In the United States, President Barack Obama’s comments in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday ignited a media frenzy.
Abroad, Obama didn’t spark the same explosion of coverage. But the president’s change of heart (previously he said civil unions were enough for gay couples) delighted foreign activists seeking similar conversions in their leaders and, in the process, put some of those leaders on the spot as they felt compelled to express their thoughts on the subject.
In Israel, where citizens represent a wide range of religious views, gay activists hailed Obama’s move. Speaking to Haaretz.com, Irit Rosenblum of New Family, a group that seeks to liberalize Israeli marriage laws, spelled out why Obama’s new position on same-sex marriage was so important overseas:
“It is a huge step for the enlightened world that the strongest leader publicly recognizes the new family. In doing so, he is obviously posing a challenge to the world’s religious public. I think that this is certainly a very brave act. He is creating the necessary world balance. At a time when it seems the world is becoming increasingly fundamentalist and conservative, this is a liberal point of light.”
Whether that point of light changed anyone’s mind, however, is unclear.
In Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that her views against gay marriage were the same, regardless of the American president.
“I’ve made my mind up and my position on this is well known,” she said. “It reinforces this is a matter that people form their own views on, [a] deeply personal question, people will think about it, work their way through it. Obviously President Obama has and he’s announced a decision.”
In New Zealand, meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key, who had never before spoken publicly on the topic, announced that he shared Obama’s opinion on same-sex marriage, saying via a statement that he is “not personally opposed to gay marriage,” the NZ Herald reported. “It is possible Parliament may consider a members bill at some stage,” Key added.
In China, writers on the popular bulletin board, www.tianya.cn, debated gay marriage in a way most Americans would find familiar, with pros and cons based on human rights versus the sanctity of traditional marriage. But one comment by Linxinyu_76 illustrated a unique dimension of the gay marriage debate in China, where the family-centered life holds sway.
The concept of procreation in China is deep rooted. Your parents may ask you to have your own children, you may want to have a child with half of your DNA. So what will you choose between your true love and your desire of a child? Now maybe some people will choose to have a heterosexual marriage to have a baby in order to cover their identity. This is a way of cheating. They may blame this is from the social pressure, but this is their excuses for their irresponsibility.
The post obviously raises a host of questions about Chinese culture, families, adoption and other issues. Want to learn more? Read Latitude News’ story on gay rights throughout the world on Friday.