Sydney, Australia’s David Jones department store really rocked the World Pride scene, despite the expected backlash. Corporate rep Ross Sabatini talks about the campaign’s service to the public and the bottom line, and correspondent Barry McKay meets the big display window performers and records the reactions of people passing by.
And in NewsWrap: the Supreme Court of Ghana rejects a lawsuit aimed at stopping Parliament’s consideration of a probably unconstitutional anti-LGBTQ bill, Kenya’s “Family Protection Act” is mimicking Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” law, the names of non-biological lesbian mothers are being disappeared from their children’s birth certificates by Italy’s far-right government, Jamaica’s refusal to grant diplomatic immunity to the husband of a gay U.S. diplomat is becoming an international riff, the Indiana Roman Catholic high school guidance counselor fired when her marriage to a woman was discovered loses in appeals court, a notorious San Francisco church hosts a Drag Queen Bible Story Hour, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Elena Botkin-Levy and Brian DeShazor (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the July 24, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of July 24, 2023
Retail Pride Sells at Sydney Store
Program #1,843 distributed 07/24/23
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Ghana’s Supreme Court rejects an effort to stop lawmakers from passing a horrific anti-queer bill … Kenyan lawmakers prepare to pass their own draconian anti-queer bill … Italy’s far-right government begins purging the names of the non-biological spouses of lesbian couples from their children’s birth certificates … a diplomatic tiff between Jamaica and the United States centers on the Caribbean island nation’s refusal to accredit the husband of a newly-appointed gay U.S. diplomat … a U.S. federal appeals court declares that an Indianapolis, Indiana Roman Catholic school has the right to fire a veteran guidance counselor after they discover that she’s been married to her lesbian partner for four years … the historic San Francisco Bay-area Calvary Presbyterian Church hosts a “Drag Queen Bible Story Hour,” as REV. VICTOR FLOYD notes, “to offer a little balance to all of the hateful rhetoric that is out in the country” (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by ELENA BOTKIN-LEVY and BRIAN DeSHAZOR, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Large corporations know they might be taking their sales in their hands if they come out to support the LGBTQ community. There’s no way a major retailer would have even hinted their approval of a Pride celebration in the early days. Companies eventually learned that showing some Pride serves the public and the bottom line, but today the pendulum may be swinging in a dangerous direction. In the U.S., boycotts by white Christian nationalists nearly forced Target and Kohl’s chain stores to fall back with their queer displays and Pride season attire. Woolworths South Africa has also been experiencing a backlash over its Pride promotion. However, David Jones, one of Australia’s biggest department store chains, really rocked World Pride earlier this year, as SYDNEY correspondent BARRY McKAY discovered (with comments by David Jones executive Ross Sabatini, some of the performers, and “person on the street” reactions to the festive window displays and other Pride regalia (with intro music from Come Out Everybody by ZRAZY, and incidental music by THE PRESETS, BONNIE POINTER, SCISSOR SISTERS, CHAKA KHAN, LIZZO and DONNA SUMMER).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending July 22nd, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Elena Botkin-Levy and Brian DeShazor,
produced by Brian DeShazor
The Supreme Court of Ghana has rejected an effort to stop Parliament’s current consideration of a horrific anti-queer bill. According to the unanimous decision issued on July 19th by the high court’s nine-member bench, “We have considered the merits of this case and are of the considered view that a prima facie case has not been made to convince us to injunct the work of parliament.”
The measure has been percolating since August 2021. It would punish advocacy for LGBTQ rights with up to 10 years in prison. Public displays of same-gender affection or cross-dressing could lead to a fine or jail time under the law, which would also criminalize certain types of medical support for transgender people. Even queer-supportive content in the media would be banned. Citizens would be required to report neighbors they suspect of being LGBTQ. “Outed” queer people would be forced into “conversion therapy,” the phony method of changing sexual orientation. The West African nation’s top religious leaders and most politicians strongly back the enhanced restrictions. Ghana already punishes private adult consensual same-gender sex with up to three years in prison.
The lawsuit was just a pit stop on the way to the bill’s almost certain passage. Now the way is clear for Ghana’s Parliament to wrap up debate and vote on the bill, then send it to President Nana Akufo-Addo for his signature. He’ll probably sign it, despite his reported concerns about its “constitutionality.”
Kenya’s Parliament has its own draconian anti-queer bill to consider. The “Family Protection Act” would outlaw identifying as LGBTQ or “promoting” queer rights. It would ban Pride marches, drag shows, rainbow flags … even rainbow-colored clothes could land a person a minimum of 10 years in prison.
Private consensual adult same-gender sex is already against the law in the East African nation. Under the proposed legislation, a same-gender sex conviction could mean at least 14 years behind bars. The measure also outlaws gender-affirming healthcare for trans people.
The bill mirrors the Anti-Homosexuality Act neighboring Uganda enacted earlier this year – the “Kill the Gays” law that punishes “aggravated homosexuality” with execution. In Kenya’s version that’s defined as “same-gender sex acts with a minor or disabled person and transmitting a terminal disease through sexual means.”
Recent public opinion polls found 83 percent of Christian and Muslim respondents saying that their faith rejects homosexuality. They believed society should not accept same-gender sex.
Kenya’s President William Ruto has not commented publicly about the proposed legislation. Earlier this year he said, “our culture and religion does not allow same-sex marriages.”
Elsewhere in Africa, lawmakers in Tanzania and South Sudan are also considering anti-queer proposals, according to Pink News.
In Italy, the names of non-biological lesbian mothers are being disappeared from their children’s birth certificates. Recently installed far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced in March that state agencies were henceforth forbidden from registering the children of same-gender couples. Now the government is retroactively deleting them.
Viola and Michela Leidi were among the first recipients of letters informing them that Michela’s name would be removed from the birth certificate of Viola’s biological daughter. Michela told The Daily Mail that she “cried for 10 days.” She said, “It was as if I did not exist.”
Vanessa Finesso and Cristina Zambon used Zambon’s egg for in vitro fertilization in Spain and Finesso gave birth. Despite the use of Zambon’s egg, she’s no longer being listed as the co-parent on their child’s birth certificate according to the letter the couple received. To make matters worse, Zambon has cancer and worries that if she dies, Finesso will lose custody of their daughter if she’s not legally identified as the co-parent.
That’s just two of the 27 families with 33 children in the city of Padua alone that have been notified so far. Mayor Sergio Giordani is defying the federal government. He’s ordered relevant city agencies to continue to issue birth certificates to families headed by two mothers.
Equally defiant, Viola and Michela Leidi said, “On paper they say [our daughter] has one mother, but we know she has two. … We will do everything possible to prove we are a good family.”
A diplomatic tiff is straining the otherwise solid relationship between of Jamaica and the United States. The Caribbean island nation is refusing to grant diplomatic immunity to the husband of a newly appointed gay U.S. diplomat. That’s normally a routine courtesy. The U.S. has responded by refusing the equally routine extension of the five-year diplomatic visas of three Jamaican diplomats working at their country’s U.S. embassy and consulates. They’ve been ordered to leave the U.S. as soon as their visas expire.
The government in Kingston has thus far refused to respond to Washington’s concerns. U.S. State Department spokespeople have generally tried to downplay the rift.
A senior Jamaican government official told Radio Jamaica that accrediting the same-gender spouse of the U.S. diplomat would require the recognition of a same-gender couple’s marriage. Same-gender love is culturally and legally condemned in Jamaica, and marriage equality is perhaps decades away. A State Department statement stressed, "One of our top priorities is to ensure that privileges and immunities are granted to spouses of personnel assigned to U.S. embassies and consular posts regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."
If the apparent stalemate continues, the country’s Ambassador to the U.S. Audrey Marks and its Miami-based Consul General Oliver Mair are among Jamaican diplomats who would have to leave the U.S. this year.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has approved a Roman Catholic school’s firing of an educator after school officials discovered that she was married to another woman. Administrators at Indianapolis, Indiana-area Roncalli High School refused to renew the contract of Michelle “Shelly” Fitzgerald in 2018. She had worked at the school for 14 years and had advanced into guidance counseling. She had been married for four years when she was terminated. Her case has been moving up the judicial ladder ever since.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Bostock decision in 2020 established non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in the workplace. However the high court carved out an exception for faith-based employers.
Fitzgerald’s attorneys argued that her duties didn’t involve religious instruction. The opinion of the three-judge panel of the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit insists that she, “played a crucial role on the Administrative Council, which was responsible for at least some of Roncalli’s daily ministry, education, and operations.”
Attorneys from the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State were part of Fitzgerald’s legal team, and they criticized the Seventh Circuit’s conclusions.
Their media statement asserted, “Shelly Fitzgerald, like most employees at religious organizations, wasn’t hired to minister to students or to preach the Catholic religion. She was hired to provide secular guidance to students seeking to get into college. She should not have lost her civil rights simply because the secular work she performed was done at a religious school.”
It's unclear at this point if Fitzgerald will appeal.
[SOUND: Rev. Floyd]
We’re holding a Drag Queen Bible Story Hour…
That’s Reverend Victor Floyd of the San Francisco Bay area Calvary Presbyterian Church, speaking with local TV station KYMA. The historic church’s Drag Queen Bible Story Hour was during a Pride month Sunday service in June. A drag queen read Scripture and a singing drag queen entertained the congregation, which critics noted also included families with children. The church celebrated on its Facebook page, posting, “What a gift it was to have Joann Fabrixx – a.k.a. the Rev. @samfranciscotreat – Flamy Grant - @flamygrant – and [Christian inclusivity advocate] the Rev. Jane Spahr with us this afternoon … We thank God for the great diversity present in this world and hold to the truth that each and every one of us is created in God’s image and loved by God. For the gift of Drag Queens, O God, we give you thanks!”
Calvary Presbyterian was founded in July 1854 and it’s included in the United States National Registry of Historic Places.
Congregants generally ignored a small but rowdy group of protestors who appeared at a subsequent Sunday service.
Reverend Floyd told KYMA-TV why Calvary Presbyterian chose to host its Drag Queen Bible Story Hour:
[SOUND: Rev. Floyd]
We’re hoping to offer a little balance to all of the hateful rhetoric that is out in the country, and especially coming from churches and from politicians, who are using churches and using trans people and drag queens as their props.