This Way Out Music Focus: Steve Sims scans the career of star of songs on screen Jennifer Corday!
Queer youth demand adult action to stop bullying and suicide — now!
Plus: Murphy Brown’s Nik Dodani makes his U.S. late night TV stand-up comedy debut!
Human rights conferees evade a Lebanese security shutdown, Swiss lawmakers vote to make anti-queer bias a crime, Trump cheats foreign mission staffs’ same-gender partners, voter boycott defeats Romanian anti-equality referendum, and more international LGBTQ news!
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of October 8, 2018
Deadly Bullying & Corday Sings!
Program #1,593 distributed 10/08/18
Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Lebanese security forces disrupt an annual regional Arabic-speaking queer conference in Beirut Swiss lawmakers outlaw anti-queer discrimination the Trump administration forces foreign LGBTQ people working at the U.N. headquarters in New York, or at other U.S.-based global organizations and U.S. embassies and consulates, to legally marry their partners to qualify them for visas – even if the worker’s home country persecutes LGBTQ people three conservative Christian pastors in Rumford, Maine – population about 5,000 – try to ban LGBTQ-themed books that are included in a display of banned books at the local public library during the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week and more global LGBTQ news (written by GREG GORDON, produced with BRIAN DESHAZOR, and reported this week by CHRISTOPHER GAAL and MICHELE YEATER) + ROMANIA’s proposed constitutional amendment to define civil marriage as exclusively heterosexual fails because less than 30% of the voters participated, which was required for the referendum results to matter (reported by LUCIA CHAPPELLE).
Feature: Brett Kavanaugh “Beer commercial” (music from A Child’s Garden of Grass) + The revival of the beloved and biting sit-com Murphy Brown has brought a new queer star to U.S. network television. Nik Dodani made his late-night stand-up comedy debut last week on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert as his new sit-com was premiering. He joked about his Indian heritage, and being a gay man (with music from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert performed by JON BATISTE and STAY HUMAN) [2:20] + TWO ID by lesbian fumerist KATE CLINTON, introduced by a snippet of Make ‘em Laugh from the GLEE TV soundtrack).
Feature: Several years ago, a rash of highly publicized queer teen suicides brought tons of media coverage to the issue. Even though the headlines have receded, the horrifying situation continues – the most recent involving a nine-year-old boy — and the queer youth broadcasters of OutCasting Overtime (Dhruv and Lucas, produced by MARC SOPHOS) want to see the problem addressed — now! (with Teen Freak intro music by DAVID BROWN).
Feature: The LGBTQ indie music scene is full of well-kept secrets! Even an aficionado like correspondent STEVE SIMS can discover new surprises, as he does in his latest This Way Out Music Focus, this time starring versatile singer/songwriter Jennifer Corday.
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 October 6th, 2018 Written by Greg Gordon, produced with Brian DeShazor, reported this week by Christopher Gaal and Michele Yeater
Lebanese security forces invaded a regional queer rights conference at a Beirut hotel this week after a conservative Muslim fringe group complained that it was promoting homosexuality and drug use. They demanded the cancellation of the rest of the conference, and the arrest of its organizers, calling the planned four-day event an “incitement to immorality.”
What’s come to be known as NEDWA – the North Eastern Dordogne Women’s Association – is an annual conference that’s been organized by the Arab Foundation for Freedom and Equality – or A.F.E. – since 2013. It attracted more than a hundred activists from the Arabic-speaking Middle East and North Africa region this year to workshops focusing on human rights, and featuring presentations by queer rights leaders.
Security officers temporarily detained A.F.E. Executive Director Georges Azzi, demanding that he sign a pledge to shut down the rest of the conference and cease any further activities related to it. When he refused, security officers told the hotel that they were shutting the conference down. Officers also gathered the names, personal details, and passport copies of all those in attendance, alarming several participants from repressive regimes in countries like Egypt and Iraq, who feared persecution, arrest, or worse when they returned home.
After being counseled by A.F.E. lawyers, and lawyers from one of the country’s leading queer rights advocacy groups, Helem, Azzi signed an agreement with the security forces promising not to organize an LGBTQ meeting at the hotel the next day … but, as attendee OutRight International’s Jessica Stern noted in her personal account of the events, “he said nothing about other days or venues.”
Azzi found another hotel that was willing to take them in, and the rest of the conference was held without incident – although some activists who were shaken by the security forces experience decided to leave before its conclusion.
Lebanese LGBTQ people have been on a rights roller coaster this year. An appeals court ruled in July that the country’s penal code section that punishes sexual acts that “contradict the laws of nature” does not specifically outlaw homosexuality, and acquitted nine people who had been prosecuted for having consensual adult gay sex. But just a month earlier the organizer of Beirut’s annual Pride festival was threatened with arrest on charges of “immorality” if the event went forward, forcing him to cancel everything.
Azzi held a defiant press conference as the dust was settling from this year’s stressful NEDWA gathering. “These kinds of attacks are expected, [and] there is no activism without risks,” he said, “but we need to be more prepared, stay united and help each other to stand up and continue the fight.”
Switzerland’s National Council voted this week to punish homophobic and trans-phobic discrimination with up to three years in prison. The 118-to-60 vote puts anti-queer hate on par with the country’s laws against bias based on race, national origin or religion. The bill, sponsored by Swiss Socialist Party Council member Mathias Reynard, still requires approval by the Council of States, but LGBTQ rights groups cheered the lopsided vote in the lower house.
Marriage equality remains elusive in Switzerland, and Reynard says that’s his next goal. Unlike many of its European neighbors, queer Swiss couples have only been able to enter into less-than-equal civil partnerships since 2007, which deny them tax benefits similar to those given to married heterosexual couples, as well as adoption rights, and access to welfare and fertility services, among other perks.
The Council of States will vote on Reynard’s queer anti-bias proposal in December. Following the National Council vote, the notably heterosexual lawmaker told reporters that, “Homophobia is not an opinion. It’s a crime.”
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights emphatically told representatives of the Chiléan government during a meeting in Boulder, Colorado this week that it must move forward with marriage equality, not only to comply with an agreement signed in 2016 between the country’s leading queer rights group and the government of former President Michelle Bachelet, but also to comply with the January 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling that ordered signatory nations to the American Convention on Human Rights to open civil marriage to same-gender couples.
Representatives of conservative Chiléan President Sebastián Piñera claimed that his government had promoted marriage equality, thereby complying with the settlement agreement. Rolando Jiménez was among several leading queer activists to deride that assertion as “a complete fallacy … They have not lifted a finger in favor of this law,” he said, “and, worse still, their officials have spoken out against equal marriage.”
A Commission representative will moderate a new meeting of the “working group” sometime soon in Chilé, which was established when representatives of the government and queer activists hammered out the marriage equality settlement agreement in 2016.
The Bachelet government’s two-year-old marriage equality bill remains stalled in Congress, where it is now said to have majority support.
Meanwhile, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump continues to reverse LGBTQ advances made during the tenure of Barack Obama. In a statement published on its website this week, the State Department warned that, “Effective immediately, U.S. embassies and consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses.” The new directive also applies to staff at the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
In practical terms, even though the policy ostensibly puts same-gender couples on the same footing as heterosexual couples, U.S.-based queer employees of international organizations and foreign missions who are not legally married to their partners must now do so or face not being able to live together. Foreign Policy magazine counted at least ten partnered queer employees at the New York headquarters of the U.N. alone who will be affected.
Only 25 of the 193 member states of the U.N. have opened civil marriage to same-gender couples. Private consensual adult same-gender sex is against the law in some 70 countries. So a queer staff member from one of those countries working at a global organization or foreign mission in the U.S., or at a U.S. embassy or consulate, must now choose between the person they love, or potential persecution at home for getting married – a dilemma not faced by heterosexual couples.
David Pressman served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Security Council for special political affairs under President Barack Obama. He told NBC News that, “If that’s how you advance equality between same-sex and opposite-sex partners, then we have an enormous problem on our hands.”
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, identified by the well-respected Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-queer hate group, predictably applauded the move. “Thank goodness for the Trump administration,” he said in a blog posting, “which has proven time and time again that its focus is religious freedom and human rights for everyone – not special rights for a select few.”
But finally, three Christian pastors in Rumford, Maine were unable to ban the display of queer-positive books during the local public library’s end-of-September observance of the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week. Their letter to the local library’s Board of Trustees complained that including LGBTQ-themed books in the banned books display “promoted homosexuality.” Rumford is a small town in western Maine with about five thousand residents.
LGBTQ-themed books have dominated the American Library Association’s annual list of the country’s top ten banned books for the past several years. And Tango Makes Three, the children’s book about a real-life male penguin couple at New York’s Central Park Zoo who adopt an abandoned egg to raise as their own, is one of the perennial top 10 entries, as is the lesbian-themed classic The Color Purple.
Library employee Mary Ann Fournier defended the inclusive display during a public meeting of the library trustees. She said the controversy had forced her to come out. “I’ve been coming to this library just about every day since I was five years old,” she said, “and I now work here.” After pointing out that the pastors’ letter didn’t object to the banned books display of Fifty Shades of Grey which contains scenes of heterosexual sadomasochism, Fournier said, “I don’t want to hide. I hid for a long time … and now I’m wondering what my father’s going to think when I go home.
“And now you want me to hide the LGBTQ books that are like Bibles to some of these children,” she said, pointing out that they’re frequently “stolen by some of these LGBTQ teens because they don’t want their parents to know they’re checking them out.” Several dozen people who had crammed into the public meeting because it would be dealing with the pastors’ published pronouncements loudly cheered her remarks.
In the end, the Rumford Public Library Board of Trustees voted unanimously to maintain the queer-inclusive Banned Books Week display.
B U L L E T I N
reported by Lucia Chappelle
This just in: Romania’s referendum to redefine marriage in the Constitution as between one man and one woman has failed due to low voter turnout. Thirty percent of registered voters were needed to make the result valid, but only 20 percent showed up at the polls. LGBTQ and human rights activists campaigning against the constitutional amendment had urged a boycott of the referendum. Their efforts apparently worked. Even though civil marriage is still not open to lesbian and gay couples in Romania, the amendment would have effectively put any future legal recognition of those relationships out of reach.