Cody Connor is fighting for his trans daughter in the face of Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin’s “model policies” for schools.
Writer/director Emile Gaudreault’s 2003 comedy remains a cross-cultural favorite (interviewed by John Frame in Brisbane).
Plus, can exorcism save Illinois from marriage equality?
And in NewsWrap: The Thai Cabinet approves an amendment to the Civil Code to open marriage to gay and lesbian couples, Nepal finally registers its first same-gender couple since the Supreme Court order in July, Russia’s Supreme Court outlaws the non-existent “international public LGBT movement,” Florida’s Republican lawmakers are bent on expanding “Don’t Say Gay” to clamp down on queer advocacy, Iowa’s book ban faces two separate lawsuits, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Ava Davis and John Dyer V (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the December 4, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of December 4, 2023
Defiant Virginia Dad & Mambo Italiano
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Thailand’s Cabinet endorses a marriage equality bill, which is expected to be introduced in Parliament on December 12th … Nepal finally has its first legally married queer couple after the Himalayan nation’s Supreme Court ordered the civil institution open to such couples in July … Russia’s Supreme Court effectively criminalizes LGBTQ+ advocacy by declaring all queer rights groups to be illegal “extremists” … Florida’s Republican lawmakers consider a bill to virtually shutter nonprofit queer advocacy groups … and two separate lawsuits, one filed by the ACLU of Iowa and Lambda Legal on behalf of Iowa Safe Schools, a state queer youth advocacy group, and students and families, and a second filed by the largest publishing house in the United States, Penguin Random House, well-known novelists, a student, and the Iowa State Education Association, each challenge the constitutionality of the state’s Republican-enacted ban on books in public school classrooms and libraries that contain ill-defined “sexual content” and in reality specifically target LGBTQ content and authors (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by AVA DAVIS and JOHN DYER V, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR)
BULLETIN: Moscow nightspots raided post-Supreme Court “queers are ‘extremists’” ruling.
Feature: Cody Conner moved his family to Virginia Beach from a more rural part of the state in hopes of finding a more welcoming environment for his trans daughter. Unfortunately Governor Glen Youngkin’s discriminatory “model policies” for public schools were issued shortly thereafter. Connor has spoken out nearly 20 times at school board meetings since then. Its members most recently began considering full implementation of Youngkin’s anti-trans policies in their district. One of the 42-year-old father’s impassioned rants has accumulated more than half a million TikTok views (with intro music by SIMPLY RED and outro music by COBHAMS ASUQUO FEAT. BEZ).
Feature: Twenty years ago, a Canadian-made queer comedy became a cross-cultural hit around the world. You can still enjoy it online. This Way Out’s JOHN FRAME caught up with co-writer/director Emile Gaudreault when Mambo Italiano first arrived in Brisbane.(with scenes from the movie and intro music by VAN DYKE PARKS and BRIAN WILSON).
Feature: It’s been 10 years since marriage equality in the state of Illinois survived an exorcism. We remember a report from Springfield by BRIAN MACKEY (with brief comments by then-legislative leader Michael Madigan, intro music from The Simpsons, and outro music by TREVOR MOORE).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the two weeks ending December 2nd, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Ava Davis and John Dyer V,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s Cabinet has approved an amendment to the Civil Code to open marriage to gay and lesbian couples. He announced on November 21st that he expects a draft law to be introduced in Parliament on December 12th.
A government spokesman told reporters that the words “men and women” and “husband and wife” in the Civil Code would be changed to “individuals” and “marriage partners,” respectively. Most of the family rights available to their heterosexual counterparts are included, but pension and inheritance laws still need to be amended to incorporate same-gender couples.
Parliament debated several laws aimed at creating either civil unions or full marriage equality last year, but the legislative session ended without votes on any of them.
Prime Minister Thavisin only took office in August. He also wants to build on Thailand’s reputation as one of the world’s most queer-friendly countries by having Bangkok host World Pride events in 2028, according to Reuters.
If Parliament approves the marriage equality initiative, Thailand will join Taiwan and Nepal as Asia’s leaders in opening civil marriage to lesbian and gay couples.
Hopefully Nepal’s execution of new marriage rights won’t be a model for Thailand and other Asian nations. Its Supreme Court ordered civil marriage opened to same-gender couples in July, but the first queer marriage was not legally registered until November 30th.
The July decision said that marriage described in the civil code as between a man and a woman should be amended by Parliament to include same-gender couples. It issued an interim order that those couples could immediately register their marriages. However, local government offices pointed to the “interim” nature of the high court ruling and claimed that lawmakers needed to first make it official. Surendra Pandey and Maya Gurung’s challenges to the denial of their registration were rejected by two lower courts.
Pandey identifies as a cisgender man and Gurung as a transgender woman. Because she is legally recognized by Nepal as male their marriage is considered to be between two men, according to Human Rights Watch.
Veteran activist Sunil Babu Pant led the Himalayan nation’s major queer rights group The Blue Diamond Society for years before winning a seat in Parliament. He says that the unexpected changes in the process to allow local officials to register the marriages of same-gender couples announced by the Home Ministry this week made it “a positive breeze for us.”
Pandey and Gurung married six years ago in a traditional Hindu ceremony, with a priest officiating and family and friends as witnesses. It only becomes legal now.
Russia’s Supreme Court has outlawed the non-existent “international public LGBT movement.” All queer rights groups are declared “extremist,” with the judges calling such activism an “incitement of social and religious discord.” The ruling puts every queer activist or ally in jeopardy of being arrested as “extremist” and facing lengthy prison terms. It takes effect immediately.
Under current Russian law, it is illegal to participate in or finance an extremist group or organization. Violators face up to 12 years in prison.
The high court edict tightens the crackdown on queer activism that Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin and his cronies have conducted for the past decade. It builds on Russia’s notorious “no promo homo” law that bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientations or gender identities” that now covers all age groups. Russian lawmakers banned gender-affirming care for trans people in June, and also denied trans people the right to change their legal gender on official documents.
Sergei Troshin Sergeyev is a member of Russia’s main opposition party. He told Reuters he fears that even queer-supportive telephone hotlines will be forced to close. He says, “… unfortunately, I’m sure there are many people who won’t be able to get help. They will either [die by suicide] or simply be in some terrible state – their life will be shortened, and their health will deteriorate, they will drink and smoke more, and so on, somehow trying to escape from this reality.”
Marie Struthers is the director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International. To her, the high court action is “shameful and absurd.” She predicts “far-reaching violations of the rights to freedom of association, expression, and peaceful assembly, as well as the right to be free from discrimination.” Struthers fears that “… its repercussions are poised to be nothing short of catastrophic.”
Schemes to virtually ban LGBTQ activism are stretching from “The Great Bear” to “The Sunshine State.” Republican lawmakers in Florida are bent on expanding their notorious “Don’t Say Gay” law to clamp down on queer advocacy. The bill is being sponsored by Representative Ryan Chamberlin, who was elected earlier this year to fill Joe Harding’s seat when the “Don’t Say Gay” author headed to prison for wire fraud and money laundering.
Chamberlin’s HB599 reads, “It is an unlawful employment practice for a nonprofit organization or an employer who receives funding from the state to require, as a condition of employment, any training, instruction, or other activity on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” If enacted, it could shutter the state’s queer advocacy groups, including Equality Florida.
Harvard Law Instructor Allejandra Caraballo worried on social media that the proposal “would effectively ban all LGBTQ nonprofits in the state. … They would not be able to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity at all. This is horrifying.”
The bill also states, “a person’s [gender] is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s [gender].” A companion bill has yet to be introduced in the state Senate. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has yet to express his position on the proposal. The flailing presidential candidate did, of course, gleefully signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law. He later approved its expansion from lower grades to high school in subsequent amendments. Brandon J. Wolf worked for Equality Florida before becoming National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. He called the bill, “a hateful anti-LGBTQ+ monstrosity. It is dangerous [and] unconstitutional, and …. We’re prepared to fight back.”
Finally, Iowa’s book ban is facing two separate lawsuits. A new state law prohibits books with what it calls “sexual content” in public school libraries and classrooms. It also effectively prevents educators from addressing LGBTQ issues. Under some circumstances, it forces school officials to “out” transgender students to their parents. It was passed by the Republican-dominated legislature and signed into law by Republican Governor Kim Reynolds earlier this year. It’s scheduled to take effect on January 1st.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and national queer advocacy group Lambda Legal challenged the law earlier this week. Plaintiffs are the queer youth advocacy group Iowa Safe Schools and several students and their families. Their lawsuit charges that the legislation, “seeks to silence LGBTQ+ students, erase any recognition of LGBTQ+ people from public schools, and bans books with sexual or LGBTQ+ content.” School staff who violate the law face disciplinary action that could include termination of employment and loss of their state professional education license.
The plaintiffs are asking for a temporary injunction to block enforcement of the law while their challenge plays out in court. They believe it will ultimately be declared an unconstitutional violation of students’ and teachers’ free speech and equal protection rights.
A second federal lawsuit followed on November 30th. Its plaintiffs are the country’s largest publisher, Penguin Random House, several best-selling authors, a student, and the 50,000-member strong Iowa State Education Association.
Dan Novack is one of the attorneys representing Penguin Random House. He said that the government can’t violate free speech rights “by pretending that school grounds are constitutional no-fly zones.” He pointed out that the law bans Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Richard Wright’s Native Son, and George Orwell’s 1984, and remarked, “No great American novel can survive.”
Novelist Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the plaintiff authors. Her banned-in-Iowa book Speak is about a young teenage rape victim.
In her words, “I think that anybody who finds a book about a 13-year-old rape survivor as being pornographic needs some professional help.”
➔ This just in: Moscow police wasted no time raiding 3 queer venues after Russia’s Supreme Court outlawed the “international public LGBT movement.” Routine drug busts were the pretext for the December 1st actions, but patrons’ passports were photographed. One witness said that some 300 people were forced to strip to their underwear at one venue. We’ll continue to follow this story.