Monday, August 15, 2005
by Wayne Besen
In 2004, a group of gay activists took over Cato Island
, a small sand bar in the Coral Sea off the northeast coast of Australia. They planted a rainbow flag on the beach and declared it the world's first gay kingdom in protest of anti-gay legislation in Australia. When I originally read this news story I got a good laugh while I drank my morning coffee.
After a recent spasm of anti-gay violence in several countries, I'm no longer chuckling. The merits of founding a nation where persecuted homosexuals
can escape rampant abuse is worth exploring.
Opponents would argue that such an effort would hamper fighting for equality at home. I don't believe it would harm the cause anymore than the founding of Israel hurt fighting Anti-Semitism across the globe. This would not be a political act of separatism, but a realistic measure to offer personal sanctuary and give homosexuals in grave risk a place where they can escape tyrannical regimes.
The world is growing smaller and the Internet is now providing us barbaric images of state sanctioned anti-gay murder. For example, on July 19, Iran hanged
two teenage boys in the city of Mashad who were reported to have been boyfriends. Before their executions, they spent 14 months in prison and each received 228 lashes. The Iranian government originally said that the boys were being executed for raping a 13-year-old boy, but evidence is emerging that this is likely a fabrication to blunt international condemnation of the executions.
In Nigeria, a 50-year-old man from the northern state of Kano was sentenced to be stoned to death
by an Islamic Sharia court after acknowledging he had consensual homosexual sex. Led by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., twenty-two House Democrats signed a letter
to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo that stated, "the specific circumstances of this conviction are highly problematic" and the death penalty for any individual for private, adult, consensual sexual activity is "grossly inhumane" and "below the standards that any civilized society should uphold."
On July 23, Latvia's first gay pride event descended into violent chaos
when 1,000 hateful protesters hurled insults and debris at 150 parade participants. According to Rex Wockner's International News, the rabid mob blocked the streets and forced the event to be rerouted while chanting, "No sodomy" and "Gays f**k the nation." Police were forced to circle the participants and form a human shield to protect them.New York Blade
editor Steve Weinstein recently wrote of a trip to Africa
where he had a conversation with a closeted gay Kenyan. When asked what people would do if they found out he was gay, the Kenyan tearfully replied, "They would curse me...They would harm me. People don't like us here."
Right now, there are nations where gay people are hunted down like wild animals and nine countries still execute gays for the "crime" of homosexuality. It is not quite genocide, because many gay people are able to hide like scared rats. However, when gay people are unearthed they are systematically imprisoned, tortured or killed.
While some enlightened countries will marginally take up our cause, I think it is clear that the only group that is going to save the lives of homosexuals is the gay community. If you think I'm wrong, ask yourself why every member in Congress did not sign Rep. Frank's letter to stop the execution of the Nigerian. Do we really think that Stone Age Republicans are going to stop the stoning? And where are the rest of the Democrats?
The truth is that we will continue to see homosexuals abused
in the twisted name of religion, culture and custom unless gay people act decisively to stop the violence. Sure, creating a gay state is a pipe dream, but so was relocating Jewish Poles, Germans and Russians who were victims of pogroms and the Holocaust to a Middle Eastern desert.
Perhaps the Netherlands would be sympathetic and give the gay community an island they control, such as Saint Eustatius
in the Leeward Islands. It is at the northern tip of South America, so it would bring in gay tourism dollars. The island is 8 sq. miles, which isn't much, but consider Manhattan is only 23.7 square miles and is one of the world's great economic engines. The gay community, with help from generous supporters worldwide, could make this safe haven one of the most productive, proud and prosperous nations on earth.
It would be great if we did not have to discuss this radical option, but literally millions of gay people risk their lives each day simply by existing. It is time we consider creating an international refuge and sanctuary where we no longer have to depend on the often-stingy "generosity" of others. Each day we wait, more gay people die
. No other minority would allow their brethren to be gratuitously killed and neither should the GLBT Community. Instead of burying our heads in the sand, maybe it is time we follow the lead of Australian activists and plant a rainbow flag on the beach.
When I read the first paragraph of your article, I thought you were kidding. I see you are not. I also think this idea is worth exploring. The recent public executions in Iran tore at my heart and fanned the fires of my outrage. We cannot allow this to happen to our "family" members without *some* sort of unified response.
We are living on a shrinking globe. I consider myself a member of the world community. It is something that keeps me going at times. You see, I live in East Tennessee. Although conditions here are nothing like the conditions experienced by our sisters and brothers in the Arab states and African nations, I can say that we are on the front lines of a culture war here in my native home.
I applaud this idea and hope that somehow it can become a material reality.
Feel free to call on me at any time if I can do something to facilitate this.
posted by Venus View, at
posted by Venus View, at
A gay state would make much more sense: why not pick one, and SHOW America the power of the rainbow? Start an organized, collective move to that state. Take up jobs, take over small businesses: set a ten year time span as a goal. Let people know that gays have just as much moxie and determination and political savvy and smarts as any right-wing fundie ever displayed. Why not North Carolina? Yes, it's my home state: it is also the center of a LOT of homophobic controversy. But my MAIN reason for wanting this lovely state to become the Rainbow state is because Jesse Helms represented this state for many years: and I'd love to be able to erase that blotch of shame from my home-state's reputation. We have mountains, we have beaches, we have all kinds of terrain, we have lots of varied industries that could be worked into, both public and private.And a span of industries from Biltmore House to Furniture design and production to Textiles to digital cable production...and pretty much anything and everything in between. Plus tourism. It seems as though Dubya has decided to offer up a large percentage of our young men and women in our military as sacrifices to the gods of petroleum and profit, so why don't we work together to create a safe haven of peace and sanctuary for those who have been traumatized and brutalized by hate and ignorance. One step at a time: one day at a time: one county / one small town / one city at a time. It CAN be done.
posted by Miki Mays, at
Hi Wayne, Another great idea but one we could use after exhuasting all other avenues. After all most of us had straight parents, and many of them have come around. I think in time, and with effort, we can reach many people. It could be easier creating a ghetto but I think it would be so much better if people didn't even consider sex orientation and accepted people being people. After all who ever thought we would have our own GLBT television network, ie: LOGO
posted by , at
This is something about which I've thought from time to time over the years - never seriously - but thought about, none-the-less.
Perhaps the time has come to go from daydreams to reality. I'd be happy to open my medical practice there.
posted by House, at
If you think leaving your family and national identity is worth it, go right ahead, Wayne. The idea is kooky, in my opinion. For one thing, Israel was founded by a group sharing a common cultural heritage. I don't see the fact that "you like men and so do I" provides adequate foundation for creating a country.
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