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.
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.
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.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently bragged that New York City has the “7th largest army in the world”; his attitude reflects a disturbing trend toward militarization in police forces across the country.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently bragged that New York City has the “7th largest army in the world”; he was wrong, it’s roughly the 96th largest army. However, his attitude reflects a disturbing trend in police forces across the country – militarization.
I have a feeling that seeing their local constables in riot gear like we’ve seen at Occupy Oakland and Occupy Wall Street would have given the Founding Fathers great pause. The right to keep and bear arms doesn’t look like much of a deterrent to tyranny when the police are driving tanks and using sonic weapons.
My letter to the President RE: his “fierce advocacy”. I ask him to support an immediate repeal of ENDA and DADT.
Dear Mr. President:
On the campaign trail, you promised the LGBT community that you would be a “fierce advocate” for our human rights. We believed we’d found a hero that would champion our cause, and we cast our support behind you and the Democratic Party on an unprecedented scale.
Mr. President, you have not lived up to your promise. Your advocacy thus far could be described as perfunctory. A former Bush Administration lawyer, Ted Olson, has been a far more “fierce” advocate for LGBT rights than anyone in your administration. That is, quite simply, disgraceful.
Mr. President, stay the discharge of LGBT service members under DADT, and support a full and immediate repeal of the policy. Demand the immediate passage of ENDA. Anything less than this is a betrayal of your promise, and a further illustration that the “Politics of Yesterday” are your politics.
Aaron T. Akins 8/16/2010
This letter is the second in a series of letters I’ll be posting to this site. I will send the letters via USPS on (red) cards from Hallmark.