The culture wars are no longer about gay rights but about shaping a new global value system.
The whole debate about gay marriage and the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered (LGBT) people is reaching a climax of sorts across North America and Europe.
Britain is in the midst of a showdown between religious groups and the government over Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage.
In the United States, similar battles are being waged across several states. President Barack Obama, finally, and some would argue, very conveniently, came out of the political closet to endorse gay marriage in time for the upcoming November presidential elections. That endorsement earned him a rare rebuke from Datuk Seri Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
While the ongoing battles over gay marriage continue to draw a lot of attention, the real focus has gone beyond gay rights to shaping a global value system based on LGBT culture.
LGBT culture is itself still evolving as boundaries are relentlessly pushed back to accommodate individual whims and fancies.
Consider, for example, the newspaper report that was headlined, “He’s having their baby” about a man who used to be a woman who says he is now pregnant. Though legally classified as a male, he apparently opted to keep his “reproductive rights” intact – meaning that “he” still has ovaries, a uterus and a vagina!
And then there is the case of Miss Canada contestant, Jenna Talackova, who was born male but now regards “herself” as a female after having undergone hormone therapy and “sexual reassignment surgery” (the politically correct term for a sex-change operation). According to press reports, Jenna lied on her application form by stating that she was a “natural born” female and was subsequently expelled from the pageant.
The LGBT community immediately cried foul, alleging gender discrimination; Jenna was allowed back into the competition but did not win.
Meanwhile, an Ottawa exhibition aimed at educating teenagers about sex (as if today’s teens need any help) demonstrated twelve different kinds of sexuality, none of them heterosexual.
In schools, textbooks now almost routinely tell stories of Jack and his two dads or Jill and her two mums, portraying gay families as the norm. There are also mandatory gay/straight clubs in all schools in the province of Ontario.
Even comic book superheroes have not been spared. Marvel Comics just “outted” Green Lantern as gay. Who would have thought the poor fellow was struggling all these years with identity issues while trying to save the planet?
And who’s next? Could Wonder Woman be a transgendered male? Is there more to the relationship between Batman and Robin after all?
Doesn’t the LGBT community have any superheroes of their own? Do they have to raid our childhood memories and remake our superheroes in their own image? Do they have to colour the whole world in rainbow shades in order to feel equal and free?
The blurring of gender identity, the constant promotion of the idea that there is no such thing as normalcy in sexual matters, that gay families are somehow the norm rather than the exception, that anything and everything is morally equal, acceptable and normal is intrinsic to the LGBT agenda.
It has, of course, become politically incorrect to even ask these questions or wonder out loud where the West is heading given the wholesale abandonment of the very value system that underpins Western civilisation. Indeed, those who beg to differ are quickly shouted down and labelled intolerant, hateful and homophobic.
I suppose it won’t be long before straight couples and normal families are ridiculed as hopelessly outmoded and harassed for holding on to traditional values.
It might be tempting to think that all this has nothing to do with us in Malaysia, that we can safely retreat behind our own cultural and religious walls and remain unaffected by the emerging LGBT global culture.
The reality, however, is that whatever happens in the West invariably sets the pace for the rest of the world. A global culture is being shaped through television, music, education and the internet that is steadily influencing opinion and moulding attitudes, especially among the youth.
As well, powerful countries like Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States have now made the LGBT agenda one of their foreign policy goals and are aggressively lobbying to make a broad spectrum of LGBT rights mandatory for all countries. Britain and the US have even threatened to withhold aid to developing countries that do not support LGBT rights.
Interestingly, several hard-pressed religious leaders in the West are now looking to Asia, Africa and Latin America for moral support to counter the LGBT agenda. The Third World could well become the last refuge of traditional morality.
It is now incumbent on Third World leadersto develop a measured political, spiritual and intellectual response to the global LGBT agenda.
Harassing the LGBT community and treating them as common criminals, as so many Third World countries have done, is both morally wrong and counterproductive. The real challenge is to find a way to respect basic rights without sacrificing fundamental values or abandoning foundational belief systems as the West has done.
■ Datuk Dennis Ignatius is a 36-year veteran of the Malaysian foreign service. He has served in London, Beijing and Washington and was ambassador to Chile and Argentina. He was twice Undersecretary for American Affairs. He retired as High Commissioner to Canada in July 2008.