Under occupation and in the free zones, TIME Woman of the Year Olena Shevchenko and LGBTQ volunteers are serving the needs of the marginalized people forgotten by the major aid organizations, building coalitions and gaining respect and visibility for queer heroes. (Part 2 of 3, interviewed by Barry McKay in Sydney, Australia).
And in NewsWrap: Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby boldly brings his brimstone into the bathroom bigotry debate, Scotland stands firm against the British government’s rejection of its gender recognition reform bill, Missouri's Attorney General blocks gender-affirming health care for trans people of all ages, Estonia’s re-elected Prime Minister Kaja Kallas makes a marriage equality pledge, same-gender couples go to court in Lithuania, Hungary seeks informants on queer families, ”Rainbowland" scandal sidelines Wisconsin teacher, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Allan Tijamo and Elena Botkin-Levy (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the April 17, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of April 17, 2023
Ukrainian Lesbian Avenger Shevchenko Pt. 2
Program #1,829 distributed 04/17/23
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Scotland’s progressive government officially challenges the conservative British government’s override of its recently-overwhelmingly-passed legislation to make life easier for transgender people … the Attorney General in the U.S. state of Missouri issues an “emergency order” virtually banning any type of gender-affirming healthcare for trans people regardless of their age … Florida Republican state lawmaker Randy Fine claims that drag shows “target children” and that to “protect” them it would be okay to “erase” the LGBTQ community … Estonia’s Prime Minister, fresh off winning a second term, vows to open civil marriage to same-gender couples “as fast as possible” … three queer couples sue for the legal recognition of their unions in Lithuania … lawmakers in far-right autocratic anti-queer P.M. Viktor Orban’s Hungary pass a bill telling citizens to report to the police any same-gender couples who are raising children … the Wisconsin first grade teacher who was stopped by higher-ups from including the Miley Cyrus-Dolly Parton duet Rainbowland in her class’s Spring Concert because it “could be perceived as controversial” is placed on administrative leave, apparently in retaliation for complaining about it [with a brief excerpt from the song] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by ALLAN TIJAMO and ELENA BOTKIN-LEVY, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Florida politics are certainly going to hell. The Don’t Say Gay state’s House is advancing a new bill to enshrine anti-trans bathroom bigotry into law, and Republican Representative Webster Barnaby was bold about bringing his brimstone into the debate. He brought out his fire and brimstone to address the trans citizens who came to testify at his committee’s hearings (with intro music by MIKE OLDFIELD and outro music by THE ROLLING STONES).
Feature: Last time on This Way Out,” lesbian human rights activist and TIME Woman of the Year Olena Shevchenko talked about Ukraine’s LGBTQ community facing the Russian invasion. Her exclusive interview with our Sydney correspondent BARRY McKAY continues with questions about queer Ukrainians showing up as heroes under occupation (with a tease for next week’s concluding Part 3 and music from the Ukraine National Anthem).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending April 15th, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Allan Tijamo and Elena Botkin-Levy,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Scotland will be challenging the U.K.’s override of its Gender Recognition Reform Bill. Among other provisions, the measure makes it easier for trans people who are at least 16 years old to change their legal gender without medical intervention or court approval. The Scottish Parliament passed it by an overwhelming margin in December with support from all major parties, but U.K. officials blocked it. Newly elected First Minister Humza Yousaf formally announced his queer-friendly government’s response on April 12th.
The British government cited Section 35 of the Scotland Act for the first time since it was enacted a quarter-century ago to block the legislation, apparently because it goes farther than existing law in the rest of the U.K. Officials expressed specific concerns about guaranteeing women and girls safe access to sex-segregated public facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms.
Yousaf condemned Britain’s obstruction. In his words, “If unchallenged, it sends a signal that the U.K. Government can veto any legislation they disagree with, at a whim.” He said discussions are underway to determine the best way to legally overcome the override. The government of Conservative Party British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to defend it vigorously.
Scotland is part of the U.K., but like Northern Ireland and Wales has its own autonomous government with wide-ranging powers over functions such as health care. The conflict is adding fuel to Scotland’s growing movement for full independence from the United Kingdom.
Attorney General Andrew Bailey of the U.S. state of Missouri has lit his own firestorm with new guidelines that virtually outlaw gender-affirming health care for all transgender people, regardless of their age. All such care is “considered experimental” to Bailey, who has no medical training. The Republican politician defended his draconian action by calling it “an effort to protect children and enforce the laws as written.”
Virtually every major U.S. queer or queer-supportive legal advocacy group is collaborating to oppose Baily’s directive. Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Center For Lesbian Rights, the Human Rights Campaign and GLBTQ Advocates And Defenders issued a rare joint press release on April 13th. It condemns “the lawless action of Missouri’s Attorney General [that] should strike fear in the heart of every person who values individual liberty and believes that individuals, not government officials, should make health care decisions for their children and themselves.” Bailey’s outlandish obstacle course requires patients of all ages to complete 15 hour-long sessions with a mental health professional over the course of 18 months. They must be diagnosed with gender dysphoria for three “most recent, consecutive years” before treatment is allowed, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and adult gender-affirming surgery. Transitioning patients are required to complete 15 years of follow-ups. Legal challenges to what one critic called Bailey’s “cruelty” should be filed sometime soon.
Another example of Republican overreach is Florida state Representative Randy Fine’s support for a bill to ban drag performances – and the “erasure” of the LGBTQ community, if necessary. Like other clueless drag opponents, Fine absurdly believes that family-friendly drag shows “sexualize children.”
The question is, why are there people in this world so determined to push this on children? Because if you weren’t doing that, this bill wouldn’t exist. And they’re the ones saying this definition applies to them. Well if it means erasing a community because you have to target children, well damn right we ought to do it.
The bill advanced this week in the State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee does not specifically single out drag shows. Venues could lose their business licenses for allowing under-18’s to attend any performance “that depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, specific sexual activities, lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.
It breezed through the Committee by a vote of 10-to-5 and is likely to be approved by both chambers of the Republican-dominated state legislature. Presidential nomination-hungry Governor Ron DeSantis will certainly sign it into law. This week he signed a bill to ban virtually all abortions in his state.
A federal judge already enjoined enforcement of a similar family-friendly drag show ban in Tennessee. He’ll hear the full legal challenge to it at the end of May.
Estonia’s newly reelected Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is vowing to make hers the first Central European country to enact marriage equality. Parliament approved a second term for Kallas this week after her Reform Party formed a new coalition government with a few somewhat more progressive minority parties. In addition to achieving equal marriage rights “as fast as possible,” Kallas also announced increases in defense spending in response to neighboring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile another Baltic nation is confronting the marriage issue. Three couples in Lithuania are suing their government for the legal recognition of their relationships, at least through civil unions. The Baltic Times reported that the Youth Tolerance Association is seeking “the registration of a civil partnership, entry of a marriage concluded abroad into the civil register, and recognition and registration of a same-sex marriage in Lithuania.”
The country’s Constitutional Court bypassed the Constitution to grant a residence permit to the gay foreign spouse of a 2019. Article 38 says that marriage is based on “the free mutual consent of man and woman.”
The lead lawyer in the current case is Aivaras Zilvinskas. He noted in an April 11th press release that, “the Lithuanian Constitution also establishes the equality of all persons before the law, and the right of all persons to a family.”
Hungarian citizens are encouraged to anonymously report same-gender couples that are raising children under a bill approved this week. The nation has waged war against LGBTQ people since far-right authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gained power in 2010.
His government recently banned same-gender couples from adopting children based on the constitutional definition of marriage as “between one man and one woman.” It goes on to say, “the mother is a woman, the father a man.”
The European Commission filed a lawsuit last year at the European Court of Justice to challenge the Central European country’s discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws that also include banning so-called “gay propaganda.” Orban has already forfeited European Union funding for his anti-queer recalcitrance.
Finally, a first-grade teacher in Wisconsin is now on administrative leave over planning for her class to sing the Miley Cyrus-Dolly Parton duet Rainbowland. Waukesha Superintendent Jim Sebert silenced the performance for Heyer Elementary School’s annual Spring Concert, and teacher Melissa Tempel is ostensibly being punished for decrying the ban in a March social media post.
Several parents have vigorously defended Tempel, who’s in her fifth year at Heyer. The Alliance for Education in Waukesha calls the dual-language 23-year-veteran teacher “an outstanding educator.” They’re turning up the heat on Sebert and a school board that has veered farther to the right after recent elections. Superintendent Sebert claimed, “the song could be deemed controversial.”
[SOUND: excerpt from Rainbowland]
The parents group accuses school officials of blatant discrimination against LGBTQ staff and students, and an increasing “pattern of [anti-queer] bullying.”
They say the ensuing controversy has made headlines around the world, making the Milwaukee-area suburb “a national laughingstock.”
The local ABC-TV affiliate WISN reports that students, parents and other supporters gathered outside a school board meeting this week, defiantly singing Rainbowland.
The attention has also boosted the original 2017 Cyrus-Parton song to #51 on U.S. iTunes charts – its highest ranking ever.