Foreign Affairs published “The Global Backlash Against Gay Rights: How Homophobia Became a Political Tool” by Omar G. Encarnación. The article examines the pushback against gay rights in developed countries where significant progress has been made toward equality, and a more “preemptive strike” approach in other countries designed to prevent LGBT equality movements from gaining a foothold. One popular explanation, he writes, “is the enduring strength of homophobia, which flows from the cultural heterosexism embedded in most religions.”
Public polls show that societal acceptance of homosexuality is intimately linked to levels of social and economic development and rates of religiosity. The higher the religiosity, the lower the acceptance rate of homosexuality, and vice versa. The polling data also show that among the major religious groups, Muslims are the least accepting of homosexuality and gay rights, followed by Protestant–Evangelicals, Catholics, and mainstream Protestants. These findings would explain why the gay backlash has been most severe in the most deeply religious parts of the world, such as African and Middle Eastern nations, and, among Western nations, more pronounced in nations with large Evangelical populations, such as the United States and Brazil, than Catholic ones, such as Argentina, Ireland, and Spain.Decidedly less noted, and therefore less understood, are the political roots of the gay backlash. By openly embracing anti-gay violence and extremely homophobic legislation, many autocratic regimes across the world are doing what such regimes have done for centuries to groups as varied as Jews, heretics, and various ethnic minorities: scapegoating a socially despised minority as a way to consolidate power, to justify conservative policies, and to distract from other issues.
Russia: Under fire, Putin says government will investigate violence against gays in Chechnya
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would ask the prosecutor general and interior minister to investigate reports of deadly violence against gay men in Muslim-majority Chechnya, which have drawn international condemnation in recent weeks. The New York Times reports that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, “has enjoyed near unconditional support” from Putin, and that the anti-gay violence is part of his approach to governing:
The regime’s coercive methods are allied with punitive conservative values. Official Chechen ideology is a mix of traditionalism, Sufi Islam and Putinism. The authorities have banned alcohol, enforced dress codes and “moral behavior” for women, supported honor killings and blood feuds, and even closed orphanages as being alien to Chechen culture.
Russian police reportedly arrested about 20 protesters in St. Petersburg on May 1.
The BBC reported on psychological and religious “cures” that gay people in Russia are being subjected to:
Some Russian families turn to religious institutions to “cure” children who have come out.Maria, 27, was taken to church against her will by her family to “treat” her homosexuality when she was only 13. She had holy water poured over her while others read out prayers.“I couldn’t hear anything; I was bawling my eyes out. They kept on reading out prayers and forced me to go to church, where I was told that my attraction to other women came from Satan,” she told the BBC.“They covered me in holy water and forced me to drink it. Sometimes they hit me with rods. I feel like they broke my mind.”
Some gay men are reportedly being killed by members of their own family.