World Bifurcates on Gay Rights

by Stephen H. Miller on February 19, 2014

As this Washington Post map shows, the world is divided on legal rights for gay people. And lately, in Russia, India, Uganda and Nigeria, things have gotten much worse, as those nations and others pass legislation that in varying degrees deny gay people liberty, or even life.

At the same time, marriage equality and gay inclusion is sprinting forward in the developed Western world. As a tangent, Walter Olson writes about the advances by gays in conservative political parties in the West.

{ 17 comments }

Houndentenor February 20, 2014 at 12:39 am

It should be noted that the emergence of brutal anti-gay laws in Africa is in part due to heavy lobbying by American fundamentalist pastors like Rick Warren.

Mike in Houston February 20, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Tom Scharbach February 20, 2014 at 5:42 pm

The “Turn the Gays Away” bills have had a rough week, generally.

Bills in Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota and Tennessee are all facing fierce opposition from business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, for good reason.

Without an exemption to the religious anti-discrimination laws relating to employment and employment practices, business in states with “Turn the Gays Away” laws will have no way to protect themselves against employees who will act contrary to the business’s “serve everybody” business model. That might not be a big deal if you have 100 employees (the looney-tunes can be put away in the back office someplace) but to a small business over with 2 or 3 or 5 employees, the laws could operate to enable a conservative Christian to effectively destroy the business.

The “Turn Away the Gay” bills are ill-considered, poorly drafted, unbalanced legal monstrosities for the most part, and I suspect that the bills will end up like Indiana’s anti-marriage amendment, pitting social conservatives in the Republican Party against business interests.

Jorge February 20, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I’ll take poorly-drafted. Then fix it. I of course am not inclined to agree with ill-considered. There are only two things to do with a broken toaster: fix it or throw it out. Fixing it seems the lesser of two evils.

Tom Scharbach February 20, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I agree that laws designed to discriminate against gays and lesbians should be of the highest possible quality, without any loose edges, allowing all and sundry to understand the nature and extent of the discrimination, and the intent of the laws.

We’ll just have to disagree about whether or not such laws are ill-considered.

Jorge February 20, 2014 at 8:14 am

A rather distressing reason to be motivated to find some of those countries on a map.

Tom Scharbach February 20, 2014 at 10:31 am

The status of legal rights for gays and lesbians around the world is complex, but I think that it is fair to say that the countries in the Americas and Europe are moving forward, and that the countries of Africa and Asia (emphatically excluding South Africa but including India and Russia) are not.

Christian conservatives in the United States are aiding and abetting anti-gay forces in a number of countries, exporting the conservative Christian agenda to countries that are more receptive to “moral values” than the United States, while embarking on a massive resistance campaign in the United States (so-called “religious conscience laws”, “no promo homo” laws, the State Marriage Defense Act, and similar) seeking to deny practical realization of the rights that gays and lesbians have been winning in the political arena and in the courts.

My view is that we best serve the interest of gay and lesbian rights globally by staying the course, that is, to continue to relentlessly fight for “equal means equal” in the United States while, at the same time, pressuring our government to use diplomatic efforts to blunt the anti-gay agenda abroad.

I’m interested, as I suppose many of us are, by the difference between the conservative political parties in Europe and the United States with respect to gay/lesbian rights. I’m no expert, but I suspect that a major difference between the politics of most European countries and the politics of the United States is that in most European countries, multiple political parties are extent, while in the United States we have only two political parties that play a role in government. European conservatives, as a result, have the freedom to form conservative parties that are not dominated by hard-core social conservatives, marginalizing social hard-core social conservatives.

I’m curious about Walter Olson’s article, which does not so much focus on the politics of conservative political parties in Europe and the United States, but on the relative number of “openly gay” candidates fielded by the conservative political parties.

While I agree that it is good to have out gay/lesbian candidates and representatives (living in Mark Pocan’s Congressional District and in Tammy Baldwin’s state, I have some experience), I don’t think that the sexual orientation of candidates running for office is so much the measure as are the political positions of the candidates running for office.

Faced with a choice between a straight candidate who championed “equal means equal” and a gay/lesbian candidate who didn’t, I’d pick the straight candidate unless there were other factors that made the choice a bad choice.

So I’m curious about the rationale behind the emphasis on “openly gay” candidates.

A note on Todd Novak, the gay and gay-supportive Republican candidate running in a four-way race in Wisconsin’s 51st Assembly District. Novak is popular in Dodgeville, and that could carry him in a four-way primary. Because the 51st could go either way in next fall’s general election (but is more likely to go Republican, based on demographics), I’m glad to know that the District could be represented by a rational Republican rather than a troglodyte if Republicans prevail in November.

Jim Michaud February 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Good news out of Maine: our “Religious Freedom” bill got defeated in the Legislature, going down in flames in both chambers. 19-16 in the Senate and 89-52 in the House.

Tom Scharbach February 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm

As a tangent, Walter Olson writes about the advances by gays in conservative political parties in the West.

I can’t speak for the European political parties, but in the United States, gay and lesbian Democrats candidates started to run in relatively large numbers (e.g. the five LGBT state Assembly candidates that ran as Democrats in the 2012 general election) only after the party had been turned on equality, while gay and lesbian Republican candidates (e.g. Todd Novak, noted above) are running before the party has turned.

I don’t know if the Republican social conservative base will fight tooth and nail at the state level, but that does seem to be what is happening at the federal level. I hope that at least a few of the Republican gay and lesbian candidates make it through the primary process.

Tom Scharbach February 20, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Chris Barron has apparently joined Jim LaSalvia in quitting GOProud, saying:

“There was a time when GOProud was on the front lines of the fight for a more inclusive conservative movement — we won some of those battles and we lost some of those battles, but we were always honest about the outcome. If the current leadership of GOProud, or what’s left of it, believes that unconditional surrender to the forces of intolerance is in the best interest of the organization, than they should just be honest about it.

Jorge February 20, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I hate to agree with him, but…

Eh, I’ve changed my mind. Nothing to see here. This is what you can expect when you mix gay rights with conservatism. Conservatives have a way of being uncompromising on national security and certain affronts to civil and human rights… but equal rights activism? They want blacks, women, and poor people to compromise if not surrender on their pet concerns for the common good. GOProud itself began by wanting economic issues to be first, before gay rights. Why is it such a big surprise that conservative gays who demand such surrender of others would believe in the Golden Rule… for themselves? I mean for goodness sakes they’ve had Steve Yuhas, who I think will concede a belief that homosexual sex is a sin, on their board, not to mention Ann Coulter, who tried to argue in GOProud’s inaugural event that gays should surrender on marriage. There is nothing wrong with either view. It is simply that the alternative simply is not dangerous, so what is the point of hypervigilance?

In contrast, on the progressive side, we have Mayor DeBlasio making news because he’s not marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade over their exclusion of gays. Democrats have been refusing to march for decades. Each side thinks the other is ridiculous, and both sides are right. But progressives will live with it. Those gay-affirming who boycott the parade have decided to lay down and surrender in another way: saying they don’t need the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. They have accepted the price of their convictions and opened their eyes to reality.

Thus it shall it always be, that the gay rights movement is a progressive.

Jorge February 20, 2014 at 6:59 pm

DeBlasio and the parade in question being in New York City, of course. And my last sentence should read “…is a progressive one.”

Tom Scharbach February 20, 2014 at 10:48 pm

The night should not pass without congratulating Arizona Republicans and the Christian Center for Arizona Policy on the passage of SB 1062/HB 2153 today, a bill that grants a personal conscience objection to religionists, but does not grant a personal conscience objection to non-believers. If Governor Brewer signs the bill, as expected, non-believers will be required to obey the laws of the state, but religionists will be empowered to become a law unto themselves.

Jorge February 21, 2014 at 9:20 am

This really isn’t much different than what we have here in New York or a number of other similar civil rights laws (like ADA), even with the ability to sue an employer even if the government isn’t a party to the violation. The difference is in the method of enforcement.

Tom Jefferson III February 21, 2014 at 8:06 am

hmmm. some of these religious liberty bills seem a bit like;

“Do not tax me, but tax the fellow behind that tree” or “religious liberty for me, but not that heretic behind that tree”.

Tom Jefferson III February 21, 2014 at 8:10 am

Russia has never really gone through the democratization process. That is part of the problem. Having regular, free and fair elections or even a decent Constitution does not actually make you a democracy.

Democratization in Russia did not start doing so until the first Russian revolution (1905) and it was “paused” by the Communists in 1917 (or after they won the civil war)

It was not until the 1980s that people in Russia could publicly talk about maybe hitting the ‘play’ button on democratization and it things did not actually start until the early 1990s.

Hence, you do not have a deep-rooted value among most Russian people (much less institutions) for the rule of law, due process, transparency, tolerance, and the sort of human rights outlined in the International Bill of Rights.

Instead you basically have something like the American Wild West, if it had been run by Mafia or KGB.

Tom Jefferson III February 26, 2014 at 8:18 am

Some people can have rather partisan blinders on when it comes to international LGBT rights.

Initially, most gay Republicans/conservatives did not want to deal with what Operation Iraqi Freedom meant for gay Iraqis, until it became almost impossible to ignore.

Even then, they tended to insist (imply?) that only gay conservatives cared about the international human rights of gay people

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: