Posts Tagged 'Op-Ed'

Op-Ed “Demonizing Gays in Africa”

Repost from the New York TimesBy 

As acceptance of gays and lesbians has grown in the United States and Europe, intolerance and persecution has been rising in other parts of the world. African nations are leaders in this cruel and dehumanizing trend.

The latest alarms were triggered by a ban in Nigeria on same-sex relationships that was passed by Parliament in May and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan on Jan. 7. Nigeria is a leading oil producer and Africa’s most populous country, and the ban is considered the most significant setback yet to gay rights on the continent.

Although gay sex has been illegal in Nigeria since British colonial rule, the draconian new law criminalizes homosexuality, banning same-sex marriage and prescribing years in prison to anyone who makes a “public show” of same-sex relationships or participates in gay organizations. Even people who simply support gays are subject to criminal arrest and penalties.

Before the new law was enacted, convictions for gay sex were rare in the southern part of Nigeria and occasional in the mostly Muslim north. But since the law went into effect, as Adam Nossiter has reported in The Times, arrests of gays have multiplied and some people have sought asylum overseas. According to Amnesty International, homosexuality is illegal in 38 of 54 countries in Africa. It carries the death penalty in Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia; in northern Nigeria, where Islamic law is practiced, the penalty can be death by stoning. In Senegal, the press regularly “outs” gays and same-sex relations carry a penalty of five years in prison. Another severe law has been passed by Uganda’s Legislature, but President Yoweri Museveni has not and should not sign it.

Such laws violate commitments made by United Nations members in theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights documents.

If these nations cannot do the humane thing, they should at least consider their self-interest. For any leader who values stability, it makes no sense to promote new laws that foment greater hostility among people, like in Nigeria, where there is already ethnic tension.

Even in countries where antigay laws are not enforced, they provide an excuse for abuse — including blackmail and extortion — by police, Amnesty International said. It is unlikely that any of these countries can reach their full economic potential because many foreign entities may find it too risky to invest in such hostile environments. These governments, in abusing their citizens, are moving in dangerous and destructive directions.

Tammy Baldwin, Susan Collins, David Cicilline and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Pen Op-Ed “Human Rights Issues Pollute Olympic Spirit”

Repost from USA Today

Host countries should promote tolerance. IOC failed on this principle in picking Russia.

On Friday, the world will come together to open the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia — a celebration of hard work and fair play, social responsibility, and international friendship. Every two years, the Olympic Games bring the world together, regardless of political ideology, to compete in feats of endurance, strength and sportsmanship. The issues that often divide our world seem to be suspended or even temporarily disappear during the Olympics. And instead of focusing on our differences, we come together as a global community to focus on what we have in common and our shared appreciation for our athletes and the games.

Although some individuals or groups have threatened to use the Games as an opportunity to wreak violence, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to organize the Games to promote peace through sport — diplomacy through fierce, but friendly competition. In many ways, the IOC has been successful in its mission, as stated in the Olympic Charter, “to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.”

The Olympic Games are unparalleled in their ability to bring together people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, and to promote tolerance and acceptance of these differences. Fundamental Principle Six of the Olympic Charter explicitly prohibits “(a)ny form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise.” This principle reflects the basic human right of equality before the law — the idea that everyone enjoys the same basic human rights free of discrimination. Continue Reading

The Republican Party’s anti-gay bias

 Ric Grenell, The Republican Party’s anti-gay biasOp-Ed By Michael Guest, for the Washington Post (Print edition will be published on Sunday, May 6)

Michael Guest, the first openly gay ambassador confirmed by the Senate, was the U.S. ambassador to Romania from 2001 to 2004.

Only Ric Grenell can explain the “personal reasons” that compelled him to leave Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. If his departure was influenced even the slightest by the anti-gay attacks that followed his appointment, I sympathize.

In 2001, when I, an openly gay career Foreign Service officer, was sworn in to serve as U.S. ambassador to Romania, I and many others hoped that the Republican Party’s obsession with demonizing gay and lesbian citizens was at an overdue end. George W. Bush had chosen me, after all, and a secretary of state known to have advocated for “don’t ask, don’t tell” had sworn me in.

It wasn’t long before that hope was shattered. For months I received bags of hate mail, much of it from writers who identified themselves as “loyal Republicans.” A Republican congressional aide called soon after my arrival in Romania to ask whether my partner’s “socks and underwear” had been transported at taxpayer expense. It quickly became clear to me that the organizations that decried my nomination, or even called for it to be rescinded, shared a Republican membership base.

Grenell surely knows, as I do, many Republicans who believe that their party should be more open to gays and more accepting on issues of gay rights. But where are those voices, and what influence do they have? Republican Party leaders continue to allow principles of fairness and equality — so important at the founding of the GOP and, indeed, our country — to be hollowed out. Continue reading ‘The Republican Party’s anti-gay bias’

A Changed U.S. State Department

Ambassador Michael Guest (Council for Global Equality) x390 | Advocate.com

By former U.S. ambassador to Romania  and Senior Advisor to The Council for Global Equality, Michael Guest

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s December 6 Geneva speech on LGBT rights is another high-water mark in the Obama administration’s integration of the human and civil rights of LGBT people into U.S. foreign policy.

Clinton spoke to a diplomatic audience, one that included ambassadors from a range of countries that criminally penalize same-sex relations and relationships. Her message — that LGBT people are humans with inherent and equal value — was framed with reason and wrapped in sensitivity to culture and religion. The references to her own personal journey on this issue, and to that of our country, underscored that fairness for LGBT people is a common cause, not a subject for lecture.

This, of course, confirms a refreshing change of direction for U.S. diplomacy on a previously ignored problem. The U.S. is a latecomer to international efforts to address the horrific abuses that LGBT people suffer around the world, and the need for our voice has never been more acute. The Obama administration has risen to the occasion in numerous examples where LGBT rights have been at stake. Although a good start, these efforts often have carried a catch-up feel, without strategic thought or direction. Clinton’s speech provides that framework and direction. Continue reading ‘A Changed U.S. State Department’


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