Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Another diplomatic mistep: Promoting gay rights abroad

As June approaches, get ready for the official celebration of “Gay Pride Month” by US embassies abroad.

If sodomy and same-sex marriage are constitutional rights, what is their relationship to American foreign policy? Despite the tremendous controversy regarding these issues within the United States, the Obama administration has gone ahead and placed them at the center of US diplomacy. Why? In Libido Dominandi, E. Michael Jones wrote that the rationalization of sexual misbehavior “could only calm the troubled conscience in an effective manner when it was legitimized by the regime in power… [which] went on in the name of high moral purpose to make this vision normative for the entire world.”

Therefore, the Obama administration, after promoting homosexual rights and marriage in the US, has undertaken the task of universalizing the rationalization for sodomitical behavior and is doing so with high moral rhetoric – in this case, by appropriating the language of human rights.

The effort began in earnest on International Human Rights Day, December 6, 2011, with a powerful pair of events. President Obama issued a memorandum for the heads of executive departments and agencies, directing them “to ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons”. Mr Obama said that, “The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights”.

The departments and agencies included the Departments of State, the Treasury, Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Export Import Bank, the United States Trade Representative, and “such other agencies as the President may designate.” All US agencies engaged abroad were directed to prepare a report each year “on their progress toward advancing these initiatives”.

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, explained,

“They have directed their embassies everywhere to monitor and assist domestic homosexual movements whether the host country and their people accept it or not. The US is very powerful and can force governments to submit to its social-policy views. They are intent on forcing homosexual ‘marriage’ and homosexual adoption on countries that are offended by such things. They are intent on forcing sexual orientation and gender identity as new categories of non-discrimination that will trump the rights of religious believers… Most people recognize that the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals. The effect of the Obama policy is to offend billions of people and force this view on reluctant governments. This is most especially offensive to countries that are predominantly Christian and Muslim. In fact, Christianity and Islam are among the chief obstacles of this agenda and policy.”

State Department sophistry

While President Obama took the action, Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State, gave the rationale in an International Human Rights Day speech on the same day, December 6, in which she proclaimed that that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights”. She also announced that the US would give more than US$3 million to a new Global Equality Fund in order to help civil society organizations promote homosexual advocacy.

Mrs. Clinton came energetically to the defense of those “forced to suppress or deny who they are to protect themselves from harm. I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people”, whom she described with a strong Rousseauian echo as “human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity…” But, if they were born free, why are they not free now? No doubt, because society oppresses them, just as South Africa once oppressed its black population through apartheid – an example Mrs. Clinton gives. But history overcame that, and since, as Rousseau taught, man is a product of history, history can overcome this, too. Thus, Mrs. Clinton ends with the admonition, “Be on the right side of history”.

It is a testimony to the influence of Rousseau that Secretary Clinton should have appealed to history for the vindication of “gay” rights rather than to moral principle. Had it been the latter, she would have had to say rather that, in order “to protect themselves from harm”, LGBT persons should “suppress” precisely that part of themselves inclined to indulge in disordered sexual acts, just as anyone should resist their inclinations to immoral acts, whatever their kind.

Mrs Clinton averred that “being LGBT does not make you less human”. That is certainly so, unless you consistently give in to one of these disordered inclinations. In a parallel case, being an alcoholic also does not make you less human. However, practicing alcoholism by living life in an inebriated stupor does make you less human in the Aristotelian sense that it impairs your Nature or incapacitates you fulfilling it. If it is virtue that enables man to reach his natural end in becoming fully human, then it is vice that prevents him from doing so, thus making him less human.

Fully embracing the rationalization of the same-sex cause, Secretary Clinton espoused “gender identity” as equivalent to being black or being a woman. It is “who they are”. In a moment of humility, she stated that, “my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country.”

It was? What was it? Being homosexual or lesbian was not a crime in the United States, so what was she referring to? Mrs. Clinton never said, but the it to which she alluded is sodomy, the elephant in the room. She repeated the mantra that “it is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay…” and “it should never be a crime to be gay”. One would have to agree in so far as persecution of and violence against homosexuals is concerned but, as Austin Ruse has pointed out, “Such attacks upon individuals are already recognized as violations of human rights in international law particularly in the 1966 Covenantsimplementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other existing treaties”. This, then, is moving beyond that to the moral and legal endorsement of certain behavior. Some governments continue to have laws against homosexual acts, which is not the same thing as violating their rights as human beings. Was Mrs Clinton saying that it is a violation of human rights to declare sodomy illegal?

Apparently, for that would be consistent with an understanding of Section 1 in the Obama directive, instructing agencies abroad to engage in “Combating Criminalization of LGBT Status or Conduct Abroad”(emphasis added). What kind ofconduct might this be? The only conduct that is or has been consistently criminalized by many countries is sodomy. Morally speaking, sodomy is a fairly unattractive act. Why should it not be criminalized? Perhaps there are prudential reasons for not doing so, but what might be the moral objections to such laws?

The somewhat evasive answer in the Presidential Memorandum is because “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love…” In her speech, Mrs Clinton echoed this response and set this test: “We need to ask ourselves, ‘How would it feel if it were a crime to love the person I love?’”

Well, that depends.

What if the person one loves is already married? What if the person one loves is a sibling? How about a teacher in love with a student? Or a pastor in love with a choir boy? Or an uncle with his niece? Acting upon any of these loves in a sexual relationship is, in most places, a crime. It is not so much whom one loves, but howone loves. How it would feel does not really matter since, in each of these cases, it is morally wrong to sexualize the relationship. Feelings do not change the moral nature of an act.

Why, if all the above cases deserve prohibition, do homosexuals deserve an exemption when it comes to sodomy? Secretary Clinton never said why we should feel for them and not for any of those mentioned above, nor did she raise any of the above examples of criminal love as violations of human rights. Why not?

Rationalizing immoral behaviour

As with all rationalizations for moral misbehavior, Mrs. Clinton’s speech was rife with denials of reality, three of which came in one sentence. She said, “Now, there are some who say and believe that all gay people are pedophiles, that homosexuality is a disease that can become caught or cured, or that gays recruit others to become gay. Well, these notions are simply not true”.

Well, these notions have to be seen as not true for her to promote the “gay” agenda internationally and get away with it. I have never met anyone who believes that all homosexuals are pedophiles, but many of them are certainly pederasts. By setting up the pedophile straw man, Mrs. Clinton avoids this unpleasant reality. Whether homosexuality is a disease or not (it is certainly a disorder), there is ample evidence that it can be cured. Of course, a fair number of people float into homosexuality in their youth and float out again as they mature – no cure required. So much for its being an immutable characteristic.

Others who have become immersed in this life and who later wish to leave it have successfully done so through a variety of therapies. In 1995, the New York Timesreported that “Dr Charles W. Socarides offered the closest thing to hope that many homosexuals had in the 1960s: the prospect of a cure. Rather than brand them as immoral or regard them as criminal, Dr Socarides, a New York psychoanalyst, told homosexuals that they suffered from an illness whose effects could be reversed.” Dr Socarides said that his cure rate was about one third. For Secretary Clinton to deny this is an enormous disservice to the very people whose rights she purports to be defending.

Lastly, the bigger the lie, the bolder the assertion – as in Mrs. Clinton’s outright denial that “gays recruit others to become gay”. In my professional career in the arts, I witnessed such recruitment, saw its occasional success, and was several times the object of it. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the homosexual subculture could not possibly make such a statement.

Otherwise, Mrs. Clinton could have referred to homosexual literature, such asLavender Culture (1994), in which Gerald Hannon described the need for a youth recruitment campaign: “I believe…we have to behave in a certain way vis-à-vis young people. I believe that means we have to proselytize… The answer is to proselytize. Aggressively so”. He added that, “To attract young people to the gay movement in large numbers should be the challenge to the next phase of the movement. It is a challenge we have set ourselves…” This is not to say that all homosexuals recruit, but to assert that none do is a complete denial of reality – which, after all, is the point of the rationalization.

The State Department celebrates

What this is all about was very clear from the 2006 Yogykarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, adopted by the International Commission of Jurists, the International Service for Human Rights, and homosexual activists to influence the interpretation of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all UN human rights treaties, and international law as a whole. One requirement of thePrinciples is to: “Repeal criminal and other legal provisions that prohibit or are, in effect, employed to prohibit consensual sexual activity among people of the same sex who are over the age of consent…” This is the nub of the issue. It is not the status of homosexuals that is so much the matter, as it is the status of their conduct.

In 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, France introduced a statement at the UN General Assembly, titled Joint Statement on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Human Rights. It proclaimed that, “We urge States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention”. The Statement was signed by 66 nations.

Under the George W. Bush administration, the United States declined, but in 2009 the Barack Obama administration signed the Statement. While the Statement did not go as far as the Yogykarta Principles, it was clearly headed in that direction. The majority of the criminal penalties it was decrying were not, as the Statementdisingenuously suggests, aimed at orientation, but at activity. It is the activity that must be vindicated and blessed as a universal human right.

One of the most immediate results of the priority given to the homosexual cause by President Obama and Secretary Clinton has been the profusion of “gay pride” commemorations and celebrations in US embassies abroad. June is the month singled out for this because, in 2000, President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month”, with the last Sunday reserved as Gay Pride Day. June was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots as the beginning of “gay” liberation. Ever since, every government agency has observed it. As of 2011, it moved overseas as part of US foreign policy.

Therefore, the US Embassy in Islamabad celebrated its first-ever lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) “pride celebration” with an event on June 26, 2011. The embassy said the purpose of meeting was to demonstrate “support for human rights, including LGBT rights, in Pakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society.” Richard Hoagland, the US deputy chief of mission, was quoted on the embassy website, as saying, “I want to be clear that the US Embassy is here to support you and stand by your side every step of the way”.

However, it is Pakistan’s Penal Code, not extremist elements, that, in Section 377 (introduced at the time of British colonialism), states, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished… with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years nor more than ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

If the Pakistani embassy in Washington DC held a public event in which it encouraged that the domestic laws in the United States be changed in order to re-criminalize sodomy, we might be somewhat surprised and irritated. Why should the Pakistani people be less annoyed by the US Embassy telling them to change its laws in order to decriminalize sodomy? Why exactly is that our business?

All Islamic groups in Pakistan condemned the “pride” event as a form of “cultural terrorism” against democratic Pakistan. Students protested against what they called “the attempts of the United States to promote vulgarity in Islamic societies under the pretext of human rights”. One speaker at a demonstration said, “Now the United States wants to project and promote objectionable, unnatural, abnormal behaviors under the pretext of equality and human rights, which is not at all acceptable… If you destroy the morality of the society, you have destroyed it completely.”

In Nairobi, Kenya, June, 2012, the US Embassy hosted what is thought to be the first “Gay Pride” event in that country. John Haynes, a public affairs officer at the US embassy, introduced the event: "The US government for its part has made it clear that the advancement of human rights for LGBT people is central to our human rights policies around the world and to the realization of our foreign policy goals". Homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya, just as they were in parts of the United States until 2003. Now, as part of our foreign policy, apparently we tell Kenya to change its laws.

The US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos, proudly displays webpage news from its 2012 “first-ever Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride event on June 25 in Vientiane. The event, called ‘Proud to be Us!’, was produced by a group of young Lao LGBT activists and featured music, dance, skits, and dramas exploring issues faced by LGBT people in Laos today, such as discrimination, gender roles, and sexual health”.

On the webpage of the US Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, a joint statement was issued which the US ambassador, Norman Eisen, had signed. It declared: “On the occasion of the 2nd annual Prague Pride Festival (2012), we express our solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities of the Czech Republic in their celebration… The Prague Pride Festival reminds us that ensuring LGBT rights is an important aspect of fulfilling our broader international human rights commitments since the full recognition of those rights is still one of the world’s remaining human rights challenges. Safeguarding human rights and guarding against intolerance requires constant vigilance in the Czech Republic, as in all our countries. Therefore today, we align ourselves with the Prague Pride participants…”

This type of thing at US embassies has become standard. As then-Secretary of State Clinton proclaimed in June, 2012: “United States Embassies and Missions throughout the world are working to defend the rights of LGBT people of all races, religions, and nationalities as part of our comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of our foreign policy. From Riga, where two US Ambassadors and a Deputy Assistant Secretary marched in solidarity with Baltic Pride; to Nassau, where the Embassy joined together with civil society to screen a film about LGBT issues in Caribbean societies; to Albania, where our Embassy is coordinating the first-ever regional Pride conference for diplomats and activists to discuss human rights and shared experiences”.

Forcing other countries to adopt US standards

As in Pakistan, there has been some blowback from the effort to legitimize sodomy and promote same-sex marriage. When the acting ambassador in El Salvador, Mari Carmen Aponte, wrote an op-ed in a major Salvadoran newspaper, La Prensa Grafica, implying that the disapproval of homosexual behavior is animated by “brutal hostility” and “aggression” by “those who promote hatred”, a group of pro-family associations fought back. On July 6, 2011, they wrote,

“Ms. Aponte, in clear violation of the rules of diplomacy and international rights laws, you intend to impose to (sic) Salvadorans, disregarding our profound Christian values, rooted in natural law, a new vision of foreign and bizarre values, completely alien to our moral fiber, intending to disguise this as ‘human rights’… The only thing we agree with from your article, is to repudiate violence against homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, etc.; Against these, just the same as against skinny, fat, tall or short ... This of course does not mean accepting the legal union between same sex individuals or to add new types of families like bisexual, tri-sexual, multi-sexual and the full range of sexual preferences. Not accepting the legitimacy of ‘sexual diversity’ does not mean we are violating any human right. There can be no talk of progress if this is how ‘modern’ is defined. We prefer to feel proudly ‘old fashioned’, keep our moral values, preserve our families and possess the clarity of what defines good and evil.”

As mentioned above, Secretary Clinton said that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights”. The problem with this should be self-evident. The promotion of gay rights must come at the expense of the promotion of human rights because the two notions are immiscible. One is founded on the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God and the other on moral relativism, which eviscerates the very idea of natural rights and the natural law on which they are based. If you have one, you cannot have the other. You have your rights by virtue of being a human being, and not by anything else – not ethnicity, not religion, not race, not tribe, not sexual orientation.

I deplore, for instance, the persecution of Baha’is in Iran and the persecution of Ahamdis in Pakistan. Being a Baha’i or being an Ahmadi no doubt constitutes the identity of these people who are being persecuted. Nonetheless, there is no such thing as Ahmadi rights or Baha’i rights: there are only human rights. And our defense of them comes precisely at the level of principle in the inalienable right to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression.

Were we to construct such a thing as Ahmadi rights or Baha’i rights or “gay” rights, we would be eviscerating the foundations for those very human rights, which have to be universal by definition in order to exist. If one has rights as a Baha’i, what happens to those rights if one converts to, say Christianity? Does one then lose one’s Baha’i rights and obtain new Christian rights? What happens to one’s “gay” rights if one goes straight?

One does not possess or attain rights in this way. They are inalienable because one possesses them by virtue of one’s human nature – not due to any other specificity regarding race, class, gender or religion. Either they exist at that level, or they do not exist at all. If someone tries to appropriate human rights for something that applies to less than everyone, then you may be sure that they are undermining very notion of human rights. If there are abuses, and this includes abuses against homosexuals, then they should be opposed from the perspective of human rights, not manufactured rights that obtain to just a specific group.

If the United States wishes to promote democratic principles and constitutional rule in other countries, but insists on inserting a manufactured right such as “gay” rights as integral to that program, it will be rejected overall by religious people and by those who, through the examination of moral philosophy, have arrived at the existence of human rights from natural law. If we wish not only to make ourselves irrelevant, but an object of derision in the Muslim and other parts of world, all we have to do is openly promote the rationalization of homosexual behavior, which is explicitly taught against as inherently immoral by Islam and, in fact, by every minority religion in those Muslim-majority countries, including Christianity and Judaism.

If we wish to make this part of American public diplomacy, as we have been doing, we can surrender the idea that the United States is promoting democracy in those countries because they are already responding, “If this is democracy, we don’t want it, thank you; we would rather keep our faith and morals.” This approach not only undermines the foundation of human rights abroad but here, as well.

But, of course, democracy is not the real goal; the goal is the universalization of the rationalization for sodomy. This is now one of the depraved purposes of US foreign policy. The light from the City on the Hill is casting a very dark shadow.

Robert R. Reilly is the author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind. He is currently completing a book on the natural law argument against homosexual marriage for Ignatius Press.

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