Thursday, December 31, 2009

Worldwide Triumphs For LGBT Rights: A Top Five

Okay, so it hasn't all been good news. California was a disgrace; Maine, too. And the idea that Maggie Gallagher continues to speak is horrendous. But we did have some high spots on the subject of LGBT rights around the globe, so let's take a moment to wallow in the sunshine of what might someday be:

NUMBER FIVE: The Nepali government invited Jennifer Pizer, the Marriage Project Director of Lambda Legal, to advise them on how to create a legal framework for LGBT equality. Pizer spent two weeks in the Nepali capital speaking with the eight-member group of legislators and researchers, and that committee is currently reviewing other countries' pro-equality legislation. They will turn their suggestions in to the Nepali Government in 2010.
The committee was formed by court order in 2007, when the activist group The Blue Diamond Society successfully petitioned the Supreme Court for legal recognition of transgender people, measures to address violence against the LGBT community and reparations for LGBT people who were victims of state violence.
This committee is a landmark in the making for international law-- especially considering no other country has considered reparations for LGBT victims of violence.

NUMBER FOUR: This one, well, I'm holding my breath because I don't trust a group of haters like the Catholic Church as far as I can throw them.
At any rate, moving away from the Catholic Church's usual anti-LGBT-anything stance, the Holy See spoke out against human rights abuses based on sexual orientation at a United Nations panel: "[The Holy See] opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person."
Now, let's put aside all the wrongs committed by the church against the LGBT community and look at just this one statement. There is power in those words because this religious, and let us not forget, political, body has diplomatic ties with no fewer than 177 countries.
And this meeting was groundbreaking not only because of the Holy See's statement, but also because it shed light on the connection between U.S. conservative churches and the homophobic legislation that is spreading like wildfire through Africa.
With the addition of an unexpected ally--one which I think we should keep a close eye on--we can look for good things from the international community in the new decade.

NUMBER THREE: The breaking news that a Lebanese judge has ruled homosexual acts are not "against nature." Lebanese activists have long been campaigning to overturn Article 534, which outlaws sexual acts "against nature"--whatever that means. The law has been used to persecute lesbians and gay men, and researcher Nizar Saghiyeh found that it was used in about 50 different cases over the last five years.
When Saghiyeh brought the law to the attention of the courts in the northern city of Batroun, the city judge ruled that the law was inapplicable based on its vagueness. Ya think?
"The concept of the ‘unnatural’ is related to society’s mindset, customs and its acceptability of new natural patterns," reads the verdict. The verdict goes on to refute the idea that any human act can be "unnatural" since humans are part and parcel of nature.
Part and parcel of nature. Amen!
There is speculation that the ruling has the potential to overturn Article 534 completely, since Batroun has now set a precedent in legal writ, and Lebanon appears to be following in the footsteps of the Number Two triumph of the year ...

NUMBER TWO: The High Court of New Delhi declared that the Indian equivalent of sodomy laws, code section 377 which outlawed "carnal intercourse against the order of nature," was not applicable to same-sex acts between consenting adults. This is a big win for the LGBT community in India, and has even been dubbed "India's Stonewall."
The Naz Foundation India, which raises awareness about HIV/AIDS, first brought the case to court eight years ago. After a series of repeals and appeals, they finally succeeded in getting this historical ruling.

NUMBER ONE: Not wanting Mexico to beat them to the punch, Argentina allowed two men to wed in the first same-sex marriage ceremony ever in Latin America. The lucky couple, Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre, had tried to marry in Buenos Aires earlier in the year, but were refused by city officials. Since Argentina's constitution does not explicitly endorse or forbid same sex marriage, the states have a jumble of different precedents that resemble the mess in the U.S. fifty.
So Maria Di Bello and Freyre traveled to the capital of Tierra del Fuego state, Ushuaia, and received a warm welcome in this southern city. After the ceremony, the government of Tierra del Fuego actually sent out wedding photos of the two men, and the governor called gay marriage "an important advance in human rights and social inclusion" and affirmed, "We are very happy that this has happened in our state."

So, let's not sit and bemoan California and Maine, DADT and DOMA, and so many other issues facing the LGBT for now. Today, let's pop the cork on a bottle of champagne. The world is changing people, slowly but surely.


Stan in NH said...

Nice list. Well thought out and presented. Thanks for putting it together and putting it in perspective. Very informative stuff.

Mark in DE said...

"The world is changing people, slowly but surely."

Yes, this thought is what keeps me from cracking up and going postal some days.