A Georgia trans teen takes a solitary stand against the high school bullies who assaulted her, while in Wisconsin the attack on a trans student sparks a walkout by his allies demanding a safe school for all.
Plus a “Rainbow Minute” on the career of gay illustrator Richard Amsel!
And in NewsWrap: Thailand’s top court pushes marriage equality to lawmakers, the IOC changes the game for trans and intersex Olympians, the U.S. Health Department kills Trump era religious bias, Russian authorities axe an LGBTQ film fest website, a notoriously homophobic Australian town turns a rainbow leaf, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by MR Raquel and Michael LeBeau (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of November 20, 2021
Trans Teens Stand & Cassata Transcends
Program #1,756 distributed 11/22/21
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Thailand’s Constitutional Court rejects marriage equality, but Switzerland’s government “sets the date” for the country’s first weddings of same-gender couples … the International Olympic Committee issues new guidelines to help transgender competitors, but leaves it to local authorities to interpret and implement them … the U.S. Health and Human Services Department revokes a “license to discriminate” policy allowing discrimination against LGBTQ people based on religious belief instituted by the previous administration … Barronelle Stutzman, the infamous owner of a Washington state flower shop who cited her Southern Baptist beliefs in refusing to provide wedding flowers to a longtime gay customer, ends the eight-year legal battle by agreeing to a cash settlement and retiring … Russian regulators “disappear” the website of the long-running St. Petersburg-based Side By Side LGBTQ Film Festival in the Putin regimes’s escalating crackdown on anything queer-positive … and Ulverstone, Tasmania - notoriously known in the 1990’s as “the most homophobic town in Australia” - demonstrates how far it has advanced as a rainbow flag is raised for the first time over the City Council chambers ahead of the region’s largest Pride celebration (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MR RAQUEL and MICHAEL LEBEAU, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Gay artist Richard Amsel is the answer to Who Said That? in this installment of the Rainbow Minute (read by DUSTIN RICHARDSON, produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BUNRS).
Feature: Tragically, many Black and Indigenous trans people of color learn to face violence early in life. But 15-year-old Shantae Payne is not going to stand for it. A group of boys attacked Shantae at Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, Georgia. Her guardian Blanche Payne says those boys should be arrested; another U.S. trans teen is not going it alone. In Wisconsin, Berlin High School students are standing in support of a victimized classmate. Lucasdescribes what happened to him. After the police concluded that “no physical assault or attack against the alleged victim took place,” Berlin High students organized a walkout to demand answers. Ally Amber Olmstead expressed their frustration (report ends with audio from a student-made Tik-Tok video).
Feature: From the This Way Out Archives: singer-songwriter-activist Ryan Cassata has come a long way since his November 2011 interview with our friend JD DOYLE of “Queer Music Heritage,” when the breakthrough musician was only 17 years old (introduced with excerpts from Broken Heart (Transcend) from his newly-released album Magical Miracle Mile, and from the original feature, Distraction, Trans Slam, and Go West)
Feature: Teases/promo for next week’s special program honoring early ally Episcopal Bishop John Spong and musician-turned-church-founder Archbishop Carl Bean, who both died this year. We’ll also meet Evangelical Lutheran Church In America Bishop Megan Rohrer, the first transgender bishop of a mainstream U.S. Christian denomination.
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending November 20, 2021 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by M R Raquel and Michael LeBeau, produced by Brian DeShazor
Thailand’s Constitutional Court has rejected marriage equality. In a November 17th ruling that passes the buck to lawmakers, the Justices wrote that the Thai Parliament “should draft laws that guarantee the rights of gender diverse people.”
The plaintiffs in the case were a lesbian couple whose marriage registration application was rejected by Bangkok civil authorities. The high court found that the Civil and Commercial Code’s understanding of marriage as exclusively heterosexual does not violate the Thai Constitution.
Bills to legally recognize gay and lesbian couples have failed in the past few years. The government’s most recent bid to advance a less-than-equal civil unions bill was opposed by some LGBTQ activists. A new marriage equality bill has been introduced by Move Forward Party Member of Parliament Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat.
Human Rights Watch senior researcher Sunai Phasuk wrote on Twitter that the Constitutional Court ruling renders “the government’s pledges to promote gender equality meaningless.” Thai historian Chanum Yodhong responded to the decision during an online panel discussion reported by local news outlet Coconuts Bangkok. He said the Court “makes the institution of marriage look feudal and something bound only to male and female.”
A protest demonstration is set for November 28th.
The Swiss government has “set the date” for the nation’s first legal weddings of lesbian and gay couples: July 1st, 2022. They can also convert their registered partnerships to marriage on the same date. Lesbian and gay couples have had that less-than-equal legal option since 2007.
Couples who have legally married abroad have also been recognized only as “registered partners.” They can have their status upgraded to full marriage on January 1st.
All married same-gender couples will also have adoption rights and equal access to fertility services.
The November 17th announcement follows Swiss voters’ overwhelming endorsement of parliament’s Marriage for Alllaw. Right-wing opponents had forced the September 26th public referendum.
Maria von Kaenel of the Marriage for All campaign is celebrating the conclusion of a long struggle. “We have been fighting for marriage equality for 30 years,” she said.
The International Olympic Committee announced new guidelines covering transgender and intersex athletes this week – and there are mixed reviews. The IOC had promised to review its policies governing trans competitors after some controversy over their participation at this year’s Tokyo Games.
The new guidelines focus more on whether or not an athlete has a competitive advantage, rather than predicting their potential performance based on testosterone levels. They say that no athlete should be excluded based on “unverified, alleged, or perceived unfair competitive advantage due to their sex variations, physical appearance, and/or transgender status.” There are also provisions protecting their privacy rights.
However, the six-page document is not legally binding. It passes the buck for implementing the guidelines to the governing bodies of regional and international sports federations. In its words, “The IOC is … not in a position to issue regulations that define eligibility criteria for every sport, discipline, or event across the very different national jurisdictions and sport systems.”
IOC spokesman Christian Klaue acknowledged the problem. He said, “We have not found the solution to this big question. Clearly this is a topic that will be with us for a long time.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is rescinding the previous administration’s religious “license to discriminate” – proving again that elections do matter.
The November 18th advisory calls exemptions that allowed religiously-based discrimination against LGBTQ people by federally funded state and child welfare agencies “inappropriate” and “overly broad.” It declares, “HHS will not condone the blanket use of religious exemptions against any person, or blank checks to allow discrimination against any persons, importantly including LGBTQ+ persons, in taxpayer-funded programs.”
The Department now returns to its earlier policy of allowing Religious Freedom and Restoration Act exemptions only on a case-by-case basis.
Maggie Siddiqi is the Senior Director of Religion and Faith at the Center for American Progress. She explained, “Congress enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect the free exercise of religion, particularly for religious minorities. … Today’s actions by the Biden administration will ensure no child is denied a loving foster home simply because of who their prospective parents are, who they love, or what they believe.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “Our action ensures we are best prepared to protect every American’s right to be free of discrimination.”
Christian florist Baronelle Stutzman has called it quits in her eight-year crusade to refuse flowers for a same-gender couple’s wedding. Plaintiff Robert Ingersoll was a regular patron of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington. He and Curt Freed had each bought flowers for the other there during their courtship. But when Stutzman became aware that the couple was ordering flowers for their wedding, she refused. She called Ingersoll a “dear friend,” but said that because of her Southern Baptist beliefs, the request was “a line I could not cross, even for friendship. … I am a Christian, and I believe the Bible to be the Word of God … [that] teaches that He designed marriage to be only the union of one man and one woman. I could not take the artistic talents God Himself gave me and use them to contradict and dishonor His Word.”
Now a hero in religious right circles, Stutzman claims that she herself has been “a victim of intolerance.”
At the age of 77, the florist says she’s decided to retire and “pass the torch.”
She’s exhausted her legal appeals, including a failed effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
A settlement allowing her to “preserve her conscience” includes a payout to Ingersoll of $5,000. Ingersoll and Freed say they’ll donate it to their local chapter of the queer family advocacy group PFLAG, along with their own $5,000 donation.
The Putin regime’s escalating crackdown on anything queer-positive in Russia continued this week. Regulatory authorities took down the website of the highly popular Side By Side LGBTQ Film Festival. The annual event has been based in the seaside city of St. Petersburg since 2008.
The festival is being held virtually for the second time this year because of the pandemic. Despite the closure of the Festival’s main website, its online screenings continue because they’re being hosted by a third party. However more extensive information about this year’s offerings has been “disappeared.” Organizers believe that government officials bowed to pressure from rabidly anti-queer ultra-right-wing groups.
Festival founder Manny de Guerre announced, “We are forging ahead with our program, encouraging audiences to watch the films online, and our daily interactive discussions being aired through our social networks. V.K., Instagram, and Facebook are currently serving as our channels for communication.”
The action against the Side By Side LGBTQ Film Festival follows last week’s determination that the Russian LGBT Network should be labeled a “foreign agent.” The government charges that The Network gets illegal funding from suspect entities abroad, and that it engages in forbidden political activity.
Finally, a town in the Australian island state of Tasmania once known as the “most homophobic town” in the country raised the rainbow flag over its City Council chambers in a special ceremony this week. Ulverstone is on the state’s northwest coast and home to about 15,000 people. In the 1990’s it routinely hosted anti-queer rallies, and many city leaders were outspokenly homophobic. Queer travel guides urged LGBTQ tourists to steer clear of the city.
But as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, promised, “the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” In 2018, the Council passed a motion in support of the queer community, placed an inclusion plaque and planted a tree in a local park, and lit the town bridge in rainbow colors to mark Tasmania’s Pride Week.
The November 15th flag-raising ceremony comes ahead of the region’s biggest LGBTQ Pride celebration, Out in the Park.
Equality Tasmania President Rodney Croome was one of the speakers. He’s the country’s longest-serving and best known rights activist, and grew up near Ulverstone. Croome said he never imagined the progress since then. He added, “Raising the rainbow flag over the Council chambers in Ulverstone sends a message to [LGBTQ] young people that they belong, helps heal old wounds, and shows the world just how much Ulverstone has changed. … it says that anything is possible.”
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