Today, the United Nations voted to restore gays and lesbians to a list of people who merit special protection from “the unjustified killing of minority groups.”
This may come as a surprise to many, who may not understand that, even in the 21st Century, there are countries where imprisoning, torturing, or butchering gay people (or even people who are simply accused of being gay) is considered a perfectly reasonable practice.
Opposition to this resolution came primarily from Arabic and African nations, where religious prejudice frequently motivates (and is used to justify) horrific acts of violence against gay people. In “liberated” Iraq, for example, traditionalists utilize the Internet to identify gay people and target them for gruesome deaths.
Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims … “Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts,” he told the Observer. “We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God’s forgiveness before they are killed.”
Between January and September, 2009, Hamizi’s vigilante group are believed to have murdered more than 130 young men by gluing their anuses shut, cutting off their genitals, and torturing them to death, all in the name of “policing moral boundaries.” Attitudes like these have transformed Iraq (which, in the 1960’s and 70’s, boasted a “relatively liberated” gay population) into “the worst place for homosexuals on earth.”
Especially in light of victories like the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it’s easy to forget just how fragile freedom can be for gay and lesbian people around the world. These freedoms are also fragile in the U.S., where, once again, the seeds of violence against gay people are primarily sown by religious extremists — who, we must not forget, play an increasingly important role in American politics.
Few are straightforward as Clint McCance, the Arkansas school board member who posted on his Facebook page a wish that all “queers” would “commit suicide or “give each other AIDS and die.” But Tea Party members like Sharon Angle and newly elected Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch make no bones about opposing human rights for gay people on the grounds of their “fundamental Christian beliefs.”
When attempting to justify their prejudices, fundamentalists like Kleefisch frequently cite “slippery slope” arguments:
– If you can’t fire someone for being gay, then how long before churches have to accept gay ministers, whether they want them or not?
– If you allow gay soldiers in the military, how long before military discipline gives way to gay gangs with weapons forcing their advances on their comrades?
– If you allow gay marriage, how long before people marry dogs, or sheep, or even clocks?
It doesn’t take much mental firepower (or research) to recognize just how irrational such arguments are. There is,however, a slippery slope that does merit concern … and, unlike the fanciful slippery slopes so beloved by fundamentalists, this one is *not* a fantasy; in fact, it has manifested itself throughout history, rearing its head again and again.
Whenever someone advocates, on religious grounds, that an entire group of people are inherently less deserving of protection and respect than others, that advocate will eventually, implicitly or explicitly, argue that such people are also, somehow, less human … and that, as a result, they *deserve* whatever indignities the advocates deem appropriate to administer.
This is the the *real* slippery slope … and this is why it’s important for all Americans to advocate for equal rights, equal protection, and equal marriages for gay and lesbians.
We must not allow America to become the kind of nation where religious beliefs dictate whether or not our citizens are worthy of equality, protection, and respect.