The secret life of gender-bending jazz giant Billy Tipton — revealed in a Rainbow Minute primer (produced by Judd Proctor and Brian Burns, read by Giz Bowe) and explored in Steve Sims’ latest This Way Out Music Focus!
“Do labels help or hurt us?” is the question posed by OutCasting Overtime queer youth commentator Dante (introduced by “OutCaster” Andrew, produced by Marc Sophos).
Same-gender couples in Japan and Hong Kong challenge marriage inequality, Austria rings in the New Year with lesbian wedding bells, Jamaica’s major queer rights HQ burns down, Pakistan’s first Trans Pride marchers push for progress on legal reforms, Canada coins a 50-year commemoration of sex law repeal, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of January 7, 2019
Tipton’s Jazz & Label Tools!
Program #1,606 distributed 01/07/19
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Attorneys for ten lesbian and gay couples
Feature: “What [Billy] Tipton Did For Jazz” is celebrated in a Rainbow Minute
Feature: Stuck with a label? Looking for one? Consider the pros and cons
OutCasting Overtime (ANDREW and Dante, produced by MARC SOPHOS; with a cameo by gay comic actor Nik
Feature: Can you talk music and avoid politics, or vice versa? Our queer
STEVE SIMS treads the tightrope in
Satisfying your weekly minimum requirement of queer news and culture for more than 30 years!
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the three weeks ending January 5, 2019 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Sarah Sweeney and Michael LeBeau
Lawyers for 10 gay and lesbian couples in Japan announced in late December that they would be filing a lawsuit against the federal government for failing to open civil marriage to them.
Article 24 of Japan’s Constitution says that, “marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes.” Equality activists claim that the emphasis is on “mutual consent” and not on gender. The government argues that the term “husband and wife” in the civil code and family registration laws refers only to heterosexual couples.
The 10 couples, who according to the Kyodo News Service are also seeking financial compensation, will file the lawsuit in district courts throughout the country, including Tokyo and Nagoya, in February. One of the attorneys, Shinya Maezono, told the press that, “We want our call to be widespread so that the freedom to marry will be recognized for everyone.”
Eight municipalities in Japan, including Fukuoka and Osaka, offer limited local benefits to registered same-gender couples. But the conservative government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continues to resist any action at the federal level to legally recognize lesbian and gay couples.
Meanwhile, university students Misato Kawasaki and Mayu Otaki, each in her early 20s, have announced their plan to tie the knot in all 26 countries that have opened civil marriage to same-gender couples. They promise to post pictures of the ceremonies on their blog during their six-month adventure in an effort to convince readers that Japan should become the 27th country.
A 21-year-old gay university student and his 31-year-old activist/partner filed suit this week in Hong Kong’s High Court demanding the right to marry. Attorneys for the couple, identified only as “TF” and “STK,” argue that denying them that right violates equality requirements of both the city’s Bill of Rights and Basic Law.
Same-gender couples have challenged the Chinese city’s laws covering spousal visas and taxation, but this is the first lawsuit to deal directly with full marriage equality. According to the South China Morning Post, two judicial reviews of the case were held last year, but were kept under wraps until the preliminary hearing made the case public on January 3rd.
Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming approved a hearing for the couple. But he said the Court would first hear a related case involving a 29-year-old lesbian seeking a civil partnership with her female partner. He said that case would raise the same basic issues involved in the gay couple’s marriage lawsuit.
Hong Kong’s one and only openly-queer legislator, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, acknowledged concerns that pushing for full marriage rights head-on might be premature and result in an adverse outcome that could delay equality for many more years. But he said that at least some people in the LGBTQ community want to have their rights fought for on any and all levels.
Other active lawsuits in Hong Kong courts involve a gay senior immigration officer who’s seeking civil service spousal benefits for his male partner, and another by a gay couple seeking equal access to public housing.
Two women became the first queer couple to officially get married in Austria a few minutes after midnight on January 1st. Nicole Kopaunik and Daniela Paier walked down the aisle in the southern Austrian city of Velden.
After years of advocacy by determined equality activists, Austria’s Constitutional Court decided in December 2017 that the civil institution should be opened to same-gender couples. But they delayed their ruling from taking affect until January 1st of this year.
Even townspeople and officials got involved in planning the wedding. Velden Mayor Ferdinand Vouk said that, “It was a great pleasure and honor for us that Nicole and Daniela got married here.” The brides are each 37 years old, and were engaged for four years.
Until now, gay and lesbian couples in the heavily Roman Catholic country could only enter into less-than-equal registered partnerships. But Kopaunik and Paier decided to wait until they could legally marry. “Now,” Kopaunik said, “everyone has the chance to decide for themselves if they want a ‘marriage for all’ or if they want a registered partnership.”
The Court allowed the five successful plaintiff couples in the 2017 lawsuit to marry before the ruling came into force.
The Kingston Fire Department is investigating the cause of a fire that virtually burned down the headquarters of J-FLAG, Jamaica’s leading queer rights group, on the evening of December 30th. A statement posted to the group’s Facebook page thanked the first responders, and said they were grateful that no one was hurt in the blaze. “We will be providing an update when further details become available and how we foresee this impacting our programs,” the statement said, “as well as to advise on the kind of support we will require to continue our operations.”
J-FLAG was founded in 1998 in a nation considered by many to be the most homophobic in the world. People who are even perceived to be LGBTQ suffer routine threats, harassment, and violence on the Caribbean island. Jamaican police are often disinterested at best, or complicit at worst.
Pakistan’s first-ever Trans Pride March was held in the city of Lahore on December 29th. Transgender celebrity and activist Kami Sid added “name recognition” to the festivities.
The procession of trans people and their allies kicked off with a press conference featuring leading activists. Transgender murder victims of hate violence were remembered in addition to expressions of support for the trans community. The Daily Pakistan reported that the colorful, peaceful, and celebratory march drew a large crowd of onlookers as it made its way through the streets of the country’s second-largest city.
Lawmakers in Pakistan guaranteed the fundamental rights of trans people in 2018, and made it against the law for businesses and employers to discriminate against them. But Trans Pride marchers protested the government’s refusal to implement those reforms.
British colonial-era laws criminalizing lesbian and gay people, however, remain on the books, and convictions of consensual adult same-gender sex can bring prison terms of up to 10 years. Unlike neighboring and often antagonistic India, there’s no movement in Pakistan to repeal anti-gay sex laws. And sexual and gender minorities in general continue to face harsh societal hostility.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has overturned the decision of a federal judge in the nation’s capital that blocked the implementation of President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in America’s military. The appeals court rejected on January 4th the argument that the ban violates the constitutional equality rights of transgender people, and deferred to the Pentagon to determine how best to run the military.
It was the first legal victory for the Trump trans ban after several defeats. Other federal courts have issued injunctions against implementation of the ban, so there are no immediate consequences of the D.C. appeals court ruling.
Trump announced an across-the-board ban on military service by trans people on Twitter in July 2017. The proposal has since undergone more than one government “study” and various permutations before then-Defense Secretary James Mattis announced details of a trans ban last year. Supporters claim that it allows qualified trans people to serve. But critics point out that they can only serve in the gender they were assigned at birth – a trans variation on the now defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that required lesbian and gay service members to stay in the closet.
The Trump administration has already asked the Supreme Court to take up the issue. According to Reuters, the Justices are scheduled to consider whether or not to hear three separate government appeals of those injunctions during a private conference on January 11th.
Like so many of his other actions, Trump’s proposal attempts to overturn yet another policy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. That administration had welcomed qualified transgender troops, and also provided them with the medical care needed to transition if they so desired.
And finally, in happier government news, the Royal Canadian Mint announced in late December that a new one-dollar coin would be issued in 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the repeal of laws criminalizing private consensual adult same-gender sex.
The Mint said the exact details of the design are being kept secret “to maximize the impact” when the coin is released. Leaks suggest that the coin will feature the word “equality” in both English and French – Canada’s two official languages – and a stylized overlapping of two human faces within a large circle.
The repeal process began in 1967 under then-soon-to-be Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau – father of current P.M. Justin. Parliament approved decriminalization two years later.
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the design of the commemorative coin on December 14th, 2018.
The elder Trudeau proposed the repeal of anti-gay sex laws while serving as Canada’s Justice Minister. “There’s no place for the state,” he said, “in the bedrooms of the nation.”
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