SDGLN exclusive: Knocking down hurdles to global decriminalization of homosexuality

Published: October 20, 2011

(Editor’s note: This is the fourth part in a series on “Compass to Compassion – Discovering a Common Way to LGBT Global Equality,” a consultation about finding ways to decriminalize homosexuality across the world and to bring equality and dignity to LGBT people. Editor in Chief Ken Williams was on the planning committee headed by the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle of San Diego and was a participant in the consultation, and he is sharing with SDGLN’s readers what he learned during the meetings.)


NEW YORK – It is a crime to be gay in 76 countries around the world.

Yes, homophobia rages in the 21st century despite libraries full of scientific and psychological evidence that shows that homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality.

Much attention has been focused over the past two years on Uganda, where anti-gay members of Parliament, funded and supported by America’s Religious Right, have been trying to pass the notorious and universally condemned “Kill The Gays” bill.
Uganda is only the tip of the iceberg. The Religious Right has been busy at work for decades trying to persuade African and Asian countries to embrace the discriminatory policies that in some cases are so far-reaching that they include the death penalty. This movement to criminalize homosexuality parallels Sharia law, which is equally harsh and often deadly to LGBT people living under Islamic governments such as Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Almost 100 prominent secular and faith leaders attending the “Compass to Compassion – Discovering a Common Way to LGBT Global Equality” last week at Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University listened to speakers who talked about the “Political and Legal Responses to Decriminalization.”
Keynote speaker Daniel Baer of the U.S. State Department

Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, spoke on “Taking Leadership to Address LGBT Human Rights Around the World.”

Baer outlined how the Obama administration is the first-ever American presidency to use foreign policy as a tool to nudge regressive nations toward human rights, including LGBT equality. He said President Barack Obama has a strong record of applying “universal standards” to the human rights issue.

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