A gay cleric helps LGBTQ Muslims make peace with Islam!
A Day against queer phobias strikes a global chord, undercover Cameroon cops crash the capital’s gay venues, Russia tells the UN that there were no gays in Chechnya to purge, Hong Kong sneaks around its spousal visa rule during its queer exclusion appeal, Trump traps trans inmates in “biological sex” prison cells, and more LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of May 21, 2018
Imam Nur: Trauma Treatment!
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap Summary (full transcript below):
The May 17th annual International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia is marked around the world by a wide variety of events, ranging from rainbow themes in Australia, exhibitions, panel discussions, rallies, street demonstrations including an annual Walk Against Homophobia in Guatemala, and the American Psychological Association using a press briefing to lament some 125 anti-queer bills that were introduced in the U.S. in the last year; but government officials in Uganda, Georgia, Lebanon, and China reject efforts to observe the Day … Cameroon cops brutalize 25 men rounded up in raids on popular gay venues for more than two days before releasing them without charge, while Russia’s Justice Minister denies multiple reports of a purge of sexual minorities in Chechnya, telling members of the United Nations Human Rights Council that his investigation could find no LGBT people in the region … Hong Kong’s Immigration Department quietly begins issuing spousal visas to the married same-gender partners of city residents even as it challenges a court ruling ordering it to do so … the Trump Administration continues its assault on pro-queer advances made by Barack Obama by ordering that all prison inmates be housed based on their “biological sex”, but the Bureau of Prisons can’t define who would be, or wouldn’t be, classified as transgender – let alone explain where intersex prisoners would be incarcerated … Vermont’s Republican Governor signs a landmark bill requiring all single-use public bathrooms in the state – including those in government buildings, shops, and schools – to be gender neutral … and more LGBTQ news from around the world (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by MICHELE YEATER and JOHN DYER V).
Just as it is with Judaism and Christianity, the popular assumption is that ISLAM and the other Abrahamic religions uniformly condemn homosexuality and gender variance. LGBTQ Christians and Jews have made great strides in proving that assumption false, and groups within Islam are beginning to turn the tide in their faith, too. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA-based IMAM NUR WARSAME is the founder of the queer Muslim support group Marhaba, Inc. and a welcoming mosque that he prefers to call a “healing center.” While in SYDNEY for this year’s Mardi Gras, he chatted with “This Way Out” correspondent BARRY McKAY about curing the effects of religious violence in all faiths, and some hopeful developments in the Muslim community (the conclusion of a 2-part conversation, with intro music from “A Secret Life” by BRIAN ENO & DAVID BRYNE).
“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 LGBT communities for the week ending May 19th, 2018
As broadcast on “This Way Out” Program #1,573 distributed 05/21/18
Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, and reported this week by Michele Yeater and John Dyer V
The annual International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia was observed around the world on May 17th with a wide variety of events. This year’s theme was “Alliances for Solidarity.”
Rainbow colors – from flags and balloons to building lights and artwork displays – characterized several observances in Australia.
Exhibitions and panel discussions marked the Day in Bolivia, Brazil, Croatia, Costa Rica, France, Honduras, Serbia, Sri Lanka, and the UK.
Guatemalan activists held their sixth annual Walk Against Homophobia, while similar marches and rallies were held in Cuba, El Salvador and South Africa.
And in their observance of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, the American Psychological Association counted some 125 bills targeting LGBTQ rights that have been introduced within the past year in the United States during a press briefing at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.
Uganda’s ironically named Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo cancelled an International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia observance in Kampala literally minutes before it was scheduled to begin. Security forces ordered people to disperse because the event was illegally “promoting homosexuality.”
Frank Mugisha of the organizing group, Sexual Minorities Uganda, said that, “It’s very unfortunate that this kind of harassment continues to happen; in fact, it is the reason we organize such events.”
Several dozen people demonstrated in the Georgian capital of Tblisi to mark the Day, defying an official government ban. Authorities feared violent clashes between LGBTQ activists and followers of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which had organized rallies for “Family Purity” on the same day.
One queer action involved releasing smoking flares in an array of rainbow colors on a hilltop above the city, while in another, activists held up signs and chanted against homophobia outside the prime minister’s office.
There were minor scuffles throughout the day between churchgoers and queer rights supporters, but no major incidents were reported.
The organizer of an 8-day Pride festival scheduled for May 12th through 20th in Beirut was forced to cancel most of the events – including a commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia – after Lebanese authorities threatened to prosecute him for immorality.
Hadi Damien was arrested at one of the kick-off events – an Arabic language reading of a theatre text about homophobia – and held overnight in an over-crowded cell before agreeing, on the advice of his attorney, to sign a pledge to cancel all remaining Pride events. Prosecutors wanted to charge him with “organizing events considered to be inciting immorality and disturbance of public morals.”
A video posted to China’s popular Twitter-like social media website Weibo shows Beijing security forces assaulting a small group of activists commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia by trying to hand out rainbow badges in the city’s hip arts district. Two women are seen being attacked by police officers, and one is knocked to the ground. Organizers said both women had to be hospitalized. Weibo subsequently removed the video without explanation.
China was also banned this week from continuing to broadcast the globally popular Eurovision Song Contest – a particular queer fan favorite – after officials censored a performance by an entry from Ireland that featured 2 male dancers and rainbow flags.
Twenty-five men were arrested this week during raids on gay venues in Cameroon’s capital city of Yaoundé. Same-gender sex is illegal in the Central African nation, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. In one raid, police officers posing as customers broke down the door of a popular nightspot after staff told them that the place was closed. Seven people, including a waiter, dancer, and security guard, were among the detainees. Eighteen more were arrested at a movie theatre known to be a favorite queer hangout.
Police Commander Parfait Nana told local media that 2 people had been released because they were “witnesses.” “The remaining 23 will be interrogated,” he said, “and conclusions will be reached at the close of the investigations.”
According to some reports, the torturous “interrogation” that continued over a 2-day period included being denied food and water, or worse.
All of the remaining 23 detainees were released soon thereafter without charge or explanation. One of them told reporters that, “Despite threats by the police, we kept our cool. We were brutalized,” he said, “and then we were released.”
Russia’s Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov told representatives from the United Nations Human Rights Council this week that there are no LGBT people in the country’s mostly Muslim region of Chechnya. Therefore, he claimed, there could not have been the alleged “purge” of such people reported in recent months.
A spokesperson for Chechen strongman and Vladimir Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov had already told reporters that, “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”
Konovalov told a working group of the UN’s Human Rights Council that his office had taken the allegations seriously and looked into them. As for gay people in Chechnya, he said, “We weren’t able to find any.”
Those statements fly in the face of numerous reputable media accounts of LGBT Chechens being rounded up, placed in secret detention camps, and tortured until they revealed the names of everyone they knew. Several deaths during detention were reported.
Belgium, Canada, France, and Germany are among the countries that have already granted asylum to fearful sexual minorities fleeing Chechnya.
Russian officials have tried to counter concerns expressed in a number of other countries about the treatment of queer fans attending the FIFA World Cup matches this June in Moscow by saying that they have nothing to fear.
Updating a story we’ve been following for the past several weeks, Hong Kong’s Immigration Department has quietly started to issue spousal visas to the foreign partners of legally wed same-gender couples, just as they automatically do for heterosexual couples. At the same time, the Department is challenging a Court of Appeal ruling ordering it to issue a spousal visa to the British wife of a lesbian who had moved to Hong Kong for work.
A hearing in the city’s Court of Final Appeal is scheduled for June 4th.
According to a report this week in “Pink News”, the Department calls the spousal visas it’s now issuing to the partners of legally wed same-gender couples “out of policy” until the courtroom battles are resolved. The visas grant resident status, a national I.D. card, and access to educational and employment opportunities.
If the Immigration Department wins its appeal, the foreign same-gender spouses of Hong Kong residents will again only be able to get extended tourist visas to stay in the city.
In other news, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to wreak havoc on LGBT rights advances made by the Obama administration. Trump’s latest policy reversal says that “biological sex” should be the main determining factor on where to house transgender prison inmates, presumably forcing vulnerable transgender women to share cells with men.
However, the Bureau of Prisons couldn’t tell “Buzzfeed News” this week how “biological sex” is being defined, nor how officials would, in fact, decide who is transgender and who isn’t. According to the online news site, a representative from the Bureau first said that they would look into the question, but followed up the next day with, “We decline to comment further.” And no one will say if current transgender inmates will be transferred to other prisons because of the new policy. The new policy also fails to address where intersex inmates would be housed.
ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, who’s represented transgender prisoners, said that while determining someone’s biological sex might seem obvious, it is anything but. He pointed out that it could be defined by a person’s birth certificate, chromosomes, anatomy, or other factors.
The new policy also fails to address where intersex inmates would be housed.
In better news for the U.S. trans community, Vermont’s Republican Governor Phil Scott signed a bill into law this week requiring all single-user public bathrooms in the state to be explicitly gender neutral. The landmark measure affects bathrooms in government buildings, shops, schools, and recreational facilities.
In his signing statement, Scott wrote that, “This is especially important for kids in school who face anxiety and bullying over something as simple as using the restroom.”
But a transgender rights bill was killed this week in the Republican-controlled New York state Senate.
And according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lawmakers in 13 states so far this year have considered bills to limit access to public bathrooms in some way.
And finally, from her public heterosexual persona and character on “Sex And The City”, to saying she’s bisexual, Cynthia Nixon has now come full circle as she challenges from the left sitting Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who’s seeking another term. The fledgling candidate floated a new campaign slogan during her recent appearance at the annual Legislative Correspondents Association Dinner in Albany:
[Nixon sound: “Vote for the homo, not for the Cuomo.”]