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This Way Out Episode # 1868: Kenyan Mother Bears Queer Children's Burden (Pt. 2)


With two queer daughters in homophobic Kenya, Mary Mumbi talks about spreading the word about tolerance and fairness to other parents and families, using her influence to create safe spaces in an increasingly hostile environment (interviewed by Diana Wanyonyi, part two of two, from wingsradio.org).


And in NewsWrap: French President Emmanuel Macron promotes two gay men to the positions of Prime and Foreign Ministers, Taiwan elects LGBTQ-supportive Vice President Lai Ching-te to the presidency, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announces that a marriage equality bill will go to Parliament, Vietnamese women’s national football team member Tran Thi Thu makes history by marrying her girlfriend in a public wedding ceremony, a U.S. appeals court allows Alabama’s pediatric trans healthcare ban to go forward, the classics and reference books removed by a Florida school district for “sexual content” include several dictionaries, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Elena Botkin-Levy and Michael LeBeau (produced by Brian DeShazor). 


All this on the January 15, 2024 edition of This Way Out!

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Complete Program Summary
for the week of January 15, 2024

Kenyan Mother Bears Queer Children’s Burden (Pt. 2)

Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below):. French President Emmanuel Macron promotes his Education Minister Gabriel Attal to Prime Minister, making the 34-year old Jew with Tunisian roots France's first proudly gay and youngest-ever person to hold that office, and Macron picks Attal’s ex-civil union spouse Stéphane Séjourné as France’s new Foreign Minister … Taiwan’s current Democratic Progressive Party Vice President Lai Ching-Te wins election as the island nation’s next President; he was the first candidate to march in person in Taipei's LGBTQ Pride Parade last year, and his running mate and now Vice President-elect Bi-Khim Hsiao has a long history as a queer ally, including being the first lawmaker to introduce a marriage equality bill back in 2006 [with Lai’s first post-election excerpted/translated remarks] … Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announces his center-right government's intention to enact marriage equality with the backing of the leftist opposition party’s openly gay leader Stefanos Kasselakis … Vietnam's national women’s football team defender Tran Thi Thu makes history in a public wedding ceremony in Ho Chi Min City with her girlfriend that’s attended by several teammates — even though it’s not legally recognized in the Southeast Asian nation … the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows Alabama’s horrific pediatric trans gender-affirming healthcare ban to take effect even as its constitutionality is being challenged in a lower court … Florida’s Pensacola area Escambia County School District yanks dictionaries from libraries and classrooms to comply with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ “sexual content” book ban law (written by GREG GORDON with thanks to JASON LIN, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by ELENA BOTKIN-LEVY and MICHAEL LeBEAU, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).

 

Feature: Mary Mumbi’s courageous journey began when one of her daughters came out as lesbian. Then a second daughter came out as bisexual. Same-gender sexual activity is illegal in Kenya, so those admissions in themselves were dangerous, but Mary still offered her children and their queer friends a mother’s love and compassion. Soon she was spreading the word about tolerance and fairness to other parents and families. In the conclusion of her interview with DIANA WANYONYI for the Women’s International News Gathering Service (WINGS), Mary Mumbi talks about using her influence to create safe spaces in an increasingly hostile environment. (with intro/outro music from Feel the Sounds of Kenya by CEE-ROO).


NewsWrap

A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending January 13th, 2024 on
Written by Greg Gordon with thanks to Jason Lin, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Elena Botkin-Levy and Michael LeBeau,
produced by Brian DeShazor

   Gabriel Attal is now France’s first openly gay Prime Minister. President Emmanuel Macron promoted his 34-year-old Jewish Tunisian Education Minister to become the youngest person to ever hold that office – indeed, he’s the youngest government leader on the planet.

Macron named Stéphane Séjourné as his new Foreign Minister a few days later.  Séjourné has led the left-leaning Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament.  He has also chaired Macron’s Renaissance Party. Thirty-eight-year-old Foreign Minister Séjourné is Prime Minister Attal’s “ex”: the pair had a civil union in 2019, before the advent of marriage equality in the country.  However Attal’s staff told the daily newspaper Le Figaro some time ago that “he and Séjourné have not been a couple for two years now.”

Macron’s cabinet reshuffle is seen as an effort to bolster his flagging public approval ratings.  2023 was an especially challenging year for him, fueled by urban riots, massive street protests, and sharp divides within his own administration.

The president came under fire from some progressive members of his Cabinet last year for compromising on an immigration bill. Far-right conservatives called it an “ideological victory.”


   The January 13th election of Lai Ching-te as president reinforces Taiwan’s liberal reputation on LGBTQ issues. As Vice President of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Lai was instrumental in getting marriage equality legislation through parliament in twenty-nineteen, a first for Asia.  He took his presidential campaign to Taipei’s LGBTQ Pride Parade last October -- another first.

Lai’s incoming vice president Hsiao Bi-Khim has a long history of supporting queer rights.  She filed the first marriage equality bill in 2006.  Her strong support for marriage equality plunged her into a recall campaign in 2018, which she survived. 

Lai’s and Hsiao’s support for LGBTQ rights was not a presidential campaign issue, although Hsiao proudly touted her pro-queer track record to younger voters. Thirteen years after her first attempt, she’s known for calling on other Christian-identified legislators during the 2019 marriage equality debate to “care about the weakest people like God asks us to do.”

Lai’s two opponents for the presidency favored building closer ties with the People's Republic of China. In his victory speech Lai placed Taiwan’s independence at the heart of the global struggle for democracy:

SOUND - Lai (Chinese, followed by translation):

We are telling the international community, that between democracy and authoritarianism, we stand on the side of democracy. The Republic of China Taiwan will continue to walk side-by-side with democracies from around the world.

Lai and Hsiao will be inaugurated on May 20th.


    Marriage equality is finally coming to the birthplace of democracy.  Greece’s center-right New Democracy Party Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on January 10th his administration’s endorsement of a bill to open the civil institution to gay and lesbian couples. The politically powerful Greek Orthodox Church registered its strenuous opposition, but Mitsotakis told the nation’s public broadcaster ERT, "it is the state that legislates, it doesn’t co-legislate with the Church.”

The New Democracy Party holds a controlling 158-seat majority in parliament.  About a dozen of its farthest-right MP’s staunchly oppose the legislation, but in the Prime Minister’s view, “they do not stand to lose [anything].”

Stefanos Kasselakis is the out gay leader of the left-leaning opposition Syriza Party. He announced that all 38 of his members would support the proposal, even though he says it doesn’t go far enough: while the bill allows married queer couples to adopt children, it denies them access to surrogacy services.

Greece has had civil unions for same-gender couples since 2015. Full marriage equality was a campaign promise of Mitsotakis’ on the way to a landslide re-election victory last year.

Parliament will take weeks to approve the marriage equality legislation, according to The Advocate.


  Vietnamese women’s national football team memberTran Thi Thu rang in the new year by marrying her girlfriend Nguyen Thi Thuong. The history-making public wedding ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City was attended by many of the 33-year-old defender’s teammates.  However the ceremony was only symbolic. Vietnam’s National Assembly repealed a specific ban on marriage equality in 2015, so queer couples are allowed to celebrate their unions without penalty – and without legal recognition. Tran wrote on her Facebook page, “I would like to send my sincere thanks to relatives on both sides of the family, friends near and far, and colleagues who took some time to come celebrate and give congratulations. Best wishes to us. The wedding was a great success.”Vietnam seems to be inching toward expanding queer rights.  The Health Ministry declared in 2022 that being LGBTQ is “not an illness” and that sexual orientation and gender identity “cannot be ‘cured’ nor need to be ‘cured’.” It also formally banned so-called “conversion therapy” the same year.


   Alabama’s ban on gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth is going forward. The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing a law to take effect that forbids medical providers from offering transgender treatment to patients under the age of 18, including reversible puberty blockers and hormone therapies.  Pediatric gender-affirming surgery is also prohibited, although it’s virtually never a treatment option.

The Atlanta, Georgia-based Eleventh Circuit is one of the country’s more conservative appeals courts. It granted the request by Republican Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall to start enforcing the law even as its constitutionality is being challenged in a lower court.  U.S. District Judge Liles Burke had temporarily blocked its enforcement pending the outcome of the case.

Lawyers representing the plaintiff parents of transgender adolescents told a news conference, “Alabama’s transgender healthcare ban will harm thousands of transgender adolescents across the state and will put parents in the excruciating position of not being able to get the medical care their children need to thrive. The district court issued its preliminary order blocking the ban after hearing days of testimony from parents, doctors, and medical experts about the devastating impact of this ban and the lack of any medical justification for it. … We will continue to challenge this unlawful ban and to support parents and their kids in pushing back against the dangerous reality of being denied access to necessary, best-practice medical care.”

A full trial on the constitutionality of the ban is scheduled for August.


    Finally, a school district in Ron DeSantis’ Florida has taken the Republican governor’s book ban law to an absurd conclusion.  The Pensacola-area Escambia County School District has yanked The American Heritage Children’s Dictionary, Webster’s Dictionary for Students and Merriam-Webster’s Elementary Dictionary from its schools’ shelves. Dictionaries, of course, contain descriptions of “sexual conduct,” and the law bans such “filth” from school classrooms and libraries. Dozens of books ranging from The Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not to biographies of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Oprah Winfrey, Nicki Minaj and Thurgood Marshall are under scrutiny.  Anne Frank’s Diary of A Young Girl, Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, and two books by rightwing pundit Bill O’Reilly are also on the chopping block.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last year challenging the constitutionality of the book ban include mega-publisher Penguin Random House, five banned book authors, two parents of Escambia County students, and the writers advocacy group PEN America.  Their arguments are based on First Amendment free speech grounds.

Florida Attorney General Ashely Moody submitted a brief on behalf of the DeSantis administration. It offers the odd argument that a school board can ban any book for any reason because public school libraries are intended to “convey the government’s message.” It essentially claims that boards can ban speech “that the government disapproves.”

There are other well-known books that clearly contain what could be described as “sexual content,” but demands in a couple of Florida school districts to ban the Bible and the Quran have thus far been unsuccessful.


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