Southeast Asia has been a hotbed of fundamentalist homophobia this week.
First comes a spate of anti-gay rhetoric, violence and the possibility for anti-LGBT legislative action in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. MUI, a government-funded organization of Muslim clerics who tell everyone else how to think and behave, want “a stern prohibition of LGBT activities and other deviant sexual activities and legislation that categorizes them as a crime.” They also support the government in renouncing foreign funding (e.g. from the UN), because such moneys are tainted by organizations that support LGBT rights. All this comes on top of a 2014 fatwa against the “promotion of LGBT activities.”
But don’t worry, Indonesian queers – the MUI is also demanding that the government provide you with rehabilitative counseling. And they’re not alone. The Religious Affairs Ministry has denounced LGBT people as threatening the fabric of society (you know, the same line of shit the American fundamentalist mafia peddles), and the ministry has asked religious institutions to figure out what causes homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism. A minster spokesman said that “he had asked that such research be conducted based on religious and psychological approaches.”
Sounds like reparative therapy to me.
Officials throughout the country are doubling-down – one government minister calling for a ban of college LGBT groups, another leaning on smartphone instant-messaging companies to drop same-sex related emoji content (those two ladies holding hands are the downfall of Indonesian families!) and the country’s broadcast regulator/propaganda minister joined forces with the child welfare agency in an attempt to end gay-related public programming because of a reported flood of little boys donning dresses. (I’m guessing this is out, then.)
Lying north of Indonesia, the Catholic-dominated Philippines are home to the country’s famous boxer, Manny Pacquiao, who found himself in a heap of international trouble after calling gays “worse than animals.”
“Do you see animals mating with the same sex?” he told a local TV station last week. (Well, yes, but never mind all that.) “Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female …” (Can they?) “If men mate with men and women mate with women, they are worse than animals.”
Pacquiao, recently saved by Christianity just in time for his election bid for a Senate seat, left behind a sordid past of womanizing and gambling in exchange for a family, the bible and gay bashing. Although the born-again boxer later apologized – at least in the standard syrupy Christian way (i.e., “I am praying for you.”) – Nike dropped his ass, pulling all merchandise associated with him.
The Scourge has thought about this topic for decades given his own abominable sexual practices (which he indulges in daily) and has done a good amount of research on the book religions’ stance on homosexuality and/or gender-variant behavior, which leads him to the following conclusion:
These religions are bad fucking news for queers.
It’s become very popular for pro-gay denominations and even queer clergy to downplay the violently homo- and transphobic texts from the founding scriptures, saying that these proscriptions came from a certain place and time or that they refer more to homosexual rape (as in the case of Sodom) than the peaceable gay relationships we see today – you know, same-sex couples pushing babies in Victorian prams down the street.
But it’s hard to jive this excuse-making with the texts themselves. The verses call same-sex relations an abomination and declare death as the only punishment. (Leviticus 20:13). Men who lie with men and women with women transgress beyond all bounds (Quran 7:80-81, 26:165-166), and the destruction rained down upon Lot’s city is usually interpreted as a punishment for homosexual depravity. The Hadiths, sayings attributed to Mohammed and often cited as part of the religious heritage of Islam, provide further support for the killing of those who lie with members of the same sex, and while St. Paul and the Prophet might seem like strange bedfellows, they both condemned effeminate men.
We can certainly cherry-pick the “holy” books all we like, crafting a spirituality that makes sense to us, something I whole-heartedly encourage. After all, as the great Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti said, “You are the door through which you yourself must go.” But to turn our heads and lightly brush off a history of persecution and genocide (yup, I went there) against LGBTIQ people as something that was just a product of its time is not only offensive but dangerous.
Because we are a product of that time now. Self-appointed religious authorities – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Whatever – have declared war against queer people today. Levitical fanatics in government positions are trying to extinguish same sex-relationships today. LGBTIQ people are sentenced to death because of religious tyranny today.
Yet despite these religious hegemonies’ records, like beaten dogs we crawl back to our spiritual masters, eating any conciliatory crumbs that fall from the table. Cassock-covered fascists hold excommunication, fatwas and shunning over our heads, withdrawing god’s love and redemption from us if we step out of line, and we tacitly make allowances for them, saying that a person’s religious beliefs are between them and god. That would be true if those same people weren’t trying to shove their god down our throats. Instead of confronting them on their cruelty, violence and ignorance, we back down and play nice, proof that we are indeed lying in the rank opium dens of religion. Take the pipe out of your mouth and stand up, not only against the obvious madness of homo- and transphobic texts but the equivocatory doublespeak of well-intentioned people trying to find some kind of truce where there is none.
Until next Sunday… the heretic’s day.
In other news of the faithful:
Get your martyrs fresh! Taliban uses children as young as 10 in battle, after providing warfare education in Islamic schools.
Turns out human sacrifice is alive and well. Islamic extremist group Boko Haram attacks a market and school, killing 22.
Evangelical heroine Kim Davis got an early birthday present this year. The Kentucky state Senate approved two different marriage licenses, citing that erasing the terms “bride” and “groom” is an insult to traditional families.
Pope Francis was a media juggernaut this week after his trip to Mexico during which he denounced the exploitation of indigenous people, said contraception could be used to help slow the Zika virus, held mass on the Mexican-American border and called Donald Trump a crap Christian. Even the Scourge has to give this guy two thumbs up!
Finally, in perhaps this week’s most entertaining religious news, another Kentucky legislator, Mary Lou Marzian, has introduced what she’s calling a “family values” bill stating that any man who wants Viagra needs a note from his wife and must swear on a bible that he’s only having intercourse with said wife. Ms. Marzian, if you ever want to get into the ring with Kim Davis, our money is on you.