Toujoursdan posted on this article as an indication of the global spread of gay and lesbian rights campaigns around the world and deep into the developing world, and even making inroads into the Islamic world. Expectations are being created among sexual minorities around the world who long thought they had nothing to expect.
The article notes that none of the most visible and vocal opponents of gay rights are friends of democracy, religious or secular. The champions against the Gay Menace include such Sons of Liberty as Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the governments of North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and any number of terrorist groups in Iraq that target and murder gays. The religious opposition comes from very authoritarian institutions where individual discernment and conscience count for very little. It is all from "pray, pay, and obey" institutions, or groups that aspire to such status. People who claim to object to rights for gays and lesbians on "moral" or "conscientious" grounds should look around at the company they are keeping.
Perhaps gays and lesbians are the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to the health of democratic societies. The healthiest democracies, including South Africa, have legal provisions protecting their sexual minorities, usually the least popular and most despised of all minorities in any country. If gays and lesbians enjoy a certain amount of legal security and respect, then everyone else can be certain of their own legal and social enfranchisement.
It is likely that gay men played a role in the creation of the first state in the world that could be called democratic, even though it was far from being a perfect democracy by our standards. Athens had a large slave class and was deeply sexist (women were just a step above the slaves).
Standing in the Athenian Agora was a bronze statue group by the sculptor Kritios of a pair of male lovers, Harmodius and Aristogeiton, the "Tyrannicides," who murdered Hipparchus, the last Pesistratid tyrant of Athens, and opened the way for the creation of the Athenian democracy. That sculpture is known from a number of copies, though the original was long ago destroyed. It was made to replace an earlier sculpture of the two lovers by Antenor that was destroyed in the Persian invasion. Perhaps the Tree of Liberty was first watered by the blood of a tyrant shed by a pair of male lovers.
Vase painting of Harmodius and Aristogeiton assassinating Hipparchus.