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This Way Out Radio Episode #1815: The Queerest News of 2023 (Part 3)

Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of January 9th, 2023

The Queerest News of 2023 (Part 3)

Program #1,815 distributed 01/09/23

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Peruvian lawmakers toss legal recognition of same-gender couples into the legislative “freezer” … Taipei’s High Administrative Court approves the registration of a legal marriage between a Taiwanese citizen and their foreign same-gender partner for at least the fifth time because marriage equality laws omit recognition of queer bi-national couples if the foreign spouse’s homeland wouldn’t recognize it … Israel’s parliament elects its first out gay Speaker, but he’s a close ally of incoming (again) rightwing P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu, who’s only been able to form a coalition government with homophobic far-right nationalist and Jewish orthodox religious parties … insurrection ensues after the leftist Worker’s Party’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva officially replaces far-right homophobic misogynistic racist COVID-denying Jair (“Donald Trump of the Tropics”) Bolsonaro as Brazil’s President … lawmakers in Spain and Scotland each make it easier for trans people to change the gender marker on their government ID documents … a U.S. federal appeals court decides that a Florida high school’s ban on trans students and staff using campus bathrooms based on their gender identity is perfectly legal … Ukraine lawmakers include LGBTQ people in new media regulations banning hate speech and incitement, but critics complain about potential censorship … Islamic police in northern Nigeria net 19 Muslims in the latest raid on a “gay wedding” … the first out gay immigrant to win a seat in Congress, Southern California’s Robert Garcia, takes his oath of office on the U.S. Constitution, a photo of his parents who died from COVID, his citizenship papers, and a rare Superman comic book (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by JOHN DYER V and SARAH MONATGUE, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).

Feature: In the conclusion of The Queerest News Of 2022, we focus on some of the people – and other “animated” characters – who made it: Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre brought her special rainbow flare to the White House briefing room on National Coming Out Day, October 11th (with an intro from The Wizard of Oz); Australian National Basketball League star center, Melbourne United’s Isaac Humphries, becomes the sport’s second active proudly gay professional (with an excerpt from Humphries’ social-media posted coming out to his teammates); U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson patiently explained rights and wrongs as she was grilled by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearings. Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn veered away from judicial matters altogether in her transphobic rant, trying to use Judge Jackson’s position on the Board of a local private school against her; in the category All-Time Jeopardy! Greats, the answer is: She’s the first woman to win over a million dollars and the first trans woman to qualify for the Tournament of Champions. You won if your answer was, “Who is Amy Schneider?” The Oakland, California engineering manager talked about her success with George Stephanopolis on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America; the long-running globally-popular U.K. animated children’s TV show Peppa Pig finally introduces its preschool audience to their first same-gender couple (with an excerpt from the pivotal scene featuring Penny Polar Bear); Velma Dinkley, one of the animated human pals of oversized dog detective Scooby-Doo, goes “full lesbian” in the latest installment of the globally-popular franchise, Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo (with revealing snippets from the movie); if you’ve ever wondered what turns Fox News’ homophobic pro-authoritarian Little Lord Fauntleroy on, Tucker Carlson has come out as a candy-phile. The announcement that the cartoon M&M’s characters were being redesigned to make them more inclusive drove Tucker into a sugar rage, especially the changes to Ms. Brown. Larissa Murray is the “Ms. Green” voice actress who served as the jaded “spokescandy.” She gave the yellow journalist something to chew on in an interview with TMZ; and finally, we celebrate grassroots activists in a voice montage of just a tiny few of them [reported by GREG GORDON, JOHN DYER V, LUCIA CHAPPELLE, and DAVID HUNT, with music by THE BEATLES, THE BEEGEES, DONNA SUMMER, DAVID BOWIE, EMMA’S REVOLUTION with REGGIE HARRIS, and from Jeopardy!, Peppa Pig, and Scooby-Doo].


A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the three weeks ending January 7, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by John Dyer V and Sarah Montague,
produced by Brian DeShazor

Marriage equality in Peru is now in the legislative "freezer," as they say in Spanish. The congressional Justice and Human Rights Committee decided to "archive" an Equal Marriage bill on January 4th, and to continue analyzing a proposal for Civil Unions.

The Committee failed to distinguish between civil unions and equal marriage. It argued that Peru is a Roman Catholic country, and that there is a "natural law" that must be honored. As the Peruvian news outlet Mano Alzada notes, that definition was “ruled out by law a couple of centuries ago.” The Ombudsman’s Office warned that choosing civil unions over civil marriage “could create more stigma towards those it purports to protect.”

There’s no indication as to when either proposals will be “de-frosted.”

A bi-national lesbian couple has won the reinstatement of their marriage in the Taipei High Administrative Court. One of the women is from Taiwan, the other from Hong Kong, and they were legally wed in the United States. They registered their marriage not long after Taiwan’s parliament approved marriage equality legislation in May 2019. A subsequent Interior Ministry directive denied recognition to the legal marriages of Taiwanese citizens and their foreign same-gender partners if the partner’s home country would not recognize it – that put their marriage legally asunder. The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights counts more than 500 similar queer Taiwanese citizens and their bi-national partners that have been prevented from marrying.

The same Court has supported similar petitions from four other bi-national couples involving foreign partners from Macau, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore since March of 2021, as Taiwan’s Central News Agency reports.

Activists have been lobbying the government ever since marriage equality was originally approved to include all queer bi-national couples in current marriage equality laws.

Israel’s parliament elected its first out gay Speaker by a landslide vote on December 29th of 63-to-5, but curb your enthusiasm. Rightwing Likud Party M.P. Amir Ohana is a close ally of newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose coalition government may be the most religiously hardline in Israel’s history.

Ohana told fellow lawmakers that the incoming government would do nothing to infringe on LGBTQ+ rights, and that the Knesset “under the leadership of this Speaker, won’t hurt them or any other family, period.”

However, Netanyahu remains under the cloud of a corruption investigation, and will be ruling with some ultranationalist and anti-queer parties, including an alarming number of virulently homophobic Cabinet ministers. Some of them even turned their backs on Ohana as he was making his maiden speech as Speaker, particularly when he introduced his spouse and children, who were seated in the chamber.

One of them was new Deputy Prime Minister Avi Maoz, leader of the far-right Noam Party. He’s compared LGBTQ equality advocates to Nazis.

Netanyahu had to form his coalition government by acceding to demands from the farthest-right religious parties. Some of them appear to roll back anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in the provision of goods and services. Incoming National Missions Minister Orit Strook is a member of the far-right Religious Zionism Party. He’s already suggested that healthcare providers will soon be able to refuse to treat LGBTQ+ patients on religious grounds. Others in Netanyahu’s Likud Party have called for the restoration of conversion therapy, which was banned by the previous government.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva officially returned as Brazil’s President on New Year’s Day. Controversial money laundering scandals during his 2003 to 2010 administration drove him from office. The nation’s highest court eventually ordered his release after he spent two years in prison.

Lula bypassed mentioning the name of his rightwing Liberal Party predecessor, the notoriously misogynistic anti-queer racist COVID-denying Jair Bolsonaro. The new leftist Worker’s Party president referred to those years as “one of the worst periods in Brazilian history,” and “an era of darkness, uncertainty and great suffering … but this nightmare is over.” Lula has voiced general support for LGBTQ rights.

Bolsonaro is the first Brazilian president in some 30 years to lose a re-election bid. True to form as “the Trump of the tropics,” he skipped Lula’s inauguration and went to Florida. As we go to press, Bolsonaro’s supporters are storming into Congress over false claims of election fraud.

Lawmakers in Spain and Scotland approved bills to improve the rights of transgender people on the same day, December 22nd.

Spain’s sweeping legislation allows anyone 16 years old or more to change the gender marker on their government ID card with a simple declaration. It also allows 14- and 15-year-olds to change gender with parental consent. Twelve- and 13-year-olds can to do so with parental consent and court approval.

The bill that passed in the lower chamber of Spain’s parliament in late December is expected to be approved within weeks in the Senate.

Trans people in Scotland aged 16 and over will now be able to change their legal gender without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The law also reduces the requirement that an applicant has lived in their new gender from two years to three months for trans people 18 and over, or six months for 16- and 17-year-olds. An additional three-month “reflection period” for all applicants gives the person the chance to reverse course. Scotland’s bill may pressure the British government to follow suit, or U.K. lawmakers may move to block it from getting Royal Assent.

The Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Florida school district’s discriminatory policy on sex-segregated campus facilities. It ruled on December 30th that requiring transgender students to use changing rooms and bathrooms based on their birth certificate gender is perfectly legal. A three-judge panel of the court had found the restrictions to be unconstitutional. However the Republican-dominated full court disagreed 7-to-4 along political party lines.

The majority opinion cited the importance of privacy for school students and staff. Judge Jill Pryor countered in her dissent that it disregards “evidence [that] the majority does not contest … that gender identity is an immutable, biological component of a person’s sex.”

A trans male high school student in the case was represented by Lambda Legal. The advocacy group’s response said, “We will be reviewing and evaluating this dangerous decision.”

The next move is uncertain. As currently constituted, the U.S. Supreme Court seems unlikely to support transgender rights.

Lawmakers in war-ravaged Ukraine unanimously approved an LGBTQ-inclusive media regulation bill in mid-December that bans hate speech and incitement – this according to the Washington Blade. Subsequent reports indicate that the regulations signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on December 29th are facing harsh criticism for opening the door to censorship and posing a serious threat to press freedoms.

It’s been illegal to discriminate in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the country since 2015. Zelenskyy has voiced support for a civil unions bill for same-gender couples.

Any real progress, of course, awaits the end of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked Russian invasion of the country.

Islamic police in the northern Nigerian city of Kano arrested 19 Muslims in a late December raid on a “gay wedding.” The couple they were celebrating fled before taking their vows, and authorities say they’re still being hunted.

The northern part of Africa’s most populous nation is governed by an Islamic legal system in parallel with secular law. Private consensual adult same-gender sex is outlawed under both legal systems, including in the mostly-Christian southern part of Nigeria.

Fifteen males and four females were detained, some described as “cross-dressers.” A police spokesman said that they would undergo “counseling” instead of being sent to prison. He said that 18 people who attended a similar wedding ceremony last year were released after promising in writing to "change their lifestyle."

Finally, Long Beach, California mayor Robert Garcia expressed his sincere patriotism during his victory speech on November 8th following his election to the U.S. House of Representatives:

[SOUND: Garcia]

We live in the best country on earth, a democracy that we should cherish, to uplift. I’m grateful to you. I’m grateful to my family, to Matt, to all of you for being here. Let’s have a very good night, it’s a great day for America. I love you. Thank you so much.

Garcia was five when his family emigrated from Peru. He took the oath of office to become the first out gay immigrant in Congress in a wee-hour mass swearing-in on January 7th – after in-fighting within the slim Republican majority finally allowed a Speaker of the House to be elected.

The 45-year-old Garcia announced what he’d have with him for the occasion. Along with a copy of the U.S. Constitution instead of the traditional Bible, he named “three items that mean a lot to me personally: a photo of my parents who I lost to COVID, my citizenship certificate, and an original Superman #1 from the Library of Congress.” Garcia is a self-described “comic book nerd,” and said he was astonished by the Library’s extensive collection. He wanted to include the rare comic book in his swearing-in ceremony because, as a young immigrant, reading Superman comics was one of the ways he learned to read and write English.

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