After coming to terms with one daughter’s sexuality, a Mombasa mom becomes a community confidante and an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights (interviewed by Diana Wanyonyi, part one of two, from wingsradio.org).
And in NewsWrap: Burundi’s President Évariste Ndayishimiye says all LGBTQ people should be rounded up and stoned to death, a landmark decision of Israel’s High Court of Justice opens adoption to same-gender couples, Estonia begins accepting marriage license applications from gay and lesbian couples, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine vetoes a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors and protects it from override with an executive order banning (practically nonexistant) pediatric gender-affirming surgery, federal judges temporarily halt enforcement of Idaho’s trans healthcare ban for minors and Iowa’s book ban, Massachusetts sues neo-Nazis for disrupting “Drag Queen Story Hours,” and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by David Hunt and Nico Raquel (produced by Brian DeShazor).
All this on the January 8, 2024 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary
for the week of January 8, 2024
Kenyan Mother Bears Queer Childrens’ Burden (Pt. 1)
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below):. Burundi’s President calls for all LGBTQ people in the impoverished African nation — especially queer couples — to be rounded up and stoned to death … Israel’s top court opens adoption to same-gender couples … Estonian lesbian and gay couples begin applying for marriage licenses under new equality legislation that took effect on January 1st; Mike DeWine, the Republican governor of the U.S. state of Ohio, vetoes a bill to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans young people [and briefly explains one of the reasons — although it’s likely the Republican-dominated legislature will override it], but he then issues an Executive Order creating more obstacles for both pediatric and adult transgender people to access necessary gender-affirming care … a U.S. federal judge temporarily blocks enforcement of a similar trans youth healthcare ban set to take effect on January 1st in Idaho, while another U.S. federal judge temporarily blocks enforcement of legislation, also set to take effect on January 1st, that would ban queer-positive books in Iowa schools; and Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell sues a New England-area neo-Nazi group over its violence-threatening disruptions of “Drag Queen Story Hour” (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by DAVID HUNT and NICO RAQUEL, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: It only took one mother of a gay activist to launch P-FLAG, an organization for supportive parents and family members that’s become one of the most influential queer ally groups in the U.S. One mother in Kenya is standing with her lesbian daughter, and it’s a calling that reaches beyond her immediate family. Objectively the odds are not in Mary Mumbi’s favor. Public opinion polls have found more than 80 percent of her Kenyan neighbors saying that their Christian and Muslim faiths reject homosexuality. Same-gender sexual activity is already against the law in the East African nation, and a bill patterned on Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act would outlaw identifying as LGBTQ or “promoting” queer rights. That could land both Mary Mumbi and her daughter in jail for a minimum of 10 years. Meanwhile the rape and murder of nonbinary lesbian Sheila Lumumba and the lenient sentence for their convicted assailant are more evidence of the perilous circumstances in Kenya. How Mary Mumbi confronts those circumstances is the subject of an interview with DIANA WANYONYI for the Women’s International News Gathering Service, WINGS. In the first of a two-part feature, the devoted mother tells the story of coming to terms with her daughter’s sexuality and providing her friends with emotional support (with intro music from Feel the Sounds of Kenya by CEE-ROO).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
from December 16,2023 to January 6, 2024
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by David Hunt and Nico Raquel,
produced by Brian DeShazor
Burundi’s President Évariste Ndayishimiye believes all LGBTQ people should be rounded up and stoned to death in a stadium. He told reporters during a December 30th question and answer session, “That’s what they deserve.” The Roman Catholic president has not apparently heeded the more tolerant position of Pope Francis, and singled out legalizing same-gender unions as “an abominable practice.” He went on to warn, “If you want to attract a curse to the country, accept homosexuality.” Burundi’s Penal Code punishes anyone who comes out as queer with up to two years in prison and a fine.
Ndayishimiye also said any openly queer Burundians outside the country should not come home. Ex-pats may not want to return to the landlocked East-Central African nation, one of the poorest countries on the planet, whose authoritarian government is rife with corruption.
Ndayishimiye responded to the widespread criticism by claiming that same-gender sex is a Western import. He defiantly told reporters that he didn’t care if his comments led to losses in foreign aid. Burundi declared its independence from Belgium in 1962.
The international LGBTQ rights organization All Out joined Western governments and global human rights groups in condemning Ndayishimiye. Their statement reads in part, “This violent and anti-LGBT+ rhetoric endangers the lives of many individuals in Burundi and stains the nation’s commitment to human rights. Such discourse not only incites homophobia and violence but also violates international human rights laws and norms that protect individuals regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The escalating crackdown in Burundi mirrors similar actions in the region, notably in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Israel’s High Court of Justice has opened adoption to same-gender couples, in what The Times of Israel called “a landmark decision.” Although the 1981 Child Adoption Law says that only “a man and his wife together” can adopt, the justices unanimously concluded on December 28th that the language was not meant to exclude queer couples. The overriding intent of the legislation was to serve the best interests of the adopted child.
Acting Supreme Court President Uzi Vogelman penned the high court’s opinion. He noted that when the adoption laws were written six decades ago, the primary intention was to exclude single parents. Finding that, “the focus … is an adoption by a stable marital framework to which the child will be given,” he pointed to expert testimony that the sexual orientation of the parents has no bearing on a child’s welfare. In Vogelman’s words, the ruling “is based on the concept that the marital relationship between parents is a condition for the creation of a family unit which can provide the child with stability and security, compared to a single-parent family unit.”
The court’s ruling leaves unresolved how prospective queer adoptive parents can prove they have a “marital relationship” when Israel has no provision for same-gender civil marriage. Clearly they would not be able to adopt individually, since he also assumes that single parents are necessarily unstable.
Lesbian and gay couples in Estonia began applying for marriage licenses on January 1st. Applications for marriage licenses there usually take one to six weeks to process, so it will probably be early February before the first queer couples walk down the aisle.
Same-gender sex was decriminalized in Estonia in 1991, the same year that the Baltic nation broke away from the crumbling Soviet Union. Less-than-equal civil partnerships have been available to same-gender couples since 2013. Estonia became the first former Soviet state to usher in marriage equality when lawmakers said “I do” by a vote of 55 to 34 in June 2023.
Public opinion polls reveal a certain degree of discomfort with marriage equality, although support has increased from 34 percent to 53 percent in the past 10 years. Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo said, “I hope that unfounded fears will recede and that critics of this decision will realize that [this] is not something that is being taken away, but something very important that is being added for many of us.”
In the U.S. state of Ohio, Republican Governor Mike DeWine vetoed a ban on gender-affirming healthcare for transgender minors in late December. His reason was heartfelt:
Parents have looked me in the eye, and have told me that but for this treatment, their child would be dead. They’ve told me that their child is only alive because of the gender-affirming care that they have received.
As 2024 began, DeWine took pre-emptive action against the possibility that the Republican-dominated Ohio state legislature would override his veto of the pediatric trans healthcare ban. He issued an executive order to immediately ban pediatric gender-affirming surgery – a treatment option that’s practically nonexistent. When pressed by reporters, the governor acknowledged that he knows of no cases of families seeking gender-affirming surgery for their minor children. He just said, “let’s make sure.”
DeWine’s order addresses more mythical problems. All transgender minors and adults are required to undergo stringent psychiatric review to qualify for any treatment at all. Claiming to “protect” those patients from “fly-by-night” operators providing gender-affirming care to adults “with no counseling and no basic standards to assure quality of care,” DeWine ordered the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Health and Addiction Services to immediately draft new rules. Still, he had to admit that he knows of no complaints against any “fly-by-night” providers of gender-affirming healthcare in the state of Ohio.
DeWine did not address the other part of the legislation: its ban on trans girls and women competing in school sports.
Federal judges in the states of Idaho and Iowa have temporarily halted enforcement of laws targeting LGBTQ people.
Idaho’s ban on pediatric gender-affirming healthcare was scheduled to take effect on January 1st, but Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted a request by the American Civil Liberties Union for a temporary injunction on December 27th. Winmill ruled that the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of two families challenging it is likely to succeed. It alleges that the Republican-dominated state legislature’s law signed by Republican Governor Brad Little violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The judge wrote, "Transgender children should receive equal treatment under the law … Parents should have the right to make the most fundamental decisions about how to care for their children."
Iowa’s book ban law was also set to take effect on January 1st, and was also blocked by a temporary injunction in late December. It had been approved by another Republican-majority state legislature and signed into law by Republican Governor Kim Reynolds early last year. The legislation bans books depicting “sex acts” from school libraries and classrooms, and forbids teachers from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation issues with students through the sixth grade.
Federal judge Stephen Locher called the law “incredibly broad.” He noted it has already resulted in the removal of history volumes, classics, award-winning novels and “even books designed to help students avoid being victimized by sexual assault.” Locher believes the lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is likely to succeed on free speech grounds.
Finally, the birthplace of the American Revolution is no place for jack-booted neo-Nazis. Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell is suing the National Socialist Club NSC-131 for its often-violent disruptions of “Drag Queen Story Hours.” NSC-131 members have also trespassed on private property to threaten staff members and migrants at shelters across the state. Two of the group’s leaders, Christopher Hood and Liam McNeil, are specifically named in the complaint.
Campell alleges that the New England-wide group, in her words, “has engaged in a concerted campaign to target and terrorize people across Massachusetts and interfere with their rights. Our complaint is the first step in holding this neo-Nazi group and its leaders accountable for their unlawful actions against members of our community.” The lawsuit seeks an injunction barring NSC-131 members from threatening violence at lawful gatherings and businesses, and “monetary awards related to civil penalties, damages, and other costs, amongst other forms of potential relief.” In other words, “Shut up and put up!”