The famed Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade returns to Oxford Street on its 45th anniversary to celebrate World Pride 2023, and we meet the people in the colorful throng (with correspondent Barry McKay). Sydney World Pride (mardigras.org.au)
And in NewsWrap: Panama’s Supreme Court overrules the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to reject marriage equality, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says marriage inequality isn’t unjust discrimination, Chinese students slapped with disciplinary action for distributing Pride flags file a lawsuit, Mississippi and Tennessee join the wave of U.S. states denying gender-affirming care to trans children and the latter bans drag shows, mixed martial arts fighters promise to protect a West Virginia drag brunch after threats cause its cancelation, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Ava Davis and Michael LeBeau (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the March 6, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of March 6, 2023
Sydney’s World Pride Mardi Gras Parade
Program #1,823 distributed 03/06/23
Hosted this week Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Panama’s Supreme Court ignores a 2017 Inter-American Court of Human Rights edict to open civil marriage to same-gender couples by ruling against at least five couples suing for marriage equality … Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida faces scorn for claiming that denying marriage equality “is not discrimination” and that the denial is constitutional … two female students at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University sue the Ministry of Education after it refuses an administrative review of the Student Affairs Council’s disciplinary action against them for distributing rainbow flags on campus ahead of last year’s Pride month … Republican legislative majorities and governors make Mississippi and Tennessee the latest U.S. states to outlaw gender-affirming healthcare for transgender people under the age of 18 and punish providers who “violate” the laws … Tennessee becomes the first U.S. state to ban drag shows as “adult entertainment” that could “harm minors” … and Wheeling, West Virginia-area mixed martial arts coach Johnny Haught and his fighters offer “security support” for another drag queen brunch after one planned for late February at a local restaurant and bar is cancelled because of threats against both performers and patrons (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL LeBEAU and AVA DAVIS, and produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: The whole world was welcomed to Sydney, Australia for the first World Pride celebration in the Southern Hemisphere and the 45th Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. It began as the land Down Under’s “Stonewall.” Police descended on a modest crowd of daring queer protesters who gathered for a festival on Oxford Street in 1978 when homosexuality was still illegal. Forty-five years later Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is now a 17-day marathon featuring hundreds of events. The famed Parade returned to Oxford Street on February 25th to celebrate World Pride 2023. This Way Out correspondent BARRY NcKAY dived into the throng for an on-the-scene adventure, after receiving a proper traditional greeting from leading First Nations drag queen Nana Miss Koori (via the Australian Broadcasting Company), and also featuring Sydney Lord-Mayor Clover Moore, the voices of locals and parade-watchers from around the world, comments from the contingent on the First Nations float, from the colorfully-clad Lesos contingent, with marchers from the Australian Defence Forces, and with World Pridel’s official song We The People by ELECTRIC FIELDS). Our coverage of Sydney’s World Pride and Mardi Gras events continues, as Barry McKay joins the massive march across Harbour Bridge that even PRIME MINISTER ANTHONY ALBANESE was proud to attend – next time on This Way Out (with music from Crossing Over the Bridge by INEZ FOXX).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending March 4, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Ava Davis,
produced by Brian DeShazor
The judges of the Supreme Court of Panama are thumbing their collective noses at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to rule against marriage equality. All 20 nations in Central and South America were ordered to open the civil institution to same-gender couples in 2017 under the regional court’s decision. However a February 16th ruling announced on March 1st by Panama’s high court cited the Family Code that defines marriage as “between a man and a woman,” and a 2015 law prohibiting “marriage between individuals of the same sex.”
Panama’s neighbors Costa Rica and Colombia enacted marriage equality even before the regional court’s order, but the high court judges remained unfazed. Their press release insisted that the Court “does not have the power” to change civil marriage laws. In their words their decision was “objectively and reasonably justified in the general interest of giving precedence to those unions with the potential of establishing families, giving continuity to the human race and, therefore, to society.” They clearly ignored the reality of families with children headed by same-gender couples.
At least five queer couples have filed lawsuits since 2016 demanding the recognition of their marriages in Panama.
Iván Chanis Barahona is the president of Fundación Iguales, a Panamanian queer advocacy group. He called the ruling “cowardly,” and told the Spanish language news agency EFE that it has distanced the country “from the international community and its commitments in the area of human rights.”
Barahona says that his organization has yet to develop a post-ruling strategy, but told the Washington Blade that, “Panama [has] violated international law, violated international human rights law, [and] violated the Inter-American system ruling.”
Denying civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples is not “unjust discrimination by the state,” according to Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The backlash from equality activists was immediate. Kishida tried to calm their outrage this week by saying that rejecting marriage equality “is not unconstitutional,” claiming that he has no personal bias against it.
Kishida was forced to fire a member of his cabinet in February after the official made inflammatory anti-queer remarks. The P.M. then held a meeting with LGBTQ advocacy groups. He then appointed a special aide for LGBTQ-related issues and called for legislation to “promote understanding,” although he offered no specifics.
“Civil partnership” registrations in a number of municipal and regional jurisdictions have granted same-gender couples a few symbolic rights.
The country’s social conservatism has still kept many LGBTQ people in the closet, however.
The government’s anti-equality animosity has reportedly contributed to electoral animosity, with younger voters in particular calling on their country to join the rest of the world’s major democracies by opening civil marriage to same-gender couples. Recent polls show Kishida’s popularity precipitously plunging from 60 percent to 30 percent during just the past 12 months. His Liberal Democratic Party-led administration remains unmoved. It consistently quashes any legislative marriage equality efforts at the federal level, and fights against it in Japan’s courts.
Two courageous students at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University are refusing to take their formal disciplinary warnings lying down. They’re filing a lawsuit demanding that the Ministry of Education review their school Student Affairs Office’s action against them for distributing rainbow flags on campus ahead of Pride Month last year. The Ministry rejected their application for an administrative review in February.
Going only by the name “Huang,” one of the two women plaintiffs says they’re “a bit pessimistic about getting a win.” She told the South China Morning Post, “the lawsuit still has its significance in raising public awareness.” Of course the government wants to prevent that, so information about the lawsuit online has been suppressed.
Yanzi Peng of LGBT Rights Advocacy China told the Morning Post that the university’s penalty reflected a “politicized” misunderstanding and handling of the situation. In his words, “Gender diversity in education and the right of sexual minority students to a dignified education on campus should be the responsibility of schools and the education system.”
Pro-queer activism on school campuses is banned by the Chinese government, which has been aggressive in its efforts to eliminate any positive portrayals of LGBTQ people in the media.
Darius Longarino is a senior fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Centre. He lauded the students for their bravery, saying, “In the past two years or so, space for LGBTQ expression and advocacy have drastically declined. This has also affected court cases, some of which have encountered lengthy unexplained delays.”
Young people’s gender-affirming care has been officially banned in two more U.S. states.
Republican Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed legislation on February 28th that forbids doctors from offering puberty blockers, hormone therapy or any other affirming care for transgender people under the age of 18. Their parents are banned from acting in support of their children’s gender identities. Offending physicians can have their medical licenses revoked, and can also be sued for violating the laws.
The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and virtually every professional healthcare organization in the United States supports gender-affirming care for trans youth.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Mississippi issued a statement together calling the legislation “a devastating development for transgender youth in Mississippi and heartbreaking for all of us who love and support them. This care was already difficult to access across the state for transgender people of any age, but this law shuts the door on best-practice medical care and puts politics between parents, their children and their doctors.”
Days later Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Lee signed similar legislation. His Republican-dominated legislature voted on March 2nd to make ongoing gender-affirming care for minors illegal as of the end of March 2024.
Federal courts have already enjoined enactment of laws banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Alabama and Arkansas. Civil rights and queer legal advocacy groups have signaled that they’ll be challenging the recently enacted laws in Mississippi and Tennessee as well. Republicans in Utah and South Dakota have also passed similar bans.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee also signed the nation’s first ban on drag shows as “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors” – this despite a photo surfacing earlier in the week of a young Bill Lee himself in drag. That law is scheduled to take effect on April Fool’s Day, which could be considered appropriate.
Finally, there’s no “drag ban” in Wheeling, West Virginia -- yet – but the Primanti Brothers Restaurant & Bar won’t be able to prove its theory that “a little glitter never hurt anyone.” Threats against both performers and patrons caused them to cancel their drag brunch in mid-February. They were just two tables away from being sold out according to the promoters’ Facebook post. They wrote, “in the near future we can try to bring another brunch to the area.”
Local Mixed Martial Arts manager Johnny Haught is offering the eatery some “muscular” support. He responded on Facebook, “We hate bullies around here.” He volunteered himself and some of his fighters to work as security. Haught wrote, “Let these hateful loud mouths know that they are not the majority and we won’t be silent about the hate anymore. Plus, drag shows are some of the most fun shows ever.”
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