Sunday, February 09, 2014

NYTimes publishes graphic report on draconian anti-gay law and violence in Nigeria

The New York Times presented print subscribers to the Sunday paper a shocker this morning (in my case, on a lawn covered with frost), “Wielding Whip and a Hard New Law, Nigeria Tries to ‘Sanitize’ Itself of Gays”, link (website url) here. The article is by Adam Nossiter.  My paywall subscription (which seems to be cheaper if you get print, too) really mattered today.
The comment was offered that “rarely” (at least since Hitler’s “Enabling Act”) have so many human rights violations been compressed into so few words.  The law stops a lot more than gay marriage – in fact it defines cohabitation as an attempt at marriage, and punishes associating with other people thought to be homosexual.  It seems to encourage forced outing and witch-hunts.  The situation is the very worst in the northern states, under Sharia law. 
38 of 54 African countries outlaw homosexual acts, a leftover of colonialism.  But in a few parts of Africa the situation has rapidly gotten much worse.  The Ugandan president has so far refused to sign its new anti-gay law.  As in Russia, it’s easy or tempting for leaders to scapegoat gays for poverty, AIDS, and ongoing religious conflict, which has reached its apex at the nearby Central African Republic.  Anti-gay attitudes seem to track poverty closely.
But another reason, noted this morning at a church service in Arlington, is the activity of opportunistic pastors on the religious right to foment violent prejudice in poor countries.  But it’s also possible that a some politicians in Africa are reacting to the rapid acceptance of gay marriage (and the dropping of military bans) in the West and its aggressive global media coverage, as a threat to their own populations and their people’s interest in biological reproduction in the midst of limited economic opportunity.  
The HRC has advertised an “HRC Global Fellow” position for foreign nationals, here
But it would sound as though political asylum will quickly become a bigger issue (including couples and families with children) and housing them in the US could explode as an issue in a few months.  This sort of thing happened in 1980 with the Cuban refugees. Of course, with that circumstance refugees were already in the country, needing shelter and various kinds of assistance.  This time a domestic need would evolve slowly, but become very pronounced in time unless laws in these countries are reversed.

Furthermore, US companies will find anti-gay cultures a problem when they need to send engineers overseas to less stable parts of the world -- particularly oil companies.  (I interviewed Arco in 1983 when living in Dallas and recall this issue.)

Today, I've covered the new British television documentary "Dispatched: Hunted", about anti-gay vigilantism in Russia, with Liz MacLean on the TV blog.

Update: Feb, 11

The Washington Post has an editorial today suggesting that the US should pressure Nigeria to repeal this law. The oil situation is indeed important. 

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