Should One’s Sexuality Outweigh Their Human Rights?
President Obama’s decision to withhold foreign aid to anti-gay countries has some up in arms
December 10th marks Human Right’s Day and all week countries have announced ways to provide rights to all human beings regardless of race, class, gender or sexuality. Loop 21 spotlights three areas of debate within the fight for fair and equal human rights: LGBT rights, women’s Rights and the rights of prisoners.
This week, President Obama announced a plan to confront foreign countries that exercise anti-gay practices and infringe on LGBT human rights. While on one hand this is a huge step for gay rights, it will be an area of contention for Obama detractors and may cause a strain in our international relations with countries that are anti-gay. But should it?
If you thought that America’s battle over gay marriage was tumultuous perhaps you should take a look at how other countries are handling their gay and lesbian communities.
Homosexuality is banned in some African and Middle Eastern countries and is even punishable with six months to life in prison. Some countries such as Uganda and Nigeria offer the death penalty for acts of homosexuality. Many of the countries in the Middle East and Africa that oppose homosexuality are doing so based on religious beliefs. In those countries that oppose same-sex love, Sharia Law, the moral code and religious law of Islam, calls for gays to be stoned to death.
GOP candidate Rick Perry sees President Obama’s plan as an endorsement of homosexuality.
“I have proposed a foreign aid budget that starts at zero. From that zero baseline, we will consider aid requests based solely on America's national security interests. Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America's interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers' money. But there is a troubling trend here beyond the national security nonsense inherent in this silly idea. This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong…President Obama has again mistaken America's tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake."
Christian media mogul Pat Robertson echoed Perry’s sentiment:
"Isn't it appalling that the United States of America would try to enforce the acceptance of homosexuality on other nations, but at the same time, we would not force them to take care of religious minorities...what kind of a country have we got?" He then went on to note, "This country cannot continue to violate God's principles and to make a mockery of His laws and think we're gonna get away with it."
Perhaps both are missing one key point: Regardless of one’s sexual orientation they are still human. Why should anyone who chooses to date, kiss, or hold hands be sentenced to death. In America we won’t even tolerate a puppy being stuck in a drain and using taxpayers money to dig up the ground to free it. However, when it comes to the death of men and women over their sexuality it is ok to continue to fund the governments that are persecuting them?
Think about it. We pay taxes. Some of that money goes to foreign aid. Just in the money we provide to countries in order to rebuild after natural disasters, there are tax dollars that could end up in the hands of governments that kill innocent men and women. President Obama wants to stop that, thereby wiping the blood from our hands.
In America, hate crimes against LGBTQ people still occur. Last March a 70-year-old gay man was stoned to death. When it comes to gay hate crimes, we haven’t come very far from the gruesome murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in 1998. Shepard was tied up and tortured for hours and left to die. He was the first name many of us ever put to the term "hate crime." Since then, America has been much less tolerable. Applying Perry’s theory, does that make us wrong for accepting homosexuality or does it, as President Obama hopes to make clear, make us defenders of human life.