For the past three days I have heard people bantering on about the poor Dalai Lama being denied a visa to enter SA, about what a fantastic human rights icon he is for trying to free Tibet from Chinese rule (to return it to his rule, of course) - but not a word about his dark views on GLBT people.
Barbara Hogan, our new health minister has set the cat among the pigeons by daring to criticize her ANC masters for refusing a visa to the Dalai Lama. Apparently the public at large view this man as a man of peace and some kind of spiritual icon. She even expects the government to apologize to the people of SA for this action.
I'm sorry, but I find this whole situation incredible and somewhat ironic. If you bear with me, I will explain.
First, the irony:
In the past three years since the passing of the ammendments allowing same gender marriage, much has changed in the ranks of the ANC. The views on homosexuality in the ruling party seem to have shifted to the far right, with govenment refusing to support certain initiatives because it fears alienating the other countries in Africa who pursue rigorously anti-gay policies. Having a party president making homophobic slurs and inviting negotiations with fundamentalists on gay rights issues to win their votes doesnt help sway me in this opinion either. As an example I once again quote the UN Declaration to decriminalize homosexuality which SA refused to sign last year "out of principle". Add to that the stony silence of SA's government over the past ten years on the matter of human rights abuses of gay citizens of countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia and so on, aside from inaction on local matters such as so-called "corrective rape" and the homophobically motivated murder of lesbians.
Now, I don't know how many of you have been paying any attention to current events, but it seems that the vaunted Dalai Lama's record is not quite as clean as people think. According to USPolitics.tribe.net, The Dalai Lama’s views were so anti-Gay and anti-Lesbian that they had to be deleted from Tom Grunfeld’s book, “The Making of Modern Tibet” to make the book saleable. http://uspolitics.tribe.net/thread/9bab4ae4-6855-4f90-9643-3a993e5b0711 . Reading the rest of the article casts a different light on this human rights icon entirely - as does reading the other articles which come up in web searches on the man and his views on sexual and gender diversity.
Documentary evidence says where there is smoke there is fire, be it in this case holy smoke or otherwise.
It seems he just may have hired some spin doctors to clean up his act for the West, that's all. Not to pick nits folks, I have no beef with you or your religion - just the bigots, and apparently he's one of them - so sorry.
Let's address this irony with a question: Why has Ms Hogan waited until now for this particular moment to speak out "for human rights" when a homophobe at the head of a world religion is prevented from entering SA - and not before in the above instances? I'm pretty sure that when the Pope visits they won't block his visa, but will scuttle after him to kiss the ground he walks on - and this former Hitler Youth member sees no need to hide his open hatred for gay and trans people, making statements in the press that regularly make my neck hair stand on end.
Apparently SA has denied entry to this man because of SA's relations with China and thus it is pure politics, not morality (unfortunately) coming into play with the government having a sudden attack of conscience about gay rights. Im pretty sure they wont be banging the UN's doors down to say they want to sign their Declaration because they have had a change of heart - although it would be nice.
I can see the irony, can you?
Just for once, even by accident the government has got something right - so no, sorry Barbie - I don't want an apology from the government for keeping a bigot out of the country - but if you guys really support human rights as you nice folks claim, you can put your money where your mouths are and go sign the UN Declaration to decriminalize homosexuality and start opposing the rampant homophobia in Africa regardless of who still wants to join an economic African Union or "United States of Africa" with you afterwards. No apology forthcoming for that though, is there? In short, SA's government should grow a spine and stop compromising on human rights values just to be popular with the wrong people - ie those who care jack about human rights and put their own power and enrichment first.
Now let's get to the incredible part:
Some people, who usually support me when I am taking on GLBT rights abusers (which are frequently Christian fundamentalists and just occasionally of the Muslim variety), have found reason to try and nail me for daring to accuse the Dalai Lama of being a homophobe and for adding that I am honestly glad he has been denied a visa to enter SA. I didn't make the first accusation, nor did I just pull it out of the air, nor did I suck it out of my thumb. I did the intelligent thing and went looking for proof and evidence.
But apparently when it comes to religion, proof and evidence mean squat (just ask a Christian fundamentalist whether he knows science proves gay people are born gay and you will see what I mean).
In fact, the argument went downhill pretty fast, with presented evidence being rejected and the whole thing spiralling into observations that I don't know fresca about Bhuddism and have crossed all sorts of invisible lines etc. They are quite right, I don't know much about Bhuddism - but I do know homophobia, heterosexism, bigotry - and especially religious bigotry.
As far as I am concerned, bigotry in strawberry or vanilla flavor is still bigotry.
I tried to make a point that these folks were just preferring to blindly accept this "holy" man's convenient PR-contrived denial that he is not a bigot in the face of contrary evidence - and was subsequently lambasted with the accusation that if I were a Bhuddist I would 'know how to look, listen, question and come to my own conclusions' about things.
Indeed. So why are they not doing so?
I can draw but two conlusions from these conversations - being 1) that I am somehow ignorant for calling a bigot a bigot. Ok then, I know squat about their religion - but shouldn't these Dalai Lama fans be looking at the evidence, question the fact and fiction and come to their own conclusions about this matter? And 2) it is perfectly fine with some folks for me to take on religious bigotry and fundamentalism in the fight for GLBT equality - just as long as it isn't their religion in the "cross fire".
I think it is amazing that the same people who like it when I take on Christian fundamentalists about their bigoted opposition to the equal rights and dignity of GLBT suddenly turn around and try to crucify me because I dare to speak the truth about matters relating not to their entire religion, but just to individuals of their own religion doing the same.
Some people have called me anti-christian because I dared to start a campaign to have that gay-hating bigot James Dobson removed from SA radio - in spite of the reams of proof, even in his own words - that he has been waging a personal war as part of the US religious right wing against GLBT since 1977. As I have said countless times before, I am not anti-christian - but I stand against the bigots who call themselves Christians and claim to speak for them all in their hatred for innocent people.
Next, people may start trying to convince me the Catholic Pope (I don't want him here either) really is "god on earth", strolls on water and is a warm lover of human rights and does not hate gay or trans people and that these groups do in fact pose a threat to civilization and the rain forest.
Pull the other one, it has bells on.
Religious hate is still hate, no matter what religion's name it comes wrapped in. While I may appreciate the occasional need for diplomacy and political correctness and expediency, I will not make a hypocrite of myself by toe-ing the line simply to be popular.