The 15-year struggle to bring the U.K.’s “no promo homo” law Section 28 down ended on September 18, 2003.
Actor JM J (Jim) Bullock talks about life as the voice of “Queer Duck.”
And in NewsWrap: Canada’s Conservative Party pledges to ban pediatric transgender healthcare if they regain control of the federal government, hundreds march in Belgrade Pride despite Serbian church and government opposition, Andorra’s Prime Minister Xavier Espot Zamora says he’s never been in the closet, California’s Democratic Party-controlled legislature votes to penalize school boards for banning books, a U.S. federal judge allows enforcement of Florida’s adult gender-affirming healthcare ban, a U.S. judge in Texas extends a hold on a drag show ban, seven are arrested at a sit-in for PEPFAR while U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy remains silent, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Tanya Kane-Parry (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary
for the week of September 18, 2023
Section 28 Falls & Queer Duck Flies
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Canada’s Conservative Party’s lurch to the far right includes new policies approved at their annual Convention to deny life-saving gender-affirming healthcare to trans people under the age of 18, and to ban trans girls and women from competing in female sports … hundreds of LGBTQ people and their allies - protected by a large contingent of riot gear-clad police - defiantly march in Belgrade’s 11th consecutive annual Pride Parade [with brief sounds of the celebration] despite top Serbian government officials, including President Aleksandar Vučić, wanting to shut it down, and a few dozen anti-queer Orthodox Church priest-led protestors physically opposing it [with a bit of that sound] … Andorra’s Prime Minister Xavier Espot Zamora “comes out” during a public broadcasting interview and insists that he’s never been “in” … California lawmakers approve a bill that threatens anti-queer book-banning school districts with loss of state funding … a U.S. federal judge allows the part of a Florida law that makes it harder for transgender adults to access healthcare to take effect while he hears a constitutional challenge to the entire law that also bans gender-affirming healthcare for trans patients under the age of 18 … another U.S. federal judge extends his 14-day restraining order preventing enforcement of Texas’ law banning family-friendly drag shows for another 14 days while a free speech challenge to it continues … and seven activists are arrested at a sit-in in the Washington, D.C. offices of Republican U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy demanding that he support a five-year reauthorization of PEPFAR, federal funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs in the U.S. and around the world [with brief sounds of the noisy demonstration] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL LeBEAU and TANYA KANE-PARRY produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Today the phrase is “don’t say gay,” but in the late 1980s the British coined the expression “no promo homo” for a similar law restricting the discussion of LGBTQ issues. If the goal of the Conservative government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was to silence the movement, Section 28 had the opposite effect. This Way Out’s GREG GORDON memorialized the victorious campaign in September of 2003 (with reports in early 1988 protesting its passage by TIM RICHARDSON in London and JAY McLAREN in Amsterdam, comments by then-out M.P. Chris Smith and visiting U.S. activist Robin Tyler, and an outro music tag by HOLLY NEAR).
Feature: Out and animated animals have become an international entertainment staple. Twenty years ago this week, we met the voice of Queer Duck JM J. (Jim) Bullock (interviewed by CHARLEY LANG, and with music from Queer Duck).
Feature: This Way Out U.S. Library of Congress Preservation Project Update [by Overnight Productions (Inc.) CEO BRIAN DeSHAZOR].
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending September 16th, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Tanya Kane-Parry,
produced by Brian DeShazor
If Canada’s Conservative Party regains control of the federal government, they’ll ban pediatric transgender healthcare. Delegates to the party’s annual Convention voted on September 9th to outlaw “medicinal or surgical intervention” for trans and gender-non-conforming young people. Sixty-nine per cent of voting members meeting in Quebec City approved the new policy. Eighty-seven percent also voted to define “woman” as a “female person” and to ban trans women from women-only spaces.
U.S.-style school district culture wars have also been joined by some Conservative-run Canadian provinces. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick now require teachers and other staff to “out” transgender students to their parents or guardians. Ontario’s Conservative Premier Doug Ford says his government will develop similar “parental rights” policies.
Canadian observers really do blame the wave of anti-queer proposals on the influence of U.S. Republican strategy. It’s a surprise to those who recall the Conservative Party’s culture wars détente in 2021. That’s how Parliament was able to pass a national ban on “conversion therapy.” Now some Canadian jurisdictions are even mimicking the current Republican penchant for banning family-friendly drag performances.
Trans, LGBTQ and other human rights groups have loudly condemned the Conservatives’ sudden lurch to the far right. Fae Johnstone is a trans activist and President of the advocacy group Queer Momentum. She tweeted that, “… quite simply … trans people are generally poor, more likely to be homeless, and experience a whole lot of hate for being ourselves. This is the community that the Conservative Party of Canada is picking on. Because they can.”
Federal Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre is not required to formally embrace the delegates’ new anti-trans policies. He has not responded to specific questions from reporters asking his position.
[SOUND: Belgrade Pride crowd cheers]
Hundreds of LGBTQ people and their allies marched defiantly through central Belgrade in Serbia’s 11th annual Pride Parade on September 9th. A heavy contingent of riot-gear clad police officers protected them from about 50 priest-led protestors, singing and waving religious icons outside a Serbian Orthodox Church.
[SOUND: Belgrade anti-Pride protesters singing]
Another anti-queer group met on a major downtown street under a banner reading, “I don’t want a gay parade in Belgrade.”
Supportive embassies and representatives of 25 countries and the European Union issued a joint statement that read, in part: “On the occasion of Belgrade Pride 2023 … We proudly stand with the LGBTQ+ community in Serbia and strongly support the values that Pride represents — acceptance, inclusion and diversity.”
The “faith-based” opposition echoed anti-queer statements made by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and other top government officials. He tried to postpone last year’s Pride March, and has vowed that there will be no legal recognition of same-gender couples as long as he leads the government. Vučić’s refusal to advance LGBTQ equality is one reason Serbia will probably fail in its efforts to join the European Union. Another reason is his increasing coziness with Vladimir Putin.
Serbia has had an openly lesbian Prime Minister since twenty-seventeen. However to the constant dismay of LGBTQ rights activists, Ana Brnabic has rarely spoken publicly in support of queer rights.
“[I] never hid it,” Andorra’s Prime Minister Xavier Espot Zamora told a September 11th interview with Radio and Television of Andorra. The former judge said that being gay, “doesn’t define the entirety of my person and even less of my personal politics. But at the same time, I think it shouldn’t be a problem to express it. And if this helps children, young people or teenagers – who are going through a difficult time – [to] see that in the end, regardless of their condition or sexual orientation, in this country you can prosper and reach the highest magistracy, then I am happy to express it.”
Andorra is an eastern Pyrenees mountains nation of about 79,000 people, bordered by France to the north and Spain to the south. Zamora became Prime Minister in 2019. He’s since then ushered in legislation establishing marriage equality and discrimination protections based on gender identity or expression, and laws to ease legal gender changes.
Zamora joins the exclusive “Out World Leaders Club” that includes Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs, and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, and the previously mentioned Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić.
California is banning book bans. A bill passed this week by the Democratic Party-controlled legislature would penalize school boards for “refusing to approve or prohibiting the use of any textbook, instructional material or other curriculum or any book or other resource in a school library” that includes LGBTQ themes.
Swimming against the national tide as usual, Golden State lawmakers aim to protect the perspectives of authors from ethnic- and racially marginalized groups, rather than to “protect” children from them. Disobedient school districts face state funding losses.
The legislation was sponsored by the Assembly’s first Black gay member, Corey Johnson. It was specifically prompted by a prohibition on mentioning martyred queer leader Harvey Milk in the elementary classrooms of the Temecula Valley Unified School District. Officials there relented after Governor Gavin Newsom threatened a lawsuit.
Newsom celebrated the anti-book ban’s passage in a social media statement that read, in part: “California is the true freedom state: a place where families – not political fanatics – have the freedom to decide what’s right for them. … All students deserve the freedom to read and learn about the truth, the world and themselves.”
The same judge who gave some respite to Florida’s transgender youth in June left trans adults in the lurch with his September 11th ruling. Federal judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida decided to allow provisions of a gender-affirming healthcare law that require patients over 18 to officially consent in person and with a physician present to take effect. Hinkle had temporarily blocked enforcement of provisions banning gender-affirming care for trans youth. He’ll continue to hear a constitutional challenge to the entire law devised by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and his compliant legislature.
Equality advocates condemn the law that not only targets trans youth, but creates serious obstacles for trans adults. Some are not so easily able to travel to in-person appointments with their doctor. Most gender-affirming care for adults is prescribed by nurse practitioners and/or through tele-health.
The temporary restraining order that’s kept the Lone Star State from enforcing its ban on family-friendly drag shows has been extended. Federal judge David Hittner of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas had to act on September 13th because such orders normally expire either 14 days from issuance, or on a date set by the court, whichever comes first.
Governor Gregg Abbot and his Republican cohorts in the state legislature backed the law banning “sexually oriented performances.” They used language so vague that critics say the law could ban other costumed theater and ballet performances -- even cheerleading. Venues face fines of up to $10,000 for each violation.
The renewed restraining order will presumably expire again on September 28th, 14 days after Hittner issued it. A constitutional free speech challenge in his court continues.
[SOUND: McCarthy demo chants]
Group: Pass PEPFAR now, McCarthy!
Pass PEPFAR now, McCarthy!
Pass PEPFAR now, McCarthy!
Pass PEPFAR now, McCarthy!
Two voices: Act up, Fight back!
Another voice: When PEPFAR’s under attack, what do we do?
Group: Act up, Fight back!
Seven activists were arrested at a noisy sit-in in U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s Washington, D.C. office on September 11th. They were protesting the imminent demise of President Joe Biden’s Emergency Plan for global AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. Legislation covering both international and domestic funding for HIV/AIDS programs expires on September 30th.
McCarthy has been under pressure from the strident MAGA-Republican minority in the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose PEPFAR reauthorization based on unfounded claims that it has indirectly funded support for abortions. Activist groups Housing Works and Health GAP are demanding a “clean” five-year reauthorization of the legislation. McCarthy’s office has not responded to the protest, nor commented on passing the five-year reauthorization.
One of those arrested was Health GAP Executive Director Asia Russell. She charged in a media statement, “Extremists in the House have sunk to a new low. … Republicans are playing political games with the lives of countless adults, children, and newborns with HIV and most affected by HIV across the globe and here in the U.S.”
Housing Works CEO Charles King was also arrested. In his words, “PEPFAR has saved millions of lives. It is criminal for some members of Congress to treat it as a political football.”
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