In the Bible it was the abomination that provoked the wrath of God to destroy two great cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, in a rein of fire and brimstone. Middle Age religious fanatics condemned it as unnatural and diabolic and men caught in the act were burned at the stakes or torn to pieces by dogs.
Homosexuality is sexual intercourse with one’s own gender, male or female. Derogatory slangs and slurs for homosexuals include dyke, batty man, faggot, sissy, and many more unmentionables. Homophobia is the irrational fear, hatred, or repulsion of homosexuality or anyone perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).
But in modern times what was once unthinkable is happening. In a complete turnaround, homosexuality is now an embraced and accepted “alternative lifestyle” and world leaders and global institutions like the United Nations and the World Bank pressure all countries to recognise gay rights.
The Sexual Revolution of the sixties spawned the Gay Rights Movement and homosexuality has become a powerful force challenging traditional value systems and the whole socio-polico-economic construct of western culture.
Today a sexual behaviour once stigmatised as deviant and perverse is rapidly becoming an international social norm. “Coming out the closet”, openly gay individuals proudly and publicly flaunt their sexual orientation for all to see. Many control influential positions in the corridors of power and the highest echelons of society.
But even today homosexuality is taboo and outlawed in many countries and social stigma remains strong. Eighty-two (82) countries, the majority under Islamic Sharia laws, criminalise homosexuality with heavy fines and incarceration. In places like Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death – some by stoning.
Eleven (11) Caribbean countries dominated by Roman Catholicism enforce anti-buggery laws and prosecute offenders as criminals. Until 2007 Atlantis gay cruises were not welcomed in Grenada. In 2005 a Windjammer gay cruise was refused landing in St Kitts. Until 2004 Sandals resorts banned gay couples and Time Magazine called Jamaica “the most homophobic place on earth”.
Cruise ships threatened to boycott homophobic islands and bring disaster to mono-cultural economies dependent on tourism foreign exchange earnings.
Interestingly, not a single European Union country has an anti-homosexual law and U.S. Supreme Court has ruled anti-homosexual laws unconstitutional since 2003.
Paranoid homophobia inflicts a serious economic cost on countries especially economies of the developing countries. A 2007 Gallup Poll found strong statistical correlation between homosexual intolerance and poor economic development.
Discrimination in the labour force, health, and housing based on sexual orientation negatively impact socio-economic welfare and the Human Development Index (HDI). A 2012 Massachusetts University study attributed a US$23 billion global GDP loss to chronic depression and suicide caused by disparities among gay people.
In February 2014, Uganda suffered the ultimate economic backlash after passing an anti-homosexual law punishable with fourteen years to life imprisonment. Reaction from the international community was a storm of condemnation against the “draconian” law.
Amnesty International called it a gross human rights violation, the United Nations demanded immediate decriminalisation of homosexuality, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa likened it to “Hitler’s behaviour in Nazi Germany”. Even the Vatican opposed the law as “unjust discrimination against gay men and lesbians”.
The economic repercussion was swift with a string of harsh measures to punish Uganda for its transgression. The 28-nation European Union adopted a resolution to impose economic sanctions, the World Bank postponed a $290 million aid package, and U.S. Congress was withdrawing Uganda’s $500 million annual appropriation.
Making Uganda an example warns us that imperialist hegemony still dominates the social, political, and economic affairs of Third World countries like Grenada. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the U.S. Washington Consensus dictate our free market economy and we copycat the British Westminster-style political system with all its pomp and trappings. And now, as President Museveni said, social imperialism dictates our morality.
But “beggars are not choosers” and, like it or not, Grenada is a beggar nation. And what’s troubling is that the main benefactors we depend on for almost everything are the same countries and multilateral institutions trying to cripple Uganda’s economy for getting out of line – United Nations, the IMF/World Bank cohort, the United States, the European Union.
On the homosexual issue Uganda made a bold move – little David challenging the whole consortium of global Goliaths. But for Grenada this is not an option, it would be economic suicide. For sustainability Uganda is counting on its oil reserves. Grenada counts on sun, sea, and sand.
Notwithstanding religious bigotry, to be politically correct means we “go with the flow” and de-institutionalise homophobia by repealing the anti-homosexual laws that offend the global powerbrokers. They say “a word to the wise is sufficient.”