Friday, November 30, 2012

A Very Dark Cloud ... With Maybe A Silver Lining

 The Russian Duma

While the cause of same-sex and sexual minority rights continues to make exponential gains in the USA in less than 5 years (though after 40 years of blood, sweat, and tears after the Stonewall Riots; and after over 100 years worth of advocacy), in Eastern Europe, much of Africa, and in the Muslim world, dark clouds of repression and worse gather on the horizon.

The Ugandan parliament is set to pass probably the most draconian anti-gay law anywhere outside of the Muslim world (and more draconian than most such legislation inside the Muslim world; possibly only Saudi Arabia and Iran are comparable).  Much of the rest of central Africa has sweeping and very repressive laws criminalizing both homosexual acts and persons.

The Russian Duma or parliament, with the active backing of the Russian Orthodox Church, is about to pass laws federalizing local legislation in Moscow and Saint Petersburg prohibiting any "advocacy" of homosexuality, disturbingly broad and vague pieces of legislation intended to give a figleaf of legitimacy to atavistic brutal acts of persecution, and legal sanction to animal terror of the unknown and different.
The harsh prison sentences handed down to the Pussy Riot girls for their dramatic protest in Redeemer Cathedral in Moscow is a glimpse of what the Russian Establishment has in mind for all who dare to defy or even differ from it.

And yet, these harsh measures make me ask what all these folks are so afraid of.  Gay rights movements in these countries are tiny and broadly unpopular.  Gays and lesbians in Africa and Russia are made to be the focus of centuries of resentment and xenophobia over colonialism and foreign aggression (a resentment eagerly exploited by American religious fanatics with wealthy and powerful backers).  Never mind that these minorities are all native sons and daughters who had nothing ever to do with any foreign occupation. The legal repression unleashed against them seems remarkably disproportionate.  Like the homophobic murderer who almost always stabs or shoots his victim multiple times, far more than is necessary to kill her, these legislative reactions are over-kill designed to appease passionate hatred and deep fear.

And again I ask, what are they afraid of?

Expectation, said de Tocqueville, is the spark of revolution, and expectations among sexual minorities are beginning to rise around the world.  Africa, Russia, and even the Muslim world, all have gay activist presences.  These groups are tiny and deep underground, but that they exist at all is miraculous and a testament to their tenacious hope and courage.


One of many such headlines in Ugandan papers inciting hatred and violence

The funeral of murdered activist David Kato; Anglican bishop Christopher Ssenyojo, one of the very few Christian clergy to publicly oppose African anti-gay laws, presides.   The Ugandan Anglican Church removed Bishop Ssenyojo from his post and death threats force him to spend most of his time abroad.   Ugandan police continue to insist that David Kato's murder was the result of a botched robbery.  Sounds to me like the old time NYPD pistol drop after a police shooting.  David Kato was the most outspoken and fearless of Uganda's gay activists.  His name was at the top of the list of all the "homo menace" special editions of Ugandan papers.  If you believe the word of the Ugandan police, then have I got a bridge for you here in Brooklyn!

A Ugandan gay rights parade; that something like this happens at all is a real act of hope and courage.


Right wing thugs trying to break up a small gay rights demonstration in St. Petersburg.

A small gay rights parade at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg; the sign on the right reads "Homophobia, shame of the nation!"

And in the Muslim world:

Most remarkable of all, there is a gay rights movement in the Muslim world.  It is tiny and deep underground, but it is there, and shows itself at times and in places where it feels safe to do so.

A rally for gay Muslims in London

And I continue to insist that as far as I'm concerned. the only meaningful difference between Christian fundamentalists and Muslim ones is a shave.

Let's face it, the bearded guys who fly planes into buildings and the clean shaven guys who bomb clinics and murder doctors both hate the same thing, Western liberalism and its two worst subversions of the Normal Order of the World As Powerful Men Have Always Known It; feminism and gay rights.

1 comment:

JCF said...

I'm going to need some time to digest this post, Doug, but I want to thank you for doing it.

A meaningful World AIDS Day to all.