Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh attended a United Nations General Assembly on Friday, speaking of the threat homosexuals possess against human existence. He cited their greed and power-hungry fight for power. His vitriol wasn't taken lightly, as gay rights activists and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke against him, calling him "paranoid and disturbing."
The meeting on Thursday had many countries, including the US, France, Japan, and Brazil, to repeal laws criminalizing homosexual activity and those of non-traditional gender roles on a global scale.
According to a 2011 UN study, 76 countries criminalize same-sex relations, with more countries (such as Russia) discriminating against media and knowledge involving non-straight, non-cisgendered people. Violence targeting these people continues to plague many parts of the world, near and far.
We see a lot of this, now. After watching the Missionaries of Hate video in our class, it doesn't come as a surprise that more African countries besides Uganda feel this same necessary hate and intolerance - except this time, it is of a Muslim perspective rather than an evangelical Christian one. Jammeh, in 2007, proclaimed that he had found a cure for AIDS by boiling medicinal herbs. Is this his hopeful ignorance, as numerous people in Africa face HIV/AIDS on a daily basis, or is it a way to not provide real healthcare for many gay and lesbian people who suffer just as their straight counterparts?
It's important that many countries wish to see a stop to this frightening abuse, from their government and even to their religious leaders (the new Pope, for example, sees no reason to persecute homosexuals). The UN taking a step forward to rid the world of these human rights issues is a step in the right direction, but with people like Jammeh still in positions of power, these sanctions can only go so far. It's very difficult to argue against someone with such strong, impenetrable beliefs - no matter how ethically and morally wrong they may be. The only way to fix this is through educational efforts and a few lessons in basic human compassion.
Oct. 1st, 2013