As many as 80 countries still outlaw same sex relationships or deny LGBTI persons access to their full human rights. There has been a disturbing trend of late to further curtail the human rights of LGBTI persons and roll back any gains that were made in previous years. In Russia, the Olympics drew renewed attention to the “anti-propaganda” law that makes it illegal to stand up for equality for LGBTI individuals. In the United States, the state of Arizona came close to enacting restrictions that allowed venues to prohibit LGBTI patrons on religious grounds. The state legislature went as far as to pass the measure, but the governor vetoed the bill after it became clear that it would have significant economic ramifications for the state. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently signed an anti-homosexuality bill into law and Uganda became the most recent country to trample on the rights of LGBTI persons. While homosexual relations have long been illegal in Uganda, this new law severely punishes LGBTI persons. Nigeria also took radical steps to criminalize homosexual relationships earlier this year.
These laws reinforce the homophobia that unfortunately is too rampant around the world. The International Men and Gender Equality Survey, carried out in more than 10 countries around the world, found that between 40% and 90% of men would be ashamed to have a gay son, with similar but slightly lower percentages in the case of mothers. Instead of supporting and embracing our sons and daughters, regardless of their sexual orientation, these laws sow and reinforce hate and prejudice.
The MenEngage Alliance recognises the human dignity and human rights of all people. LGBTI persons are human beings and it is everyone’s human right to be protected from violence, unjust imprisonment, harassment, murder and exclusion from society. MenEngage thus vehemently opposes any law that denies LGBTI persons of their human rights. LGBTI persons deserve to be able to express one’s sexuality and to be free from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
MenEngage believes that the world community has an obligation to step up and stem the tide when it comes to anti-gay legislation. We cannot stand for this type of assault on human rights, whether it is being passed in Russia or Uganda or anywhere else around the globe. This type of hate cannot be allowed to persist. We must ask ourselves if we really want to see the world move backward on equality. We believe that we must push forward toward a more fair and just world that treats all people with the same level of respect and dignity and affords the same rights to all regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The love and respect that we share for one another must be evident in our actions and reflected in our laws.
We hope that funds will increase to civil society organizations that are working to ensure the rights of sexual minorities are respected and that governments and donor organizations will reach out to LGBTI organizations in each individual country to understand their specific needs and priorities in terms of advocacy, funding and programming.
The MenEngage Alliance seeks to engage men and boys in reducing gender inequalities and promoting the health and wellbeing of women, men and children. The alliance is made up of nearly 35 active country networks spread across many regions of the world, hundreds of non-governmental organizations, as well as UN partners.