Friday, July 14, 2006

Protests Planned Against Iran

There's been a lot of news about the July 19 protests planned against Iran due to its treatment of gay people, and I'm not sure how I feel about them. The protests, organized by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), commemorate the anniversary of the 2005 execution of two teenage Iranian boys, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, in the city of Mashad. The IGLHRC recently pulled its support from World Pride in Jerusalem, a more that I disagree with.

First, there is Doug Ireland's most recent article in the Gay City News documenting more horrible stories of the brutal mistreatment of gay people in Iran, with a plug for the protests in New York.

Then , there is an article in the UK Gay News about how Poland is in a quandary because it is one of Iran's few friends, and protests could mar their treaties. (Poland, by the way, has recently come under fire for its extremely anti-gay policies spearheaded by its right-wing government.)

Finally, there's an article in the Washington Blade about the protests in general.

I worry that the protests might be a little idealistic, and might actually hurt the situation for gay people in Iran. Note the cities participating:

Mexico City, Mexico
Warsaw, Poland
Paris, France
London, UK
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Brussels, Belgium
New York City, USA
Sioux Falls, USA
Washington, USA
San Francisco, USA
San Diego, USA
Sacramento, USA
Provincetown, USA

They're all pretty Western, which is admittedly inevitable. You won't see protests against Iranian treatment of gay people anywhere in the Middle East, even in Beirut.

But the fact that it is so Western causes extreme difficulties, in that it highlights the East-West dichotomy. Right now, things are more East-West than that have been in a while, with Iran's nuclear plans and Iran-backed Hizbullah's abduction of Israeli soldiers. The West, mainly the United States, has been pushing Iran for change, which has been met with skepticism (to be euphemistic).

Do we want to bring gay issues further into the East-West dichtomy? Many in the MIddle East already see homosexuality as a "Western disease" or a "Western invention to corrupt Muslim youth". Protests at this time might backfire, feeding those ignorant beliefs, and leading to further crackdowns.

Of course, if you don't protest, things will never get better.

I wonder if Ahmadinejad will care about people protesting in Sioux Falls, North Dakota.

(I know this isn't a very good post. Will all that's going on now, I have bigger things on my mind.)


Anonymous Julian said...

Have you read Richard Kim's account of this in The Nation? It provides an interesting different perspective on this:

July 15, 2006 7:14 PM  

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