Sydney, Australia is hot to host World Pride 2023, and organizers Kate Wickett and Nana Miss Koori (a.k.a. Graham Simms) tell correspondent Barry McKay how they plan to argue their case!
The Australian government proposes protections for religious bigotry, Victoria reforms state trans birth certificate rules, Oaxaca lawmakers approve marriage equality, Istanbul nixes the third annual “Queer Olympix,” “Straight Pride” parades hate in Modesto and Boston, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of September 2, 2019
Sydney’s World Pride Bid!
Program #1,640 distributed 09/02/19
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The conservative Australian government
Feature: 2017 in Madrid, 2019 in New York City, 2021 in Copenhagen …
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending August 31, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Christopher Gaal and Travis Avery,produced by Brian DeShazor
A draft Religious Discrimination Bill was presented by Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter late this week. The proposal would make discrimination based on a person’s religious belief illegal in certain situations. For example, healthcare providers would be able to deny abortion services if doing so would violate their religious belief. Charitable nonprofits like hospitals and nursing homes that engage in primarily commercial activities would not be considered religious bodies under the measure.
Businesses with annual revenue over 50-million-dollars would not be allowed to penalize their employees for expressing their religious beliefs outside of work – that is unless the business can prove that it would cause “unjustifiable financial hardship.” That specific issue has been receiving much public attention because of star rugby player and devout Christian Israel Folau. Folau is suing Rugby Australia and his former team after being fired for a series of obnoxiously homophobic comments posted on social media. In them he urged LGBTIQ people and other alleged “sinners,” to repent or “hell awaits them.”
Folau’s church has been described by outsiders as a small, queer- and Catholic-hating cult-like congregation, and it’s led by his father.
Other provisions of the government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill would allow religious schools to refuse to host marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples. The draft bill does not resolve whether or not religious schools would be free to expel students or hire or fire staff because of their sexuality.
Attorney-General Porter urged “empathy and understanding” among his fellow Australians when it comes to religious belief. He added that, “It should not be underestimated how important religion is to the composition and success of the life of the Australian nation itself.”
Meanwhile a federal court in Melbourne has given Folau and Rugby Australia until mid-December to settle. Folau’s lawsuit demands 10-million-dollars in damages and reinstatement. Chief Judge Will Alstergren said that if mediation fails, a 3-to-5-day trial would begin on February 4, 2020.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison is himself a Pentecostal Christian. His conservative Liberal Party administration announced that public submissions on the Religious Discrimination Bill would be accepted until October 2nd. Queer faith groups are complaining about the relatively short time period. They also charge that major religious leaders were consulted as the bill was being drafted, while queer faith groups were not. Nor was input solicited from any LGBTIQ advocacy group. Spokespeople from the non-denominational Christian network Equal Voices and the Uniting Church LGBTIQ Network spoke this week with the Sydney Star Observer. Uniting Network co-convenor The Reverend Peter Weeks said that the bill “is not only [morally] wrong but not theologically sustainable.”
Equal Voices spokeswoman The Reverend Dr. Josephine Inkpin charged that the proposed legislation is a backlash against the advent of marriage equality, which was “overwhelmingly supported by the Australian population” in a December 2017 referendum. Indeed, a new Galaxy/YouGov poll suggests that at least 63 percent of Australians oppose allowing religious organizations to discriminate against LGBTIQ people. Forty-eight percent of those queer-supportive respondents described themselves as strongly religious.
The Australian state of Victoria will allow trans people to change the gender designation on their birth certificates without medical intervention. The bill cleared its last hurdle in the Upper House of the state Parliament on August 27th.
A trans person was previously required the to have first undergone gender reassignment surgery and to submit confirming declarations from two medical practitioners. The new reforms only require transgender adults to submit a statement supporting their application for a change of gender designation from someone who has known them for at least 12 months, someone who can attest to the applicant’s filing in good faith. Parents of minors at least 16 years of age need to provide a statutory declaration, along with a supporting document from a doctor or psychologist confirming that the change in gender designation is in the child’s best interests. A magistrate will resolve any disputes between the parents about what to do based on the best interests of the child.
Victoria now joins Tasmania, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory in relaxing its transgender laws. Western Australia allows trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates only if they’re undergoing hormone therapy. Queensland and New South Wales continue to require trans people to undergo reassignment surgery before altering their documents.
Lawmakers in the Mexican state of Oaxaca opened civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples this week. It’s the 19th of the country’s 31 states to do so. Same-gender marriage first became legal in the capital district of Mexico City.
The Associated Press quotes a statement from the state congress that marriage in Oaxaca is now defined as a “civil contract celebrated between two persons, who unite to realize a life in common, and provide each other respect, equality, and mutual help.”
Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation declared in 2015 that state bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional, but it has no power to order nationwide equality. If state lawmakers do not act to specifically open marriage, queer couples must go through an expensive and time-consuming legal process called an “amparo” to get a judge to declare their right to marry. Based on the decision by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, the judge cannot refuse to issue the amparo.
At least 130 athletes gathered in Istanbul on August 24th and 25th to participate in the third annual “Queer Olympix” – that’s “Olympix” with an “x.” However, government officials stepped in to “x” the event out. Organizer Elif Kaya told Agence France Presse that when he and other volunteers arrived to start setting up they saw “police and two water cannons” nearby. Only then he said, “we were told that we did not have permission” to hold the event. Kaya said authorities “waited until the [last] minute to tell us about the ban to avoid us appealing.” The sports weekend was set to include beach volleyball, football and the long jump.
This is just the latest setback in the deteriorating situation for queer organizing in Turkey. The “Queer Olympix” began in Istanbul in 2017, and the first two went off without a hitch. This year organizers said on Instagram that the friendly competition was banned by “the Kadiköy district governor as a precaution against the provocations that may occur due to social sensitivities.” The message said they were told that the action was taken “to protect public health, public order, and public morality.”
Turkey was once thought to be one of the more queer-tolerant nations in the Islamic world. However LGBTQ Pride events have increasingly either been banned, or violently disrupted under what some critics decry as the “creeping fascism” of the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Istanbul Pride once drew tens of thousands of visitors to the city until it was cancelled indefinitely in 2014.
[crowd chants fade down under:]
… counter-protesters in Modesto, California far outnumbered members of the California Straight Pride Coalition at their “Straight Pride Rally” on August 24th. The rally was going to be held in a private barn after officials denied organizers a permit to gather in a public park in the Central Valley city just south of Sacramento. The Modesto Bee reported that the Durrer Barn owners discovered what the event was about and kicked them out. It then moved to outside a Planned Parenthood office. By the time they arrived there, the Bee counted about 20 rally participants and at least ten times that number of counter-protesters. Modesto City Councilmember Mani Grewal spoke to the diverse crowd:
“This is the Modesto I know. This is the Modesto that’s accepted, regardless of if you wear an article of faith on your head or if you’re from the Sikh community, Indian community. If you’re from the Caucasian, African-American, the LGBT community, we are an accepting community and we welcome everyone.”
“Straight Pride” Rally participant Jesse Peterson had a different point of view:
“You need to come back to the order of God, and that order is God in Christ. Christ in man, man over woman, and woman over children that want to go to church. And everything else is abnormal. And it’s so we can no longer afford to allow the children of a lie, the radical homosexuals, the liberal media, the Democratic Party, the right-o[?] Republicans, the ‘never Trumpers’ to stop us. Otherwise you’re going to lose our country.”
But counter-protest organizer Chris Holland told the Bee that:
“I couldn’t be more happy with how it’s going down. Seeing all of our community come together like this, building bridges across all of our marginalized communities, and making friendships. It’s, uh, it’s been just inspiring.”
As the Straight Pride Rally disbanded, a video posted on Twitter shows the counter-protesters chanting, “Don’t Come Back!”
This just in from Boston, Massachusetts: A few hundred Straight Pride Paraders were met by at least a thousand counter-protesters on September 1. A heavy police presence kept the opposing sides separate, and the dueling events remained mostly peaceful. Still about three dozen were arrested, mostly from among Antifa supporters on the counter-protest side. Four officers sustained minor injuries (reported by Lucia Chappelle).
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