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.”