Queer Black Lives Matter on the anti-racism/anti-police brutality frontline! LGBTQ politicians and activists speak out on the historic uprising that began in the United States and has spread around the world!
Swiss lawmakers finally talk marriage equality, Panama’s equal marriage lawsuits languish in limbo, a Japanese judge rejects a murdered gay man’s spouse survivor benefits, Putin plays the queer card in his latest power play, Puerto Rico’s new Civil Code concerns rights activists, a French village elects the country’s first transgender mayor, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of June 8, 2020
Queer Black Lives Matter!
Program #1,680 distributed 06/08/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Conservatives fail to stop a marriage
Feature: If it took the Minneapolis, Minnesota police killing of George Floyd to make you realize the meaning of Black Lives Matter … well, you’re late to
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending June 6, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Laura Dickinson-Turner and Michael Taylor-Gray,produced by Brian DeShazor
Swiss lawmakers are finally discussing marriage equality. Finally. There have been less-than-equal civil partnerships for same-gender couples there since 2007.
But on June 3rd the House of Representatives rejected arguments from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party that those civil partnerships are enough.
Switzerland’s government and the country’s Protestant churches each announced support for the bill in January. Roman Catholic Church leaders have been silent thus far, even though the measure extends adoption and assisted reproductive rights to married queer couples.
Almost 80 percent of the respondents to a survey by the Swiss queer rights group Pink Cross favor opening civil marriage to lesbians and gays.
The House is expected to pass the marriage equality legislation, but its chances in the Senate are less certain.
Reuters notes that even if the legislation clears both chambers of the Swiss Parliament, opponents could challenge equality in a public referendum. For that they would need to gather at least 50,000 signatures from registered voters within a hundred days after the bill passes.
Voters overwhelmingly supported a new law to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual people from discrimination in February. Sadly, it neglected transgender people.
Switzerland is among seven remaining Western European jurisdictions without marriage equality. The others are Italy, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in four marriage equality lawsuits in Panama are decrying the failure of the Supreme Court of Justice to address the issue. Carlos González Ramírez is with Morgan & Morgan, representatives for the plaintiffs. As he told the local TVN news site this week, the lawsuits “have been in the plenary session for four years in the hands of magistrate Luis Ramón Fábrega, and we have no explanation why these demands have not been resolved.” Ramírez also criticized “the Third Chamber of the Court, in the hands of Judge Cecilio Cedalise, which has not been defined.” The attorney added, “Likewise, there is an internal process in the Electoral Court, which has not been defined, either.”
Iván Chanis of the Equality Foundation pointed to the ruling published in January 2018 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It requires all signatories to the American Convention on Human Rights to open the civil institution to same gender couples if they had not already done so. Six of those 20 nations already had or now have marriage equality: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Uruguay. Panama is among those without it, on the list with Chilé, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru. Chanis said that, “both Ecuador and Costa Rica [recently] complied in recognizing civil marriages [for] same-sex couples. Panama stands out, but it does it in a negative way, by ignoring said decision.”
There has been no response to these comments from the Court to date.
TVN noted that far-right groups like the Panamanian Alliance for Life and Family remain vocally opposed to marriage equality. As much as 75-85 percent of the Central American nation identifies as Roman Catholic. Fifteen to 25 percent are evangelical Protestants.
A court in Japan has denied survivor benefits to a gay man whose partner of 20 years was murdered. It ruled that gay and lesbian relationships are not “de facto marriages.”
Hideaki Mizuno was killed in December of 2014. His murderer is serving a 14-year prison sentence.
Mizuno’s long-time partner Yasuhide Uchiyama first filed for the benefits designed to assist the surviving family members of crime victims in December 2016. Unmarried de facto heterosexual partners are eligible.
But Presiding Judge Masatake Kakutani of the Nagoya District Court said that the two men’s 20-year relationship did not meet the definition of “family.” The June 4th ruling said that, “two people of the same sex living together must first be regarded as equal to marriage in society.”
When the ruling was announced, Uchiyama told a press conference that, “It is extremely disappointing that my request was rejected on the basis that same-sex couples are not sufficiently accepted in society.”
More and more local Japanese municipalities have been offering same-gender couples partnership certificates that allow them to enjoy a few marital rights. Those are only recognized in the local jurisdiction, however. The federal government has steadfastly refused to even allow parliamentary debate on the issue.
There’s a marriage equality lawsuit against Japan’s government that several same-gender couples filed on Valentine’s Day 2019. It’s still working its way through the country’s court system.
In another case, a September 2019 [twenty-nineteen] decision awarded a woman compensation for the infidelity of her lesbian partner, even though they are not recognized as married in Japan. The Tokyo High Court upheld that ruling in March, according to the Kyodo news agency.
Uchiyama’s lawyers said that they would appeal this week’s district court ruling denying him survivor’s benefits.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is using homophobia to shore up his declining popularity again, while he pushes a referendum that would allow him to stay in power until 2036.
A video in that campaign has caused a viral commotion. It depicts a young boy being greeted outside an orphanage by his new adoptive father. The boy asks, “Where’s my mother?” The actor portraying the father points to a flamboyant caricature of a gay man sitting in the car nearby. A voice-over announcer asks, “Is this the Russia you want?” Viewers are then told to vote on July 1st for the constitutional amendments to extend Putin’s control – and to cement the definition of civil marriage as “between one man and one woman.”
LGBTQ groups were quick to protest. The activist group Stimul is calling for an investigation of Patriot Media Group, producers of the video. They charge that it “incites hatred and hostility” and violates Russia’s laws covering online communication. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, activist Pyotr Verzilov, and well-known journalist Tatyana Felgengauer are among high-profile Twitter users who mocked or denounced the video. Then YouTube yanked it. The actor who portrayed the flamboyant gay man apologized on Instagram.
A Patriot Media Group statement claimed it was part of a “get out the vote” effort. It cited Putin’s 2013 law banning so-called “gay propaganda.”
The referendum was re-scheduled from April 22nd to July 1st because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is still running rampant in Russia, however.
Some Puerto Rico rights activists are worried about a new Civil Code. It was approved by lawmakers in mid-May, and signed into law by Governor Wanda Vázquez on June 1st.
Veteran activist Pedro Julio Serrano pointed out that draft anti-discrimination provisions were removed to avoid debate over the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity. He wrote that, “When they gouge LGBTTIQ+ people’s eyes out, they gouge everyone’s eyes out.”
Queer activists in the U.S. Commonwealth have criticized the Vázquez administration for failing to respond to the escalating violence against sexual and gender-variant minorities. Close to a dozen LGBTQ people have been murdered on the island in the past 18 months.
Transgender people in Puerto Rico have been able to change the gender designation on their birth certificates since 2018. The new Civil Code appears to contradict that. It allows trans people to change gender on their government ID’s and claims that nothing “undermines the process currently established.” However it then states that changes to the original birth certificates “cannot be authorized.”
Opposition lawmaker Nydia Velazquez tweeted that the new Code “constitutes a threat to our LGBTQ communities and … undermine[s] a woman’s right to choose.”
José Melendez is a spokesperson for the ruling New Progressive Party. He said that the Civil Code just needed “updating” because it was “totally and completely obsolete.” It has not changed since 1930.
Finally, even as anti-queer attitudes in France have grown in recent months, a small northern town has elected the country’s first known transgender mayor. Marie Cau has lived among the 525 residents of Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes close to the Belgian border for the past 20 years.
Cau told Agence France Presse that citizens voted for her economic and environmental policies and values, not whether or not she’s transgender.
The 55-yer-old Cau acknowledged the history-making aspect of her new electoral position, but said that it just shows “that transgender people can have normal social and political lives. She added, “What’s surprising is that this is surprising.”
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