The 2014-2016 cycle of U.S. state anti-LGBTQ legislation was not unlike the current one — and we could learn a thing or two from our archival reports about what happened in Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina, and Mississippi!
Istanbul protesters are arrested supporting students busted for rainbow flags, Poland proposes a sexist and anti-queer family rights treaty, Cameroon trans women are jailed for “attempted homosexuality,” Georgia okays the nation’s first gender identity change, Japan is pressed on pre-Olympics LGBTQ protections, a new U.K. 50-pound note honors persecuted gay World War 2 codebreaking hero Alan Turing, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of April 5 2021
U.S. State Strategy Lessons!
Program #1,723 distributed 04/05/21
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Turkish riot police detain dozens for rallying in support of 12 student demonstrators who were arrested for unfurling rainbow flags at earlier events protesting the appointment of an anti-queer university rector, which have extended to opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s withdrawing his country from the Istanbul Convention, which aims to protect women from domestic violence, because it “normalizes homosexuality” … Polish lawmakers plan not only their country’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, but to offer other nations an alternative “Convention on the Rights of the Family” that bans abortion and marriage equality … homophobic thugs in Uzbekistan severely beat an equality ally because he advocates for the decriminalization of same-gender sex, while the government’s proposed penal code revisions maintain the three-year prison term for those acts, but adds that they are “against family, children, and morality” … two trans women in Cameroon face five years in prison for “attempted homosexuality” … the Justice Ministry of the former Soviet nation of Georgia for the first time allows a male-to-female trans woman who had gender-affirming surgery to legally change the gender designation on her government identification papers and birth certificate … on March 31st in the U.S., the Pentagon officially dumps Trump’s anti-trans military ban, and Joe Biden becomes the first sitting President to acknowledge the Transgender Day of Visibility with a supportive proclamation … Adachi becomes the first ward in Tokyo to issue certificates recognizing same-gender couples and their children as families, despite the refusal of Japan’s federal government to move in that direction … the Bank of England unveils a new 5o-pound note with the portrait of World War II hero, computing pioneer, and persecuted gay man Alan Turing (written by GREG GORDON and edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL LEBEAU and CHRISTOPHER GAAL, produced by BRIAN DESHAZOR).
Feature: If history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes, then the current rush of U.S. state-level anti-LGBTQ legislation puts Dr. Seuss to shame. In the last week, Arkansas and South Dakota have caught up to Tennessee and Mississippi in the race to ban trans students from school sports. Arkansas also has its version of Alabama’s new ban on gender-affirming treatment for trans minors — it’s waiting for the signature of the governor who just signed a bill allowing healthcare to be denied based on a physician’s religious objections, and you know what that means! All of these and many more Republican-led efforts are strikingly similar to the cycle of discriminatory state laws just a few years ago. How did the queer community face that two-year legal meat-grinder that ended five years ago this month? GREG GORDON and LUCIA CHAPPELLE reported on those developments beginning in March of 2014 (featuring comments by then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, American Family Association mouthpiece Bryan Fischer, rightwing commentator Rush Limbaugh, MSNBC news commentator Rachel Maddow, MSNBC news commentator Rev. Al Sharpton, then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence, then-North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, NBA All-Star and sports commentator Charles Barkley, Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah, and then-Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant; music by THE EARLS, MARK LINDSAY, DENIS SOLEE AND THE BEEGIE ADAIR TRIO, CROSBY STILLS NASH & YOUNG, THE KNICKERBOCKERS, THE VITAMIN STRING QUARTET, FOREIGNER from the TEEN TITANS TV series, SUGARLAND and DEAN MARTIN; chants at street protests in CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA; comments by young MOLLY and a McCrory Executive Order parody by DANIEL COOK, each found on YouTube; excerpts from a faux commercial for Mississippi Tourism by FUNNY OR DIE; and a :30 TWO ID by actor MICHAEL EMERSON [“Harold Finch” on the TV series Person of Interest, and “Ben” on Lost]).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending April 3, 2021 Written this week by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported by Michael LeBeau and Christopher Gaal, produced by Brian DeShazor
Twelve Istanbul student protesters arrested for unfurling rainbow flags got the support of dozens more who were detained at a March 26th rally on their behalf. The prestigious Bogazici University has been a key site of growing anti-government demonstrations that have spread across Turkey.
Since January, students and faculty have been protesting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appointment of a new university rector – a vocally anti-queer presidential sychophant. Turkey’s Interior Minister stuck the label “LGBT+ deviants” on the 600 people arrested in those actions.
The most recent demonstrations also denounce Erdogan’s decision to pull Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention, an international pact designed to protect women from domestic violence. Turkey was an original signer of the document in 2012. Now government officials are arguing that it violates so-called “family values” and “normalizes homosexuality.” Ergogan’s opponents say that an executive order pulling Turkey out of the Convention is illegal, that at the very least it requires parliamentary approval.
The 12 arrested rainbow flag-waving students were later released, but they’re required to regularly report to authorities. Social media has been filled with hashtags about the arrests, including #ReleaseOurFriends and #DontTouchMyRainbow.
The Istanbul Convention is also in trouble in homophobic Poland. Lawmakers there are working on a proposal to not only withdraw from the agreement — they’re developing a draft document for other nations that might want an alternative pact. Their new “replacement” treaty would specifically outlaw abortion and deny civil marriage to same-gender couples.
Poland’s proposed “Convention on the Rights of the Family” denounces what it calls the “gender ideology” of the Istanbul Convention. It claims the Convention “not only fail(s) to protect the family and its members from pathological behavior such as violence, but also lead(s) to their intensification.” The draft document refuses to recognize the existence of trans and intersex people, and states that, “The term ‘sex’ should be understood as a set of biological features, including genetic features, enabling the objective distinction between a woman and a man.”
Urszula Nowakowska is the head of Poland’s Center for Women’s Rights. In her words, “The draft is based on false premises and misunderstandings. It flagrantly contradicts scientific knowledge and internationally recognized values.” Nowakowska pointed to the failure of only Russia and Azerbaijan to sign the Istanbul Convention and to the recent news of Turkey’s withdrawal when she asked rhetorically, “[Do] … as many as 250 Members [of the Polish Parliament] … really want to join this ‘elite’ club of undemocratic countries that have not joined the Convention or have denounced it?”
Uzbek activist Miraziz Bazarov is in the hospital after a savage beating because of his advocacy for the decriminalization of same-gender relationships. Homophobic police are blaming the twenty-nine-year-old victim for provoking the March 28th attack that left him with a cranial fracture, a broken leg, and other serious injuries. Earlier in the day, a crowd of allegedly “pious Muslim” men marched through the capital city of Tashkent to denounce allegedly insurgent pro-queer activism.
Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed amendments to the Central Asian country’s criminal code on March 31st that make it a crime to “insult and slander” him. The maximum of three years in prison for consensual adult same-gender sex is retained, but pending revisions add a statement calling it an offense “against family, children, and morality.”
Human Rights Watch warns that even publically criticizing the criminalization of same-gender sex could be illegal under the penal code revisions.
Two trans women are facing up to five years in prison for “attempted homosexuality” in Cameroon. Mildred Loic and Moute Rolland were first arrested on February 8th for wearing women’s clothing while eating at a Douala restaurant. Charges of not having legal identification and public indecency were added later.
Loic is a local celebrity, a renowned cosmetician known as Shakiro with more than 100,000 Facebook followers. Attorney Richard Tamfu told reporters that both Loic and Roland have pleaded not guilty, but that a judge denied them bail on March 24th and postponed further proceedings until April 5th. Tamfu said that Loic and Rolland had hoped that “everything would come to an end” on March 24th, so they are now “very depressed.” He also warned that they risk COVID exposure in their overcrowded prison cells.
Alice Nkom is a prominent Cameroonian LGBTQ rights lawyer who’s also on the trans women’s legal team. She told Reuters that, “It is not illegal to be homosexual or transgender. According to our law, it is the act [that] is the crime. This is a flagrant violation of their human rights.”
The country of Georgia has allowed a trans woman’s request to change her legal gender, and to have her birth certificate changed as well – a first for the socially conservative former Soviet republic. The woman had submitted certification of her gender-confirming surgery, and the Ministry of Justice approved the changes on March 25th, according to the OC Media news site.
Most Georgian trans people can’t afford that medical procedure because the national health service refuses to pay for it. Georgia’s Women’s Initiatives Supportive Group points out that trans people are among the most vulnerable members of the nation’s queer community. Without legal gender recognition, it’s difficult for them to find legitimate work.
On the Transgender Day of Visibility, the U.S. Pentagon officially overturned the Trump-era ban on military service by transgender people. The March 31st announcement essentially returns Defense Department personnel policy to the trans-accepting last years of the Obama administration.
An official memo issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III recognizes “the great strides our nation has made raising awareness of the challenges faced by the transgender community. … And we will remain the best and most capable team because we avail ourselves of the best possible talent America has to offer, regardless of gender identity.”
Joe Biden is the first sitting U.S. president to acknowledge the Transgender Day of Visibility. In dozens of U.S. states Republican-dominated legislatures are stepping up efforts to restrict trans rights, but the Biden proclamation “call[s] upon all Americans to join in the fight for full equality for all transgender people.”
Pressure continues to build on the government of Japan to advance LGBTQ equality ahead of this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
More than a hundred local jurisdictions and private companies have taken steps to recognize same-gender couples – sort of. They’re mostly symbolic actions with few actual legal rights, if any.
On April 1st Adachi became the first ward in Tokyo to begin issuing certificates to LGBTQ couples, and to recognize their biological and adopted children as family members.
April 1st was also notable in central Japan’s Mie Prefecture, where lawmakers made it illegal to reveal a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their consent. It’s the first of Japan’s 47 prefectures to do so.
Finally, a new 50-pound note featuring gay British World War II hero Alan Turing was unveiled this week. Turing was instrumental in breaking the Nazi Enigma code, was a pioneer in the development of what is now the personal computer, and was persecuted to his death.
His sexual relationship with another man was revealed in 1952, and he was convicted of what was then the crime of “gross indecency.” He chose chemical castration instead of a prison sentence. Turing died by suicide in 1954.
He was granted a posthumous royal pardon in 2014, and a law passed in 2017 in his name allowed thousands of men to apply for formal pardons from similar convictions.
Jeremy Fleming is Director of the U.K.’s intelligence, security and cyber agency, GCHQ. In his words, “Turing was embraced for his brilliance and shunned for being gay. His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we still need to do to become truly inclusive.”
The Bank of England says the 50-pound Turing bank note will enter circulation on June 23rd – the mathematician’s birthday.
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