On-scene coverage from Amsterdam, April 1, 2001 — the first government-sanctioned weddings of same-gender couples — from the pre-ceremony jitters to the gala reception!
U.K. High Court revises its ruling on trans kids’ treatment, Chechnya’s purge tightens around gay brothers, U.S. Senate confirms first trans person to federal post, three U.S. states ban trans student athletes, South Dakota’s governor “defends” women from trans rights, queer Black state rep fights Georgia voter suppression, and arson destroys a rainbow lifeguard tower, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of March 29, 2021
Marriage Equality Goes Platinum!
Program #1,722 distributed 03/29/21
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The U.K. High Court revises its December 2020 ruling banning puberty blockers or other hormone therapy for trans people under the age of 16 to allow that medical care with the “loving consent” of their parent(s); Russian authorities interrogate some 20 relatives seeking the parents of two gay Chechen brothers charged with trumped up terrorism charges, while the E.U. joins global sanctions against two Chechen government officials for orchestrating and/or taking part in torturing “suspected” LGBTQ people in an ongoing genocidal purge, and a change.org petition urges Australian government officials to follow the E.U.’s lead; the U.S. Senate, mostly along party lines, confirms President Biden’s nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine to be Assistant Secretary of Health, making her the first transgender official to achieve that distinction; Republican lawmakers and governors in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee join Idaho in trying to ban transgender girls from competing as girls in school sports programs, while South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem blames possible sanctions by the NCAA for vetoing a ban-the-trans bill in her state, but forms a national “Defend Title IX” coalition to “protect women in sports” and fight the collegiate sports association; Democratic Black queer Georgia state lawmaker Park Cannon is roughly arrested and charged with two felonies for literally just knocking on Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s door as he was signing a draconian bill to suppress voting rights, and her pastor, now Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock, joins a chorus of her defenders; and proudly out Long Beach, California Mayor Robert Garcia vows to replace the hate-inspired arson-attacked landmark rainbow-painted beach lifeguard tower, which was burned to the ground this week, with a new tower that he says will be “brighter, gayer, and bigger” (written by GREG GORDON and edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY and WENZEL JONES, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: A lot of marriage equality water has gone under the arch since the first weddings of same-gender couples to be legally recognized by their federal government took place in The Netherlands twenty years ago this week. Few moments in LGBTQ history can top that April 1st ceremony in 2001 at the stroke of midnight, when the new law took effect. Officiated by Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen in City Hall Council Chambers, the event formalized gay and lesbian couples’ marriage equality in the country. This comprehensive on-scene report by “This Way Out” correspondent JACKIE CARVER (MVS Media) includes Mayor Cohen’s pre-ceremony remarks and the ceremony itself, and comments at the gala reception that followed by newlyweds PETER WITTEBROOD-LEMKE & FRANK WITTEBROOD, TON JANSEN & LOUIS ROGMANS and GERT KASTEEL & DOLF PASKER (Carver was unable to talk with the 4th couple, Helene Faasen & Anne-Marie Thus); also commenting are Mayor Cohen; ANIKE HOWSE, Executive Director of the national LGBT organization COC; and HENK KROL, publisher of “De Gay Krant” magazine, whom many have called the driving force behind the 16-year process to secure Dutch marriage equality; and ALAN CUMMING performs appropriate intro/outro music.
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending March 27, 2021 Written this week by Lucia Chappelle, reported by Michael Taylor-Gray and Wenzel Jones, produced by Brian DeShazor
The U.K. High Court has revised its December 2020 decision regarding puberty blockers for transgender children. The Justices had originally reasoned that kids under the age of 16 might not be able to understand “the long-term risks and consequences” of puberty blockers and other hormone therapy. Any under-16 trans person had to get a court order attesting to their “competence” to get the medical care they wanted. That decision was immediately appealed by the U.K.’s only gender identity clinic for trans children, the Tavistock and Portman N.H.S. Trust. The High Court ruled on March 26th that a “loving parent” could consent to the medical treatments on behalf of minor children. Justice Nathalie Lieven noted that, “the key difference from [the earlier decision] is that parents are, in general, in a position to understand and weigh up these matters and consider what is in the long and short term best interests of their child.” She added that the Court could intervene in cases where a parent may not be considered competent to make the decision, but “not simply on the category of prescribing [puberty blockers] to children.”
Trans advocates applauded this week’s ruling, but there is still concern for vulnerable trans kids who lack the parental support required to access those therapies. The Court will hear an appeal of the entire December ruling in late June, and could decide that even those trans-teens should be able to access desired medical treatments.
There’s renewed concern this week about the plight of two gay Chechen brothers – and their families. Ismail Isayev and Salekh Magamodov had been abducted from what they believed to be a “safe house” near Moscow and returned to their Chechen village to face terrorism charges. Their alleged crime? Running the government opposition Telegram channel on social media. Now some 20 relatives of the brothers have been interrogated in an attempt to track down their parents, who have reportedly fled the area.
The mostly Muslim Russian region of Chechnya enjoys a certain degree of autonomy. It’s led with a heavy hand by Ramzan Kadyrov, one of Vladimir Putin’s best buddies. Both governments have denied well-documented reports since 2017 of a genocidal anti-LGBTQ campaign in Chechnya. “Suspected” queers have been tortured in “queer concentration camps” to provide names of others they know. There have been intermittent reports of deaths as a result, but it’s not known how many. When they’re finally released, “outed” detainees can then face sometimes-violent hostility from family members.
Ismail and Salekh were interrogated and then released in February, but they were later re-arrested and charged with being part of an illegal armed group. They face up to 15 years in prison.
The Russian LGBT Network has advocated for the brothers since their original arrests, and helped get them into what turned out to be that unsafe house in Moscow. The group has joined family members to insist that the brothers were arrested on trumped up charges.
The European Union sanctioned 2 high-level Chechen government officials this week, which bars them from traveling to the E.U. and bans E.U. citizens from sending them money. Deputy Prime Minister Abuzaid Vismuradov and Chechnya-based Russian Internal Affairs Ministry official Aiub Kataev, were each identified as being “personally involved” in the anti-queer purge and “supervising and participating” in the torture of detainees.
The U.S. has issued similar sanctions. Chechen and Russian authorities continue to shrug off global criticism.
Meanwhile, a change-dot-org petition is circulating in Australia asking Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne to impose similar sanctions on the Chechen officials.
Dr. Rachel Levine made history this week. She’s now the first transgender person confirmed for a federal government post by the U.S. Senate. She’ll be the Biden Administration’s Assistant Secretary of Health. Only two Republicans joined the 50-vote Democratic majority, although no one has questioned her medical qualifications. The veteran pediatrician drew praise as director of the Pennsylvania Department of Health for how she’s guided the state through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Levine noted the historic nature of her confirmation in a statement to the New York Times. She acknowledged the “many difficult challenges” that transgender young people in particular face, but promised that she’d “do everything I can to support you and advocate for you.”
Thanks to Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas is now the second U.S. state to ban trans girls from competing as girls in school sports programs. The ban includes all students, from elementary school through and including college.
Idaho is the only other state to have a similar law – so far. Enforcement there has been put on hold by a federal court pending a legal challenge.
The same fate probably awaits any number of similar bills now working their way through the dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures. An almost-certain challenge awaits a trans-in-sports-ban signed by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves before it’s scheduled to take effect on July 1st. Governor Bill Lee had already warned that trans athletes would “destroy women’s sports,” so his signature on Tennessee’s anti-trans bill came as no surprise on March 26th.
This “culture war” re-enactment goes with the concerted campaign in Republican-controlled legislatures in more than 40 states to pass laws that also restrict voting rights and abortion. They’re also hot to “protect” so-called “religious freedom” by carving out faith-based exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people.
South Dakota’s Republican Governor Kristi Noem is planning to “head trans athletes off at the pass” with a national “Defend Title 9 Now” coalition “to protect women in sports.” Ironically, Noem subsequently vetoed a ban-the-trans-in-sports bill. She feared punitive action from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The N-C-double-A refused to hold regional tournaments or other events in North Carolina after Republicans there passed an anti-trans “bathroom bill.” Noem asked lawmakers in her veto message to make what she called “stylistic changes” to deal with the N-C-double-A concern.
A few sports figures like American football star Hershel Walker joined Noem via Zoom to announce the formation of the “Defend Title 9 Now” Coalition:
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
The International Federation of Sports Medicine represents more than 125,000 physicians in 117 countries. Their report published this week concludes that there is no scientific basis for a blanket ban on trans women in sports. According to “Reuters”, the Federation discusses the roles of estrogen and testosterone, and recommends that individual sports groups consider how physical strength and other factors affect their particular competitions.
Distressing video of a Black woman being handcuffed and dragged away by an all-white group of state troopers outraged viewers worldwide this week. She was – literally – just knocking on the door of Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp:
[Cannon arrest sfx]
Democratic state legislator Park Cannon was trying to witness the governor sign a multi-faceted bill to restrict voting rights in the state. Among other provisions, the draconian measure makes it a criminal offense to hand out water to people waiting in line to cast their ballots. Cannon apparently thought that the six white male lawmakers posed with Kemp under the painting of a slave-holding plantation should have some company.
Park Cannon is queer … and also happens to be a parishioner of now Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. pastored.
The Senator joined a chorus of Cannon’s defenders after visiting her in jail:
[brief Warnock sound]
The door was never opened to Georgia State Representative Cannon, but she faces two felony charges for “knowingly and intentionally” knocking on it “during [the] signing [of] a bill.”
Finally, an arson attack burned an iconic rainbow-painted lifeguard tower to the ground in Long Beach, California this week.
Out and proud Mayor Robert Garcia led about a hundred people at a rally the following day against what he called an “act of hate.”
The tower had been painted in rainbow colors as part of the Long Beach Pride observance. Officials promised to “build it back” in time for this year’s celebration.
Mayor Garcia said that the new tower would be “brighter, gayer and bigger than it was before.”
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