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Jun 13, 2019 in Analysis

Political Homophobia

Unable to hide the negative trends in the economy and authoritarian leadership intentions, the government reorients its speakers to the distraction of the audience, pressing on people’s primary instincts and fears. The struggle against discrimination based on sexual orientation is not only about the protection of the sexual minorities’ rights and interests but also about the universal, inalienable rights of every person. This problem remains an actual challenge of the modern world. The society demands only one possible solution and acceptance of the issue, without any compromise and exceptions. Accordingly, equality without compromise or exception has become the topical slogan. The paper deals with the issue of political homophobia, analyzing the roots of the problem, main forces that shape the problem and its connection to neoliberalism.

In the modern world, it is important to distinguish between two types of homophobia: the political and the social (Currier 2010, p.110). While political homophobia can be overcome by political means only, social biases cannot be changed with the help of political means (Currier 2010, p. 110). Homosexual parades are organized as a struggle against political homophobia for equality without compromises and exceptions. This is a radical but totally legal political action. No one expects that such parades could have a positive impact on everyday prejudices. However, without overcoming political homophobia and succeeding in the establishment of laws on the protection of all minorities, the eradication of social culture of violence and hatred is almost impossible.

For one thing, political homophobia has been reported to emerge as part and parcel of reverting to fundamentalism, along the lines of consolidating statehood or civilizational affinity such as culture-based alliances (Bosia 2013, p. 31). In fact, this may pertain to Middle Eastern incidence of extreme observance of Shari’a as well as the recent ultra-conservative movements in the Western Europe fostering the original Judeo-Christian virtues (e.g. natural family models and sex roles at odds with fuzzier gender profiles). On the other hand, homophobia gains the specifically political connotation whenever it may not have been observed as a prior response to any sexuality patterns which never had become manifest and out of the ordinary(Currier 2010, p.111). 

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The issue of political homophobia takes its roots back to the period when older generation influenced by political propaganda brought up their children in the atmosphere of hate and non-acceptance of the “other”.  As a rule, children were brought up in the society full of political and sexual taboos (e.g. children were not allowed to watch Strangers on a Train while it was regarded a film about “homos’) (Corber 1993, p. 1). Moreover, in order to get rid of the issue of homosexuality, the government was linking the questions of gender and sexual identity to the concerns on national security (Corber 1993, p.8). Being considered psychologically unstable and aggressive, sexual minorities were regarded as the main factors of national risk. Therefore, they were persecuted and punished. The process reminds the period when people were chasing the witches and burning them in an open fire. The society and government are always in need of someone to blame in all evils.

Moreover, one may suppose that the chase for the “others” is a well-constructed political campaign. In order to distract people’s attention from some important political problems, the government invents a bomb – a new theme for discussion and condemnation. Therefore, politicians put the blame on innocent people who appeared to be less fortunate and experience political and social agony. However, with every year more and more countries modernize and develop trying to leave old prejudice and rules in the past. As a result, slowly but very confidently, the world is becoming more tolerant and human-friendly.

The “haunt” for sexual minorities returned with the establishment of neoliberalism, claiming to be even more tolerant and democratic. Neoliberalism, a new term for the procorporate anti-big government is primarily associated with trade policy and economics (Duggan 2003, p.3). However, its claimed aims at achieving more democracy and more wealth appeared to be profoundly anti-democratic and caused rough discussion. By 1980s, the government slowly retooled the means and strategies against homosexuals (Duggan 2003, p.7). First of all, the politicians conceded the right to privacy, defining it as a kind of restriction, a border protecting people’s sensitivity (Castronovo, Nelson 2002, p. 181). As a result, privacy was defined as something isolated and out of reach of any public meeting point (Castronovo, Nelson 2002, p.181). Such actions gave rise to further deterioration of sexual minorities’ rights and liberties.

The problem of acceptance or non-acceptance of the sexual minorities is more a cultural than political conflict. The issue about the equality of human rights that is ordinary and normal in the European Union, for instance, appears to be a significant problem in the countries of post-Soviet Union. The problem is not necessarily connected with the Soviet Union legacy but is rather connected with the fact that in the post-Soviet countries such issues are not familiar and taken for granted.

21 years ago, on May 17, 1990, the UN World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the list of diseases (Disser 2014). Nevertheless, Russian psychiatrists abandoned the diagnosis "homosexuality" later on January 1, 1999 (Disser 2014). A considerable part of the society still thinks gays are either ill people or perverts. Nowadays, 17 May remains an International Day against homophobia (Disser 2014). On May 16 the Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information of the Supreme Council of Ukraine recommended to establish the law that presupposes criminal responsibility for "propaganda of homosexuality" along with the promotion of fascism, war, and xenophobia (Disser 2014). Accepting the before mentioned law on the prohibition of crimes against humanity deputies themselves want to commit the same crime of intolerance. Populists in power are happily supported by the fascist youngsters tearing the film about Harvey Milk human rights, attacking a photo exhibition on the life of LGBT and even resorting to physical violence against fellow citizens (Disser 2014). However, they find enough hypocrisy to call themselves "patriotic publicity" (under patriotism referring to the destruction of the remnants of democracy in Ukraine.) (Disser, 2014). Unfortunately, while not all people admit that democracy is a dialogue between different but equal votes and construction of the society with the help of contract and compromise, homophobes will continue to express their own opinion using all possible ways, including the violence against opponents and vandalism.

Many criticize those who are supporting the propaganda for equality of people of different gender identity and sexual orientation. Many people claim that "politics" should go separately from LGBT. However, the attitude towards homosexual people can be regarded as a kind of litmus test, the test on humanity and freedom (both internal and external). Homosexuals still experience contempt and abusive attitude. As a rule, the process of getting a job for them is a challenge full of different obstacles and disappointments.  Their actions are always booed. Many people are forced to lead a "double" life and take on different masks. They pretend to be one person among the friends, another at work, and only left alone they can relax and be themselves. 

It has become a matter of fact that homosexualists are aliens not worth living on our perfect planet. However, it might be more humanly to let a person be himself/herself, not trying to fit into particular borders, following herd rules and instincts. It is much better to live in a society where people do not care who is sleeping with whom and understand that there is no "one right."

Under present circumstances, when a large part of the society believes that it is necessary not to love according to what heart chooses but to love in accordance with the criteria of morality professed by the society, the question about the struggle for equal rights of people of any orientation and gender identity has become a political issue. If people want to live in a free and equal humanistic society, this problem can not be hidden and left without attention. The question of the attitude to sexual minorities - is a landmark issue on the road to freedom. Accordingly, not only sexual minorities should speak on the issue but political leaders of different directions as well. 

Europe has already passed this way and accepted the people for who they are and not for who they have to be. Mayor of Berlin chosen by the majority of the population stated in a campaign speech: "I'm gay and that's fine too!” Mayor of Paris was gay (Bosia 2013, p.50). The Mayor of London has repeatedly advocated the equality of gay and encouraged people to say “no” to xenophobia and secretiveness and say “yes” to the world’s openness (Bosia 2013, p.50).

On the example of African society, one can clearly notice the main forces that shape the anti-homosexual trend: connection with evangelists and US State Department (Bosia 2013, p.47). Scott Lively is a right radical American Christian fundamentalist, who devoted his career to the attacks on LGBT. He is the author of a book full of slander, in which he declares Nazi Germany the result of homosexuals’ collusion (Bosia 2013, p.47). In 2009, he went to Uganda and read there a series of lectures in which he warned about the threat of the gay trend in the Ugandan society (Bosia 2013, p.48). Although, religious conservatism was not the main theme of his lectures but was rather a call to action. American evangelical missionaries under the guise of charitable intentions extended their network across Africa. Their widespread involvement in the social work field, including mass participation in charitable events on HIV-AIDS provided them access to local policy (Bosia 2013, p.48). However their work is not only based on mercy and charity, they go along with the lion's share of social conservatism and a political reactionary.

 
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Another one, more sinister foreign power staying behind the directed wave of repression against gays in Africa is served by the power of language and pretended support offered by LGBT (Bosia 2013, p. 48). This power is the US State Department. Hillary Clinton, holding the position of state secretary of under President Obama reign, in her speech to the UN in Geneva in 2011, stated: "Some argue that gay rights and human rights are different things. This is actually the same." (Bosia 2013, p. 49). The speech appeared to be an indiscriminate condemnation of the worldwide repression of gays. Moreover, State Department headed by Hillary Clinton added that "for the spread of gay rights around the world the US will use all democratic means." (Bosia 2013, p.49). The US and international LGBT organizations welcomed these statements, hoping that the US will use them as "leverage" while defending the civil rights of gays in countries such as Uganda. However, such a promising speech appeared to be a part of the plan while the USA is not the force that wants the good for all the world. And certainly it is not a good force for Africa.

In the society, where such social and economic problems may end up with an explosion of people’s anger, an imperious establishment is looking for scapegoats, consisting of all kinds of "other" - migrants, poor, sexual minorities. The growth of the ultra-right-wing sentiment is synchronous to the plundering of the country and cutting civil liberties - a showy patriotism and moralization manifested in the renaming of streets, the language of hatred for "outsiders", anti-gender marches, demands to ban abortion and the "propaganda of homosexuality" (Wright, Cummings 2005, p. 85). However, all of the so-called moralizing actions are the expressions of fear, which dazzles. To hurt someone more disempowered has become a kind of psychological protection in situations when the political regime reaching the authoritarian one does not allow to control one’s own life and act.

Distributed pseudo-liberalism like "I'm not against gays, let them sleep with anyone they want, but keep silent" is not better than direct aggression, because human life is not limited to the "sleeping". Relationships, in general, continue behind the walls of one’s sleeping room. The prohibition to talk about personal experience and problems is also a violence causing real suffering. A tacit approval of homophobia puts on pseudo-liberals responsibility for parents who exile their homosexual children, send them to a psychiatric hospital or expel evil spirits(Wright, Cummings 2005, p. 142). The main reason for acting this way is the political one while people become afraid of biased views towards them, giggles and reproaches. Stress and depression caused by instant tension in the conflict with society and the immediate environment, lead to serious diseases. The government is trying to hide not the details of homosexual relationships, but the truth about love, pain, and suffering caused by absurd prejudice.

Hearing the language of hate from Orthodox believers, one may wonder what happened to such humanist values (and Christian virtues) as compassion, solidarity and charity(Wright, Cummings 2005, p. 56). However, it is of greater interest what may happen to the undeveloped, unbloomed democracy beginning with Voltairian "I do not agree with any of your words, but I am ready to die for your opportunity to express your views." Nowadays, there develops the problem of the welfare not only of the particular social group but of the general welfare. Accordingly, it is a duty of every conscious citizen to struggle against every type of homophobia, otherwise people will be imprisoned in the society of helplessness, fear, and anger.

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