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This Way Out Radio Episode #1877: Talarico Testifies, Nigerian Allies & Untroubled Irish

Texas state Representative James Talarico makes a social media name for himself in a bare-knuckled defense against Christian Nationalism, with an “other side of the Bible” style reminiscent of 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Months later there’s no news about 76 Nigerians busted at an alleged “gay wedding,” and a decade later we recall the "Global Day of Action" protesting the passage of the country’s “Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act” (Kelly Cogswell and Harriet Hirshorn report from New York City).

2014 was the last year that queer contingents were completely banned from the huge St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Boston and New York City (Kelly Cogswell reports from New York City).

And in NewsWrap: England’s National Health Service cuts off access to puberty blockers for transgender minors, a Uganda appeals court upholds the denial of legal recognition for the queer advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda, two more Japanese district courts declare the denial of civil marriage to same-gender couples unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court will not intervene to help queer-supportive West Texas A&M University students hold a drag fundraiser for suicide prevention, gender-variant drivers licenses are no longer an option in Kansas and Arkansas, the settlement of a challenge to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law allows some “gay saying,” and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Ava Davis and Michael LeBeau (produced by Brian DeShazor).

All this on the March 18, 2024 edition of This Way Out!

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Complete Program Summary
for the week of March 18, 2024

Talarico Testifies, Nigerian Allies & Untroubled Irish

Hosted this week Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): England’s National Health Service stops routine dispensing of puberty blockers for transgender young people, claiming that further study of the reversible treatment’s efficacy is needed … a Uganda appeals court upholds the government’s refusal to legally register the queer advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda because it promotes what are illegal acts in the East African nation … two more district courts in Japan declare the denial of civil marriage to same-gender couples to be unconstitutional, while the federal government continues to claim that society is not ready for marital equality … by refusing to intervene in the case, the U.S. Supreme Court allows the ban on an on-campus suicide prevention fundraising drag show at West Texas A&M University to continue, even as the free speech case continues to be heard in a federal appeals court … a Kansas judge denies trans people the right to change the gender marker on their drivers licenses and other state government documents … the administration of Arkansas’ far-right Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders stops allowing the option of the “X” gender marker on similar state government documents … the administration of failed Republican presidential wannabe and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis settles a lawsuit over the state’s notorious “Don’t Say Gay” laws that will once again, among a number of “clarifications,” allow teachers and students to discuss issues around sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms, preserve queer-supportive materials in classrooms and school libraries, support the formation of campus Gay-Straight Alliances, and encourage enforcement of school LGBTQ anti-bullying policies (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MARCOS NAJERA and KALYN HARDMAN, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).


Feature: One of the new regressive laws enacted by the Texas state government is collapsing under its own biblical weight at the local level. The Republican-controlled legislature passed and Governor Greg Abbot signed a bill last year that allows public schools to hire unlicensed chaplains instead of professional guidance counsellors. Unlike chaplains for prisons or the military, there are no standards or educational prerequisites for these school chaplains. Proselytizing is not prohibited and parental consent is not required. Individual school boards had until March 1st to vote on whether to implement the program in their districts, and an overwhelming number have turned it down. Devoutly Christian LGBTQ+ ally state Representative James Talarico gave a celebratory speech on the steps of the Texas Capitol. It’s become a viral sensation because of its bare-knuckled defense against the political force behind the law (with intro music by TROYE SIVAN and outro music by EMMA’S REVOLUTION featuring REGGIE HARRIS).

Feature: Another one of our favorite Christians became famous for “gay-splaining” the Gospel when he ran for U.S. president in 2019. Out on the campaign trail, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked candidate Pete Buttigieg for his opinion of his Republican adversaries — especially the one from his own home state of Indiana (with intro music by JIM NABORS and outro music by U2).

Feature: There’s been no word on the prosecutions of 76 Nigerians arrested last October at what authorities charged was a gay wedding. The raid in the northeastern state of Gombe was just the latest evidence of Nigeria’s anti-LGBTQ crackdown. Same-gender sex was already a crime when the 2014 Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act outlawed participation in a queer wedding ceremony. A "Global Day of Action" ten years ago this month saw protests against that law in cities including Stockholm, Brussels, Washington, D.C., and London. LGBTQ Africans and their allies in New York City demonstrated in front the Nigerian Embassy, where some were arrested. Journalist KELLY COGSWELL and filmmaker HARRIET HIRSHORN reported from the scene (with instrumental intro and outro music from the Nigerian National Anthem).

Feature: Rainbow Irish eyes have been smiling during the huge St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Boston and New York City since the queer ceiling finally broke in 2016. This 2014 report by KELLY COGSWELL, was introduced by GREG GORDON, paints a vivid picture of what things were like before that in the Big Apple (with intro/outro music by THE IRISH TENORS).


A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending March 16th, 2024
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Marcos Najera and Kalyn Hardman,
produced by Brian DeShazor

    England’s National Health Service cut off access to puberty blockers for transgender minors. The March 12th announcement claimed that there is “not enough evidence” that the medications are safe or effective for people under the age of 18. “Interim” restrictions on puberty blockers for trans minors were first announced last June.

In general puberty blockers will only be available as part of a continuing independent review of their efficacy. Clinicians can still ask the NHS to fund drugs for minor patients on a case-by-case basis, according to the BBC.

Puberty blockers have been widely studied for almost 40 years.  The physical effects are clearly reversible, but the NHS maintains that the psychological effects are unknown.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s conservative Tory administration of has angered LGBTQ activists for being less-than-supportive of transgender rights since they took power in 2022.  Health Minister Maria Caulfield welcomed what she called “a landmark decision,” and said it was “in the best interests of the child.”

Economics may also be behind the policy change.  The number of referrals to the NHS-funded Gender Identity Development Service had climbed to more than 5,000 in 2021 and -22.  There had been less than 250 in the previous decade.

The transgender youth support group Mermaids called the denial of treatment "deeply disappointing, and a further restriction of support offered to trans children and young people through the NHS, which is failing trans youth.”  On the positive side, Mermaids’ statement noted, “Those currently prescribed puberty blockers won’t see any changes to their treatment, and this is a pause on prescribing – not a ban. It’s also important to note that puberty blockers can be just one possible part of a young person’s gender journey. However, this news still comes as a blow and will deeply affect our communities … Everyone deserves access to healthcare, and to live happy and healthy lives. Trans youth are no exception.”

    A Uganda appeals court has upheld the denial of legal recognition for the queer advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda, or SMUG. The Registration Services Bureau had said that the group’s defense of illegal sexual acts was disqualifying. That decision was upheld by the nation’s High Court in 2018. SMUG challenged that ruling in Uganda’s Registrar Court of Appeal, which affirmed the denial on March 12th.

Veteran activist and SMUG Executive Director Frank Mugisha is unfazed. He said his group is “fully committed to elevating this challenge to the next level” – presumably the Supreme Court.

Uganda’s Constitutional Court heard a challenge in December to the latest version of the East African country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act. President Yoweri Museveni signed it into law last May.  It includes the death penalty for what it calls “aggravated homosexuality.” That was one of the most contentious provisions of a 2013 version of the Act, which the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional in 2014 on procedural grounds.  It’s not clear when there may be a ruling on the latest iteration of the law.

    Two more Japanese district courts have declared the denial of civil marriage to same-gender couples unconstitutional.  Courts in Tokyo and Sapporo reached the same conclusion this week in separate cases.  The Tokyo court suggested that civil unions might suffice. The Sapporo decision called the denial of full marriage equality “discrimination that lacks rationality.” It found that “enacting same-sex marriage does not seem to cause disadvantages or harmful effects.”

Japan is the only G-7 nation without marriage equality.  Courts in several jurisdictions across the country have been ruling for equality over the past few years.  Japanese courts cannot change federal civil marriage code laws, however – only parliament can do that. Recent polling shows close to three in four Japanese citizens support opening the institution to same-gender couples, but Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party is lagging behind.  Its spokesperson asserted that Japanese society still isn’t ready for it.

    The U.S. Supreme Court will not intervene in a case pitting a queer-supportive student group at West Texas A&M University against the school’s president.

Spectrum WT has wanted to put on a PG-13-rated drag show fundraiser for suicide prevention since last March.  President Walter Wendler refuses to authorize it, citing the Christian Bible and other religious texts although it’s a public university. They moved the event to an off-campus facility in 2023, but have been trying to come back to campus this year. Judge Matthew Kaczmaryk of the federal district court in Amarillo rejected their request for a temporary injunction based on First Amendment grounds in September. He wrote, “it is not clearly established that all drag shows are inherently expressive.” The high court’s unsigned March 15th refusal upholds Wendler’s ban.

JT Morris is with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, the legal group representing the students. He told the New York Times, “the show is not over,” because the case is continuing in a lower court.  The New Orleans-based Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals expects to hear oral arguments in April.

If Judge Kaczmaryk’s name rings a bell, he’s the same Trump-appointed federal judge whose ruling banning the abortion pill mifepristone is under review by the Supreme Court.

    Gender-variant drivers licenses are no longer an option in Kansas and Arkansas.

Kansas District Judge Teresa Watson ruled on March 11th that the state can refuse a trans person’s request to change the gender marker on their official state documents.  Watson sided with far-right state Attorney General Kris Kobach. He ordered the Kansas Department of Revenue to only issue licenses based on a person’s biological gender at birth.  The judge claimed that the policy does not violate the constitutional rights of transgender Kansans.

It was Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s decision to allow trans people to update the gender identity on their licenses. The ACLU argued against Kobach’s policy. It’s not year clear whether either of them will file an appeal.

   In Arkansas it was the Department of Finance and Administration announcing that residents will no longer be able to choose an “X” gender marker on state-issued drivers licenses and other government documents. The March 12th policy reversal means that trans, non-binary or intersex people are deprived of the alternative designation that they’ve had since 2010.  If the change gets final approval from an Arkansas General Assembly committee, all previous state documents with the “X” designation will remain valid until their expiration date.  People with those documents will then be forced to choose a male or female marker.

Far-right Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders backed the reversal. In her words, it’s “just common sense … there are only two genders.  As long as I’m Governor, Arkansas state government will not endorse nonsense.” As Trump’s former press secretary, Sanders should be accustomed to endorsing nonsense.

    Finally, students and teachers in Florida can now “Say Some Gay.” The administration of failed Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has settled a lawsuit challenging his cherished “Don’t Say Gay” laws.  Discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity issues are now permissible in public school classrooms, as long as it’s not part of what’s considered to be formal “instruction.”  The settlement also frees students and allies to form Gay-Straight Alliance groups, and allows LGBTQ anti-bullying policies to remain in effect.

Lesbian legal powerhouse Roberta Kaplan represented the plaintiffs in the constitutional challenge to the “Don’t Say Gay” laws. Her victory statement proclaimed, “every kid in this country is entitled to an education at a public school where they feel safe, their dignity is respected, and where their families and parents are welcomed.  This shouldn’t be a controversial thing.”

Kaplan’s other recent conquest was the crushing of Donald Trump in E. Jean Carrol’s defamation lawsuits.

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