I’ve deliberately avoided being overtly political in this blog. I figure I have plenty to say without delving into politics. But every now and then, I am confronted by an issue important enough that I feel I have to say something.
I’ve been following the stories about Russia and their treatment of LGBT people with concern. The upcoming Olympics has of course put a spotlight on the issue, which is a good thing. It should have been there much sooner. There has been some debate over a potential boycott. The athletes themselves – gay athletes included – are against boycotting. This is unsurprising. They’ve spent the better part of their lives with one goal, and that goal is rapidly approaching. To have it snatched away in the final moments would be heartbreaking. No one can deny that. Still, to go and compete given everything that is happening there seems awkward to me. As stirring as the Olympics can be, it’s still just a series of athletic competitions. Does nationalistic pride in athletic prowess trump human rights? Wearing a rainbow pin or carrying a rainbow flag hardly seems like statement enough. People are torturing people simply based on their sexual preference. And the victims? They face arrest and persecution. The government may not be doing the torturing themselves, but they’re certainly giving it their tacit approval. It sickens me. It should sicken everyone. Maybe a boycott isn’t the answer. But the human rights violations here deserve more attention than they’re getting. They deserve more attention than the Olympics themselves.
This morning, I read an article that takes things one horrifying step further. There is a proposed bill in the Russian parliament which would seek to remove children from their homes if either parent is gay. Either parent. Moreover, if someone suspects his or her spouse of homosexual activity he or she can have the government investigate. Smacks of McCarthy-ism, no? Talk about irony?
I don’t know about you, but I cannot imagine anything more terrifying than having my children taken from me. This is pretty much the ultimate threat. We’re not talking about standing in public holding signs displaying so-called “homosexual propaganda.” We’re talking about men and women just trying to live their lives, and wanting to be allowed to love whomever they choose. But if they do, they can have their children taken away from them? Are you kidding me? This is appalling. Morally reprehensible. As a human being, and a mother with two children who are my world, I find this unacceptable. I don’t understand how it can be ignored.
Oh, wait, it’s not happening here, right? It’s so much easier to turn a blind eye when you (or your friends and neighbors) are not the one being threatened. I’ve got a news flash for you: it is happening here. Not in the same level, thankfully, but it is happening, and in ways just as hateful and intolerant. For example, there’s a divorced woman somewhere in Texas who had the audacity to fall in love with another woman. Since they live in Texas, they of course can’t be married. Her ex-husband took exception to their relationship, and took advantage of a “morality clause” in the divorce agreement to try to gain full custody. Basically, the woman is not allowed to have someone who is not related by blood or marriage in her home after 9:00 PM. Well, obviously she and her partner (they’ve been together for three years) are unmarried, since they don’t have that option where they live. The judge ordered that her partner had 30 days to move out, or the mother would lose her children. Heinous. And again, totally unacceptable.
Yes, there are clear differences. She can retain custody as long as she doesn’t live with the woman she loves. Since she has shared custody with her ex, they can’t move somewhere else, either. They are appealing the decision, but the fact that she was literally forced to choose between her kids and living with the woman she loves is ridiculous. It’s not quite on the level of the proposed Russian bill, I realize. But still, this is here. In the United States. Yes, it’s in Texas, one of our more conservative states. But to gloss over this case would do it a huge disservice. Where does the discrimination end? If we won’t stand up in Russia, what about in Texas? When do we start to pay attention to the abuse of human rights based on sexual orientation? I know, I know. We’ve made headway, it can be argued. We are certainly more tolerant as a nation than we were even a decade ago. But we clearly have a long way to go.
Yes, it’s the Olympics. I spent hours and hours watching the last one. But I’m uncomfortable with all of this. I feel like even watching them on TV suggests some kind of passive acceptance of what’s happening there. And I don’t accept it. No one should.