The Global Backlash Against Gay Rights

Source: Omar G. Encarnación in Foreign Affairs, May 3

No revolution worth its salt comes without pushback. The fight for gay rights – widely regarded as “the fastest of all civil rights movements“ (over a short period of time, 20 nations have come to recognize same-sex marriage and an additional 15 now allow same-sex civil unions) – is no exception. A shooting rampage last June at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by a terrorist who had expressed loathing for the LGBT community, was the deadliest assault ever on the American gay community and attests to the viciousness of this pushback. But that was only one incident. In recent years, there has been a global backlash against gay rights that runs from the United States, through many parts of the global South, to Russia and other parts of the post-Communist world.

The opposition to gay rights comes in two strains and reflects what the Pew Research Center has called “the global divide on homosexuality.” In Western Europe and the Americas, home to the world’s most democratically advanced states and the largest and most sophisticated gay rights movements, the gay backlash takes the form of a counter-revolution designed to intimidate the gay community and roll back gains in gay rights. Across Africa, the Middle East, and much of the post-Communist world, the parts of the globe where democracy, civil society, and human rights are either in short supply or struggling, the gay backlash consists of a “pre-emptive strike” meant to stop the gay rights movement before it can gain its footing. This involves passing legislation that criminalizes or re-criminalizes homosexuality and that bans the promotion of homosexuality.


One response to “The Global Backlash Against Gay Rights

  1. The power of the LGBT community as tourists and consumers of other goods and services, along with the economic clout of those supportive of their cause, can be selectively deployed to make a point. The Russia/Chechnya backlash, while tragic for all concerned, is not representative of the world as characterized above. Having just returned from Asia and the Middle East my sense is that much progress has been made in recent years, part and parcel with acceptance of western tourists, consumerism, and media. Don’t expect everyone to be happy and accept Canadian standards, but governments and business understand the need to project acceptance. Much + change in past decade.