government of Taiwan on February 21st became the first in Asia to submit a bill to its lawmakers proposing some form of civil marriage for same-gender couples. But most everyone agrees that the proposal falls far short of full equality.
Members of the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s lawmaking authority, are faced with a deadline of May 24th to comply with the island’s high court ruling in 2017 ordering them to open civil marriage to same-gender couples within two years. The Constitutional Court said that marriage equality would automatically come into force if lawmakers failed to act by then.
To complicate the situation, Taiwan voters in November specifically rejected full marriage equality, but approved less-than-marriage civil partnerships in separate ballot measures. However, while that outcome puts pressure on lawmakers to follow suit, voters cannot overturn high court decisions.
The government apparently doesn’t want to change the Civil Code to open marriage to same-gender couples, but to create a separate category for them that is ostensibly equal to marriage – with or without the name.
The major anti-equality group in Taiwan, the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, sponsored all of the homophobic measures on last November’s ballot, including a ban on LGBTQ people and issues in school curricula.
A spokesperson called the government’s draft bill to recognize same-gender couples “unacceptable.”
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said that, “This might fall short of expectations, but after all, it’s a start”, and that “I really hope our homosexual friends can wait a bit longer.”
Jennifer Lu of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan told Gay Star News that, “It is not fair to ask the LGBT community to wait a little longer.” But she said that the battle over competing anti- and pro-queer ballot measures last November has sapped many activists’ energies. “Many LGBT people don’t have the resources to face that battle again in their lifetime,” she said. “This bill may be the most possible way to give almost-equal rights to same-sex spouses.”
The current draft legislation gives one of the same-gender spouses the right to adopt the other’s biological children, but does not allow joint adoption. There are no specific provisions addressing queer unions between Taiwanese citizens and foreign nationals, nor same-gender couple access to assisted reproduction. But someone in a same-gender union can be prosecuted for adultery.
It remains unclear what form the same-gender couples bill will take along the road to possible passage, and whether or not activists will go back to the Constitutional Court to challenge a less-than-fully equal marriage measure.
Gay and lesbian couples in fourteen of Mexico’s 31 states now have marriage equality. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation this week unanimously overturned a marriage ban in Nuevo León, and ordered lawmakers to create new provisions in the state’s Civil Code to include same-gender couples. It’s the third time the country’s top court has struck down a state’s refusal to open civil marriage to same-gender couples.
Queer couples in Mexico’s other 17 states can currently marry if they go to court and get an “amparo,” an expensive and time-consuming process that nevertheless cannot be denied by a judge. Lesbian and gay couples can already marry in the federal district of Mexico City.
Mexico’s high court ruled that all state marriage bans were unconstitutional in 2015, but it has no power to strike them down unilaterally. Each remaining state ban must be contested separately.
Kenya’s Supreme Court has postponed a much anticipated ruling on the decriminalization of gay sex that it was expected to announce on February 22nd. Justice Chacha Mwita announced instead that some of the judges were still mulling a voluminous number of files submitted for the case by several petitioners. He set a new announcement date of May 24th.
“Acts against the order of nature” in Kenya are currently punishable by up to 14 years in prison under the penal code the East African country inherited from British colonizers.
The U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, the highest profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading a global effort to end the criminalization of same-gender sex. NBC News, which was first to report the initiative, said that LGBTQ activists from across Europe were being flown to Berlin this week for a strategy dinner at the U.S. Embassy on how best to push for decriminalization. Private consensual adult same-gender sex is a crime in 72 countries on the planet, mostly in the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Cynics note that the launch of the campaign was prompted by recent reports of the public executions of young gay men in Iran, a country that probably tops the president’s bogeyman list. However, one of Trump’s favorite Middle East countries, Saudi Arabia, is one of at least eight countries that also executes gay people.
Grenell, in an editorial in the German newspaper Bild, pointed to India and a few other countries that have recently decriminalized same-gender sex among consenting adults. He said that “reasonable people” must continue to speak out about laws in other places, including Chechnya, the Russian region where authorities have been violently purging gay people since early 2017.
Tony Perkins of the far-right Family Research Council questioned whether “President Trump – or anyone else in the administration – authorized this campaign.” But Grenell told NBC News that the initiative is “wildy supported by both parties.”
A tweet from queer media watchdog group GLAAD said that “We’d believe that the Trump administration will work to protect LGBTQ people around the world if they had not attacked LGBTQ people in the U.S. over 90 times since taking office.”
For his part, the president seemed oblivious to the effort when a reporter asked him about it this week:
Reporter: Mr. President, on your push to decriminalize homosexuality, are you doing that? And why?
Trump: Say it?
Reporter: Your push to decriminalize homosexuality around the world.
Trump: I don’t know which report you’re talking about. We have many reports. Anybody else?
In other news, actor Jussie Smollett was arrested in Chicago late this week and charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman reports:
[Amy:] “Smollett is said to have faked an attack that sparked widespread outrage last month. The actor, a star on Fox’s hit TV show Empire, told police he was violently attacked on the street in an apparent hate crime. Smollett, who is African-American and gay, said the attackers shouted homophobic and racist slurs, as well as ‘This is MAGA country,’ and placed a rope around his neck.
“Police believe Smollett paid two brothers, who were personal acquaintances, to carry out a staged attack. The Chicago Police Department cites records from a hardware store, where the brothers purchased the rope, and surveillance video of them picking up other supplies. Earlier this week, local media reported the attack was planned after a racist letter addressed to Smollett and sent to the Empire studio did not receive much attention. The letter contained a white powder, which was later determined to be aspirin. The FBI is now reportedly investigating the letter. Jussie Smollett has rejected the recent reports and maintains he gave a truthful account of the event. I’m Amy Goodman.”
Though Smollett received initial support from several celebrities and politicians, and from the cast of Empire, its producers announced late this week that he’s been suspended, and that his character is being written out of the last two episodes of the season. Some stories claim that he cooked up the scheme in an attempt to boost his salary, which had reportedly earned him from 65,000 to up to 125,000 dollars per episode.
Smollett has been released on bail of 100,000 dollars, and faces up to three years behind bars if he’s found guilty of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
But finally, some happier news: the family of Serbia’s lesbian Prime Minister Anna Brnabić grew by one this week as her partner Milica Djurdjic gave birth to a healthy baby boy through artificial insemination.
Brnabić’s appointment as Serbia’s first female and first out prime minister in 2017 by the country’s populist president was a surprise. Sexual and gender minorities in the Balkan nation face routine harassment and sometimes violent assaults. There are no anti-discrimination laws, and same-gender couples are not legally recognized. But the couple has attended public events together without incident.
They met at a Belgrade gay bar. Djurdjic works as a doctor.
Brnabić was scheduled as head of state to visit Brussels this week to lobby for Serbia’s admission to the European Union, but she postponed the trip to be with her spouse and new family addition.
The PM’s office announced that both birth mother and baby – whom the couple has named Igor – are “doing fine.”
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