For the gay community, foreign affairs used to mean an exotic one-night stand with a hottie from a foreign land? Today, however, gay and lesbian people are increasingly subjected to horrifying images of their brothers and sisters getting maimed and murdered overseas. Sure, we always knew such abuses occurred, but we weren't actually confronted with them. However, as the world shrinks, it is harder to get lost in our myopia, while the anti-gay dystopia is beamed into our daily lives.
Technology is the impetus behind this new reality and it offers us perverse irony: The more advanced we become, the more we are exposed to the barbarism of the backwards. With the click of a mouse, we can now see grisly and gruesome images of people guilty of nothing more than being gay.
By far, the most unnerving aspect is that these helpless victims look like our partners and friends. It is easy to see ourselves hanging from the noose in Iran, beheaded in Saudi Arabia or caged like an animal after a bar raid in Egypt. With the warp-speed of the Internet, the "other" becomes us in real time.
Like all hate crimes, the damage extends far beyond the actual victims. Informed and aware gay people worldwide carry psychological scars from these international human rights abuses, whether they realize it or not. First, comes profound sadness for the victims and the twinge of guilt for being born in the "right" country. Second, there is the frustration and outrage that there is little we can do as individuals to help. Third, comes helplessness and despondency when our government remains silent in the face of anti-gay pogroms. The message sent is unmistakably clear: The lives of gay people are worth less than the lives of others.
Consider that the State Department did absolutely nothing after Shiite Iraqi leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa calling for the brutal execution of homosexuals. The "moderate" leader said that homosexuals should be, "Punished, in fact killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing."
Awareness of such atrocities can also cause disillusionment, withdrawal and isolation from the national debate on foreign policy. For example, part of the ever revolving and evolving case made by Bush for spending up to one trillion dollars to oust Saddam Hussein was that he was an evil tyrant who killed his own people. But if you are gay, the Grand Ayatollah is also a tyrant that is killing his own people. Forgive me if I'm having trouble distinguishing between the sadism of Saddam and al-Sistani. (Women's rights are also in jeopardy as fundamentalist Shiites push for Sharia, or Islamic law).
In Afghanistan, a nation where a person can be killed for switching religions, what do you think the chances are of a gay bar opening up in Kabul anytime soon? How can a gay taxpayer or soldier celebrate such empty "liberation" and "democracy"?
Unspeakable cruelty is not limited to the usual suspects though, as it encompasses a virtual intercontinental array of abusive nations. In Moscow, Mayor Yuri Lukzhov is trying to ban Gay Pride, scheduled for May 27. It is unclear if the police will be ordered to beat and imprison those who defy his fascist order to prohibit GLBT people from peacefully assembling. Similar Gay Pride controversies took place last year in Poland and Latvia.
In Nigeria, there is a proposed bill that would introduce criminal penalties for relationships and marriage ceremonies between persons of the same sex as well as for public advocacy or associations supporting gay rights. If this law passes, Nigeria will cease being a free country in any way, shape or form.
In Nepal, Human Rights Watch reports that a "sexual cleansing" drive is underway in Kathmandu with mass arrests being made of gay and transgender people.
In Peru, the nation's leading presidential candidate, Ollanta Humala, is having trouble explaining why his family says they plan to have a popular bisexual talk show host shot for immorality if their son wins his election on Sunday.
Sadly, in January the United States backed an Iranian initiative to deny United Nations consultative status to organizations working to protect the rights of gay people. But as the world shrinks, it will be increasingly difficult for free nations to shrink from their responsibility to uphold a basic standard of human rights.
The "gay exception" to the rule of law has to end, and offending nations must be severely penalized for their atrocities. We can no longer allow these countries to hide behind the transparent veil of religion or culture. The civilized world has to stand up and call this often-psychotic behavior for what it truly is: Cold blooded, state sanctioned murder.
The short respite did you a world of good! You came back swinging! This column is fantastic.
I am still steaming about Sistani's fatwa and the fact this administration continues to ignore it and I'll never forget our duplicitious vote at the UN.
FYI, some people don't like to be exoticized by privileged white guys - as the fierce women at EMF would say - EXOTICIZE MY FIST!. (http://www.exoticizemyfist.com)
It's nice to know in your world foreigners are good for one night stands ... (again, ouch!)
In the meantime, I have to say I find it a little offensive that you think we are just 'Waking Up' to working on International Issues - some of us have been working on International Issues for y-e-a-r-s.
In fact, I believe I invited you to a DC fundraiser for Entre Amigos - an LGBT civil rights groups in El Salvador - that was seven years ago when you were working at HRC, and HRC refused to make public statements about Human Rights abuses in other countries ....
This reminds me of when Jewish leaders in the US begged FDR to bomb the railroads which led to the death camps. Of course he did nothing. The level of human consciousness is still barely above sea-level and the bush administration's bloodthirsty, homophobic mentality is still on the ocean floor; right next to Iran. B. Queer
posted by Anonymous, at
4/05/2006 9:28 AM
David - how do you know the foreigners I was referring to were not other priveleged white guys - say from England, Sweden or Germany? If I had only known you were a mindreader, I might have gone to your event that I can't seem to remember.
And - yeah - I like to EXOTICIZE - and I'm damn pround of it. Personally, I find the English accent quite hot. No apologies here.
Also, thanks for informing me that you are decades ahead of your time on this issue. You must be proud of yourself. And by the continued death and torture, I can tell you've done a great job!
This is what happens when a President and elected officials of the United States are motivated and controlled by their Religious convictions forgetting "Separation of Church and State" and also not realizing there is a Religious Freedom of Choice. That is why I am furious with the likes of Kerry, Roberts, Dean, and any and all other Democrats and GOP elected officials who keep the Gay community down because of their religious beliefs and not even realizing, or pretending not to realize, we are fighting for our Civil Rights as Citizens and taxpayers of the United States. So far only one Senator in the White House has been brave enough to Stand UP, come out in favor of us! AND for BUSH to allow this to take place is an attrocity! He's suppose to be a defender of, at least, ALL Americans and a leader for Democracy (well so much for that!!)
posted by Dominick, at
4/05/2006 9:15 PM
Wayne, you should check your "gruesome images" link again, and read the article it came from.
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posted by Anonymous, at
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