Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gay Rights and Democracy

Roman copy of Kritios' Tyrannicides

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.


Leonard said...

Don´t forget the faux religious CIRCUS going on right now in UGANDA...the purge is underway and it´s all driven by Archbishop Henri Orombi and the rest of the taboospreading wanna-be frantic´s now at the level of extreme danger for LGBT Christians and´s all at:

¨What Can We do¨

Yes, Doug, what can they do in the face of the Archbishop of Canterburys inability to discern right from wrong...I cover this purge regularly at my blog but more is needed, much more.

Ueber-G said...

Our fight for rights in the US may frustrate us at times, but it could be a lot worse.

The following is from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation

Aggravated homosexuality will be punished by death, according to a new bill tabled in Uganda’s Parliament Wednesday.

A person commits aggravated homosexuality when the victim is a person with disability or below the age of 18, or when the offender is HIV-positive.

The Bill, entitled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, also states that anyone who commits the offence of homosexuality will be liable to life imprisonment.

This was already the case under their current Penal Code Act; however, it gives a broader definition of the offence of homosexuality.

A person charged with the offence will have to undergo a mandatory medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status.

The bill further states that anybody who "attempts to commit the offence" is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

"The same applies to anybody who "aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality" or anybody who keeps a house or room for the purpose of homosexuality.

The bill also proposes stiff sentences for people promoting homosexuality.
This applies to people who produce, publish or distribute pornographic material for purposes of promoting homosexuality, fund or sponsor homosexuality.

Where the offender is a business or Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), its certificate of registration will be cancelled and the director will be liable to seven years in prison.

Failure to disclose the offence within 24 hours of knowledge makes somebody liable to a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.

The provisions, according to the bill, are meant to "protect the traditional family by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex."

They are also meant to prohibit the "promotion or recognition of such sexual relations in public institutions and other places through or with the support of any government entity or NGO."

The bill further aims at protecting children and youth who are "made vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technologies and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption or foster care."

Counterlight said...

As the above comments point out, homophobia flourishes under tyranny (and as John Adams once said, "Democracy is the worst form of tyranny").

Thanks to Leonardo and Ueber-G for bringing these offenses to human dignity to my attention.

June Butler said...

Are thoughts covered under the anti-homosexual laws in Uganda and Zimbabwe? If not, that's a rather serious breach.

JCF said...

Anachronism Watch: I'm not sure it's exactly accurate, Doug, to call these male lovers, Harmodius and Aristogeiton, "gay".

It's very difficult to transpose the modern concept of "sexual orientation" to the ancient world---for good OR ill! [And of course I'm aware of Aristophanes' explanation in Plato's Symposium: an apprehension at best, IMO.]

Counterlight said...

Well, yes, "gay" and "homosexual" are anachronisms for anything before the 1880s, but let's just say that theirs was a same-sex relationship after the conventional manner (pederasty, another anachronism) in ancient Greece.