Sunday, April 23, 2017

Why Russia’s Persecution Of Gays Matters

In the wake of the Pulse night club massacre last June, Donald Trump, a/k/a Der  Trumpenführer, lied and said that he would be an ally to LGBT Americans and would defend them from anti-gay Islamic extremists (in France, Marine Le Pen is making similar false claims).  That same month, of course, he sold the LGBT community out when he promised an anti-gay jihad to a gathering of Christofascist in New York City.   Then there is the treatment of gays by Trump's BFF, Vladimir Putin of Russia who has sponsored the equivalent to anti-gay pogroms and legislation that criminalizes sexual orientation as a means to gain support from the historically anti-gay Russian Orthodox Church.  Add to this poisonous mix, Trump's reversal of LGBT protections and was on transgender Americans and it becomes clear to all but the willingly blind, that Trump is menace to LGBT Americans.  All of it represents an assault of liberal democratic values.  It bodes ill for the future and not just for members of the LGBT community.  A piece in Huffington Post makes this argument.  Here are excerpts:
“The beatings begin as soon as you’re brought in. The electric shocks, being beaten with plastic pipes. They said that we were ‘dogs who have no right to life.’” This is a firsthand account of the torture being suffered by gay men in Chechnya, a conservative Muslim republic in Russia’s Caucasus region. Reports of Chechen authorities launching a violent crackdown on suspected gay men have circulated widely in recent weeks. Men as young as 19 are reportedly being abducted, and shoved into overcrowded cells in secret prisons where they are brutally tortured, and sometimes beaten to death.
In a virulently homophobic society such as Chechnya’s, where persecution of homosexuals is policy, gay men go to extraordinary lengths to keep their sexual orientation hidden. One dangerous consequence of being detained on suspicion of homosexuality in such homophobic societies is that your orientation is revealed to your family. In one case, a gay man in his early twenties was returned by Chechen officers to his family, only to be killed by his uncle.
Chechen authorities often set up traps for men they suspect of being gay, and abduct them without releasing any information on their whereabouts. Those detained are then tortured until they release names of gay friends and acquaintances.
But none of this appears to have moved Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who made no public remark on the matter during his visit to Moscow last week, ignoring a letter signed by 50 members of Congress to do so. In fact, there appears to be no indication that Tillerson even raised the abuses in Chechnya in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite a message of condemnation from the State Department prior to Tillerson’s Russia trip.
Regardless of the disdain for LGBT rights openly displayed by the Trump administration, it is a grave error to allow Russia to get away with flagrant human rights abuses on its own soil. What is at stake here is the very notion of universal human rights, in the specific context of how citizens are treated within their national borders.
What Russia does to its own citizens resonates in the rest of the world. As one of the world’s major powers, Russia enjoys a privileged status in the international hierarchy of states – see, for example, its veto-wielding permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Allowing Russia to lower those standards provides a carte blanche for smaller countries to follow suit. If Russia can get away with torturing and killing LGBT persons, why can’t Uganda? Or Saudi Arabia? Or Iran? If Russia can get away with persecuting LGBT persons today, who will they persecute tomorrow?
As part of its effort to undermine American power (both hard and soft), Russia aims to present an alternative for the world’s nations. That alternative includes tolerance for kleptocracy, the assassination of political opponents, the intimidation of journalists, and the persecution of “unwanted” minorities. Russian authorities have continuously targeted the LGBT community for over a decade (and not only in Chechnya). Chechnya’s abuses are not an isolated blemish. They are a symptom of the neo-fascist Russia that Putin has systematically cultivated.
When Moscow allows one of its local cutthroats to go on a killing spree of vulnerable minorities, it is effectively advertising to the world that countries no longer need follow the liberal democratic model of the United States. . . . . We should think long and carefully about the risks of giving up support for such values. The price for abandoning them will be high.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We can do something. There is the Rainbow Railroad in Canada that is helping gays escape religious oppression in Chechnya. Contribute.