Progress, regression on LGBTQ+ rights across the globe

This month, Suffolk celebrates its Pride Month in recognition of the contributions and successes of the LGBTQ+ community both on-campus and off. 

This year, there’s plenty to celebrate. As reported in The Suffolk Journal on April 3, the Massachusetts State Legislature recently voted on a bill to ban conversion therapy for minors in the Commonwealth. On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law, making Massachusetts the 16th state to ban conversion therapy, which aims to “convert” LGBTQ+ youth to heterosexuality. 

The practice has been described by Dr. Douglas Haldeman as “pseudoscientific,” “harmful,” and generally considered bad medical practice in a 1999 article on the practice by Haldeman. CBS News reported that, besides being incredibly harmful, the practice almost always fails at changing the sexual orientation of patients.

The ban, which garnered bipartisan support, passed the House 147-8 and passed the Senate 34-0. 

Meanwhile, a world away in a nation that few have heard of, one of the largest rollbacks of LGBTQ+ rights is underway. Brunei, a predominantly Muslim nation with a population comparable to the city of Boston, recently enacted a strict interpretation of Sharia law that outlaws homosexuality, a crime now punishable by death by stoning.

The small South Asian nation, which ironically bears the official name “the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace,” faced international backlash, but implemented the law anyways.

The dichotomy between the recent victory for LGBTQ+ rights in Massachusetts and the abject moral failure in Brunei demonstrate the reality that all members of the LGBTQ+ community are not treated equally across the globe. That must change.

That in 2019 a developed nation — or any nation, for that matter — engages in such a barbaric practice is beyond deplorable. Even worse is the Sultan of Brunei’s eagerness to cloak such an inhumane practice under the guise of religion.

Members of all communities, especially marginalized groups, should have a reasonable expectation of equality across the globe. 

The United States federal government must send a message to the world that their priority is the advancement of basic human rights at home and abroad. This includes, but is not limited to, the recall of all diplomats in countries that violate human rights such as Brunei, cessation of any and all foreign aid to such nations, and the strictest possible sanctions.

Domestically, initiatives such as U.S. Rep. Patrick Maloney’s (D-NY) bill to ban taxpayer funding of conversion therapy at the national level should be wholeheartedly endorsed by officials from both major political parties. Anti-discrimination laws must be enforced. Above all, voters must hold their elected officials accountable for their actions on discrimination.

While our society has made great strides towards equality and equity at home and abroad, we must commit ourselves to tirelessly advocating for marginalized groups to ensure their access to institutional and social justice.

~The Suffolk Journal Staff