Backlash Against U.S. Consideration of Gay Rights in Foreign Aid Decisions Goes Global.

Yesterday, Nigeria became the first nation to spitefully increase persecution of LGBT citizens in response to the announcement that the United States will now consider a country’s Gay Rights record when doling out foreign aid.

In a direct and highly negative response to President Obama’s memorandum and Secretary Clinton’s announcement that the U.S. will consider a country’s Gay Rights record when foreign aid is requested, Nigeria’s House has passed an even more vicious version of the anti-gay bill recently passed by their Senate. Nigerian Lawmaker Zakari Mohammed pulled no punches:

We have a culture. We have religious beliefs and we have a tradition. We are black people. We are not white. [Same-sex marriage] is alien to our culture and we can never give it a chance. So if [Western nations] will hold their aid to us, to hell with them.

Nigerian Information Minister Labaran Maku elaborated further:

[W]e reserve the right to make our laws without apologies to other countries..
Some of the things that are considered fundamental rights abroad … can be very offensive to African culture.

With all due respect to Nigerian sovereignty, Minister Maku is speaking foolishly on both counts.

Never, in all of world history, has a nation made laws in a vacuum. If the U.S. wants to withhold aid, trade or diplomatic resources because of Nigeria’s human rights violations, we are perfectly within our rights (and in the right) to do so.
Furthermore, matters of human rights are the concern of every nation in the global village. “Culture” is not, and will never be, an excuse for human rights violations.

Gay Rights now a factor in US Foreign Aid decisions; backlash from the right.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in a speech to the UN that the United States will now consider a nation’s LGBT Rights record when determining whether or not to dispense foreign aid.

AMERICABlog has the full transcript of Secretary Clinton’s speech to the UN.

It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in a speech to the UN that the United States will now consider a nation’s LGBT Rights record when determining whether or not to dispense foreign aid. I think this speech may be one of the greatest moments of Secretary Clinton’s career, and places her alongside Ted Kennedy as a contributor to the struggle for LGBT Rights.

Of course, The Right is flipping out.

Help Stop the Deaths

Help stop the epidemic of suicides among gay kids. Take action now.

The young boys in this photo strip killed themselves because of anti-gay bullying. Another gay teen, unnamed, attempted suicide in Tehachapi, California last week, and is currently on life support. As I wrote the previous sentence, news agencies reported the boy’s death. His name was Seth Walsh. He was the third bullied gay child to commit suicide in as many weeks.

Billy, Justin, Asher, and Seth.
Billy, Justin, Asher, and Seth.

While many acknowledge that bullying in schools is a major problem, it is particularly deadly for LGBT youth. LGBT kids are over 200% more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. A GLSEN study in 2005 reported that “Among students who identified themselves as LGBT, 90 percent had been bullied in the past year. Of these, 66 percent had been verbally abused, 16 percent physically harassed, and 8 percent had been assaulted.”

GLSEN, The Trevor Project, HRC and many other LGBT advocacy groups have been lobbying for years to get protections for LGBT youth written into anti-bullying laws. Curriculum changes, training for teachers, and requirements for reporting bullying incidents are all options on the table for legislators. The problem is, the legislation to move these critical programs and protections forward just isn’t being passed. Only 7 states have laws specifically prohibiting bullying on the basis of sexual orientation.

Why? Why aren’t these laws to protect students – laws that could have saved these boys lives – being passed?

At every level of government, groups like The Minnesota Family Council, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the Family Policy Council of North Carolina, the American Family Association, and the Catholic Church are using their political influence to oppose and block laws, ordinances and policies that would save the lives of LGBT youth. They say that protecting LGBT students from bullying – protecting their lives – constitutes homosexual indoctrination of children. The bitter irony of their position is that anti-bullying law and policy is basically a codification of the Golden Rule (upon which “hang[s] all the law and the prophets”).

stopstudentbullying.org
 

Please help me counteract these misguided, hateful people. Support the inclusive Safe Schools Improvement Act by signing the petition at stopstudentbullying.com. The petition will be automatically forwarded to your elected representatives. If you’re creatively inclined, record a video message to at-risk gay youth for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project. For those willing to go the extra mile, consider supporting The Trevor Project, the only nationwide 24/7/365 crisis hotline for gay teens.

The deaths need to stop. Please help.

David Blue 4 NOH8!!

SGU’s David Blue dons the tattoo and tape for NOH8!

I love this guy! He was already super-cool as the geek-hacker turned vampire on Moonlight, and then he blew that out of the water when he joined the cast of the newest show in SyFy’s Stargate lineup – SGU – as Eli Wallace, the nerdy gamer turned heroic inter-galactic traveler.

David Blue dons the tattoo and tape for NOH8.
David Blue dons the tattoo and tape for NOH8.

If you’re into SGU, Sci Fi, or cute geeks, follow David on Twitter. It’s a fun mix of SGU details, personal updates and all-around coolness.