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The embassy and homosexuality
Mahmoud Muneer
2015/06/01

While public anger erupted with regard to the participation of the U.S. Ambassador to Jordan in a meeting to discuss the rights of homosexual and transgender people two weeks ago, none of the protests mentioned that the ambassador herself has invited current and former officials from the north to the south of Jordan to set up banquets for her, nor did they mention her constant involvement in discussing Jordanian affairs and all of its details!

 

The U.S. Embassy in our country is not a diplomatic mission to represent and defend the interests of the United States, as is the supposed political custom, but it is an actor in Jordanian politics. Men in the government vie to get closer to the embassy and those with short memories need only refer back to the WikiLeaks scandal of 2010 to quickly learn of our tolerance for it.

 

The leaked information revealed to Americans the differences and inconsistencies within the Jordanian state. They learned of assessments that officials made of one another, and their views toward both overt and covert internal and external events, but what drew the most attention were those who voluntarily sat down and provided whatever assets they had in order to gain satisfaction with “the embassy.”

 

Over the years, no one has objected to the regular pilgrimages made to “the embassy,” even when officials took the initiative to invite ambassador Alice Wells, and her predecessor Stuart Jones, to their homes. We followed their pictures online, with witty comments about well-known figures offering another side dish of Mansaf or the skills of the former ambassador in eating with his hands.

 

Suddenly, anger explodes: officials and opposition leaders, secularists and Islamists, clerics and activists all calling for “taking necessary legal action against the U.S. Ambassador for overstepping the bounds of her job and for supporting and promoting work which is considered a crime, according to the law, and contrary to the Jordanian Constitution,” and “demanding the criminalization of homosexuals who do not represent Jordanian society.”

 

Are those angered, or at least the vast majority of them, able to express “anger” toward the eternal American interference in our affairs? Are they able to have the courage to override the ambassador in all diplomatic customs, and her insertion and invasion into all Jordanian affairs?

 

Others may attend to more critical questions, but I will move on to comment on the work of the protests themselves, which seem artificial and contrived, and which serve as reminders of collusion between those in power and some social movements. The protests say that the Aoun Association, which calls for the protection of homosexuals, is not legally licensed–just as applies to dozens of unlicensed associations which are sponsored by religious groups and other groups within the Jordanian territory. Not to mention that Jordanian law does not contain a single text that criminalizes homosexuality between adults, nor does it prohibit holding a public meeting to discuss this issue and others.

 

Submitting a complaint against the U.S. Ambassador and the social development minister is mostly an attempt to vent public opinion. If the authorities were truly against holding a meeting to discuss homosexual rights, such a meeting would not have occurred. Yet the game continues with the rejection of the lawsuit based only on the diplomatic and ministerial immunity of those involved, rather than rejecting it based on the charges. The issue will remain, the same old tale, as long as there is no real pressure to acknowledge LGBT rights, and likewise no real pressure to prevent such a meeting.

 

Let us discuss the second part of this case which concerns the homosexuals themselves and, more importantly, whether there is a socially effective way to discuss public issues without cognitive ignorance or resorting to flimsy reasoning in the name of morality. When we return to science, we find that classification of homosexuality does not exist in the framework of disease or abnormality. Those who keep this in mind know that homosexuality is one of the natural variations in the human gender and it reflects the complex interaction of biological and environmental factors. The issue of their persecution is no longer viable, after centuries of hostility towards them in Europe, unlike in Islamic history which saw the greatest amount of leniency toward such individuals who were present in the palaces, public life, and in poetry.

 

The majority of those who work in public affairs have turned away from these facts. They prefer to ignore them or to keep up with the charades to appease public outcry and they do not provide any practical or realistic proposals when you ask them about any prickly social issues, such as the marriage of a Muslim to a Christian, and vice versa, or the changing of a citizen’s religion.

 

I will stop at one point relating to transgender people who have changed their sexual orientation. They are not formally recognized and they are deprived of the possibility of changing their name, identity and other documents. If the government or the masses of objectors to their recognition studied the cases of those individuals who have transitioned from one sex to another, either from male to female or vice versa, they would see that these individuals can no longer turn back and restore their previous sexual identity and, unfortunately, they cannot go forward without recognition of their new identity.

 

There is a phrase that is repeated whenever a public issue is raised, as was the case here with regard to homosexuals, and that is the claim that a specific category “does not represent the people.” They claim this, of course, without asking anyone from that category to represent the people. It would take bit of courage to admit that there is no real or symbolic representation of our societies, submerged as they are in backwardness, division, hatred and discrimination.

 

Finally, if “the embassy” will not stop its chronic meddling in our affairs, we have from it only to choose between splitting into categories whose rights are only cared for by the U.S. or other foreigners and the recognition that each class is part of one community which must stand up and take care of its own affairs.

 

Mahmoud Muneer is a writer, journalist and the editor of the “Takween” section on AmmanNet

 

*The Arabic version of this op-ed article appeared on May 31, 2015. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of AmmanNet.

 

Translated by Julia Norris
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