The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir’s 30th anniversary “Stronger Together” concert — it’s first post-pandemic live show — is previewed by Choir President Liz Eglington (interviewed by William Brougham)!
And in NewsWrap: Indian High Court Justice orders major pro-LGBTQ reforms, queer detainees bailed out in Uganda and Ghana, Australia’s anti-queer Christian Democratic Party forced into receivership, U.S. Senate designates Pulse Nightclub massacre site a national memorial, San Antonio elects Texas’ first Black gay city council member, U.S. Vice President Harris walks with Pride in D.C., and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of June 14, 2021
The Young and the Proud!
Program #1,733 distributed 06/14/21
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): A High Court Justice in India orders sweeping anti-bias protections for LGBTQ people … 44 queer and queer-supportive people in Uganda and 21 in Ghana are finally released on bail after being behind bars for several days on bogus charges of violating COVID lockdown restrictions or “promoting” homosexuality … Australia’s far-right anti-queer Christian Democratic Party is forced into receivership after former leader Fred Nile and family members are accused of syphoning off party funds for personal use … in a rare display of unanimity, the U.S. Senate votes to designate the scene of the June 2016 shooting massacre at the queer-friendly Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida as a national memorial … San Antonio’s Jalen McKee-Rodriguez becomes the first Black gay candidate to win election to a city council seat in the state of Texas … queer ally and Pennsylvania’s Democratic Lieutenant-Governor John Fetterman is forced by Republican lawmakers to take down a rainbow flag he briefly displayed on the balcony of his offices in the state Capitol to kick off LGBTQ Pride month [he briefly comments] … Major League Baseball teams the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants each celebrate Pride in their own way (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY and WENZEL JONES, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR) PLUS: This Just In: (reported by LUCIA CHAPPELLE): Kamala Harris becomes the first Vice President in U.S. history to march with Pride (with her brief comments during the Washington, D.C. Pride Walk on June 12th).
Feature: On its way to marking 30 years of carrying a tune for liberation, this past year of lockdown has been the longest for the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir. They’ve been Coming Out of the Dark with performances on Zoom, but now the Choir is returning to the live stage to celebrate its anniversary. This Way Out Sydney correspondent WILLIAM BROUGHAM chats with Choir President Liz Eglington about its legendary past, its life during COVID, its exciting comeback concert and its future [with a “Combo Voices” E-newsletter Promo at about 6:03 into this segment, and featuring MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY, MELANIE KELLER, MARCOS NAJERA, CHRISTOPHER GAAL, TANYA KANE-PARRY, Alphonso David, and James Baldwin, and excerpts from the Choir performing Coming Out of the Dark (virtual), True Colors, Seasons of Love, Marry Me Right Now Baby, These Candles We Burn, In This Very Room, Hand In Hand, and You’re the Voice (virtual)].
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending June 12, 2021 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Michael Taylor-Gray and Wenzel Jones, produced by Brian DeShazor
When a young lesbian couple in India sued local police for harassment after their homophobic parents filed missing persons reports, they had no idea they could be opening the door to sweeping protections for LGBTQ people. The women are in their early 20’s. They had fled their homes in Madurai] and moved to Chennai when their parents refused to accept their relationship.
After hearing their case, on June 7th Justice Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court ordered broad government reforms to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. He wrote that, “I realized, after a one-on-one interaction with the Petitioners, that it was [society that] has to set off on a journey of understanding them and accepting them and shed our notions, and not they who have to turn themselves inside out to suit our notions of social morality and tradition.”
The Justice’s ruling orders government officials and police officers to undergo sensitivity training to ensure that they respect the rights of LGBTQ people. Venkatesh also ruled that promoters of so-called “conversion therapy” to “cure” queer people should lose their medical licenses.
Schools and colleges should offer gender-neutral restrooms, and transgender prisoners should be housed separately if necessary to protect them from sexual assault. Venkatesh pointedly ordered state and federal government agencies to inform him of specific steps they take to comply with his ruling. He warned that, “Ignorance is not justification for normalizing any form of discrimination.”
LGBTQ advocacy groups celebrated the groundbreaking judgment. High court rulings in India apply nationally unless another high court rules to the contrary, so it is hoped that the Madras decision will stand. Activists also hope that Justice Vankatesh takes concrete steps to enforce his ruling.
Victims of recent anti-queer police raids are finally out of jail in Uganda and Ghana.
Forty-four Ugandan defendants were released over the course of the past week after being behind bars since May 31st. They had been caught up in what authorities called a “gay wedding” at an LGBTQ homeless shelter in the city of Nansana. Their trials on charges of negligent acts that could spread COVID-19 are scheduled to begin on July 8th. According to activists, at least 20 of the men were subjected to invasive anal examinations that are falsely claimed to prove homosexual activity. Some human rights groups call the procedure “torture.”
The east African country has been one of the worst places on the planet to be LGBTQ for more than a decade. Longtime President Yoweri Museveni has backed several versions of bills to punish private consensual adult same-gender sex. The notorious one that would have punished “aggravated homosexuality” with death was overturned on a legal technicality. Current Ugandan law imposes a 10-year prison sentence.
All of the defendants arrested in the city of Ho, Ghana have been released on bail, according to their advocacy group’s Twitter announcement this week. Police had detained 21 people at a meeting organized by Rightify Ghana on May 20th. Local news media were tipped off to the gathering and got there ahead of the police to be sure no one escaped. The activists present were ironically there to learn how to document and report anti-queer human rights violations.
The 16 women and five men spent up to 22 days in crowded and less-than-sanitary jail cells. Their next court appearance is scheduled for June 20th.
Private consensual adult same-gender sex is punished in Ghana by up to three years in prison, but overt homophobia has been on the rise in recent months. Lawmakers are currently considering a “no promo homo” bill to criminalize LGBTQ advocacy.
Australia’s far-right Christian Democratic Party has been forced into receivership after its board determined that it was teetering on insolvency.
It all began to unravel last September. Former Treasurer Charles Knox filed suit against the Party’s founder and Chairperson Fred Nile, his wife and other family members, accusing them of syphoning off more than $100,000 in Party funds for personal use.
A second lawsuit challenged how Board members were chosen, and questioned Party elections in general, according to qnews.com.au.
The Christian website Eternity News reported this week that Justice Patricia Henry of the Equity Division of the Supreme Court has appointed an administrator/manager to take over the affairs of the Party. The administrator will convene an emergency general meeting of the members to elect a new board, but the pending litigation will probably doom the organization anyway.
Fred Nile has probably been Australia’s most high-profile homophobe for decades, forever railing against every advance toward equality.
Nile announced his retirement in April and passed the flaming anti-queer torch to the equally homophobic Lyle Shelton, who used to lead the Australian Christian Lobby.
The United States Senate has designated the site of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida as a national memorial – and did so by a unanimous vote. That’s a rare accomplishment these days! It marks the fifth anniversary of the June 12th, 2016 massacre. A disturbed gunman killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others during “Latino Night” at the queer-friendly nightspot.
The bill already passed in the House in May. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law.
Democrat Darren Soto of Florida was the lead House sponsor. In a statement emailed to The Advocate, he wrote that, “… the federal designation of the Pulse National Memorial is a deeply meaningful way to honor the lives that were taken that night.”
An interim memorial occupies the club site now. Plans are in the works through a nonprofit foundation for the National Pulse Memorial & Museum. It “will incorporate the remains of the club into a garden with a reflecting pool and 49 trees, with the open-air museum planned for construction a half-mile away,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. A Survivors Walk will trace the half-mile the wounded traveled from the Pulse to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Another “lavender ceiling” has been crashed, this time in Texas. Jalen McKee-Rodriguez defeated an entrenched incumbent this week to win a seat on the San Antonio City Council. That makes him the state’s first Black gay elected official.
The 25-year-old former math teacher told reporters that, “If you have the right motives, the right passion, and [you’re] a good listener, people will trust [you.]”
McKee-Rodriguez received more than 60 percent of the vote in the run-off election. He once worked for the incumbent, but they parted ways over alleged anti-queer harassment and discrimination.
McKee-Rodriguez got his Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Texas, and will get a Masters of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies this year. He and his pharmacy technician husband live in San Antonio’s suburbs.
[Fetterman sound:] “This is the first day of Pride and it only took a matter of a few hours for them to come and confiscate it. It’s just petty and unfortunate.”
Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman reluctantly took down his Pride flag. The Democrat and longtime queer ally had unfurled it on his office balcony, despite the overwhelmingly Republican state legislature’s rule that any flag other than the state and U.S. flags must be approved for display on the Capitol complex.
Fetterman acknowledged to the local ABC-TV affiliate that he was technically breaking the law, but pointed out that “it’s perfectly legal to discriminate or deny service to members of the gay or trans communities in Pennsylvania.”
The Republican legislative majority rejected bills this year to embed anti-bias protections for LGBTQ people in the state Constitution, and to remove “homosexuality” from the state’s penal code.
Finally, homophobia in Major League Baseball is slowly but surely melting away. The Los Angeles Dodgers held their colorful annual Pride night on June 11th. They pummeled the visiting Texas Rangers 12 – 1.
The rival San Francisco Giants kicked things off on June 5th with the introduction of on-field uniforms sporting the 11 colors of the Progress Pride rainbow flag. They edged the visiting Chicago Cubs that night 4 – 3.
Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said in a statement that the Pride-promoting uniforms honor “the countless achievements and contributions of all those who identify as LGBTQ+ and are allies of the LGBTQ+ community.”
======== “This just in …” reported by Lucia Chappelle ========
This just in: guess who surprised Pride participants in Washington, DC?
[Harris sound:] “Happy Pride! … Hi! …”
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff briefly joined an abbreviated Pride Walk in the nation’s capitol on June 12th – a historic first for the country’s second in command. COVID restrictions prevented a full-scale parade, but did not prevent the Veep from speaking to those who gathered along the way:
[Harris sound:] “We need to make sure that our transgender community and our youth are all protected. We need, still, protections around employment and housing. There is so much more work to do, and I know we are committed and we understand the importance of this movement, and our roles of leadership in this ongoing movement … Happy Pride!”
Happy Pride, Vice President Harris!
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