Human Rights at Risk

gay pride, LGBT


Serious readers do not need to turn to fiction to encounter stories full of compelling human drama. Peter Montgomery’s May 3 roundup of international human rights news for Religion Dispatches included the following (and much more):

  • A profound hypocrisy underlies the critique of Norway’s human rights record recently leveled by Russia and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is a crime punishable by death.
  • The Sultan of Brunei announced the first phase of Brunei’s new Sharia law, which includes fines or jail for out-of-wedlock pregnancy, failure to perform Friday prayers, and propagating other religions; phase 2, coming into effect next year, will address theft and alcohol offenses, punishable by whipping and amputations; phase 3, a year later, will cover sodomy and insulting the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad, which are offenses punishable with the death penalty, including death by stoning. Most of these laws will apply to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
  • Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has signed a new law legalizing polygamy. “When you marry an African woman, she must know the second one is on the way, and a third wife,” MP Junet Mohammed told the house during the debates.
  • Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, banned from travel to the European Union because of alleged human rights abuses and election rigging, traveled to Vatican City for the ceremonies making saints of two former popes. Mugabe and his wife met Pope Francis after the canonization mass, attended Pope Francis’s inaugural Mass last year, attended Pope John Paul’s funeral in 2005 and his beatification in 2011.
  • Wisconsin state senator Glenn Grotham and GOP congressional candidate recently said on a Christian radio program that Secretary of State John Kerry had “upset God” by criticizing Uganda’s anti-gay law, asking, “what must God think of our country?”
  • By contrast, Akie Abe, wife of Japan’s conservative Prime Minister, attended Tokyo’s third annual Pride Fest, posting photos on her Facebook page, where she reportedly wrote, “I want to help build a society where anyone can lead happy, contented lives without facing discrimination.”