Dangerous Liaisons: How a US Christian Legal Group is Keeping Gay Sex a Criminal Offense Around the World
Once more we see the bogus cause of “religious freedom” used as a thin reed to rationalize their bigotry and hate.
Now, this international battle over the constitutionality of anti-sodomy laws has moved to Belize, a Central American country where the government and an array of far-right religious forces are defending the draconian statute known as Section 53, which punishes same-sex “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with 10 years in prison. Though Belize is tiny, the battle has attracted numerous American groups — including the prominent Christian legal powerhouse Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) — on the pro-criminalization side, providing advice to anti-gay bigots in Belize.
Perhaps that is why neither the ADF, nor any of the other American religious groups involved in Belize, say a word about their involvement in the Belize case on their websites.The ADF is a serious organization. Founded in 1994 by 30 prominent Christian leaders in response to what they saw as “growing attacks on religious freedom,” the organization has an annual budget of more than $30 million, a staff of 44 in-house lawyers and 2,200 allied lawyers. Its board is stacked with luminaries not only from the religious right, but also with partners from powerful law firms and captains of industry.
The ADF believes that religious freedom is under attack worldwide. It has in recent years built an international legal network and placed staffers overseas because it sees “a risk of winning a domestic battle while potentially — in time — losing the world.” Its website states that it is active in 31 foreign countries and describes a number of global initiatives. But it makes no mention of its criminalization work.
There is great hypocrisy here. Surely such work, providing legal or other counsel to keep a law on the books that lands gay people in jail for consensual sex, violates the oft-stated principle of the religious right that their theology teaches to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Perhaps that is why neither the ADF, nor any of the other American religious groups involved in Belize, say a word about their involvement in the Belize case on their websites. They also refuse to speak to the press about the case.
Their work is fanning the flames of anti-gay hatred that already exists in many of the countries where they are injecting themselves. As in Uganda, American groups have been propagandizing about the “recruitment” of young schoolchildren, the allegedly depraved and diseased lives of LGBT people, the pedophilia that is supposedly common among gay men, and the destruction of Christianity and the institution of marriage that they seem certain ending anti-LGBT laws will lead to. This vicious propaganda, born and bred by American ideologues, has found fertile soil across the globe.
The Belize case is important. Overturning Section 53 could lead to the demise of similar statutes in a dozen other Caribbean countries that belong to the Commonwealth of former British colonies. This would mark a major step forward in securing full human rights for the LGBT community. It also could affect the even larger battle of the United Nations to influence scores of countries that signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which took effect in 1976, to outlaw statutes criminalizing gay sex and to prevent anti-LGBT discrimination.
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