In the United States and some other countries, there are a number of human rights mechanisms in place to protect LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Intersex) people from discrimination and violence. However, there are also other issues that are being discussed in the world of politics, including political activity by homosexuals and bisexuals, and criminalization of same-sex intimacy in Muslim countries.
Political activity by homosexuals and bisexuals
Activists in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community have worked to ensure that their rights are protected. Their efforts are not limited to the United States. A growing number of organizations have emerged in Europe and elsewhere, including the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) World.
As the sexuality of human beings becomes increasingly subject to public policy, the social climate of feminism and sex research has helped LGBT people gain recognition. However, the movement for recognition and recognition alone has not necessarily resulted in equality for LGBT people.
The first documented gay rights organization was the Society for Human Rights in Chicago in 1924. Founded by an immigrant from Germany, Henry Gerber, it was inspired by the German Scientific-Humanitarian Committee.
Although there was a period of progress in the early 1960s, the movement stalled for several decades. In the 1980s, the Democratic Party added a sexual orientation clause to the party’s nondiscrimination statute. This increased the visibility of the LGBT community and prompted a backlash from police and the government.
During World War II, homosexual men were arrested and placed in concentration camps. Throughout the Holocaust, the Nazis officially sentenced and executed gay men.
An increasing number of gay political organizations began to emerge during the mid-20th century. They ranged in size and strength. Organizers often struggled to address the different concerns of their members.
Many members of the gay and lesbian communities were disadvantaged in the employment process. They were fired from many jobs because of their sexual orientation. Some were even harassed by police.
Increasingly, discriminatory policies were introduced in the United States. This led to the development of a “gay and lesbian movement” that was abetted by the rise of anthropologies of difference.
Defense of Marriage Act
When the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed by Congress in 1996, it became a lightning rod for the LGBT rights movement. The act, which was introduced by Senator Don Nickles, restricted the definition of marriage to the union of one man and one woman. It also prevented the federal government from granting same-sex couples legal rights and benefits.
The act was accompanied by a number of other measures to restrict or ban same-sex marriage. Some measures allowed civil unions and other forms of same-sex marriage, while others forbade legal protections.
Another measure, called the Equality Act, was designed to add LGBTQ individuals to the Civil Rights Act. It garnered the most support among pro-LGBTQ bills in Congress.
A more controversial measure, known as Section Three, ironically denied married same-sex couples the rights of other married couples to receive estate tax exemptions.
Other measures, such as the “10-10-10-20” plan, were aimed at national litigation. This was one of the more complicated tactics employed by the campaign.
While the “10-10-10-20” strategy did not make it to the courts, it did prove to be a good move on many levels. One major benefit was that it gave the campaign a leg up on the rest of the political establishment.
Many politicians, notably Republicans, shied away from the same-sex marriage issue. As a result, the campaign had to focus its resources on educating the American public on the issue.
Despite the success of the Equality Act, there were setbacks in the campaign’s litigation and political strategies. These were a result of the movement’s efforts to reach a “moveable middle” of socially conservative voters.
In light of the setbacks, some in the movement wondered if the goal of marriage equality was still worth pursuing. However, a new generation of candidates pledged to support marriage equality if elected.
Same-sex marriage in the United States
The battle for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights in the United States has had a lot of media attention. While there is no question that this issue is complex, the fight has made progress. In fact, the Census Bureau says that there are 568,000 married same-sex couples in the country.
During the fight for equality, advocates focused on litigation in key states. In New England, the Civil Marriage Collaborative invested money in three states.
After a series of defeats in California, the movement re-evaluated its messaging. Polls showed that many people were uncomfortable with the concept of a same-sex marriage.
Advocates enlisted the help of consultants to find out what they needed to do to sway public opinion. Messaging specialists suggested stressing the benefits of a marriage. They also recommended making the case for a “moveable middle” – a group that was both hesitant and excited about the idea of a same-sex marriage.
Legal experts noted that a number of state courts, including the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, had ruled that a same-sex couple had a constitutional right to marry. However, those same states faced a resounding backlash.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law. The act barred the federal government from recognizing the legitimacy of same-sex marriages. Additionally, it denied federal benefits to same-sex couples.
Activists also targeted legislators with anti-equality campaigns. Many religious groups joined the movement because of their religious beliefs.
Meanwhile, a new generation of candidates promised to support same-sex marriage if elected. It wasn’t long before this became a national issue. Political strategists debated whether the best way to portray the same-sex marriage issue was to put a human face on it.
Criminalization of same-sex intimacy in Muslim countries
The criminalization of same-sex intimacy in Muslim countries is a hotly debated topic. Traditionally, Islamic theological texts and texts from the Qur’an condemn non-heterosexuality. However, in recent years, some Muslims societies have begun to openly discuss sexual diversity. This has prompted debates in traditional Islamic thought, and has also led to a reinterpretation of the story of Lot.
As a result, non-heterosexual Muslims have begun to find ways to connect their sexual identity to their religious beliefs. They have also been able to adapt their identities in the public sphere. But this still raises questions about how their legal rights are protected.
For the majority of non-heterosexual Muslims, being homosexual means facing discrimination from the community and the general public. In some cases, it also means bi-dimensional homophobia.
As a result, a variety of laws and penalties have been introduced to punish same-sex conduct. These sanctions vary in scope and application, and sometimes have serious consequences for LGBT individuals.
While Islamic law uses third and fourth categories for non-heterosexuals, some hadiths mention the punishment of same-sex intimacy. Such punishments can be very harsh, and include death.
Despite the progress made in some Islamic-based countries, LGBTI individuals are still at risk. In addition, non-heterosexual Muslims continue to face discrimination in Islamic-based communities.
Non-heterosexual Muslims need more research to understand their legal and social rights. Their perspective may be contradictory to the orthodox Muslim community, and they may be misunderstood by their religious communities.
The issue of same-sex intimacy in Islamic thought has also had an impact on Christianity. Some religious theologians have emphasized the positive impact of same-sex intimacy. Others have condemned it.
Human rights mechanisms to protect LGBTI people from violence and discrimination
Human rights mechanisms to protect LGBTI people from violence and discrimination continue to be a matter of concern in many countries around the world. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, for example, has made several statements on the topic.
Despite the international community’s increasing awareness of these issues, discrimination against LGBTI individuals is still widespread. In addition, people who identify with the LGBTI community remain disproportionately at risk of sexual violence in criminal justice settings.
Many countries have taken measures to promote the human rights of people who are at risk of discrimination. These include the formation of dedicated units to investigate and prosecute crimes against LGBTI individuals. Additionally, training is available to law enforcement officials on how to identify and protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
A few notable examples include a resolution passed in June 2011 by the South African National Assembly, which decriminalized same-sex relationships. Another important step toward protecting the rights of LGBTI persons is the expunging of criminal records.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has been particularly active on this issue, appointing an Independent Expert on protection against discrimination. This expert works in cooperation with states to advance the protection of all citizens and ensure that human rights are implemented in practice.
The most visible manifestation of discrimination is the criminalization of same-sex conduct. However, there are many other forms of discrimination that LGBTI individuals are subject to. For instance, they are at risk of hate crimes, poor health, and legal prohibitions on certain sex practices.
As with all human rights issues, the United Nations and the international community have taken steps to fight for the rights of the LGBTI community. There are several UN bodies that monitor state compliance with international human rights treaties, and special rapporteurs and independent experts have also lent their voices to the cause.