International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Homophobia as a crime against humanity

In a historic move for international law, a US judge ruled in August that a prominent American evangelist can be tried for crimes against humanity due to his advocacy for the Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill. Scott Lively has admitted to influencing the Ugandan bill as well as Russia’s more-recent “gay propaganda” law and has argued that homosexuals are to blame for Nazi atrocities. The ruling is new for international law because it defines LGBTQ individuals as a class against which discrimination and unfair treatment is not acceptable.

In his humorous take on global homophobia, Jon Stewart references the seemingly common news of homophobia coming out of Africa. Beyond the Ugandan law, Nigeria recently passed a law that makes most interactions between gay people criminal, a majority of African countries have outlawed homosexuality, and Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, recently went head-to-head with President Obama over the issue (In French, English coverage here).

While Africa’s problems with LGBTQ people haven’t won the region many allies in the West, Sall’s comments reflect a commonly-held belief that acceptance of homosexuality would be an unwelcome Western import. But if, in a few years or decade, acceptance of homosexuality became a new international norm, would leader like Sall in Senegal, Jonathan in Nigeria, and Putin in Russia be at risk of prosecution?

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One response to “Homophobia as a crime against humanity

  1. Clare Flourish January 23, 2014 at 3:26 am

    It depends whether you see it as acceptable, or sort-of acceptable: criminalisation of gay expression because the Bible says it is wrong.

    One way to look at it is, what is the result? Gay people are assaulted and the police are on the side of those assaulting; blackmail; suffering.

    Then, how much is a leader responsible for the laws his population demand? Do they just follow the crowd, or should they provide a lead?

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