Finally, in the UK, in 1967, with the ‘Sexual Offences Act’ passed by the Labour Government, the protesters who were many and from a variety of backgrounds, began to see light at the end of the tunnel.
This year David Cameron, leader of the Conservatives, and of a Coalition Government, finally pushed through legislation to legalise the right of gay people to marry.
Though I find it difficult, personally, to understand why, with Civil Partnership already legal, gay and lesbian people might want to marry in churches that outspokenly decry their right to equality, I applaud the decision to risk disapproval among the ‘rank and file’ of the Conservative Party, and am proud to live in a country that affords such equality.
The Indian Parliament has this month repealed the 147-year old Act making homosexual acts illegal. In this country, as in many others, homosexuality was part of the framework of society (until now hidden in the shadows). This ruling is seen as crucial in the battle against HIV/AIDS, improving the access of homosexuals to health information and preventative care.
Religious leaders still view homosexuality as ‘unnatural’, and this will do little to unpick the contradictions in Indian society. But it is a step, the first step, to change Indian society, notoriously conservative as it is.
Across the world countries are changing their attitude to same-sex relationships. In the US most states have now legalised homosexuality, though in Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana and Texas it is still illegal. Thirteen States (all of them in the north of the US), the District of Columbia and five Native American Tribes, have now legalised ‘Gay marriage’. In June this year the US Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ allowing states to refuse to recognise same-sex marriage, and as a result the federal government was able, formally, to recognise it as an acceptable condition.
Throughout Europe progress is being made, with all the Western European countries (including Germany) having legislated for same-sex marriage. In South Africa, it is legal, as in New Zealand. Brazil, Argentina and Mexico are part of the group. The rest of Africa falls far behind South Africa in its treatment of homosexuals.
And then we have Russia. Most recently, though the Soviet law against homosexuality has long since been repealed, they have legislated to prevent their citizens talking about homosexuality as an acceptable way of existing.
Those who disseminate information about homosexuality to young people are fined, imprisoned, persecuted and shunned.
Since it is known that at least one in 25 people is homosexual, that means that many thousands of Russian young people are being treated as less than human, and denied the information they need to live a safe and normal life.
Next year the Winter Olympics will be held in Russia. As in any group of people, some of our athletes are gay. What kind of reception will they, and athletes from other countries, receive?What about those who travel to see the Games? How can we protect them from being persecuted?
In a letter to David Cameron, Stephen Fry, a noted homosexual and social activist, begs him to take action and put pressure on the Olympic Committee to move the Games. He draws a parallel between these upcoming Games and those held in Germany, before WWII, presided over by Hitler. Pressure groups everywhere are trying to get something done.
So, forgive me if this piece is not in my usual style. I like, we like, at CCC Life, to highlight the wonderful things of life. I feel that I must do something, write something that might, however small, have an effect on the outcome of this situation.
I know that we are all equal: in opportunity, in freedom to be ourselves, in our duty to others. By writing this somewhat less upbeat piece I hope to reach more people who will join me in campaigning against what will be, if it goes ahead, a dreadful injustice against many people.
Perhaps it might even force Russia to reconsider their draconian and antediluvian laws.
I’ll try to be more cheerful in my next piece. Honest!
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