Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Is the world going backwards?

There are times I wonder in which direction the world is going.

There's the rise of violent Islamism, the nutty creationists in America, Sarah Palin's "Tea Party" (exactly what drugs was John McCain on when he chose that nut job as his running mate for President of the US of A), and even some Buddhist admirers of the EDL apparently who were behind a progrom against Muslims in Burma.

And the rest.

Only today two more stories caught my attention. The first from the 76 Crimes website which reported that India has now made homosexuality illegal again as the result of moves by a combination of Muslim, Hindu and Christian groups. The New York Times reports:

NEW DELHI — The Indian Supreme Court reinstated on Wednesday a colonial-era law banning gay sex, ruling that it had been struck down improperly by a lower court.

The 1861 law, which imposes a 10 year sentence for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal,” was ruled unconstitutional in a 2009 decision. But the Supreme Court held that only Parliament has the power to change that law.

There is almost no chance that Parliament will act where the Supreme Court did not, advocates and opponents of the law agreed. With the Bharatiya Janata Party, a conservative Hindu nationalist group, appearing in ascendancy before national elections in the spring, the prospect of any legislative change in the next few years is highly unlikely, analysts said.

Anjali Gopalan, founder of a charity that sued to overturn the 1861 law, said she was shocked by the ruling.

“This is taking many, many steps back,” Ms. Gopalan said. “The Supreme Court has not just let down the L.G.B.T. community,” she added, referring to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders, “but the Constitution of India.”

S.Q.R. Ilyas, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which filed a petition in support of the reversal, d, praised Wednesday’s ruling.

“These relationships are unethical as well as unnatural,” Dr. Ilyas said. “They create problems in society, both moral and social. This is a sin as far as Islam is concerned.”

India has a rich history of eunuchs and transgender people who serve critical roles in important social functions and whose blessings are eagerly sought. Transgender people often approach cars sitting at traffic lights here and ask for money, and many Indians — fearing a powerful curse if they refuse — hand over small bills.

Despite this history, Indians are in the main deeply conservative about issues of sexuality and personal morality. National surveys show that Indians widely disapprove of homosexuality and, on average, have few sexual partners throughout their lives.

Given that Putin's Russia has begun a drive against Gays there is a worrying trend about men and women being persecuted over their sexual preferences in an age where once tolerance was once beginning to grow.

76 Crimes now reports that there are 83 countries where homosexuality is now illegal.

The other story which I read with more of a bemused horror was the decision of the British Supreme Court to recognise the bizarre ideas Scientology as a religion. The Daily Telegraph reports:

Scientology has been recognised officially as a “religion” after Britain’s highest court swept aside 158 years of law to rule that worshipping a god is not essential to religion.

In a landmark judgement, five Supreme Court Justices redefined religion in law in order to enable the group to conduct weddings.

It follows a five-year legal battle by Louisa Hodkin, a 25-year-old scientologist, who was seeking the right to get married at the Church of Scientology chapel in central London, which she attends.

Miss Hodkin and her fiancé Alessandro Calcioli, who were at court to hear the judgement handed down, hailed the decision as a victory for freedom of worship.

But ministers voiced alarm that it could open the way for the group to claim lucrative tax breaks worth hundreds of thousands of pounds a year and other legal privileges.

The words "God help us" crossed my lips, which doesn't make much sense for an atheist I know, but sometimes I pine for the simpler times when the nearest religion got to bothering me was the local Vicar asking for stuff for the Church Jumble sale. I'd settle for that now.

As for Scientology being a religion? One has to be careful what one says as they are a highly litigious lot indeed and probably employ their minions to monitor the web. Personally I think all religion is superstitious nonsense, just some are more dangerous than others.

Thing is Scientology only seems to appeal to the rich and bored as their "courses" cost thousands of pounds I'm told. For now I'll stick to keeping an eye on the Islamist nutters like Anjem Choudary who had this to say about the men sentenced to prison for being part of the violent "Muslim Patrol". The London Evening Standard reports his words of wisdom:

I don’t condemn them at all. They are upstanding, upright members of the Muslim community. Their character is immaculate, they are fantastic individuals. People say much worse things on football terraces.

That doesn't make it right though does it pal.

What to make of all this?

It all makes as much sense as this song from the Goons (released in 1956) which came to mind as I wrote this post.

So long as we all have a sense of humour there is hope.......

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