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There is a growing gap between countries that promote LGBTQ+ rights and those that are regressing


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Secretary Penny Wong joined 50,000 people in early March in support of queer rights march across the Sydney Harbor Bridge for World Pride. A week earlier, Albanian became the first sitting prime minister to participate in Mardi Gras in Sydney, something he has done for decades.

And yet the Ugandan parliament in another part of the world simultaneously passed a series of draconian measures against homosexuality, including possible death sentences for ‘aggravated homosexuality’. Any “promotion” of homosexuality is also prohibited.

Read more: Uganda’s new anti-LGBTQ+ law could lead to death penalty for same-sex ‘offenses’

Seven years ago I co-wrote a book with Jonathan Symons called Queer Wars. At the time we suggested there was a growing gap between countries where sexual and gender diversity was more accepted, and countries where repression increased.

Unfortunately, that analysis seems even more relevant today.

A growing gap

Some countries have lifted criminal sanctions against homosexuality, which are often the legacy of colonialism. This includes, in recent years, former British colonies Singapore And India.

But others have imposed new and harsher punishments for any deviation from stereotyped assumptions of heterosexual male superiority (as Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell conditions “hegemonic masculinity”).

Anti-gay legislation is currently under consideration in Ghana, prompting U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris Express concerns on a recent visit.

These moves reflect the deep homophobia of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has strangely linked intervention in Ukraine to protect traditional values ​​from LGBTQ+ infiltration.

Meanwhile, reports from Afghanistan suggest everyone identified as “LGBT”. in danger of being killed.

Indonesia recently passed legislation punishing all sex outside of marriage. This follows years of anti-queer rhetoric of Indonesian leaders and crackdowns in regional areas.

And while the Biden administration supports queer rights worldwide, the extraordinary hysteria around trans issues in the Republican Party reminds us that the West has no inherent claim to moral superiority.

Read more: What’s up with the wave of GOP bills about trans teens? Utah gives clues

Where to now?

Speaking at the World Pride Human Rights Conference, both Wong and Attorney General Mark Dreyfus made it clear that Australia would push for sexuality and gender identity to be recognized as deserving protections, as part of our commitment to human rights.

Wong also announced one new Fund for Inclusion and Equality in support of queer community organizations in our region.

Australian governments have usually been wary of loud claims of support for gay rights. This is partly due to reasonable fear, which only reinforces the perception that such language reflects a sense of Western superiorityunwilling to recognize other societies may have very different views on gender and sexuality.

Australia is part of the Equal Rights Coalition, an intergovernmental body of 42 countries dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people, and has supported sexual and gender rights in the country reviews conducted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Australia has a minimal presence in Uganda and direct representations are unlikely to have much effect. Uganda is a member of the Commonwealth, as are Ghana, Kenya and Zambia, where official homophobia appears to be on the rise. But there is little evidence that the Australian government sees this as an important foreign policy forum, or is willing to push for sexual rights through its institutions.

As persecution based on sexuality and gender identity increases, more people will try to flee their countries. Queer refugees are in double danger: they are not safe at home, but often equally unsafe in their diasporic communities, which deep prejudices about their homeland.

The UN Refugee Agency reports that most people who seek asylum because of their sexuality do not want to disclose it because of discrimination within their own ethnic community. This makes it impossible to have accurate numbers. But a clear signal from Australia would be a strong statement of support – that it understands the situation and welcomes people forced to flee because of their sexuality or gender expression.

An official document from the Canadian government states:

Canada has a proud history of protecting and helping to resettle the world’s most vulnerable groups. So are those in the bisexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and other sexually and gender diverse community.

Their model is worth following.

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