This Way Out Radio · AIDS at 40 and “Jack & Yaya”
Forty years since the AIDS pandemic began, the queer youth of OutCasting Overtime long to know the whole political and social history of the era.
A film about life-long friends who have gone through it all side-by-side paints a very different picture of trans coming-of-age.
And in NewsWrap: journo’s death by anti-Tbilisi Pride mob amplifies protests, E.U. tightens screws on homophobic Hungary and Poland, Israel opens fertility services to same-gender couples, Cameroonian trans women free until “attempted homosexuality” appeal, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of July 19, 2021
AIDS at 40 and Jack & Yaya!
Program #1,738 distributed 07/19/21
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Demands for the Georgian Prime Minister’s resignation grow louder following the death of a TV cameraman who was assaulted by the anti-queer mobs he was covering in Tbilisi as they ransacked the offices of LGBTQ Pride organizers … the executive branch of the European Union initiates action against anti-queer governance in Hungary and Poland … while the European Court of Human Rights orders Russia to open civil marriage to same-gender couples … Israel’s Supreme Court opens fertility and surrogacy services to single men and queer couples … two trans women in Cameroon jailed for “attempted homosexuality” were scheduled to be released on bond on July 16th pending their September appeal … a “special raid” in the Sharia-governed Nigerian state of Kano nets five gay men, who face 100 lashes of the cane in addition to the secular-law punishment of a year in prison … Minnesota’s Democratic governor breaks a legislative logjam and Executive Orders a ban on state funding for the debunked practice known as “conversion therapy” … Kentucky’s Democratic governor cuts provisions banning anti-queer bias from state contracts with the Baptist-affiliated Sunrise Children’s Services … deciding that foes of the new law stand a good chance of having it overturned, a federal judge issues a temporary injunction preventing the enforcement of Tennessee’s statute requiring businesses to post signs outside their restrooms if they allow trans people to use the one that aligns with their gender identity … while Republican efforts in Texas to severely curtail voting rights prompted Democratic lawmakers to flee the state to prevent a necessary quorum in the special session called by the governor, a “side-benefit” of not having a quorum also at least stalls two anti-trans-in-sports bills from almost certain passage (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by WENZEL JONES and JOHN DYER V, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Political attacks stigmatizing transgender kids are all the rage with U.S. Republican legislators these days. A very different picture of trans coming-of-age is captured in a PBS/WorldChannel film about life-long friends who have gone through it all side-by-side. JOHN DYER V tells us more about Jack & Yaya (with audio clips from the film and segment intro/outro music from the Annie movie soundtrack).
Feature: That other global pandemic is still a deadly threat — and it was first reported in the mainstream media 40 years ago this month. Today’s high school students are taught how not to get HIV/AIDS, but they don’t get the history with its full context of homophobia and generational devastation. “OutCaster” LIL and the queer youth commentators of OutCasting Overtime think that what’s left out could be just as life-saving as the safe sex education they receive (produced by MARC SOPHOS, with segment intro/outro music from Until The Balance Tips by JOHN BUCCHINO).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending July 17, 2021 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Wenzel Jones and John Dyer V, produced by Brian DeShazor
The death of Georgian TV cameraman Alexander Lashkarava has fueled the on-going unrest since Tbilisi’s aborted Pride march. Lashkavara was beaten senseless when an ultra-nationalist mob intent on ransacking the Pride organizers’ offices turned on journalists at the scene for allegedly spreading “gay propaganda.” At least 50 journalists were attacked as they covered an anti-queer march backed by the Orthodox Church. Violent protests also disrupted a Pride week Queer Film Festival.
Six days after the cameraman was released from the hospital, Lashkarava’s body was found by his mother. Georgian police seized his corpse soon thereafter despite his family’s objections, fearing a government cover-up. The Ministry of Internal Affairs alleged in a statement that he had purchased “psychotropic drugs and disposable syringes” just hours before his death.
Now there are calls for the current government to resign over the bloodshed. Vato Tsereteli was Lashkarava’s boss at TV Pirveli. At one street protest, he accused Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili of being “personally responsible” for the cameraman’s death.
But Prime Minister Gharibashvili ignored the demands for his resignation. Several journalists invaded the Parliament building to protest his resistance the day after their July 12th deadline. Scuffles broke out between lawmakers from the ruling Georgian Dream Party and opposition MPs. Security officers forcibly removed the journalists and offending opposition lawmakers from the building and order was restored.
Four TV stations in Georgia went dark on July 15th to reinforce demands for Gharibashvili’s resignation. Mtavari Arkhi, Formula, and Kavkasia channels joined Lashkarava’s own TV Pirveli going off the air for 24 hours.
The following day, police officials raided the homes of a far-right politician, a prominent media figure, and an Orthodox Church official in connection with the anti-queer violence. According to local reports, all three men were released without charge after about six hours of questioning.
Prime Minister Garibashvili continues to reject calls for his resignation, both domestic and foreign. He blames the violence on equality activists for being “unreasonable.” In his view the desire to parade peacefully with LGBTQ Pride itself “creates a threat of civil confrontation.”
The European Commission is turning the screws on Hungary and its neighbor Poland for their anti-queer governance. The Commission took initial steps toward sanctions against both countries this week.
Hungary has thus far weathered global criticism over a recently enacted “no promo homo” law that bans queer-positive information in schools or on television. Leaders of more than half of the E.U. member states have strongly condemned the Hungarian law.
Poland is under fire for overtly supporting proclamations by more than a hundred local governments declaring themselves to be “LGBT-Free Zones.” The European Union’s executive branch warned that the Polish declarations “may violate E.U. law regarding non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”
A statement by the Commission vowed that, “Europe will never allow parts of our society to be stigmatized.”
Poland and Hungary each have two months to respond to the charges. Both face large fines for failing to adequately defend their anti-queer measures.
Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights ruled this week in a case challenging Russia’s marriage inequality that the country must recognize same-gender couples.
However, Hungary’s leader Viktor Orbán, Poland’s Andrzej Duda and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have never complied with E.U. directives they don’t like.
Israel’s Supreme Court has opened access to fertility and surrogacy services to same-gender couples. Justices issued a ruling this week determining that the government has failed to meet the deadline they established in a 2020 decision. The court ruled then that a law to expand access to single women but excluding single men and queer couples “disproportionately harmed [their] right to equality and the right to parenthood.”
The Justices wrote that, “since … the state has done nothing to advance an appropriate amendment to the law, the court ruled that it cannot abide the continued serious damage to human rights caused by the existing surrogacy arrangement.”
They set the ruling to take effect in six months to allow for the preparation of professional guidelines dealing with the expanded access.
Israeli LGBTQ activist group The Aguda celebrated the decision as a “historic landmark in our struggle for equality.”
Two trans women in Cameroon jailed for “attempted homosexuality” were set to be released on July 16th as an appeal of their convictions moves forward.
Loic Njeukam is the legal name of Shakiro, a popular online fashion celebrity. Defendant Roland Mouthe is her friend Patricia, who was having lunch with her in February at a restaurant in the coastal city of Douala. They were arrested for public indecency and “attempted homosexuality” – presumably for wearing women’s clothing. They were also unable to produce legal identification.
They are being represented by Alice Nkom, a well-known advocate for LGBTQ people in Africa. She told Reuters that, “They are going to leave this prison hell where they don’t belong and where they risked extreme violence every day.” The appeal of their five-year prison sentences will be heard in September.
Human Rights Watch has warned that Shakiro and Patricia’s arrest seemed to be part of “an overall uptick in police action [against sexual minorities] this year” in the West-central African country.
Life for LGBTQ people in neighboring Nigeria might be getting even worse. This week five men in their early twenties were arrested in a “special raid” in the state of Kano for “suspected homosexuality.” Apparently the neighbors had complained.
Kano is one of the Nigerian states that impose Islamic Sharia law penalties on top of what secular law dictates. Sharia condemns “sodomy” as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man or woman.” In addition to a one-year prison term under the country’s secular laws, they each face 100 lashes of the cane if they’re unmarried. If any of the convicts are married, they could be stoned to death.
Minnesota’s Democratic Governor Tim Walz is using an Executive Order to ban “conversion therapy.” Walz took it on himself to break a legislative logjam when the bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House failed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The Order bolsters local ordinances in a number of Minnesota cities, but does not ban “conversion therapy” in the state outright. Only the legislature can do that. However, the Executive Order prohibits public funds from being used to support it. In the governor’s words, that will “ensure that [no Minnesotan] under 18 … is subjected to this Byzantine torturous practice.”
“Conversion therapy” claims to “straighten out” queer people through counseling and/or prayer. Virtually every professional medical and mental health organization condemns the practice as ineffectual at best. At worst, it does real damage to a victim’s already fragile mental health.
Another Democratic governor is citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling to veer away from queer rights. That’s how Kentucky’s Andy Beshear justified removing anti-LGBTQ bias provisions from a state contract with the Baptist-affiliated Sunrise Children’s Services. The high court decision narrowly supported the right of a Roman Catholic adoption and fostering agency in Philadelphia to reject parenting applications from same-gender couples on religious grounds.
Kentucky is one of several states to dole out some social services through private agencies. According to the Associated Press, Sunrise was established during the Civil War to care for orphans, and it has contracted with the state for more than 50 years.
A federal judge has blocked a particularly loathsome Tennessee law. It requires businesses to post “warning signs” if they allow trans people to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity. U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger granted a preliminary injunction preventing the law from taking effect. She determined that the plaintiffs were “likely to succeed on their challenge” on constitutional grounds. The Tennessee law is one of several anti-trans laws to be tested in courts across the country.
Finally, one of the biggest stories in the U.S. this week has been the flight of Texas Democratic lawmakers from the state to deny the Republican-controlled legislature a quorum. Their action is an effort to block passage of odious laws to restrict voting rights.
But there’s a little-noticed “bonus” for equality activists: the Democrats’ walkout also stalls two bills to prevent transgender girls and women from competing in school sports.
They will almost certainly pass if Republican Governor Greg Abbott and his political cronies eventually succeed in bringing them to a formal vote during the special session he’s called.
The queer advocacy group Equality Texas is fighting the uphill battle against the anti-trans measures. They roasted Republicans for “brazenly prioritizing attacks on transgender children.”
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