Commentary, Local Commentary, National Commentary

The LGBTQ+ Reach: September 14 – 20

Hong Kong Court Orders Laws Changed to Recognize Same-Sex Couples

Hong Kong  — which decriminalized homosexuality in 1991 — will soon follow Taiwan (in May 2019) and Nepal (in March 2023) in legally recognizing same-sex unions.  Last week a court ordered the government to create a plan to do so within the next two years.  Hopefully they’re able to figure that out sooner (what is there to figure out that could possibly take two years?) — and drop the “separate but equal” civil unions idea and just legalize marriage regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

India’s Supreme Court Gay Marriage Decision Imminent

Last week marked five years since India decriminalized homosexuality.  This year — perhaps even in the coming days — the India Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether to legally recognize gay marriage.  Representing a population of just under 1.5 billion, India is the largest country in the world, recently edging out China.  This followed a massive cultural shift, with approval of gay marriage nearly tripling just since 2020, though the country remains fairly conservative.

Section 377, repealed unanimously on September 7, 2018, was put in place by British colonizers in 1861 — and wasn’t specifically about homosexuality.  Instead, it gave the government vague authority to pick and choose what is sexually moral, and what should result in jail time (from ten years to life in prison, historically, if you were LGBTQ+).

Signs of Electoral Headwinds for 2024 Republican Nominee

Michigan, highlighted this week by, has fortified its laws against LGBTQ+ hate over the past year — one of several signs that the electoral favorability Republicans have exploited for decades… well, might be evaporating.  LGBTQ+ protection was added to the state’s civil rights bill.  Conversion therapy for minors is banned.  The Michigan Supreme Court upheld LGBTQ+ protections.  The nine anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced by Republicans and advanced to committee in the spring have been gathering dust most of the year.

Pennsylvania — the only northeast state that hasn’t passed LGBTQ+ protections — now has several pieces of legislation introduced to do just that, though their fates are uncertain.  And, similar to Michigan, the three anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced by Republican legislators and advanced to committee in early March are still there.

An Interesting Coincidence

Notably, of just nine states with full-time legislatures (whereas Virginia’s meets for just 30 or 45 days per year), five are swing states: Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  With the exception of North Carolina, the rest seem to be pushing the brakes on bigotry (to varying degrees).

What is Behind The Hate?

At this point, I’m pretty sure we’re not seeing a resurgence in pious “pearl-clutching” homophobia/transphobia.  What I mean is, I don’t think these modern “anti-woke” people actually think being gay is a choice.  And that’s perhaps a promising sign.

Today’s attacks are more reminiscent of playground taunts of bullies than the evangelical diatribes of decades past.  And bullies are quickly silenced when folks stand up to them en-masse and confidently call them out.  And this seems to have begun in the “purple” states from here to Wisconsin — though the plights of queer communities and their families across the south and midwest remain grim.

The extreme religious right does still exist — their bigotry is in the underpinnings everywhere — but they aren’t the visible part anymore, and the part that is visible… well, I don’t think they really care about the dogma.

It’s 2023.  Society has seen that the promised consequences of LGBTQ+ equality were false.  LGBTQ+ folks aren’t trying to turn anyone gay, heterosexual marriage certificates haven’t burst into flames, and few believe HIV is a punishment from God (instead, more and more realize it’s a symptom of willful neglect of officials during the Reagan administration).

So times have changed.  The hate is back, but the religious fervor has been undermined — largely by visible and vocal gestures from churches that don’t subscribe to, frankly, the evangelical “fire and brimstone” version of religion.

Most now understand that selective morality is an agenda, not a belief.

Then Why?  What’s The Hold-Up?

If they don’t believe we’re faking it, what exactly is their issue?  If they know LGBTQ+ people are mostly the children of heterosexuals, don’t think being gay is unnatural, and don’t have particularly dogmatic beliefs, what do they actually want?

To be continued…