GWOT: The Gay War On Terror

Netherlands grants asylum to lesbian and gay Iranians. Via the LiveJournal postqueer community, Human Rights Watch reports:
In a major policy shift, the Dutch government’s recognition that lesbian and gay Iranians are a “special group” facing persecution at home and deserving protection in the Netherlands sets an example for other European states of their legal responsibility not to return people to the risk of torture, ill-treatment or execution, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch, which worked closely with the Dutch lesbian and gay organization COC on the issue, applauded this change in policy by the Dutch government.

“The Dutch government has affirmed its international legal obligations in asserting that it will not send gay and lesbian Iranian asylum seekers to a country where they face the risk of torture or execution,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “The priority now is to ensure that this policy is implemented fully and fairly, and that no one in the Netherlands is sent back to face torture.”

Last year, Dutch authorities imposed a moratorium on deportations of failed LGBT asylum seekers to Iran after reports of executions there for homosexual conduct. But in February, Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk first announced her intention to lift the moratorium, stating that, “It appears that there are no cases of an execution on the basis of the sole fact that someone is homosexual. ... For homosexual men and women it is not totally impossible to function in society, although they should be wary of coming out of the closet too openly.”

After strong protests from Dutch civil society and international human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, however, Verdonk reinstated the ban for a further six months, pending a review of conditions in Iran. ...

Manchester, England, imam approves killing of gays. Bruce at Gay Patriot: 'I’m not shocked by this, but since some of you who think America is the enemy might be, I post this for your education. This comes courtesy of an email from a real gay civil rights group — Outrage – based in London.

Manchester’s leading Imam has confirmed that he thinks the execution of sexually active gay men is justified. Mr. Arshad Misbahi, who is based at the Manchester Central Mosque, confirmed his views in a conversation to Dr John Casson, a local psychotherapist.

Dr Casson said: “I asked him if the execution of gay Muslims in Iran and Iraq was an acceptable punishment in Sharia law, or the result of culture, not religion. He told me that in a true Islamic state, such punishments were part of Islam: if the person had had a trial, at which four witnesses testified that they had seen the actual homosexual acts.”

“I asked him what would be the British Muslim view? He repeated that in an Islamic state these punishments were justified. They might result in the deaths of thousands but if this deterred millions from having sex, and spreading disease, then it was worthwhile to protect the wider community.”'

Bruce adds: 'I don’t recall ever hearing a leading American Christian leader calling for gays to be executed. But let’s not let the facts get in the way of the blind rage of the American Left that would rather use the US Constitution as a “suicide pact” than stand up for and protect this nation.' Here's the link to OutRage!, founded by Peter Tatchell and others.

Commentary. The title of this post is slightly ironic: with a very few exceptions, there is, strictly speaking, no organized "gay war on terror". And that's sad.

Gay rights organizations in the West have been very effective in overturning discriminatory legislation and building a strong community - and that's all to the good.

But today's news items remind us - or should remind us - that a virulent and growing strain of homophobia is threatening us, and it's not on the radar of most Western gay groups. It should be.

In future posts I plan to talk about the nexus between gay rights and the war on terror. That's a theme that has always been implicit in the mission of Dreams Into Lightning; now I feel it's time to deal with it a little more directly.

One final comment. There are many different views of the concept of the "gay community". One recent message on a listserv I belong to read in part, 'Why the use of the words 'gay community' as a replacement for homosexual activity.' Another said, 'Even when I was younger and not fully self-identified as a Republican, I always thought it was a crock of s__t to base ones identity and life on such a trivial thing as sexual orientation.'

I think there's always the danger of over-identifying with any group, be it political, ethnic, gender, a sexual minority, or what have you. And people are different: a sense of group identity or "community" is going to be more important for some people than for others. I am not going to get into the meta-debate about the relative merits of individual versus group identity; that falls under the category of "side issues" which I won't pursue here.

I do think it's important to at least recognize the role that group membership and identification plays in our lives - whether it be liberal, conservative, gay, straight, man, woman, or whatever - because our membership in groups (conscious or not) reflects and amplifies our power as individuals and helps us to change the world.