Have LGBT rights gone backwards globally?

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah – Jewish News, July 2014

Over the past 50 years the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have changed beyond recognition, in particular, in Britain, Northern Europe, the United States and Israel, where struggles for liberation are achieving equality before the law and the transformation of social attitudes.

The rash of anti-gay legislation and outbreaks of persecution in Russia, and in many African, Arab and Asian nations in the last 18 months is appalling. However, it would be misleading to conclude that LGBT rights have gone backwards globally and that these authoritarian regimes are more homophobic and transphobic than they were previously.

There is no doubt that we are witnessing in these places a reaction against the rising tide of LGBT rights elsewhere. States that are rooted in the oppression of women and the repression of sexual and gender minorities are fearful that their own LGBT people, emboldened by these liberating developments, will start making demands in their own back-yard. Repressive measures, coupled with the whipping up of homophobia & transphobia in the general population, are designed to terrorise and silence LGBT people, so that they won’t dare to fight for freedom.

But persecution won’t succeed. Access to global media means that even in the most isolationist societies, LGBT people no longer believe the lie that they are sinful or sick, and are longing to be free. Moreover, they have the active support of a global LGBT community. Those who persecute LGBT people are on the wrong side of history.