Television in most of the world was still in the closet when audiences Down Under embraced the groundbreaking soap opera, “Number 96.” The gay characters were key to the off-beat show’s success according to Andrew Mercado, producer of a new documentary about it (part 2 of a three-part interview by Barry McKay).
And in NewsWrap: Estonia’s government sends the legislature a draft bill to open civil marriage to same-gender couples, Namibia’s Supreme Court orders the recognition of lesbians and gays married to foreign spouses abroad, Taiwan’s legislature votes to allow married same-gender couples to jointly adopt children, the Beijing LGBT Center is abruptly shuttered under a Chinese government crackdown, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis quadruples-down on anti-LGBTQ campaign, Nebraska simultaneously nixes abortion and pediatric gender-affirming care, queer advocates file a preemptive lawsuit against Texas’ gender-affirming care ban, Missouri Attorney General withdraws his unilateral ban on all trans healthcare, West Hollywood wishes "This Way Out" a happy 35th anniversary, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Sarah Montague and Michael LeBeau (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the May 22, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of May 22, 2023
Outrageous: The Queer History of Australian TV (Pt. 2)
Program #1,834 distributed 05/22/23
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Estonia’s government approves draft legislation creating both marriage equality and a registered partnership option … Namibia’s highest court orders the government to recognize the civil marriages of two of its citizens to queer spouses they had legally married elsewhere and grant the foreign spouses permanent residency status and work permits … Taiwan lawmakers expand their four-year-old marriage equality legislation by granting married queer couples the same adoption rights as their heterosexual counterparts [with brief comments by activist Fang Chi] … the government of China’s Xi Jinping continues to turn the screws on its queer citizens by forcing the closure of the six-year-old Beijing LGBT Center … Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis gleefully signs five more bills passed by his legislative lackeys to persecute LGBTQ people, their families, and their healthcare providers [with a cameo by Ron DeSantis], including a drag show ban that has already forced the cancellation of two planned Pride celebrations … Nebraska’s Republican-dominated government approves one bill that both bans most abortions in the state and gender-affirming healthcare for trans people under the age of 19 … queer advocates have already filed a legal challenge to Republican-heavy Texas’s gender-affirming healthcare ban for trans minors … Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey withdraws his draconian “emergency rule” that banned any gender-affirming healthcare for trans people regardless of their age, but GOP Governor Mike Parson is expected to sign a measure passed by the Republican-majority legislature that bans that care for trans minors … the West Hollywood City Council honors This Way Out with a proclamation celebrating its 35th anniversary [with excerpts from remarks by Associate Producer Lucia Chappelle] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by SARAH MONTAGUE and MICHAEL LeBEAU, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura’s infamous Star Trek kiss still had U.S. television execs sniffing their smelling salts, and small screens around the world were way in the back of the closet when audiences Down Under embraced a groundbreaking soap opera. In the second of his three-part series, This Way Out Sydney correspondent BARRY McKAY has more about the characters whose impact is the subject of a new documentary (featuring Outrageous documentarian Andrew Mercado, star Joe Hasham, a pivotal scene from the show starring Carlottta and Jeff Kevin, and with theme music from the show and a brief tease for next week’s Part 3).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending May 20th, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Sarah Montague and Michael LeBeau,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Estonia’s government has approved a draft bill to open civil marriage to same-gender couples. The bill would amend two existing laws, establishing marriage equality under the Family Law Act, and allowing couples the option of entering into contracts under the Registered Partnership Act. The proposal also creates a simplified process for couples in registered partnerships to convert their contracts to civil marriage. Legally recognized gay and lesbian couples will also be able to jointly adopt children under the legislation.
If approved by lawmakers, the measure would take effect on January 1st of next year.
According to the Estonian Human Rights Centre, support for marriage equality has skyrocketed in the Northern European Baltic Sea nation. In surveys it has commissioned 34 percent of Estonia’s 1.3 million people that responded positively in 2012 had grown to 53 percent in April of this year. It noted a six percent uptick of support in just the past two years.
Namibia’s government must recognize the unions of its lesbian and gay citizens and the foreign spouses they legally married elsewhere – this by order of the Supreme Court.
The justices reviewed the residency applications of two couples: a German woman who married a Namibian woman in Germany, and a man from neighboring South Africa who married a Namibian man. South Africa is the only country on the continent with marriage equality.
The non-Namibian spouses had been refused residency rights by the Interior Ministry because Namibian queer couples cannot marry domestically, and consensual adult sex between men remains a criminal offense. The couples then filed their legal challenge. The 4-to-1 ruling on May 16th overturned a lower court decision.
The government is ordered to issue permanent residency status to the foreign spouses, and to also allow them to seek employment in Namibia. In its written ruling the nation’s highest court determined that "The approach of the Ministry to exclude spouses ... in a validly concluded same-sex marriage ... infringes both the interrelated rights to dignity and equality of the applicants."
In March the high court also overturned a lower court ruling and granted citizenship to a bi-national gay couple’s four-year-old son who was born via surrogate in South Africa.
Taiwan’s legislature has voted to allow married same-gender couples to jointly adopt children. The bill approved on May 16th came just a week shy of the four-year anniversary of marriage equality there. Until now, they could only adopt the biological children of their spouses.
Taiwan was the first jurisdiction in Asia to open the civil institution to gay and lesbian couples. The government lifted restrictions on recognizing the marriages of queer Taiwanese citizens to their foreign spouses in January. The only exceptions are spouses from mainland China.
Fang Chi of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights told TaiwanPlus News that it’s one more step towards granting married queer couples the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts:
[SOUND: Fang Chi]
Following the full legalization of trans-national same-sex marriage in January of this year, this milestone allows future generations in Taiwan, regardless of their sexual orientation, to adopt children without a blood relationship and grow up in loving families.
There was only this brief social media message from the Beijing LGBT Center on May 15th: “We very regretfully announce, due to forces beyond our control, the Beijing LGBT Center will stop operating today.” The shutdown of one of the country’s remaining queer-supportive institutions is an escalation of the Chinese government’s ongoing crackdown on queer citizens. The Center has existed since 2016.
The government virtually shuttered dozens of mostly student-run queer-supportive social media sites last July. It had already banned any positive portrayals of LGBTQ people in broadcast media and film.
The anti-queer rights repression that began soon after Xi Jinping came to power in 2015 has increased rapidly in recent years. The high-profile LGBT Rights Advocacy China was also forced to close last year. Its specialty was legal challenges to anti-queer discrimination.
China officially decriminalized private consensual adult same-gender sex 26 years ago, but that was of little help. Conservative societal taboos still keep most queer people in the closet, and the way the government treats its LGBTQ citizens did not improve.
Florida Governor and Republican presidential wannabe Ron DeSantis signed still more bills this week to persecute LGBTQ people, their families and their healthcare providers.
Uh, we’re happy to do that.
The state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law is now extended from elementary school all the way through high school. Other bills pushing toward an anti-21st Century “DeSantis World” ban both gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors and drag shows, and prohibit transgender people from using bathrooms based on their gender identity. Another bill pulled state funding for “diversity, equality and inclusion” initiatives at colleges and universities.
Meanwhile, the new drag ban law has already caused at least two “Sunshine State” LGBTQ Pride celebrations to cancel. Organizers in Port Saint Lucie and Tampa say they were concerned that participation by anyone in drag would violate the law. The City Commission in queer-friendly Wilton Manors voted to amend the permit for this year’s Pride celebration so that drag queens can march in the Parade, but what the anti-drag law calls “adult performances” are forbidden in the parade itself and on outdoor stages as originally planned.
Lawmakers in Republican-dominated Nebraska approved a bill that combines a ban on most abortions in the state with a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for trans people under the age of 19. Republican Governor Jim Pillen is expected to sign it.
Opponents are likely to challenge it based on a state constitutional requirement that legislation focus on a single issue. Supporters of the measure call it a “single issue” bill addressing “medical procedures.”
Texas lawmakers passed a bill this week to deny gender-affirming healthcare to minors. Potential Republican presidential candidate Governor Greg Abbott has promised to sign it. The queer advocacy groups Lambda Legal and Transgender Law Center have already filed a preemptive lawsuit challenging its constitutionality, partnering with the state and national American Civil Liberties Unions.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey bowed to public outrage this week and withdrew his ban on gender-affirming healthcare for all trans people in the state regardless of their age. A judge had already stopped enforcement of the draconian “emergency” edict while a legal challenge proceeded.
However Republican Governor Mike Parson is expected to sign a more “typical” legislative attack – a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for trans people under the age of 18.
Finally, the West Hollywood, California City Council honored This Way Out on May 15th with a proclamation celebrating this program’s 35th birthday. Councilmember John Heilman presented the honor accepted on behalf of the staff and volunteers by Associate Producer Lucia Chappelle:
Looking back over these 35 years that we’ve been on the air, I am amazed at the accomplishments that we’ve been able to cover of the LGBTQ community. We brought down sodomy laws. We liberated the military. We changed culture, art, music and fashion. We survived AIDS. We won marriage equality. We opened the doors to an unimaginable, unforeseen unpacking of gender. We have seen a thousand pronouns bloom. Now we learn that the last to get rights, the first to lose rights, as we see LGBTQ people – especially BIPOC LGBTQ people – we’re the first targets of the reactionary, authoritarian forces of patriarchy and misogyny. Now we learn that as visible as we’ve become, we can be silenced with the snap of a finger. Don’t say gay. Don’t read books. Don’t see drag. Don’t wake up. Now we learn that a unique outlet for authentic LGBTQ voices is still desperately needed now to guarantee our future. So we very humbly accept this recognition of our work, and moreover we dedicate this recognition to the LGBTQ people and our allies whose voices of resistance and stories of courage we work to broadcast. Thank you again.
That was This Way Out Associate Producer Lucia Chappelle acknowledging a 35th anniversary proclamation for the international LGBTQ radio magazine by the City Council of West Hollywood.