Orville Taylor | World Cup, sex rites and human rights
Somewhere in this world of warped priorities, there is the need to push a multicoloured flag in the face of the host nation, despite them and FIFA making it clear that doing so was not acceptable. True, there are sodomy laws affixed to the death...
Somewhere in this world of warped priorities, there is the need to push a multicoloured flag in the face of the host nation, despite them and FIFA making it clear that doing so was not acceptable. True, there are sodomy laws affixed to the death penalty, but we knew this when the West kept cuddling with the investment opportunities in the Emirates and Middle East on the whole.
Many of the Middle Eastern Islamic countries have clear and strict laws regarding sex, sexuality and inter and intra-sexual relations. Intra-gender relations are only part of the range of sex crimes for which one can be severely punished. A married or unmarried Western Christian man dare not seek to have consensual sex with a Muslim woman in the Arabian Peninsula. So, what is so special or unique about anal sex?
Moreover, in some of these nations, including Qatar, even the cocktail ‘sex on the beach’ is verboten. As a matter of fact, a British married couple was convicted in 2008 for spicing up their relationship by turning the popular drink into a sexual reality. In these countries, your sexual behaviour might be your private business, but get the ‘L’ out if you think public and pubic are homophones in the Emirates.
A major hypocrisy of the West has been workers’ rights. The International Labour Organization (ILO), the most democratic and egalitarian branch of the UN, puts the concept of ‘decent work’ at the centre of the human condition. Intrinsic in decent work is not only fairness of treatment, freedom of association, freedom to join trade unions and bargaining collectively, but also freedom from forced labour. Furthermore, most important is the right to a safe and secure work environment.
Perhaps the world’s 25 per cent population of Indus lives matter much less than the five per cent of ‘anuphiles’; but it is significant lot that by Qatar’s own admission, some 500 migrant workers have died in the preparation and construction activities leading up to the World Cup.
Hidden in full view in The Guardian, a publication with a readership of more than 20 million, was a story released on February 23, 2021. More than 6,500 transient workers from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in occupational incidents, since the decision was made in 2010 to award the greatest show on earth to Qatar.
Think about this. Qatar has a land mass area of 11,571 km². Jamaica, inclusive of the cays, is approximately 10,991 km². Our population is just around 2.9 million, the same as Qatar. Just recall the furore over the deaths on our various construction projects, the Bahia Principe, roads and those fatalities among the Jamaicans who go north on the Ministry of Labour’s overseas employment programme. Now imagine the average of 12 deaths per day for those whose ancestors The Mahatma, Mohandas Gandhi, fought and died; and any flag of protest must have the colour of saffron and turmeric, tinged with chutney to match the pigmentation of those whose skin colour looks like mine.
Not wishing to minimise the LGBT struggles, but let’s be honest here. Individual rights can never supersede the rights or interests of the majority, including the unborn future population. Given that the average household size among lower strata Indus people runs between five and six; the impact on these workers’ children, spouses and other dependents is massive.
With all that we know about the sociology of fatherlessness, we are now looking at more than 18,000 young people who have been pushed to other kinds of vulnerability due to the demise of their fathers or main adult male in the home. And by the way, the role of the adult male in the Indus extended family is critical. For Deepak and Indira, the Jamaican expression, “no baba!” is not merely an exclamation; it can be a horrific premonition.
The problem with international politics is that human rights is a topic and project of convenience, dependent on which victimised population is important to whom have the public mic or heavy economic interests.
As I said in my last column, if the powerful West is going to be selective, it has no credibility or moral authority. It is not known if the Italian fanatic who ran on to the pitch with his rainbow flag will be charged and given a paragraph. I am willing to bet that if he did that in Singapore, during a global sporting event, he would be seeing more bars than a music sheet or the hip strip.
By the way, the same Singapore has committed to decriminalising buggery but will put in place checks and balances to protect the traditional family values and make it impossible for same-sex couples to be married as defined by Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
Even more interesting for me, as regards human rights, is why are the ‘Christian’ advocates so afraid to declare Christ as their Lord and Saviour, with the same zeal? After all, along that same belt of Islamic nations, there are several jurisdictions where it is criminal to declare that Jesus was more than a prophet, lesser than Muhammad, blessed be His name.
Proselytising to sway ‘sinners’ away from hellfire is supposed to be the mandate of the billions of those who say “Lord Lord!” Twelve men died early in the New Testament so that the word could be proclaimed. In a region where the dominant belief is that all Christians need to revert to Islam, why are they defying the mandate and terms of their ‘salvation’? Perhaps the belief is that Jesus might have had relations with his disciples that matched Joseph’s coat.
But then again, when convenient we say that sport is sport and has no place for politics or religion. That might be so, but next time you fly a flag in the World Cup or dare to criticise Qatar, dig the plank from your own eyes.
I have no plank, because my tears for Ghana washed them all out on Friday.
- Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology at The University of the West Indies, a radio talk-show host, and author of ‘Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets’. Send feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.