Black History Month in 2023 finds political hucksters questioning the meaning of history and repeating the racist policies of the past, so the words of African American LGBTQ icons Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, Pat Parker and James Baldwin ring true again!
And in NewsWrap: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida fires his top aide for making homophobic remarks, the heads of the Anglican Communion and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland agree with Pope Francis that homosexuality should not be against the law, Sri Lanka’s government will support the repeal of anti-queer sex laws, Hong Kong trans men win the right to change gender on their IDs without full reassignment surgery, Utah’s ban on gender-affirming healthcare awaits the governor’s signature, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez goes after Twitter execs for not banning an account that encourages violence against trans people and women of color, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Marcos Najera and Sarah Montague (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary
for the week of February 13, 2023
Queer Giants of Black History
Program #1,820 distributed 02/13/23
Hosted this week Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Japan’s P.M. sacks a top aide after the aide made highly offensive homophobic comments ahead of the Tokyo-hosted G-7 summit; a top Presbyterian leader and the titular head of the Anglican Communion join Pope Francis in calling for the worldwide decriminalization of private consensual adult same-gender sex; Sri Lanka’s government announces its support for a decriminalization bill; Hong Kong’s top court rules that requiring trans people to have full reassignment surgery before they can change the gender marker on their government IDs is unconstitutional; South Dakota is set to become the latest U.S. state to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans young people under the age of 18; and New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez counters a Republican-led Congressional committee claiming “big tech” anti-conservative censorship with questions for two former Twitter executives about the still current account of the infamous anti-queer trans-youth-targeting Libs of TikTok (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPPLLE, reported this week by MARCOS NAJERA and SARAH MONTAGUE, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR + Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
Feature: Black History Month in the year 2023 in the United States is being celebrated in a country so at odds with the very meaning of that history. Conservative hucksters are making political points by insisting that slavery be redefined as “forced relocation,” and that references to queer theory be ripped out of African American studies courses. Gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin was the 1963 March on Washington’s principle organizer, the person who exposed Rev. Dr. Martin-Luther King to the non-violent practices of Mahatma Gandhi. Poet, author and feminist philosopher Audre Lorde recalled the 1963 March on Washington when she spoke at the first National March On Washington For Lesbian And Gay Rights in 1979. She was not the only Black lesbian feminist poet at the 1979 Third World Conference and March On Washington For Lesbian And Gay Rights. Pat Parker challenged the rally crowd to commit to resistance no matter how long it took, no matter what walk of life they came from. James Baldwin is acknowledged as one of the preeminent U.S. writers of the 20th Century, although the racism of his native land led him to spend much of his creative life outside the country. His carefully considered and searing analysis of the causes of the inner-city unrest during the late 1960s is difficult to hear even today (with music by CARL BEAN , SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK, and NINA SIMONE).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Marcos Najera and Sarah Montague,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Japan’s Economy and Trade Official Masayoshi Arai told reporters that he does “not even want to look at” and would not “want to live next door” to same-gender couples or transgender people. Now Prime Minister Fumio Kishida feels the same way about him. Kishida fired Aria after his top aide’s supposedly “off the record” comments. Arai claimed on February 4th opening civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples would “change society” and that “quite a few people would abandon this country.” His apology came a little too late.
The Prime Minister called the remarks “inexcusable” – even though his government has fought against marriage equality from the country’s courts to the legislature. Growing public support for it may be contributing to Kishida’s floundering popularity.
Kishida’s embarrassment is amplified by the fact that he’s scheduled to host a meeting of the G-7 in Tokyo in less than three months. Japan is the only G-7 nation without marriage equality.
Following the intergovernmental cooperative’s summit in Germany last June, the G-7 issued a joint communiqué in support of LGBTQ rights. It said, "We seek to ensure full, equal and meaningful participation of … LGBTIQ+ persons in politics, economics, education and all other spheres of society."
Pope Francis’s call to decriminalize private consensual adult same-gender sex has received the blessings of the head of the Anglican Communion and a top Presbyterian minister. The three Christian leaders spoke this week during a rare joint news conference with the Associated Press on board the Pope’s jet, returning from a visit to South Sudan.
The Pope had told AP in a January 24th interview, “being homosexual is not a crime.” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby affirmed Francis’s expanded commentary on the fight, saying, “I wish I had spoken as eloquently and clearly as the Pope. I entirely agree with every word he said.”
Church of Scotland moderator the Right Reverend Iain Greenshields, added his Presbyterian voice during the airborne news conference. He said, “There is nowhere in the four Gospels where I see anything other than Jesus expressing love to whomever he meets. … And as Christians, that is the only expression that we can possibly give to any human being, in any circumstance.”
The trio had traveled to South Sudan in hopes of advancing the fledgling country’s peace process. It’s also one of 67 countries around the world that make homosexuality a crime. Convictions in 11 of them impose the death penalty.
Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry has announced support for decriminalizing same-gender sex. He told the Daily Morning news outlet on February 9th that the government favors a Private Member Bill to overturn the predominantly Buddhist South Asian nation’s British colonial anti-queer sex laws. They carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison. “Gentle nudging” by the U.K., Norway, Canada and the U.S. at a recent U.N. meeting may have pushed the move to decriminalize queer sex along, but Sabry was quick to add that marriage equality is not on the table.
Leading queer rights group Equal Ground is “… very optimistic, but cautiously so,” according to longtime Sri Lankan activist Rosanna Flamer-Caldera. She told the Washington Blade, “It’s been more than 19 years that our organization has been advocating for decriminalization and it’s good to see the work bearing fruit, finally. But it’s still a long road ahead.”
Flamer-Caldera is right. It’s not clear how long the legislative process might take.
Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ruled this week that full reassignment surgery should not be a requirement for trans people to legally change their gender. Two transgender men went to the semi-autonomous Chinese city’s top court to avoid further surgery after their mastectomies. Lower courts had dismissed their lawsuit.
Trans men have had to also undergo complete hysterectomies and construction of a neopenis before they could change their gender marker on government documents. The February 6th high court ruling called the government-mandated surgery unconstitutional and an “unacceptably harsh burden.” It said, “The policy’s consequence is to place persons like the appellants in the dilemma of having to choose whether to suffer regular violations of their privacy rights or to undergo highly invasive and medically unnecessary surgery, infringing their right to bodily integrity. Clearly, this does not reflect a reasonable balance.”
Liam Mak is with Quarks, a local transgender youth organization. He told the Associated Press, “every individual has different preferences or decisions in their own gender transition journey. … I hope that the government will be referencing the advice from the court to protect the right of all transgender people.”
South Dakota will become the latest U.S. state to ban gender-affirming care for transgender young people, if Republican Governor Kristi Noem signs the measure the Republican-dominated Senate passed on February 9th. The measure sailed through the Republican-dominated House the previous week.
Hormone therapy and puberty blockers for trans people under the age of 18 is specifically outlawed. Healthcare professionals who violate the law would lose their licenses, and could even be sued. The law also bans any form of gender-affirming surgery performed on transgender minors – something that’s rarely, if ever, done.
Similar measures have been introduced in more than 20 Republican-dominated U.S. states this year. Utah enacted its own version last week. Civil rights groups have already secured federal court injunctions against enforcement of laws in Alabama and Arkansas. Utah and South Dakota are likely to be in the legal crosshairs soon, too.
Finally, the thin Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives convened a hearing this week to “investigate” the so-called “liberal bias” of “big tech,” specifically targeting Twitter. The powerful House Oversight Committee gathered to “expose” alleged “secret emails” of Hunter Biden, and claims that Twitter suppressed efforts to leak damning information about the president’s son. While insurrection sympathizer Jim Jordan of Ohio led the Republican obsession with alleged left-wing conspiracies, minority Democrats pointed out that the “information” being censored from public dissemination were supposedly pictures of Hunter’s privates. Republicans also accused the Biden administration of pressuring Twitter to remove tweets it found offensive. Testimony actually indicated that the Trump administration in fact did so.
Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York put real criticisms of Twitter on the table. She asked the platform’s former head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth and former Content Moderation Team member Anika Collier Navarolli about Libs of TikTok. That account is a leading social media peddler of inflammatory lies about LGBTQ people, especially targeting the healthcare of transgender young people:
[SOUND -- Ocasio-Cortez, Navarolli and Roth:]
Ocasio-Cortez: Miss. Navarolli, are you familiar with the account Libs of TikTok?
Navarolli: I’ve heard of it from the news, yes.
Ocasio-Cortez: Um … Mr. Roth, are you familiar with this account?
Roth: Yes, Ma’am, I am.
Ocasio-Cortez: Are you aware that from August 11th to August 16th, that account posted false information about Boston Childrens’ Hospital, claiming that they were providing hysterectomies to children?
Roth: Yes, I am aware of that, and other claims from the account.
Ocasio-Cortez: And are you aware that this lie was circulated by other far-right influencers?
Ocasio-Cortez: And are you aware that all these claims, which I have reiterated are false, culminated in a real-life harassment and ultimately a bomb threat to the Boston Childrens’ Hospital?
Roth: Yes, I am aware.
Ocasio-Cortez: And this account is still on that platform today, isn’t it?
Roth: Regrettably, yes, it is.
Ocasio-Cortez: Despite inspiring a bomb threat due to the right-wing incitement of violence against trans Americans in this country, because they cannot let go of this obsession with fixating violence and inciting violence against trans and LGBT people, in addition to immigrants, in addition to women of color … it’s the party that cannot pick on somebody their own size … and they are trying to coopt an entire social media platform, and use the power of this committee and of Congress in order to pursue a political agenda. I yield back.
Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
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