Title: Failed states and the plight of lgbt inhabitants Credit: Craig Young Comment Friday 3rd February 2012 - 11:40am1328222400 Article: 11351 Rights
Why are so many of the world's LGBT crisis hotspots 'failed states?' How did they get that way, and what does the term mean? Moreover, why are the situations of their LGBT (and other) inhabitants often so desperate? Within international relations debates, 'failed state' refers to particularly wretched nations. Within these nations, central government and local government administration is either weak or absent altogether. Instead, authority rests in the gun-toting hands of insurgent guerrilla movements and/or criminal gangs. These organisations engage in combat with rival insurgent militia without regard for the welfare of infirm, elderly and child civilians. They commit acts of arbitrary violence and terrorism against schools, hospitals, religious places of worship and other civilian areas, and undertake abduction, execution, sexual violation and forced prostitution without intervention from the rule of law. Indeed, what central government, police forces or military institutions do exist is hopelessly corrupt, sectarian, racist and unaccountable. Democratic government doesn't last for long within such nations and is usually replaced by military personnel who stage coups and then hold power for long periods. Human rights and civil liberties are unrecognised and unenforceable, and homelessness, HIV/AIDS and other epidemic diseases, malnutrition and high maternal and infant mortality, forced migration and refugee and asylum seeker flight are all commonplace. Of the world's antigay/transphobic trouble spots, only the Russian Republic and Serbia don't seem to be characterised by that grim state of affairs, discounting Russia's long-term difficulties with the Chechnyan War and severely impaired "Putinist" elected regime. Of course, Serbia fought and lost a bitter war over the remnants of the former Yugoslavia and that was undeniably a failed state for most of the nineties. Sometimes, former failed states do heal. As the United States has declined as a superpower over the last decade, Latin and South America has mostly stabilised and assumed democratic government without outside interference. As that has taken place, civilian central governments have asserted their authority, cleansed the police and armed forces and brought former miscreants to account for their acts of brutality and inhumanity. Apart from Belize, Trinidad, Tobago and Guinea most Latin and South American nations have at least decriminalised male homosexuality and some have antidiscrimination laws. South Africa may have considerable problems with economic inequality and criminality as a consequence of the half-century that it spent under apartheid, but it isn't a one-party state and there is healthy dissent to the African National Congress. As for the rest of Africa, Nigeria is wracked by sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims, intervals of tribal ethnic cleansing, and armed forces that stage intermittent coups. It is therefore unsurprising that there is no real professional middle class or organised trade union movement to form centre-left and centre-right political parties and that fundamentalist religious authority is used to harass and persecute LGBT activists. Apart from its more vigorous civil society, much the same could be said about the corrupt and authoritarian Ugandan National Resistance Movement, President Yoweri Museveni and David Bahati's murderous but forestalled "Anti-Homosexuality Bill." The insurgent "Lords Resistance Movement" is even worse, engaging in child military exploitation and child prostitution. Fortunately, there has been an international outcry against Uganda's antigay legislation in question and foreign aid cuts have been threatened. Unfortunately, Nigeria is an OPEC member and oil exporter, although the resultant wealth is maldistributed severely. As for Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF dictator Robert Mugabe cannot last forever. Sudan and Somalia are nightmares without any central authority of note and at the mercy of criminal gangs and ethnic insurgencies. Under their conservative Islamist regimes, male homosexuality merits the death penalty. As well as Nigeria and Uganda, Afghanistan and Iraq are also close to becoming failed states, or are so. Although the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and several European nations tried to displace the Taliban and overthrew Saddam Hussein, the results have been mediocre. Afghan President Hamid Karzai's regime is far from optimally democratic and ethnic and sectarian religious insurgencies still occur in its various provinces. Iraq is in an even worse condition. Under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, non-religious civil society was stunted and as a result, Shia and Sunni religious insurgencies are now tearing that country apart. For that matter, Iraqi LGBT citizens are in a miserable condition, subject to abduction, 'disappearances', execution and mutilation. Not all Southwest Asian antigay trouble spots are failed states, though- witness Ahamdinejad's Iranian regime. What about New Zealand's own vicinity? Bougainville is at peace now, but there remains the question of Fiji's military regime. Indonesia has democratised and stabilised and Singapore is discussing decriminalisation of homosexuality. Thailand has periods of instability but is now relatively placid. Malaysia has a strong central government and is therefore not a failed state, but its United Malaysian National Organisation regime is vehemently antigay, refuses to decriminalise homosexuality and even basic civil liberties like free speech and free media are impaired there. Burma/Myanmar is still a military dictatorship although it is showing signs of liberalisation- but it also has entrenched ethnic-based insurgencies. Although not a failed state, it has come perilously close to that definition at times. As for North Korea, one can only wait and hope. What is New Zealand doing about LGBT rights violations in the above? Good question. At present, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is retrenching staff and over the duration of the Key administration, trade liberalisation has become the only concern of international significance. Granted, our domestic economy is stagnant and there is the Christchurch earthquake to consider, as well as the global recession. But exactly how is it that our current blasé attitude toward LGBT and other human rights and civil liberties crises abroad helping to stabilise overseas governments, regenerate their infrastructures and enable their participation with a global free trade network? And why is the Key administration unwilling to assist the excellent efforts of Canada and the United Kingdom, both of which have centre-right governments- or our 'traditional ally', the United States under the Obama administration and the impressive work of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Why does torpor and sheer laziness seem to characterise New Zealand foreign policy under this government beyond the single issue of Fiji? Recommended: The Foreign Policy Failed States Index: Craig Young - 3rd February 2012    
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