Thursday, December 12, 2013

Peter Montgomery on Gay Rights Around the Planet: Whiplash-Producing Developments

For those trying to follow the rapid (and whiplash-producing) developments in the field of LGBTI rights at a global level, Peter Montgomery offers a great succinct summary at Religion Dispatches today. As he notes, "If there were still any doubts that the struggle for and against the human rights of LGBT people has gone global, events this month would have erased them."

Nelson Mandela's role in prodding South Africa to include sexual orientation in its constitution has come to the world's attention as Mandela and his legacy are now being celebrated worldwide. President Obama mentioned gay rights in his own commemoration of Mandela.

And then there's Russia, where things go from bad to worse for gay people. And Croatia. And India, where the nation's supreme court just re-criminalized homosexuality and effectively reinstated a colonial-era law outlawing homosexuality. And Jamaica, Uganda, and Peru, where American right-wing Christians are currently trying to fan the flames of hatred of gay people.

Immediately after Montgomery published his article, the Australian high court struck down a law permitting same-sex couples to marry in the Australian Capital Territory--another setback for gay rights at the global level. The decision puts the ball into parliament's court by ruling that parliament has the authority to legalize same-sex marriage at the national level.

I predict we'll see more of this back-forth kind of activity at a global level in the year to come. As 2013 began, I predicted that the American religious right would ramp up its attempts to stir anti-gay sentiment in targeted societies around the world in 2013. And it appears I was correct in foreseeing this development. 

This is all the U.S. religious right has left, in some ways, when it comes to the battle against gay people and gay rights in the Western nations of the globe. That battle has been effectively lost in the U.S., and if the religious right hopes to continue it (and to continue to generate revenues from the battle), it has no choice except to export American-style homophobia overseas--to connect American-style homophobia to the many pockets of homophobia that continue to be found in cultures around the world--especially in the developing nations of the world.

The hope of the religious right is that if it can generate enough backlash, raise enough hell, in those parts of the world by demonizing and spreading lies about gay men and women, it can create global backlash sufficient to pressure gay-tolerant, gay-inclusive societies in the developed part of the planet to revoke laws affording rights to LGBTI people. 

This is an uphill battle, however, when there's the legacy of people like Nelson Mandela to remember. And when living prophets like Desmond Tutu continue to speak out and push back against the homophobia of African cultures, as the religious right seeks to manipulate homophobia in the continent of Africa in order to score points against those supporting gay rights in the developed sectors of the world. 

We are going to see much more of this global turmoil in the coming year. I think we'd best strap ourselves in for the ride in 2014: it promises to be fast and bumpy, with whiplash as a distinct possibility, as the question of gay rights becomes an openly debated question in one society around the world.

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