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This Way Out Radio Ep.#1771: Ukraine’s Queer Warriors & U.S. Trans Wars

LGBTQ people (including human rights activist Olena Shevchenko in Kyiv) come forward to fight and render assistance to keep Ukraine from falling into (more) homophobic hands as Russia invades!

Republican-controlled state governments expand their assault on trans kids and queer families (with comments from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the ACLU’s Chase Strangio, Texas Values attorney Jonathan Saenz, defense attorney Paul Castillo, Governors Kim Reynolds, Kristi Noem and Jared Polis, Virginia activist Carol Schall and U.S. President Joe Biden).

And in NewsWrap: Singapore high court dismisses sodomy repeal case, "indeterminate" Colombian wins nonbinary government ID, Yucatan finalizes marriage equality, Australia’s Morrison calls targeting trans youth "terrific,” queers won’t be there for China’s "Friends" fans, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Joe Boehnlein and Tanya Kane-Parry (produced by Brian DeShazor).

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of March 7, 2022

Ukraine’s Queer Warriors & U.S. Trans Wars!

Program #1,771 distributed 03/07/22
Hosted this week By Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Singapore’s Court of Appeal upholds the 2020 High Court rejection of a challenge to the city-state’s British colonial-era law criminalizing consensual adult gay sex … Colombia’s Constitutional Court creates a nonbinary third gender option for all government documents … Yucatan officially becomes Mexico’s 25th state with marriage equality … Australian P.M. Scott Morrison backs a ban on young trans athletes … China’s government “de-queers” the re-release of Friends (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by JOE BOEHNLEIN and TANYA KANE-PARRY, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).

Feature: Rightwing pundits seem to have found the reason that Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine: start with Fox News host Tucker Carlson twisting the words of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, then pile on with another Fox newsie Pete Hegseth, Newsmax guest John Mills, and certified homophobe Dennis Prager [all exposed by Media Matters for America]; follow with the reality on the ground described by Olena Shevchenko of the human rights group Insight [on Democracy Now!]; and season with two versions of the Ukraine National Anthem, the second being a YouTube-posted trio on the streets of Kyiv singing it in English.

Feature: Right wing politicians in the U.S. seem intent on targeting LGBTQ youth with legislative harassment. This “snapshot” of the current state of affairs includes actions in Florida, Tennessee, Kansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, and perhaps most egregiously in Texas [with comments by ACLU attorney Chase Strangio; Texas Values attorney Jonathan Saenz; and Paul Castillo, the attorney for an already-“investigated” family]; President Joe Biden’s State of the Union shout-out for the Equality Act and condemnation of Republican state attacks on trans kids and their families; clueless comments by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, with out Colorado Governor Jared Polis trying to explain it all on CNN; and married Virginia lesbian Carol Schall sounding the alarm for all LGBTQ families and their allies (with segment intro music by TODD SNIDER and outro music by SIMON & GARFUNKEL).

A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending March 5, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Joe Boehnlein and Tanya Kane-Parry,
produced by Brian DeShazor

In Singapore it’s once more with feeling as the law against gay male sex prevails in court – but this time the feeling is slightly better to some. The city-state’s five-judge Court of Appeal dismissed the latest challenge to Penal Code Section 377A on February 28th, upholding the High Court’s ruling in 2020.

377A is a holdover from British colonial rule, enacted in 1938. It criminalizes private consensual adult sex between men, and carries a penalty of two years in prison.

The Court of Appeal deferred any changes in the law to Parliament, while reasoning that it is unenforceable. Therefore the Justices concluded that the three activists who challenged the High Court decision “do not face any real and credible threat of prosecution.” In other words, since no one is being prosecuted for gay sex, leaving things as they are is okay.

The organizers of Singapore’s annual LGBTQ-supportive “Pink Dot” gathering don’t think it’s okay. They called the Court’s assurance that the law is not enforceable “cold comfort,” because they said, “Section 377A’s real impact lies in how it perpetuates discrimination across every aspect of life: at home, in schools, in the workplace, in our media, and even access to vital services like health care.”

Thousands attend “Pink Dot” every year, and the crowds are growing. However, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong defends keeping 377A on the books because he says Singaporeans are "not that liberal on these matters."

Queer activists and their allies vow to continue to fight for repeal.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled this week that people should have the option to identify as non-binary on official government documents.

The decision supported a 40-year-old Colombian who was assigned male at birth, and began transitioning at the age of 20. Dani Garcia changed their name in 2015. Garcia tried to get the gender marker on their government ID changed to “indeterminate,” but the National Registry rejected that request in 2019.

The Court ordered the Registry to issue Garcia a new ID with a non-binary gender designation. The March 1st ruling called the introduction of a third gender option “an initial step towards effective social participation” for countless trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming Colombians.

This advance follows a similar move last week in Mexico. A non-binary law student there got a judge to authorize an official change of the gender marker on their birth certificate.

It’s been months since lawmakers in Yucatan, Mexico amended the state constitution to establish marriage equality, but they had to modify related existing laws before lesbian and gay couples could begin walking down the aisle. That work is done, and publication in the Government Gazette on March 3rd made it official. Yucatan is the 25th of Mexico’s 31 states to gain marriage equality. A 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation called denying civil marriage to same-gender couples a violation of the Constitution. However, the Court could only order each state to deal with the matter on its own. The federal district of Mexico City had already enacted marriage equality in 2009.

Eighteen states did it legislatively. Four states have marriage equality because of court rulings. In two states, the executive branch stopped enforcement of the state's ban. One state decided it never had a ban on the books in the first place.

His problematic Religious Discrimination Bill has collapsed again, so Australia’s evangelical Christian Prime Minister is turning on young transgender athletes. Scott Morrison praised a proposal by Tasmanian Liberal Party Senator Claire Chandler to “clarify” that athletic competition based only on “biological sex” is entirely legal and does not discriminate. Chandler’s amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act is “terrific” in Morrison’s opinion. He said he’s “given her great encouragement” for her so-called “Save Women’s Sports Bill.”

Human rights groups like Equality Australia have a different perspective. Their media statement called on lawmakers to “stand with trans kids and reject Chandler’s cruel and divisive bill.”

The proposal will likely be all talk until after national elections in May. Equality Tasmania’s Dr. Charlie Burton condemned Morrison for using trans people as “a political football.” He said, “We completely reject the cynical abuse of trans people as a weapon in the Prime Minister’s political and electoral game playing.”

“Save Women’s Sports Bill” proponents predict easy passage in Parliament. However, five Liberal Party members of Morrison’s Coalition Government crossed the floor to sink his “Religious Discrimination Bill” – precisely because of its discriminatory provisions targeting trans, nonbinary and non-conforming youth.

Finally, who would censor Friends? The wildly popular TV sitcom still flourishes in re-runs around the world, even in China, where it had been available to stream online until 2018. Now the government is cracking down on popular media, and in re-release it’s not so “friendly” to the show’s queer characters.

Fans familiar with the series are howling about the “disappearance” of “Friend” Ross’s ex-wife Carol and her lesbian partner. Even the show’s LGBTQ-references have been deleted or mistranslated.

Major Chinese streaming sites like Tencent, Baidu's IQiyi Inc., Alibaba's Youku and Bilibili started showing a laundered version of the first season in February. The missing elements are noticeable to many viewers because the show gained an extensive fan base in China in the 1990’s through pirated DVD’s or downloads.

In recent years, China has shut down tens of thousands of websites and social media accounts, many with queer content. Authorities claimed they contained illegal content as well as "vulgar" and pornographic material. Even references by “Friend” Joey to going out to a strip club have been translated as “let’s go out to play.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping ushered in a blanket ban on queer portrayals on television in 2016. Last year the government’s TV ban was extended to what it called “sissy men.”

Posts and comments with related hashtags about the censorship have earned tens of millions of views trending on China’s leading social media platform Weibo. One user complained, “Covering your mouth and ears does not mean non-existence.”

Another wondered how the censors would handle a storyline in later seasons that has “Friend” Phoebe birthing triplets as a surrogate for her brother and his partner.

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