Is Colonization to Blame When It Comes to Criminalizing LGBTQ+ in Asia?

Published June 29th, 2021 - 07:47 GMT
LGBT activist with pride flag
LGBTQ+ relationship are still criminalised in 69 countries around the world. (Shutterstock: reddees)

A recent article published by BBC News' website has stirred controversy, as its writer linked today's anti-LGBTQ+ laws in many countries around the world to the legacy left by British colonialism across the world, specifically in Asia and Afirca.

According to the writer Tessa Wong, who is a senior digital reporter at BBC, laws that criminalize same-sex relationships in Asian and African countries today were all created by the British colonization of these areas throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

While the writer has associated anti-homosexual laws with laws introduced by Britain during the colonial era, citing the religious link between the British monarchy and the church at that time. The writer has also quoted a historian on British colonization saying "They wanted to protect innocent British soldiers from the 'exotic, mystical' Orient."

The article also says that two-thirds of the 69 countries that still criminalize same-sex relationships were under British rule.

Even though the article was widely shared on social media with many users agreeing with its content, a number of online people seemed to disagree with the examples highlighted by the articles, arguing that LGBTQ+ relationships "have never been accepted by local communities even before the British rule, mainly for religious and cultural considerations."

While the article refers to ancient artwork featured in Hindu temples as an example of historical acceptance of such relationships, some social media users wondered if the same applies to Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, or other religions that are practiced in Asian and African countries. 

Finally, some online commentators argued that countries, where laws may have been influenced by British rulings against the LGBTQ+ people, have been independent states for more than 50 years, which means that the decision to carry on with colonial laws is their own responsibility and not Britain's.

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