The unprecedented leak of an early draft of their ruling on a Mississippi abortion rights case reveals the U.S. Supreme Court’s intention to overturn both of the key decisions that have guaranteed those rights — Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey — with dire implications for the civil rights of LGBTQ people. Andy Humm and Ann Northrop (GayUSA) discuss the legal details with ACLU LGBTQ and HIV Project Director James Esseks; President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senators Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, Representative Pramila Jayapal and Secretary Hillary Clinton respond to the judicial crisis; late night television comedians Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert satirize the political hypocrisy. (Pacifica Radio News/KPFA’s Christopher Martinez contributed to this report.)
And in NewsWrap: Sarajevo court slams anti-LGBTQ hate speech, Eswatini queer rights acknowledged in legal loss, Nigerians protest harsh anti-cross dressing bill, U.S. Justice fights Alabama’s ban on trans healthcare, Floridians won’t say pay for DeSantis’ Disney retaliation tax, Louisiana’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill dies, alarming report finds half of U.S. queer kids consider suicide, Black lesbian makes White House Press Room history, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Sarah Montague and Melanie Keller (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of May 9, 2022
Queer Road to Gilead
Program #1,780 distributed 05/09/22
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Bosnia and Herzegovina has its first conviction for anti-queer hate speech 13 years after anti-bias laws were enacted … in South Africa’s tiny neighbor, the eSwantini High Court refuses to legally register a queer rights group but recognizes LGBTQ people’s right to exist … about 50 brave young Nigerians stage a protest demonstration against a proposed “cross dressing bill” that further endangers transgender people in the West African nation … the U.S. Justice Department sues the state of Alabama over its first-in-the-nation criminalization of healthcare professionals who provide life-saving gender-affirming medical care to trans young people under the age of 19 … three Orlando, Florida-area property owners sue Governor Ron DeSantis over his actions yanking the “special status” of Walt Disney World that could saddle taxpayers with paying the $58 million in annual public safety and infrastructure costs that Disney has been covering … a copycat Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill dies in a Louisiana state House committee with the help of three majority Republicans … almost one in two LGBTQ young people in the U.S. thought about or actually tried to kill themselves in the past year, according to the alarming annual report of the queer youth suicide prevention group The Trevor Project … and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki officially introduces her successor, Karine Jean-Pierre, who will become both the first Black and first queer person to hold that post (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by SARAH MONTAGUE and MELANIE KELLER, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett … they each assured the people of the United States that a woman’s right to choose would be safe in their hands as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Now they all seem to be singing a different tune with the Court’s Republican-engineered conservative super-majority. The unprecedented leak of an early draft of their ruling on a Mississippi abortion rights case indicates that they do intend to overturn both of the key previous decisions that have guaranteed those rights. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the scathing opinion that sent shockwaves across the political spectrum on May 3rd. Reaction was swift and just as scathing Andy Humm and Ann Northrop (GayUSA) discuss the legal details with ACLU LGBTQ and HIV Project Director James Esseks; President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senators Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, Representative Pramila Jayapal and Secretary Hillary Clinton respond to the judicial crisis; late night television comedians Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert satirize the political hypocrisy. (Pacifica Radio News/KPFA’s Christopher Martinez contributed to this report (music by THE FIXX and QUEEN).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending May 7, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Sarah Montague and Melanie Keller
produced by Brian DeShazor
A municipal court in Sarajevo has handed down the first anti-queer hate speech conviction in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Former MP Samra Ćosović Hajdarević was found guilty of discriminatory hate speech.
When the Balkan nation’s capital city witnessed its inaugural LGBTQ Pride March in 2019, Hajdarević wrote on Facebook, “I want people like these to be isolated and put away from our children and society. Let them go somewhere else and make a city, a state, and a law for themselves … But not here.” The court said those words, “… hurt the right to equal treatment of members of the LGBTIQ community on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and sexual characteristics,” according to Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty. The former lawmaker is ordered not to repeat those sentiments, and has to pay court costs.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s four million people are split between Muslim and Orthodox Christian. Bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity was outlawed in 2009, but those laws had not been applied in a legal proceeding until now.
Darko Pandurevic of the NGO Sarajevo Open Center admits, “It’s been a long time … since [those] laws were passed.” The Center filed this case, and provides legal counsel to advance women's and LGBTQ rights. Pandurevic hailed the verdict as "historic.”
Since discrimination became illegal, Bosnia and Herzegovina has made slow but steady progress in advancing LGBTQ equality. The government is reportedly working on legislation to legally recognize same-gender couples.
LGBTQ activists in eSwatini lost and won in the High Court. They were denied legal recognition in the African nation formerly known as Swaziland, but the same ruling acknowledged their right to exist.
Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities challenged the Registrar of Companies’ rejection of their application based on the fact that gay male sex is against the law there. Executive Director Sisanda Mavimbela denounced the Court’s conclusion that the group “wants to sell sex to the public,” saying, “This is nowhere found in the mandate and vision of the organization.”
eSwatini is tiny beside its neighbor, South Africa. It’s the last remaining monarchy on the continent. King Mswati III has been on the throne since 1986 and has absolute power in the former British colony – he can even hire and fire judges. A violent attack by his military forces on a pro-democracy protest in June last year resulted in a number of deaths.
Although its ruling supported the Registrar, the court still wrote, “it is clear that our constitution guarantees the rights irrespective of gender or sex. .... They have a right not to be discriminated against or be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment. They have a right to associate. … These rights are, however, subject to the laws as prevailing in the kingdom.”
The Southern Africa Litigation Center helped the queer eSwatini group in its legal filings. Its Executive Director Anneke Meerkotter said, “The judgment highlights once again how hard it is for citizens to assert their rights to association and expression in eSwatini’s courts.”
A bill to make “cross dressing” a criminal offense in Nigeria was protested by about 50 people in the capital city of Abuja on May 1st. Convictions under the proposed amendment to the 2013 law outlawing marriage equality would warrant up to six months in prison, or a substantial fine -- exceeding what most Nigerians earn in a year. Only entertainers are exempt.
The West African country is the most populous on the continent and won its independence from Britain in 1960. However lawmakers kept the colonial-era laws against same-gender sex on the books. Anti-queer hatred runs deep in the country, which has followers of Islam and Christianity in about equal numbers.
So the pro-queer demonstration in Abuja was more than remarkable. Social media posts show the mostly young participants dancing to upbeat music and waving rainbow and trans pride flags. Some wore T-shirts or carried placards proclaiming “No Queer Liberation Without Trans Liberation” and “Queer Rights Are Human Rights.”
Award-winning writer and activist Ani Kayode Somtochukwu told Pink News that it was “very important for us to come out and show that we actually exist and stake our claim to Nigeria because there’s always this discourse that queerness isn’t African.” He said his social media accounts “were overwhelmed with messages from people telling me that they would kill me.”
The U.S. Department of Justice is taking Alabama to court with a challenge to the first state-level measure making life-saving care for transgender young people a crime. The recently enacted law makes it a felony for a healthcare professional to provide gender-affirming care to trans people under the age of 19. Violators are punished by up to 10 years in prison and a 15,000-dollar fine.
The Justice Department says the law set to take effect on May 8th, “denies necessary medical care to children based solely on who they are.” Its complaint asks the court to issue an immediate order blocking enforcement of the law while it’s fully litigated.
A separate lawsuit filed in mid-April is also challenging the constitutionality of the Alabama law. Its plaintiffs are two families with transgender teens, and two doctors who have been treating them with puberty blockers and hormone therapy.
Three Orlando, Florida-area property owners caught in the crossfire are suing Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in federal court over his retaliatory action against Walt Disney World. After Disney announced its belated opposition to the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, DeSantis pushed a bill through the state legislature to revoke the self-governing status of the resort and amusement complex. That special status required Disney to provide its own fire and law enforcement agencies, and pay all infrastructure costs. Eliminating Disney’s special status apparently leaves local taxpayers saddled with the estimated 58 million dollars in annual public safety and infrastructure costs that The Mouse used to cover. Some economists estimate an increase of as much as 25 percent in Orlando-area property taxes as a result.
The DeSantis camp insists that such conclusions are “partisan political lie[s].”
A copycat “Don’t Say Gay” bill is dead in a Republican-controlled Louisiana state House committee. The 7-to-4 vote to kill it in the Education Committee this week included every Democrat and three Republicans.
Meanwhile, the toll of the political climate is reflected in alarming conclusions from The Trevor Project’s annual report. The queer youth suicide prevention group released findings this week that almost one in two LGBTQ young people in the U.S. had “seriously considered” suicide in the past year. Almost one in two trans or non-binary youth said they had made actual attempts.
Those were significant increases from previous years. The poll surveyed almost 34,000 self-identified LGBTQ young people across the country.
Trevor Project Executive Director Amit Paley drew a direct line from the uptick in suicidal ideation to what he called, “relentless political attacks [against LGBTQ people] during this time period.”
Finally, Karine Jean-Pierre is stepping into the job of White House Press Secretary. Jean-Pierre replaces Jen Psaki, who has served as Press Secretary since President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Psaki will turn over the reigns on May 13th, bound for a cable news career. She presented Jean-Pierre to the White House press corps on May 5th with an affectionate introduction:
PSAKI: “As you all know, she will be the first black woman, the first out LGBTQ plus person to serve in this role, which is amazing because representation matters, and she is going to sit … she will give a voice to so many, and allow and show so many what is truly possible when you work hard, and dream big, and that matters. And I just want to say I will have a lot to say about how grateful I am for being … for the trust the President and the First Lady and the whole team have ... have given me and entrusted me in the last 15 months. But this day is about Karine. And we're … I want to celebrate her, and I just can't wait to see her shine at the podium.”
Jean-Pierre was born in the French Caribbean nation of Martinique to Haitian parents, and has been active in U.S. politics for more than 20 years. She represented the progressive grassroots group MoveOn.org, and served both Presidents Obama and Biden in various campaign and administrative posts. Jean-Pierre is married to CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and they have a six-yea-old daughter.
GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis celebrated Jean-Pierre’s elevation. She wrote, “To have an out queer person of color speak for the President of the United States says everything about Karine’s talent and heart … Our whole community looks forward to seeing Karine deliver for our nation and represent every LGBTQ person with pride.”
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