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LGBTQ Remains Criminal In Singapore

Disappointing news out of Singapore that the High Court has dismissed three different cases challenging the constitutionality of section 377A of the country's Penal Code which criminalizes LGBTQ relationships. Section 377A of the Penal Code is a relic of British Colonial rule & prescribes imprisonment of up to 2 years. All three challenges were dismissed today by Justice See Kee Oon who highlighted that section 377A does not violate the constitution & “continues to serve its purpose of safeguarding public morality by showing societal moral disapproval of male homosexual acts ”. Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International stated, “It is incredibly disappointing to see the High Court of Singapore uphold this colonial-era law. Even while lying dormant, such laws send a strong message - that gay & bisexual men are not only second class citizens, but also criminals, purely for who they love. Today that message was amplified, legitimizing societal hate, discrimination & exclusion of LGBTIQ people in Singapore.” Lawyer Remy Choo, a former participant of OutRight Action International's annual Advocacy Week, who represented plaintiff Bryan Choong, concluded, “Victory isn’t ours today, but I’m confident that one day it will be. One of my favorite quotes, from a book from my childhood - Winnie the Pooh -, is 'Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday'. For now, we press on.” 68 countries around the world including Singapore continue to criminalize same-gender relations. The plaintiffs & their lawyers will be exploring options for appeal. OutRight Action International works at a global, regional & national level to eradicate the persecution, inequality & violence LGBTQ people face around the world & has recognized consultative status at the United Nations.
For More Info: outrightinternational.org
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Reverend Joseph E. Lowery Dies

In the midst of COVID-19 word that Reverend Joseph E. Lowery, founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference & the Georgia People’s Agenda died at 98 in Atlanta, Georgia. Immediately gay icon Bayard Rustin came into mind who was an influential adviser behind the scenes to civil-rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. & Reverend Lowery. Vanita Gupta, President & CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights stated, “The civil & human rights community has lost a giant. In the fight for civil rights, Rev. Lowery did not leave the battlefield. He never retired his fiery oratory, his rapier wit, or his outsized love for all people. Until the end, he deployed them in service to equality for all. It was the truth. And he was going to tell it. He was an unapologetic advocate who did not stand on ceremony & never allowed the presence of the powerful stop him from dispensing bitter truths. Even as our own movement shied away from full-throated advocacy for LGBTQ rights, Rev. Lowery was out front pushing for everyone’s rights and humanity. It was the truth. And he was going to tell it. As we celebrate Rev. Lowery’s life, we are reminded of our obligation to speak the unvarnished truth: to those in power, within our own movement & on behalf of those left behind. It is our truth & now we need to tell it. He was known for saying ‘There’s good crazy & there’s bad crazy & sometimes you need a little bit of that good crazy to make the world a better place.’ We will miss his ‘good crazy’ in a world so dominated by ‘bad crazy.’ Our thoughts & prayers are with his family & all those who have benefited from his dedication to justice.” Walter Naegle Talks About Bayard Rustin. LISTEN
LISTEN: Sarah F. Pearlman Talks Must-Read Lesbian Novella
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Census Counting For LGBTQ People

The National LGBTQ Task Force, a Census Counts campaign partner organization is celebrating Census Day by mobilizing LGBTQ people across the country to get counted in the 2020 Census. Beginning March 30th The Task Force will host a series of educational webinars where people can find answers to their questions & work with volunteers to make thousands of phone calls to LGBTQ people to make sure they know how to fill out the Census. Meghan Maury, Policy Director, National LGBTQ Task Force stated, “The Census helps LGBTQ communities access billions in federal funding for social programs, helps us build political power & helps us enforce civil rights protections. While the Census doesn’t ask questions about sexual orientation or gender identity, it’s still vital for us to be counted. Filling out the Census is a critical component in building our collective power to fight for our rights – including the right to be fully represented in the Census count. Like other marginalized communities, LGBTQ people have historically been undercounted on the Census. The ‘Queer the Census’ campaign is working to change that, so that our community can access the things it needs most - dollars, democracy & justice.” The Task Force along with partnering orgs including PFLAG, NQAPIA, the National Black Justice Coalition & the Movement Advancement Project are organizing to ensure communities the census has historically missed have the information & resources they need to get counted so they don’t miss out on critical community resources & political power. For nearly 50 years, the National LGBTQ Task Force has organized digitally & directly on-the-ground & the Census has been a focus of our advocacy since 1990.
For More Info: thetaskforce.org
LISTEN: Sarah F. Pearlman Talks Must-Read Lesbian Novella
Hear Audio Chats w/ LGBTQ Leaders @OUTTAKE VOICES™

LGBTQ COVID-19 Health Update

Fenway Health in Boston has released a policy brief outlining the ways in which our LGBTQ community & people living with HIV are likely to be affected by COVID-19 & the factors that may put them at elevated risk for infection. Sean Cahill, Director of Health Policy Research at The Fenway Institute stated, “Everyone is at risk of infection in this pandemic. But history shows that people who are marginalized & consequently experience disparities in health will suffer disproportionately greater harms than the general population. Because of higher rates of chronic disease & risk factors like smoking & vaping, LGBTQIA+ people & people living with HIV should strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines & take care of their health as best they can right now.” LGBTQ older adults also experience higher rates of social isolation than straight & cisgender age peers. Cahill added, “A real concern for LGBTQIA+ people during this pandemic is that we know that they avoid seeking needed health care due to previous experiences of discrimination in health care settings or the fear of experiencing discrimination. We’ve also seen new policies enacted at the federal level & in some states that make it easier for health care providers to refuse treatment based on religious or moral beliefs. Discrimination in health care is never acceptable. During an unprecedented global health emergency, this is especially true.” Remember that people with chronic health conditions, including HIV/AIDS may be at elevated risk of serious complications from COVID-19. So make sure you stick to your health condition treatments regimen by taking your medications daily & engaging in other activities to remain healthy such as eating well & exercising.
For More Info: fenwayhealth.org
LISTEN: Sarah F. Pearlman Talks Must-Read Lesbian Novella
Hear Audio Chats w/ LGBTQ Leaders @OUTTAKE VOICES™

Reactions To Terrence McNally Death

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic Terrence McNally trailblazing American playwright & four-time Tony Award winner died Tuesday March 24th from complications of the coronavirus in Florida. He was 81. McNally was among the first on Broadway to explore LGBTQ themes including AIDS & LGBTQ civil rights. His best-known works include the plays "Frankie & Johnny”, "Love! Valor! Compassion!” & musicals “Kiss of the Spider Woman” & “Ragtime." A number of LGBTQ activists & Broadway community respond. Cleve Jones stated, “So sad to learn that Terrence McNally has died. Terrible loss.” David Mixner stated, “Terrence McNally he made the world more beautiful, civilized, intelligent & gentle. honored to have known you.” Ann Hampton Callaway stated, “Very sad to see him go from this dreaded virus. What a great talent. RIP.” Betty Buckley stated, “So very sorry to learn that the great Terrence McNally has passed away. Deepest condolences & love to his wonderful husband Tom Kirdahy.” Audra McDonald stated, “My dear sweet brilliant kind Terrence. The world is not nearly as sweet of a place without you in it. My heart is breaking yet again.” Paula Vogel stated, “Covid. You f**ker. Just learned that it took Terrence McNally who has always been the soul of kindness. Well Covid you are a little f because McNally’s plays will outlast you. Thanks Terrence for all you’ve given us. Peace.” George Takei concluded, “Terrence McNally was a legend among legends on Broadway. If you are an actor, there's a good chance you have performed one of his works. If not, you surely will in your career, he was that prolific & gifted. Ah, my heart breaks at the news!” McNally is survived by his husband Tom Kirdahy.
LISTEN: Sarah F. Pearlman Talks Must-Read Lesbian Novella
Hear Audio Chats w/ LGBTQ Leaders @OUTTAKE VOICES™

Human Rights In Fighting COVID-19

With Trump declaring a National Emergency it appears that the network evening news has been replaced with his bully pulpit. As you know in times of government control human rights are often trampled especially for those who are most at risk like our LGBTQ community. Thankfully the UN human rights treaty bodies have issued a joint statement calling for a human rights-based approach to fighting COVID-19. Hilary Gbedemah, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women stated, “No one should be denied health care because of stigma, or because they belong to a group that might be marginalized. States need to provide targeted support – including financial, social & fiscal - to those particularly affected, such as those without health insurance or social security. States must take active steps to ensure a sense of solidarity prevails, including through protection against racism & xenophobia or the growth of unbridled nationalism. These controls must be undertaken pursuant to a valid legal framework. In countries that declare a state of emergency, such a declaration must be exceptional & temporary, strictly necessary & justified due to a threat to the life of the nation. A state of emergency, or any other security measures, should be guided by human rights principles & should not, in any circumstances, be an excuse to quash dissent.” The UN human rights treaty bodies are the UN Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee Against Torture & its Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances & the Committee on Migrant Workers.
For More Info: un.org
LISTEN: Sarah F. Pearlman Talks Must-Read Lesbian Novella
Hear Audio Chats w/ LGBTQ Leaders @OUTTAKE VOICES™

Provincetown Film Festival Cancelled

 So many postponements & cancellations as we brace for the next level of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. First Wicked Queer Boston’s LGBTQ Film Festival was postponed to a later date in 2020 & now the Provincetown International Film Festival has decided not to produce this year’s festival originally scheduled for June 17th to the 21st. Rachael Brister, CEO of PFS & PIFF Executive Director stated, “While this decision was a very difficult one for the Provincetown Film Society’s staff & Board of Directors, we know it was the right one. The health & safety of our local town & the supportive community of filmmakers, film industry professionals & audiences that travel to Provincetown each year for the film festival is our chief priority. We hope to present programming in 2020 that not only moves our mission forward but will also galvanize our community at a time when the need to come together (virtually or otherwise) is vital.” Also in Provincetown the Waters Edge Cinema temporarily closed as well due to COVID-19. I’m sure all the other regularly scheduled New England film events will follow & cancel or postpone their summer festivals with growing concerns over the global coronavirus pandemic. Everyone needs to take similar precautions to protect the health & safety of their patrons, guests & staff. Entertainment as we know it is going to have to reinvent itself transforming from live to online as social distancing becomes the new norm from this time on. Note: The Provincetown International Film Festival will be providing updates including information regarding reimbursements for passes already sold.
For More PIFF Info: provincetownfilm.org
LISTEN: Sarah F. Pearlman Talks Must-Read Lesbian Novella
Hear Audio Chats w/ LGBTQ Leaders @OUTTAKE VOICES™

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LGBTQ Remains Criminal In Singapore

Disappointing news out of Singapore that the High Court has dismissed three different cases challenging the constitutionality of section...

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