The goal of normalizing same-sex relations through legislation is hitting roadblocks in legislatures, courts, and among people around the globe.
While activists have succeeded in getting western societies to require acceptance of homosexual behavior generally, they have been unable to enact wholesale special social and economic rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals (LGBT).
In only a few places, LGBT activists appear to have attained what they call “equality.” But even there, their success is limited.
In the United States—one place where LGBT rights are most advanced—over half the states define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and many states do not let same-sex couples adopt.
Even in Europe, where the powerful E.U. Commission has thrown its weight behind LGBT rights, and succeeded in getting most E.U. countries to enact civil-union arrangements for individuals of the same-sex, several countries have not only rejected same-sex “marriage,” but also enacted constitutional amendments to preclude same-sex “marriage” all together. Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia are the most recent.
Finland is the latest member of the European Union to reject same-sex “marriage.” Last month, a committee of the Finnish parliament prevented the parliament from voting on same-sex marriage, for the second time since 2012, by a vote of 10 to 6. Finland is the only Nordic country where same-sex marriages are not performed.
Same-sex marriage is such a touchy subject that the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights adopted a soft approach, favoring civil unions instead. The president of the Organization of American States recently said that same-sex marriage would not be imposed by his organization. Even the U.S. Supreme Court did not impose same-sex marriage.
Adoption by same-sex couples is in some ways a more difficult subject, particularly in Europe. Few European countries allow same-sex couples to adopt. Public debate often focuses on the rights of children, to great effect for opponents of gay adoption.
In the global south LGBT activists and governments backing them have an uphill struggle to convince entire populations that what they consider deviant sexual behavior should be socially acceptable.
Only this year, Uganda and Nigeria controversially heightened penalties for homosexual behavior in addition to curtailing activism on same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights. Many African nations are pursuing similar legislation, and politicians who campaign on this point find popular support.
The African Group, a U.N. negotiating bloc, selected Uganda for the presidency of the General Assembly after the United States and Europe threatened to punish Uganda for its new laws. The selection sent a strong message that Africans are not giving in.
The section of the U.N. bureaucracy at the forefront of controversial LGBT rights efforts at the United Nations will likely not do so any longer with the lection of a new U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from Jordan.
Legislation is only one way in which LGBT activists are running into obstacles. Some cultures don’t even contemplate the notion of same-sex marriage and adoption, or even have words to describe them.
An author at the pro-family Englishmanif blog recently wrote that the Chinese language does not have a word for “couple” or “parents.” In Chinese, he explains, the word is literally “husbandwife” for couple, and “fathermother” for parents.