Title: Same-Sex Marriage Bans: Pathological Traces Credit: Craig Young Comment Tuesday 14th August 2012 - 1:29pm1344907740 Article: 12123 Rights
Which nation-states have prohibited same-sex marriage, and why have they done so? None of these nations are shining paragons of liberal democracy, human rights and civil liberties, and many have long histories of religious intolerance, misogyny, ethnic turmoil, military coups, endemic urban criminality, political and judicial corruption and authoritarian leadership. Some of those listed will come as no surprise: Cuba (1976), Burkina Faso (1991), Bulgaria (1991), Vietnam, Paraguay and Lithuania (1992), Cambodia (1993), Belarus and Moldova (1994), Ukraine (1996), Poland (1997), Venezuala (1999), Rwanda (2003), Burundi, Honduras, Latvia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (2005), Serbia (2006), Montenegro (2007), Ecuador (2008), Bolivia and the Cayman Islands (2009), the Dominican Republic and Kenya (2010), Hungary and South Sudan (2011). Of these, Cuba, Burkina Faso, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Venezuala, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Serbia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Kenya all have had constitutional amendments after referenda that have approved same-sex marriage constitutional bans. There are some surprising omissions on this list. Moreover, in some cases, parliamentary legislatures refused to pass pre-emptive same-sex marriage, civil union or relationship equality bans. The United States was unable to pass the "Federal Marriage Amendment", which would have led to a nationwide series of state referenda for a constitutional same-sex marriage ban, even while Republicans controlled the US Presidency, Senate and House of Representatives during the last decade. As Republican Congressional presence has eroded, it has been increasingly unable to do so. Moreover, the last midterm elections cleared out many "Boll Weevil" conservative Democrats from the House of Representatives, meaning that there was increased Democrat support for LGBT rights, which may well be cemented, given that Barack Obama is now edging ahead of Mitt Romney in most opinion polls and may cause a reversal in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Otherwise, El Salvador (2009) has refused to go down that road as well. (El Salvador refused to do so because it was a fundamentalist microparty, the "Party of Hope", whose sole National Assembly representative proposed the same-sex marriage constitutional ban, which did not receive mass support within the Assembly and so foundered. Right-wing parties supported it, but in El Salvador, no one party has a majority in the National Assembly.) What does the above tell us? Clearly, many such African nations have had wretched histories of military insurrection, civil war, dictatorship, human rights and civil liberties abuses, and have higher levels of Christian or Muslim religious observance than is the case in New Zealand or much of the rest of the western world. Former Eastern European Warsaw Pact nations are recovering from long histories of communist authoritarianism and are prone to Catholic, Greek or Russian Orthodox religious power grabs in several cases. Much the same could be said for those South-East Asian, Central and South American nations that pre-emptively banned same-sex marriages, civil unions or legislative relationship equality recognition. Cambodia, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi have all experienced the horrors of civil war and massive genocidal loss of life. At present, Chile is engaged in heated debate about the need for LGBT relationship equality, and currently has reasonably consolidated anti-discrimination laws but gay male age of consent inequality (at eighteen, compared to fourteen for heterosexuals). Homosexuality was only decriminalised there in 1998, ten years after Chile voted to end General Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship in a national referendum in 1988. One of the remnants of that period is the right-wing "International Democratic Union" party (UDI). UDI's founder backed the military coup that brought Pinochet to power and supported military repression and suppression of human rights and civil liberties over the ensuing fifteen years of that dictatorship. Although it's trying to clean up its act by supporting justice for the relatives of those who 'disappeared' into torture chambers and military firing squad casualty lists during the seventies and eighties, UDI has proposed a pre-emptive constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, in Chile's legislature and courts, battles are waged for LGBT relationship equality, whether same-sex marriage or civil unions. And of course, Australia passed its own discriminatory Marriage Legislation Act under the Howard administration in 2004, and the Rudd and Gillard ALP administrations since have refused to repeal it. Does Australia realise that it is in the company of the above when it continually refuses to remove its discriminatory federal marriage ban and introduce same-sex marriage (or even federal civil unions)? It doesn't say much for the health and well-being of Australian liberal democracy that its own maltreatment of Australian aborigines, refugees and asylum seekers also come to mind in this context- or for that matter, Catholic clergy pedophilia due to that church and its institutional presence across the Tasman. And then there's the US Christian Right, spreading its propaganda, funds, tactical and strategic advice across many African, East European, South and Central American societies, and encouraging them to imitate it. Does New Zealand really want to join the above list? Definitely not, which is why, like El Salvador, it refused any legislative pre-emptive same-sex marriage ban in 2005. One also hopes that Australia sees sense eventually. Given Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott's conservatism, however, I'm sceptical. Recommended: Wikipedia/Same-sex marriage legislation across the world: Wikipedia/Recognition of same sex unions in Chile: Craig Young - 14th August 2012    
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