"Trump’s Plan to Decriminalize Homosexuality Is an Old Racist Tactic"

From NBC News:

The Trump administration is launching a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it’s still illegal to be gay, U.S. officials tell NBC News, a bid aimed in part at denouncing Iran over its human rights record.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort, which kicks off Tuesday evening in Berlin. The U.S. embassy is flying in LGBT activists from across Europe for a strategy dinner to plan to push for decriminalization in places that still outlaw homosexuality — mostly concentrated in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

Although the decriminalization strategy is still being hashed out, officials say it’s likely to include working with global organizations like the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as other countries whose laws already allow for gay rights. Other U.S. embassies and diplomatic posts throughout Europe, including the U.S. Mission to the E.U., are involved, as is the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

So a plan to work for an end to laws that punish people for having consenting adult sex worldwide. Who could be opposed to that? Well, apparently out.com could. The title of this thread comes from an article they published in response to the Trump Administration’s plan. Excerpt:

The truth is, this is part of an old colonialist handbook. In her essay, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” postcolonial theorist Gayatri Spivak coined the term “White men saving brown women from brown men” to describe the racist, paternalistic process by which colonizing powers would decry the way men in power treated oppressed groups, like women, to justify attacking them. Spivak was referencing the British colonial agenda in India. But Grennell’s attack might be a case of white men trying to save brown gay men from brown straight men, to the same end.

There are several signs that this decision is denoted in a colonial sense of paternalism rather than any true altruism.

I imagine many people would view “postcolonial theorist” as one of the most useless occupations on the planet and this argument shows why. This postcolonial theorist apparently believes that it was bad when women’s rights advanced in countries where “brown women” benefited, because there certainly were cases in which “brown women” received basic rights from colonial rule, which had been previously denied to them. The abolition of the practice of suttee in India is one example. And now apparently, by the same logic, some say that white activists should not push for laws decriminalizing homosexuality in Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean because that would be racist and paternalistic.

It seems to be that if we could find local activists in countries like Sudan and Yemen willing to fight for basic rights for gays, that would be great, but given the danger involved such people might be hard to find. In which case, work by white activists on the international scene would be better than nothing.

Or perhaps the issue is more that some people simply have to oppose whatever the Trump Administration does. If Trump were to post on Twitter that 2+2=4, certain outlets would feel the need to declare that 2+2 is not 4 because math is racist and colonialist.

Apparently, some people would prefer that homosexuality remain criminal than let Trump look good.

And it doesn’t even make Trump look good. 'I don't know': Trump draws blank on homosexuality decriminalization push

Or perhaps the issue is more that this may be no more than virtue-signalling as part of the anti-Iran drive? It remains to be seen if Saudi Arabia or Russia are to be pressured in the same way and to the same degree.

I wouldn’t blame anyone for feeling they’re being used in a larger political game with different objectives. It is now a familiar trope for extreme rightists in the west to try to cloak themselves in the rainbow banner.

There is a serious argument that overt grandstanding like this produces an exact inverse reaction from local Trump equivalents: his administration can pose as enlightened liberators, theirs can pose to their people as standing up for their own way of life, etc , etc. And it risks making life worse for the people it’s all supposed to be about.

Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is still doing the right thing.

I am not a fan of white saviors but something is better than nothing. If the local non-white people won’t do a thing about slavery or female genital mutilation, then who, other than a white person, will?

Non-local non-white persons?

The argument isn’t that it’s racist and paternalistic to push for human rights in developing nations. The argument is that when your intervention is based on racist and paternalistic notions of the people you’re “helping,” you end up doing more harm than good. Ending suttee was great, but was it worth the cost of Armritsar, or the Bengal famine?

That really depends on what “Work by white activists on the international scene,” means. I’m pretty sure it means, “Get Europe to reinstate sanctions against Iran, and do nothing else about any other country.” In which case, Trump can take his initiative and go fuck himself with it.

I want to do something about the oppression of gay people in these countries, but that doesn’t mean I’ll support doing anything. In particular, I don’t want to do anything that causes more harm to the people we’re trying to help. I don’t trust this administration to meet that standard.

Everything Trump does should be opposed because it is invariably executed incompetently, and with ulterior motives.

I think there seem to be two separate issues at play here.

On the one hand, if Trump is cynically using this as a ploy against Iran, and he has no real intention of pursuing it within any conviction - fuck that.

But the idea of condeming any genuine committed efforts from the West to push for LGBT rights on the basis that it’s the wrong way to do it, because white people lobbying for the rights of brown LGBT people is “patronizing colonialism” or something - fuck that too. I think the only relevant question is pragmatic, whether it’s effective. I strongly suspect that if you’re LGBT and a resident of Syria or Saudi Arabia you’re not too picky about any allies who will speak up for you.

Heck, there are valid concerns that members of the administration will take advantage of Trump’s stupidity and incuriosity to push agendas for evil, so I guess it’s fair if someone is using Trump’s stupidity and incuriosity to push for something good.

This is the right answer. Trump doesn’t really run the government except when it comes to big, stupid things.

The whole Venezuela thing, for example, is almost certainly the work of John Bolton. I would presume that the gay thing is, indeed, the work of Richard Grenell and that Trump is too unaware of what’s going on to intercede.

I don’t know that anyone is actually saying that. Certainly, the OP hasn’t provided any evidence of it.

The Out article seems to muddy the waters in talking about both the specifics of being highly skeptical of Trumps motivations and sincerity in this instance (a skepticism I share), and the more general question of Western lobbying for LGBT rights (or human rights in general) in developing nations, where their position isn’t really clear, but it sounds dubious to me.

Whether or not Out actually asserted what I suspect, I laid out my own views. Do you agree?

Honestly, this…and the other aspect of it that seems to be being missed is, even if Trump is doing this for bad reasons and has ulterior motives (two things I think are pretty much assured, assuming he even knows about this or cares), what this does is shift the goal posts a bit more. It’s like civil rights in the US…at one point the goal posts were at a place where it was ok to force blacks to sit at the back of the bus, give up their seats in dinners to white people, be systemically discriminated against in all aspects of their lives, and have their kids attacked by dogs and fire hose wielding racist assholes (among myriad other things) to where it’s at today, which is that most of this isn’t allowed, at least not on the surface (though it does still happen in the weeds). That might seem like cold comfort, but every shift of the goal posts improves things a little bit, and eventually the goal posts are shifted to the extent that they can never be moved back to where they once were. At this point, in many of those countries, it would be a benefit if folks weren’t killed simply because they are attracted to other folks of their same sex. Shift that goal post to that and it’s an improvement…then shift it again…and again…and again, until real progress has been made. Maybe it will still be sub-optimal (I think that’s where we are in the US wrt civil rights and our black citizens today), but it’s better than it was, and if we keep working on shifting those goal posts it will eventually be in a good place.

Think of this like Johnson and civil rights is my thought…he was a racist and a bigot. But he was able to move the goal posts wrt race and civil rights to the extent that it improved the lives of millions in the US. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than it was. That’s something, anyway.

Trump is still an idiot and a dick, and I think this might be a case of blind squirrels and acorns more than a 3D chess masters move to use the ‘old colonialist handbook’.


“Colonialist” denunciations are also used against Bill Gates for his involvement in financing the development of disease resistant staple crop strains for Third World farmers. Apparently it is better for poor farmers to go bust and people to starve than to allow Evil Western influences. :smack:

And Johnson didn’t do it for the right reasons either – he did it to give the Democrats an advantage. He was STILL a major racist. (Probably even worse than Trump)

It’s called realpolitik and sadly, that’s the way the system works. Most politicians aren’t acting out of the goodness of their own hearts. Oh sure, they may believe in some of their causes. But a good amount of the time it’s all self-serving.

And would you really rather he do the opposite? Trump may be an Islamophobe, but face facts: the treatment of LGBT people in Islamic countries is absolutely horrendous. :frowning:
(Hopefully the shitstain will lose the next election, and this won’t even be an issue anyways. crosses fingers)

Specially combined with the current government’s actions towards the American LGBTIQ population.

“Do what I tell you, not what I say to my own people or what I do” isn’t racist per se but it certainly is a really high level of both stupid and navel-gazing. We’re not in the 19th century any more: nowadays, it takes second to find what is the Trumpian government’s own attitude towards people in their own country who don’t look, sound, worship or dress like they do.

No, it’s not that at all, it’s all about his hypocrisy. Remember that on the very day of his inauguration the LGBT link was removed from the White House web site. Trump knows that he’s considered homophobic by the gay community, he’s trying to redeem himself in time for 2020. It’s not his sudden love for gay people that’s the issue, it’s the reason for that sudden reversal.

And then there’s Pence.

Well, of course. But that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t say, “hey, it’s good to fight bigotry, even if the person doing it is only do so for self-serving reasons.”

I’m adopting a “wait and see” approach. He might just be paying lip service.

But according to the critic, the right thing is merely a pretext to aggression. Taking this outside the issue of Iran, let’s say that Trump made a speech decrying the oppression of some minority in North Korea… but then used that oppression as the reason to launch military strikes on the country.

At what point in the hypothetical scenario should people feel free to criticize Trump’s policy? When he proclaims that the oppression is unacceptable, even though people may see through it as just being lip service? Or when the bombing actually begins?

I agree that the out.com article is half-baked. But somewhere buried in that article is a legitimate point, that Trump doesn’t actually give two shits about gay people unless it is in pursuit of something else he does want.