A blitz of anti-gay arrests swept over Newcastle, New South Wales in the 1950’s inspired by nothing more than a display in a gay-owned mens’ clothing store became one of the most terrifying chapters in Australian queer history. John Witte of the Hunter Rainbow History Group and Kevin Coleman, partner of infamous haberdasher Keith Robinson, (interviewed by Sydney correspondent Barry McKay).
And in NewsWrap: Spain’s trans people can legally change gender without medical intervention under sweeping gender and sexuality-related reforms, the Church of England’s decision to allow priests to bless the marriages of same-gender couples deepens the North-South Anglican divide, a gay Chechen refugee faces mortal danger after Russian police return him to his native country, an Arkansas state senator’s trans-phobic insult gets the shade he deserves, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by John Dyer V and Kalyn Hardman (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary
for the week of February 20, 2023
The Yellow Socks Affair
Program #1,821 distributed 02/20/23
Hosted this week Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Spain’s Senate finalizes sweeping rights reforms for transgender people, menstruating working women, and pregnant teen girls … the Church of England’s decision to allow priests to bless same-gender marriages — without allowing wedding ceremonies on church property - still further alienates theologically-more-conservative Anglican Communion regions, mostly in the Southern hemisphere … Czech national football team member Jakub Jankto becomes the first active international player to come out [with excerpts from his social media-posted announcement] … Russian police arrest gay Chechen refugee Idris Arsamikov at a Moscow airport as he tries to return to his adopted home in the Netherlands after re-entering his homeland to attend his father’s funeral … an Oklahoma judge replaces a lesbian mother’s name as co-parent on the birth certificate of the son she had with her now ex-wife with the name of the sperm donor … and a line of questioning by Arkansas Republican state Senator Matt McKee shocks testifying transgender doctor and pharmacy owner Gwendolyn Paige Herzig and others at a Judiciary Committee hearing considering a bill to punish doctors who provide gender-affirming care to trans young people (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by KALYN HARDMAN and JOHN DYER V, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: In the early 1950s in Newcastle, the predominantly industrial and second biggest urban area in the Australian state of New South Wales, a concerted police blitz of arrests took place against gay men. This is often known as the Yellow Socks Affair, as it was popularly alleged that homosexual men wore yellow socks so they could recognize each other. This turns out to be a complete myth, as "blitz" victim Kevin Coleman recounted, and as John Witte of the Hunter Rainbow History Group told our SYDNEY correspondent BARRY McKAY (with music by PERCY FAITH).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending February 18, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Kalyn Hardman and John Dyer V,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Spain’s trans people over the age of 16 will now be able to change their legally registered gender without medical intervention. Sweeping gender and sexuality-related reforms approved by the Senate on February 16th also include employment, education and housing rights for trans people, as well as a ban on conversion therapy, expanded access to abortion, and paid menstrual leave. There were 191 votes in favor, 60 against and 91 abstentions. The legislation had passed in the lower house of Spain’s parliament in late December by a vote of 188-to-150. Some of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party MPs in the center-left coalition government were not on board, and rightwing party members were vocally opposed.
A diagnosis of gender dysphoria and proof of at least two years of hormone treatment were previously required before the gender marker on government documents could be changed. The new laws allow people over 16 to make the change with a simple declaration. Fourteen- and 15-year-old trans teens will need the consent of parents or guardians, while 12- and 13-year-olds will additionally need a judge’s approval.
The legislation additionally allows 16- and 17-year-olds to undergo abortions without parental consent. Free menstrual products are required in schools and prisons, and access to free hormonal contraceptives and the morning-after pill is required at state-run health centers.
In a first for Europe, women suffering significant menstrual pain are entitled to paid leave.
Equalities Minister Irene Moreno of the left-wing junior government coalition partner Podemos Party was the driving force behind the legislation. She stressed ahead of the Senate vote that followed sometimes contentious debate “Trans people are not sick people, they are just people.”
Queer rights groups across the country were virtually unanimous in specifically praising the advances for transgender people.
The North-South divide in the Anglican Communion is wider today, with the Church of England’s decision to allow its priests to bless the marriages of same-gender couples. The Church is still refusing to allow those weddings on church property.
Anglican officials in Kenya and Uganda say the move has exacerbated the deepening gulf between the more theologically traditional congregations in the global South and the relatively progressive branches in the North, according to the Washington Blade. In the opinion of Ugandan Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba, the Church of England is, “embracing sin by recognizing homosexuality against God’s word.”
To begin with the Anglican Communion is a loose affiliation of generally independent Christian churches. The divide began in 2003 when the U.S. branch consecrated gay Episcopalian New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson. Since then church leaders in Africa and South America have shown growing interest in the conservative breakaway Global Anglican Future Conference, or Gafcon. Atlanta-based Gafcon chair Archbishop Foley Beach has called for the resignation of the Anglican Communion’s titular leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Beach charges Welby with endorsing what he calls “erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word.”
Gafcon’s General Synod is scheduled to meet in April in Rwanda. More than 1,000 so-called “bible-believing” Anglican clergy and lay people from around the world are expected to attend, according to The Blade.
Czech football star Jakub Jankto admitted in a February 13th social media video to having his strengths and weaknesses like everyone else:
Like everybody else,
I have a family.
I have my friends.
I have a job which I have been doing it as best as I can, for years, with seriousness, professionalism and passion.
Like everybody else,
I also want to live my life in freedom.
BUT with love.
I am homosexual and I no longer want to hide myself.
That bold announcement made Jankto the first active international men’s player to come out. The 27-year-old midfielder has played for the Czech Republic’s national team since his debut in 2017. He currently competes professionally for Sparta Prague. The club’s management issued a Twitter statement that Jankto had first come out to them, the coach and his teammates. They added, “You have our support. Live your life, Jakub. Nothing else matters.”
That sentiment has been echoed by many other players and officials around the world, including FIFA, football’s global governing body. Jankto’s Premier League tweeted “We're with you, Jakub. Football is for everyone.”
A gay Chechen refugee was arrested by Russian police on February 15th and has reportedly been returned to Chechnya to face two-year old fraud allegations. Twenty-eight-year-old Idris Arsamikov was nabbed at a Moscow airport on his way back to his adopted Dutch home after father’s funeral. Repeated anti-gay harassment and torture by authorities in the semi-autonomous mostly Muslim Chechnya forced him to flee to the Netherlands in 2018.
During the arrest Arsamikov suffered a panic attack and an ambulance was called, according to the now Latvia-based Russian language alternative news outlet Meduza. Itself deemed a “foreign agent” by the Putin regime, Meduza reports activists’ concern that Arsamikov now “faces mortal danger.”
Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov has the full support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kadyrov has denied that any LGBTQ people live in his region, while for years credible news reports have followed a sometimes violent anti-queer purge – including concentration camp-like facilities.
Oklahoma lesbian mom Kris Williams has been stripped of her parental rights. County District Judge Lynne McGuire ruled on February 13th that Oklahoma’s state parentage statutes pre-date any claims under U.S. marriage equality laws, and therefore supersede them.
Williams and wife Rebekah Wilson used a sperm donor to have a child together. After the couple’s bitter divorce, Wilson and their two-year-old son moved in with sperm donor Harlan Vaughn.
The judge ruled that Williams had failed to legally adopt the child, and that her name had been replaced with Vaughn’s on the child’s birth certificate, per Wilson’s request.
Williams’ attorney Robyn Hopkins told reporters, “Today, I’m disappointed to be an Oklahoman.” The case will be appealed.
Finally, the trans-phobic remarks of an Arkansas state Senator have sparked outrage. Republican Matt McKee displayed offensive ignorance during hearings on a bill to allow doctors to be sued for malpractice for providing gender-affirming care to trans young people. Such proposals are emblematic of the attacks on transgender young people and their families that have swept several Republican-controlled U.S. states this year.
One witness testifying against the bill was Dr. Gwendolyn Paige Herzig, who owns Park West Pharmacy in Little Rock. She was taken aback by McKee’s line of questioning, and the audience was stunned.
[SOUND: McKee and Herzig]
McKee: You said that you’re a trans woman?
Herzig: A trans female, yes I am, sir.
McKee: Do you have a penis?
[audience reacts with boos, “disgraceful,” etc.]
Herzig: That’s horrible.
McKee: You’re the one … you’re the one that brought that into the discussion.
Herzig: I never said anything about genitalia.
McKee: [inaudible] … everything about genitalia.
Herzig: I don’t know what my rights here are.
Herzig: I’m a healthcare professional, a doctor. Please treat me as such. Next question, please.
When her turn as a witness came, social worker Kirsten Sowell threw McKee the shade he so richly deserved.
Senator McKee, that you asked my friend if she has a penis … and I would just like to tell you that even if you have a penis, it doesn’t mean that you have honor, or that you’re a man.
To no surprise Arkansas Senate Bill 199 was eventually advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee.