Grammy-winning countertenor Anthony Roth Constanzo talks about his unique style and gender-bending repertoire from Phillip Glass’ Akhnaten to his collaboration with transgender singer-songwriter Justin Vivian Bond (interviewed by Brian DeShazor).
Host Billy Eichner and winners Bad Bunny and Dove Cameron lead the queer contingent at the MTV Video Music Awards!
And in NewsWrap: The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court finds the “sodomy” and “buggery” laws of Saint Kitts and Nevis unconstitutional, India’s Supreme Court supports legal protections and social benefits for same-gender couples, Belgrade EuroPride organizers say Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić had no right to cancel their upcoming event, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals favors religious healthcare professionals’ right to refuse trans patients treatment, a Kansas teacher wins compensation for a suspension incurred for refusing to use a transgender student’s correct name and pronouns, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro faces jail time on charges related to lies connecting COVID-19 vaccinations to HIV/AIDS, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Tanya Kane-Perry and David Hunt (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the September 5, 2022 edition of This Way Out!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of September 5, 2022
Anthony Roth Constanzo, Countertenor
Program #1,797 distributed 09/05/22
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): British colonial-era anti-queer sex laws are struck down in the Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis … India’s top court expands the definition of “family” to include “queer relationships” … Serbia’s president announces the cancellation of the mid-September EuroPride celebration in Belgrade for “safety” reasons, but organizers defiantly disagree … the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides that healthcare professionals with “sincerely held religious beliefs” have the right to refuse to treat transgender patients … Indiana’s Supreme Court upholds the right of a Roman Catholic high school to fire a gay teacher for marrying his husband … a Kansas court awards a “devout Christian” teacher $95,000 for being suspended after refusing to respect a male trans student’s preferred first name and pronouns … and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, known as “The Donald Trump of the Tropics” and already facing a serious reelection challenge, faces jail time after he’s charged with incitement for falsely claiming that people getting COVID-19 vaccinations risked getting HIV/AIDS (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by TANYA KANE-PARRY and DAVID HUNT, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: He kissed a girl … then a boy! Bad Bunny’s sexually fluid back-up dancer osculations got cheers from the audience at the August 28th MTV Video Music Awards. The Puerto Rican rapper and queer rights advocate was crowned the first non-English speaking Artist of the Year. Presenter Billy Eichner’s “shameless” movie plug hit another high note for equality. And Best New Artist winner Dove Cameron (Boyfriend) topped a substantial list of out nominees.
Feature: Anthony Roth Costanzo, the queer countertenor who nabbed the 2022 Best Opera Recording Grammy is taking the music world by storm, and This Way Out’s BRIAN DESHAZOR has been swept away (with music from Handel: Tolomeo; Hymn to the Sun from Akhnaten by Philip Glass; Byrne, Glass: Liquid Days by Anthony Roth Costanzo, Jonathan Cohen and Les Violons du Roy; Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen; Dido’s Lament White Flag Medley by Purcell and Dido).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending September 3rd, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Tanya Kane-Parry and David Hunt,
produced by Brian DeShazor
The ban on sex between men in Saint Kitts And Nevis has been struck down, effective immediately. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court found that laws against “unnatural offenses” that included “attempted sodomy” and the “abominable crime” of “buggery” were unconstitutional.
Jamal Jeffers is the gay man who brought the suit, along with the nonprofit group St. Kitts & Nevis Alliance for Equality. High Court Judge Trevor Ward wrote the August 30th ruling.
In Ward’s opinion those criminal laws interfere with “the claimants’ right to determine the way they, as individuals, choose to express their sexuality in private with another consenting adult … which involve no element of public conduct or harm to, or sexual acts, with minors.”
The Saint Kitts and Nevis government argued that freedom of expression does not extend to sexual orientation. Overturning the laws, it claimed, “could alter and compromise the survival of the culture and personality of the Federation … established on the belief in Almighty God.”
Some 30 Christian churches represented by the Evangelical Association of St. Kitts filed an affidavit supporting the laws. Judge Ward’s ruling quoted it saying, “the moral and religious fiber of the community should influence any interpretation of the Constitution.”
He countered their argument with, “public morality is not synonymous with religious dogma or public opinion.”
Equality is taking another step forward in India. Its Supreme Court issued a ruling on August 30th declaring that same-gender couples and other non-traditional families are entitled to legal protections and social benefits.
The case involved maternity leave benefits. Deepika Singh first got them after adopting her husband’s children from a previous marriage. She then conceived a child of their own, but was denied the benefits when she applied for them again.
It’s the inclusive and surprisingly specific language of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud’s ruling that has LGBTQ advocates cheering. He wrote for the two-judge panel that the law “must not be relied upon to disadvantage families which are different from traditional ones … Familial relationships may take the form of domestic, unmarried partnerships or queer relationships [and] are equally deserving not only of protection under law but also of the benefits available under social welfare legislation.”
As The New York Times pointed out, the Supreme Court’s judgment is final, but the highest court in the world’s second most-populous nation has limited enforcement powers. This and the fact that many family matters are settled out of court mean that the ruling may not have much practical effect. That’s especially true in India’s more conservative regions. Nevertheless, women’s rights groups joined LGBTQ advocates to celebrate the win for both constituencies.
The latest direct challenge to India’s laws specifically denying same-gender couples civil marriage rights is working its way through the country’s complicated court system.
Trouble is brewing in Belgrade. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has announced the cancellation of EuroPride, but organizers of the September 12th through 18th event disagree.
A different European city hosts the annual LGBTQ Pride Festival and Parade each year. Belgrade was selected three years ago to host in 2022, in part to encourage equality moves in the Balkan country. Rightwing religious officials and politicians turned up the pressure, and President Vučić bowed. He claimed on August 28th that domestic challenges and an ongoing dispute with neighboring Kosovo would threaten the safety of all concerned during the scheduled celebration.
The Serbian Orthodox Church has spearheaded public outrage over the prospect of proudly out queers in the streets of Belgrade. Church officials have organized several protest demonstrations, one the day after Vučić announced the cancellation. Many carried crucifixes and pictures of major religious figures.
Kristine Garina is the President of the European Pride Organizers Association, the group that sponsors EuroPride and chose Belgrade for the event. She joined the defiant local organizers to insist that the president did not have the power to “cancel someone else’s event.” She said, “EuroPride in Belgrade will not be cancelled and will bring together thousands of LGBTI+ people from across Europe with LGBTI+ people from Serbia and the wider western Balkans. It will … allow Serbia to show that it is on the road to being a progressive, welcoming European nation. What Serbian authorities must do is stand firm against these bullies, and protect the event.”
A U.S. federal appeals court has upheld the right of doctors with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to refuse to treat transgender patients. The New Orleans-based Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision on August 26th. It overruled an Obama-era mandate that federally funded healthcare providers must perform gender-affirming healthcare, and provide insurance coverage for it. The Trump administration dumped the rules, but they were restored under President Biden.
A three-judge panel agreed with the Franciscan Alliance, a Roman Catholic Church-sponsored healthcare network. It argued that the non-discrimination requirements are an unlawful government overreach that violate First Amendment religious liberty rights. Two of the three judges were Trump appointments.
Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s lurch to the right, attorneys for the Biden administration’s Health and Human Services Department and the ACLU may choose not to roll the dice on a high court review of the decision, at least for now.
The Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling on August 31st supporting a Roman Catholic school that fired a gay teacher for getting married.
Joshua Payne-Elliot taught world language and social studies at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis from 2006 until June 2019. That’s when the local Archdiocese required all its schools to enforce “morality” by banning employees from legally marrying a same-gender partner. Joshua had married Layton Payne-Elliot two years earlier.
The state’s top court agreed with a lower court, saying, “Religious freedom protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution encompasses the right of religious institutions to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government.”
The terminated teacher’s attorney Kathleen DeLaney told reporters that her client is weighing his legal options.
Religious freedom strikes again – this time in favor of a Kansas teacher who refused to use a trans male student’s preferred pronouns after she was counseled to do so.
According to legal filings, Ricard rejected a classmate’s recommendation that she use the student’s preferred male first name and pronouns. Instead Ricard addressed him using “Miss” and his last name. Her lawyers from the infamously anti-queer Alliance Defending Freedom inexplicably called that a show of respect, and described her as a “devout Christian.” Ricard was suspended for three days.
The state court ordered Geary County Schools to pay Ricard $95,000 for the suspension. She retired in May.
The district has since implemented an official policy calling on school staff to “be aware [of] and make an effort to utilize the pronouns an individual requests to be identified by.”
Finally, the man known as “The Donald Trump of the Tropics” is in legal hot water, although it’s small compared to that of his namesake. Federal police have asked prosecutors to charge President Jair Bolsonaro with spreading false information about COVID-19 – this according to reports late last month in the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. A federal police investigator specifically cited Bolsonaro’s claim that people who were vaccinated against COVID-19 risked getting HIV/AIDS.
Bolsonaro is notorious for regularly spewing inflammatory anti-queer, misogynistic “macho bravado” rhetoric. This time it could get him up to six months behind bars for incitement if he’s convicted as charged, according to the O Globo report.
Bolsonaro is in a tight race for re-election against former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Voters will issue their verdict on October 2nd.