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    Posted May 10, 2012 by
    Farmersburg, Indiana
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Same-sex marriage: Civil right vs. states' rights

    More from k3vsDad

    Same-Gender Marriage - Equal Rights - Fantasy for Most of World


    Last  year Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an impressive and  well-received speech to the United Nations about how the US of A would  work actively around the world to promote the rights of those who are  GLBT. She called on other nations to accept the GLBT members of their  societies.

    Yesterday,  President Barack Obama came out in support of same-gender marriage in  the US of A. The President did frame his support, however, in noting  that it was up to each individual state to determine whether to allow  marriage or civil union.

    Yet  when you travel and talk to people in other nations around the globe,  it becomes apparent that for many who are GLBT, the idea of equal rights  is a fantasy, far removed from reality. The issue of being allowed to  wed or be granted a civil union is even more alien.

    China's  government considered homosexuality a mental disorder until 2001. In  Egypt's conservative, Muslim-dominated society, laws prohibiting  "shameless public acts" have been used to imprison gay men in recent  years. Even some gay rights activists in the Philippines are opposed to  same-sex marriage.

    And in Malaysia, the government has twice  prosecuted a prominent opposition leader on charges of sodomy, which is  punishable by 20 years in prison.

    While gay-rights activists  around the world hailed President Barack Obama's support for same-sex  marriage as a symbolic victory, for many the idea of legal unions  between homosexuals is a distant dream. Gay people in many countries  would settle for simply getting to be themselves without fear of being  attacked or thrown in prison.

    In China, "the government treats  homosexuality like it does not exist," said Xiong Jing, an activist who  volunteers in gay support groups in Beijing. She said Thursday that  legalizing gay marriage there would be "unrealistic and impossible."

    China's  authoritarian government shows little tolerance for activism of any  kind, and sodomy was a crime until 1997. Even today gays are frequently  discriminated against and ostracized. While Xiong welcomed Obama's  support for gay marriage, seh didn't think it would make much  difference.

    "If he, as president, was able to not just express  his own personal opinion but to support policies on this, that would be  even better," she said.

    America's role as a global agent of  change is exactly what worries Ibrahim Ali, an independent member of  Malaysia's Parliament and leader of a rights group for the country's  majority Malay Muslims.

    "We want good relations with America, but America must not interfere in other countries' policies on this issue," he said.

    "They  can practice this in America if they want, since it's their right, but  we are still very concerned, because whatever America practices, it  often wants other countries to follow suit."

    But gays who speak  out commonly become targets of abuse, such as Azwan Ismail, who drew  anonymous death threats and criticism from Islamic officials when he  spoke about his sexuality in a YouTube video in 2010.

    Azwan said  he was heartened by Obama's comments, and that Malaysians who support  gay rights should "take this as a sign to be active and brave. ... This  is crucial in fighting homophobia in this country."

    Homosexuality  also remains taboo in India, despite large gay pride parades recently  in New Delhi and other big cities. Only this year, the government  accepted a court ruling that struck down a colonial-era law banning gay  sex, and the Supreme Court is now hearing appeals.

    In the  overwhelmingly Catholic Philippines, the only country in the world apart  from the Vatican where divorce is illegal, the issue of gay marriage is  not even on the agenda of gay rights groups because some of their  members oppose it.

    "We have some members who are religious, and  their belief and devotion to God is there and is the biggest hindrance  for them," said Goya Candelaria, spokesman of Pro Gay association.

    Religious  mores tend to be the most-frequently invoked objection by opponents of  gay marriage around the world, especially in countries with strong  Catholic and Muslim traditions.

    "This is unacceptable, because it  is against religion, traditions and against God," said Shady Azer, an  engineer in Cairo. "God created Adam and Eve.

    He didn't create two Adams or two Eves."

    The  Vatican, a strident opponent of gay marriage, did not immediately  comment on Obama's announcement, but politicians tied to Pentecostal and  Catholic churches in Latin America spoke out strongly against it.

    "Barack  Obama is an ethical man and a philosophically confused man," said  Peruvian congresswoman Martha Chavez, a member of the conservative  Catholic Opus Dei movement. "He knows that marriage isn't an issue only  of traditions or of religious beliefs. Marriage is a natural institution  that supports the union of two people of different sexes because it has  a procreative function."

    In Thailand, gay activist Natee  Teerarojjanapongs was energized by Obama's statement. Though Thailand is  often seen as gay-friendly by tourists, Thai society remains deeply  conservative and there is little support for expanding gay rights.

    "I  was starting to lose hope in fighting for gay marriage legalization in  Thailand," Natee said, "but now Barack Obama's endorsement is rekindling  my fire and is giving me the encouragement to go on."


    If  there is such division in the United States over the issue of equality  for GLBT people, is it any wonder that the issue remains elusive to much  of the rest the globe?

    From the Cornfield, the advancement of equal rights for all humans is a laudable goal.

    May  one day alll people be seen as equal with no stigma because of one's  sexuality. May each man, each woman, each boy and each girl be seen in  the totality of who they are - a human being.

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