Scroll To Top

World war on gays

World war on gays


Here's a scenario to send chills up your spine: Let's say there's a plan to hold a gay pride march in a major U.S. city. Months before the event, one of the nation's leading Muslim clerics warns that if gays march, their physical safety could not be guaranteed. "If they come out on to the streets anyway they should be flogged. Any normal person would do that," he declares. The country's chief rabbi then supports the threat, saying, "I would like to assure you that the parade of homosexuals it is not less offensive to the feelings of believers than any caricatures in newspapers." He's referring, of course, to the murder and violence unleashed by many Muslims across the world because a Danish newspaper dared to run satirical cartoons lampooning the co-optation of religious faith for terrorism.

Yes, almost certainly, it couldn't happen here. We have First Amendment rights. But all I have described has taken place in Moscow. The chief rabbi did make remarks in support of threats by the chief mufti, the most powerful Muslim figure in Moscow. They were joined by leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. The result? The parade was refused a permit by the city. Religious fascism shut it down.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Anglican archbishop Peter Akinola has put his full support behind a new proposal that not only makes gay sex a crime but also criminalizes speech in favor of gay equality.

It will soon be a crime to petition the government to change the laws against homosexuality, and for churches to allow same-sex unions. Akinola is part of a global communion that includes Episcopalians in the United States.

Gays around the world right now are up against many terrifying forces of religious fundamentalism. Gay teens are hanged in Iran; Islamist terrorists are trying to destroy the fragile posttotalitarian society in Iraq. The virulently antigay Taliban and al-Qaeda keep up the pressure in Pakistan. Radical Muslims suppress free speech in Denmark and intimidate freedom of expression everywhere. In Holland, defenders of gay rights and women's equality now live in fear of Muslim violence: One gay man who stood up to Islamist homophobia and one straight film director who backed our freedom were murdered in the streets. You may not even recognize the names Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn, the two most recent martyrs in this war against religious brownshirts. And if you don't, you should feel ashamed for your ignorance.

At home, the gay movement seems stuck in petty domestic loathing of Bush. Fine. There's plenty to loathe. But as gay people in the richest and most powerful country on earth, we owe our brothers and sisters facing terror and violence abroad more than passing concern. We owe them solidarity and attention and help--now more than at any time in the recent past. Our biggest organizations are, as so often, useless. We need to demand they do more. We are in a global war against fundamentalist religious terror. We are rightly alarmed by the rise of the American religious right. But compared to the Muslim religious right, empowered by weaponry and state violence, the American evangelicals are milquetoast.

Gays are on the front line in this global religious war whether you like it or not. If we do not wake up now and help our friends and fellows looking death in the face, their fate may one day affect ours. Their freedoms should matter to us, because freedom is a precious thing, and its extinction somewhere threatens it everywhere. By all means, move on. Go to the next party; don't miss the gym; plan your vacation. But don't ask for whom this bell is now tolling. It tolls for us

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Andrew Sullivan