Tuesday, April 04, 2006
by Wayne Besen
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.
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