Many LGBTQ Ugandans have fled to Kenya since their country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Law went into effect, but they’re in as much danger there as they were at home. Australian David S. Ayliffe founded Humanity in Need - Rainbow Refugees to give them support (interviewed by Sydney correspondent Barry McKay).
And in NewsWrap: Estonia becomes the first Baltic nation to adopt marriage equality, Eswatini’s Sexual and Gender Minorities organization wins legal recognition from the Supreme Court, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo ban positive portrayals of LGBTQ people on television, local South Korean officials physically try to block the Daegu Queer Culture Festival, violent plots against Pride are foiled in Vienna and Nashville, pediatric gender-affirming care bans hit trouble in U.S. courts, the Southern Utah Drag Stars’ family-friendly show must go on. and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Kalyn Hardman and David Hunt (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the June 26, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of June 26, 2023
AUS NGO Aids Queer Ugandan Refugees
Program #1,839 distributed 06/26/23
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Estonia becomes the first Central European, first Baltic and first former Soviet Union satellite nation to open civil marriage to same-gender couples … Eswatini’s Supreme Court orders the government of the tiny African monarchy to legally register an LGBTQ rights group even though same-gender sex is outlawed there … oppressive regimes in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo each ban LGBTQ people or discussion of their issues from domestic and foreign television outlets … police in the South Korean city of Daegu herd protesting local government officials led by their rightwing anti-queer mayor out of the central shopping district area designated for the annual Queer Cultural Festival to allow Pride organizers to set up performance stages and booths … Austrian security forces arrest three young men with alleged reverence for the Islamic State for plotting to violently attack Vienna Pride and illegal weapons to do it are discovered in their homes … a man in Kansas is arrested for social media posts specifically threatening a violent assault on Nashville Pride … U.S. federal judges strike down or limit bans on gender-affirming healthcare for trans young people in Arkansas, Indiana and Florida … another U.S. federal judge orders the resistant city of St. George, Utah to issue a permit for a family-friendly drag show in a public park (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by KALYN HARDMAN and DAVID HUNT, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Lives are already at risk just weeks after Uganda’s new Anti-Homosexuality Law went into effect. International health projects and non-governmental agencies have closed clinics offering HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment because those programs might violate the law’s ban on “promoting” homosexuality. Countries including the U.S. are considering the suspension of critical financial aid. The families of LGBTQ people are driving them from their homes — even threatening to kill them. As diplomatic pressure is being brought to bear on their government from a variety of sources, queer Ugandans are hiding out or trying to flee the country. Many are going to Kenya. However, a similar anti-LGBTQ law is in the works in Kenya, too, and those whose escape takes them there are in just as much danger as they were at home. They’re organizing against discrimination, harassment and violence in the infamous Kakuma refugee camp. This Way Out Australian correspondent BARRY MCKAY spoke with David Ayllife, a straight ally in Melbourne who is working to support Ugandans struggling in Kenya (with music by TALENTED UGANDAN KUCHUS produced by BRAVO BRYANS).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending June 24th, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Kalyn Hardman and David Hunt,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Estonia’s lawmakers opened civil marriage to same-gender couples this week. The 101-seat parliament amended the Family Law Act and related laws by a vote of 55-to-34 on June 20th. That makes Estonia the first Baltic nation, first central European nation, and first former Soviet Union satellite state to enact marriage equality -- the 35th marriage equality country in the world.
A poll conducted earlier this year by the Centre for Human Rights reported a significant change in Estonian public support for marriage equality over the last decade, up to 53 percent from about 34 percent. However a quarter of Estonia’s 1.3 million people are ethnic Russians, and only 40 percent of them support the move.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’ celebratory tweet proclaimed, “I’m proud of my country. We’re building a society where everyone’s rights are respected, and people can love freely.”
Gay and lesbian couples can start walking down the aisle on January 1st, 2024. Married queer couples will also be able to jointly adopt children, just like married heterosexuals.
Lawmakers in the neighboring Baltic nations of Latvia and Lithuania are each considering some form of legal recognition for same-gender couples. Those proposals fall short of full marriage equality.
The government of the southern African nation of Eswatini must now allow the legal registration of an LGBTQ advocacy group. That’s the unanimous ruling of the Supreme Court, ending the three-year struggle by Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities. The five-judge panel’s June 16th decision overturns lower courts and requires the Registrar of Companies to register the group as a legal nonprofit organization within 60 days. The Registrar had first rejected the group’s application in 2019. Their rationale was that the organization’s purpose was to promote same-gender sex, which is illegal in the country
The former Swaziland is home to about 1.2 million people, and is one of the world’s last absolute monarchies. Pro-democracy protests have been violently quashed in the recent past. Internet access has been shut down by the government from time to time to muzzle dissent.
Melusi Simelane filed the case on behalf of Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities. He said in a statement, “This is a monumental judgment and a constant reminder to the executive to exercise its powers with restraint and pay close attention to the rights and liberties of every citizen.”
Cameroon’s National Communications Council is warning that any television broadcaster that allows positive portrayals of LGBTQ people will be severely punished. President Joseph Chebongkeng Kalabubse said that the Council “can suspend a media outlet for promoting values that go contrary to our cultural practices and also the laws of our republic.” He said that the suspension of an outlet can last from one to six months, or that it can eventually be banned entirely. Foreign TV stations that carry pro-queer content will also be suspended from broadcasting in Cameroon.
The June 16th announcement follows raids on at least six bars and other popular queer gathering spots in May in the central African country’s capital city of Yaounde. Rights groups charge that the arrested LGBTQ “suspects” were tortured. Cameroon punishes private consensual adult same-gender sex with up to five years in prison.
Just a few days after the TV crackdown was announced in Cameroon, the agency responsible for regulating media outlets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo issued a similar advisory. In the words of the Superior Council for Audiovisual and Communication, Media Regulatory Authority, “All media that serve as a stepping stone to the shameful campaign of homosexuality and lesbianism exposes themselves to heavy penalties,” according to The Washington Blade.
More than 84 million people live in the central African nation, and private consensual same-gender sex by persons 21 years of age or older is legal. However widespread discrimination, hostility, harassment and social exclusion keep most LGBTQ people in the DRC deeply closeted.
LGBTQ Pride celebrations in several far-flung locales are facing sometimes-violent opposition.
The Daegu Queer Culture Festival in South Korea’s fourth largest city has been held in the central district without major incident since 2009. On June 17th police had to physically remove close to 500 government officials whose occupation was preventing Pride organizers from setting up their festival stage and booths. Rightwing conservative Mayor Hong Joon-pyo is well known for his outspoken anti-queer views. He stood with the “occupiers,” claiming that the festival would illegally block roads. Police officials cited constitutional guarantees of freedom of assembly and forced the “occupiers” to move. At a subsequent press conference, the mayor strongly condemned them for siding with the Pride organizers.
Security police in Austria foiled plans for a violent attack on Vienna’s LGBTQ Pride Parade. Three young men with Bosnian and Chechen roots said to sympathize with the Islamic State were behind the plot. A search warrant on the homes of the 14- 17- and 20-year-old suspects found weapons they had planned to use. An estimated 300,000 people enjoyed the colorful, peaceful parade on June 17th.
The arrests were announced the following day.
Tennessee prosecutors have indicted a Kansas man who had posted threats of violence against Nashville Pride. He went to the event’s Facebook page and posted that he would “make shrapnel pressure cooker bombs for this event” and that he was going to “commit a mass shooting.”
Twenty-five-year-old Joshua Hensley is also known as Josh Echo. He’s been charged with transmitting interstate threats, and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Federal judges are ruling against bans on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender young people. Several Republican-controlled U.S. states have enacted those laws.
The nation’s first such ban was in Arkansas. U.S. District Judge James M. Moody, Jr. struck that one down this week, writing that it unconstitutionally violated the free speech rights of healthcare providers as well as constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws. His 80-page decision concluded that, “The State has failed to prove that its interests in the safety of Arkansas adolescents from gender transitioning procedures or the medical community’s ethical decline are compelling, genuine, or even rational.”
State officials are likely to appeal the ruling.
U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon has issued an order stopping Indiana’s law banning puberty blockers and hormone therapies for transgender youth. The order prevents the law from taking effect on July 1st. Hanlon found that the law’s opponents have demonstrated “some likelihood of success” in their arguments that the law is unconstitutional.
Federal courts have already blocked enforcement of a similar law in Alabama. Oklahoma officials have agreed to not enforce their ban while opponents try to get a court to block it.
Florida’s ban on Medicaid payments for transgender health care violates equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution, according to U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. Medicaid provides government healthcare assistance to lower-income families and individuals. Hinkle’s scathing June 21st critique asserted, “Pushing individuals away from their transgender identity is not a legitimate state interest.”
Hinkle also ruled earlier this month that denying pediatric gender-affirming care was illegal. He said at that time, “Gender identity is real.”
Finally, the Southern Utah Drag Stars’ family-friendly show must go on in a St. George, Utah public park, by order of U.S. District Judge David Nuffler. City officials had refused to grant Drag Stars a special event permit in late April. Nuffler ruled that their lawsuit against the city was likely to succeed based on constitutional free speech rights. He issued a preliminary injunction against the city that allows the performance on June 30th. St. George officials are reportedly considering an appeal.
Another federal judge recently struck down Tennessee’s drag show ban on similar constitutional grounds.
Senior staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project Emerson Sykes told reporters, “This is a win not just for Drag Stars, but for all performers, the LGBTQ community, and anyone who cares about limiting government officials’ authority to impose their subjective views of what’s appropriate on all of us.”