This Way Out Radio · Olivia on the Record
Insider Ginny Z. Berson and the record label’s official historian Dr. Bonnie Morris discuss the story of “Olivia on the Record: A Radical Experiment in Women’s Music” — with some favorite songs, of course!
Bhutan decriminalizes same-gender sex, Singapore gay activist renews sex law challenge, Bolivia creates “free unions” for queer couples, Tlaxcala joins Mexico’s marriage equality states, U.S. courts affirm trans rights in Oregon and Nevada, Drag Queen Story-timers sue Australia’s head homophobe for defamation, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of December 14, 2020
Olivia on the Record!
Program #1,707 distributed 12/14/20
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The tiny Asian Kingdom of Bhutan becomes the latest country on the planet to decriminalize same-gender sex … a veteran Singapore gay activist files yet another lawsuit challenging the city-state’s anti-queer sodomy laws … Bolivian officials create “free unions” for queer couples hoping they will satisfy the January 2018 marriage equality order by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights … Tlaxcala lawmakers make it the latest Mexican marriage equality state … the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear the appeal of lower court rulings that supported an Oregon school district’s policy to allow its trans students to use the campus bathrooms and locker rooms that match their preferred gender … a U.S. federal judge sides with a trans-man, and rebukes the State Department, for telling him that he would need a note from a doctor certifying his transition before they’d allow a “male” designation on his passport … and two Brisbane “Drag Queen Story Time” participants sue Lyle Shelton, one of Australia’s loudest anti-queer voices, for defamation after he said their being around children was “dangerous” (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and MICHAEL LEBEAU, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: From The Furies Collective’s publication of one of the world’s first lesbian feminist newspapers to the explosion of women’s media in the 70s and 80s, Ginny Z. Berson has been a visionary pioneer. Her new memoir about that historic era is called Olivia on the Record: A Radical Experiment in Women’s Music. Producer BRIAN DESHAZOR arranged a conversation between Berson and Olivia Records’ official archivist DR. BONNIE MORRIS. This Way Out’s PAULA THOMAS narrates (recorded by REBECCA DRAPKIN, with music by TERESA TRULL, MEG CHRISTIAN, CRIS WILLIAMSON, BE BE K’ROCHE, and GWEN AVERY; and a brief TWO year-end campaign promo produced by LUCIA CHAPPELLE at about 10 minutes in).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending December 12, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,reported this week by Melanie Keller and Michael LeBeauproduced by Brian DeShazor
The Kingdom of Bhutan is the latest country on the planet to decriminalize same-gender sex. The criminal code had punished “sodomy or any other sexual conduct that is against the order of nature” with up to a year in prison. According to Pink News, there have been no known prosecutions under those laws.
A December 10th joint meeting of the lower National Assembly and upper National Council voted to repeal those provisions. None of the 63 members opposed, and six abstained.
The changes await the formal approval of Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
Finance Minister Namgay Tshering was among the government leaders to support repeal, he said, “to keep up with the times.”
Bhutan’s mostly invisible, fledgling LGBTQ rights movement lobbied for more than a year for passage of the sex law reform. Tashi Tsheten of the queer advocacy group Rainbow Bhutan told Reuters that, “the bill being passed on Human Rights Day itself is a momentous day for everyone in Bhutan.”
Dwarfed by its neighbors China and India, the tiny mostly-Buddhist Himalayan nation is home to about 800,000 people.
Veteran gay activist Roy Tan is challenging Singapore’s Section 377A — again. That Penal Code provision criminalizes consensual adult same-gender sex. Offenders are punished with up to two years in prison. The sixty-two-year-old retired doctor also known as Tan Seng Kee was part of an earlier challenge that focused on constitutional rights. The High Court rejected that effort, which is being challenged in the Court of Appeal.
Tan’s current petition to the High Court argues that enforcement of the statute has been rare and sometimes arbitrary. He claims that inconsistencies in enforcement of the law require its repeal – an approach he says has rarely been tried before.
Well-known human rights activist M. Ravi is Tan’s attorney. Ravi called the inconsistent enforcement of the Asian city-state’s law “problematic … [The government] has already acknowledged that 377A should not be proactively enforced because it is deemed discriminatory. We know that they cannot go back. The only way is to repeal 377A completely.”
Tan says he expects the High Court to hear his new lawsuit in about ten months, but he’ll withdraw it if his prior challenge at the Court of Appeal is successful.
Bolivia is the latest member of the Organization of American States to give some form of legal recognition to same-gender couples.
According to the news site opinion.com.bo, the December 9th move creates “free unions” for lesbian and gay couples. The action is intended to bring the country into compliance with a January 2018 ruling by the organization’s judicial branch, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. That decision required all member nations that had not already done so to open civil marriage to same-gender couples. While it’s not called “marriage,” “free unions” reportedly provide those couples with all the rights and privileges of civil marriage, and officials believe it satisfies the Inter-American Court ruling.
The legal battle for equality was launched in October 2018 by business administrator David Víctor Aruquipa Pérez and lawyer Guido Álvaro Montaño Durán. Now in their mid-40s, David and Guido have been together since 2008. A Civic Registry resolution named them the first same-gender couple “to have the registration of the Free Union.”
Lawyers from the Rights In Action Collective celebrated the couple on Twitter, saying that “it has been an honor to represent them #LoveisLove.”
Marriage equality has come to yet another state in Mexico. The news site lapoliticaonline.com reported that the Congress in the state of Tlaxcala approved a bill opening the civil institution to same-gender couples on December 8th. The vote was 16 in favor and three against.
A two-hour debate preceded the vote to amend several articles of the Civil Code. The wording of the rationale for the reforms is rather unique: to “guarantee equality and eradicate discrimination by recognizing marriage as the union between two people [who] are not necessarily male and female.”
Opposition lawmakers objected to the measure. They claimed that it contravened “the essence of the core of society: the family.” Apparently the millions of queer families around the world escaped their radar – families with and without children.
Even though a ruling by Mexico’s highest court said that same-gender couples should be able to legally marry, the 31 states each had to figure out how to get there. The federal capital of Mexico City is its own jurisdiction, and opened civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples first. Nineteen states have since followed that lead, either through legislation, judicial decisions, or by administrative actions.
Transgender people won two cases in U.S. federal courts this week. The Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal of lower court rulings that affirmed an Oregon school district’s policy allowing trans students to use gender-appropriate campus facilities.
The plaintiff parents argued that trans students should be forced to use facilities based on their assigned gender at birth. Their offensive reasoning was that other students “reported embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, intimidation, fear, apprehension, and stress produced by having to use these privacy facilities with a classmate of the opposite sex.”
The case was a reaction to what happened in Dallas, Oregon, a predominantly agricultural town about 15 miles west of Salem. Dallas High School student Elliot Yoder came out as trans in 2015, and complained that he was being forced to use the wrong bathrooms and locker rooms on campus. District officials responded by simply issuing a policy to allow trans students to use the facility in which they are most comfortable.
The ACLU’s Deputy Director for Trans Justice Chase Strangio applauded the high court’s refusal to hear the appeal. He said that it had ”once again said that transgender youth are not a threat to other students.”
Similar lawsuits have failed in other parts of the country — some of them cited freedom of religion. The Supreme Court declined to hear one appeal from Pennsylvania last year.
A U.S. federal judge ruled this week that the U.S. State Department should not have required a Nevada trans man to provide a doctor’s note before it would issue a passport to him with a male gender marker. Oliver Bruce Morris simply wanted a second form of ID to complement his driver’s license. The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles identifies him as male, but the State Department demanded certification of his “completed” gender transition.
Federal District Court Judge Gloria M. Navarro called the State Department’s “doctor’s note” requirement an unconstitutional violation of Morris’ Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection. She admonished the Department, writing that it “has provided no explanation, let alone any evidence, of why [it] has an important interest in verifying a transgender passport applicant’s gender identity.” Navarro also noted that, “Not all transgender persons receive or require physician treatment.”
When he filed the lawsuit in 2019, twenty-five-year-old Morris told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that, “maybe my family will see it and have a better understanding and see how personal this all is for me. That I’m a person. That I’m a human. That I’m myself. That I’m Oliver.”
Finally, two “Drag Queen Story Time” participants in Brisbane, Australia are suing the former leader of the Australian Christian Lobby for defamation. Johnny Valkyrie performs as “Queenie,” and Dwayne Hill is “Diamond” at “Story Time” events and “Diamond Good-Rim” in adult appearances. Both hold valid Working with Children clearances.
A known anti-queer activist committed suicide following a small protest of a “Story Time” hosted by the Brisbane City Council Library. Former Australian Christian Lobby leader and leading national homophobe Lyle Shelton took advantage of the situation. Shelton called the popular drag-queens-reading-to-kids event the equivalent of harboring sexual predators and pedophiles. Shelton asked his followers, “Have we learned nothing from creeps like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Andrew?” In blog posts, Shelton claimed that the events are “dangerous” and that, “drag queens and what they represent are not for kids … and they should not be provided a place in front of children in public libraries.”
Drag queens Valkyrie and Hill are charging in their lawsuit that Shelton’s statements “incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or serious ridicule of the complainants.” Valkyrie is also trans, and Shelton specifically claims that that makes him especially dangerous.
The drag-duo is suing Shelton for $10,000 in damages and a public apology. Shelton claims that “Drag Queen Story Time” is an effort to “indoctrinate children”, and that the lawsuit is simply “a demand for [him] to be gagged.”© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)
© 2020 Overnight Productions (Inc.)
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