Sexual Resolution

The Obama administration's decision to support the U.N. declaration to decriminalize homosexuality is cause to celebrate -- and cause for gay rights activists to hold the new president accountable for real change.

BY James Kirchick

March 24 2009 12:00 AM ET

One need only look to
the other resolutions passed by the United Nations General
Assembly to see just how futile are the organization's diktats.
The body regularly calls for the end of racism, poverty,
hunger, genocide, and war, among other blights on mankind, as
if publishing a resolution on overpriced letterhead is enough
to solve problems intrinsic to human existence. And because the
General Assembly has no actual power aside from the issuance of
pieces of paper expressing its feelings about various and
sundry matters, the gravity of its resolutions can only be
measured by the bravado of the language contained therein.

According to the
sponsors of the French resolution, homosexuality is illegal in
nearly 80 countries and the punishment often includes a death
sentence. In some places, homophobia is deeply ingrained in the
culture, but in many others is a prejudice employed by
illiberal regimes to suppress dissent, instill fear in the
populace, and exercise ultimate control over society. Iran, for
instance, has a rich history of homosexual relations, whatever
the absurd attempts of its president to deny its existence, and
there is little evidence to suggest that the Iranian people
themselves support the murderously antigay policies of the
mullahs who rule over their lives. As in every other nation
unfortunate enough to live under the boot of religious fascists
or authoritarians, U.N. resolutions condemning state-sponsored
homophobia will not save the gays of Iran. Regime change
will.

Focusing so much
attention on toothless U.N. resolutions misses the forest for
the trees. Over the next few years, the Obama administration
will be confronted with many decisions carrying far greater
consequences than whatever effect its decision to append our
name to this document might have. For instance, will the United
States allow Iran to go nuclear? What sort of political
arrangement will we leave behind in Iraq? The answer to these
questions matters far more than anything the United Nations
will ever do.

Tags: Politics

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