Global galas merge as World Pride 2023 and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras bring the first such LGBTQA+ event to the Southern Hemisphere. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joins the parade, and popular Aussie weatherman Nate Byrne predicts rainbows for the television coverage (interviewed by Sydney correspondent Barry McKay).
And in NewsWrap: Kenya’s National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission finally wins NGO status by order of the Supreme Court, a South Korean gay male couple is entitled to spousal equality for national health insurance benefits, Bulgaria’s Supreme Court bans trans people from changing the gender marker on their government documents, Tennessee legislature bent on denying trans youth gender-affirming care and stopping family friendly drag shows, Proud Boys vigilantes target Drag Queen Story Hours in Silver Springs, Maryland and Tempe, Arizona, Dominican Chicago White Sox minor leaguer Anderson Comas comes out, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Wenzel Jones and Tanya Kane-Parry (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary
for the week of February 27, 2023
World Pride Celebrates at Sydney’s Mardi Gras
Program #1,822 distributed 02/27/23
Hosted this week Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Kenya’s Supreme Court orders the government to register the country’s leading LGBTQ advocacy group as a non-governmental organization … a Seoul, South Korea court rules that a gay couple is entitled to the same national health coverage spousal benefits as their heterosexual counterparts … Bulgaria’s Supreme Court bans the legal recognition of transgender people … Tennessee becomes the latest U.S. state to ban gender-affirming care for trans young people, and the first to ban family-friendly drag shows … members of the insurrectionist rightwing U.S. militia group Proud Boys violently disrupt a Silver Springs, Maryland Drag Queen Story Hour … and the Dominican Republic’s Anderson Comas, who pitches for the Chicago White Sox minor league team, comes out in an Instagram post to help others “fight for their dreams” (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by WENZEL JONES and TANYA KANE-PARRY, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: World Pride is popping in sync with Sydney, Australia's global gala Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras! CEO Albert Kruger reviews some of the highlights of the 17-day Festival, Anthony Albanese becomes the first sitting Australian head of state march in the Parade, and the air was fair and boisterous - a forecast specially ordered up by one of the country’s favorite weather presenters, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s gay meteorologist Nate Byrne. Byrne wrapped rainbows around This Way Out Sydney correspondent BARRY McKAY inside the ABC's Pride tent during Mardi Gras/World Pride Fair Day [with music by CROWDED HOUSE, and LADY GAGA and ARIANA GRANDE).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending February 25, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week Wenzel Jones & Tanya Kane-Parry,
and produced by Brian DeShazor
Kenya’s government must recognize the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s right to exist by order of the Supreme Court. The group called the February 24th ruling on its application to become a non-governmental organization, “a triumph for justice and human rights.”
The nation’s NGO Coordination Board first rejected their application in 2013 because their name had “gay” and “lesbian” in it. Private consensual adult same-gender sex remains a crime in Kenya. However the High Court decided in 2015 that rejecting the group’s application violated the East African nation’s Constitution. The Court of Appeal concurred in 2019. This week’s Supreme Court reaffirmation declares that it would be “unconstitutional to limit the right to associate, through denial of registration of an association, purely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the applicants.”
The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission says the ruling “… emboldens our resolve as a community to agitate for a better Kenya for all of us.” It will need plenty of resolve to combat the British colonial-era laws that remain in effect. Offenders convicted of “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” or “gross indecency” face up to 14 years in prison.
A South Korean gay male couple is entitled to the same national health insurance spousal coverage as heterosexual couples. The Seoul High Court’s February 21st ruling did not specify why it overturned the January decision of a lower court. That court had found that since marriage laws apply only to the union of one man and one woman, there were therefore no grounds to include same-gender couples in the coverage.
So Sung-uk told the Korea Herald, “I am delighted because I felt like the judges told us through a court decision that the feelings of love I have for my husband should not be the target of ignorance or insults.” Kim Yong-min added: “It took us such a long time to have our marriage status recognized within the legal framework.” The couple held a wedding ceremony in 2019, but they could not legally register their union.
South Korean health insurance laws grant spousal coverage to common-law heterosexual partners. With this ruling, same-gender partners can no longer be denied.
Amnesty International’s East Asia researcher Boram Jang believes the ruling “offers hope that prejudice can be overcome,” and it “moves South Korea closer to achieving marriage equality.”
The government can appeal the ruling to the nation’s Supreme Court.
Bulgaria’s Supreme Court has banned trans people from legally changing the gender marker on their government documents. A few liberal Bulgarian judges have interpreted the nation’s Law on Identity Documents to allow for the possibility of gender reassignment. Although the law says that “in case of gender change,” trans people must apply for new documents within 30 days, the lower courts no longer have that option. The high court specifically decided on February 20th that gender reassignment should become the subject of detailed legal regulation. The justices wrote, “The Constitution and Bulgarian legislation are built on the understanding of the binary existence of the human species.”
Adela Katchaounova is the Legal Defense Programme Director at the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. She noted that this would not be the first time that the Southeastern European nation could come under E.U. scrutiny. She told Balkan Insight, “This will trigger a wave of new cases against the country at the European Court of Human Rights, [and] possibly also in the European Court of Justice.”
The Bulgarian Socialist Party government cited the nation’s so-called “Christian values,” and congratulated “the Supreme Court for ruling against trans rights.” Its pro-Russian leaders proclaimed, “for us Bulgarians, the children and the family are of great value, and the Constitution and the rule of law stand above everything.”
Tennessee is on the verge of becoming the latest U.S. state to ban gender-affirming care for transgender young people. The Republican-dominated legislature has also made it the first state in the country to go after the right wing’s second favorite punching bag by banning “family friendly” drag shows. Both bills are headed to Republican Governor Bill Lee for his expected signatures. Unless he vetoes them, the bills will become law within 10 days whether or not Lee signs them.
The bill on gender-affirming care bans puberty blockers and hormone treatment for the purpose of gender transition for people under the age of 18. It also bans rare reassignment surgery for minors. Minors currently undergoing treatment would be cut off by March of next year.
The anti-drag show bill “classifies male and female impersonators as adult cabaret performers and bans adult-oriented performances that are [deemed] harmful to minors,” according to The Tennessean.
Bans on drag queen shows come in response to the growing popularity of “Drag Queen Story Hours.” Those fun-filled readings of queer-affirming children’s books by bedazzled performers enjoyed by young kids and their parents horrify legislators in more than two-dozen other Republican-controlled states. Some of them have already outlawed gender-affirming care for minors.
“Drag Queen Story Hours” have become a prime target of the Proud Boys, a far-right U.S. militia group that falsely links drag shows to pedophilia. This week they turned violent in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Silver Springs, Maryland. A contingent of Proud Boys tried to stop Charlemagne Chateau from hosting a “Drag Queen Story Hour” at the Loyalty Bookstore. However a drag-supportive group called the Parasol Patrol tried to prevent the children and their family members attending the show from seeing and hearing the hate-spewing protestors outside. According to on-scene reports by the local NBC-TV affiliate, one member of the Parasol Patrol was punched in the face by a Proud Boys member, and others were assaulted before the police finally moved in to restore order. There were no arrests.
Drag performer Chateau thanked the Parasol Patrol “for keeping me and the families who were at the event safe,” in a brief Facebook message.
Another “Drag Queen Story Hour” was stopped at the queer-owned Brick Road Coffee Shop in Tempe, Arizona this week after the venue received a bomb threat. A small group of Proud Boys was protesting nearby, but police found no explosives at the venue, according to The Advocate.
Several Proud Boys have been convicted of sedition for their participation in the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. capitol.
Finally, minor league professional baseball player Anderson Comas came out as a proud gay man on Instagram this week. The Dominican immigrant has competed in the Chicago White Sox system for a few years, first as an outfielder, but most recently as a pitcher.
Team management expressed support for Comas after he came out to them last year. White Sox Assistant General Manager Chris Getz told Outsports, “I was very pleased that he was comfortable sharing with us in player development … and was also happy at the reaction across the organization, which as you would expect was to support, help and congratulate a teammate.”
Comas explained, “I’m doing this cause I wanna be an inspiration for those like me out there fighting for their dreams, please don’t listen to those stupid things that people say about us, fight for your dreams, believe in yourself and go for it.”
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