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This Way Out Radio Episode #1704 November 23, 2020 “To Branden, Add James!”

Memoirist and performer Branden James talks about his political involvement and his latest music with husband cellist James Clark (“Chasing Dreams”)!

Plus a “Rainbow Minute” for “Mrs. Claus and Miss Bates”!

Belgian regions punish Polish homophobia by closing Warsaw offices, Latvia’s high court okays parental leave for queer couples, U.K. trans man can’t be called “father” after giving birth, world’s first Islamic college for transgender Muslims opens in Bangladesh, U.S federal court slams Florida conversion therapy bans, and more international LGBTQ news!

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of November 23, 2020

To Branden, Add James!

Program #1,704 distributed 11/23/20

Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Two Belgian regions keep up the pressure by closing their offices in Warsaw over the autocratic government of Poland’s refusal to follow the “rule of law,” including its anti-LGBTQ bias … Latvia’s Constitutional Court okays parental leave for same-gender couples, but also stresses that the ruling does not establish a path to the legal recognition of those couples … the U.K.’s highest court rejects the bid of a trans man who became pregnant after transitioning to be listed as “father” or “parent” on his child’s birth certificate instead of “mother” … a first-in-the-world Islamic college for transgender Muslims opens in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka … New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles is in the crosshairs of a lawsuit filed by a non-binary law school grad who wants an “x” gender designation on their state driver’s license … the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals diverges from two other federal appeals court rulings and strikes down bans on conversion therapy for minors in the city of Boca Raton and county of Palm Beach, Florida as violations of free speech rights … among the signs at the estimated 10,000-person “Million MAGA March” in Washington, DC supporting Donald Trump’s flailing efforts to avoid conceding defeat: “coming for Blacks and Indians first” and “ban homo marriage” … and queer researchers and their supporters at the North and South Poles unite for the inaugural celebration of Polar Pride (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and JOHN DYER V, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).

Feature: ‘Tis increasingly “the season” these days: This Rainbow Minute celebrates “Mrs. Claus and Miss Bates” (read by DANIELA WYATT, produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS).

Feature: A new memoir, Lyrics of My Life: My Journey with Family, HIV, and Reality TV, by Branden James, proves that he’s truly a tenor for our times. In this second of a two-part feature interview, our JOHN DYER V shows his talent for getting behind the scenes with the rising star – and his husband James Clark (with excerpts from Branden James’ performance on America’s Got Talent; and Branden & James’ You Belong, Wicked Game, Till We See, Unchained Melody, and their cover of Joni Mitchell’s River).

Feature: Promo by author/actor Michael Kearns about the radio debut of his new play, Camping At The Met – on next week’s very special World AIDS Day edition of This Way Out.


A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending November 21, 2020
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Melanie Keller and John Dyer Vproduced by Brian DeShazor

Tensions between the European Union and the governments of Poland and Hungary continue to grow. Both Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban are digging in their heels in the face of increasing fire for their autocratic crackdowns on human rights, most notably against LGBTQ people.  They both stood to benefit from the E.U.’s 1.8-trillion-euro plan to fund recovery efforts from the COVID-19 economic downturn. However they both vetoed it because funding is conditional on “respect for the rule of law.”

Poland’s undermining of the rule of law led the Belgian regions of Brussels and Wallonia to close their offices of representation in Warsaw.  Reuters reported late this week that a statement from the leaders of both regions says they did so because the Polish government’s actions threaten judicial and media independence, and are blatantly anti-LGBTQ.  It simply stated that, “We cannot accept it.”

Latvia’s Constitutional Court has approved the right of same-gender couples to parental leave. The Baltic nation’s Labor Act had specifically granted that right only to the child’s father.

The Court responded to an appeal from a mother whose female partner was unable to get the usual 10-day parental leave. The judges decided that it was in the best interests of a child to allow a co-parent to provide physical and emotional support to his or her partner and child.  They said that the Constitution establishes the government’s obligation to protect families of same-gender couples.

However according to Latvian Public Broadcasting, the Court stressed in its ruling that the right to exercise parental leave “cannot be regarded as a legal framework for same-sex partnerships.”

The U.K. transgender man made famous in the documentary Seahorse has lost his bid to be listed on his baby’s birth certificate as either “father” or “parent.” Journalist Freddy McConnell became pregnant several weeks after legally transitioning. He took his case to the High Court last year and later to the Court of Appeal, but judges both times ruled that he must be listed as the “mother.”  This week the U.K.’s Supreme Court rebuffed his efforts to appeal those rulings because the case does not raise “an arguable point of law.”

A lower court had decided that current law balances the rights of transgender people with the belief that “every child should have a mother and should be able to discover who their mother was.”

McConnell says that he will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Meanwhile, he’s on Instagram sharing his efforts to get pregnant again via IVF.

History is being made for the estimated 1.5-million transgender people in Bangladesh – and maybe in the Muslim world. The first-of-its-kind Dawatul Quran Third Gender Madrasa welcomed some 40 transgender students in mid-November. The new madrasa, an Islamic college, is located in the capital city of Dhaka. 150 trans students are eventually expected to enroll for instruction in Islamic teachings and technical education.

Trans people have been legally recognized as hijras in Bangladesh since 2013. However in his welcoming speech, school founder Abdur Rahman Azad said that society tended to blame trans people for their supposedly “undisciplined lifestyle.” He reasoned that “… we as a society are to be blamed.  We won’t let them attend schools, seminaries or universities.  We won’t let them have a decent job.  What else would they do?”

Transgender student Nishi was expelled years ago after teachers discovered her variant gender identity. To her being back in school was “a moment of immense joy.” She pointed out that, “We are not allowed in the mosques.  If some of us even enter one, then people often humiliate us.  As a human and a Muslim, I wonder why we aren’t allowed to be part of society.”

A non-binary New Yorker’s lawsuit is forcing the state’s hand on the issue of driver’s license gender bias. The state says change is coming – as soon as the computers catch up.

The queer advocacy group Lambda Legal helped New York University Law School graduate Sander Saba sue the state for its discriminatory practice of limiting gender markers on drivers’ licenses to only “male” or “female.”

The state asked for a dismissal because plans were initiated late last year to “permit New Yorkers to receive a driver’s license that bears an ‘X’ gender identification marker through an automated application process.”

Lambda Legal says it’s not dropping the lawsuit, however, “so that all non-binary New Yorkers can have accurate state identification that they need without undue delay.”

A spokesperson for the New York Department of Motor Vehicles said in an email message that “the DMV understands the importance of this issue for so many New Yorkers but cannot comment further as this relates to pending litigation.”

New York introduced “X” as a gender designation on state birth certificates in 2019.  More than a dozen U.S. states already offer an “X” gender marker on driver’s licenses.

Bans on “conversion therapy” for minors in the Florida city of Boca Raton and in Palm Beach County were overturned by the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  The 2-to-1-decision called bans on the debunked “cure” unconstitutional content-based violations of free speech.

Two therapists challenged the laws. They claimed that their typical clients seek counseling to “straighten them out,” so to speak, due to “sincerely held religious beliefs conflicting with homosexuality.” The notoriously anti-queer Liberty Counsel is the plaintiffs’ legal representative.  The ruling granted them a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the laws while the case continues to trial.

Both the Third and Ninth U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal have upheld similar bans.  The Eleventh Circuit majority that rejected the bans this week consisted of two judges appointed by Republican President Donald Trump.  The dissenting vote came from an appointee of Democratic President Barack Obama.

Lambda Legal’s Kevin Jennings called the decision “a marked departure from precedent and … incredibly dangerous.” Conversion therapy for minors is “nothing less than child abuse” in his words.

It’s not certain how attorneys for the two Florida jurisdictions will respond.  Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights noted that the ruling is limited to them. He pointed to the dissenting opinion’s charge that the majority ruling ignores “a mountain of rigorous evidence” that conversion therapy puts minors at risk of serious harm.

Minter calls the three-judge-panel decision “out of step” with previous federal appeals court rulings. Even though those decisions have been split, he thinks it’s more likely the two Florida jurisdictions will ask the full bench of the Eleventh Circuit to re-hear the case – which may be a better bet than going directly to a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Co-dependents in Donald Trump’s election loss denial fantasy descended on Washington, D.C. on November 14th for a “Million MAGA March” in support of the beleaguered president. They were quite clear about what the “Make America Great Again” Trump base stands for with signs reading, “We’re coming for Blacks and Indians first – welcome to the new world order.”  Other placards proclaimed, “ban homo marriage.”

Violence-prone members of the right-wing sexist and homophobic Proud Boys were a visible presence in helmets and bulletproof vests.

Rabid YouTube conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was among the rally headliners.  He’s previously described LGBTQ people as “a bunch of pedophiles.”

Trump acolytes and counter-protesters clashed late in the day. One person was stabbed and two police officers were hurt.  At least 20 were arrested on charges including assault and weapons possession.

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed in Trump Inaugural style that the event drew “more than one million marchers.” By most accounts, there were no more than 10,000.

Finally, a rainbow ring circled the Earth from top to bottom with the first-ever Polar Pride. Governments of the British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands formally launched the inaugural event on November 18th.

A special rainbow pin distributed to celebrants features an Antarctic penguin for the South Pole, and an Arctic polar bear for the North Pole.

LGBTQ people burned up social media with icy Polar Pride greetings, all big smiles and many large rainbow flags.

The event purposely coincided with the International Day of LGBTQ+ People in STEM, which encourages diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  Dr. Huw Griffiths is an out biogeographer at the British Antarctic Survey.  He said that the event “shows the important progress we are making towards greater inclusivity.”

© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)

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