U.S. Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the the Civil Rights Division, Department of Education Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg, and Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine send a YouTube message of support to transgender young people heading back to school.
“The Mathematics of Change” author Amanda Kabak talks about how life and the writing process can be “Upended” — with novel results (part one of a two-part interview with John Dyer V)!
And in NewsWrap: rescue efforts get in gear to evacuate Taliban-threatened queer Afghans, Poland’s Malopolska region stands by its “LGBT Free Zone” declaration in defiance of the European Union, Romania’s right-wing pushes a “no promo homo” bill as Bucharest Pride draws thousands, Uganda’s newest bill against same-gender sex is rejected by President Museveni because it’s redundant, Israel ends its ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announces that he and his husband are adopting a child, Oregonians erect a giant Progress Pride flag within view of a high school where the school board has banned such banners, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by MR Raquel and Marcos Najera (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this and more on the August 23, 2021 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of August 23 2021
Trans Kids Cheered & “Upended” (pt.1)
PROGRAM #1,743 DISTRIBUTED 08/23/21
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Activists mount rescue efforts for queer Afghans as the newly-governing Taliban says strict Islamic law, or sharia, calls for the execution of all LGBTQ people … lawmakers in the Polish region of Malopolska defy threatened E.U. sanctions and vote to keep their “LGBT-Free Zone” declaration … an estimated 8,000 people march with LGBTQ Pride through the streets of Bucharest as some Romanian politicians introduce “no promo homo” legislation similar to the recently-enacted law in Hungary … Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni rejects even harsher penalties for private consensual adult same-gender sex in the recently-passed “Sexual Offense Bill 2021,” saying that existing laws already punish same-gender sex with up to life in prison … Israel’s proudly gay Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announces the end of the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood … U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten announce that they’re about to become adoptive parents … and Oregonians erect a big plywood-painted Progress Pride flag within view of Newberg High School’s football field after the local school board votes to ban its display, along with “Black Lives Matter” signs, claiming that they’re “political” (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MR RAQUEL and MARCOS NAJERA, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: To mask or not to mask is the issue exploding across the U.S. as schools re-open during the rise of the Delta COVID variant. Taking off the masks of gender identity during the rise of state legislative measures to restrict their rights is the issue facing young trans students. Several officials from the federal government sent them this encouraging message via YouTube (featuring Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division, Department of Education Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg, and Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, and with intro music by CHUCK BERRY).
Feature: In her debut novel, Amanda Kabak’s cast of characters found a pathway through their evolving relationships and sexualities by learning The Mathematics of Change. Her second book also deals with change — the kind that leaves you totally Upended. This Way Out’s JOHN DYER V chats with her about the new book and her writing process in this first of a two-part feature interview (with music by ALDRICK VINCENT).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending August 21, 2021 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by MR Raquel and Marcos Najera, produced by Brian DeShazor
LGBTQ people and their allies fear for their safety under the Taliban as the U.S. and its allies clumsily withdraw military forces from Afghanistan. The fundamentalist Islamic group now again in control of the country is known for its brutal treatment of queers and harsh oppression of women. The Taliban has been biding its time since the U.S. invasion in 2001 aimed to “Westernize” the Central-South Asian nation. Its spokespeople have insisted that the Taliban-run government of 2021 will be far more forgiving – though most observers are dubious.
A Taliban judge told the German tabloid Bild in July that LGBTQ people will be put to death under Sharia, or strict Islamic law. It calls for them to be stoned to death, shoved off a cliff, or crushed as a wall is pushed onto them. German sources in Kabul are now reporting that the Taliban has already started to execute “collaborators and homosexuals.” It’s difficult, however, to get an accurate picture of what’s happening on the ground amidst the horrifying chaos.
The Rainbow Railroad is a global non-governmental organization best known for helping queers escape the oppressive mostly Muslim Chechen region of Russia. It’s now among a number of groups trying to help LGBTQ people escape Afghanistan. A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help queer Afghans escape what many fear is certain death. Several LGBTQ advocacy groups are urging Western countries to quickly offer them asylum.
Lawmakers in the southern Malopolska region of Poland defied the European Commission this week by voting to maintain their “LGBT-Free Zone” declaration. The region includes the nation’s second-largest city, Krakow. The E.C. had given warning that Malopoiska stands to lose billions in E.U. funding in mid-September if they continue to disrespect LGBTQ rights. More than 100 “LGBT-Free Zones” have been announced by cities and regional councils — that amounts to about a third of the country. Poland’s politically powerful Roman Catholic Church supports them and the entire anti-queer regime of President Andrzej Duda.
Robert Biedron is an out gay member of Poland’s leftist opposition and the European Parliament. He condemned Malopolska’s renewed “LGBT-Free Zone” declaration, telling Reuters, “Once again, the hatred and anger of [Duda’s Law and Justice Party] turned out to be more important than the good of citizens.”
Poland’s national government has promised to replace E.U. funding denied to anti-queer jurisdictions. It’s not clear that they have any money to put where their mouths are.
Right-wing politicians in Romania are following in the anti-queer footsteps of Poland and its neighbor Hungary. Both countries are under European Union pressure to dump anti-LGBTQ laws. Hungary is also doubling-down on its homophobia by making it a crime to disseminate positive portrayals of LGBTQ people in schools and on television.
Now the Alliance for the Unification of Romania has announced that they’ll be introducing legislation similar to Hungary’s when the new parliamentary session begins in mid-September. They hold about ten percent of the seats in parliament, so it’s not clear if that effort will gain traction.
Romania decriminalized same-gender sex twenty years ago. A referendum held in 2018 to ban marriage equality failed after only 21 percent of eligible voters participated.
An estimated 8,000 people marched through the streets of the Romanian capital of Bucharest on August 14th in the first LGBTQ Pride parade since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Teodora Ion-Rotaru of Romania’s major LGBTQ rights group ACCEPT, told the Associated Press, “The march asks for protection from violence, protection from discrimination, [and] protection from being fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Only about a hundred anti-queer demonstrators held a counter-protest a few hours before the Pride march stepped off.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has rejected an effort to make the nation’s anti-queer laws even more oppressive. The “Sexual Offences Bill 2021” is primarily intended to crack down on sexual harassment. Criminalizing same-gender relationships and sex work are convenient by-products. Musevini said this week that existing law already covers many provisions of the bill, including up to life in prison for convicted offenders. Uganda made headlines a few years ago when the East African nation proposed even harsher penalties in what became known as the “Kill the Gays” bill. Global pressure prevented it from becoming law.
Severe social stigma has kept most queer Ugandans in the closet. Adrian Jjuuko is the Executive Director of the Ugandan Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum. He told the Washington Blade, “In Uganda, the law matters, but it also doesn’t. In other words it doesn’t matter what the situation is. With what the law right now is, the persecution of LGBT people will remain.”
Israel’s gay and bisexual men will no longer be barred from donating blood, according to proudly out Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz. He explained in a Facebook post this week that, “Every blood donor who comes with the goal of saving a life will receive equal treatment, no matter what his gender or sexual orientation (is), whether he is LGBT or straight.” Horowitz called earlier bans “a remnant of a stereotype that belongs to history.”
Until now blood donations by Israeli gay and bisexual men were limited to those who had not had male-with-male sex for at least 12 months. The new regulations only require donors to have been celibate for the previous three months if they report engaging with multiple partners or having unprotected sex. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz says that the new regulations will take effect in October.
Activists in other countries are hoping that their governments will follow Israel’s lead – notably the U.K. and the U.S. Both have eased their bans on blood donations by gay and bisexual men, but still require three months of celibacy before they can donate. Queer advocates insist that sexual activity must be the determining factor, not sexual orientation. As Israeli Health Minister Horowitz said, “There is no difference between blood and blood.”
In other news, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg made a very special announcement on Twitter this week: “For some time Chasten and I have wanted to grow our family. We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents!”
The 39- and 32-year-old soon-to-be dads told the Washington Post that they’ve been trying to adopt for more than a year, and revealed they’ve even shopped for baby gear and discussed names on multiple occasions. Chasten said that the process has led to what he called “a really weird cycle of anger and frustration and hope. You think it’s finally happening and you get so excited, and then it’s gone.”
Secretary Pete’s Twitter announcement continued, “The process isn’t done yet and we’re thankful for the love, support, and respect for our privacy that has been offered to us. We can’t wait to share more soon!”
The Buttigiegs are already “fathers” to their two dogs, Truman and Buddy.
Finally, Oregonians Erin and Jaybill McCarthy took action after the local school board voted to ban displays of Pride flags, “Black Lives Matter” signs, and what the Board called other “political” expressions. The McCarthys own a farm close to Newberg High School, and posted their idea for a proper response to the Pride flag ban on social media. According to Portland TV station KGW, several people from around the state responded with donations of funds and materials.
On a 17 by 30-foot piece of plywood, the McCarthys painted a Progress Pride flag – the one that incorporates not only the traditional rainbow colors, but black and brown stripes for people of color, and pale pink, light blue and white for transgender folks. Their Pride flag sits on a hill in clear view of the high school’s football field.
KGW reports that the Progress Pride flag was created in 2018 by fellow Oregonian Daniel Quasar, and gained widespread popularity after it appeared on the VH-1 TV show, RuPaul’s Drag Race. The school board’s banner ban is reportedly being reviewed for its legality and has yet to take effect.
Erin McCarthy told KGW that “It’s not expressing a Democratic idea or a Republican idea or conservative or liberal … It’s human beings.” She said they aimed for maximum visibility for their plywood Pride flag, adding that, “I wish it could be 10 times bigger.”
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