May 2016: high drama in the U.S. House when out Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) spoke out against the “religious freedom” of federal defense contractors, and low comedy in Texas when Attorney General Ken Paxton flaunted his trans ignorance — but Seth Meyers teaches bathroom politics!
Gentoo penguin lesbian newlyweds Marmalade and Chickpea of London prove again that the queer animal community has been around longer than a “Rainbow Minute”!
And in NewsWrap: Namibia announces plans to dump sodomy laws, U.S. grants citizenship to the foreign-born children of married queers, Serbia recalls ambassador for offending homophobic Poland, Tennessee enacts trio of anti-trans laws, NCAA commits unforced errors in three “hate states,” and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 24, 2021
God and Toilets, Birds and Bees!
Program #1,730 distributed 05/24/21
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Namibia’s government announces plans to decriminalize gay sex, and allows a gay couple and their three surrogacy-born children to reunite in the Southern African nation — with restrictions … the U.S. State Department reverses yet another policy of the previous administration and recognizes the U.S. citizenship of children of married same-gender couples born overseas as long as the child has a genetic link to one U.S. citizen parent … Serbia’s ambassador to Poland is sent packing after he signs onto a letter backing Polish LGBTQ rights … Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers and governor enact three more bills targeting transgender youth … queer advocacy groups challenge the NCAA’s stated anti-bias policy after it schedules softball tournament events in three “hate” states than ban transgender athletes from competing (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Fans flock to London’s Sea Life Aquarium to celebrate its post-pandemic re-opening and toast Gentoo penguin newlyweds Marmalade and Chickpea, and veteran lesbian couple penguins Marama and Rocky. This Rainbow Minute might expand on what your parents told you about the bird and the bees (Same Sex Behavior In The Animal Kingdom, read by BRIAN SMITH, produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, with intro music by PINKFONG).
Feature: TWO Celebrity Voices Montage ID and TWO E-newsletter Promo (voiced by MELANIE KELLER and MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY, with music by BOBBY RICHARDS).
Feature: Recycled Republican reactionary rage never seems to get old in U.S. politics, so religious freedom fights and bathroom bill bombast are back in the news. The four-month-old Biden administration has made valiant efforts to stop the open season on LGBTQ rights that his predecessor’s party has declared. However the homo- and transphobia on the legislative landscape today sound a lot like the discrimination debates that were making headlines five years ago this month. This Way Out’s Lucia Chappelle reported on two dramatic moments in May of 2016. The first involved a Congressional amendment to a defense spending bill, and the second “trickled down” to the state level, where Republican lawmakers launched attacks on transgender bathroom users (featuring Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Late Night host Seth Meyers (NBC), and with segment intro/outro music by PETER ALLEN and transition music from the Teen Titans TV series).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending May 22, 2021 Written this week by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported by Melanie Keller and Michael Taylor-Gray, produced by Brian DeShazor
Namibia’s Justice Minister Yvonne Dausab announced this week that the decriminalization of gay sex is now on the government’s agenda. It’s among recommendations to overturn 34 obsolete laws by the Law Reform and Development Commission. The Commission’s report on Repeal of Obsolete Laws was accompanied by a separate report on the Abolishment of the Common Law Offences of Sodomy and Unnatural Sexual Offences – which specifically ban anal sex. Dausab told the Windhoek Observer that the recommendations were not yet law. She called them “informed conclusions based on legal research,” and said that, “No Namibian should be comfortable with any part of our society … being excluded, or stigmatized and discriminated against … on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
The Commission’s report stated that the very existence of a ban on men having sex with men “ … violates the fundamental rights of the individuals who could be affected, as well as creating and reinforcing a culture of homophobia and intolerance against LGBT+ people.” It concluded that such a ban “interferes with the constitutional and international law rights of individuals in Namibia,” and for that reason “The continued existence of this law cannot be justified.”
The government’s proposal still must survive the legislative process before gay male sex is decriminalized. However Justice Minister Dausab told local media in the South African nation’s capital of Windhoek that she expects a bill to go before the National Assembly “before the year ends.”
Namibia marked another milestone just before the government’s announcement about decriminalizing gay sex: it issued emergency travel documents to allow the twin daughters of Phillip Luhl and his Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado to come home. Luhl and the surrogacy-birthed twins have been stranded in South Africa. According to Reuters, a Cabinet shuffle in April made the difference. The Home Affairs Ministry had ordered that Luhl first prove a genetic link to the twins before they could legally enter the country. The High Court refused to overturn the order. The new Home Affairs Minister removed the government’s opposition to the twins’ entering the country, but Luhl told Reuters that they would not then be able to leave Namibia.
The couple has been fighting for their two-year-old son’s citizenship, and two weeks ago the government issued him an emergency passport. Luhl said the couple will now seek passports for their baby daughters so that they can all travel as a family.
A statement from the Home Affairs Ministry noted that the documents it has issued have no bearing on any of the children’s citizenship applications, even if the twins are given emergency passports. The Ministry is awaiting the final resolution of the High Court order that Luhl also prove his genetic link to the couple’s son.
The U.S. State Department has reversed yet another policy of the preceding administration. This one denied citizenship to a child born outside the country to a married same-gender couple with at least one U.S. spouse, unless the child has a genetic relationship to the U.S. citizen parent. The previous Department considered those children of legally married same-gender couples to have been “born out of wedlock.” A number of gay couples whose surrogate babies were born in another country had sued. U.S. citizenship is routinely granted to children born to married heterosexual couples overseas.
The Biden Administration’s State Department announced the policy change on May 18th. It notified all U.S. overseas posts and Congress that U.S. citizenship should be granted to children born overseas through assisted reproductive technology to either heterosexual or same-gender couples as long as at least one parent has a genetic relationship to the child. The policy change is retroactive, so all the couples who had sued the previous administration can now reapply to get U.S. citizenship for their children.
Lawyers from Immigration Equality and Lambda Legal represented several queer couples in lawsuits challenging the previous policy. Immigration Equality Executive Director Aaron Morris joined the celebration, saying that, “We have once again affirmed that it is not biology but love that makes a family.”
The Serbian government has recalled its ambassador to Poland. Nikola Zurovac joined some 40 other mostly European ambassadors in signing a letter expressing support for the Polish LGBTQ community. It was issued on May 17th to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.
That was not the best timing for Ambassador Zurovac. The letter was released a day before Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Selaković was due to visit Poland, and his trip was postponed because of the ruckus. The far-right Polish government has fomented local declarations of anti-queer “LGBT-Free Zones” across the country, so their displeasure with the support letter was not surprising.
Serbia’s government said that Zurovac had failed to get its approval before he signed the letter. Minister Selaković claimed that the issue was not its content, “but the failure of the Serbian ambassador to sign a document without informing the person responsible for his work.”
The state of Tennessee continues to lead the charge against transgender young people in the U.S. Governor Bill Lee signed three more measures into law this week. One “bathroom bill” allows public schools to be sued by anyone offended by their allowing trans students, teachers or staff to use sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms that conform to their gender identity. The law rejects the very existence of transgender people by defining sex strictly as “a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth.”
Three days later Lee signed a second “bathroom bill” that requires private businesses and public venues to post signs outside their bathrooms and changing rooms if they allow trans people to use the appropriate facilities.
Perhaps the cruelest bill Governor Lee signed outlaws gender-affirming medical care for transgender young people. Arkansas is the only other state to do that, at least so far. Lee already signed bills to ban transgender athletes from competing in school sports, and to require advance notice so that parents can opt-out of LGBTQ-inclusive classroom sessions.
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David warned in a media statement that, “Patients, parents and health care providers should be guided by science and medical best practices … not the whims of the state legislators.” HRC recently counted more than 20 anti-queer bills that have become law in Republican-controlled U.S. states in less than the first five months of 2021– and that breaks a record for a full year.
Finally, the “states of hate” are apparently not being penalized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Cities in Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas were announced this week as hosts of NCAA post-season softball regional play-offs – this despite the NCAA’s bold Board of Governors statement last month that “only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.” All three states have laws on the books banning transgender athletes from competing in school sports.
The U.S. collegiate sports authority previously issued a statement in support of transgender girls and women competing in their identified gender after taking testosterone-suppressing drugs for at least 12 months.
The organization moved basketball tournament games out of North Carolina in 2017 after the Republican legislature and governor passed the country’s first notorious “bathroom bill.”
According to the Associated Press, the NCAA usually picks baseball and softball regional sites based on team performance, quality of facilities and financial considerations. COVID-19 protocols also factored into the selections this year.
Oklahoma City is scheduled to host the Women’s College World Series starting on June 3rd. A trans-in-sports ban is working its way through the Republican-dominated Oklahoma state legislature now, and Governor Kevin Stitt has signaled his support for it. Twenty million dollars that the World Series would generate for the city is at stake. The queer advocacy groups GLAAD and Athlete Ally published an open letter to the NCAA last week urging the sports authority to repeat the actions it took against North Carolina’s “bathroom bill.”
A follow-up statement expressed the groups’ disappointment with “the NCAA’s decision” to “[go] directly against [its stated anti-bias] policy” and allow “hate states” to host those events.
As of this recording the NCAA has had no comment.
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