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This Way Out Radio Episode#1886: NY African Film Fest & MA Marriage Equality Anniversary

Three short films — “Making Men” (Belgium, Zimbabwe), “Papi” (USA) and “Love Taps” (USA) — add a queer perspective as the New York African Film Festival explores the intersection of historical and contemporary people on the continent and among the diaspora, under the theme “Convergence in Time” (John Dyer V reports).

We open the lesbian and gay wedding album 20 years after the first same-gender couples in the U.S. legally march down the aisle in Massachusetts, and see where some of the key players are now.

And in NewsWrap: Peru’s rightwing President Dina Boluarte signs a declaration defining what it calls “transsexualism” and “other gender identity disorders” as mental illnesses, the Tory government circulates a draft document that would bar British public school teachers from discussing “the concept of gender identity,” Liechtenstein’s parliament approves a bill to open marriage to same-gender couples, warnings of potential terrorist violence at upcoming June Pride month celebrations are issued by three U.S. security agencies, plaintiff religious parents in Maryland’s Montgomery County lose another ruling in their bid to keep their children out of classes with LGBTQ-related content, Georgia transgender deputy Anna Lange’s anti-discrimination claim is costing the county Sheriff’s Office many times more than her gender-affirming care would, the Long Island Roller Rebels team up with the New York Civil Liberties Union to defeat Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s executive order to ban transgender girls and women from competing in gender appropriate sports, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by David Hunt and John Dyer V (produced by Brian DeShazor). 

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Complete Program Summary
for the week of May 20, 2024

NY African Film Fest & MA Marriage Equality Anniversary

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): Peru’s government classifies trans, gender fluid and nonbinary people as “mentally ill,” ostensibly to “guarantee full coverage of medical attention for mental health” … echoing the infamous Thatcher-era “no promo homo” Section 28, the British government circulates a draft proposal to ban any classroom discussion of gender identity in public schools … marriage equality reaches the tiny European nation of Liechtenstein; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the State Department all warn LGBTQ people and allies of potential anti-queer terrorist attacks, both domestically and abroad, during June Pride month … the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejects religious parents’ demand in Montgomery County, Maryland to opt out their children from queer-inclusive classroom instruction and discussion … the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Houston County, Georgia Sheriff’s Department violated federal workplace anti-bias laws by refusing to have its employee healthcare plan pay for a deputy’s gender-confirming surgery … a Nassau County, New York judge decides that the county executive had no legal authority to issue an order banning trans girls and women from competing in female sports, siding with the trans-inclusive Roller Derby plaintiff Long Island Roller Rebels (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by DAVID HUNT and JOHN DYER V, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).


Feature: Massachusetts led the U.S. in marriage equality, and the first lesbian and gay couples were wed there on May 17, 2004. We toast their anniversary with some sounds of that historic day reported for This Way Out by CINDY FRIEDMAN and DEAN ELZINGA (with intro/outro music by JANICE LEBER).

Feature: Ninety-one films from 30 countries are currently screening at the 31st Annual New York African Film Festival. The theme “Convergence of Time” explores the intersection of historical and contemporary people of Africa and the diaspora, and their representation in the arts.  This Way Out’s JOHN DYER V saw three of the festival’s queer-themed short films: Making Men, Papi and Love Taps (with audio clips from each film).

Feature: Teases and brief promo for next week’s commemoration of “San Francisco’s Stonewall,” 45 years ago this month.


A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending May 181h, 2024
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by David Hunt and John Dyer V,
produced by Brian DeShazor

    All transgender, gender fluid and non-binary people are “mentally ill” by decree of Peru’s rightwing government.  The so-called “mental illnesses” named in the declaration President Dina Boluarte signed on May 10th are what it calls “transsexualism” and “other gender identity disorders.”

The Health Ministry insists that the decree should not be interpreted as anti-LGBTQ, and claims that the intention was to “guarantee full coverage of medical attention for mental health.”  Its statement issued the following day underscores the fact that conversion therapy will still be against the law.

Human Rights Watch and other global human rights groups are alarmed. To trans activist Miluska Luzquiños of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People the decree and its rationale constitute “an alarming setback in our fight for the human rights of trans people in Peru, and it represents a serious danger to our health and well-being.”

A statement from the Peruvian queer advocacy group Red Peruana said the decree reflected an “outdated” view of gender identity. As OutfestPeru director Jheinser Pacaya tweeted, “100 years after the decriminalization of homosexuality, the [Ministry of Health] has no better idea than to include trans people in the category of mental illnesses. We demand and we will not rest until its repeal.”

    “The concept of gender identity” should not be discussed by British public school teachers in any way – that’s according to a draft document now being circulated by the Tory government.  It also suggests a total ban on all sex education materials or discussion in classrooms before school year 5, when students are typically nine years old.

The draft reminds many community activists of the Thatcher-era’s odious Section 28, which banned the discussion of sexual orientation in public schools. Muzzling classroom discussion of gender identity follows close on the heels of the National Health Service’s recent virtual ban on gender-affirming healthcare for patients under the age of 18.

Speaking for the National Education Union, Daniel Kebede defends the ability of teachers to approach sex education in “an age-appropriate and phase-appropriate way.” To Kebede, the draft guidance is “yet more culture war noise from an ill-informed and out of touch government.” In his words, “The government appears to be seeding doubts that this is not already being done and thought about carefully by school leaders and teachers up and down the land.”

The draft will reportedly undergo a nine-week consultation process before being finalized.

    Marriage equality is coming to Liechtenstein.  Local media sources in the tiny European nation report the parliament’s approval of a bill to open the civil institution to same-gender couples following a second reading.  The May 16th vote was a lopsided 24-to-1.

Registered partnerships for same-gender couples were created in 2011.  The new legislation will make it easy for registered partners to convert them into marriage. Lesbian and gay couples can begin their legal march down the aisle on January 1st, 2025.

Liechtenstein is an Alpine nation nestled between Austria and Switzerland, with a population of less than 40,000. It will become the last German-speaking European country to enact marriage equality.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the U.S. State Department are warning of potential terrorist violence at upcoming June Pride month celebrations. There are no specific threats at this time, but U.S. citizens in LGBTQ and allied communities at home and abroad should be on alert.

A joint statement by the FBI and Homeland Security pointed to a February 2023 English-language ISIS publication that called for attacks on “soft targets,” specifically including LGBTQ events.  There was also an attempt by ISIS sympathizers to attack the LGBTQ Pride Parade in Vienna last June.

June 12th could be a particularly sensitive date. It’s the eighth anniversary of the massacre at the queer Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The FBI and Homeland Security remind us that the gunman had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State, and that pro-ISIS social media posts at the time praised the slaughter.

The U.S. State Department issued its own cautionary message to queer U.S. travellers on May 17th.

All three agencies call on LGBTQ people and allies to always be aware of their surroundings. Any suspicious activity should be reported to the proper authorities. In cases of imminent danger, don’t hesitate to use appropriate emergency phone numbers.

    Plaintiff Muslim, Jewish and Christian parents in Maryland’s Montgomery County lost another ruling in their bid to keep their children out of classes with LGBTQ-related content. Their appeal was rejected by the Richmond, Virginia-based Fourth U.S. Circuit Court.

The county’s public school system specifically “mandates the inclusion of literature with LGBTQ+ characters as part of the English Language and Language Arts curriculum, aiming to promote understanding and acceptance among students.”

The parents argued that the policy “contradict[s] their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage, human sexuality, and gender.”

A lower court decision said that the parents had failed to show how the policy would “indoctrinate their children.” While the parents claimed that the policy interferes with their ability to school their children in their beliefs, the court said it did not “coerce their children to violate or change their religious beliefs.” The Appeals Court agreed.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing the plaintiff parents.  Spokesperson Eric Baxter proclaimed, “We will appeal this ruling.”

    Houston County, Georgia transgender deputy Anna Lange won support for her anti-discrimination claim in the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week, and it’s costing the Sheriff’s Office a pretty penny.

Lange filed suit in 2019 when her departmental health insurance coverage denied her appropriate transition-related health care. A lower court agreed in 2022 that the denial violated federal workplace anti-bias laws.  A three-judge panel of the Atlanta, Georgia-based federal appeals court upheld that assessment on May 13th.  Their ruling cited the Supreme Court’s 2020 Bostock conclusion that federal employment anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTQ workers.

Lange has spent 26-years in law enforcement, 17 of them with Houston County.  She came out as trans in 2017.

Her gender-affirming surgery would have cost $10,000. Houston County has spent more than a million dollars in legal fees to avoid paying for it. Will the County spend even more money to pursue the case? The meter is still running.

    Finally, a roller derby team is skating to the rescue of transgender girls and women banned from competing in girls and women’s sports.

The New York Civil Liberties Union challenged Republican Nassau County, New York Executive Bruce Blakeman’s late February executive order on behalf of the Long Island Roller Rebels.

County Supreme Court Judge Francis Ricigliano decided on May 10th that Blakeman’s sweeping edict was not legally supported. He wrote, “no corresponding legislative enactment [provides] the County Executive with the authority to issue such an order.”

In the NYCLU press release, Roller Rebels spokesperson Curly Fry says, “As a league welcoming trans women and committed to providing a safe space for everyone to be their full selves, County Executive Blakeman’s order tried to punish us just because we believe in inclusion and stand against transphobia. Trans people belong everywhere, including in sports, and they will not be erased.”

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