Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) goes viral by exposing U.S. House Republicans’ gender hypocrisy while questioning National Women’s Law Center president and CEO Fatima Goss Graves in a subcommittee hearing.
Trans jazz band leader Billy Tipton’s career spanned from the 1930s to the 70s, and the music continues with The Tiptons Sax Quartet (produced by Steve Sims).
And in NewsWrap: the European Court of Human Rights finds that Poland’s refusal to legally recognize lesbian and gay couples violates the European Convention on Human Rights, the United States Supreme Court rejects an appeal to review Washington state legislation that bans “conversion therapy” for minors, loopholes in a proposed conversion therapy ban in the Australian state of Tasmania get a “thumbs down” from activists, Argentina’s newly inaugurated right-wing President Javier Milei pulls the plug on the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry, police in Yekateringburg raid a popular queer venue while Russian censors coral “My Little Pony," plus Pope Francis okays same-gender blessings and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Marcos Najera and Melanie Keller (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the December 18, 2023 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of December 18, 2023
AOC Fights Transphobia & Tipton Double-Time
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): The European Court of Human Rights decides that Poland is violating the European Convention on Human Rights by refusing to legally recognize same-gender couples, but the country’s newly-installed government is vowing to create civil unions or some other less-than-marriage form of legal recognition for those couples … the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge to a ban on pediatric conversion therapy in Washington and, by implication, all states that have similar laws protecting queer youth from the bogus practice falsely claiming to “change” sexual orientation and gender identity through a combination of counseling and prayer … queer activists are panning a proposed conversion therapy ban in the Australian state of Tasmania as having so many loopholes that it makes the legislation “useless” … Argentina’s newly-installed far-right President Javier Milei scraps several ministries in his new Cabinet intended to bolster diversity and address such issues as climate change, public health, and education … Russian riot police raid a popular queer nightspot in the country’s fourth largest city, Yekaterinburg, in an escalating crackdown on anything queer-supportive following the Supreme Court’s designation of the non-existent “international LGBT movement” as “extremist,” which also includes changing the rating of the popular animated children’s series My Little Pony to “adults only,” ostensibly because one of the characters, Rainbow Dash, has an LGBTQ-rainbow flag-like mane and tail (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MARCOS NAJERA and MELANIE KELLER, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR) [10:17]
BULLETIN: Roman Catholic priests are now allowed to bless same-gender couples, according to a Vatican document approved by Pope Francis on December 18th (reported by LUCIA CHAPPELLE).
Feature: While Republican-controlled U.S. state legislatures are pressing to keep trans minors off of school sports teams, the Biden administration is proposing rule changes to include gender identity in the federal definition of sexual discrimination. This exchange during a December 5th House Oversight subcommittee hearing on the changes has gone viral. Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York exposed the Republicans’ gender hypocrisy as she questioned Fatma Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (with intro music from A Chorus Line and outro music by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER).
Feature: The timeless music of jazz great Billy Tipton and the modern reincarnation of the legend in The Tiptons Sax Quartet took This Way Out’s STEVE SIMS on a deep dive into history and harmony (with brief instrumental intro music from All That Jazz by LEA DELARIA, and musical snippets by THE BILLY TIPTON TRIO and THE TIPTONS SAX QUARTET).
Feature: Finally this week, you heard it here last, but let The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert help you let these undoctored comments by Donald J. Trump sink in (with an outro music tag by DUSTY SPRINGFIELD).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending December 16th, 2023
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Marcos Najera and Melanie Keller,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Poland’s refusal to legally recognize lesbian and gay couples violates the European Convention on Human Rights, according to the European Court of Human Rights. Its December 12th decision sided with five plaintiff queer couples who were denied the right to register their unions with Polish authorities. The Court concluded that the refusal “resulted in the applicants’ inability to regulate fundamental aspects of their lives and amounted to a breach of their right to respect for their private and family life.”
The Polish government has butted heads with the European Court of Human Rights before. The far-right rabidly anti-queer Law and Justice Party has governed Poland from 2014 until this month. Their officials criticized or simply ignored similar EuroCourt human rights rulings. However, Law and Justice lost its parliamentary majority in recent national elections to the centrist Civic Coalition Party. New Prime Minister Donald Tusk was sworn in on December 13th. He vowed during the campaign to grant some form of legal recognition to same-gender couples.
Tusk’s new Cabinet includes a newly created Ministry for Equality, with progressive politician Katarzyna Kotula as its head. She called it “a good day” on the social media platform everyone but Elon Musk knows as Twitter. “The time of discrimination is coming to and end. We know that we are all different, but we are equal. We will ensure equality for all.”
Only 41 percent of respondents to a new study by the Pew Research Center support full marriage equality in the heavily Roman Catholic country. That’s why the Tusk government is likely to propose some form of less-than-equal civil unions, which would still be lightyears ahead of the Law and Justice Party’s oppressive nine-year reign.
Solid resistance to any form of legal recognition for queer couples continues to come from the now opposition Law and Justice Party and other right-leaning MPs. President Andrzej Duda remains as a Law and Justice holdover, and he could veto any civil unions legislation that Parliament passes. There’s also the chance of a national referendum for Polish voters, but queer Poles and their allies now have reason for optimism.
The United States Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to review legislation in Washington that bans “conversion therapy” for minors. By implication the ruling covers similar bans in nearly two dozen other states.
The vote was 6-to-3. Farthest-right Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito wrote strong dissenting opinions, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh also voted to hear the case.
Family counselor and “conversion therapist” Brian Tingley claims that the ban in Washington state violates his rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. The practice of changing sexual orientation or gender identity through a combination of counseling and prayer has been widely discredited. Tingley was represented by the Christian nationalist legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.
However, the Supreme Court let stand rulings by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2014 it first found California’s conversion therapy ban to be within the state’s authority to regulate medical practices. The same appeals court upheld a similar ban in Washington last year. That ruling said, “States do not lose the power to regulate the safety of medical treatments performed under the authority of a state license merely because those treatments are implemented through speech rather than through scalpel.”
LGBTQ advocacy groups celebrated the high court win, although it could have been a more affirmative ruling. A statement from Equal Rights Washington noted, “The Constitution does not require Washington to endorse treatment methodology that Washington believes to be ineffective and unsafe.”
A proposed “conversion therapy” ban in the Australian state of Tasmania is getting a “thumbs down” from activists.
The state’s Law Reform Institute urged the government to outlaw the practice last year.
However, Equality Tasmania spokesperson Rodney Croome led a chorus of equality advocates to criticize what they call “giant loopholes” in the proposed bill. Croome believes that those “loopholes” will allow conversion practitioners to “crawl through so they can continue to inflict their cruel and discredited ‘therapies.’” He quipped, “This is the kind of bill an anti-LGBTIQA+ group like the Australian Christian Lobby would draft.”
The Australian Capital Territory and the states of Queensland and Victoria have similar “conversion therapy” bans. However, the Tasmanian version has no real enforcement mechanism: “offenders” don’t have to worry about paying fines, serving jail time, or losing their licenses to practice even if they’re found guilty in civil court.
In Croome’s words, it was “really disappointing that after so much heart-felt advocacy by survivors, so much ground-breaking research and so many well-developed recommendations from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute, the Government has come up with such useless legislation … The bill will allow conversion practices to continue, both in health and religious settings, under the guise of ill-defined terms like ‘support’, ‘assistance’, ‘care’ and ‘guidance’. It will also allow conversion practices if there is ‘consent’, despite the fact that it is impossible to consent to a ‘treatment’ that doesn’t work for a ‘condition’ that doesn’t exist.”
Croome’s organization is redoubling its efforts while public consultation is open. He vowed, “We will use the current consultation period to urge the Government to scrap this bill, listen to the experts and the survivors, and draft something that will do the job.” Public consultation on the bill closes on February 16th.
Argentina’s newly inaugurated President Javier Milei is pulling the plug on the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry. The far-right and highly controversial Milei defeated Economy Minister Sergio Massa in the run-off presidential election on November 20th. Milei was sworn in on December 10th.
Often campaigning with a chain saw, Milei vowed to make severe cuts to useless or harmful government agencies. Rights advocates worry that the dismantling of the Women, Gender and Diversity Ministry in particular will stall any advances in LGBTQ equality during Milei’s tenure. The total number of ministries is to be reduced from 18 to 10. Climate change denier Milei also eliminated the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Social Development. He’s threatening government regulation of public health and welfare programs with his chainsaw, and he calls public education the “Ministry of Indoctrination.” Milei has also called for an end to sex education in public schools. He claims to get political guidance from his living and deceased dogs.
The Russian Supreme Court’s “extremist” declaration against the so-called “international LGBT rights movement” continues to have consequences. Police in Yekateringburg raided the popular queer Fame Club and Karaoke Bar on December 9th, the, ostensibly looking for illicit drugs. A local news outlet in the country’s fourth-largest city posted video of heavily armed riot police storming the dance club. About two dozen patrons were shocked when the music abruptly stopped and the lights went on in the dimly lit bar. Police can be heard shouting orders to the staff and customers to file out of the building. Patrons were forced to surrender their personal documents for review.
Within hours of the announcement of the high court “extremist” designation a couple of weeks ago, riot police began invading Moscow’s popular LGBTQ venues, also allegedly “looking for drugs.” The widening raids are seen as an extension of President Vladimir Putin’s all-out war against LGBTQ advocacy and activists. It’s a convenient scapegoat to distract Russians from the disastrous war in Ukraine.
[SOUND: from My Little Pony opening theme:]
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
I used to wonder what friendship could be
Until you all shared its magic with me …
Finally, Putin’s desire to “disappear the queer” has reached a level of absurdity. The Russian movie database Kinopoisk has changed its rating for the popular children’s animated series My Little Pony to “adult audiences.” Kinopoisk has given no explanation for its ratings change, issued within days of the Supreme Court’s “extremist” ruling. The globally syndicated show based on the Hasbro toy line has charmed young girls for years, but there’s speculation that My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is being censored in Russia now because the character Rainbow Dash has an LGBTQ-like rainbow-colored tail and mane.
THIS JUST IN: Roman Catholic priests are now allowed to bless same-gender couples – this according to a Vatican document approved by Pope Francis on December 18th. The blessings cannot be part of a formal, marriage-like ritual, or performed in connection with a civil union. While the Vatican still holds that marriage is between one man and one woman, the new pronouncement claims that people seeking God’s love and mercy should not be subjected to “an exhaustive moral analysis.” It’s a mixed blessing to both marriage equality advocates and opponents. One side criticizes the second class status given to queer relationships; the other side warns that any recognition of same-gender couples will lead to church schism. We’ll be anxious to cover further developments on this story when NewsWrap returns in early January (reported by LUCIA CHAPPELLE).
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