Paragraph 175 in 2014

With the recent death of Fred Phelps, Sr. of the Westboro Church in Kansas a whole gamut of comments have been making the rounds. One person wrote that he was glad this man was dead. Another wrote that Phelps knows now that God does not hate.

Unfortunately, people like Phelps are very vocal and well-known in their outrage at what they perceive as the decadence of societal mores and values. There are many others who do it in a more subtle, systemic way—discrimination, violation of human rights, etc.

As one reviews human history and progress on this planet traversing the cosmos, cruelty seems to be so common. The untold slaughter of human beings—men, women and children—is a daily reality not found remotely in the dark shadows of the past, but found in the dark shadows of 2014 in various geopolitical regions where life is dispensed with like a used electronic device.

Reflecting a moment on the past, Paragraph 175 of the 1871 Reich Penal Code made it illegal for males to have sex with each other or for intercourse with animals. The linking here of homosexuality and bestiality seems to be absurd in the sense that the two had “something” in common. They don’t have anything in common.

In Weimar Germany homosexuality was very prevalent and largely ignored by the law enforcement establishment. When the Nationalsozialismus (National Socialism Party) came to power in Weimar Germany in the early 1930s, Paragraph 175 would undergo radical revisions and enforcements.

Paragraph 175 was revised. 175a and 175b were added—that prison sentences could be given along with the loss of civil rights.

Social clubs were closed. Publications were censored and shut down.

Like a number of other groups tagged and targeted who did not meet the Aryan ideal, homosexuals were rounded up and suffered the mockery of trials. Many went to prisons. Up to 15,000 were sent to concentration camps where many perished under the harsh conditions.

In the film Paragraph 175 the stories of the survivors of these times is told in vivid detail. It is a sad commentary on a so-called enlightened people who would treat fellow human beings with such utter distain and cruelty.

We can look at the NAZI time period with disgust and shake our heads about such atrocities. However, atrocities of the past seem to have this nasty habit of popping up in the present.

Criminalization of gays is becoming more common today, or should I say more in the news:

Antigay legislation is nothing new. The United Nations estimates that 78 countries ban homosexuality, and seven countries allow the death penalty for those convicted of having consensual homosexual relationships. Until a few years ago, the issue barely registered in diplomatic affairs. Global outcry was limited to protest petitions organized by gay advocacy groups.” New York Times, March 1, 2014 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/world/africa/antigay-laws-gain-global-attention-countering-them-remains-challenge.html?_r=0

An additional quote from this article:

Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law in January a measure that effectively outlaws pro-gay organizations; since then, arrests of gay Nigerians have multiplied. The Obama administration condemned the law but has so far taken no concrete measures against Nigeria, one of its most important partners in West Africa.
“The issue is divisive not only with Africa but also with traditional American allies in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is a crime.

“After India’s highest court affirmed a criminal ban on homosexuality in December, the Obama administration did not specifically condemn the court decision, except to express its concern about measures that criminalized homosexuality.

“It is something of a paradox that some of today’s antigay laws reflect considerable Western influence. American evangelists have played a crucial role in fomenting Uganda’s strong antigay sentiments. The Indian law criminalizing homosexuality dates to the early days of the British colonial era.”

Contrary to popular belief, this criminalizing of gays is not an African problem; it is a global issue, as the article above reflects. Let’s be candid: some religious leaders like the Inter-Faith Council composed of the leaders of the Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Adventist and Muslim communities in Uganda have used their influence to push into being laws which target humans who differ from what these religious leaders believe to be the norm of society. Fortunately, there are other global religious leaders who are letting their voices be heard about these violations of human rights.

As history has shown, when religion and civil government join forces to enact and to enforce laws on its citizens for the “common good,” the results are disastrous. How many men, women and children over the centuries have paid the price when these two entities join together?

I have gay friends. I don’t agree with their lifestyle since it is contrary to my belief system, but they have a right to live their lives without fear, persecution, discrimination or imprisonment or death. Their civil liberties need to be protected.

If we who are heterosexual do not take a stand against these injustices, who will? You do not have to accept or agree with a person’s sexual orientation, but that human being has rights which should be the concern of everyone who cares about life on this planet. Everyone should be free to travel their own road of life.

We all share the same planet. Let’s get about living together in mutual cooperation and protecting those who are being singled out for their race, creed, lifestyle, etc. The choice is yours.

Please keep in mind that Paragraph 175 is alive and thriving in 2014. It is being fed by fear, hate and ignorance. In too many cases it comes from members or leaders of religious communities.

Please keep in mind that the people with a different sexual orientation are not your enemies. They may be your friends, coworkers, son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother. They are fellow travellers on the road of life.

G. D. Williams © 2014

POST 547

 

References:
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Nazi campaign against homosexuality targeted the more than one million German men who, the state asserted, carried a “degeneracy” that threatened the “disciplined masculinity” of Germany. Denounced as “antisocial parasites” and as “enemies of the state,” more than 100,000 men were arrested under a broadly interpreted law against homosexuality. Approximately 50,000 men served prison terms as convicted homosexuals, while an unknown number were institutionalized in mental hospitals. Others—perhaps hundreds—were castrated under court order or coercion. Analyses of fragmentary records suggest that between 5,000 and 15,000 homosexual men were imprisoned in concentration camps, where many died from starvation, disease, exhaustion, beatings and murder.

http://www.ushmm.org/exhibition/persecution-of-homosexuals/

Fordham University
A national prohibition, Paragraph 175, was added to the Reich Penal Code in 1871. it read:
“An unnatural sex act committed between persons of male sex or by humans with animals is punishable by imprisonment; the loss of civil rights might also be imposed.
“When the Nazi’s came to power in 1933, they put a halt to efforts seeking reform of this law. In 1935, after the murder of Ernst Roem, the NSDAP amended the Paragraph 175 to close what were seen as loopholes in the current law.”

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/para175.asp

Telling Pictures: Paragraph 175

movie52438

Weimar Germany was a homosexual Eden in the 1920s: gay and lesbian nightclubs and magazines flourished, the first homosexual-rights movement was born… and then the Nazis came to power.”

http://www.tellingpictures.com/films/show/paragraph_175

The Persistence of Paragraph 175: Nazi-style Justice in Postwar Germany-
Adam A. Amir’s Senior Honors Thesis:
Despite the Nazi campaign of terror that castrated, incarcerated and murdered gay men, the end of the Second World War did not mark the end of brutal and homophobic National Socialist policy in Germany. In West Germany, a Third Reich-era law that prohibited homosexual acts remained a part of the penal code until 1969. Rigorous enforcement of the law, paragraph 175, led to a high number of convictions in the postwar years, a level that never dropped to pre-Nazi levels. In the east, homosexuality was not decriminalized until 1968. The persistence of Nazi-style justice after the war represented Germany’s failure to learn adequately from its history.”
http://www.honors.ufl.edu/apps/Thesis.aspx/…/309‎

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:U3FxbXbvzA8J:www.honors.ufl.edu/apps/Thesis.aspx/Download/309+&cd=37&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Inter-Religious Council of Uganda

http://www.ircu.or.ug/

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2014/03/14/63273

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/us-gave-millions-of-hiv-dollars-to-supporter-of-ugandas-anti

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/07/us-evangelicals-gay-laws_n_4899418.html

The Decline and Fall of The “H” Word

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/fashion/gays-lesbians-the-term-homosexual.html?_r=1

The New YORKER:

HONEY MAID AND THE BUSINESS OF LOVE

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2014/04/honey-maid-and-the-business-of-love.html

Pastor Kevin Swanson Slams Honey Maid’s ‘Wholesome’ Ad, Compares Being Gay To Murder, Cannibalism

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/14/nabisco-gay-ad-kevin-swanson-_n_5148572.html

Africa In the Dock

http://www.herald.co.zw/homosexual-rights-africa-in-the-dock/

Recolonisation by homosexualisation: Plan to diminish Africans?

http://www.herald.co.zw/recolonisation-by-homosexualisation-plan-to-diminish-africans/