At the climax of World Pride 2023, Sydney throws a huge street festival in the heart of the LGBTQ community, and thousands walk across the Harbour Bridge in a demonstration for equality and justice the likes of which Australia hasn’t seen since the 2003 aboriginal Walk for Reconciliation (Barry McKay reports)!
And in NewsWrap: a revival of Uganda’s infamous “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” would make even coming out a crime, 24 Burundians arrested at at an HIV/AIDS education seminar face charges for “homosexual practices,” Israel’s top court okays the recognition of online Utah marriages for same-gender couples and others, Japan’s opposition symbolically introduces a marriage equality bill in parliament, Michigan expands its anti-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity, Alaska’s human rights agency stealthily reduces anti-bias protections for LGBTQ people, Jon Stewart and RuPaul Charles skewer anti-drag bullies, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Elena Botkin-Levy and Joe Boehnlein (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary
for the week of March 13, 2023
Sydney World Pride Crosses Harbour Bridge
Program #1,824 distributed 03/13/23
Hosted this week Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Ugandan lawmakers ponder a bill to criminalize people who simply identify as LGBTQ, jail landlords who rent to them, and ban the funding of and “promotion” of LGBTQ activities … 24 people face charges in Burundi of “homosexual practices and incitement to homosexual practices” after they were caught up in a raid of an HIV/AIDS prevention seminar… Israel’s Supreme Court of Justice orders officials to register the civil marriages of couples — including same-gender Israeli couples — who legally married via online ceremonies based in the U.S. state of Utah … Japan’s main opposition party introduces a marriage equality bill in parliament, although the ruling coalition government is likely to quash it, as it has done with previous efforts … Michigan’s first-time-in-40-years Democratic legislative majorities and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer make it the latest U.S. state to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination … Alaska’s Human Rights Commission quietly roles back those rights … satirist Jon Stewart finds that The Problem With Oklahoma Republican lawmaker Nathan Dahm is that Dahm supports unfettered firearm rights while at the same time wants to shut down family-friendly “Drag Queen Story Hours” [we share an excerpt from the now viral video] … and fabulous entertainer-entrepreneur RuPaul Charles posts a rallying cry against anti-drag “bullies” on his Instagram account [we have an audio excerpt of that sound, too] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by ELENA BOTKIN-LEVY and JOE BOEHNLEIN, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: What kind of happening can close a major metropolitan thoroughfare and send thousands of people on foot across one of the world’s most iconic bridges? Nothing like it has been seen in Australia since the aboriginal Walk for Reconciliation more than two decades ago. Correspondent BARRY McKAY takes us to the history-making events that unfolded, from the closed-to-traffic Oxford Street Party to the Harbour Bridge Pride Walk (with music by CHARLI XCX and JESSICA MAUBOY, both from the Sydney World Pride Opening Concert).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending March 11, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Elena Botkin-Levy and Joe Boehnlein,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Just coming out as LGBTQ in Uganda could land you in prison for up to 10 years under a new law currently under consideration. Landlords who knowingly rent to LGBTQ people could go to jail for up to seven years, and funding or “promotion” of LGBTQ activities could get up to five years.
Private consensual adult same-gender sex is already punishable by up to life in prison in Uganda. A move to make it a crime worthy of the death penalty made headlines around the world a decade ago.
The latest “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” criminalizes anyone who publically identifies with “lesbianism, gay, transgender, queer or any other sexual or gender identity contrary to the binary categories of male and female.”
Efforts to further oppress LGBTQ people come after the nation’s Anglican and Muslim clerics were angered by the Global Anglican Communion’s decision to allow its priests to bless same-gender unions. There have also been a few bold efforts at queer activism in recent weeks. Authorities quickly swooped in to remove the painting of rainbow colors at a children’s park.
Ugandan activists and human rights defenders around the world are strongly condemning this latest anti-queer crackdown. Parliamentary Speaker Anita Among is warning MP’s not to bow to “Western” intimidation. The bill has already had its first reading. There will be public hearings with a parliamentary committee before it returns to the full chamber for debate and a vote.
A court in Burundi charged 24 people with “homosexual practices and incitement to homosexual practices” this week. They were arrested during a raid in late February at an HIV/AIDS education seminar in the East-Central African nation’s capital, Gitega.
The 17 men and seven women caught up in the raid were interrogated for 10 days, as Armel Niyongere of the human rights group ACAT Burundi told Agence France Presse.
Neighbors apparently called police when they noticed teenagers entering the offices of the non-profit MUCO Burundi. Police claimed they found “condoms and documents on the rights of homosexuals” at the scene.
Same-gender sex is punishable in Burundi by up to two years in prison and a hefty fine under legislation approved in 2009.
President Evariste Ndayishimiye recently called on “all Burundians to curse those who indulge in homosexuality because God cannot bear it. … They must be banished, [and] treated as pariahs in our country.”
Israel’s High Court of Justice has approved the registration of civil marriages performed online in Utah. As long as at least one member of the couple or the officiate is physically present in the U.S. state, officials there made marriages conducted through videoconferencing software legal in 2000.
There are no civil marriages in Israel. All marriages must be performed by religious authorities, and the anti-queer tenets in most Jewish, Muslim and Christian traditions make marriage impossible for same-gender couples.
Utah’s Zoom weddings became even more popular during the COVID pandemic, with thousands of couples around the world taking advantage of the opportunity. Some 600 Israeli couples have tied the knot that way in the past three years, including same-gender and interfaith couples.
The country’s high court rejected a government appeal and ordered the Population Authority to register all of them. A petition filed by the pro-equality organization Hiddush broke the damn at a time when the administration of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing historic street protests for trying to take control of the judiciary. Netanyahu himself was re-elected despite an ongoing corruption investigation.
Hiddush attorney Sagi Agmon said, “the time has come for Israel to move forward into the 21st century and allow civil marriage for everyone.”
Japan’s major opposition Constitutional Democratic Party has turned up the heat on embattled Prime Minister Fumio Kishida by introducing a marriage equality bill in parliament. Kishida recently fired a high-ranking member of his administration for making homophobic comments, then turned around and said that it’s “not unfair discrimination” to deny civil marriage to same-gender couples.
Kishida’s popularity has plunged in the past year to an all-time low of 30 percent, and pundits think part of the reason is his administration’s steadfast opposition to marriage equality in the face of growing public support -- and the fact that Japan is the only G7 nation without it.
Unfortunately the opposition party’s bill is seen as merely symbolic. Kishida’s ruling coalition government is likely to quash any legislative attempts at equality.
Michigan is becoming the latest U.S. state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in employment, housing and public accommodations. “Elections,” as they say, “have consequences.” Last November voters ushered in Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time in 40 years. Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has already promised to sign the bill. It adds LGBTQ protections to existing anti-discrimination laws that already ban bias based on race, religion, gender and similar characteristics.
LGBTQ people are only protected from discrimination in about half of the United States. Many jurisdictions in the other states have enacted local LGBTQ rights ordinances. Activists continue to push for passage of a federal “Equality Act” that would enact national anti-bias protections based on sexual orientation and gender expression or identity. President Joe Biden has promised to sign it if it ever reaches his desk.
The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights has been quietly watering down anti-bias protections for LGBTQ people – this according to a report jointly published by ProPublica and the Anchorage Daily News this week.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021 Bostock ruling against anti-queer discrimination in employment, Alaska officials announced that those protections extended to housing, government practices, finance and public accommodations.
Those specific protections were “disappeared” from the Commission’s website in 2022 according to the news outlets, and the agency has since been dealing only with claims of employment discrimination. The words “sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression” were removed from the list of causes of discrimination in August of last year. A statement that it is illegal “in some circumstances” to discriminate against LGBTQ people is now buried in the verbiage.
The advocacy group Identity Alaska is calling the apparent weakening of protections “state-sponsored discrimination.”
Finally, satirist Jon Stewart’s latest Apple-TV Problem is with people who rail against “Drag Queen Story Hours,” while at the same time oppose any reasonable firearms control. Stewarts’s nemesis was Republican Oklahoma state lawmaker Nathan Dahm, who loves guns but has no problem keeping fabulously-coiffed entertainers from reading diversity-building children’s books to kids and their parents.
Stewart’s confrontational interview with Dahm has gone viral. Here’s a bit of it:
[SOUND: Stewart AND Dahn]
Stewart: You want to ban drag show readings to children.
Dahn: To minors. Yes.
Stewart: Why? Are you infringing on that performer’s free speech?
Dahn: They can continue to exercise their free speech, just not in front of a child.
Dahn: Because the government does have a responsibility to protect …
Stewart: I’m sorry?
Dahn: The government does have a responsibility …
Stewart: Uh-huh …
Dahn: … in certain instances …
Stewart: What is the leading cause of death amongst children in this country? And I’m gonna give you hint – it’s not drag show readings to children.
Dahn: Correct. Yes.
Stewart: It’s firearms. More than cancer, more than car accidents.
Meanwhile, ultra-fabulous entertainer-entrepreneur and host of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the TV game show Lingo posted a rallying cry against anti-drag bullies on Instagram this week. Here’s some of what RuPaul Charles had to say:
We know that bullies look for easy targets so they can give the impression of being effective. They think our love, our light, our laughter and our joy are signs of weakness – but they’re wrong. ‘Cause that is our strength. Drag queens are the Marines of the queer movement. Don’t get it twisted, and don’t be distracted. Register to vote, so we can get these stunt queens out of office, and put some smart people with real solutions into government.