A timeline showing the increasing support for homosexual rights.

Topic: Addressing the Issue of Homosexual Rights
Chair: Karen Nguyen

According to Amnesty International, prisoners of conscience are those who have been detained for conducting homosexual activities. This also includes people who have been detained for having homosexual sex, which would normally not be illegal for heterosexuals. The meaning of sexuality and gender identity differs greatly from each culture.

In 1791, homosexuality became legalized in France. France was the first country in Europe to do so. In Germany, homosexuality had been thought to be a mental illness and homosexuals were then annihilated during World War II. However towards the end of World War II, came a new wave of people who sought for homosexual rights. In June 1969, New York experienced the Stonewall Riots. The Stonewall Riots were mainly between the police and the homosexuals who were at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar. The police raided the gay bar, which they usually did from time to time; however, the gays who had usually given into being arrested, decided to retaliate. After the Stonewall riots, LGBT militants finally became acknowledged. In 1974, the American Psychiatric Association had no longer listed homosexuality as a mental illness due to a campaign for the removal of it. Following the discovery of AIDS, there had been many protests for homosexual rights. In 2001, the Netherlands legalized same sex marriage. Norway, Belgium, South Africa, Canada, and Spain later did the same. In 2008, two states in the United States of America had legalized same sex marriage. They were Massachusetts and California. However, gay marriage in California lasted for fewer than six months because of Proposition 8. During the time, same sex marriage was considered illegal in 26 states. The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Laws in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity were made public in March 2007. The principles were established by experts in order to guarantee worldwide achievement of human rights securities. The principles provide protection for many rights that are usually taken away for homosexuals such as freedom of expression and assembly, health, education, and much more. The United States also has the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” where people, who are openly gay, are prohibited from serving in the military.

Religion plays a large role in the opinion on sexual rights. Christianity and Islam are the two major religions in the world. Both of the followers in each religion combined make up about half of the world’s population. Islamic countries do not approve of homosexuality as homosexuality is viewed as an abomination in the Islamic culture. Though homosexuality is not accepted in Christianity as well, there are several religious groups who are actually tolerating homosexuals.

Africa has a mainly anti-gay atmosphere. Of all the countries in Africa, only South Africa has legalized gay marriage. In 1996, South Africa’s constitution was the first to provide security from sexuality prejudice. David Bahati, a member of the Ugandan parliament, had proposed an anti-homosexual bill. Punishments for homosexual crimes, in the bill, include the death penalty, fines, and detention. The bill was created in order to protect minors from sexual abuse from homosexuals. It has received many condemnations from the international community. Many believe that several American evangelists had a major impact after visiting Uganda and the bill was created because of the evangelists’ influence. In Zimbabwe, homosexuality is banned and gay rights do not have security in the new Zimbabwean constitution. The constitution in Malawi forbids discrimination however; militants in both Malawi and other countries criticize the constitution by stating that it is not being sustained. However, the nation of Rwanda had decided to not illegalize same-sex activities for adults, in 2009.

There are also many consequences for those who choose to be open about their homo or bisexuality. Sometimes, the consequences are much more severe than others. Homosexuals can receive both physical and verbal abuse, as is the case with prejudice. Students sometimes experience bullying at school for being involved in same sex activities. Sexual minorities face assault on streets, and are sometimes even killed. People are also often intimidated or just campaigning for their rights. Homosexuals are also refused jobs, residence, and health services. Women are sometimes raped in order to cure and be rid of their lesbianism. Sometimes, the parents of the female sometimes even allow such actions to happen to her. Homosexual parents can lose guardianship of their children. Legal action is also taken against homosexuals as homosexuality is regarded as anti social behavior and sometimes the punishment comes down to the death penalty. Some are even beaten by the police and sexually abused, while in imprisonment. Sometimes, after people are finally able to escape the abuse and hope to seek aid in an asylum; they are often refused of an asylum. Sexual minorities sometimes feel as if they cannot take any more of the abuse and decide to commit suicide.

Questions to Consider
What is your country’s stance on homosexuality?
Why do you think your country might accept or not tolerate homosexuality?
What are some problems that might occur if homosexuality was legalized?
What is your country’s stance on other countries’ ways of dealing with homosexual rights?
What are some benefits if a country decided to legalize homosexuality and gay marriage?

The American Architects of Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill. Current, 2010. Youtube. Web. 6 June 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/‌user/‌Current#p/‌search/‌0/‌fU0dwjsLCUU>.

Amnesty International. “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” Amnesty International. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2010. <http://www.amnesty.org/‌en/‌sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity>.

“Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Rights.” Global Issues in Context. Gale Cengage Learning, 2010. Web. 20 May 2010. <http://find.galegroup.com/‌gic/‌infomark.do?&contentSet=GREF&idigest=3475b5cdf0c7fe62a2f9ffcd3d06786d&type=retrieve&tabID=&prodId=GIC&docId=CP3208520049&source=gale&userGroupName=amwa&version=1.0>.

“Gay Liberation Movements.” Encyclopedia of World History: The Contemporary World, 1950 to the Present, Modern World History Online. Web. 6 June 2010. <http://www.fofweb.com/‌NuHistory/‌default.asp?ItemID=WE53&NewItemID=True>.

Human Rights Watch. “Zambia: Intolerance Threatens Health, Rights.” Human Rights Watch. N.p., 21 May 2010. Web. 23 May 2010. <http://www.hrw.org/‌en/‌news/‌2010/‌05/‌21/‌zambia-intolerance-threatens-health-rights>.

“Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents.” Adherents.com. N.p., 9 Aug. 2007. Web. 6 June 2010. <http://www.adherents.com/‌Religions_By_Adherents.html>.

McKenzie, David. “Gay Couple Could Get 14 Years in Prison.” CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/‌2010/‌WORLD/‌africa/‌05/‌17/‌malawi.gay.couple/‌index.html?hpt=T2, 17 May 2010. Web. 23 May 2010.

The Yogyakarta Principles. “About the Yogyakarta Principles.” The Yogyakartka Principles. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 June 2010. <http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/‌principles_en.htm>.