Friday, March 8, 2019

"Our nation was founded on the idea that we are all created equal under God...

In late February, the Trump administration announced a global initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality around the world. The move is, at least in part, a response to a series of state-sanctioned killings of gays and lesbians, mostly by theocratic regimes in the Middle East.

...Ever since the Lawrence decision decriminalized homosexual conduct nearly 16 years ago, we as a nation have come a long way in our search for equal treatment of homosexuals. But we must remember that there are still parts of the world where your sexual orientation can mean countless years in prison, or even death.

According to an analysis of foreign sexual orientation laws, there are still 72 countries where homosexual acts between consenting adults are illegal. Fifty-seven of these countries incarcerate gay and lesbians for up to 14 years if they are found guilty of homosexual conduct. Over a dozen countries, most in the Middle East, sentence gay individuals to life imprisonment. In eight of these countries (Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Syria, and Iraq) homosexuality is even punishable by death.

Tragic stories of gay persecutions, like those in Iran and Chechnya last month, make headlines far too often. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last year on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, “too many governments continue to arrest and abuse their citizens simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex.” We, as Americans, must speak out against human rights abuses wherever they may occur, both at home and abroad. It is our moral imperative as a nation to condemn rogue foreign governments that continue to persecute, punish, and execute individuals merely for their sexual orientation.

Our nation was founded on the idea that we are all created equal under God, and that every person — gay, straight, or otherwise — is equally entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.