The international war on LGBT people
As Americans gathered in cities across the country to celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage, several thousand Turks also tried to march in support of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Police in Istanbul attacked them with water cannons and rubber pellets.
But Turkey is hardly alone in vilifying, isolating and threatening LGBT people. While 25 countries and territories now allow gay marriage, 75 nations treat homosexual behavior as a crime.
In 10 countries, it is punishable by death — and even where it is not, just being gay is often fatal. A May U.N. report found “continuing, serious and widespread human rights violations perpetrated, too often with impunity, against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“Since 2011, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more injured in brutal, violent attacks,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights reported.
What’s the right way to think about this global dichotomy? Overseas practitioners of bigotry sometimes plead for cultural or religious understanding: Just as they don’t tell us how to run our country, they say, we should show respect for their traditions. Of course killing transgender people is wrong, they might argue, but why should they be forced to legalize practices they find offensive?
You can hear similar arguments in defense of genital cutting, banning women from driving or keeping people with mental disabilities hidden away.
The appeal to a sense of tolerance may stop you for a moment, especially if you are loath to proclaim one faith or way of life superior to another.
But it shouldn’t stop you for long. Nations are entitled to organize themselves as they wish, but not at the expense of fundamental human rights.
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