Monday, November 30, 2009

Gay Rights and the Wrongs that go with it

Yesterday morning a friend and I attended a Global Rights seminar on the University campus. It was: "A Conversation on the Commonwealth and LGBTI advocacy: sharing experiences and discussing strategies." It was part of the CHOGM agenda. The audience was small and consisted mainly of foreign delegates.

It was advertised as starting at nine a.m. Of course, being Trinidad, nothing started until about 10-ish. My friend and I were there before nine. Just after we arrived, an older man came up to where we were sitting. He was looking for the seminar. He told us he was from the media and the newsroom had sent him on assignment to cover "the talk about sex".

"If it's the same seminar we're going to, then it's not about sex," I said. "It's about Gay Rights."

"Well, same thing," he replied flippantly.

"No, it's not the same thing," I told him. "People think that all gay people do is have sex. This is about the rights of normal, everyday people living everyday lives."

Although, unfortunately, not so 'everyday' in various ways. Take the extreme example of the abominable situation in Uganda:

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, introduced in October, would expand punishment for homosexual acts to include life imprisonment and in some cases would exact capital punishment. The letter is signed by Alan Chambers, president of the Orlando-based Exodus International; Randy Thomas, the group's executive vice president; Christopher Yuan, professor at Moody Bible Institute; and Warren Throckmorton, a member of the Clinical Advisory Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Homosexuality already is illegal in Uganda, punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. Gay men and women who have HIV would receive the death penalty under the new legislation.

Our Prime Minister's response to the above-mentioned modernday witch hunt leaves much to be desired:

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago, who plays host to a meeting of Commonwealth leader beginning here Friday, drew furious criticism Thursday when he dismissed human rights as domestic issues that have no place on the summit agenda.

At meetings ahead of the summit, human rights groups have been urging the leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to pressure Uganda to drop proposed legislation that calls for the execution of HIV-infected gays and lesbians and to sanction President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia for threatening to kill human-rights activists in his country.

"Individual countries have their own positions on these matters," Manning said, "but it doesn't form part of our agenda. It need not detain us."

Human Wrongs with no interest in Human Rights. Or rather, with no interest in Humans other than themselves.


Chookooloonks said...

Patrick Manning is an ass.

Lynn Cohen said...

How tragic! How pathetically sad. Such ignorance!!! Stupidity. How could you get anything done?

Kimberlie said...

The worst part about all of this is how we internalize this hatred of being different and abuse ourselves. The oppressor wins when we kill ourselves through suicide, alcohol, drugs and unprotected sex because we value ourselves so little and because we have believed the lies, codified in unjust laws, told about us. Any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered person who is self loving instead of self effacing is on teh way to self enlightenment and has a lot to teach others, including heterosexuals.

Ticky said...

When I read the first line about there being a seminar on LGBTI advocacy in this region I immediately got excited. Being over here in Vincyland, such a thing is non-existent.

I'm glad for whatever little positivity that will come out of this. Maybe what you said to that guy might have sunken in a little...maybe?

We have a ways to go though.

Anonymous said...

I am a young Trinidadian female, university medical student and lesbian.

I stumbled across this blog about two years ago and since then would frequently check it.

I have never written a comment but today, I felt that I should.

Due to the monotony of crime and negativity on our local news feed, I have decided to stop looking at the news. Therefore I found out about the Ugandan law on homosexuality, from a conversation between a man and woman, while at a fruit stall.

The woman was informing her friend of the law, and ended by saying "So they killing them homo and lesbians in Uganda, haha."

Hmmmm, they way we can so easily separate ourselves into 'he, she them and we', to the point that the death of another human being, because of their sexual preference, would evoke absolutely no emotion or reflection, is horrifying.

In many ways I have felt like I have been given a death sentence by simple being in the presence of family members, people I love dearly, while they were discussing homosexuals.

However, knowing that i can be jailed or sentence to death for being who I am is terrifying and scary.

In my beautiful country and how I do love my country, we have lost a common sense of oneness. That common sense, that is most easily cultivated in poverty, when nothing exist but our humanness. Not our class, wealth, ethnicity or nationality, but humanness.

We cannot allow as a nation and as global brothers and sisters, the death of anyone due to their sexual preference.

Elspeth said...

Chookooloonks, succinct and to the point. No need to explain.

Lynn, coming from California, these attitudes must seem especially archaic to you.

Kim ... true words. For anyone who exists within the LGBT circle, what (in our world, our societies, our communities, our familes, our selves) enables the choice between internalized self-hatred and self-love? Or in some cases ... what enables the journey from hatred to love? This is the journey that needs to be traveled not only by the "gay person" who may internalize hatred, but also by the "straight person" who may express and project it.

Ticky ... time will tell if or how certain societies will evolve in terms of human rights for all. It starts small.

Anonymous ... thanks for reading now and then and leaving your long and insightful comment.

Paula Obe said...

People like to pretend that this issue does not affect them. But nearly every family has a 2 spirited member. Do people stop hating at that point when their child or brother kills him/herself because they can't be free. Who is anyone to judge someone's preference, choice, birth-song.

I thought discrimination would lessen as we progressed. I thought that one man's witch hunt will be seen as shame by others. The sad truth is that many agree and support men like this Uganda Minister. I wonder if our Prime Minister would shake his hand, before he found out the sex or orientation of his grandchildren. I wonder if he would willing sign their deaths before he rocked them to sleep.

Anonymous said...

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Kimberlie said...

I am reading Sarah Shulman's book, "Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and It's Consequences," and there may be some answers there.