The U.S. Episcopal Church and by extension the worldwide Anglican Communion was rocked by the selection of the first out gay bishop twenty years ago this week. We’ll take you back to the victorious consecration ceremony for the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore Center in Durham, November 2, 2003.
And in NewsWrap: Jamaica’s Supreme Court leaves the nation stuck with its British colonial-era anti-queer sex laws, Hungary’s far-right government bars youth from the World Press Photo Exhibition because of five pictures of elderly queers, Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te joins an estimated 180,000 celebrants at the Taipei Pride March, Johannesburg Pride dedicates their parade to LGBTQ+ Ugandans and all Africans who “cannot march for themselves,” the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals puts Idaho’s school bathroom bill on hold again, new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Mike Johnson is a far right white Christian nationalist with a wealth of anti-queer skeletons in his closet, gay U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg dares House Speaker Johnson to come home with him for dinner, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Melanie Keller (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the November 6, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of November 6, 2023
The 2003 Consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Jamaica’s Supreme Court upholds British colonial-era “buggery” laws making private consensual adult same-gender sex a crime … Hungary “protects” anyone under 18 from viewing images at the visiting World Press Photo Exhibition in Budapest because it includes five photos of elderly queer Filipinos … an estimated 180,000 people, including Taiwan’s Vice President and predicted winner of next year’s presidential election, parade with LGBTQ Pride in Taipei … some 24,000 celebrate Pride in Johannesburg as they march for queer Ugandans and other Africans who cannot march for themselves … the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates a temporary ban on enforcement of Idaho’s laws requiring trans students and school staff to use campus bathrooms and other sex-segregated facilities based on their birth certificate gender … more virulently anti-queer skeletons are discovered in new white Christian nationalist Republican U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson’s closet [hear two of his more inflammatory comments] … proudly out happily “married with children” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg invites Johnson to visit him, his husband Chasten and their twin toddlers at their D.C. home to see what a “gay lifestyle” really looks like (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL LeBEAU and MELANIE KELLER, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: From the This Way Out program of November 3, 2003 (with new intro music by ALAN JACKSON): Shouts of both "hallelujah!" and "heresy!" accompanied the historic November 2nd consecration of the Reverend Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church USA. The leadership of the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopalians are a part, has warily anticipated the moment with bated breath. Robinson's election in June 2003 by the Diocese of New Hampshire and his confirmation in August at the denomination's General Convention, and a Canadian Anglican diocese's decision to allow blessings for same-gender couples earlier this year, have sent traditionalists into a tailspin. They warned that the gay priest's elevation to bishop in particular would put the unity of the Communion in serious jeopardy. But Robinson firmly resisted calls for him to step aside, and when the day arrived three to four thousand supporters, including some 50 bishops, gathered to witness his consecration at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore Center in Durham. Inside, singing with her Exeter church's 100-voice choir, was Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays [P-FLAG] National Board Member Peggy Gage. A lifelong, active Episcopalian, Gage describes the groundbreaking event from her unique perspective and participant's view of the proceedings for This Way Out's GREG GORDON [with excerpts from the service's choral music and statements by two of the people who spoke in opposition to Robinson's consecration during the ceremony, Rev. Earl Fox of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - with a response by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold - and Meredith Harwood from St. Mark's Church in Ashland, New Hampshire, and remarks by newly-consecrated Bishop Gene Robinson himself, all thanks to RAQUEL MARIA DILLON and JON GREENBERG of New Hampshire Public Radio, plus a brief post-consecration comment by the Episcopal News Service's JAMES SOLHEIM, and choral music and congregants' reaction at the conclusion of the consecration service].
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending November 4th 2023 on
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Melanie Keller,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Jamaica’s Supreme Court is leaving the Caribbean nation stuck with its British colonial-era anti-queer sex laws. The justices unanimously upheld the inherited “buggery” laws in an October 27th ruling based on constitutional revisions approved by the Jamaican Parliament in 2011. Those revisions prohibit the Court from examining the constitutionality of the Offenses Against the Person Act, the law that covers private consensual adult same-gender sex.
Longtime Jamaican activist Maurice Tomlinson challenged those statutes in 2015. He claimed that they violate his right to privacy, and “the right to protection from inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment.”
Tomlinson now lives in Canada with his husband. He wrote on his Facebook page following the ruling, “Thankful for the privilege of living in a country where my love isn’t illegal.” Still, he’s continuing to press for change in his homeland. He told The Washington Blade that he can appeal the ruling to the Jamaican Court of Appeal and then to the Privy Council in London. Jamaica won its independence from the U.K. in 1962 and the Privy Council is a special appeals court for British territories, but it still hears Jamaican appeal challenges.
A referendum to officially remove the British monarch as Jamaica’s titular head of state is expected next year.
Hungary’s far-right Christian nationalist government is “protecting” young people from the World Press Photo Exhibition. The Hungarian National Museum in Budapest stopped selling tickets to the traveling exhibition to visitors under the age of 18 on October 28th. Government officials saw “dangerous” queer content in a set of five photos by Filipina photojournalist Hannah Reyes Morales. They portray a community of elderly LGBTQ people in the Philippines who live together and care for each other. Some of them are shown wearing make-up and dressed in drag.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s compliant lawmakers banned “the display and promotion of homosexuality” in books and media in 2021. Earlier this year some Hungarian booksellers were fined for selling books with “homosexual content” because they were not plastic-wrapped as required by law.
To World Press Photo Executive Director Joumana El Zein Khoury it’s “mind-boggling.” She told the Associated Press that the photos are “so positive, so inclusive,” that the exhibit’s first censorship in Europe “shocked us terribly.”
It’s no shock for Orban to be at odds with the European Union over Hungary’s repressive, anti-democratic, anti-human rights record.
Reyes Morales said in an emailed statement to AP that the subjects in her photographs are “icons and role models” in the LGBTQ Filipino community, who are “not dangerous or harmful.” In her words, she’s “beyond saddened that their story is being kept in a shadow.”
[SOUND: Vice President Lai Ching-te]
Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te was among an estimated 180,000 celebrants at this year’s Taipei Pride March on October 28th. That makes him the first senior government leader to attend the event in person. He told the Pride crowd that “Equal marriage is not the end – it’s the starting point for diversity.” This year’s Pride theme was “recognizing the diversity of every person, and respecting and accepting different gender identities.”
Lai is favored to succeed President Tsai Ing-wen in next year’s national elections. He marched with his ruling Democratic Progressive Party contingent behind a banner that read “Democracy Supports Gays.” Parade watchers could be heard shouting “Hello Mr. President” over the upbeat music blasting for the usual drag queens and scantily clad dancers.
President Tai posted her message of support for this year’s celebration on her Facebook page.
LGBTQ advocacy groups generally say that the rights of transgender people are at the top of the current “queer political agenda” in Taiwan.
While they were marching in Taipei …
[SOUND: Johannesburg Pride cheers]
… Johannesburg ‘s 34th annual Pride March was also in the streets. They were not just marching for South Africa -- organizers dedicated their parade to LGBTQ+ Ugandans and all Africans who “cannot march for themselves.” Twenty-five-year-old gay Ugandan refugee Mandela Swali led the estimated 24,000 people to Jo-burg’s Wanderers Stadium. Adorned in glitter and waving a Ugandan flag, he was forced to flee his homeland after being arrested for having sex with his boyfriend. Uganda’s horribly repressive Anti-Homosexuality Act that punishes some forms of same-gender sex with death was enacted earlier this year. Swali told reporters, “This is the space, and this is the family I deserve to have right now. I feel like I’m at home.”
While South Africa was the first on the continent to open civil marriage to same-gender couples, anti-queer discrimination and violence persists. Pride parade organizer Kaye Ally told radio host Bongani Bingwa, “We are very far away from creating an inclusive society where children, the youth, and adults are totally accepted for their authentic self.”
In other news, Idaho’s school bathroom bill is on hold again, thanks to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The legislation would deny trans students and school staff the use of sex-segregated campus facilities that match their gender identity.
A federal court temporarily blocked enforcement of the law in August, but Chief U.S. District Judge David Nye lifted the injunction in October after deciding that neither side had proven its case. The Ninth Circuit appeals court reinstated the injunction before the law was to take effect on November 2nd.
The queer advocacy group Lambda Legal is challenging the law along with two private law firms. Their press release explains that the temporary injunction will stay in place until the justices review the likelihood of the plaintiffs’ success, which is expected to happen over the next few months. Lambda Legal represents a seventh-grade transgender student known by the pseudonym Rebecca Roe and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance at Boise High School.
The state’s conservative Christian Idaho Family Policy Center helped write the law.
The previously little-known new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has a wealth of truly offensive anti-queer skeletons in his closet. Republican Mike Johnson’s far right white Christian nationalist past and present are giving intrepid researchers a field day.
Johnson once worked for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has repeatedly advocated against LGBTQ equality and bodily autonomy. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels it a hate group.
Johnson’s wife Kelly is the owner and CEO of Onward Christian Counseling Services, which promotes medically debunked “conversion therapy.” A Huffington Post investigation found a mission statement posted on the organization’s website that states, “We believe, and the Bible teaches that any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s sex, or disagreement with one’s biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God.”
The website magically disappeared soon after husband Mike’s selection to be House Speaker.
CNN uncovered more damning statements that Mr. Johnson once made to a podcaster that underscore his supposedly Bible-based political agenda:
Our race, the size of our feet, the color of our eyes, these are things we’re born with and we cannot change. But what these adult advocacy groups, like the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, are promoting is a type of behavior. Homosexual behavior is something you do, it’s not something that you are. Many historians, at least those who are objective, would give some credit to the fall of Rome to not only to the deprivation of the society and the loss of morals, but also to the rampant … you know … homosexual behavior that was condoned by the society.
Meanwhile, the Republicans fiddle while the planet burns.
Finally, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has a way of dealing with anti-queer politicians like House Speaker Mike Johnson. Pete and his husband Chasten recently celebrated his fifth wedding anniversary. The couple is raising twin toddlers. He had a ready response on November 2nd when the host of CBS-TV’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert asked, “So how do you work with a guy who argued that same-sex relations are the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic?”
We would just have him over, ‘cause our little house isn’t that far from the Capitol. And if you could see what it’s like when I come home from work, and Chasten’s bringing the kids home from daycare or vice versa … and one of us is getting the mac and cheese ready … and they won’t take their shoes off … and one of them needs a diaper change … everything about that is chaos, but nothing about that is dark. That’s … [applause] The love of God is in that household. [applause]
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