Persistent controversy over LGBTQ rights has called for several activisms at the local, national and global level. In modern parlance, demand of equality for the homosexuals is gaining immense prominence, as many NGO’s, human rights activists and youths are insisting for a legal transformation towards the sexual minorities. Western countries have shown more tolerance or even accepted same-sex marriages; but, Eastern societies rigorously jostle with this issue owing to its influence upon society. This paper identifies the main dilemma in granting equality to the LGBTQ community and how human rights activists are gradually exerting pressure for social acceptance of LGBTQ people. In India, while transgender people have been given the status of a third gender (BBC), it criminalized gay-sex under section 377 of Indian penal Code. This crime draws a maximum punishment of life imprisonment (The Times of India). Even worse, several African countries are now formulating laws to punish gay-sex by death. These unequal treatments call for immediate action towards this cause, as it is posing major threat to the LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ rights: BACKGROUND AND CURRENT CONTEXT
The LGBTQ community has suffered inhumane treatment in the past, and even now they are manhandled by the society. It raises serious concern over human rights of these people who are homosexuals by birth and not by choice. Governments have repealed same-sex marriages several times, while the general public are always under the impression that gay-sex is a disease of mind. Rubbishing these baseless stereotypes, human rights activists are gearing up for a revolution and urging for their social acceptance. In a latest development, Singapore’s highest court upheld the law that criminalizes gay-sex and rejected appeals by the homosexuals. Human rights lawyers claim this as a “step backward for human rights in Singapore” (Reuters). Even though Singapore is one of the progressive countries in the world, but it continues to keep up the norms of a conservative society. In India, the Supreme Court that decriminalized homosexuality four years back has once again criminalized it in a recent verdict. This comes as a major blow to the homosexuals in the country that started living together in the capital (The Times of India). Russia has been tagged as the “hardest” country for the gays, by international gay rights watchdog, Ilga-Europe. Orthodox Church and Muslims continue to isolate the sexual minorities (BBC News). Also, Russia’s notorious law on “gay-propaganda” has drawn flak from the Western countries. Gay rights activists were arrested on the inaugural day of Sochi Winter Olympics, this year. Ban on gay-propaganda also prevents the homosexuals from reaching minors (CBCnews).
PEOPLE POWER: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Here, I refer to ‘people power’ organization, Amnesty International that operates in Africa, Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North Africa. This includes more than 150 countries. According to Amnesty International, the organization struggles towards human rights irrespective of caste, creed, religion or sexual orientation. Its London-based research team investigates about several issues plaguing modern society. Fighting for LGBTQ rights is one of Amnesty International’s core missions. It strives to decriminalize homosexuality. As per its vision- everyone should enjoy full human rights regardless of sexual orientation. But, sexual orientation or gender identity is now becoming a serious concern owing to “abuse in the form of discrimination, violence, imprisonment, torture, or even execution.” This discrimination of the LGBTQ community is against the international human rights law. The law strives towards protecting dignity of the LGBTQ people. Amnesty’s work culture predominantly includes campaigning. They promote events celebrating rights of the LGBTQ people. Cultural movements like Pride festivals works for their protection from hate groups and support from authorities. They constantly monitor the increasing number of prejudice against individuals and groups. Their campaigns are an attempt to remind the government authorities that LGBTQ people have equal human rights under international law. They hold public campaigns and “behind-the-scenes lobbying”. It highlights several oppressive acts against LGBTQ across the globe. For instance, Jean-Claude from Cameroon spent two years in jail for texting another man he loved. He was stripped naked, beaten up mercilessly and denied medical treatment (Amnesty International).
Though Amnesty International has a long way to go, but success is coming its way in some countries. In a landmark victory, the Supreme Court in Brazil passed a judgment that identifies similar rights for same-sex couples as heterosexuals. Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director for the Americas at Amnesty International lauded this judgment and tagged this as a historic moment. The Court acknowledged equal rights of same-sex couples to issues of pension, adoption or inheritance. The outcome is a result of rigorous campaigning by cultural and reform movements in Brazil. Amnesty invites LGBTQ people from all over the world to join their campaign in decriminalizing homosexuality (Amnesty International).
Amnesty International and other human rights activists are overjoyed with their recent victory in Uganda as the constitutional court annulled a highly-criticized anti-gay law in the country. US President Barack Obama condemned the law, while other Western countries stopped providing aid to Uganda. Even though homosexuality is a criminal offence under colonial-era law and Prime Minister Museveni’s diplomatic stance are suspected to be a political motif ahead of 2016 elections; but LGBTQ people are enjoying the temporary victory (Smith).
The war for the LGBTQ people have now taken a serious turn with political parties, governments and courts passing strong anti-gay laws; thus, criminalizing homosexuality. Globalization of sexuality is a distant dream. In a latest development, Kyrgyzstan- that is a strong supporter of Russia and its law against ‘gay propaganda’; has decided to form stronger laws. The intended law targets to implement jail terms for homosexuals; gay-rights activists and even journalists (Trilling). And, if all these weren’t enough, Russia continues with its heinous bias against homosexuality. In a latest act, companies in Russia have destroyed a memorial tribute to late Steve Jobs (Apple founder), after Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook declared himself a gay. He publicly said that he is “proud to be gay” (Selby).
Owing to this constant scuffle, all eyes are now on President Obama. He has publicly declared his support for the homosexuals, and stated that he believes that the US constitution wants states to accept and allow same-sex marriages. He affirmed that the homosexuals should have similar rights to benefits and opportunities as heterosexual couples. However, the Obama administration has never come out openly to form “federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage” (Gerstein). But, how far Obama’s support for same-sex marriages would yield results is debatable, as there are chances of a Republican victory in the 2016 presidential election. If the Republicans come to power (they have already defeated the Democrats in the mid-term election), chances of social acceptance of the LGBTQ people are bleak. The Republicans have persistently shown resistance to liberal, progressive ideas, and didn’t show any sympathy towards the miserable state of the LGBTQ people.
Impact of homosexuality upon younger generation is understandable, but that doesn’t give right to anyone- either police or governments to torture or discriminate anyone based on sexual orientation. Government officials, police and civil societies need to understand that homosexuals are human beings too, and have the same need or requisites as anyone else. Instead of giving in to official pressure, large corporations should fervently promote equality across all sexes. Globalization of sexuality is immediately needed. Amnesty International is doing a great job as it is promoting equality regardless of gender identity. Their continuing campaign should now emphasize upon medical causes behind homosexuality. Despite massive advancement in technology and social networking, the public and the state authorities are still under the impression of homosexuality being an acquired Western lifestyle. Nobody seems to address the actual reason, i.e. homosexuality is formed by chromosomal disorder, which is irreversible. There are several nations that are considering legalizing prostitution. In fact, some already have accepted prostitution as a legal norm. Similarly, there are no valid reasons behind criminalizing gay-sex. Amnesty International works all over the globe, and it’s time to strictly address discriminations against the LGBTQ people. Cultural movements should give rise to a worldwide revolution to offer equal rights to the homosexuals. Last year, UN-Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for unity on Human Rights Day at the UN. He emphasized that such drive needs to be implemented on a massive scale, especially for sexual minorities (United Nations). But, given the way these people are being victimized, the United Nations should legally impose worldwide acceptance of the sexual minorities.
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