Loss of Gay Rights, Just a beginning?
The opinions and personal views on sexual orientation have grown to historic levels with regard to levels of acceptance. As the scientific community has proven, sexual preference is part of who we are born to be. Still, archaic thinking abounds throughout the world with regard to acceptance of this fact affecting the lives of millions. The battle of getting people to understand the facts about sexual preference is seemingly insurmountable as personal view points are embedded in deep beliefs which are often rooted in misguided values influenced by those that ignore the facts. Changing personal beliefs is compounded when governments also ignore the facts and take actions that lead to and promote discrimination against whole segments of people, violating their unalienable rights.
The world watched in horror last week as the Uganda government passed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 (previously called the “Kill the Gays bill” in the media due to the originally proposed death penalty clauses). Passed by the Parliament of Uganda on 20 December 2013 with the death penalty proposal dropped in favor of life in prison, the bill was signed into law by the President of Uganda on 24 February 2014. The Uganda law criminalizes same-sex relations in Uganda with provisions for Ugandans who engage in same-sex relations outside of Uganda, asserting that they may be extradited for punishment back to Uganda. It also and includes penalties for individuals, companies, media organizations, or non-governmental organizations that know of gay people or support LGBT rights. American evangelists active in Africa are being criticized for being responsible for inspiring the legislation by inciting hatred with excessive speech by comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and influencing public policy with donations from American religious organizations.
Before the proposed legislation, many had felt a gradual easing of enforcement of laws designed to punish people for homosexual behavior. Amnesty International, however, reports that arrests of people suspected of having homosexual relations are arbitrary and detainees are subjected to torture and abuse by authorities. Since the Bill became law, increasing numbers of gay men and women in the capital Kampala have found themselves being thrown out of their homes and taunted and threatened by their neighbors.
The international community has reacted against Uganda. Many Western leaders, who give Uganda some $1 billion in foreign aid annually, warned President Yoweri Museveni that it would greatly complicate diplomatic relations. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry likened the new anti-gay legislation in Uganda to anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa. Even the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged Uganda to shelve the bill and decriminalize homosexuality. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the bill, calling it a product of a campaign by evangelical churches and anti-gay groups that has led to death threats and physical assaults against Ugandans suspected of being gay.
To broaden awareness, the Brokeback LGBT Center and the Terra Lascivus Sim in Second Life have set up an exhibition on this topic that you can visit till the end of March. The exhibit features photographs by award winning Slovene photo journalist Tadej Žnidarčič.
Brokeback is an independent, non-profit organization in Second Life that strives to coordinate its actions with all other non-profit GBLT communities in a spirit of friendship and efficiency. One of Brokeback’s missions is to organize events aimed at promoting LGBT rights awareness and AIDS awareness and the coming together of all communities regardless of origins, sexual orientation and religious beliefs. It aims to involve heterosexuals in all of its actions and fights against heterophobia with the same determination as it fights against homophobia and transphobia. While Brokeback’s main goal is the fight against Homophobia and Transphobia, they also fight and campaign against any kind of discrimination.