Trump’s right, no one deserves to die for being gay
In late February, the Trump administration announced a global initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality around the world. The move is, at least in part, a response to a series of state-sanctioned killings of gays and lesbians, mostly by theocratic regimes in the Middle East.
Only this January, a gay Iranian man was publicly hanged, representing but one of an estimated 5,000 such killings committed by the Islamic Republic in recent years. That same month, authorities in Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, killed at least two gay individuals and detained more than 40 others on suspicion of being gay. This all comes after Chechen authorities arrested and tortured more than 100 gay men back in 2017.
The criminalization of homosexuality is nothing new. It wasn’t long ago that sexual acts between consenting same-sex adults were illegal in the United States. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in the 6-3 decision Lawrence v. Texas that a Texas sodomy law was unconstitutional because the state lacked a legitimate interest in regulating the private conduct of consenting adults. Such conduct, the court concluded, is protected by the “liberty” interest found under the due process clause of the Constitution. Lawrence effectively nullified laws in the 14 states that still had penalties for homosexual acts on their books. And at that time some of these laws were especially harsh. Idaho, for example, imposed a life sentence for homosexual acts, and in Michigan, a violation of the state’s sodomy laws could on paper earn a person up to 15 years of prison time.
Ever since the Lawrence decision decriminalized homosexual conduct nearly 16 years ago, we as a nation have come a long way in our search for equal treatment of homosexuals. But we must remember that there are still parts of the world where your sexual orientation can mean countless years in prison, or even death.