Monday, December 22, 2008

Syria leads homophobic charge at UN

France and the Netherlands submitted a declaration last week at the UN General Assembly calling for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Inspired by the gay activist campaign, International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), the French/Dutch declaration aimed to get world governments to respect the basic human rights for homosexuals.

The declaration received 66 signatories, including Israel, Australia, Cuba, and several African nations who still have homosexual acts listed as a crime.

The notable abstainers were the big-three (US, Russia and China). Not much of a surprise considering the big-three regularly refuse to engage in international declarations, be it the international criminal court, climate change, banning cluster bombs, or supporting human rights. Yet, we grant these irresponsible nations veto-wielding power at the UN Security Council.

If the declaration could only have waited a few extra weeks for Obama to arrive in office.

On the other side of the human rights fence sat the Arab world. The Syrians, on behalf of 60 countries (mainly Muslim states), submitted a counter-resolution highlighting the following reason to oppose the Franco-Dutch declaration:

- legalising homosexuality could lead to paedophilia, incest and bestiality.

After years of constant inter-Arab rivalry and tension over Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, it's good to see Arab states finally agree on one thing ... the continued denial of human rights.

We're all aware of the Arab world's view of homosexuality, and not even the most optimistic gay activist would have expected a policy u-turn based on a European-backed UN declaration to decriminalise homosexuality.

However, instead of joining the US, China and Russia in merely refusing to sign, the Arab world had to insist on publicising its justifications for criminalising homosexuality. Even the Vatican, renowned global activists against gay rights, watered down its refusal to sign to simply stating "the declaration went too far".

It did not submit a counter-declaration demonstrating a profound ignorance with absurd claims that bestiality, incest, paedophilia and other perversions are a symptom of homosexuality.

Syria, Lebanon, and all Arab states have only brought global humiliation upon themselves. By submitting this counter-declaration, the Arab world is essentially boasting pride in its regression and ignorance.

Homosexuality isn't the only front where Arab states score appallingly for human rights. The suppression of political freedom, the censorship of ideas, knowledge and information, the deprivation of women's rights, honour killings, the persecution of religious minorities, and archaic gender and marriage laws are all commonalities in the Arab world.

There is not a single aspect of Arab society that lives up to the standards of the UN human rights conventions.

How has it come to this?

Let's wind the clock back 1000 years to the age when Syria led the Arab world on a different course. As the Arab Empire's capital, Damascus was the beacon of progression, a wonder the West could only reach in their dreams.

The Arab world dared to explore sciences, theories and philosophies the West (under the strict religious authority of the Catholic Church) would have condemned as blasphemy and sacrilege.

Whilst Western monarchies were burning progressive thinkers at the stake, the Arab world was discovering new formulas and technologies. Whilst the West committed horrendous atrocities against its minorities, the Arab world was granting them asylum.

What a sad, embarassing reality the Arabs find themselves in today. Not only are we denying human rights, but expressing pride in our denial.

All we have to hold onto, as Lebanese and Arabs, is a past glory lost deep in history. We have absolutely nothing to be proud of today.

And yet, many Lebanese scramble to find historic attachments to prove their current worth:

Divided Lebanon's common genes

BBC News
Natalia Antelava

In Lebanon, geneticists led by Dr Pierre Zalloua have managed to identify the Phoenician gene.

The Lebanese have been particularly enthusiastic about the project, with dozens still queuing up every day to have their DNA tested. Many, it seems, are hoping to discover their Phoenician ancestry.

"I will be more than happy to have Phoenician roots," says Nabil, a student as he waits for his turn to give blood for the test.

"Phoenicians started the civilization, they are the ones who invented the alphabet, I would be very proud to be a Phoenician," he adds.

There is a good chance that Nabil is of Phoenician descent - the study has revealed that while one in 17 people across the Mediterranean carry the Phoenician gene, in Lebanon almost a third of the population have Phoenician roots.

Photos: The first three images are of public gay hangings in Iran, two of which are the same hanging, and the final photograph depicts the murder of gay men in Iraq.


Roger said...

While I completely agree with your synopsis regarding the current state of affairs of the Arab and Islamic world, I take slight issue with universaly recognizing homosexuality. It is against the concept of all three monotheistic faiths. While homosexuality may be tolerated, it is not something that should be promoted. While homosexuals today constitute for a small percentage of the population, think of the of the ramifications of the entires worlds populations were it allowed to grow to disconcerning proportions.

Antoun said...

Homosexuals don't "grow", they exist, it is a natural phenomenon that has been part of mankind since the first ape lost his hairs. They exist today in all parts of the world, whether legal or not.

The Franco/Dutch declaration is merely calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality i.e. stop persecuting and discriminating against homosexuals and grant them their basic human rights.

We all have human rights that need to be respected by every state. Why should the human rights of homosexuals be denied because of a few religious teachings? Religion only forms a sector of society, it doesn't and shouldn't determine the laws of the state. People should have the choice to be religious, and also the choice not to be.

Granting human rights isn't a "promotion". That is paramount to saying we shouldn't have granted blacks or women the right to vote, because it may promote 'negroism' or 'feminism'.

Ted said...

Do you know where one could find a list of the countries who signed the Syrian declaration?

Antoun said...


I tried to find a full list when the news first came out, but in vain I'm afraid.

No harm in another Google attempt though.