September 8, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 36
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Lesbian Notions by Libby Post
Scapegoat no longer
The open arms of Montreal, and Canada in general, toward LGBT people during the recent Outgames provided a study in stark contrast to how our community has become a scapegoat internationally.

Never one to shy away from controversy, Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, who considers Gays to be "worse than dogs and pigs," blames his country's dire economic problems on its burgeoning LGBT community. According to Cary Alan Johnson, senior coordinator for Africa with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Mugabe is "importing Western-style homophobia" while characterizing anything American or British in his country as leading to the proliferation of Gays and Lesbians. It takes a tyrant like Mugabe to conjure up a rationale like that.

But he's not just bluster and rhetoric - now in Zimbabwe, an intimate hug, kiss, or even hand-holding between two men may land them in jail. A new law expands the definition of sodomy in Zimbabwe to include any physical contact between men that would be "regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act."

Now that's one broad definition of sodomy - one that will no doubt lead to subjective enforcement based on the homophobic whims of local law enforcement.

A few thousand miles north finds a leading Israeli rabbi, Pinchas Winston, exclaiming that Israel's current problems with Hamas and Hezbollah are linked to Jerusalem hosting WorldPride 2006, a 7-day event scheduled for August 6-12.

Winston said that the escalated conflict between Hezbollah and Israel was directly related to the fact that in the same week the war started "the Jewish people are trying to decide whether the Gay Pride parade should take place in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv."

Rabbi Lazer Brody, dean of the Breslov Rabbinical College in Ashdod, Israel, turned up the rhetoric by equating our presence in Israel with God's absence.

"When God's presence is in the camp, nothing can happen to the Jewish people," Brody stated. "But if the Jewish people bring impurity into the camp of Israel, this chases away God's presence."

That impurity is us. Brody went on to say, "The Torah is the ultimate book of human rights, giving each individual the right to free choice. What a person does behind closed doors is at one's own risk; but to partake of that behavior in public spreads the impurity to the entire camp."

The hate-speak, threats of outright violence against WorldPride participants, and political pressure brought by an unholy alliance of orthodox Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Israel prompted the organizers to cancel the Pride parade that was to be the centerpiece of the week.

Make your way to Rome, and you'll find the Vatican continually scapegoating the LGBT community - from blaming Gay priests for the Church's sexual child abuse scandal to demonizing us for wanting the right to marry. Not only are we unfit to serve the Church and unfit to commit to one another, but, in the eyes of the Vatican powers-that-be, we're also unfit to be parents.

Historically, scapegoating has its roots in the Old Testament - the notion of placing the sins of many onto one and driving that one into the wilderness. Mugabe, the rabbis, and the pope would like to drive us into the wilderness. But if you told them they were scapegoating the LGBT community, they would heartily deny it.

Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, however, sees their rhetoric for what it is. In a recent interview he told me that "the idea of sacrifice is important in all the world's religions, but only when it's yourself that is being sacrificed. When others are being sacrificed, it's scapegoating, and it's done to LGBT people all too often."

Robinson's notion of God's presence in our lives is a bit different from the rabbis' and the Pope's. "God was calling me to come out...the story of God's relationship with humankind includes all of us."

He also said that God is involved in our community's efforts to make the lives of LGBT people better throughout the world.

"The work of God's hand is in all of this." We will be scapegoats no longer.

Libby Post is the founding chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda and a political commentator on public radio, on the Web, and in print media. She can be reached care of this publication or at

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