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This Way Out Radio Episode #1818: Pray Away? Born Perfect!

Out in the Bay radio’s Eric Jansen interviews Mathew Shurka co-founder of the National Center for Lesbian Right’s Born Perfect campaign in 2014. Kristine Stolakis director and producer of Pray Away, a Netflix documentary inspired by her late transgender uncle’s horrific experiences trying to not be trans.

And in NewsWrap: Pope Francis says that private consensual adult same-gender sex should not be a criminal act; Germany’s parliament specifically honors queer victims of the Nazis during their annual Holocaust Remembrance Day in Berlin; Narendra Modi’s conservative Indian government objects to the appointment of respected lawyer Saurabh Kirpal to the Delhi High Court; Malta prosecutes a man for violating the national ban on promoting conversion therapy, while a U.S. federal appeals court upholds Washington state’s conversion therapy ban; far-right Republican Florida GOVERNOR RON DeSANTIS defends his ban of honors students’ advance placement African-American History classes statewide because it includes a “queer theory”; and Mars, Inc., which makes M&Ms, melts to rightwing pressure (led by Fox “News” blowhard TUCKER CARLSON] for updating their “spokes candy” characters and replaces them with SNL alum Maya Rudolph (written by GREG GORDON, edited this week by DAVID HUNT, reported by KALYN HARDMAN & MICHAEL LEBEAU, and produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).

All this on the January 30, 2023 edition of This Way Out!

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A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending January 21, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Kalyn Hardman & Michael LeBeau,
and produced by Brian DeShazor

Pope Francis renewed his call for the Catholic Church to respect the dignity of LGBTQ people. In an interview this week with the “Associated Press,” the pontiff said, “Being homosexual isn’t a crime. … We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are.” He stopped short of advocating for a change in Church policy, noting that Catholic doctrine still judges homosexual acts to be sinful. But, he pointed out, “It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.” Catholic bishops who support criminal penalties for homosexuality need to undergo “a process of conversion,” Francis said. At least 67 countries still outlaw private, consensual same-gender sex between adults. And 11 of those impose the death penalty in some or all cases, including several countries that maintain diplomatic relations with the Holy See, such as Pakistan, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, a queer Catholic organization, joined other LGBTQ+ faith leaders and advocates to praise the pope’s comments. She said, “World leaders and legislators in many, many countries pay attention to what Catholic officials say … Shifting the stance and pushing for an end to making queer identity illegal will make life safer for many people around the world.” Francis has a history of softening the Church’s rhetoric toward gay and lesbian Catholics. In twenty-thirteen, the first year of his papacy, he said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

In a historic first, the German Parliament dedicated its annual Holocaust Memorial Day to queer victims of the Nazi regime. At a ceremony in Berlin, Bärbel Bas, president of parliament’s lower house, acknowledged that LGBTQ people targeted during the Holocaust have been largely forgotten.

That’s now changed, thanks to years of lobbying by queer activists.

In his address to parliament, Bas said, “The harshest fates were suffered by the many thousands of women and men who were deported to concentration camps as a result of their sexuality … sometimes on false pretexts. They found themselves on the very bottom rung of the so called ‘camp hierarchy’ and were exposed to constant violence with absolutely no protection.” Henny Engels,of the German Lesbian and Gay Association, called the January 27th commemoration an “important symbol of recognition” of “the suffering and the dignity of the imprisoned, tortured, and murdered victims.”

The rightwing government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi [

announced its opposition this week to the appointment of Saurabh Kirpal to the Delhi High Court – this despite the recommendation by a panel of senior judges, calling Kirpal “highly qualified” for the post. The government has not been subtle about why it objects to the appointment: Kirpal is a proud gay man who lives with his Swiss partner in New Delhi. The government claims that his “ardent involvement and passionate attachment to the cause of gay rights” would make it impossible for him to rule fairly in cases related to LGBTQ rights. During a panel discussion at a literary festival, Kirpal pushed back on the government’s reasoning. If a judge thinks they are biased, they should recuse themselves, he said, according to “India Today.” Kirpal condemned the idea that a judge could be “completely divorced from their upbringing, the social milieu, their perceptions and ideas,” noting that those influences all shape who they are and how they interpret the Constitution. The panel of senior judges is sticking to its belief that Kirpal’s appointment to the Delhi High Court would “add value to the bench … and provide inclusion and diversity.” The panel asserted in a recent statement that it is blatantly unconstitutional to reject a judicial appointee based solely on their sexual orientation.

A Maltese man who claims to be “ex-gay” is facing charges of violating the nation’s laws against promoting “conversion therapy” – a discredited belief that queer people can be “straightened” through a combination of counseling and prayer. In April 2022, Matthew Grech told “PMnews Malta” that he “stopped being” homosexual after attending a Christian church. He’s expected to be charged with promoting conversion therapy during a court appearance on February 3rd. Two interviewers are also being charged.Grech has since claimed in a Facebook post that he was not specifically talking about conversion therapy. He claims to disdain that description and says he was only sharing his experience as someone who “left homosexuality.”

“We were just having a conversation as we have a right to in this country... So, for us, it is unthinkable to get to this point,” he said. If he’s found guilty, Grech could be jailed for up to five months and face a fine of up to several thousand euros. Britain’s Christian Legal Centre has announced that it will aid Grech in his defense.

Meanwhile, a U.S. federal appeals court in San Francisco has upheld a ban on conversion therapy in the state of Washington. A three-judge panel in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the law last September, but the self-identified Christian family therapist who had filed suit urged the full court to reconsider. Over a dissenting minority of Republican-appointed judges, the full 9th Circuit refused to take up the case last week, allowing the panel’s decision to stand.Alliance Defending Freedom, a far-right group representing the therapist, said it is considering its options moving forward. The Washington law, enacted in twenty-eighteen, imposes a range of fines and penalties on licensed health care providers found guilty of trying to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of people under the age of 18. More than 20 U.S. states have similar laws.

Florida’s far-right Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is trying to disparage “two birds with one stone”. At a January 23rd press conference, he defended his ban on an advanced placement high school African American studies course because of, well, “the gay”:

[sound DeSantis]

"This course on Black history, what [is] one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now, who would say that an important part of Black history is Queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids, and so when you look to see that they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons. That's a political agenda. an so we're on...that's the wrong side of the line for Florida standards. We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think but we don't believe they should have an agenda imposed on them. When you use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory? Uh, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes”

At their own January 25th press conference, three AP honor students said they will be the lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging DeSantis. Well-known civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Craig Whisenhunt have agreed to represent the students. Crump tweeted, “African American history and its extraordinary value will not be erased by Ron DeSantis or ANYONE!”

Finally, remember this “Fox News” blowhard?

[sound Tucker Carlson]

"M&M's will not be satisfied until every last cartoon charactor is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous. Until the moment you wouldn't want to have a drink with any one of them."

We featured authoritarian-Trump-loving racist homophobe commentator Tucker Carlson last March on this program railing against the makers of M&Ms for updating the images of their “spokes-candies”. Most egregious in the eyes of Carlson and his far-right cronies was the decision to replace the stilettos of “Ms. Green” with running shoes.Mars, the company that makes M&Ms, melted on Twitter this week by announcing that they don’t want their product to be “polarizing,” so they’re “retiring” the “spokes-candies” and replacing them with comic actress and “Saturday Night Live” alum Maya Rudolph. She’ll debut as the new M&Ms spokesperson in TV ads during the February 12th Super Bowl. We wonder, however – assuming he’d be interested – if Ms. Rudolph would be willing to pucker up with Tucker.

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