Title: Liberty Versus Death Credit: Craig Young Comment Friday 12th October 2007 - 1:08pm1192147680 Article: 5081 Rights
sharia law in action The Labour Government supports Amnesty International's call for the international abolition of the death penalty. This is an LGBT issue too. Why? New Zealand hasn't had capital punishment as a legal option for almost a half-century, since it was finally abolished by bipartisan vote in 1961, although Labour has always strongly favoured abolition. LGBT New Zealanders have an obvious point of contact with the government over this issue - sharia law. Amnesty International opposes torture, harassmentorganised homophobic violence and the death penalty when performed on the basis of homosexuality. Saudi Arabia demonstrates the complexity of the issue, with formal sharia law but co-existing cruising grounds and private indulgence of what is legally forbidden. However, Nigeria, Sudan, Iran, and Iraq's Mahdi Army all penalise male homosexuality, while Iran also mandates capital punishment for persistent lesbianism, Hezbollah and Hamas also believe that their version of fundamentalist Islamism, whether Shia or Sunni, has no place for homosexuality. They base this on their arguable interpretation of the Qu'ran and particular traditions of interpretation of attributed sayings of the Prophet Muhammed, although the Hanafi school of interpretation is more liberal than others. In addition to the systemic cases of capital punishment above, Amnesty International has also opposed homophobic human rights violation, violence and torture in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Zimbabwe, Latvia and India. Surely no-one could object to the above, especially given that the Christian Heritage Party, which alone supported reintroduction of the death penalty in New Zealand, died after Capillgate in 2005. However, the Christian Right has piped up with references to embryos and fetuses. There's a vast difference between pre-sentient potential humans and actual, flesh and blood biographical human subjects, not that that troubled Right to Life New Zealand throughout the nineties when it had Graham Capill as one of its patrons, or when Voice for Life Vice-Presidnet Annetta Moran stood on the same Christian Coalition party list as Capill in 1996. And as Amnesty International is a pluralist organisation, why should it support an essentially religious campaign against women's reproductive freedom, in any case? Added to which, the Sensible Sentencing Trust made an extraordinary outburst about the government's stance as an 'insult to families of murder victims.' Oh, so all families of murder victims support the death penalty, do they? Might some in fact prefer more punitive sentencing of homicide violent offenders and imprisonment for life without any hope of parole? I think the latter is far fairer to victims families, as well as being much more punitive. I'm afraid this is one reason why the Trust has lost the trust of those on the centre-left who would once have supported its bipartisan law and order stance - it has long since ceased to be politically independent or neutral, and has lost focus on its core mission of fighting violent crime and focusing on victims rights. Either SST needs to return to its core mission, or there needs to be a new organisation for victims rights not beholding to social conservative extremists. Recommended: - Breaking the Silence; Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation: London: AI: 1997. -Crimes of Hate, Conspiracy of Silence; Torture and Ill-Treatment based on Sexual Identity: London: AI: 2001. Brian Whitaker: Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East: London: Saqi: 2006. A reply to this article came in from Megan McPherson: Quote: "Added to which, the Sensible Sentencing Trust made an extraordinary outburst about the government's stance as an 'insult to families of murder victims.' Oh, so all families of murder victims support the death penalty, do they?" Could the author please explain how he arrived at this extraordinary assertion that Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) is saying all families of murder victims support the death penalty? My interpretation was that Ms Clark's comments were deemed offensive by SST because they demonstrated a total lack of insight into what victims of homicide go through before they die, and what their families and friends subsequently endure after their love one has been murdered. To twist this comment to mean SST was saying all homocide victims support the death penalty is hyperbolic, unfair and unbalanced. Please note that the SST does not advocate the death penalty, it does, however, relentlessly lobby for better rights for the victims of violent crime. It also offers boundless support and care for dozens of families of victims of violent crime, no matter what their race, views or politics are. Craig Young - 12th October 2007    
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