Twenty years ago this month, the marriage equality storyline in Canada was poised at a frustrating turning point.
The world’s largest folk festival has for two decades included queer events, including Gay Sunday.
And in NewsWrap: U.S. President Biden addresses U.N. General Assembly on human rights, Turkish President Erdoğan confuses U.N. summit banners with LGBTQ rainbow flags, “Nigerian 69” released on bail, Hong Kong court orders recognition of both lesbian moms on baby’s birth certificate, woman hailed as South Korea’s first open lesbian to give birth, U.S. military to upgrade status of queer service members discharged under “DADT,” U.S. abortion pill-banning judge attacks drag shows, and more international LGBTQ news.
Complete Program Summary
for the week of September 25, 2023
Canada’s 2003 Equality Crawl & Out at Oktoberfest
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): U.S. President Joe Biden calls for every person on the planet — including LGBTQIA+ people — to have basic human rights during his speech at this week’s meeting in New York City of the United Nations General Assembly … Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan uses his time at the podium to decry what he mistakenly believes to be LGBTQ Pride rainbow colors adorning the meeting places … a judge orders “The Nigerian 69” — men and women caught up in a raid in late August and charged with “allegedly conducting and attending a same-sex wedding ceremony” — to all be released on bail pending their next court hearing … Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance orders the government to recognize both married lesbians as the legal moms of a baby boy birthed by both of them through RIVF … South Korea welcomes its first baby born to a lesbian mom via IVF … the Pentagon launches a new initiative to help queer U.S. service members who were booted and dishonorably discharged during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to get the “dis” removed from their military records [with brief comments by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks] … Texas federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk — already infamous for trying to nationally ban a widely used pill to induce abortion — calls family-friendly drag shows “vulgar and lewd” in upholding a university’s ban on such an event on campus by a queer and allies student group to benefit an LGBTQIA+ teen suicide prevention group — leading Slate to call him “America’s Worst Judge” (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by AVA DAVIS and MARCOS NAJERA, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Every victory for LGBTQ rights comes at the climax of its own historic drama with dozens of detours and subplots along the way. Twenty years ago this month, the marriage equality storyline in Canada was poised at a frustrating turning point … and This Way Out was there (HEATHER KITCHING reported, with comments by Douglas Elliot, Jack Leyton and Martin Cauchon, and intro music from The Music Man).
Feature: Beers and queers are plentiful at Munich, Germany’s Oktoberfest. The 188th iteration of the world’s largest folk festival currently in full swing has included several LGBTQ events. That was already a 14-year tradition when we visited Munich in 2003 (AGNES KRUGER reported).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending September 23rd, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Ava Davis and Marcos Najera,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Delegates to the General Assembly of the United Nations met in New York City this week. U.S. President Joe Biden countered the hostility to LGBTQ equality some world leaders brought to the podium by recalling the Universal Convention on Human Rights. He called on all people honor that 75-year-old commitment:
We cannot turn away from abuses, whether in Xinjiang, Tehran, Darfur or anywhere else. We have to continue working to ensure that women and girls enjoy equal rights and equal participation in their society; that indigenous groups, racial, ethnic, religious minorities, people with disabilities do not have their potential stifled by systemic discrimination, that the LGBTQI+ people are not prosecuted or targeted with violence because of who they are. These rights are part of our shared humanity. When they’re absent anywhere, their loss is felt everywhere.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan embarrassed himself in the U.N. spotlight, caused by his own homophobia. He told the press back home that he planned to lodge a complaint with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about Pride displays, according to Reuters. In Erdoğan’s words, “One of the issues that bothers me the most … is that when entering the United Nations General Assembly, you see the LGBT colors on steps and other places.… How many LGBT are there in the world right now? However much right they have on these steps, those against LGBT have as much right as well.”
Those colored banners are not queer rainbow flags, Your Excellency. They’re the 17 colors that represent the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals summit held earlier in the week.
“The Nigerian 69” were finally released on bail this week. They have remained in jail since an August 29th raid in the country’s Delta State initially captured more than 200 men and women. Authorities trumpeted the arrests for “allegedly conducting or attending a same-sex wedding,” which is specifically outlawed in the East African nation. The 69 jailed defendants were forced into a televised “perp walk.” They each face up to 14 years in prison.
“All of them should be out this week,” according to their lawyer Ochuko Ohimor. He told CNN, “They need a surety who will show evidence of income and [they] must be [a] resident within the judicial division.” Then the defendants have been ordered to sign a register once a month until their next hearing, but it’s not clear when that will be. State prosecutors wanted all of them to be kept behind bars, but a high court in Warri set bail at 500,000 naira each, about 650 U.S. dollars.
Attorney Ohimor is feeling the heat. He told CNN, “I have been scandalized. … “Some say I’m a gay lawyer [and] that’s why I’m defending them. People look at me with disgust for standing for them.”
A Hong Kong court has ordered the legal recognition of both lesbian moms on the birth certificate of a baby boy born via reciprocal IVF. Judge Queeny Au-Yeung at The Court Of First Instance ruled that the government's refusal to recognize both women as co-parents was a form of discrimination against the couple's baby son. The family was granted anonymity by the court. The couple legally married in South Africa. There one woman's egg was fertilized externally with donated sperm, and then the other woman carried the pregnancy to term. Hong Kong authorities recognized only one of them as the baby’s single mother in 2022.
Judge Au-Yeung declared the unrecognized co-mom as a “parent at common law.” In her ruling she wrote, "The court should be astute to the changing world where people build families in different manners other than through a married or heterosexual relationship."
Hong Kong’s Department of Justice told Agence France Presse that it was "studying the judgment in detail and considering the way forward.”
Lawyer Evelyn Tsao represented one of the women. She called the ruling "one giant step for the rainbow families in our LGBTQ community."
A lesbian couple in South Korea welcomed their daughter Rani on August 30th. The Korea Herald calls birth mom Kim Kyu-jin the country’s first openly lesbian woman to give birth. Kyu-jin legally married Kim Sae-yeon in New York in 2019. She received IVF treatment in Belgium.
Same-gender couples are not allowed to legally marry in South Korea. Only Kyu-jin will be legally recognized as the birth mother. Earlier this year the government did decide to allow health insurance rights equal to married heterosexual couples.
Kyu-jin says the couple wants their story told to prove to the country how “ordinary” same-gender couple-headed families are. In her words, “There are so many types of parents in Korea who are marginalized from the majority. Not just lesbians, but low-income parents, parents with physical disabilities, multicultural families, divorced families and single parents. Should we all be banned from raising children? Discrimination against specific groups makes a society discriminatory as a whole.”
September 20th marked the 12th anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The U.S. Department of Defense observed the occasion by announcing a new initiative to upgrade the discharges of queer service members who were booted from the military under that dust-binned law. The path to removing the “dis” from “dishonorable” will be smoother.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the press that the Pentagon will “encourage all service members and veterans who believe they have suffered an error or injustice to seek correction to their military records.”
It’s no coincidence that queer veterans filed a class action lawsuit against the Pentagon last month for allegedly failing to remedy “ongoing discrimination,” including biased language in the discharge papers of LGBTQ veterans.
We know the task remains unfinished.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks
More work remains to reach every veteran whose life was impacted by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” This outreach campaign will be online, by email, by mail, through non-profits and veterans service organizations and more. It’s starts today with a new online resource on defense.gov.
Finally, the abortion pill-banning Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk made news again this week. This time the Trump-appointed, Christian nationalist U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas jurist launched an unhinged attack on family-friendly drag shows. His ruling upheld the right of West Texas A&M University to ban the queer and allies student group Spectrum WT from hosting a drag show on campus. The event was a benefit for the Trevor Project, a nonprofit suicide prevention group for LGBTQ young people. The university is located just south of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle.
Kacsmaryk’s ruling rejected constitutional free speech arguments referenced by other federal judges in generally conservative courts. Enforcement of similar family-friend drag bans have been temporarily blocked in Florida, Montana, Tennessee, and Utah.
Kacsmaryk declared the art form “vulgar and lewd … sexualized content,” and claimed it encourages “the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.”
J.T. Morris of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression is representing the Spectrum WT student group, and promises an appeal. Their statement said, “our fight for the expressive rights of these brave college students will continue.”
A spokesperson for West Texas A&M said they cannot comment on ongoing litigation.
Kacsmaryk made headlines earlier this year by attempting to nationally ban the use of mifepristone, the country’s most common medically induced abortion drug. A lawsuit is challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 20-year-old approval of mifepristone, and the drug’s well-documented effectiveness and safety. The Supreme Court refused to stop its availability as the case continues.
The online news outlet Slate may have summed it up best by headlining their story on Kacsmaryk’s latest off-the-rails decision “America’s Worst Judge Declares War on Drag.”