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This Way Out Radio Ep.#1770: U.S. Supreme Court Queer Interconnections

The many complex consequences — unintended and intended — for LGBTQ rights and more as the U.S. Supreme Court considers reproductive freedom are analyzed by veteran journalist Lisa Keen (interviewed by Christopher Beale of “Out In The Bay.”)

Pardoned presidential con man Steve Bannon and mercenary maven Erik Prince explain why it’s right for the U.S. right to love Putin’s Russia!

And in NewsWrap: anti-LGBTQ hit squads said to follow Putin’s Ukraine invasion, queer Chechen siblings jailed for online youth activism, India’s Medical Commission calls for prosecution of conversion therapists, Mexico’s first non-binary birth certificate issued, Florida’s House won’t say gay, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Elena Botkin-Levy and Michael LeBeau (produced by Brian DeShazor).

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of February 28, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Queer Interconnections!

Program #1,770 distributed 02/28/22
Hosted this week By Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below): LGBTQ Ukrainians are defiantly defending their country against Vladimir Putin’s invasion, while humanitarians chart the rescue of queer activists among potential “opposition” targets of feared Russian hit squads … young gay and transgender sibling activists are each sentenced to several years in a Chechen prison on what rights groups claim are bogus charges of breaching security laws … India’s National Medical Commission recommends that practitioners of so-called “conversion therapy” be prosecuted for professional misconduct … a Mexican court approves the country’s first non-binary birth certificate … El Salvador’s top court orders Congress to allow trans people an unfettered change of gender on official documents … Florida’s horrendous “Don’t Say Gay Bill” edges closer to inevitable enactment [with brief comments by Christian Family Coalition of Florida founder and Executive Director Anthony Verdugo] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by ELENA BOTKIN-LEVY and MICHAEL LEBEAU, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).

Feature: Phobia on parade: pardoned presidential con man Steve Bannon and mercenary maven Erik Prince defend the right’s right to love Putin’s Russia.

Feature: A woman’s right to choose and a same-gender couple’s right to marry are settled law in the U.S., right? Not so fast! CHRISTOPHER BEALE got some expert analysis on the San Francisco-based radio show Out In The Bay from Lisa Keen, a lesbian reporter with decades of experience covering national issues and the high court (with a TWO ID by Harvey Milk-mentored human rights activist CLEVE JONES at about nine minutes into this segment, and intro-transition-outro music by THE FIXX).

A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending February 26, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Elena Botkin-Levy and Michael LeBeau,
produced by Brian DeShazor

Russian tanks are rolling in, and many queer Ukrainians are fleeing the capital Kyiv other major cities. Others are vowing to stay and fight. Even though LGBTQ people are not generally well treated by their fellow Ukrainians, queer life in Vladimir Putin’s Russia is far worse.

Olena Shevchenko of the LGBTQ rights group Insight told Reuters, "It will not be possible (for LGBTQ people) to stay, especially if it is a long occupation."

Tymur Levchuk has already left the capital. The co-founder of the LGBTQ rights organization Fulcrum made it with his family to the western city of Lviv near the Polish border early on February 25th. He said, "(LGBTQ) people felt unsafe before, but now they have a much higher level of feeling unsafe."

Andrii Kravchuk of Ukraine’s LGBTQ Nash Mir Center said by email that he and his partner were also thinking of leaving Kyiv. He wrote, "My boyfriend and I already have the experience of living under shelling, and we know what will happen next. It is difficult to withstand constant tension and listen to every sound outside the window."

Kyiv Pride is looking to the world for support. The group defied the Russian invasion on Twitter, saying, “We remain strong, we are not intimidated. … Putin lives in the past.”

From nearby Georgia, Tbilisi Pride tweeted, “We stand with the brave people of Ukraine.”

Street demonstrations are protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine in many Western nations, even in Russia itself.

Putin’s propaganda pal Donald Trump remains one of his only supporters, and some observers are starting to compare the Russian dictator’s mental state to that of the delusional former U.S. president. Putin’s claims that his goal is the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, but Nazis are clearly not who he’s after. First on his list is the democratically elected President Volodymyr Zelensky, a Jew whose relatives who were killed during the Holocaust.

An anonymous U.S. State Department official told Foreign Policy that Russian hit squads could be targeting political opponents and members of other “vulnerable groups” if Putin succeeds in setting up a pro-Kremlin puppet regime in Ukraine. An unnamed Biden administration official says that the United States has been in contact with LGBTQ Ukrainians and others in the crosshairs. They told the Washington Blade, “We have engaged directly with these populations to direct them to programs that offer emergency assistance to address relocation, medical expenses or other unexpected costs. And we have engaged with allies and partners to try to ensure that those who must flee Ukraine have somewhere to go.”

When queer men started fleeing the anti-queer pogrom in the Russian region of Chechnya, the Canada-based organization Rainbow Railroad became known for helping the refugees to safety. Their February 24th media statement said they are “[concerned] about the impact this conflict will have on Ukraine’s LGBTQI+ community. … We are preparing, in consultation with our partners, possible ways we can help people at risk in the region.”

On the same day that the first Western sanctions were imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine, two queer siblings were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in a Chechen court. According to Amnesty International, one is gay, and the other is trans. They were convicted on charges that included breach of the country’s security laws, providing food to a Chechen militant, and “complicity with illegal armed formations” – charges human rights activists deny.

21-year-old Salekh Magamadov was sentenced to eight years in prison. 19-year-old Ismail Isaev got six years. They were moderators of a youth-led Telegram channel that contained posts critical of the Chechen regime. The prosecution relied on forced “apology videos” that the siblings made after reported physical abuse.

Salekh and Ismail first came to the attention of Chechen authorities in 2019, when an officer found an LGBTQ Pride flag on Ismail’s mobile phone. The siblings have been in and out of jail ever since. Their attempt to flee the country was thwarted in February 2021 when their Moscow “safe house” was leaked and security agents returned them to Chechnya.

The Russian LGBT Network’s “North Caucasus SOS” represented the siblings in court. Their press release says simply, “Today’s verdict of the Chechen court is a crime against common sense.”

India’s National Medical Commission is joining the growing international movement against “conversion therapy.” The Commission told the Madras High Court this week that practitioners should be prosecuted for professional misconduct.

“Conversion therapy’s” claims that a combination of counseling and prayer can guide LGBTQ people back onto the straight and narrow have been utterly discredited.

The Commission’s declaration came as a result of a lesbian couple seeking protection from repeated police harassment against them and their supportive parents.

The court hearing was adjourned to April 8th for reporting compliance.

A queer activist in Mexico is the owner of the country’s first birth certificate with a non-binary gender marker. Fausto Martínez petitioned the National Electoral Institute in September to list their gender as “NB” on all official documents.

A judge ruled for Martinez in late January in what is known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system. The Guanajuato Civil Registry issued them a new non-binary birth certificate on February 11th. Martínez said in a tweet after they received their new birth certificate, “I have always said what is not named does not exist.”

Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry announced in January that transgender people who were born in the country could get an amended birth certificate at any Mexican consulate. Activist Mateo de la Torre received his at the Mexican Consulate in Washington, D.C. after the new policy took effect. He told the Washington Blade, “This birth certificate comes after a decade of living in my truth as a transgender man and after years of advocating for my right to be recognized as such.”

In a related report from the Spanish news outlet Agencia EFE S.A., El Salvador’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice ordered Congress this week to change laws to allow a simple change of name based on gender identity on all legal documents.

Finally, Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay Bill” passed by a vote of 69-to-47 in the state House on February 24th, mostly along party lines. It now returns to the Senate, edging closer to the supportive signature of spotlight-seeking racist and anti-queer Governor Ron DeSantis.

Amid a flurry of anti-queer measures infecting Republican-controlled U.S. states, “Don’t Say Gay” has received the most attention. It would prohibit schools from “encouraging” classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity through the third grade or in a “manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” The definition of “encouraging” is unclear, and critics worry that other language in the measure threatens to impact classroom discussion in all grades.

After widespread condemnation, the bill’s House sponsor Jim Harding withdrew an amendment to require school officials to “out” LGBTQ kids to their parents.

The bill is backed by arguments of “religious freedom,” the supremacy of parental authority, and above all, safety – but for whom? The founder and Executive Director of the Christian Family Coalition of Florida Anthony Verdugo told Miami’s WTVJ:

[VERDUGO:] “The primary goal is to keep children safe. And when children go to school they're supposed to learn reading, writing, arithmetic, they're not supposed to be indoctrinated into ideology. These conversations need to be had in the home with family members.”

Good luck with being safe if your dad is Anthony Verdugo.

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