A lot in the international press about the Irish referendum of late. The 62/38 Yes vote was announced only minutes ago. No need to rehash the Yes & No side of recent months. The dye is cast and the battle’s won. Ireland now becomes the first country in the world to give equal marriage rights in it’s constitution to gay couples by popular/public vote.
For MB, living in the region that he does, one of the most important aspects of the result, and the fact that such a referendum took place in the first instance, is the message that Ireland has sent out to the big bad world. The vote is an indication, in the opinion of MB, of the innate decency and fair-mindedness of the Irish as a nation, and provides a huge and welcome contrast to the the dark events and the forces of darkness operating in parts of the region that is MB’s present abode. Of course we Irish are not perfect. What nation is? But if the history of Ireland teaches us anything, it surely teaches us what it is like to be the underdog and to be without basic rights. So it’s hugely symbolic that Ireland is now a beacon of light on an aspect of life that impacts a goodly number of citizens in every country the world over, including every country in the Middle East, where even a reasoned discussion on the same topic is not possible.
Worth considering for a moment what it’s like to be a gay person in the Middle East region. The following gives a flavour:
The so-called ‘Caliphate’ under the control of the Sunni Islamic fundamentalists throws gay people from the roofs of high buildings and the watching baying crowd, in their primitive fundamentalist third-world ignorance, then stone the victim to death should he have the misfortune to survive the fall. Do not for a minute think that those who partake in such events in certain countries are a tiny minority of their societies. Sadly, the evidence of 7 years in the regions tells MB differently.
In Saudi Arabia the punishment is death by stoning (without the roof-drop) if a person is married, and 100 lashes plus prison if single. Yemen has the exact same rules. Qatar has a death sentence for Muslims and long prison spells or flogging for the non Muslim. All three countries also apply the same punishment to hetrosexual relationships, ie. for those who are married (death) and for those who are single (flogging & prison).
All the above mentioned punishments are part of Sharia law and actually have their basis in certain Quranic scripture or religious ‘hadith’, mainly referring to the people of Lot (or Lott) mentioned in the holy book. Both death by stoning and the throwing from high places are supported by various religious verse, with ‘religious’ scholars being divided as to whether the stoning or the roof-drop is more religiously appropriate.
Only pariah-state Israel legally recognises same-sex relationships in the region. A same sex marriage is not permitted to be performed within the country but is legally recognised if performed outside.
So Ireland shines it’s light. Sadly, many people in many countries will find the result inexplicable. Some 70 countries have laws that prohibit homosexuality and many impose a death sentence like those above listed, with the majority support of their populations.
For tolerance of those who are different. For understanding that everybody is not the same. For looking after the little guy. For recognising that a majority has no right, or requirement, to make slaves of a minority in matters that have no great impact, or any impact, on the majority. Let the light shine brightly.