The Road Ahead: How Long, How Long!

After I placed a report this week on the UN accreditation for an LGBT Human Rights Group, I noted in a comment that it is important as we celebrate each landmark (as with gay marriage success), we should also look back and recognise how far we have come.

Sadly, I was reminded this week that we also need to look ahead and consider just how far we still have to go. At one end of the scale, there are still five countries that impose the death penalty for homosexual acts. On the other, not even the most progressive countries have year reached  full equality: there are still only a handful of countries with full protection against all discrimination on grounds of both orientation and gender identity. None of those has a full slate of legal protections.

My interest today was triggered by a report from Canada, concerning the possibly imminent execution of an Iranian man, urging the Canadian government to “intervene”. The difficulty in these countries, which are generally pretty hostile to the West in the first place, is knowing how to intervene without aggravating the situation.  The death penalty also still applies in four other states (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania and Sudan), as well as in some parts of Nigeria and Somalia.

In search of fuller information I went to ILGA (International Lesbian Gay Association), and downloaded their report  on “State Sponsored Homophobia“. This is dated May 2010, so its pretty up to date – but beware. The listing for marriage gives only three countries, omitting Portugal, Iceland Argentina. This a sharp (and encouraging) sign of just how quickly things can sometimes change. Read the rest of this entry »

Queer Rights, In The courts: GOP To The Rescue?

With LGBT issues prominent in an increasing number of court cases, we are accustomed to hearing conservative outcries about “activist” judges “legislating from the bench”. However, an examination by Joshua Greene at the Atlantic of the key judgements holds a surprise: the judges involved are not democratic activists, but conservative judges appointed by GOP presidents and governors. This should not surprise, of course. The issues are not only”civil rights”, but also two deeply important conservative principles. The first has already been highlighted by the recent DOMA judgement, that federal government cannot overrule states’ rights in their areas of competence. The other is parallel to this, at an even more basic level: government has no business interfering in people’s personal lives. What can be more personal than our love lives?

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Lessons From Latin America

Coming as I do from South Africa where I was born and lived for over half a century, I am acutely aware of the White South African tendency to think, speak and write from within a White mental framework, even as they live and work in an overwhelmingly Black country. South Africa though is in some key respects a remarkable microcosm of the world as a whole, and this is one of them: when we in the blogosphere write, many of us do so with a clear mental bias to the USA and Europe, paying scant attention to the remarkable advances elsewhere, notably in Latin America.

Pride Parade, Brazil

How do we explain this paradox of rapid political gains in a region where open intolerance and clear homophobia remain entrenched? What can we learn? Writing in Americas Quarterly (and reprinted at Huffpost, where I came acr0ss it) Javier Corrales has some thoughts on the political processes, which I will get to. First, I want to reflect on the significance to us in the Churches, that he is referring here to Latin America, the home of liberation theology. Read the rest of this entry »