Gay and lesbian persons should be granted full civil rights. In this essay, I will make use of three relatively recent newspaper articles to explore the current status of gay rights in the world.
Article 1 is titled ‘Genetic or Not, Gay Won’t Go Away’ and it was published by “The New York Times” on 12th January 2012 (. Bruni is openly gay and he is published in “The New York Times” which is an independent, reputable, cosmopolitan newspaper with a worldwide scope of coverage and circulation. The newspaper is also largely perceived to have a liberal bias.
The second article, is ‘Gay Rights: A World of Inequality,’ penned by Zoe Williams and published in “The Guardian” on the 13th of September, 2011, uses statistics to show that a greater part of the world does not seem ready to accept gay people and accord them the humanity they deserve. The Guardian newspaper has a large middleclass readership and is often associated with left-wing politics. Zoe Williams, the author, describes herself as a felt-wing feminist.
In the third article, Scot Rose criticizes “The New York Times” in an article titled ‘The New York Times Gets into the Gay-Bashing Gutter’ published on 27th January, 2012 in the Bigotry Watch section of The New Civil Rights Movement. The New Civil Rights Movement magazine describes itself as ‘a journal of news and opinions on gay rights and marriage equality. It was established by David Badash with the aim of addressing the ignorance problem regarding gay rights both by those who are against them and gay people themselves.
The basis of Bruni’s argument is that whether there is proof that gay persons are born that way or not is a matter of no insignificance since homophobia is not rational and would therefore not be assuaged even by scientific findings to that effect. Indeed, he posits, finding a genetic divergence of gay and lesbian persons from their straight counterparts might even heighten homophobia.
He cites the case of the Black people in the United States saying that their race having naturally occurred has never stopped discrimination against them. He argues that just like religious affiliations have no genetic basis and yet they are protected under the law, so should one’s sexual orientation; whether founded on nature or choice.
Actually, the contemporary need for same sex attraction to be recognized as naturally occasioned by gay rights activists runs the risk of their being intolerant against those who admit to being gay by choice. Eventually, he argues, it is of more advantage to society to accept gay and lesbian people than to oppress them. And, he concludes, while research points towards the possibility of its genetic links, there need not be a biological basis for same sex attraction for gay rights to be granted.
Statistics show that same sex relationships are unlawful in 82 countries around the world, about half of the world’s nations. The most extreme cases of abuse against gay and lesbian persons have taken place in Iran where two teenage boys were publicly hanged in 2005 for the crime of consensual coitus between members of the same sex and a further three on the 8th of September, 2011 (Williams, 2011).
The situation is not all that better in Uganda, where there are “penalties for teachers, doctors and even parents who suspected that someone in their care was gay but didn’t report them” ((Williams, 2011), or in Belize where a cabinet minister was quoted saying he would fight ‘tooth and nail’ against decriminalization of homosexuality.
While this is taking place, there are organizations that are working to address these disparities some from the gay and lesbian rights perspective, some from diplomacy and others by invoking international law such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. William infers that great strides for the gay rights movement would be made if funds were available to petition national governments against the criminalization of same sex relationships through the courts.
The New York Times article referred to by Rose was published on 22nd January, 2012 and it was titled ‘G.O.P. Ventures into Florida, a State Harder to Pigeonhole’.
Rose argues that by using ‘family values’ in that article, the New York Times was endorsing anti-gay sentiment by insinuating that they were inherently against the ideals implicit in the term. ‘Family values,’ Rose argues, is almost synonymous with gay intolerance in Florida.
Doubting whether this was an editorial oversight on the part of The New York Times, Rose questions the viability of the claim that the newspaper really is for gay rights. He cites instances where that raises suspicion about the loyalty of the newspaper’s editorial board such as their ‘allowing’ Ross Douthat “to allege that ending sexual orientation apartheid is tantamount to abandoning Western civilization (Rose, 2012).
Bruni makes a valid point: whether arrived naturally or by choice, one’s sexual identity shouldn’t be a basis for discrimination. On the other hand, for the first battle towards the acceptance of gay and lesbian persons in society to be achieved, (through legal means) financial investment will be needed.
This would definitely turn the tide in countries which are most hostile to gay and lesbian persons. William’s argument is sound as the history of the civil rights movement would show. Lastly, the media has a great role to play towards the eventual achievement of gay rights. It’s in a position to influence public opinion and should therefore be ardently analyzed and objectively criticized whenever it seems to falter.
The article raises a significant issue of whether newspapers don’t support such causes of the gay rights movement for political and public relations reasons while secretly undermining them. This is especially so for newspapers that are authoritative such as The New York Times. Rose’ article serves to make this issue public and therefore make the media more responsible.
Sexual identity is recognized by International Convention on Civil and Political Rights as a human right (HREA, 1997). On this basis, full civil rights should be granted to gay and lesbian persons the world over. The question of whether it results from one’s genetic make up or choice should not arise (Bruni, 2012). Enough funds should therefore be dedicated towards the fight for these rights in view of the intolerance evident in the contemporary world (Williams, 2011).
The issue of gay rights is fraught with controversy. The above articles attest to that. Foremost, the extent to which same sex attraction is the result of genetics remains a matter of speculation. Secondly, the status of gay and lesbian acceptance seems to be worsening in more than half of the world’s countries. Lastly, it presents a highly sensitive issue as Rose’ article shows. Still, gay rights should be granted consistent with other civil rights.
Bruni, F., (2012, January 12). Genetic or Not, Gay Won’t Go Away. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/bruni gay-wont-go-away-genetic-or-not.html?_r=1&ref=samesexmarriage
Human Rights Education Associates. (1997). Sexual Orientation and Human Rights.
Retrieved from http://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=432
Rose, S. (2012, January 27). The New York Times Gets Into The Gay-Bashing
Gutter. The New Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved from http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/new-york-times-gets-into-the-gay-bashing-gutter/discrimination/2012/01/27/33531
Williams. Z. (2011, September 13). Gay rights: a world of inequality. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/13/gay-rights-world ofinequality