Although modern science and knowledge confirms that homosexuality is both normal and simply one form of sexuality in nature, conservative religion and its continuing embrace of ignorance and reliance on the writings of unknown Bronze Age authors or those who would likely be deemed mentally ill due to "hearing voices" and "God speaking to them continues to be the scourge of the existence of LGBT individuals in far too many parts of the world. At present, fundamentalists Islam is perhaps the most dangerous scourge, but throughout time, Christianity has certainly wracked up plenty of death and misery for those who were born LGBT. Now, the United Nations is working to draw attention to the plight of those not born in conformity with the beliefs of the ignorant, simple minded, and power mad who use religion to justify brutality and murder against others. A column in the New York Times looks at the development. Here are highlights:
AS he tried to concentrate on his final college exams, he couldn’t erase the terrifying images in his head, an endless replay of a video he’d seen. It showed two men being killed — their necks noosed, their bodies dragged through the streets and set on fire. They had burned, he told me, because they were gay. Just like him.Islamic extremism was sweeping through Iraq, and terror coursed through his veins. It became unbearable when, in mid-2014, the Islamic State seized control of the city where he lived. He fled, traveling furtively across Iraq for nearly a month, looking for a point of exit, finally finding one and boarding a flight to a city in the Middle East where he wouldn’t be in danger.“The greatest moment of my life was stepping on that plane,” said the man, in his mid-20s, who asked that I not use his name or any identifying details, lest harm come to family members back in Iraq. “I was able to breathe again. I hadn’t been breathing.”On Monday, he will tell his story at a special United Nations Security Council meeting on L.G.B.T. rights. American officials involved in it arranged for me to talk with him in advance by phone.Although Monday’s discussion isn’t a formal one that Security Council members are required to attend, it’s nonetheless the first time that the council has held a meeting of any kind that’s dedicated to the persecution of L.G.B.T. people, according to Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations.And it’s an example, she told me, of a determined push by the United States and other countries to integrate L.G.B.T. rights into all discussions of human rights by international bodies like the U.N.There have also been enormous victories for L.G.B.T. people in nations as different as Nepal and Malta over the last few years. This year alone, a popular referendum legalized same-sex marriage in Ireland and a Supreme Court decision did so in the United States.But, Power noted, “Unfortunately, internationally, those trends are not being paralleled in very large swaths of the world.” This divide is becoming ever starker, creating new diplomatic tensions, challenges and responsibilities for countries like the United States.[Obama] said at a news conference with the Kenyan president, going on to add: “The idea that they are going to be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong. Full stop.”Our own country can’t wholly congratulate itself. Federal legislation to outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation has languished for many years. But American officials were among those who pushed back successfully earlier this year when Russia fought to overturn a policy to grant benefits to the same-sex spouses of U.N. employees.The Security Council meeting, which the United States is co-hosting with Chile, will focus on the Islamic State’s brutality against gays as a way of getting countries who might not be sensitive to the plight of gays, but who have profound concerns about the Islamic State, to pay attention.Even so, there’s no telling whether such Security Council members as Chad, Angola, Nigeria, Russia and China will send high-level representatives or any representatives at all. The meeting is also open to countries that aren’t on the council, but it’s closed to the public and members of the news media.Power said that it’s vital that the Islamic State’s treatment of gays not be omitted from discussions of its atrocities against other vulnerable groups.And that’s partly because the terror felt by gays in areas controlled by the Islamic State is an extreme form of their victimization in far too many other places. It’s a summons to action for enlightened countries that could open their arms wider to L.G.B.T. refugees.
I continue to believe that religion, especially fundamentalist religion of all faiths, is one of the great evils in the world. It is a pestilence that needs to be eradicated from the face of the Earth.