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Anti-Gay Zealot Warns Gay-Friendly Measures Will Offend Muslims

By Robert Steinback on July 15, 2011 - 8:56 am, Posted in Anti-LGBT

Anti-gay zealot Peter LaBarbera has offered a curious rationale for why the United States should not promote the rights of LGBT people: It might upset Muslims.

In an article published Wednesday on the Christian-oriented website One News Now, LaBarbera, who is founder and president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), was asked for his reaction to news that the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan recently hosted an event to promote the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people in that Muslim-majority country. A group called Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies co-sponsored the event.

LaBarbera told reporter Chad Groening: “The Obama administration is making a huge mistake by promoting homosexuality in this in-your-face kind of manner, which is now igniting the ire of Muslims across the world. It gives Muslims one more reason to oppose and hate the United States.”LaBarbera’s stance – that America should endeavor to avoid irritating anti-gay elements in the Muslim world – is unusual, to say the least, among ideologues of the American Christian Right. One wonders if LaBarbera might endorse other “good will” gestures to amplify this bold new spirit of appeasement – such as compelling American women to cover their hair, give up their driving privileges and refrain from moving about in public unless accompanied by a male. After all, that, too, could further reduce fundamentalist Muslim antipathy toward the West.

Many Western analysts believe that hundreds, possibly even thousands, of gay men have been executed in the most fundamentalist Muslim countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, during the last three decades. Yet LaBarbera apparently believes that proclaiming the human and civil rights of gays, rather than increasing pressure on such regimes to reform their ways, would provoke them to worse behavior. That’s the conceptual equivalent of arguing that the United States shouldn’t have championed the equal rights of black people in South Africa because it might have provoked angry white leaders to actually intensify apartheid.

Who knew foreign policy could be so simple?

As he has been wont to do, LaBarbera casts his homophobic brand of Christianity as “compassionate” – this from a man who has referred to homosexuality as “disgusting” and has called for the repeal of all anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people. LaBarbera’s group, AFTAH, is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, in part for its reliance on the anti-gay propaganda of discredited pseudo-scientist Paul Cameron (see also here). Cameron has produced widely debunked “research” suggesting that gay men are disproportionately inclined to pedophilia and die decades earlier than straight men. AFTAH’s website also has promoted the work of Scott Lively, notorious for the false claim that gay men ran Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and comprised the bulk of his vicious SS troops because, as he argues, of their special savagery. In another AFTAH post, Lively claimed that LGBT people want to quash the free speech rights of Christians. Lively is known for traveling to Uganda to speak in support of a proposed law imposing the death penalty for some homosexual acts.

LaBarbera also is a promoter of “ex-gay” therapy – highly controversial programs that claim to “cure” homosexuality, although credible researchers say such efforts are rarely if ever successful, and could be harmful to some people trying to come to terms with their homosexuality.

But LaBarbera insisted to One News Now that his was a compassionate ministry. “We don’t believe in stoning; we don’t believe in pushing [LGBT people] off of buildings,” he said. “We believe in redemption – that people can leave the homosexual lifestyle through Christ.”

  • Deep Ecology

    For Ruslan,

    Not sure a victim could meaningfully distinguish between a bullet from an SS extermination unit or NKVD secret police.

    The Soviet system under Stalin exterminated them based on class and ideology, the numbers of which we will never have an accurate accounting. Untold human misery, all for an idea.

    As a defender of the system, you are left with denying it ever happened and all those eyewitness accounts are forgeries, or accepting the death toll by murder/starvation/overwork as justified in the establishment of a revolutionary idea, which is it?

    Being murdered/enslaved because of race, economics, ideology or convenience is an abomination, no matter the reason.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Ruslan, respectfully, to echo a previous comment, apologists for the old Soviet system are rare these days.”

    In America and the West maybe, but in the Former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and most of the developing world the voice of the working people is getting stronger.

    “There is as much evidence, from respected Russian dissidents and Jews ecstatic to leave the Mother Land and immigrate to Israel or the West, that the system was as venal and evil as German fascism. ”

    Well I’m sorry but it wasn’t. For one thing, it didn’t exterminate people based on their birth. The USSR did not relate well to Zionists, but Jews were not persecuted. The USSR kept an eye on nationalists of every stripe, Zionism represented a form of nationalism for Jews. The USSR from the beginning advocated Yiddish culture as well as assimilation for those who wished. It also established a Jewish Autonomous District in Birobidzan.

  • Deep Ecology

    Ruslan, respectfully, to echo a previous comment, apologists for the old Soviet system are rare these days. There is as much evidence, from respected Russian dissidents and Jews ecstatic to leave the Mother Land and immigrate to Israel or the West, that the system was as venal and evil as German fascism.

    What conditions would be required for religion to disappear? If evolutionists are correct, the pursuit of transcendent spirituality is hard wired into homo sapiens.

    As a scientific evolutionist, I don’t believe we can hope to understand ourselves or biology without this theory. At one time, like you, I gave social theory some credence, but with increasing time and research, I have come around to the physical anthropology and biological view of nature over social as primary.

    I like your quote about religion. Even though I don’t practice or advocate Christianity, Islam, or Judaism, I find that sincerely religious people make good and decent neighbors, and build positive communities, the kind I like to live in. The positive aspects of religion, rules that govern personal and community conduct and altruism, are positive developments that help insure the survival of any group, why it evolved along with us in the first place in all probability, and why it will always be an important part of the human experience.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Deft, was there some Islamophobic message you REALLY wanted to post?

    Also, I wanted to point out that while I initially wanted to correct several claims: 1. That Nazi Germany was atheist, 2. that the USSR was officially atheist. I am in agreement with those who reject the claim that religion is the biggest problem in human history, or that it has led to the worst atrocities in history. Often religion was nothing but a cover for political goals. One good quote I learned was that religion can be good in the hands of good people, while it can be very destructive in the hands of bad people.

    I hope mankind can liberate itself from religion, but this cannot be accomplished by abolishing religion, and this also can’t be accomplished without the end of idealism, from whence religion springs. Religion disappears of its own accord when the conditions which make it necessary no longer exist.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    It is true that due to a poor understanding of the science explaining homosexuality, the USSR did have very backward views on the subject(as to many other socialist nations and parties until about the 1970s). However, a gay comrade of mine has been doing some research as to the question of whether anyone was ever actually punished for homosexuality in the USSR. I also have never seen anything accusing homosexuality as the reason for the rise of fascism in Germany and Central Europe coming from Pravda, as this would seriously contradict the socialist nations’ analysis of fascism in general.

    Granted, if you have any sources which say otherwise, I would greatly appreciate them.

  • RLavigueur

    Deft,

    Regardless of whether or not the Soviet Union committed human rights atrocities (it did, but this is hardly exceptional as there aren’t any nations that can claim they didn’t/don’t), it’s not only Marxists who get tired of the American right’s portrayal of the Soviet Union and communism in general as identical to fascism.

    Ruslan,
    Interestingly enough given the original topic of this article, the persecution in the Soviet Union of, in your words, those who wanted to overthrow the government, included persecution of homosexual individuals. Homosexuality was, starting around 1933, punishable by hard labour and was included in laws punishing anti-government activities. (It was at least framed as a punishment for those who wanted to overthrow the government.)

    Writers in Pravda even stated that legal homosexuality was the main cause of fascism in Germany (an opinion Scott Lively still promotes today), just around the same time as the Nazis were sending gay men to the concentration camps and only a few years before the United States would conduct its own anti-gay witch hunts out of a fear that gays were likely to be spies for the communists.

    Given the history of enemy ideologies blaming each other for homosexuality, there’s nothing particularly surprising about Fisher claiming increasing gay rights will enrage and empower Islamic extremists. The groups being discussed might be new, but the strategy is a good deal older than our definitions of homosexuality and heterosexuality.

  • Mitch Beales

    Now if only someone would apologize for US human rights atrocities such as an incarceration rate >3%, waterboarding, lack of affordable health care, Jim Crow, slavery, genocide against the aboriginal inhabitants etc. etc.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Sorry for bringing up pesky facts, Deft.

  • Deft

    It’s so charming and nostalgic to know that marixsts like Ruslan are still apologising for the Soviet Union’s human rights atrocities.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “atheist Soviet Union were persecuted because of the Soviet anti-religious interpretation of Marxism, not because of their interpretation of atheism.”

    The Soviet Union was never “atheist”, the only country to become so was socialist Albania some time around 1968. Persecution in the USSR was geared more towards those who wanted to sabotage or overthrow the government, regardless of their motives, religious or nationalist.

    Equating the USSR with Nazi Germany is a step towards the rehabilitation of the latter.

  • RLavigueur

    Jonas,

    It is more complicated than that. Fundamentalists claim that they follow the scriptures of their religion more closely than others, but even they pick and choose which scriptural passages they’ll follow and which they won’t. I am aware of no major fundamentalists, for example, who call for the death of those who work on the Sabbath day based on the Old Testament, while many still condemn homosexuality while citing Leviticus.

    Personally, I’m an atheist, but even though I’m non-religious I do need to recognize that there are Christians, Jews and Muslims whose interpretations of their religion do not attack others for behaving differently. There are passages in the Bible that glorify genocide and which call for the persecution of others, and there are also those which promote mercy and charity. Which of these any self proclaimed Christian follows is something that the word Christian does little to tell us.

    Difluoroethene,
    You are correct that religion isn’t a prerequisite to hate, but all too frequently it provides a justification that atheism simply can’t.

    Unlike most religions, atheism isn’t a belief system, its a lack of belief in deity, and as such it has no central tenants around which to organize hateful rhetoric. Those religious groups persecuted in the officially atheist Soviet Union were persecuted because of the Soviet anti-religious interpretation of Marxism, not because of their interpretation of atheism.

    For the most part, it just makes far more sense for bigots to attach racist, homophobic and sexist beliefs to religious philosophies than to secular ones, as religious beliefs tend to be more difficult to challenge through evidence and can claim more protection under the laws as religious freedom is reinterpreted as the freedom to discriminate.

  • Jonas Rand

    Even Joseph Stalin, in 1901, took pity upon Russian Jews, describing them as “unceasingly persecuted and humiliated[...]deprived even those miserable rights that other Russian subjects enjoy”. Note the date: this was before the Soviet Union had been established and he was criticizing the way Jews were treated under Tsarist rule.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    The Soviet Union did not persecute Jews nor Ukrainians. Atheism had little to do with the reason why the USSR persecuted anybody. Religion was considered a “personal matter” under Soviet law, and it was never banned. In the Great Patriotic War museum in Moscow one can view religious material published by the government for Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist soldiers.

    Nazi Germany on the other hand, was not in the slightest bit atheist. Religious rhetoric was often used against Jews, and the Nazis Nuremburg laws were very similar to those proposed by Martin Luther.

  • Difluoroethene

    Jonas,

    You seem pretty hateful yourself. Also, religious groups hardly have a monopoly on hate and discrimination. Eugenicists, for example, were scientifically inclined individuals who historically tended towards secular humanism, and yet eugenics has contributed in large part to some of the most horrible atrocities throughout history, including the Holocaust. The Soviet Union, which persecuted millions of dissenters, Jews, Ukrainians, and others, was officially atheist.

  • Jonas Rand

    A “fundamentalist” is only someone who is consistent with their beliefs. What is the point of being part of a religion, when you don’t accept all of its doctrines? If you don’t want to be a fanatic, don’t join.

  • Jonas Rand

    The only people who consistently follow Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are raving, fundamentalist lunatics who refuse to eat shrimp and figs, worship a god who slaughtered entire ethnic groups, kill people for that god (thinking they will get “Allah bonus points” in heaven), refuse to listen to any musical instruments (or try???), and are virulent homophobes. If you believe all of the peace-love-and-unity stuff about God, or think that gays deserve anything less than death, then you are probably too rational for the Abrahamic religions.

  • CM

    “Many Western analysts believe that hundreds, possibly even thousands, of gay men have been executed in the most fundamentalist Muslim countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, during the last three decades.”

    According to Ahmadinejad, there are no gays in Iran. Maybe this is why.

    But seriously, since fundamentalists of all stripes seem to have identical opinions on social issues, it sort of makes me wonder if it really makes a difference which religion they profess.

  • Mitch Beales

    So LaBarbera is advocating the imposition of Sharia law to placate Muslims? That makes about as much sense as leaving “the homosexual lifestyle” through a guy who spent most of his adult like hanging out with twelve other guys.