- A History of LGBT Russia – Part I - 13 May, 2014
- The Ugandan Aid Question - 26 February, 2014
- Hatred and Homosexuality – Queer Men in the First World War - 22 February, 2014
My fellow homosexuals,
I come before you today in the spirit of compassion and unity to consider the position of the modern homosexual in the world. Sure, 2013 was a good year for the UK with the same-sex marriage bill receiving royal assent; so too were our American cousins blessed with the overturning of DOMA and the legalisation of same-sex marriage or union in a great number of states. Similar can be said for cousins in France, Brazil and Uruguay, who achieved the right to unify.
However, as is too often the case, as one foot takes a step forwards, the other gets caught in a viscous puddle of homophobia and bigotry. India, Australia, Russia and Nigeria all withdrew LGBT rights in one way or another throughout 2013, with the repercussions of these being felt still now, in early 2014.
Allow me, then, to take you on a whistle-stop round-up of the LGBT news around the world that might not achieve top billing in the newspaper.
The plight of the homosexual in Uganda is, alas, too well known. Whereas other nations might be seen to be taking (perhaps tentative) steps forward with regard LGBT right, Uganda is stuck in reverse. Ugandan newspapers, most notable amongst which being The Rolling Stone, vilify homosexuality and even publicly ‘out’ homosexuals, inviting violence and retribution against people already struggling against the tide of homophobia.
The most recent affront to dignity in the east African country was a law, passed through the Ugandan parliament, that promised life imprisonment for those found ‘guilty’ of what it termed “aggravated homosexuality”. The law, stemming from a bill that had sat in parliament for three years before finally being passed, initially called for the death penalty.
A minor reprieve, however, came this week, when the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, refused to approve the bill. However, before we all leap for the rainbow-coloured Ugandan flag just yet (google it – it would be wonderfully easy to do), Museveni did so because he believed there were better ways to deal with homosexuals than simply by locking them up. He bizarrely claimed that, should the economy get better, then people would simply choose to become straight and cease being gay for what he dubbed ‘mercenary’ reasons.
More bad news, I’m afraid.
The Nigerian president, Goodluck Johnson, recently signed into effect a law which criminalised homosexuality in the country. As a result of this move, one man was forced to undergo twenty lashes as a result of a historic sexual ‘offense’. Mubarak Ibrahim, a 28-year old man from the northern city of Bauchi, was judged under Sharia law however the sad case was still the first such incident since the passage of the law.
Mubarak was spared a sentence of stoning, according to the judge, citing the fact that the act occurred seven years ago and that great remorse was shown. Elsewhere in the country, gay men are voluntarily giving themselves up to the authorities in the hope that a public flogging would remove any traces of homosexuality and render them favourable in the eyes of the law.
And so on to Russia, where Vladimir Putin, the consistently inconsistent president-cum-model, has vowed the safety of homosexual travellers to the winter Olympics, due to start next month. I wish I could say that I was terrifically surprised by Putin’s show of solidarity with the LGBT community, however his promise of safety came with the completely fair and not-at-all pathetic demand for homosexuals to leave (presumably Russian) children alone. The Russian top brass seemed to have hit on the idea that homosexuality is akin to paedophilia a short while ago and are running with it more than the joke writers for The Big Bang Theory.
International pressure against recent Russian anti-LGBT actions has certainly stepped up in recent weeks, with movie stars, politicians and others seeking to condemn the flagrant human rights abuses of the regime; Alas, Putin has taken such concern on with all the sympathy and empathy not uncommonly found in the average flannel.
Here’s hoping February will be better!