This morning after driving my son to school I turned on a news radio program in the middle of a story.
“…The letter stated that ‘LGBT rights are not human rights’, and they have ‘nothing to do with fundamental human rights,’” the newscaster read. “The letter further denounces same-sex relationships as ‘abnormal sexual behavior.’”
As I heard this latest anti-gay outcry, I thought, ‘here we go again. Another conservative, right-wing politician spewing hate speech against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered people.’
But I was wrong. It turned out that while the rhetoric was eerily similar to the Republican Party’s -- and Kirk Cameron’s -- stance on gay rights, the quote was in fact written by Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of 57 Islamic nations, declared its opposition to a UN Human Rights Council panel on ending discrimination and violence against people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. In other words these countries were opposed to taking part in any effort to end violence and bigotry against an entire class of people because they don’t like the sexual choices those people make.
Sound familiar? It should, because it’s nearly identical to the anti-gay hate speech that has been churned out by Republicans and their right wing supporters for years. And some surprising research shows that the Republican party’s war on LGBT people is striking in it’s alignment with Pakistani values and Sharia law.
The Republican Party in Texas actually states in its 2010 State Republican Platform, “We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases.” It goes on to insist that “homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God.”
In frighteningly similar language, Pakistani representative Saeed Sarwar shared a nearly identical opinion at the UN convention in Geneva. He argued that "licentious behavior promoted under the so-called concept of sexual orientation is against the fundamental teachings of various religions, including Islam,” and thus “legitimizing homosexuality and other personal sexual behaviors in the name of sexual orientation is unacceptable."
It's as if Pakistan and the Republicans are reading off the same cue card.
The Montana branch of the Republican Party nestles even closer to Islamic law and the values upheld by the Pakistani government. Homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan, and according to the Montana Republican Party it should be in Montana as well. According to the Party platform adopted in June 2010, Montana's members “support the clear will of the people of Montana,” to “keep homosexual acts illegal.”
Both Montana and Pakistan also have similarly archaic laws criminalizing sodomy, and while Texas struck down its anti-sodomy law in 2003, the Texas Republican Party thinks it should be reinstated. (And I quote): “We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.”
Even in the notoriously open-minded state of California, the Republican Party believes that “public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle.” The California faction of the Republican Party also opposes same-sex partner benefits, child custody and adoption – all ideas that wouldn’t go over well in Pakistan either.
And apparently it's not enough for them to just believe in these hateful homophobic ideals. Republicans have been hell bent lately on using every public platform they can find to gleefully demean, degrade, and encourage hate and bigotry against gay people, as well as fighting any policy or mindset that might protect their rights and safety – much like those Islamic leaders who stormed out of the recent UN meeting.
And the similarities go on.
Rick Santorum righteously declared last summer that “gay marriage is going to have a devastating impact on our children, it's going to have a devastating impact on families, and it's going to have a profound impact on religious liberties."
In a similar statement, Pakistani leaders arguing against a UN measure advocating global gay rights, insisted the resolution, “directly contradicts the tenets of Islam and other religions," and its approval would be "a direct insult to the 1.2 billion Muslims around the world."
And last summer, when the US embassy in Islamabad held a meeting in support of gay rights, the Pakistani political group Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), protested the event, saying it was "the worst social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan."
Perhaps JI borrowed an old press release from Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern (R) who on more than one occasion has publically declared that homosexuality is “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism.”
When I hear news stories about the Pakistani government defending hate crimes and promoting archaic laws, I’m saddened but not surprised. These are after all the same people who bring us burqas, and acid burning, and stoning as a punishment for adultery.
But seeing the values of the country that gave sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden reflected in the words of one of our country’s most powerful political parties is terrifying. The Republican Party used to stand for small government and fiscal responsibility, but now its platform is built atop a pile of religious zealotry, anti-women rhetoric, and abhorrence of all those who hold differing opinions or lifestyle.
Hatred is not a family value -- at least not in the United States. So I say this to every Republican Party supporter and right wing whack job who’s managed to read this far without declaring a jihad on my head -- if you want to keep spewing your vitriolic anti-gay anti-women rhetoric, take it to Pakistan, and maybe you will finally find a culture where your value system fits in.