Quite rightly, all the progressive minded people of the world are in an uproar over the intensification of the campaigns against the LGBT population of Russia. Although homosexual acts are not as such illegal in that country, Vladimir Putin’s successive governments have done everything they could short of prohibition to make life impossible and miserable for LGBT people in it, especially young and activist-minded ones. (To what degree this extends to trans people in Russia I am not sure; I have not encountered much reliable information about it.) As often with repression against scapegoat minorities, the process of repression has taken place through a series of cumulative harrassments and exclusions. Yuri Luzhkov, longtime right-populist mayor of Moscow, consistently banned any attempt at gay pride celebrations with the active support of the government; then, the government of St. Petersburg passed a law prohibiting ‘propaganda for homosexuality’, meaning effectively any discussion of the subject at all – except of course condemnation; and now this law has been enacted nationally, with a fervent application to any kind of display of LGBT activism or interest whatever where it could catch the public eye. This is applied not just to locals, but to foreigners as well, as a group of gay activists from my hometown of Groningen found out. Of course, the law is officially concerned only with ‘propaganda to minors’, but this means very little – always, everywhere, the condemnation of homosexuality is based on an opportunistic and imaginary concern for ‘the children’, no matter the fact that many of those minors may well be gay or lesbian or bisexual themselves. Continue reading “On the recent repression of LGBT Russians”
The Case of Caster Semenya
Recently some controversy has erupted around the person of Caster Semenya, a very succesful athlete from South Africa who has broken world records and was poised to compete in the 800 meter finals in Berlin when doubts were raised about her sex, and thereby her eligibility to compete in the female olympics. There are conflicting and uncertain sources as to the results of the subsequent tests for sex, but it looks like there may be a case of hermaphroditism or pseudo-hermaphroditism involved. In this case, the person has high testosterone levels and a Y chromosome, yet has developed as a woman, possibly due to insensitivity to testosterone in the phase of physical development.(1) This would make her a ‘genetic male’, yet for all social purposes a female (female-gendered), for which the term ‘intersexed’ could be used (but need not necessarily).
Of course, there is some argument about her eligibility, not in the last place because of her excellent performance so far – she won the gold medal in the aforementioned Berlin race. Continue reading “The Case of Caster Semenya”
Alan Turing Vindicated
The British government led by Prime Minister Brown has today apologized for the murderous treatment of the famous gay computer scientist Alan Turing, following a petitition by a number of well-known British public figures, among whom Sir Ian McKellen and Richard Dawkins. Not only has it indicated regret for the events, but it has in no uncertain terms rejected the attitude underlying the persecution of Turing as well.
This is an important fact, since the British government had maintained anti-homosexual laws on the books until 2003 (2000 in Scotland). Similarly, in the United States a significant number of states banned homosexual sex, until the Supreme Court of the United States voided these laws in the decision Lawrence vs. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). Just very recently, even the High Court in Delhi has voided the colonial-era Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibited “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”. Even nations such as China and Singapore are becoming more lax on this topic. Continue reading “Alan Turing Vindicated”