Friday, February 22, 2019

Trump and Perkins playing games on global LGBT rights

Thursday evening Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) posts: Human Rights Are Human Rights. It is an obnoxious piece about the Trump administration's supposed initiative to decriminalize homosexuality which Trump claims he knows nothing about. Before I get into the Perkins's odious polemic, here is the chronology:
February 1
Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany wrote a piece for Bild titled: The hanging of a gay man in Iran should be a wakeup call. Grenell is the only senior-level member of the Trump administration who is openly gay. Grenell wrote:

In Iran, where children as young as nine can be sentenced to death, gay teenagers are publicly hanged in order to terrify and intimidate others from coming out. Iran’s horrific actions are on par with the brutality and savagery regularly demonstrated by ISIS.

Being gay is a death sentence in eight countries and criminalized in 70 more. LGBT status or conduct means arrest, imprisonment, and violence for people who are simply dating or falling in love. Governments that are Members of the United Nations have an obligation to protect, respect, and uphold the dignity and fundamental freedoms of their people.
Grenell concluded with:
Enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the idea that all of us are born free and equal in dignity and rights. People can disagree philosophically about homosexuality, but no person should ever be subject to criminal penalties because they are gay. […]

Reasonable people can help by speaking out when young gay men are publicly hanged in Iran or shot in Chechnya. And government officials must work harder to demand that UN Members decriminalize homosexuality.
The above does not represent United States foreign policy. Homosexuality is criminalized in a number of our closest allies including Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Homosexuality is effectively criminalized in the Russian Federation which is Trump's personal ally.

February 19
NBC News reported: Trump administration launches global effort to end criminalization of homosexuality.
The Trump administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it's still illegal to be gay, U.S. officials tell NBC News, a bid aimed in part at denouncing Iran over its human rights record.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort, which kicks off Tuesday evening in Berlin. The U.S. embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan to push for decriminalization in places that still outlaw homosexuality — mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.
Of course the question are: Who are those “U.S. officials?” Are they State Dept. employees? Does this have Trump's blessing? Is this for real?

February 20
A reporter asked Trump: “Mr. President, on your push to decriminalize homosexuality, are you doing that and why?” Trump made the reporter repeat the question before answering, “I don’t know which report you’re talking about. We have many reports.”

In the Watergate era the above was called a non-denial denial and we cannot believe so much as a syllable that flows from Trump's mouth. Donald J. Trump cares about one thing and only one thing: Donald J. Trump. He certainly doesn't care about LGBT people, let alone those residing in a foreign country.

I think that Trump and Grenell worked out this stratagem to put pressure on Iran (which is Trump's greatest geopolitical enemy) through socially progressive European countries. Trump probably told Grenell that he would deny any knowledge. Trump is not going to risk alienating the religious right which comprises much of his remaining base.

What Trump might seek to achieve is a dissembling of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran deal) which still includes China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany individually and the European Union. This would please Netanyahu which, in turn, would please Sheldon Adelson which would be good for, … Trump. To be credible an hypothesis must include how something benefits Trump personally. (Trump makes cynics of us all.)

In the final analysis nothing is likely to come from this and little, if anything, will be achieved. The Arab world is anti-LGBT because of fundamentalist religious beliefs. Our domestic religious fanatics are less violent but they make no more sense than ISIS when it comes to LGBT people.
Along came a hate group
This all brings me back to hate group leader Tony Perkins of Family Research Council. Thursday's text includes:
Our own criminal laws against homosexual conduct were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 in the case of Lawrence v. Texas. Despite what some on the Left claim, we are not advocating for their return. But that does not mean we should engage in “cultural imperialism” by imposing policies that were imposed upon us by our Court on other countries with different cultures, traditions, and values.
What did we expect from Perkins? Perkins' “cultural imperialism” was just fine last October when it came to laws affecting Christians in the Arab world. But gay people? No way. Put them to the rack for all they care.

Perkins continues:
For the last eight years, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bludgeoned foreign capitals with “diplomacy” designed to advance an LGBT agenda around the world and in the United Nations—doing damage to our relations with many countries as a result. The Trump administration should be ending such efforts, not making them a priority.
Leave to a blowhard like Perkins to call LGBT rights the LGBT agenda™. Trump has been a wrecking ball in regards to our relationships with most, if not all, of Europe, Middle America and South America. Perkins is blind to the fact that Trump has destroyed our national reputation because of ignorance and an inability to be swayed by facts. Trump knows what he knows even when what he knows is provably false.

Now if President Obama pissed off, say, Uganda or Kenya by encouraging decency to the LGBT citizens of those countries it was in service to the greater good. Trump's alienation of our allies is due to sheer stupidity, lack of attention to detail, laziness (Trump does not read intelligence), general inattention (Trump watches TV all day), personal biases and a desire to do what Trump perceives is good for Trump rather than what is in the best interests of the United States.
Now the tide has turned. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo articulated the proper way to think about all this at his confirmation hearing last year. When asked by Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) whether he thinks “LGBTQ rights are human rights,” Pompeo responded: “I deeply believe LGBTQ persons have every right that every other person has.”
Pompeo was fogging the issue. In much of the United States we can be discriminated against in employment, housing and public accommodations. That does not represent “every right that every other person has.” Pompeo probably believes that those rights are “special rights.”

Dignity, I suppose, is a special right. In the same hearing Pompeo asserted to Sen. Booker that he still opposes marriage equality. He also refused to disavow a prior statement that homosexuality is a perversion. GLAAD has documented a long history of Pompeo's anti-LGBT animus.

Family Research Council turns everything into bigotry:
As our own Travis Weber points out, some may try to argue that protecting LGBT rights is a way of protecting human rights. Yet this misleadingly implies “that same-sex-attracted and transgendered persons do not currently enjoy human rights protections…” As Travis observes, “The [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] and [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] protect every individual from arbitrary arrest, torture, and extrajudicial killing by the State, because all humans have human dignity, regardless of their sexual attraction or gender preference.”
Perkins was referring to a 2016 essay by Weber at Witherspoon Institute. Weber found it impossible to write the simple words “gay and transgender people.” Moreover, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a 1948 United Nations decree, does not include sexual orientation or gender identity while giving consideration to “ race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a 1966 treaty, was ratified by Iran and includes: “ Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life … In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.” Therefore, Iran considers homosexuality among the most serious of crimes which only makes sense in a theocracy devoted to religious extremism. Note how Weber substituted “sexual attraction” for sexual orientation and “gender preference” for gender identity.

Perkins winds this thing up with:
Family Research Council vigorously opposes acts of violence against anyone because of their sexuality. According to NBC, there are eight countries which permit the death penalty for homosexuality—most of them also known as abusers of religious freedom and other rights, and supporters of terrorism. An end to those laws, and other physical punishments such as flogging, is a legitimate goal.

Let’s find common ground in calling for an end to all forms of physical violence against homosexuals -- but refrain from imposing the values of the sexual revolution on the rest of the world.
The dignity and safety of LGBT people has nothing to do with so-called values of the sexual revolution. If Perkins was serious about ending violence then he would stop fomenting violence. Perkins and Family Research Council routinely claim that gay people are predisposed to be child molesters and that transgender people are trans because they make bad choices. Perkins and Family Research Council demonstrate consistent disrespect for LGBT people. Is that more likely to engender violence or to cease it?

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