Out There – Stephen Fry BBC2

FryAmnesty International invited those with a concern for Human Rights to blog on Wednesday 16th

 I’m not really a fan of Stephen Fry because I find him pompous, a smug know-it-all. However, this documentary got over to a popular audience what some of us have been concerned about for some time.

In Uganda, Christian pastors there preach that homosexuality can be cured. A graphic example of the tragic consequences of this view was a lesbian who was raped by her father at the age of fourteen as ‘corrective rape’ to cure of. This single ‘sexual’ experience made her pregnant (a forced abortion followed) and gave her HIV.

The pastors don’t acknowledge the notion of homosexual ‘love’ and assume that all homosexuals have anal sex. It is beyond their understanding that many don’t but have oral or intracrural sex instead. As Fry points out, they are materialistic and obsessed with penises, anuses and vaginas.

A Ugandan newspaper carried the headline: ‘How Bum Stuffing Shattered My Whopper’. The government is considering a new law that would make homosexuality a capital crime – putting gay people to death for their sexuality. The first attempt to pass this law was in 2009, egged on by two American evangelicals.

The laws against homosexuality are already draconian and prevent people from seeking treatment for STIs for fewer of being reported to the police. So gays have started their own network, ‘Icebreakers’ but the government is seeking to close it down because it is ‘against the morals of our nation.’ Leading the fight to close it is Uganda Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Fr. Simon Lokodo (another homophobic – though former RC –  priest). When Fry interviewed him, he claimed that anal sex often results in men’s backs ‘oozing with pus.’ He wasn’t worried about heterosexual rape since this was ‘natural’. His whole body language was violent – lots of finger pointing and wagging.

Farshad, a 28-year-old Iranian, told Fry how he was forced to flee his homeland for having a gay relationship and had since considered suicide.

In Los Angeles, Fry met Dan Gonzales, who had undergone reparative therapy to try and “cure” his homosexuality, only to discover that he could not simply be talked into switching his sexuality. His mother now campaigns against the harm this ‘therapy’causes. Fry met Joseph Nicolosi who aims to “resolve” such emotional conflicts. He says that the boys who see him often fail to identify with their fathers and therefore watch gay porn on the internet. Each session costs $140 and regular sessions may continue over two years. He claims that he has cured about two thirds of the patients that have come to see him, though none of his “patients” were willing to talk about the result.

There were some unfortunate moments, such as the session with the Ugandan State Minister for Integrity and Ethics, when Fry said: “Homosexuality is fantastic. You should try it, it’s really good fun.” And I’m not sure about the phrase:’ Hollywood is the thermometer that is thrust up the anus of the world’s sensibilities.’

We are taken to Brazil, which has the largest Pride in the world yet there are daily murders including one of a fourteen-year-old who was abducted, tortured and strangled with his own T-shirt just for looking gay. His mother smells her son’s clothes and weeps: “This is all I have left of my baby.” Christians and neo-nazis are blocking attempts to bring in a law about hate crimes. It seems that we are in an age of backlash. A Christian, ironically for most of us but clearly not for him, speaks of ‘fundamentalist homosexual groups.’

Then Fry goes to Russia where homophobic violence is dismissed by the police: if someone reports it, the police send them away and don’t file the complaint. A government minister with a picture of the Russian Orthodox patriarch on his office wall talks of gays as ‘fallen angels’ – devils? This governor of St Petersburg in Russia has brought in a ban on “gay propaganda”. When Fry puts to him the story of a young lesbian woman savagely beaten up by a gang of right wing thugs he airily says: “Gay people, most of them are lying about their problems.”  He stands for ‘tradition’. Tradition, Fry asks? Torture, illiteracy, disease, the Inquisition? They are part of ‘tradition’.

So much for Christianity, And Islam? Hindu influence is more tolerant. Laws imposed by the British Raj have finally been repealed in India. As is pointed out, homosexuals aren’t interested in making other people homosexual. Yet homophobes are interested in making oother people homophobic.

Fry attempted suicide whilst making this programme. Since his material clearly got to him, we should attend to what he says.

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