Riddle of the Day

How not to appear to be what one is?

Rainbow UN Flag (not an official symbol). Autor: Babewyn. License: CC BYIt is impossible not to feel solidarity with people whose lives are adversely affected in ways reminiscent of my own biography, and at the same time it is very difficult not to mistrust would-be champions of my rights, who only decades ago were among the most adamant defenders of conventional sexual norms and morality directed against those like me (in the US until 2003[1] / in the UK since 2010[2]).

Beyond persecuting people within their own geographic borders, the aforementioned, and other Western powers have gone further yet, exporting their particular brand of disdain for humanity around the world to their colonies, trade partners, and dependents for centuries via missionary work and other ostensible acts of charity. We have seen examples of this within the last decade, making it easy to doubt that this chapter of Western impertinence is a thing of the past. (eg.: requirement for abstinence programs in the stipulations of PEPFAR 2008[3])

Seemingly overnight, but at least since the turn of the 20th Century, the US, the UK, and others in the West have discovered their eagerness to intervene where ever they deem necessary in order to defend the human dignity and physical safety of “my sort”. The sudden unexpectedness of this turn-about leaves me at least, with a visceral Gordian knot made up of sincere empathy toward those directly affected by queer antagonism locally and in other parts of the world, entangled with the apprehensive question "qui bono": whose interests are truly at the heart of the West’s newfound zeal to ensure that Articles 3 and 5 of the UDHR are applied to the likes of you and me where ever we may be?

The British deputy ambassador in Bangkok (perhaps inadvertently) laid-out the conflict quite succinctly in the opening statement at ILGA‘s celebration marking the APCOM’s 10th anniversary, hosted by the British Embassy in Bangkok.

"The British government is committed to building an international consensus »to challenge the view that promoting LGBTI rights is a Western agenda,« she said. »We believe that societies thrive when people are free and that civil society should be celebrated not sidelined.«"[4]

– Margaret Tongue, British deputy ambassador in Bangkok, toasted Vitit Muntarbhorn’s appointment as UN Special Rapporteur for LGBT rights at the ILGA’s opening reception for APCOM’s 10th anniversary celebration hosted by the British Embassy in Bankok. Muntarbhorn is responsible for overseeing the UN Yogyakarta Principles agreed upon in November of 2009. His appointment was confirmed with a narrow margin and against the dissent of many African states.

So what is to be done short of severing the knot with the sword, ie. marching on for freedom and democracy at the risk of further alienating those who do not conform to the gender and sexual norms of the respective region to be so liberated, in so doing making them equated in the minds of the local population with Western power politics, while offering strategies which arose against queer antagonism in another context that may or may not be directly translatable to their own? Moreover, how do those of us struggling against queer antagonism in the West avoid being instrumentalized in order to lure public support in the West for less than charitable interventionism in our names perpetrated by our institutions elsewhere, in so doing strengthening false allies locally, while doing nothing for our sisters and brother (and be the distant cousins) in other parts of the world, perhaps even conjuring up perils they would not have faced had it not been for our “help”?

Anyone with an answer out there!?

1. US Supreme Court ruling Lawrence v. Texas 539 U.S. 558 (2003). On: supreme.justia.com. URL: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/539/558/. Last viewed: 29 Nov 2016.

2. Equality Act 2010 Chapter 15. On: legislation.gov.uk (Browse Legislation). Dated: 28 Apr 2010. URL: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15. Last viewed: 29 Nov 2016.

3. Kellie Moss, Analyst in Global Health Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division: International HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria: Key Changes to U.S. Programs and Funding. In: Congressional Research Service Report for Congress (Order Code RL34569). Dated: August 25, 2008. URL: fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/110385.pdf. Last viewed: 29 Nov 2016.

4. Philip Sherwell: The Brave Activists Fighting for LGBTQ Equality in Muslim Countries. In. flipboard.com. (Daiy Beast) Date: 29 Nov 2016. URL: https://flipboard.com/@flipboard/flip.it%2FqYgnW1-the-brave-activists-fighting-for-lgbtq-/f-e2ab9a6d50%2Fthedailybeast.com.

Image: Rainbow UN Flag (not an official symbol). Autor: Babewyn (Nov 2015). License: CC BY 4.0.

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