Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s bigotted statement that there are no homosexuals in Iran derived from his rightwing religious commitments. What he said is very serious. He erased gays right out of existence. The ultimate in denying people their rights is to deny they even exist (the nonexistent obviously have no rights.) There could be a debate over whether the gay lifestyle exists in Muslim countries, as a matter of identity politics, of course, but Ahmadinejad is not that sophisticated. He was saying that all Iranians are straight. Of course, gays are punished very severely in Iran, in reality.
It would be nice for the US Right to have us forget that they pull the Ahmadinejad act with regard to gays every day. Denying gays the right to marry is a way of erasing them from civil society. It is a way of denying that they really love one another, as straights do. It is a way of asserting that they do not exist.
The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the US military (so unlike the one followed by many NATO allies) is also a way of erasing gays. They don’t exist unless they themselves press the case that they exist. In order to remain in their jobs, they are forced to erase themselves by their silence. The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is a way of pretending that there are no gays in the US military. For if it could be proven that anyone is gay, he is immediately expelled. It is just as silly as what Ahmadinejad said, and just as pernicious. That policy is supported by the entire American Right, which is no better than Ahmadinejad in this regard.
Here are a couple of Christian statements resembling the vile ones spewed by Ahmadinejad, just for comparison.
Catholic Ahmadinejads from Hannity and Colmes:
‘ COLMES: group that is where I am. Let me just show you another quote, and you’ll be surprised at who’s saying this.
“Based on the facts that are known to us, we continue to find it difficult to justify the resort to war against Iraq, lacking clear and adequate evidence of an imminent attack of a grave nature.”
The Conference of Catholic Bishops saying that, Congressman, Dornan.
DORNAN: Did you watch the — did you watch the debate? I watched six hours of debate, and I had a face-to-face fight with Cardinal McCarrick, who told me to my face there are no homosexuals in our seminaries. This is a discredited bunch of once holy men.
—-FOX: HANNITY & COLMES, November 15, 2002 ‘
Evangelical Ahmadinejads. Bishop John Shelby Spong observes:
[Conservative] ‘commentators have not mentioned the blatant homophobia in both Africa and Southeast Asia. Christian leaders in Africa still maintain that there are no homosexuals in their countries, or if homosexuality is admitted, that it was “caught” from white Europeans. Christians throughout the Third World still assert that homosexuals are either evil people who can be changed if they are converted, or that they are mentally sick people who can be healed if properly treated. Such theories are dismissed as nonsense in Western medical circles today. Homosexual people in Africa have told me that they risk murder if they come out of their closets. They believe that if they were killed, the act would be endorsed by many Christian leaders of that continent, who quote scripture to justify it.’
So if some American Republicans, Catholics and evangelicals want to have the standing to laugh at Ahmadinejad for his prejudice, they have some work to do at home first.
PS: to get a sense of what Iran is really like these days, see this slide show.