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The Anti-Gay Axis
How moral policing from the West pushes smaller nations towards BRICS
As smaller countries are positioned to decide their alignment with the emerging power structures such as G7 or BRICS, those decisions are mostly motivated by economic, security or political issues. Sometimes the decision to get closer to international alliances is as simple as a government’s view of which superpower is better long-term partner, the US or China.
However, the cultural and social differences can just as drastically change the partnership decision of nations. In Uganda, the new anti-gay legislation has put the country at odds with the West, with the US threatening sanctions and several politicians—even the christian conservative ones—condemning the law. In Africa alone, there are still 32 countries that criminalize homosexuality.
This comes at a time when the the West is competing with BRICS nations for spheres of influence over African countries. Of which, there is more moral policing by the West over LGBT rights than ever before. This has the effect of a newly religious man condemning those who aren’t of his faith. It was only very recently many of these rights were expanded in the West, with many well accepted behaviors and laws once culturally shunned. It was not so long ago that the Western nations themselves were not gay-friendly.
This is in contrast to the more relaxed view of BRICS countries towards how a nation decides to legislate gay rights. In fact, internally the BRICS countries have been steadily heading in the other direction. In Russia, Putin has long asserted the country as a representation of Christian conservative values and had openly mocked the West for their “confusion” regarding gender ideology issues. In China, President Xi has cracked down on LGBT representation in media and gay pride parades throughout the nation.
The sanctions in Uganda demonstrate that it is not so much a growing acceptance and legal protection of LGBT culture in the G7 countries that creates a greater wedge between the West and Africa, but the condemnation and ostracization of nations that don’t follow suit. In Uganda, the sanctions will most likely not effect those in power most, as a lesson that never seemed to be learned is that sanctions disproportionally effect the poor and vulnerable.
This alienation could very well be a strategic blunder for the West and G7 countries.
There are many countries in the middle east that look at LGBT culture as sacrilegious or degenerate, and pushes them culturally closer towards BRICS and other less gay-friendly nations, like Turkey or Iran. What follows is stronger economic or security ties with opposing nations, which may make it even harder in the future for gay rights progress. This is true in the Middle East where strict religious and cultural values push people away from Westerners, and that same attitude is becoming more prevalent in Africa.
Of course, traditional cultures criticizing Western countries for their open and liberal values is nothing new, but now there is an emerging power structure for them to align themselves to. At the very least, it gives these countries diametrically opposed to Western hegemony another issue that they can exploit. As the West continues to double down on expanding LGBT rights and moral policing the countries that don’t, it risks the creation of a kind of an anti-gay axis. (A term that I heard from political analyst Rashid Abdi.)
For proponents of expanding gay rights across the world, this may sound like the West is digging its heels in a dignified position. But this method may have an inverse effect of attempting to help the people they aim to protect. One similar example is the decision to not recognize the Taliban, making it harder to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. Ostracizing a government is also ostracizing the millions of innocent people in those countries. In turn, the West will have no existing relationship to leverage for easing the crackdown of LGBT rights, something they would have if they would not punish these nations with sanctions and alienation. The end effect is that the policies of sanctions and moral policing only further diminishes their spheres of influence in the regions they are working to expand.
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