In Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, three men allegedly gang-raped a 15-year-old boy. This rape, like any rape, is horrific. But, in Dubai, one man cannot rape another man. Or, at least, such a crime is not recognized. Such a criminal act is instead called "forced homosexuality."
Because, you know, if you're a man and another man rapes you, you become gay.
In all seriousness, a particularly horrifying aspect about the crime is the way Dubai authorities allegedly handled it:
"The authorities not only discouraged [the boy] from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier." [emphasis added]
The boy, in effect, was rendered invisible as a victim and turned into a criminal.
Further, according to the New York Times this exchange occurred:
"A doctor examined Alex the night of the rape, taking swabs of DNA for traces of the rapists’ sperm. He did not take blood tests or examine Alex with a speculum. Then he cleared the room and told Alex: 'I know you’re a homosexual. You can admit it to me. I can tell.'"
"Alex told his father in tears: 'I’ve just been raped by three men, and he’s saying I’m a homosexual,” according to interviews with both of them.'"
Dubai officials present a different account.
A bit later in the article, a spokesman from Dubai's attorney general says this:
"Mr. Demas, from the Dubai attorney general’s office, said he had no intention of prosecuting Alex..."
Okay, good. But, the attorney general is now
"...seeking the death penalty for the two adult attackers. 'This crime is an outrage against society,' he said."
They are seeking the death penalty for the attackers?
Can we get a little balance here? A dose of proportion, perhaps?
The crime is, in fact, an outrage against society. I have no issue with that statement. But, I have a hunch that why Mr. Demas and I think the crime is an outrage is a bit different.
To me, it's an outrage because the attack is a violent sexual violation of another human being.
To Mr. Demas, I gather, it's mostly an outrage because the crime was a "homosexual act" on another man.
In all seriousness, whether the authorities were going to charge the victim with a crime and/or whether they are going to put the attackers to death, the handling of this situation shows that the dangers of a theocracy are evident.
The root of Dubai's legal system is Sharia. Sharia, generally, is the law as inspired by Islam. Islamic scholarship has different opinions with regard to homosexuality, its lawfulness, and its punishments. Fundamentalist Islam though, like fundamentalist Christianity, is often viciously homophobic. For instance, in many Middle Eastern Islamic theocracies consensual gay sex is illegal and sometimes punishable by death. Fundamentalism has varied meanings. In the sense I am using it, it refers to religions characterized by intolerance of difference, which is caused by the belief in the inerrancy of a religious text.
In short, fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam sort of have a lot in common with each other.
Observe, for instance, this Muslim woman talking about what Muslims think of British (and by implication, western) society:
"[Muslims] are shocked by the appalling rates of theft, drunkenness, drug addiction, sex outside marriage, abortions, rape of children and old ladies, homosexuality - especially when it is being put forward as quite normal and an acceptable alternative sexual lifestyle; homosexuals in positions of authority (from teachers to MPs)." [emphasis added]
And now, this Christian one (coming via the Southern Baptist Convention):
"We affirm God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy – one man, and one woman, for life. Homosexuality is not a "valid alternative lifestyle." The Bible condemns it as sin. It is not, however, unforgivable sin. The same redemption available to all sinners is available to homosexuals. They, too, may become new creations in Christ." [emphasis added]
To be clear, it's not religion that I see as the enemy. It is the intolerance (often due to fundamentalism) that some religions foster and encourage that should not be acceptable in any society calling itself civil. When intolerance is bred with the legal system we usually get an unhealthy, repressive, and oppressive society.
For, if some fundamentalist Christians who so often claim that we live in a "Judeo-Christian" nation (which to them really means a fundamentalist Christian decidedly un-Jewish one) had it their way and established a US theocracy do you have any doubt that we would see homosexuality laws similar to what is seen in parts of the Middle-East?
Something for our anti-gay "friends" to ponder. Something for fundamentalist Christians to ponder.
You don't believe in separation of church and state? Then move to the Middle-East.
While you're packing your bags, my anti-gay "friends," I encourage you to all keep believing that if you close your eyes and think real hard, as you are wont to do, gay people will no longer exist.