Today is World AIDS Day and a good time to reflect on many advances, or is it? National Post Journalist, Jonathan Kay presents interesting details about International as well as Canadian homphobic politics in this article, dated November 22, 2010. Apparently “killing someone because they’re gay just isn’t that bad.”
No one expects Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Liberia to start printing gay-marriage licenses any time soon. But would it be too much to ask that these countries at least oppose the targeted murder of homosexuals?
As it does every two years, a committee of the United Nations General Assembly has been fashioning a resolution calling for states to prosecute the extrajudicial killings of people because of their race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, language or other identifying characteristics. In past years, sexual orientation has been part of this list. But thanks to an amendment supported by a group of African and Muslim nations — which passed by a vote of 79-70 — the reference to sexual orientation has been struck from this year’s resolution. The effective message is that killing someone because they’re gay just isn’t that bad.
The list of 70 pro-gay amendment opponents is more or less a who’s-who of enlightened, civilized nations — including, for instance, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Israel, Mexico, South Korea and the United States. Not all of these nations are rich (e.g. Dominican Republic), but almost all of them stand, aspirationally at least, for what we would broadly call Western values (the major exception being Venezuela). Not a single one of them is majority-Muslim. And not a single one of them is African.
The list of 79 anti-gay amendment supporters is very different. There are 2 0r 3 Caribbean outliers in this collection. But otherwise, these nations all are either (a) communist or post-communist autocracies (China, Cuba, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam), (b) Muslim police states (Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc.) and (c) the generally impoverished nations of Africa.
Putting aside the disgust one feels at the manner by which the UN now has become a forum for organizing homophobes (to go along with the body’s day-to-day role of promoting bigotry against Israel), the results are quite interesting.
First, they show that, when studying the nations of the world, a government’s attitude toward homosexuality can more or less be taken as a reliable proxy for the general health of its society. With few exceptions, the list of 70 pro-gay nations all are places where most of us would gladly work and visit, and perhaps even live; while the anti-gay nations tend toward corrupt and rigidly patriarchal police states.
Second, they show that homophobia is not a “natural” form of bigotry, as some social conservatives suggest; but rather, that it survives in the modern age due to one of three very specific influences: totalitarian politics, retrograde religiosity, and grinding poverty.
Third — and you knew I would get to this, didn’t you? — it shows the fantastic ignorance and hypocrisy of such groups as Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which direct their hate at a pro-gay nation such as Israel while ignoring the dozens of Muslim countries where gay-bashing is common and, as these nations now effectively have informed us, officially tolerated. By the same token, Canadian labour groups such as CUPW should tell us why their members must continue to “support” Cuba now that the Castro brothers have voted down a resolution against gay-bashing.
“You can judge a society by how they treat their weakest members,” Gandhi once said. In many parts of the world, that means the gay population. It’s sad that the UN’s assorted dictatorships, Muslim states and banana republics aren’t just flunking Gandhi’s test — they’re actually flaunting their failure at the General Assembly.