As Hilary Clinton said, LGBT rights are human rights. Those rights include (but are not limited to):
- Same-sex marriage, adoption and parenting
- Protection of students and children from homophobic bullying
- Anti-discrimination laws covering all employment, goods and services, public and private
- Equal age of consent
76 countries, far from recognising those rights, ban gay sex. 7 will put you to death for being gay.**
Now Russia, where homosexuality is nominally legal, has embarked on a violent anti-gay rampage. Beatings and murders go unpunished. The law silences and criminalises us. And Russia is rewarded with the Winter Olympics. Watch as a lone gay activist is attacked by Russian former paratroopers.
LGBTI people cannot end their persecution alone. Just as action against slavery, segregation and apartheid was driven by worldwide movements and protests, led by white people in ‘interfering’ countries, so homophobia will be ended by compassionate, moral heterosexuals.
It’s time for the world’s heterosexual majority to mount a global anti-homophobia campaign matching the old campaigns against slavery and apartheid.
Once upon a time, people thought that if you were of a different skin colour to them, you were inferior. That made it OK to bully you, refuse you a home or a job, to buy you and sell you as property. To make fun of you, beat you, kill you.
In America, they fought a Civil War between the people who wanted to keep black people as slaves – domestic animals, in effect – and those who knew you were human beings just like them. The good guys won, at enormous cost in human life, but the losers continued to treat black people as inferior, giving them segregated all-black schools, hospitals . . always much poorer and worse than white ones.
Eventually, segregation was outlawed. As the Supreme Court said, separate but equal is never equal.
In Africa, white colonists did the same thing. Apartheid meant whites held all the power and made sure they got all the good stuff while the blacks were kept in subjection.
South Africa was shamed and shunned and boycotted. Governments and organisations around the world refused to buy from them, or sell to them, to play sports with them. They were shut out. Eventually, apartheid was dismantled, and the black majority took power.
It’s time the international community took on homophobia in the same way. Human rights override national sovereignty: the human rights of people in any country are the business of the people of every country. Interfering in the affairs of another country to end human rights abuses is not a crime: it is a duty.
If the northern US states had not interfered in the affairs of the southern states, white Americans would still be trading black and brown people like cattle.
If the world had not interfered in the affairs of South Africa, the white minority would still be using black people as cheap disposable labour, killing and imprisoning them.
Now there is a new divide in the world, between states that know their gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex citizens are human being just like them, and those that hate us, punish us, fine, flog, imprison and hang us.
It’s time governments around the world mounted a major diplomatic effort, with a mix of carrots and sticks, to end homophobic repression wherever it is found.
They should begin by insisting that all the companies and organisations they do business with, at home and abroad, religious and secular, have effective independently certified non-discrimination and anti-homophobia polices in place.
Bob Carr says LGBTI rights are a core issue for Australian foreign policy. It is time such lip service ended, and people and politicians around the world put their money where their mouths are in support of LGBTI people .
**Countries where it’s illegal to be gay
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, São Tomé and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Gay sex is also illegal in the Cook Islands (a self-governing democracy in free association with New Zealand), the Gaza Strip in Palestine, and Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey.
In Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, and parts of Nigeria and Somalia, the penalty is death.