The official christening of an ironic tribute named for the dishonorably discharged queer liberation icon and anti-war activist launches the U.S. Navy Ship Harvey Milk with a ceremony featuring Harvey’s nephew Stuart Milk, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, and champaign bottle-smasher trans vet Paula Neira. milkfoundation.org
“Bathroom bills” are allegedly intended to protect heterosexual and cisgender students from their queer peers, but the youth commentators of OutCasting Overtime testify that locker room anxiety is much more of an issue for LGBTQ kids.
The Log Cabin Republicans pucker up to kiss their imaginary king’s ring, but settle for their fantasy queen’s nod.
And in NewsWrap: Ghanaians begin debate on “proper” sex and family rights, Russia adds a major queer group to its “foreign agent” list, a U.K. lesbian couple sues the NHS for fertility bias, trans teens and their parents stand tall in three U.S. states, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Melanie Keller (produced by Brian DeShazor).
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Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of November 15, 2021
Milk Sets Sail & Locker Room Reality!
Program #1,755 distributed 11/15/21
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Debate begins in a Ghanaian parliamentary committee on a horrendously anti-queer bill that, among other cruelties, would virtually outlaw public LGBTQ identity and rights advocacy and ban medical care for transgender people … Putin’s Justice Ministry labels the high-profile Russian LGBT Network “foreign agents,” alleging nefarious outside funding and illegal political activity … a married lesbian couple and social media influencers in Britain are suing the National Health Service over what they call a “gay tax” on government-funded fertility services for them … Spain’s Health Minister reinstates fertility services, denied by the previous conservative government in 2013, for LBT and nonbinary women … a 14-year-old trans boy is suing the U.S. state of Tennessee for denying him the right to try out for his high school’s boys golf team … the proud mom of a Texas trans girl is seeking legal help to challenge a similar law in Texas … two high school trans boys in Terre Haute are challenging Indiana’s “bathroom bill” that denies them the right to use campus facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms, that correspond to their gender identity [with brief comments by ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by WENZEL JONES and MELANIE KELLER, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Who feels more threatened in high school locker rooms and bathrooms? Is it the heterosexual and cisgender kids who fear being preyed on, or even being in the presence of their queer peers? That’s who Republican-dominated U.S. state legislatures seem fixated on protecting with their anti-LGBTQ “bathroom bills.” If you remember high school or if you’re there now, your experience is likely to be different — more like the reality the teens from OutCasting Overtime describe (LUCAS intros and outros BRIAN, produced by MARC SOPHOS, and with TWO-added intro music by DAVID BROWN).
Feature: Like thousands who served in the U.S. military in the “bad old days,” Navy Lt. Harvey Milk was persecuted and drummed out because he was a homosexual. Milk, of course, went on to be an LGBTQ liberation icon as one of the country’s first out elected officials, and was assassinated in 1978. The later Milk was also a passionate anti-war activist, so it’s a fairly ironic tribute to his achievements that a ship now been named in his honor. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro spoke at the November 6h ceremony to launch the USNS Harvey Milk in San Diego, California; Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk of the Harvey Milk Foundation gave the principle address; and the traditional bottle of champagne was smashed across the bow by Navy veteran Paula Neira, who serves as the clinical program director for the John Hopkins Center for Transgender Health (with music from THE VILLAGE PEOPLE and the U.S. NAVY BAND).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending November 13, 2021
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Melanie Keller, produced by Brian DeShazor
Debate has begun on Ghana’s proposed anti-LGBTQ law. Sharp words were exchanged on the Promotion Of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021 in a committee of Parliament this week. The draconian measure increases the penalty for private consensual adult same-gender sex, already punishable by up to three years in prison. It goes on to essentially make public LGBTQ identity illegal. Some “offenders” would be forced into worthless conversion therapy. Anyone who advocates for queer rights would be punished. The bill bans medical care for transgender people. It even outlaws sex toys in the West African nation.
Attorney Akoto Ampaw represented a coalition against the bill before the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. In his opening statement he argued, "The very provisions of the bill stoke hate, bigotry and violence against a small and vulnerable minority community." There were occasional jeers when Ampaw called the proposal "totalitarian" and "unconstitutional," according to Reuters.
Apostle Abraham Ofori Kuragu of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council blamed “the West” in his opening remarks. He told the committee, “LGBTQI+ activities pose a great threat to Ghanaian culture and values.” He argued that the measure would “protect children,” and has the support of the vast majority of Ghana’s mostly Christian population. In his words, it’s “a proper vehicle to integrate sound cultural values into our body politic.”
The committee is expected to hold public hearings for the next 15 weeks, according to Agence France Presse. Then full debate begins in Ghana’s unicameral legislature.
Russia’s Justice Ministry has added the Russian LGBT Network to its registry of “foreign agents.” The Network is one of the country’s most high-profile queer advocacy groups, with more than a dozen branches across the country. It’s best known for helping hundreds of LGBTQ people escape the anti-queer purge in the mostly Muslim Russian region of Chechnya.
The Network expressed surprise at the “foreign agent” designation. The label indicates that the designee is receiving “foreign funding” and is engaged in illegal “political activity.” Their statement said that the group will continue to operate, and that they, “will be appealing this decision in court.” They deny the charge that the organization is “involved in political activities.” They say it simply offers “legal and psychological aid” and “defends the rights of the LGBT+ community.”
This is just the latest salvo in President Vladimir Putin’s growing war on anti-Kremlin activists, NGO’s, and independent media.
Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director Natalia Zviagina called this week’s Justice Ministry actions “beyond shameful.”
“Foreign agents” are subject to higher government scrutiny of their finances, and are required to disclose the “foreign agent” label on all official statements and documents. The sanctions have curtailed the activities of targeted groups, including backers of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Some media outlets critical of the Putin regime have closed because their advertising revenue dried up after they were designated “foreign agents.”
Prominent lawyer Ivan Pavlov and his human rights group Team 29 specialized in human rights cases. Pavlov was forced to flee Russia in September, and the group dissolved under mounting government pressure. Still, he and four other attorneys from Team 29 were also slapped with the “foreign agent” label. Pavlov issued a statement calling the “foreign agent” designation a “state honor for service to freedom of speech and information.”
A married lesbian couple in the U.K. is suing the National Health Service for anti-queer bias.
Megan Bacon-Evans and her wife Whitney are high profile social media influencers with more than 200,000 followers. In their landmark lawsuit, they describe themselves as being “shocked and devastated” by the obstacles they encountered under current rules of the NHS fertility branch when they wanted to start a family. Lesbian couples and single women must receive 12 IVF treatments to “prove” their medical infertility before they can get NHS financial help. That costs tens of thousands of pounds. The plaintiffs call that an illegal “gay tax.”
Like Megan’s own sister, the Guardian notes that the majority of cisgendered heterosexual couples are only required to try to conceive for two years before getting N.H.S. assistance.
The case could be heard in an administrative court as early as January.
Megan Bacon-Evans said, “It’s time for discrimination to end and for there to be equal treatment with heterosexual couples in the healthcare system.”
It’s different in Spain, where government-paid fertility services are now open to all women, including single and L-B-T and non-binary women. The November 5th edict was issued by Health Minister Carolina Darias of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party. It restores those women’s rights to IVF services, which the former ruling conservative Popular Party had rescinded in 2013. Single and queer women have been forced to pay for those services ever since. Darias wrote on Twitter, “We have restored rights that should never have been abolished.”
Transgender U.S. teens and their parents are fighting back against anti-trans state laws.
In Knoxville, Tennessee 14-year-old Farragut High School freshman trans boy Luc Esquivel was hoping to play on the boys’ golf team. A state law signed by Republican Governor Bill Lee in March won’t let him. It bans trans student athletes from competing in school sports based on their gender identity. Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Tennessee filed a lawsuit on Esquivel’s behalf in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on November 11th. Parents Shelley and Mario Esquivel are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Young Luc issued a statement through his attorneys saying, “I was really looking forward to trying out for the boys’ golf team and, if I made it, training and competing with and learning from other boys and improving my game. … I just want to play, like any other kid.”
The proud mom of a young trans girl is challenging a similar law in Texas. Lisa Stanton told Pink News this week, “We are not going to sit idly by and let this law make our child a second-class citizen.” She believes that her daughter Maya “deserves the ability to play with her peers and gain all the things that come from being a part of a team.”
Stanton has asked attorneys at Lambda Legal and the ACLU to challenge the state’s trans sports ban in court. The ACLU of Texas told Pink News that they are “still exploring the legal options” for how to best fight the ban. Lambda Legal has yet to respond to Pink News as we record this newscast.
Finally, before the trans sports bans, there were the “bathroom bans.” A number of Republican-controlled states like Indiana imposed laws requiring trans people to use public restrooms and locker rooms based on their birth gender. Now two trans boys at Terre Haute North High School are suing the school district for denying them the right to use the campus facilities that are consistent with their gender identity.
Both boys have been out as trans since elementary school. They use male names and pronouns, and are both receiving medically supervised hormone therapy.
They’re being represented by the ACLU of Indiana and Indiana Legal Services in a federal lawsuit against the Vigo County School Corporation.
Not only were the boys illegally denied the use of facilities consistent with their gender identity, the suit also charges that the district refused to instruct teachers to use their preferred male names and pronouns. The principal even refused to allow them to be listed in the school yearbook under their male identities.
According to the lawsuit, the school district’s actions violate both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.
Ken Falk is the Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana. Falk spoke to local TV station WTHI:
[sound:] “There are a lot of transgender kids in Indiana. There are a lot of school systems that are refusing to recognize them as having gender dysphoria. There are a lot of kids who are suffering. And I think it's the hope of these two young men that not only can they get some remedy for themselves, but they can help educate schools to do not just the right thing, but do what's required by the law.”
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