There is a clear need for Sri Lanka to not to succumb to various ‘quid pro quo’ demands being put forward by the neocon machine behind the current inquisition Sri Lanka is being subjected to at the UN.
by Dr. Kamal Wickremasinghe
( November 22, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka is reported to have informed the UNHCR officials at the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sri Lanka in Geneva on November 15 that the present constitutional reform process will include explicit guarantees of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, notwithstanding the challenges posed by the particular social and cultural traditions of Sri Lanka. The undertaking has been given by a Sri Lankan delegation to the UNHCR headed by Dr. Harsha de Silva, the National Policies and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister.
It must be stated at the outset that as a country civilised by the influence of Buddhism, Sri Lanka should aspire to eliminate all types of unjustifiable discrimination, and to that extent, Sri Lanka’s ‘promise’ to ensure non-discrimination of homosexuals is nothing extraordinary. There is however, a need to question the government succumbing to demands to give such an undertaking at an inquiry in to trumped-up war crimes charges by our chief tormentor at the UNHCR, the United States of America.
It needs to be recalled that demands to amend the Penal Code to decriminalise homosexuality in Sri Lanka were part of the undertakings given by yahapalana elements during the early submissive days to the so-called international community (of neocons). These demands were reinforced by the EU branch of the neocon community during the GPS+ begging days. It was only the stern refusal by the former Minister of Justice Wijayadasa Rajapakse that stood in the way of our ‘hypnopaedic’ trudge — of the Brave New World proportions — towards the morals regime of the World State. It is also material that Minister Harsha de Silva as Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs attempted to bypass the former justice minister in order to expedite the process.
It appears that some members of the yahapalana dispensation — bleary-eyed admirers of globalisation, privatisation and other neocon formulas — would go to extraordinary lengths to please their ideological and moral guru, the United States of America.
The present push for guarantees of various foreign agendas in the proposed new constitution needs to be looked at its proper context: it is no secret that America, despite its atrocious record of official discrimination against homosexuals, took the lead over the last five decades to ‘normalise’ homosexuality as a life style in Western societies. As evidenced by the sheer coincidence of the people of Australia granting consent for same sex marriage in a plebiscite on the same day Sri Lanka made its promise — the last ‘advanced’ English speaking country to vote ‘yes’ to gay marriage, according to the winners — the project in the West appears concluded.
The next phase of the neocon global ‘social engineering’ agenda is to elevate the discussion of the subject in political and media circles in developing countries to prominence. It does not matter to them that we are a country battlingother existential and pressing development issues. The use of devices such as threats of action on alleged ‘war crimes’ gives them a stick that can be used with weak leaders in the developing world.
The purpose here is to focus on the forces and events behind the radical transformation of the plight and the fortunes of homosexuality and homosexual groups in the Western world over the last half century and how America is using the human rights lever to force the developing world to give priority this particular issue, at the expense of more pressing issues.
Religious view of homosexuality
Throughout history, homosexuality — sexual interest in people of one’s own gender — has been denounced as perverse behaviour by mainstream societies the world over. It has been considered immoral and sinful by all major religions. Modern science has not been able to provide any convincing answers as to the possible causes of ‘queer’ behaviour; The debate on the potential genetic and environmental causes of homosexuality is continuing. There is another school of thought that homosexuality, being a “Darwinian paradox” (that does not contribute to the continuation of the species) would be ‘selected against’ in time, irrespective of its causes. From a Buddhist perspective however, compassionate treatment of people with such inclinations would be needed, regardless of its causes.
It is notable that among the major religions, Buddhism does not specifically address homosexuality in the Dhamma, probably reflecting an assumption of ‘heteronormativity’, with homosexuality considered a rare issue that affects a negligible minority of people. It is presumed however, homosexuality is captured within ‘sexual misconduct’ anticipated in the third of the five precepts of Right Conduct. In keeping with its common approach to transgressions, nor does Buddhism prescribe particular punishment or other penalties for homosexuality.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam however, take a rather punitive view of homosexual acts — not necessarily of homosexuality per se — that can be traced back to the Orthodox Jewish teachings rooted in Leviticus,the third book of the Old Testament — known in Hebrew as Vayikra: ‘Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence’ (Leviticus 18:22) and ‘If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death—their bloodguilt is upon them’ (Leviticus 20:13). Halakha (Jewish law) also regards homosexual acts as ‘abomination’ that can be subject to capital punishment by the tribal court system Sanhedrin. Such acts are also considered evil enough to warrant God’s destruction of whole societies that allow them. Jewish law however, ignores lesbianism.
The issue of how to treat homosexuality has been a subject of contention among Jewish denominations. Rabbis in Orthodox Judaism maintain their vehement non-acceptance of homosexuality while the Conservative and Reform Judaism sects consider homosexual intercourse and same-sex marriage acceptable. Strict adherence to this original view by Orthodox Judaism prevents it from accepting the modern Jewish argument that the law against homosexuality needs to be interpreted in the light of ‘intention’, and such acts would be permissible when underlined by notions of love. They further argue that all human beings are created in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27), and regardless of context, discrimination against any person is inconsistent with this fundamental belief. These arguments appear flimsy however, in view of the meanings they import, and in conflating the issues of rational debate and fears of discrimination.
The basis of the prohibition against homosexual acts in Christianity is also derived from the two biblical verses in Leviticus. The only reference in the New Testament is contained in Romans 1:18–32 and 2:14–16 where Paul regarded sexual acts between men or between women as violations of natural law known even to non-Jews whose minds were not clouded by idolatry.
The Qur’an (4:16) demands unspecified punishment for men guilty of lewdness together unless they repent, and the Hadith unequivocally condemns male homosexual acts. Prophet Mohamed is supposed to have declared that both the active and the passive partner should be subject to the same penalty as for adultery, namely execution by stoning (38:4447).
These religious views have fashioned the conventional attitudes to homosexuality and homosexuals historically, the world over.
Legal treatment of homosexuality in the West
The current movement of promoting gay rights universally appears — like all other neocolonial ‘mega-movements’ — an attempt to transfer the benefit of their belated, sudden enlightenment to the rest of the world. An examination of history provides clear examples. England, ironically during reign of the debaucherous King Henry VIII in the 1530s, made homosexuality punishable by death by hanging. The relevant piece of legislation was delightfully named the Buggery Act! It was only in 1885 that the British Parliament amendedthe law to make homosexuality a mere ‘gross indecency’, still a prosecutable offence.
Similarly, the penal code of Germany, agreed by the disparate kingdoms during confederation in the 1870s, criminalised homosexuality with punishment including imprisonment and denial of civil rights. In America, the sodomy laws inherited from Britain were enforced religiously by all states, driving homosexual individuals, into underground social networks that were part of a hidden subculture. In 1953, President Dwight D Eisenhower issued an executive order banning gay men and lesbian women from all federal jobs.
There are several distinguishing features of the Western treatment of male homosexuality and people affected by it. Lesbianism (sexual liaisons between women) was treated much less harshly than male homosexuality. Secondly, the softening of legal and societal treatment of homosexuality followed in the aftermath of the wars, more noticeably after WW II. These factors point, respectively, to revulsion over homosexuality being based on its potential negative impact on population growth, and the need for more males to ‘man’ the war machine. America’s stance historically towards gays in the military forces in particular, reflects the desperation the US military experienced in recruiting soldiers. This particular motive has clearly overridden the moral imperative that had traditionally governed the treatment of homosexuals in the West.
The ‘powers that be’ next began justifying their newfound compassion for homosexuality through the particular modus operandi of reframing the discussion as part of the new American ploy of human rights that gained momentum in the 1970s. This focal point was strengthened by other attendant ‘scientific’ theories on gender and human sexuality and a shift towards contextualisingthe interpretation of large stumbling blocks such as the condemnations of particular homosexual acts in scripture. An environment suitable for higher levels of acceptance of homosexuality by the broader societywas created by deflecting the clinical debate on homosexual sex acts, towards more congenial issue of gay marriage, and the need to eliminate discrimination against a section of society.
Emergence and growth of the gay rights movement
The currently influential and powerful gay rights movement emerged from, and grew in this environment of informal sanctioning of homosexuality in Western Europe and America. The first organised campaign for gay rights was started — where else but in Berlin — in 1897 by a self-described Jewish sex researcher named Magnus Hirschfeld. The group was named the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee, WhK)and its specific charter was to petition for the repeal of Paragraph 175 of the Imperial Penal Code of Germany. By 1922, WhK had grown to25 local chapters throughout Germany and in The Netherlands and Austria. The WhK received a boost forits activities during the Weimar period (1919-1933). Adolf Hitler’s rise to power ended this relatively ‘gayer’ period when he ordered the reinvigorated enforcement of Paragraph 175. German student athletes raided and burned the materials of Hirschfeld’s institute in a public square.
In Britain, a commission on Homosexuality and Prostitution chaired by Sir John Wolfenden, issued a groundbreaking report in 1957 recommending that private homosexual liaisons between consenting adults. The recommendation received hostile reception by the British press and politicians on the grounds that Wolfenden’s position was compromised by the homosexuality of his son Jeremy. It took a decade before the recommendation was implemented by Parliament in the form of a Sexual Offences Act that effectively decriminalised homosexual relations for men age 21 or older. Tragically, however, Jeremy Wolfenden had drunk himself to death in December 1965, before his father’s recommendation became law of the country. Further legislation lowered the age of consent first to 18 in1994 and then to 16 in 2001, (largely due to the influence of Tony Blair’s friend and gay Labour power broker Peter Mandelson, ‘outed’ on the BBC Newsnight programme in 1999).
Relatively more liberal political and social attitudes towards homosexualityemboldened the gay community, as evidenced by riots on several succeeding nights, against police raids ona gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1969.The incidentmarked the birth of ‘Gay Pride celebrations’ in US cities and in several other countries. Gay political organisations proliferatedin the 1970s and ’80s, particularly in the US and Europe, later spreading to other parts of the globe. An International Lesbian and Gay Association headquartered in Brusselsplays a significant role in coordinating international efforts to promote gay rights.
These events, however, mask a deliberate, well financed and orchestrated movement by gay people to engage in local government and national politics in countries around the world. The process began in the US when the Democratic Party added sexual orientation as a plank to its platform on non-discrimination, in 1980. It was a clear demonstration of the concept of ‘moral hazard’ inherent in two party democracies where politicians act to usurp a vote block. Two openly gay people had been elected to local government in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1972, and another to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. By 1983 a sitting member of the Congress from Massachusetts announced his homosexuality, with several others following. By 2012, election of gay candidates to both Houses of Congress had become common place. Outside the US, openly gay politicians also scored successes as mayors of large cities such as Winnipeg, Manitoba In Canada, Paris and Berlin. In 2009, a lesbian became prime minister of Iceland, followed by prime minister of Belgium in 2011. The alleged control of leading political parties and government in Sri Lanka by people with homosexual tendencies and agendas reflect the ‘globalisation’ of such moves by the gay lobby.
In parallel with the move of gays in to political arena, they also undertook a challenge to admittedly excessively punitive legal treatment of homosexuality in many western countries, particularly in the US. Such expensive legal challenges over the last three decades were financed, stealthily, by a wealthy and reclusive software mogul named Tim Gill, who is estimated to have poured USD 422 million of his fortune into the cause.
The concerted legal efforts of the gay lobby can be considered to have found similar success to their social and political campaigns as demonstrated by the fact that they have transformed the countryfrom their first success in Massachusetts in 2003 (following the Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health case) to the legalisation of gay marriage in all 50 states following the Supreme Court’s landmark (5–4) decision of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 that legalised same-sex marriage throughout the US and its possessions and territories. By ruling that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by the Due Process and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The decisioncame against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of gay marriage.
What does all this mean for Sri Lanka?
There is a clear need for Sri Lanka to not to succumb to various ‘quid pro quo’ demands being put forward by the neocon machine behind the current inquisition Sri Lanka is being subjected to at the UN. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of each country’s human rights established in 2006 was a purpose-designed instrument to hold developing countries of strategic interest to America to ransom. The government needs to protect its sovereignty and independence by prudent management of its foreign relations. Total reliance on Indian understanding against neocon manipulations seems no longer possible due to it coming under the total control of the neocons. Wise management of relations with the region and with China and Russia in particular, is vital.
One look at Sri Lanka’s political party structure and composition of Cabinet shows that government has entertained the idea of non-discrimination to gays to a fault. Now, the country needs to give highest priority to economic advancement on its agenda.