Ex-ex-gay Australian author Anthony Venn-Brown challenges “the cure” and those who propagate it in his forthcoming book!
Europe’s human rights court slams Russia for banning Pride, a West Sumatra city joins Indonesia’s anti-queer crackdown, a Hong Kong rights bill fails as queer couples sue for housing, Bermuda and Taiwan continue marriage equality wrangling, a Puerto Rican lesbian couple spruces up Rockefeller Center, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of December 3, 2018
Program #1,601 distributed 12/3/18
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The European Court of Human Rights tells
Feature: Purported “conversion therapies” are spreading as fast as the legal
“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 LGBTQ communities for the two weeks ending December 1st, 2018 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and Wenzel Jones
The European Court of Human Rights has slapped Russia with a ruling that bans peaceful demonstrations of LGBTQ Pride as illegal. The decision, issued on November 27th, condemns “the continued refusal by Russian authorities to approve organizers’ requests to hold LGBT rallies,” which it said were “in breach of their right to freedom of assembly.” The Court found that the usual justification for denying those rights – to “preserve public order” – were “clearly motivated by the authorities’ disapproval of the theme of the demonstration,” and “did not correspond to a pressing social need and was thus not necessary in a democratic society.”
The Court denied the applicants’ claims for financial compensation, however, saying that its ruling constituted “sufficient just satisfaction.”
The case was filed at the Court, based in the French city of Strasbourg, by seven Russian activists who had submitted a total of 51 applications in various localities to hold LGBTQ-supportive events, all of which were denied. Most officials also referenced the country’s ban on the dissemination of “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations” to minors to justify the bans.
The ruling called on the Kremlin to implement a “sustained and long-term effort to adopt general measures to remedy the problem.” But based on previous responses to similar rulings against Russia by the European Court of Human Rights, Vladimir Putin is likely to also ignore this one. He’s always insisted that there is no discrimination against LGBTQ people in his country.
According to researchers, the number of hate crimes against sexual and gender minorities in Russia has doubled in the five years since he signed that bill banning so-called “gay propaganda” into law.
In the latest affront to Russian sensibilities, police in the country’s fourth-largest city, Yekaterinburg, seized artwork created for a high school’s drawing competition on “International Tolerance Day” as violations of the “no promo homo” law. Seventeen paintings were removed because they “depicted gay love,” including one described by a Russian website as including representations of different nationalities and silhouettes of same-gender couples. The headline read, “We are all unique. We don’t get to choose looks, race, [or] orientation.” Many of the drawings also featured rainbows.
Officials said that it would take about a month to examine all of the drawings for signs of “gay propaganda.” The school’s principal denied that any of the drawings “promoted non-traditional values,” saying that they reflected “universal human values, friendship, respect, mutual understanding, and acceptance of other people’s values and views.”
A local lesbian activist identified by Gay Star News only as “Mariya” said she was “disgusted” by the latest use of the “gay propaganda” law. “Imagine being a child at that school. Instead of being rewarded for showing acceptance of minorities, you’re punished,” she said. “So much for tolerance.”
Authorities in Pariaman, a major Indonesian city on the coast of West Sumatra, are the latest to join the increasingly oppressive movement against LGBTQ people in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. “Acts that are considered LGBT” will be prosecuted as “disturbances of public order” and punished with a fine of 1 million rupiah – about 70 U.S. dollars. Deputy Mayor Mardison Mahyudin told Reuters that it was part of the city’s effort to “eradicate LGBT.”
Under Indonesia’s still generally secular laws, it’s technically legal to engage in private, consensual adult gay sex – although a proposal to criminalize those acts is pending in Parliament. Strict Islamic law, known as Sharia, is already enforced in the province of Aceh, where those convicted of same-gender lovemaking have notoriously been caned in the public square.
Irwan Prayitno, the Governor of West Sumatra, said the new law in Pariaman tries to address the “LGBT problem … At a minimum,” he added, “we’re trying to prevent the population from increasing.”
Ironically, “Pariaman” in English means “safe area.”
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council defeated a measure on November 22nd that urged the government to consider granting “equal rights” to same-gender couples. There were 24 votes in favor, 27 against, and 6 abstentions.
Hong Kong’s first and only openly gay lawmaker, Raymond Chan, proposed what was seen as a first step toward the legal recognition of lesbian and gay couples. He told the South China Morning Post that “the government keeps avoiding studying policies for homosexual groups,” and said officials need “to explain why they reject even such a small step forward.”
The paper said that pro-Beijing lawmakers who hold a majority in the chamber largely voted against Chan’s motion. Councilmember Priscilla Leung said she opposed it to “refrain from shaking existing marriage institutions.”
Although Hong Kong is seen as more progressive in attitudes toward LGBTQ people than mainland China, it still took a lawsuit earlier this year to force the city to grant dependent visas – routinely given to foreign spouses of heterosexual Hong Kong residents – to married foreign same-gender spouses.
And Hong Kong citizen Nick Infinger filed suit on November 22nd against the city’s Housing Authority for denying low-income public housing to him and his spouse – because they’re a gay male couple who legally married in Canada. Attorney Michael Vidler, who represents Infinger, won that lawsuit forcing the city to grant visas to the foreign spouses of same-gender residents. He told the South China Morning Post that, “It’s easier to believe only foreigners would be gay, lesbian, and transsexual. But the fact is the vast majority are permanent residents, born and raised [here].”
Vidler maintains that Infinger meets all the eligibility requirements: he’s married; both he and his spouse are permanent Hong Kong residents over the age of 18; and neither own any domestic properties or exceed the limits on income or assets. But in rejecting Infinger’s application, the Housing Authority cited the Oxford English Dictionary definition of “husband” as “a married man, especially in relation to his wife,” and said Infinger was therefore “not eligible.”
Vidler said the agency’s refusal to accept his client’s application has deprived the couple of the chance to live together, as their heterosexual counterparts would be able to do. Acknowledging the notoriously long wait for subsidized public housing, Vidler said his clients “are not asking to be treated differently. They just want to be on the waiting list.”
We told you last week that Bermuda’s Court of Appeal ruled in favor of marriage equality in a roller coaster battle over rights in the North Atlantic island’s Supreme Court that began more than two years ago. The government has 21 days from the November 23rd ruling to file one last challenge to equality at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the court of final appeal for the U.K.’s overseas territories and crown dependencies. There’s been no word to date if Bermuda officials intend to do that.
The Court of Appeal refused the government’s request for a stay, so Bermuda’s major industry – tourism – has already resumed offering romantic weddings at sea on cruise ships flying Bermuda’s flag to lesbian and gay couples.
We also reported last week that voters in Taiwan went to the polls on November 24th and overwhelmingly approved referenda to deny civil marriage to same-gender couples, but approved the creation of lesbian and gay civil unions.
Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ordered lawmakers to open civil marriage to same-gender couples in a landmark ruling in 2017. It automatically becomes the law of the land in May of next year if the Legislative Yuan fails to pass a bill by then.
A spokesperson for the Judicial Yuan this week confirmed previous reports that referenda cannot overturn rulings by the Constitutional Court.
A government spokesman suggested this week that a civil unions bill is in the works that would grant all the rights of civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples except the name. But if such a measure is passed, activists will almost surely return to the Constitutional Court to challenge it as a less than equal violation of its 2017 marriage equality ruling.
And finally, a New York Puerto Rican lesbian couple claimed two “firsts” this week with one action. Shirley Figueroa and Lissette Gutierrez donated a 72-foot Norway Spruce from their home in Walkill – about 30 miles north of the city – to be the Christmas Tree towering over this year’s festivities in New York’s Rockefeller Center.
According to the New York Times, it’s the first tree donated by a Hispanic couple or by a same-gender couple.
Figueroa and Guitierrez said they named the 75-year-old tree “Shelby” because they sensed she has a female spirit. Guitierrez was at first reluctant to have the tree uprooted from their property. But she said ahead of the lighting ceremony this week that “She’s going to get the jewels she deserves.”
“Shelby” is now decorated with 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and crowned with a crystal-encrusted Swarovski star. Her “remains” will be donated after the holidays to Habitat for Humanity to help build low-income housing.
It’s estimated that some 800,000 people will visit the tree in person during the holiday season.
“Now it’s not our tree,” Figueroa said, “it’s the world’s tree.”
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