GAY TIMES June 2003

Terry Sanderson’s new autobiography “The Reluctant Gay Activist” is now available on Amazon

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is a noble document promising “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.”

That, you would think, means inclusion for everybody without exception – even us. After all, we gay men and lesbians are members of the human family, too, aren’t we?

Well, not according to some of the countries that have had the cheek to sign up to the UN Human Rights Charter. In those countries, homosexuals are routinely excluded from society. They are tortured, persecuted, imprisoned without trial and judicially murdered.

Look at the disgusting show trials of gay men in Egypt, think of the frequent reports of executions from Iran and Saudi Arabia, remember the systematic brutalisation of gay people in Jamaica. Surely signatories to a human rights charter cannot justify such activities.

So, when the newly-elected and radical Government of Brazil proposed to the UN Human Rights Commission that it should specifically include sexual orientation in its definition of discrimination, it was inevitable that there would be a backlash. And, right on cue, out came the Islamic bloc, in an unholy alliance with the Vatican, brandishing its vile religious justifications for non-compliance.

Brazil’s resolution was simple, it called on member states to “promote and protect the human rights of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation” and for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “to pay due attention to the phenomenon of violations of human rights on the grounds of sexual orientation.” The resolution “expresses deep concern at the occurrence of violations of human rights in the world against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation.”

Who could possibly object to that? Who could possibly make a case for persecuting and harming gay people, just because they exist?

Take a bow Shaukat Umer, the Pakistani ambassador, who was reported by The Guardian to have said that the coalition of Muslim countries (plus the Vatican, natch) that he represented could not accept the proposal, commenting that the correct term was not “sexual orientation” by “sexual disorientation”.

“That is a question that concerns the fundamental values of our society,” he said. “It’s an attempt to impose one set of values on to people who have another.” He said that the proposal was “a direct insult to the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world” and that it was “not a proper subject for consideration”.

The Brazilian proposal had the support of 19 other nations – South Africa, Canada and most of the European Union. The USA decided to abstain, which is unsurprising given that a large number of its own states still have anti-gay legislation in place, and it has its own religious fundamentalists exercising disproportionate influence on President Bush.

Quoted on the website, the appropriately named A. Scott Loveless, who is an associate professor at the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University, said: “The remedy being proposed may have worse societal implications than the alleged disease, which is so-called homophobia. It is highly likely that the gay rights advocates will use this resolution, if it passes, to advance their agenda to legalize gay marriage and create hate-crimes legislation.”

Brigham Young University is, of course, run by the Mormons, a bunch of crackpots so far off the wall they’ve flown out of the window. And the “so-called homophobia” that Mr Loveless refers to is not “so-called” to those who have been beheaded, deprived of their freedom, their livelihood and their dignity by tyrants and despots using religion as an excuse to do evil.

By proposing amendments to the resolution that removed all references to sexual orientation and conducting filibustering debating ploys, the evil gang of religious reptiles got its way, and the resolution was held over until next year, when the Commission meets again.

By that time the Pope and his brigade of dirty-minded bishops will have got to work to ensure that other countries join in the resistance, and getting it through will be harder than ever.

Michael Cashman, the MEP and former gay rights activist, was at the Geneva meeting of the Human Rights Commission and was, of course, horrified to see what happened.

Michael told The Birmingham Post: “I’m extremely disappointed that the UN has failed to condemn this discrimination and the continuing abuses of human rights on the basis of a person’s sexuality.”

But in the same article, Peter Jennings, press secretary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham was unrepentant. “The Catholic Church has respect for all human life. It has respect for everyone’s colour and race and gender and creed. It respects people of every religion and none, and it respects people of homosexual orientation. But…”

Ah yes, but.

“…but what the Catholic Church totally abhors is the practice of homosexual activity. This is condemned in the Bible, and the Catholic Church has, from the beginning of its history, been against sexual perversion of all sorts, and homosexual activity would come under that.”

The Catholic Church is one of the chief persecutors of gay people in Europe. It is relentless in its opposition to the struggle for gay rights. Peter Jennings says that the Catholic Church “respects” gay people. I’m surprised he doesn’t choke to death on his forked tongue every time he utters the word, when everything that his poisonous church does is the opposite of respect for gay people.

At least the Islamic fundamentalists make no bones about hating their gay citizens. They don’t try to cover it up with double-speak. Since the Taliban were driven out of Afghanistan (although they are gradually filtering back in) it is the Saudi Arabian government that is now the chief persecutor of gay people. On 1st January last year the Saudi Arabian authorities publicly beheaded three gay men after Islamic religious courts in the south western city of Abha declared them guilty of “engaging in the extreme obscenity and ugly acts of homosexuality, marrying among themselves and molesting the young.”

These very public executions, coupled with the sickening show trials carried out in Egypt, indicate that despotic Islamic regimes are using gay people as a means of shoring up their religious credentials. “See how we enforce Koranic morality”, they are saying. “We are the true upholders of the faith”.

The people killed and jailed by Islamic dictators under “morality” laws are often not even gay. An accusation of homosexuality is an easy way to get rid of awkward intellectuals and political dissidents. For instance, the Malaysian opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim is still imprisoned on politically-motivated “sodomy” charges after his appeal was rejected.

Like witch trials in 16th and 17th century Europe, once the accusation is made, there is no defence and nobody is going to support you in case they, too, get swept up in the accusations.

Religious bodies in Europe also shore up their own power by constantly reiterating their opposition to homosexuality. It is a useful rallying point for their nasty troops of bigots. The Pope is going for it big-time, and this incident at the UN is the latest demonstration of the Vatican’s determination to use homosexuality as a means of reasserting its power. Let’s not forget that the Roman Catholic Church is the only religious body that is represented officially at the United Nations, and it uses that position ruthlessly.

The Catholic Church has even come up with the idea that we are persecuting them. This was voiced by Jane Adolphe (another wonderfully appropriate name) who is an assistant professor at law at Ave Maria Law School in the USA. She opposed the UN resolution because she said it would be “used against the Church”.

According to Adolphe: “This initiative opens up the door for further attacks on the church. With respect to the commission, individuals could presumably use the discrimination language to bring complaints against the church with regard to hiring, employment and even the doctrines of the church itself.”

This renewed hard-line religious totalitarianism is gaining ground, and our lives are being used to give it substance. As Johann Hari in The Independent put it: “This UN debate cannot stem a tide of global homophobia that is startling in its speed and violence.”

The effects on us all, not just in Islamic theocracies but in Europe, too, will become increasingly apparent unless we start to fight back now.

For instance, the European Union is presently creating a new constitution that will accommodate the ten new nations that are about to be admitted. Some of those newcomers, like Poland, Malta and Slovakia, are heavily under the influence of the Catholic Church.

The committee that is drafting the new constitution is under extreme pressure from the Vatican and other religious bodies to include in the document special privileges that would allow homophobic countries to opt out of the progressive laws that have pushed gay rights forward. Nobody seems to be aware that this is going on, and no one seems to care. It is this inertia that will allow the Vatican to prevail.

As Johann Hari said: “The largely depoliticised gay community in Britain sometimes acts as though the fight for gay rights has been won, but, in many other parts of the world, the treatment that broke Oscar Wilde in this country a century ago would be considered moderate.”

One day we’ll wake up and find that we no longer live in a secular Europe. We’ll discover that somehow, while we weren’t looking, the archbigot of Rome managed to increase his influence fifty-fold.

And that will be very bad news for all of us.

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