Afghanistan did away with the death penalty after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 but homosexual acts still remain punishable with fines and a prison sentence.
In June of 2009, the Delhi High Court declared section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalised homosexuality, invalid. The ruling was made in the landmark case of Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT, where the court held that the criminalisation of consensual homosexual sex between adults was a violation of fundamental rights protected by the country’s constitution.
A popular Indian soap, “Maryada: Lekin Kab Tak?” (Honour: But at What Cost?), was one of the first television shows in the country to feature a homosexual character. The show is focused on a conservative family in a small town in India, the Jhaakar clan, whose eldest son Gaurav is gay.
Bollywood Gay Movie
Dunno Y...Na Jaane Kyon, directed by Sanjay Sharma, premiered in April 2010 at India’s first mainstream gay film festival, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival. Featuring the first gay kiss in Indian cinema, the film met a barrage of protests and controversy, with some multiplexes even refusing to screen the film, claiming the openly homosexual content would be inappropriate to screen in their family-friendly theatres. The real life parents of Yuvraaj Parashar, one of two lead characters, also initiated legal action to disown him because of the shame arising from the film, claiming to “not want to see his face even in death.”
Jamaica has one of the most stringent sodomy laws in the world, with homosexual activity carrying a 10 year jail sentence. Many attribute Jamaica’s intense homophobia to the anti-gay music scene which promotes gay-bashing. Banton, one of the nation’s most popular dancehall singers, boasted of shooting gays with Uzis and burning their skin with acid in his 1992 song, Boom Bye-Bye.
A bill that imposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts and life in prison for others was shelved after an international uproar. The legislation was submitted after a visit by leaders of conservative Christian ministries from the United States who offered therapy, claiming that they could convert gays to heterosexuals.
‘Outed’ and hunted down
In October 2010, Ugandan paper Rolling Stone published photos, names and addresses of Uganda’s 100 “top” homosexuals, inciting their readers to hang them. Many Ugandans were attacked after the publication as a result of their real or perceived sexual orientation. Sexual Minorities Uganda leader David Kato, one of the activists outed in the article, was murdered in his home by an assailant who struck him twice in the head with a hammer.
Although South Africa is the only African nation which recognises gay marriage, it is home to intense homophobia. Roving gangs carry out so-called “corrective” rapes on lesbians, claiming to “cure” them of their sexual orientation by sexually assaulting them.
United States of America
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) was the official policy of the United States on homosexuals serving in the military from December 21, 1993 to September 20, 2011. The policy allowed closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants but barred openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service. In July of 2011, a federal appeals court barred the further enforcement of the DADT. Congress then declared that the DADT policy would end by September 20, 2011.
Kevin Keller became the first openly gay character in Archie Comics history in Veronica #202, published on September 2010. The move was made to keep the world of Archie comics inclusive and updated. Keller will star in his own solo title which will debut in February 2012.
Gay Panic Defence
The gay panic defence is a legal defence against charges of assault or murder. A defendant can use the gay panic defence by claiming that he or she acted in a state of violent temporary insanity because of a little-known psychiatric condition called homosexual panic. Similarly, Trans panic is used in cases where the victim is a transgender or intersex person.
The movement, started in the early 1970s, initially sought to help people who struggled with unwanted same-sex attractions, but through the years became more politicised and involved in speaking out against the civil rights of LGBT people. The majority of participants and leaders are white Evangelical Christian males. Ex-gay organisations use a variety of methods to eliminate same-sex sexual orientation, from minor techniques like psychoanalysis, group therapy to horrific ones involving electric shock or nausea-inducing drugs.
Since 2001, ten countries have begun allowing same-sex couples to marry nationwide: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden. Same-sex marriages are also performed and recognised in Mexico City and parts of the United States. Some jurisdictions that do not perform same-sex marriages recognise same-sex marriages performed elsewhere: Israel, the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, parts of the United States, and all states of Mexico.
Homosexuality was once thought to be a mental disorder by the American Psychological Association (APA). Further research led to its removal by the APA from its list of diagnoses and disorders.
Greece has the most discriminatory laws pertaining to homosexuality in Europe. Discrimination through sexual orientation is allowed and homosexuality is banned in the army. Male prostitution is illegal while no such ban exists for female prostitution and the police are authorised to forcibly require gay men to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
Malaysia still maintains a law against sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, though prosecutions are rare.
Malaysian Gay Film
The non-explicit version of Dalam Botol (In a Bottle), a film about a Muslim man who undergoes a sex-change operation to please his boyfriend but realises later that he may have been better off being a man, was a major success in Malaysia despite a ban on films that show support for gay lifestyles.
China, home to an estimated 30 million homosexuals, severely persecuted homosexuals during the Cultural Revolution. Sodomy was finally decriminalised in 1997, while the Chinese Psychiatric Association stopped listing homosexuality as a mental illness in 2001.
In 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking to Columbia University, said “We don’t have homosexuals, like in your country. I don’t know who told you that.” An aide later said that he was misquoted and was actually saying that “compared to American society, we don’t have many homosexuals”. The aide further clarified that “because of historical, religious and cultural differences homosexuality is less common in Iran and the Islamic world than in the West”.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 30th, 2011.