In many countries across the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are recurrently subjected to targeted killings, violent assaults, torture, and sexual violence.
Shockingly, in 2014, homosexuality is illegal in 76 countries around the world, and in 10 of these punishable by death or life imprisonment. This news is rarely reported in the UK’s mainstream, Tory-owned, media, and many workers may be unaware of the extent of state and religious-sponsored homophobia, anti-gay hate, ignorance, and discrimination faced by millions of LGBT people around the world every day.
In February, Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and welcome visitors from around the world — so long as they are not gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender! In recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has overseen and promoted a vicious onslaught of state-sponsored homophobic legislation in Russia to distract the public from widespread government corruption and other social ills. It is now illegal in Russia to even say that you are gay, let alone talk positively about homosexuality! Russian LGBT activists have reported a dramatic increase in homophobic attacks since the anti-gay law was introduced, and attackers being protected by the police.
And in other parts of the world, human rights groups are also reporting a trend of worsening human rights violations against LGBT people. In several African countries, parliaments are advocating laws that would further penalise and even execute homosexuals.
On 7 January 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law that makes gay marriage in Nigeria punishable by up to 14 years in prison. And already, LGBT rights activists are reporting mass arrests and beatings of gay people all over Nigeria. Dozens of gay men have already been arrested in the northern state of Bauchi, after police drew up a list of 168 gay men who are now being hunted down. Within days, an Islamic court in Bauchi put 11 Muslim men on trial accused of being homosexuals, after they were arrested by local residents and handed to the Islamic police force. On 23 January, as the suspects emerged from a courtroom to be taken away in a police van, a mob of up to a thousand hysterical locals hurled stones at the suspects. Police used tear gas and fired shots into the air to disperse the crowd. Under Sharia law, the court says, homosexuality is punishable by death by stoning.
Nigeria is a deeply conservative country and the recent anti-gay witch-hunt is being used by political leaders to distract attention from other human rights violations and is seen as a calculated move to divert the focus of political debate in Nigeria from the endemic political corruption and unequal economy.
Across the world, LGBT people are routinely used by corrupt political forces as scapegoats for the social instability of the capitalist system, serving as a functional distraction from misgovernment, economic problems, rising food prices, and political tyranny. The capitalist class purposely target LGBT people and make use of popular prejudices and ignorance as a means to foster division in the working class and divert attention from class-based issues.
LGBT people are accused of eroding a "traditional" way of life, as political and religious leaders seek to create a climate of opinion out of which to gain support. And meantime, US-based evangelicals continue to join forces with anti-gay religious and political leaders across Africa to make LGBT advocacy illegal and incite anti-gay murder.
Tubeworker was pleased to note that RMT activists joined a large demonstration outside the Uganda High Commission in London on 8 January, urging Ugandan President Museveni not to sign a draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would condemn many LGBT Ugandans to life imprisonment. The Bill proposes imprisonment for anyone who counsels or reaches out to homosexuals, and anyone providing services to LGBT people. LGBT people face increase levels of persecution after the passing of the bill, which is still being considered for signing by the President. And still, LGBT Ugandans are being used as pawns in a much bigger political game between the beleaguered President and the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Rebecca Kadaga, who has ambitions for the top job.
Tubeworker joins LGBT activists across the world to remember the life of David Kato, the courageous Ugandan LGBT rights activist who was bludgeoned to death 3 years ago on January 26, 2011, shortly after winning a lawsuit against a Ugandan newspaper which had published his name and photograph identifying him as gay man and calling for him to be executed.