A collaborative of Indigenous and settler researchers is studying the intersections of Indigeneity, gender, sexual orientation and geography in a “dry lab” — a laboratory that does its work on computers rather than with beakers or Bunsen burners. Co-founder Harlan Pruden says the goal is to combine good relations and indigenous ways of knowing (produced by Lauren Schmitt).
And in NewsWrap: India’s Supreme Court defers to Parliament to enact marriage equality legislation, Nepalese lower courts refuse to register the marriage of a queer couple despite the Supreme Court’s provisional marriage order, a Japanese family court slams the surgery pre-requisite for transgender ID change, Poland’s far right “LGBTQ-Free” party fails to win enough seats in Parliament to form a new government, Saskatchewan’s decision to prohibit students from changing their names or pronouns at school parental consent drives a human rights commissioner to quit, U.S. federal judges take action on injunctions against Idaho’s anti-trans bathroom law and Montana’s drag show ban, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Sarah Montague and Michael Taylor-Gray (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the October 23, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of October 23, 2023
Harlan Pruden’s Two-Spirit Dry Lab
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): India’s Supreme Court sympathizes with same-gender couples for not having legal recognition, but insists that only Parliament can open civil marriage to them … lower courts in Nepal are defying the nation’s Supreme Court marriage equality ruling by refusing to register at least one queer couple’s union … a family court in Japan declares laws requiring reassignment surgery before a trans person can change their legal gender to be unconstitutional … Polish voters end the eight-year dominance of the rabidly anti-queer far-right Law and Justice Party by refusing to give them a parliamentary majority … Saskatchewan Human Rights Commissioner Heather Kuttai resigns and forcefully condemns on the floor of Parliament the right-wing Canadian provincial government’s proposal to ban trans and non-binary students under the age of 16 from changing their names or pronouns at school without parental or legal guardian consent … a California judge extends his injunction preventing enforcement of part of the Chino Valley Unified School District policy requiring school officials to “out” trans and gender-nonconforming students to their parents or guardians … a U.S. federal judge allows an Idaho law to take effect that requires trans and non-binary students to use sex-segregated bathrooms and similar facilities based on their birth gender … a U.S. federal judge extends his injunction barring enforcement of Montana’s ban on family-friendly drag shows … and Joe Harding, the now-former Florida lawmaker who sponsored the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, is sentenced to four months in jail for money laundering and fraud (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by SARAH MONTAGUE and MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Non-native people have learned about traditional indigenous cultures largely from archeologists and sociologists coming from the colonizers’ perspective. The understanding of LGBTQ lives within those civilizations has been skewed, but that’s changing. A collaborative of Indigenous and settler researchers is studying the intersections of Indigeneity, gender, sexual orientation and geography in a “dry lab” — a laboratory that does its work on computers rather than with beakers or Bunsen burners. We heard about them from the Lab’s Harlan Pruden, thanks to LAUREN SCHMITT of This Way Out affiliate KMUD-Redwood Community Radio (with intro music from All Nations Rise by DR. LAYLA JUNE).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending October 21st, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Sarah Montague and Michael Taylor-Gray,
produced by Brian DeShazor
India’s Supreme Court turned back a bid for marriage equality on October 17th. With crowds gathered outside the court to watch the much-anticipated decision on their cellphones and the announcement streaming live across the country, the justices deferred to Parliament to enact the necessary legislation. They expressed sympathy for the lack of legal protections for same-gender couples.
The five-judge panel of the high court had heard the consolidated cases of more than a dozen petitioners challenging the marriage laws argued in April and May.
Activists in India and around the world expressed disappointment in what some called the justices’ cowardice. Still, they applauded the high court’s clear empathy for the legal plight of same-gender couples. Although the justices noted that individual states were free to enact their own marriage equality laws, Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud maintained, "This court cannot make law. It can only interpret it and give effect to it."
According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted earlier this year, 53 percent of India’s population supports full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. That’s a huge jump from 15 percent in a similar survey in 2014.
About 1.4 billion of the world’s 8 billion people live in India. Marriage equality there would cover at least 1-in-6 of Earth’s inhabitants.
In neighboring Nepal, lower courts have refused to register the marriage of at least one queer couple after the Supreme Court provisionally opened civil marriage to lesbian, gay and “non-traditional” couples.
Surendra Pandey is a cisgender man, and Maya Gurung is a transgender woman legally recognized as male. They held a traditional Hindu marriage ceremony in 2017. Their efforts to register were rejected by a district court and then a high court because they viewed it as a same-gender marriage, according to Human Rights Watch. Those courts claim that the Supreme Court’s July order was directed only to the government, and that Parliament must first enact marriage equality legislation. Nepal’s civil code continues to recognize only binary marriages between a male and a female.
The couple may file a new case with the Supreme Court to try to resolve the apparent stalemate.
The Shizouka Family Court in central Japan has found that the reassignment surgery pre-requisite for changing gender on government documents is unconstitutional. The court questioned the “necessity and rationality” of the requirement under the current law.
Forty-eight year-old transgender male Gen Suzuki filed a lawsuit in 2021 charging that requiring surgery to change their legal gender was not only unconstitutional, it was inhuman.
Suzuki celebrated the October 19th decision, telling reporters, “I want children to hang on to their hope. I want to see a society where sexual diversity is naturally accepted.”
Japan’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on a similar case before the end of the year. Justices already ruled in July that a trans female government worker was entitled to use restrooms that match her gender identity – the first such ruling by the high court involving anti-queer workplace bias.
Equality advocates in Poland and around the world are hailing the results of landmark parliamentary elections that spell the end of the eight-year rule of the far-right Law and Justice Party. Polish voters turned out in record numbers on October 16th, with almost 73 percent going to the polls according to exit surveys. While the Law and Justice Party won more seats than any of the opposition parties, it failed to win enough to form a new government. Three of the major opposition parties are expected to create a coalition government.
Law and Justice Party leaders like President Andrzej Duda make viciously anti-queer rhetoric a major component of their political campaigns. During their tenure, declarations by local jurisdictions of so-called “LGBTQ-Free Zones” flourished across the country. Many of those declarations have been rescinded in recent times because of the threatened loss of European Union funding.
Donald Tusk is a former E.U. president who now leads the Civic Coalition Party, which won close to 32 percent of the vote. He told reporters: “I have been a politician for many years. … Never in my life have I been so happy about taking seemingly second place. … Poland won. Democracy has won. We have removed them from power.” The election results also pave the way for better relations with the European Union, which has repeatedly condemned the Polish government for its anti-democratic, anti-queer actions.
The government of Saskatchewan has decided to prohibit children under the age of 16 from changing their names or pronouns at school without the consent of their parents or guardians. Right-wing Premier Scott Moe cited a clause in the constitution of one of Canada’s most conservative provinces to call lawmakers into special session.
Human Rights Commissioner Heather Kuttai resigned immediately after the proposal was introduced. She has a transgender son. In her resignation letter, she said, “One of the reasons [my son] is now out, and thriving, is because of the support he received at school.”
Kuttai is a former Paralympic medals-winner who had held the post since 2014. She said that she would have opposed the proposal on principle alone, and did not hide her contempt for the far-right provincial government when she spoke on the floor of Parliament:
Mr. Speaker, this is about priorities, and this government clearly, clearly has the wrong priorities. This is a government that drafted the pronoun policy after a matter of days and a handful of letters. They’ve recalled the legislature to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause to sow division and to score political points. Mr. Speaker, they have completely, completely lost sight of the things that matter most to the people of this province. [applause] This is not an ‘Aw, shucks, wait and see, we need to do better moment,’ Mr. Speaker. They are the government and it is their responsibility to do what it takes to keep children alive in this province. So here’s my question [applause]: when will the Premier act on the mental health supports with the same urgency that he’s addressed the pronoun policy with? [applause]
Under what’s become conservative legislators’ standard “parental rights” guise, Bill 137 was introduced last week by Saskatchewan Party Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill.
In California, the Chino Valley Unified School District has been prevented from requiring schoolteachers and administrators to “out” transgender or non-binary students to their parents or guardians. San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Sachs blocked enforcement of parts of a policy enacted by the school board, calling it “unconstitutional.” However, he validated another part of the policy that requires school officials to notify parents or guardians if a student asks for information in their permanent records to be changed.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed suit against Chino’s anti-trans policy in August. A few other conservative school districts in the state have enacted parallel policies.
Another judge temporarily blocked enforcement of a similar policy of the Escondido Union School District in September.
Chief U.S. District Judge David Nye refused to extend his temporary injunction against an Idaho law in that denies trans and gender-nonconforming students access to sex-segregated bathrooms, locker rooms and sleeping facilities based on their gender identity. Nye temporarily blocked enforcement of the law in August to take time to consider all aspects of the case. However he allowed the law to take effect on October 19th -- even as the challenge to its constitutionality continues. He told attorneys for the plaintiffs that they had not provided enough evidence to prove that they would win their case.
There was a different result in Montana, where U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris agreed to extend his temporary injunction against ban on family-friendly “drag queen story hours” in schools and libraries. He said this week that the state has thus far failed to prove that children would somehow be harmed by attending those shows. The constitutional challenge to that law also continues.
Finally, former Florida Republican state Representative Joe Harding was sentenced this week to four months behind bars. The driving force behind Florida’s notorious “Don’t Say Gay” law pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements.
Harding was nabbed trying to use a $150,000 federal COVID-19 relief loan under the names of no-longer operating companies to pay down his credit card and other personal debt. He’ll report to jail on January 29th for violating an older law: “Don’t Do Fraud.”
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