The fight for gay rights around the world

As Americans have a "fried-chicken battle" over gay rights, Germany, Uganda and South Africa open new fronts in advancing (and oppressing) civil rights

Kate Lieb By Kate Lieb

Paul Beauchamp waves a gay pride flag during a nationwide “kiss-in” and protest at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Decatur, Georgia, August 3, 2012. (Reuters/Tami Chappell)

Fight for your right to eat fried chicken? That, as we’ve been witnessing over the past few weeks, is the newest front in America’s same-sex-marriage battle. When Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy recently spoke out against same-sex marriage, flocks of his supporters showed up at their nearest Chick Fil-A to demonstrate their support for his viewpoint – and the chain’s chicken. Meanwhile, gay rights activists staged a Chick-Fil-A protest in the form of a “kiss-in.” While no one abroad seems to be tussling over drumsticks, the U.S. is not the only front in the gay rights battle.

Physical examinations in Lebanon

In Lebanon, for instance, there is no law against homosexuality, but 36 men were arrested in a cinema after local media called it a “gay house.” The men were taken to a police station, where a doctor gave them anal examinations to see if they had engaged in “sexual intercourse contrary to nature.” Outraged gay-rights activists want the government to drop the practice, calling it a form of government-sanctioned rape. As the BBC reports, the physical exams are medically suspect, yet the “evidence” provided from the exams could land you in jail for one year.

Conservative values and same sex marriage in Germany

Meanwhile in Germany, there’s a push to give civil unions the same legal status as heterosexual marriage, according to Der Spiegel. The move is supported by Germany’s Family Minister Kristina Schröder, a member of the ruling Christian Democratic Union Party, which has opposed granting tax advantages to gay couples before. In a quote that seems diametrically opposed to gay-marriage rebuttals from American conservatives, Schröder told Süddeutsche Zeitung gay couples make strong families: “In lesbian and gay life partnerships, people take lasting responsibility for one another and thus they live according to conservative values,” she said. A majority of Germans favor legal parity between civil unions and heterosexual marriage.

Activism in Africa

Way south of Germany, Uganda just held a weekend-long gay pride event. As Latitude News has reported, Uganda is a dangerous place to be openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). An LGBTI activist told The New Yorker that, despite selling 250 tickets to the event, only 50 people showed up due to fear of reprisals. The festivities included film-screenings, a drag show and all-night parties. (Simultaneously, Vietnam held its first gay pride event in Hanoi.)

And further south still, one South African says its time for gay rights activists to team up with women’s rights activists. Lwando Scott, a PhD student at the University of Cape Town, says both groups are repressed by a misogynistic culture. In a column for the reader blog of the Mail and Guardian, the Thought Reader, he says, “The fight for sexual liberation has its foundations in the fight for women’s emancipation; the one cannot take place without the other.” Scott believes countries that oppress women are likely to repress gay men even more, and that in order to achieve gender and sexual equality the two groups have to unite.

Chicken, anyone?