Monday, July 22, 2013

What happens with ENDA when contractors have to place people in gay-hostile countries?; Russia's sudden anti-gay push a danger to gay tourists and workers, motivated by birthrate issues

While there is a lot of push for ENDA, and for the president to sign orders preventing all discrimination by contractors, I wonder about the practical question that occurs if a contractor wants to assign an employee to a country hostile to LGBT people (or “behavior” or speech). 
  
Throughout my own mainframe IT career I often learned of people who had worked in Saudi Arabia.  Even though they had been housed in “foreigner” compound, religious police enforced Islamic laws, such as by inspecting for possession of alcohol.
  
And, particularly for engineering graduates, there are good reasons to consider working overseas in developing countries on infrastructure project, like clean water.  But some of these countries, like the Sudan and Uganda, are extremely hostile to homosexuals.
    
I have not found much about this angle of employment nondiscrimination online.  There is a Washington Blade story by Chris Johnson from October 2011 about USAID policies (US Agency for International Development) that does not get far into the issue, here
  
Wikipedia has an important chart on the status of LGBT “rights” around the world here, and in Islamic and many African countries, the situation is still dire. 
  
The New York Times has a disturbing column by Harvey Fierstein Monday July 22, 2013, p. A17, “Russia’s anti-gay crackdown”, link here.  Although sodomy is nominally legal in Russia, any speech that approves of homosexuality is not.  The crackdown seems to be quite draconian, and could make it quite dangerous for any openly gay person (say a blogger like me) to visit the country, let alone take a job requiring travel to the country.
  
Imagine the possible complications for employers.  Can CNN safely send Anderson Cooper to report from Russia, say on the Olympics, or on any political matter?  I’ve seen very little about this so far, and it would seem to need immediate attention from the established “gay press.”
  
I have contemplated a trip to Finland (which I “missed” in 1972) and a train ride to St. Petersburg to see the “Russian Ark” museum, but would not set up such a trip right now, without discussions with lawyers on international justice or the State Department. Perhaps Russian authorities would "Google" my name (or "Bing" it) when I checked in a hotel in Russia or even crossed the border, and hold me since I blog publicly about gay issues.  Could this really happen? 
    
Fierstein notes that the new law, while obviously based on political scapegoating, seems motivated by Russia’s low birthrate (and Putin’s performance of “conception days”).  The idea that there is a moral obligation to reproduce is certainly familiar, but it seems to suggest the illogical notion that most people won’t have children unless they have to.
                                     
Of course, an authoritarian government like that in Putin's Russia can push the idea that open presentation of "gay values" can discourage "marginal" people (or "waverers") from wanting or trying to have children and raise families, and threaten the country's future collective strength, and exacerbate problems of an aging population ("demographic winter").  That sort of thinking wasn't too carefully concealed even when I was growing up, when there was a baby boom.  Then, it was certainly "irrational."

By the way, I've seen outdoor pictures of Putin, shirtless.  He has reason to wonder about men becoming "marginal".




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