As part of its focus on Internet Governance and the gay/LGBTQIA community, dotgay LLC supports my participation in the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) work on Enhanced Cooperation. A blog describing the work in terms of Internet governance can be found at: http://avri.doria.org/five-days-in-the-enhanced-cooperation-box. In this brief note I want to describe why this work is so important to the dotgay community.
An undercurrent to the entire process of governments trying to gain control of the Internet is content control. As new laws in Russia and several African countries have shown, there is a backlash against the gay community. These governments, with at instigation of the American religious right among others, have been racketing up historical hatred and violence against the gay community for several years. In the last year, as the gay community gained a degree of equality in some countries, with workplace discrimination beginning to ebb and the acceptance of our personal relationships in marriage, draconian laws have been on the rise in other countries. Having been defeated in the US, the forces of repression are pouring their money and energies into other countries, causing the increased oppression that is filling the news.
But this does not get mentioned in the news everywhere. In some countries reporting violence against the gay community has been called propaganda and has become a crime. Repressive states are looking for greater capabilities to filter and block all such information, so that they can keep their populations in the dark about the freedom and respect being achieved in other parts of the world. Governments are trying to extend the sovereignty they rely on to abuse the gay community add other citizens within their own border, by force of international agreements to the borderless Internet.
Another capability that the Internet offers is that it allows members of the gay community in one country to communicate with members of the community in other countries, so that they can share information and knowledge. These rights of association and to knowledge are human rights protected by various covenants, signed my most of the governments in the world. All of these International covenants, however, contain escape clauses that exempt countries from honoring these rights when they contravene law and international norms. In some cases like exploitation of children and violence, this is reasonable and accepted by most. In other cases, when a country has repressive laws, it becomes a problem. By creating laws and strengthening the international norms related to the Internet requiring enforcement one country’s laws in the Internet, it exposes all of our community to danger. If a country that accepts gay rights is forced to support laws such as those in Uganda on the Internet, then the community’s right to association and sharing of knowledge is threatened. By using Internet governance, a necessary and important regulatory function at times, some of the most repressive regimes in the world are hoping to spread the influence of their hate over the rest of the world.
These dry Internet governance discussions about Enhanced Cooperation are, at their base about these issues, though they are rarely mentioned explicitly, except during unguarded moments. Our community is one of the primary reasons repressive regimes are attempting to gain control of the Internet – they inexplicably hate the gay/LGBTQIA community that much. It is important that we not only follow these trends so we are ready to react when they come to our homes, but we must be represented in the discussions to attempt to stop the worst offenses. There are many countries that support our rights, but we are not always their top priority. By participating in UN groups such as the Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation or the Human Rights Council, we are in the right place at the right time to remind our countries to defend our rights.
dotgay LLC’s support of this work, along with other rights’ groups, is critical in the fight for gay rights.