LGBT rights opposition
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LGBT rights opposition is opposition to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights. Organizations influential in LGBT rights opposition frequently oppose the enactment of laws making same-sex marriage legal, the passage of anti-discrimination laws aimed at curtailing anti-LGBT discrimination, including in employment and housing, the passage of anti-bullying laws to protect LGBT minors, laws decriminalizing same-gender relationships, and other LGBT rights related laws. These groups are often religious or socially conservative in nature.
Other laws that LGBT rights opponents may be opposed to include civil unions or partnerships, adoption by same-sex couples, LGBT parenting, military service, access to assisted reproductive technology, and access to sex reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy for transgender individuals.
In the 1920s and into the early 1930s, there were LGBT communities in cities like Berlin; sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld was one of the most notable spokespeople for LGBT rights at this time. When the Nazi party came to power in 1933, one of the party's first acts was to burn down Hirschfeld's Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, where many prominent Nazis had been treated for perceived sexual problems. Initially tolerant to the homosexuality of Ernst Röhm and his followers, many gay men were purged from the Nazi Party following the Night of the Long Knives and the Section 175 Laws began to be enforced again, with gay men interned in concentration camps by 1938.[note 1]
Under Nazi rule in Germany, the dismantling of rights for LGBT individuals was approached in two ways. By strengthening and re-enforcing existing laws that had fallen into disuse, male homosexuality was effectively re-criminalised; homosexuality was treated as a medical disorder, but at a social level rather than individual level intended to reduce the incidence of homosexuality. The treatment was a program of eugenics, starting with sterilisation, then a system of working people to death in forced labour camps, and eventually refined by medical scientists to include euthanasia. The driving force was the elimination of perceived degeneracy at various levels – genetic, social, identity and practice, and the elimination of such genetic material in society. Lifton wrote about this in his book The Nazi Doctors:
[...] sexology and defense of homosexuality [...] were aspects of "sexual degeneration, a breakdown of the family and loss of all that is decent," and ultimately the destruction of the German Volk. [...] medicine was to join in the great national healing mission, and the advance image of what Nazi doctors were actually to become: the healer turned killer. [...] Sterilization policies were always associated with the therapeutic and regenerative principles of the biomedical vision: with the "purification of the national body" and the "eradication of morbid hereditary dispositions." Sterilization was considered part of "negative eugenics" [...]
It is argued that the numbers of gay people who perished in the Holocaust was quite low in comparison to other Holocaust victims, and confined to Germany itself, based on estimates that of 50,000 gay people who came before the courts, between 5,000 and 15,000 ended up in concentration camps. However, many of those who came before the courts were directed (or volunteered) to undergo sterilisation/castration; they would be included with others who, in line with the historic shift in German society (that started with Westphal, and developed through Krafft-Ebing to Magnus Hirschfeld, of homosexuality being seen as having a neurological, endocrinological and/or genetic basis), were treated for homosexuality as a medical rather than criminal matter. Those treated by psychiatrists and thereby included in the T4 project to eliminate people with alleged medical disorders would not be reflected in the rates of those dealt with as criminals.
After the Second World War, the United States became more intolerant of homosexuality, but many gay men and lesbians decided to reveal their gay identities after meeting others in the military. Many gay bars and villages were created, and a whole gay subculture was created. Campaigns for gay rights began to develop, initially in the UK. Towards the end of the 1960s homosexuality began to be decriminalised and de-medicalised in countries such as the UK, New Zealand, Australia, North America and Europe, in the context of the sexual revolution and anti-psychiatry movements. Organized opposition to gay and lesbian rights began in the 1970s.
Main article: Societal attitudes toward homosexuality
Societal attitudes towards homosexuality vary greatly in different cultures and different historical periods, as do attitudes toward sexual desire, activity and relationships in general. All cultures have their own norms regarding appropriate and inappropriate sexuality; some sanction same-sex love and sexuality, while others disapprove of such activities.
According to The 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, "Throughout Western Europe and much of the Americas, there is widespread tolerance towards homosexuality. However, the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Israel stand apart from other wealthy nations on this issue; in each of these countries, fewer than half of those surveyed say homosexuality should be accepted by society. Meanwhile, in most of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, there is less tolerance toward homosexuality."
Religious reasons for opposition
Main article: Religion and homosexuality
Many forms of religions, including the Eastern faiths and Abrahamic faiths, do not support homosexual sex. Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism, Mormonism, Orthodox Judaism, and Islam, hold the view that homosexual sex is a sin and that its practice and acceptance in society weakens moral standards and undermines the family.
Christian views and opposition to homosexuality
Main articles: Christianity and homosexuality, List of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality and The Bible and homosexuality
Further information: Islam and sexual orientation
Homosexual acts are regarded as criminal and forbidden in most Islamic countries according to Sharia law. Same-sex intercourse amongst males officially carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sudan and Yemen. It formerly carried the death penalty in Afghanistan under the Taliban. In Egypt, openly gay men have been prosecuted under general public morality laws.[note 2]
On the other hand, homosexuality has been legal in Turkey for decades. In Oman, the Xanith are men who occupy a role in society which allows them to have sex with men provided they act in the 'female role' and receive the phallus.
In Saudi Arabia, the maximum punishment for homosexuality is public execution, but the government will use other punishments – e.g., fines, jail time, and whipping – as alternatives, unless it feels that LGBT individuals are challenging state authority by engaging in LGBT social movements. Iran is perhaps the nation to execute the largest number of its citizens for homosexuality. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, the Iranian government has executed more than 4,000 people charged with homosexual acts. In Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, homosexuality went from a capital crime to one that is punished with fines, prison sentences, and vigilante violence.
Most international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, condemn laws that make homosexual relations between consenting adults a crime. Muslim nations insist that such laws are necessary to preserve Islamic morality and virtue. Of the nations with a majority of Muslim inhabitants, only Lebanon has an organization which is trying to get homosexuality legalized.
See also: Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni
Indian and East Asian opposition
Further information: Homosexuality and Hinduism, Homosexuality and Buddhism and Homosexuality and Taoism
Among the religions that originated in India, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, teachings regarding homosexuality are less clear than among the Abrahamic traditions. Unlike in western religions, homosexuality is rarely discussed. However, a few contemporary religious authorities in the various dharmic traditions view homosexuality negatively, and when it is discussed, it is discouraged or actively forbidden.
See also: LGBT issues in medicine
A systematic review of research in the UK indicates that there appears to be limited evidence available from which to draw general conclusions about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health because epidemiological studies have not incorporated sexuality as a factor in data collection. The review found that from the research there is in the UK, there are no differences in terms of major health problems between LGBT people and the general population, although LGBT people's general health appears poorer, but with no specific information on common and major diseases, cancers or long-term health. Research points to issues encountered from an early age, such as LGBT people being targeted for bullying, assault, and discrimination, as contributing significantly to depression, suicide and other mental health issues in adulthood. One researcher looked at the long-term consequences of bullying at schools, and a social researcher has focused on the way LGBT people can experience discriminatory practices in accessing healthcare, and its effects.
Some LGBT activists argue that the experience of growing up LGBT contributes to mental health issues in adulthood, and the barriers to accessing appropriate healthcare as adults contribute towards poorer health; they argue that protection of LGBT rights is necessary to minimise the potential development of health problems and ensure access to healthcare resources. In 2009 Canadian LGBT activists filed a complaint alleging that the health issues of GLB Canadians are being neglected by the government, equating it to a violation of the human rights of LGBT people. In the complaint, the activists highlight a life expectancy 20 years less than average for LGB people, with more cases of cancer and HIV and increased rates of suicide, alcoholism and drug use.
Opposition in different countries
In the 1950s in the United States, open homosexuality was taboo. Legislatures in every state had passed laws against homosexual behavior well before this, most notably anti-sodomy laws. During the Cold War politicians frequently described homosexuals as "subversives" who undermined national security and patriotism, and and described them as Communist sympathisers or a Communist Fifth column. During the Lavender Scare, Joseph McCarthy used accusations of homosexuality as a smear tactic. Senator Kenneth Wherry publicized fears that Joseph Stalin had obtained a list of closeted homosexuals in positions of power from Adolf Hitler, which he believed Stalin intended to use to blackmail these men into working against the U.S. for the Soviet regime. In the 1950 report produced by a Senate subcommittee titled "Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government" said that "the pervert is easy prey to the blackmailer.... It is an accepted fact among intelligence agencies that espionage organizations the world over consider sex perverts who are in possession of or have access to confidential material to be prime targets where pressure can be exerted." Along with that security-based concern, the report found homosexuals unsuitable for government employment because "those who engage in overt acts of perversion lack the emotional stability of normal persons. In addition there is an abundance of evidence to sustain the conclusion that indulgence in acts of sex perversion weakens the moral fiber of an individual to a degree that he is not suitable for a position of responsibility." McCarthy and Roy Cohn more often used the secrets of closeted gay American politicians as tools for blackmail than did foreign powers.
Anita Bryant organized Save Our Children, a widespread campaign to oppose legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The group argued that gay people were "recruiting" or "molesting children" in order to make them gay. Bryant infamously claimed that "As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children," and also claimed that "If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters." The Bryant campaign achieved success in repealing some city anti-discrimination laws, and proposed other citizen initiatives such as a failed California ballot question designed to ban gay people or those who supported gay rights from holding public teaching jobs.
From the late 1970s onwards, some Conservative Christian organizations such as the Christian Broadcasting Network, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association and the Christian Coalition have been outspoken against gay rights.
U.S. public opinion
Public opinion has shifted towards increased acceptance of homosexuality and equal rights for gays and lesbians since the late 1970s. According to the Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who think that same-sex relations between consenting adults should be legal increased from 43% in 1977 to 59% in 2007. In 1977, 56% of Americans thought that gay people should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities. As of 2007, that number has risen to 89%. In 1982, 34% thought that homosexuality should be considered "an acceptable alternative lifestyle". As of 2007, that number is 54%. In 1997, 27% of Americans thought that same-sex marriages should be legally valid. That number is 46% as of 2007. In 1977, 13% of Americans thought that sexual orientation is "something a person is born with"; as of 2007, that percentage increased to 42%. A poll conducted in 2013 showed a record high of 58% of the Americans supporting legal recognition for same-sex marriage. In April 2015, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 61% of Americans supported same-sex marriage and a similar share were against state-by-state legalization.
Numerous studies have investigated the prevalence of acceptance and disapproval of homosexuality and have consistently found correlations with various demographic, psychological, and social variables. For example, studies (mainly conducted in the United States) have found that heterosexuals with positive attitudes towards homosexuality are more likely to be female, young, non-religious, politically liberal or moderate, and have close personal contact with openly gay men and lesbians. They are also more likely to have positive attitudes towards other minority groups and are less likely to support traditional gender roles.
United States Armed Forces
Main article: Don't ask, don't tell
Until its repeal in December 2010 by President Barack Obama, the United States Armed Forces' "Don't ask, don't tell" policy required gay men and lesbian women to be discharged from the armed forces if they came out, but did not allow the military to question people about their sexual orientation. Even before it was established, there were advocates for allowing gay people to serve openly in the military. Critics of the policy pointed out that neither unit cohesion nor morale were affected when the UK admitted gay people into the military. A similar comparison has been made to the lack of negative consequences when African-Americans and women were admitted into the military.
Boy Scouts of America
For more details on this topic, see Boy Scouts of America membership controversies § Position on homosexuality.
The Boy Scouts of America excludes gay and bisexual people from its organizations, an exclusion enforced commonly for Scoutmasters but also for scouts in leadership positions. Their rationale is that homosexuality is immoral, and that Scouts are expected to have certain moral standards and values, as the Scout Oath and Scout Law requires boys to be "morally straight". The Boy Scout organization does not view their policy as unjustly discriminatory, but instead defends their policy saying that, "Tolerance for diversity of values does not require abdication of one's own values".
In 2000 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization, and as such can decide its own membership rules. There is still a movement to try to persuade the organization to change its policy or allow local chapters to decide for themselves.
In 2005, the U.S. Congress passed the Support Our Scouts Act of 2005 to exempt the BSA from anti-discrimination laws, to require the Department of Defense to support scouting Jamborees (thus rendering ineffective a Federal Court injunction prohibiting this as an unconstitutional establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment) and to require state or local governments that receive Community Development Block Grant money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to allow BSA to have meetings in their facilities or on their property.
The BSA receives much of its funding and support from religious groups noted for their opposition to the gay rights movement. Some BSA local councils found that United Way's, municipalities', school districts' and businesses' support and funding was reduced because of their adherence to the BSA's policy on sexual orientation. In order to continue receiving funding, local councils like New Jersey signed nondiscrimination agreements contrary to BSA National Council policy. Other outdoor-focused, youth-based organizations such as the 4-H club and Girl Scouts of the USA do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
In most countries where Boy Scouts organizations exist homosexuality is not regarded as incompatible with scout values, and gay members are not excluded from activities; this includes the United Kingdom, where scouting was founded by Baden-Powell.
In 1988, the British Conservative Party, who were in government at the time, enacted Section 28 which stated that local authorities must not "intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" and that maintained schools should not "promote the teaching [...] of the acceptability of homosexuality", describing families with gay parents as a "pretended family relationship". Research on the effect of suppressing information about sexuality awareness in schools showed a correspondence with increases in the level of homophobic bullying by peers, as well as increased incidence in depression and suicide amongst LGBT people trying to come to terms with their sexuality. In 1987, Thatcher also declared that "hard left education authorities and extremist teachers" were indoctrinating the nation by teaching the younger generation "political slogans", "anti-racist mathematics" and telling their pupils that they have an "inalienable right to be gay", rather than "taught to respect traditional moral values". She then went on to say that "all of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life—yes cheated!"
In June 2009, David Cameron, whilst campaigning to be the next Prime Minister, formally apologised for his party introducing the law, stating that it was a mistake and had been offensive to gay people,. In 2013, same-sex marriage was legalised under Cameron's leadership, which Cameron described as "an important step forward" and said that he thought that "it is right that gay people should be able to get married too".
The largest voice against LGBT equality in the UK currently comes from the Church of England over the issue of gay marriage. Labour passed into law in 2005 the ability for same-sex couples to enter civil-partnerships, but they could not take place in a church or be called a "marriage". The Church of England has taken up opposition to the Coalition Government's plans to extend this to full marriage rights.
The minor British National Party has shifted its platform from recriminalization to an extension of section 28-style legislation, i.e. making it illegal to portray homosexuality positively in the media. In 1999, the Admiral Duncan pub, a gay bar in London's Soho, was targeted up as part of a terrorist campaign by a National Socialist Movement member, David Copeland; three people were killed, and 70 maimed or injured by a nail bomb detonated in the pub.
See also: LGBT rights in Russia
Opposition to the LGBT rights movement is very prevalent in Russia, including within the Kremlin. President Vladimir Putin enacted laws in 2012 which criminalised education about LGBT issues, calling it "gay propaganda". It banned telling minors that homosexuality was normal or natural. This meant that many under-16s do not have anywhere to turn to for support, as parents, teachers or psychologists to offer to tell their child, pupil or parent that it's "okay to be gay". This was opposed by some Western nations with many members of the public in the U.S. and Western Europe calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. However President Putin assured that all athletes would be respected, regardless of their sexuality and in the event, no boycott occurred.
The law passed has been described as taking Russia's LGBT community "from being a stigmatized fringe group to full-blown enemies of the state", and has been described as a major contributor to a wave of anti-gay violence by several neo-Nazi organisations (such as Occupy Paedophilia), which target gay teens online and meet up with them, posting on YouTube their acts of assault against the LGB teens, which have even resulted in the death of several LGB teens in Russia, which are rarely investigated by the authorities, defining them as "civil movements fighting the sins of society".
See also: LGBT rights in Belarus
The LGBT community suffered increased harassment from the [Belarusian] regime in 2013. The Ministry of Justice denied registration to LGBT groups, and members of the LGBT community were regularly targeted by the security forces and brought in for questioning. The authorities threatened to stigmatise them by informing their colleagues, families, or friends of their sexual orientation. Gay clubs in Minsk and Vitebsk were raided, and those present were filmed and had their details collected. The clubs were then closed down.
See also: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code