Progressives and LGBTQ activists predict calamity with Trump’s second U.S. Supreme Court pick!
Oral arguments against India’s sodomy law sound good, another gay pair is flogged in Aceh despite government assurances to the contrary, Australia’s Uniting Church agrees to unite queer couples, Trump siphons HIV/AIDS funds for immigrant “baby jails,” a pre-teen Illinois lesbian plans her hometown’s first Pride parade, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of July 16, 2018
The Kavanaugh Crisis!
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): India’s highest court hears another challenge to the British colonial-era Penal Code Section 377 that outlaws consensual adult gay sex; two more young men are punished for being caught having consensual gay sex with more than 80 lashes in the public square as the crowd chants “Harder! Harder!”; the leadership of Australia’s Uniting Church, the nation’s third largest Christian denomination, votes to allow its ministers to officiate the weddings of same-gender couples if they want to; a committee in Israel’s parliament makes surrogacy services available to single women, but rejects including same-gender couples in the law reform that now only allows those services for infertile heterosexual married couples; a committee in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives advances a proposal to allow child welfare and adoption agencies to reject same-gender couple applicants based on “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions”; the Slate website reports that the Trump administration is reallocating funds from the government’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS program to pay the increased costs of housing immigrant children who were separated from their parents trying to cross the U.S. southern border illegally; but 12-year-old MOLLY PINTA is using a GoFundMe page to raise the money it will take to stage a first-ever Pride parade in her hometown of Buffalo Grove, Illinois [with a brief introduction by Molly herself] (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, reported this week by MICHAEL LEBEAU and SARAH SWEENEY).
Feature: While the Trump Administration has failed to chalk up many points on the legislative scoreboard, it’s been winning the game when it comes to judicial appointments, especially on the US Supreme Court. Thanks to the senatorial machinations that blocked President Barack Obama from nominating a high court justice during his last year in office, the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy last month has given Trump the chance to pick his second, extremely conservative nominee. LGBTQ activists and progressive leaders are sounding the alarm about the effect of replacing the frequently swing-voting Kennedy with DC Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Our coverage includes comments by SENATORS DIANE FEINSTEIN, CHUCK SHUMER, KAMALA HARRIS and COREY BOOKER; MARA KEISLING of the National Center for Transgender Equality; RACHEL TIVEN of Lambda Legal and DAVID COLE of the ACLU on Democracy Now!; and ANN NORTHROP and ANDY HUMM from their GayUSA TV program (with intro/outro music by ANDRA DAY from Stand Up for Something & Rise Up).
Feature: A TWO-enhanced Rainbow Minute salutes the dancing “swans” of Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo (produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS, read by TOM MILLER).
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 July 14th, 2018 (As broadcast on This Way Out Program #1,581 distributed 07/16/18) Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, and reported this week by Michael LeBeau and Sarah Sweeney
India’s Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments this week in yet another challenge to Penal Code Section 377. The law dates back to 1861, and is a holdover from British colonial rule. It criminalizes consensual adult same-gender sex, along with bestiality, as “against the order of nature,” and punishes those acts with up to life in prison.
Its supporters insist that the law is rarely prosecuted, so the high court case is basically much ado about nothing. But opponents point to the stigma it places on sexual and gender-variant people in the country of 1.3 billion, and say it’s often used by thugs, or even by police officials, to extort closeted individuals. And the National Record Bureau, which only established a database for prosecutions under 377 in 2014, reported that more than 2 thousand cases were filed during 2016 alone under the law.
The Delhi High Court struck down Section 377 in 2009 as a violation of human rights. Prompted by appeals lodged by Hindu, Christian, and Muslim groups, the Supreme Court overruled that decision in 2013, reinstating the law, and saying that only Parliament could repeal it.
But a ruling by the Supreme Court late last year established a constitutional right to privacy, which seems to have precipitated the judges’ reconsideration of that 2013 Section 377 ruling.
The challenge this time also has the support of not only queer and human rights groups, including India’s Naz Foundation, which filed the first challenge to the law, but of very visible celebrity plaintiffs. A well-known hotelier, a famous chef, a respected journalist, an accomplished businesswoman, and a classical dancer each told the court this week how Section 377 made them feel ashamed, and directly challenged their chances of a happy life.
After refusing to declare a position, the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the judges this week that it would defer to “the wisdom of the court” and not intervene on either side.
Equality supporters were encouraged by initial comments by one of the judges, who declared that same-gender sex is a “variation” in nature, not an “aberration.”
An outspoken opponent of repeal, Suresh Kumar Koushal, told the court that the law needed to be maintained “to protect national security.” Indian soldiers, he warned, would have sex with each other on the job if not for “fear of Section 377.”
In other news, despite statements last year by the Indonesian provincial Governor of Aceh Irwandi Yusuf that corporal punishments for violations of Islamic law would not be carried out publicly, two young men were flogged this week in the public square after being caught having consensual gay sex. The governor’s claim to keep such acts behind closed doors followed worldwide revulsion to the published images last year of two young gay men being humiliated and brutally caned in the public square, as the crowd cheered, after being caught engaging in consensual sex.
The two young men this week each received more than 80 lashes as the crowd chanted “Harder! Harder!” Like the couple last year, they were taken into custody by religious vigilantes and turned over to the police.
Agence France Presse reports that they were actually the second gay couple to suffer that punishment this year. It also noted that Aceh Governor Yusuf, who called last year’s global criticism of the canings “Islamophobic,” was himself arrested last week on corruption charges.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim majority nation, but its laws are generally secular. Aceh officials, however, were given permission to rule under strict Islamic law by the national government in 2001 to resolve a provincial demand for independence. Public floggings are common in Aceh for other infractions that include gambling, non-marital sex, and selling or drinking alcohol in public.
Australia’s Uniting Church this week became the first religious body since civil marriage became legal there to allow its ministers to officiate the weddings of lesbian and gay couples.
The Church had defined marriage as a union between “a man and a woman”, but new language approved this week by its governing body, the Assembly, says that, “For Christians, marriage is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life.” Ministers, however, can still choose to perform or opt out of officiating the marriages of same-gender couples.
As with several other faith groups, the Uniting Church has wrestled with the treatment of gays and lesbians for a number of years. The new marriage language followed a three-year study recommending the change that was first approved by the Assembly’s Standing Committee.
The Uniting Church has almost a million members, according to the 2016 census – the third largest Christian denomination Down Under behind Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches.
The Assembly also affirmed the sovereignty this week of the First Peoples of Australia.
A committee in Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, approved a bill this week to extend surrogacy rights to single women. Such services are now only available to infertile married heterosexual couples. However, the committee rejected an amendment by a vote of 8-to-4 that would have also extended surrogacy rights to same-gender couples. Those couples can now hire surrogates in other countries, but it’s a very expensive process fraught with legal obstacles.
Openly gay MP Amir Ohana, who had proposed the queer couple-inclusive amendment, told the Jerusalem Post that he was “just asking for a little humanity.”
Moti Yogev, a right-wing Knesset member, spouted the usual debunked blather about a child needing a mother and a father and asked, “Who gave us permission to bring children into a deficient situation?”
But Itzik Shmuli, the first Israeli lawmaker to come out while in office, complained that, “We are good enough to serve the country, but not to be parents. It’s an insult I cannot describe.”
Members of the Appropriations Committee of the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives approved a proposal this week to allow child welfare and adoption agencies to refuse to consider same-gender couples based on “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” All the Republicans but one voted in favor, while the Democrats were unanimously opposed.
The proposal amended a major funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed what she called “this disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort.”
David Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign wrote that, “Any member of Congress who supports this amendment is clearly stating that it is more important to them to discriminate than it is to find loving homes for children in need.”
A report on the Slate website this week warned that the Department of Health and Human Services is taking money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to pay for the additional costs of detaining people who cross the U.S. southern border illegally. The report says the Health & Human Service Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement will need an extra 25,400 beds just for the children, which would create a budget deficit at the agency of 585 million dollars. Officials say that the agency is already caring for about 11,800 children. They wouldn’t say exactly how much the agency intends to reallocate from the Ryan White program, only confirming that the process has already begun.
While the Trump administration claims that immigration agents are no longer separating children from their parents, eyewitness accounts in a number of detention facilities suggest otherwise. And as we record this newscast it appears that Trump officials will have failed to meet a federal court-ordered deadline to reunite detained children under the age of five with their parents.
According to Poz magazine, Trump’s proposed 2019 budget already cuts millions of dollars from the Ryan White program, along with AIDS housing programs, and HIV/AIDS programs of the Centers for Disease Control.
California Democratic Representative Barbara Lee tweeted that the idea of taking money from the Ryan White program to jail immigrant kids was “unacceptable on so many levels, I don’t know where to start.”
But finally, maybe it’s because we’re getting older, but activism seems to be getting younger and younger these days:
[Molly Pinta :14 sound bite]
Molly wants to bring a first-ever Pride parade to her Illinois hometown, Buffalo Grove. Her mom has created a GoFundMe page to raise the estimated $30,000 it would take to stage the event.
Soon after attending Aurora Pride, Molly came out to members of her middle school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, a group she helped create. According to NBC News, she then reached out to Indivisible Aurora, the grassroots group behind the first Pride Parade in that Chicago suburb. They agreed to back Molly’s idea of bringing an inaugural Pride parade to Buffalo Grove.
Her GoFundMe page says the first Buffalo Grove Pride Parade will be held on June 2nd, 2019.
City officials have quickly jumped on board. They’ve already scheduled meetings for Molly with the Buffalo Grove Police Department to map out a route.