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Flying the rainbow flag in Asia

CollectionsSexualities, Genders and Rights in Asia: International Conference of Asian Queer Studies (2005)
Title: Flying the rainbow flag in Asia
Author(s): Sanders, Douglas
AsiaPacificQueer Network
Publisher: Canberra, ACT: The Australian National University
Citation: Sanders, Douglas (2005, July) Flying the rainbow flag in Asia. Paper presented at Sexualities, Genders and Rights in Asia: 1st International Conference of Asian Queer Studies. Bangkok, Thailand: AsiaPacifiQueer Network, Mahidol University; Australian National University
Fifty years ago homosexual acts were illegal in all the countries that trace their legal systems back to the British common law. Public authorities, media and social attitudes throughout the West treated homosexuality as illicit, often unmentionable. There was a tradition of seeing homosexuality as a foreign vice – the Greek vice or the French vice or an Oriental vice – not a local vice. In 2005, after forty years of reforms, criminal laws that target homosexual acts are gone in the West. Entry into the European Union is conditional on laws prohibiting discrimination in the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Marriage has been opened to same-sex couples in the Netherlands, Belgium, the state of Massachusetts, Canada and Spain. Same-sex marriage was a major issue in the 2004 American presidential election. ‘Human rights’ play an important role in modern states. Respect for ‘human rights’ is a marker if the legitimacy of regimes. The globalising agenda is clear in Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s well-known description of human rights as the “common language of humanity”.


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