A backstage pass to visit the cast of the Hollywood revival of the 1975 cult classic Women Behind Bars!
Plus: The Musical Vision of Michael Tilson Thomas in a Rainbow Minute!
Tanzania’s life-threatening crackdown on gay men exposed, Mumbai activists rally rather than party due to Pride Parade ban, Melbourne’s 25th Midsumma celebrates state funding for Pride Center, Virginia’s LGBT people protected under civil rights laws, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of February 10, 2020
Women Behind Bars!
Program #1,663 distributed 02/10/20
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Human Rights Watch blows the whistle
Feature: The Musical Vision Of Michael Tilson Thomas is celebrated in a Rainbow Minute (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by DAVID RYDER).
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending February 8, 2020 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, and reported this week by Laura Dickinson-Turner and John Dyer V,produced by Brian DeShazor
Tanzania’s treatment of LGBTQ people and its response to the AIDS pandemic are exposed in an alarming report issued by Human Rights Watch this week. The report entitled If We Don’t Get Services We Will Die charges the government of President John Magufuli with actions that threaten the country’s queer citizens and its vital HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts.
According to Neela Ghoshal of Human Rights Watch, “The Tanzanian authorities have orchestrated a systematic attack on the rights of LGBTI people, including their right to health.” The report describes the routine discrimination that LGBTQ people face in government healthcare centers. It points to the forced anal examinations of men suspected of being gay – a medically discredited practice that human rights groups have called “torture.”
Tanzania’s health ministry has banned the sale of lubricants outside of government hospitals as a way to “curb homosexuality.” Several non-governmental drop-in centers offering HIV/AIDS testing and treatment have also been shut down for “promoting homosexuality.”
A veteran Tanzanian queer activist identified by Agence France Presse only as “Tee” said that his country was a relative “paradise” before Magufuli’s election in 2015. LGBTQ people had socialized in a variety of public places without police interference, and even participated in government discussions of relevant subject matter. Tee says, “Now we have to hide ourselves.”
The Human Rights Watch report complained that, “Manufactured threats around the so-called ‘promotion of homosexuality’ have displaced best practices and evidence-based approaches in guiding HIV policy in Tanzania.”
Paul Makonda is the governor of Tanzania’s most-populous city and economic hub, Dar es Salaam. Makonda made headlines two years ago for announcing a special task force to hunt and drive out LGBTQ people to make Dar es Salaam a “non-gay city.” In a somewhat surprising move this week, the U.S. State Department banned Makonda and his immediate family members from entering the country “due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights” – though his particularly anti-queer actions were not specified.
Equality supporters in the Indian city of Mumbai found a way to celebrate LGBTQ Pride despite a last-minute police ban of their scheduled annual Parade. Authorities feared that ongoing street demonstrations against controversial, discriminatory legislation would spill over into the Pride march. The Parade has been held without a problem in Mumbai since 2008.
Thousands rallied instead at the city’s government-designated protest area in Azad Maidan on February 1st. The Express News Service reported that there were more than two dozen speakers and performers from diverse backgrounds. Queer Azaadi Mumbai organizers issued a statement saying that, “we could not cancel the event as we had delegates attending from all over India and the world.” 29-year-old writer Shweta Vaidya told the news outlet, “Now, people finally realize that the Pride March is a protest and not a party.”
Tens of thousands of people braved an early rain and the potentially deadly coronavirus to celebrate Pride for the 25th time in the Australian city of Melbourne on February 2nd.
Outspoken lesbian tennis great Martina Navratilova took a break from the Australian Open to lead the procession down Fitzroy Street. She was joined by Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews, federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and more than 220 groups.
The state government had already committed 15-million-dollars toward the construction of an LGBTIQ Pride Center on Fitzroy Street. When anticipated federal funding did not materialize, Victoria pledged another 10 million dollars to the Center. That announcement put an especially celebratory spring in the steps of the Pride marchers.
Meanwhile, SBS On Demand announced this week that this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade will be streamed live for viewers around the world for the first time. It’s scheduled to kick off on Saturday, February 29th at 7:30 p.m. local time.
LGBTQ people celebrated legislative victories in three U.S. states this week.
Both chambers of Virginia’s legislature approved the Virginia Values Act on February 6th. It adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s civil rights laws banning bias in employment, housing and public accommodations. Democrats won majorities in both the House and Senate in the historic Blue Wave midterms in 2018. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has already expressed his support for the measure. It will make Virginia the first Southern state to protect LGBTQ people under its civil rights laws covering race, gender, religion and other characteristics.
Danica Roem is the first transgender candidate to win election to the state legislature. She tweeted “Change has come. Welcome to Virginia.”
The chair of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee announced this week that a bill to remove protections against gender identity-based bias would not see the light of day. Republican Representative Steven Holt said on February 5th that the bill proposed by nine members of his party to amend the state’s Civil Rights Act “would have had a lot of unintended consequences.” It would have been the first time in history that a protected category was removed from a state civil rights law.
A bill to jail doctors who treat transgender teens is apparently also dead – at least in the Florida state House. It would have punished doctors who prescribe hormone therapy or puberty blockers to transgender teens under 18 with up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Health Quality Subcommittee chair Republican Colleen Burton announced after hearing testimony from both sides that her panel would take no further action on the bill. However, a companion bill is still pending in the state Senate.
The Republican-controlled South Dakota state House approved a similar bill last week that’s now being considered by the state Senate.
Some 200 anti-queer bills have been introduced in dozens of U.S. states so far this year. They only have realistic chances of passage in legislatures controlled by Republicans.
Just in time for Black History Month, California Governor Gavin Newsom has posthumously pardoned gay civil rights trailblazer Bayard Rustin for a 1953 “vagrancy” conviction. In those days, “vagrancy” was one of the charges gay men could face if caught having consensual adult sex. Rustin was caught in the act with two men in a parked car. After spending 50 days in county jail, he was forced to register as a sex offender. He reportedly carried that shame for the rest of his illustrious life.
Bayard Rustin was a member of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle, one of the key architects of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom marked by King’s I Have A Dream speech.
Governor Newsom also announced an executive order this week to set up a way for other queer people jailed on antiquated “morals charges” to have their record cleared. Newsom said, “I thank those who advocated for Bayard Rustin’s pardon, and I want to encourage others in similar situations to seek a pardon to right this egregious wrong.”
California’s law criminalizing private homosexual acts by consenting adults was repealed in 1975.
President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bayard Rustin in 2013.
Finally, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg made history in more ways than one this week.
He arguably won the first test of his Democratic presidential candidacy as an openly gay man in the Iowa Caucuses. The miniscule difference in the final tally of the state’s technologically flawed and convoluted system could also allow Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to claim victory. But Buttigieg’s strong showing in Iowa has prompted a sharp uptick in his popularity for the next battleground state, New Hampshire. That more traditional primary election is on February 11th.
As the dust was still settling in Iowa, Buttigieg responded to host Stephen Colbert on the CBS-TV program The Late Show with another bit of history:
Colbert: You are the first LGBTQ person to win delegates in any presidential contest. What does that mean to you personally and what do you think that means about America?
Buttigieg: Well, what it means to me personally is that, you know, the very same thing that I thought might mean I would never get to serve in uniform or in office turns out to be — talk about God having a sense of humor – it turns out to be part of how I’ve had a chance to make a difference. I didn’t set out to be the gay candidate or the gay president, but also was open about who I am. And here we are. And my hope more broadly is that, you know, I know there’s a lot of people as a lot of young people out there wondering if they fit, feeling like maybe they don’t belong in their communities, maybe even questioning if they belong in their own families. And hopefully this is one significant bit of proof that they belong after all, and they belong in this country.
This just in: voters in Switzerland have passed a referendum outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The measure had been approved by Parliament in 2018, but opponents forced the referendum. It passed by more than 60 percent. It prohibits anti-lesbian and gay hate speech and discrimination in public facilities. We’ll have more details in next week’s NewsWrap.
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