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Pandemic, stigmas and prejudices

 As it was mentioned in the article “The pandemic of Covid 19 and the LGBTs”[1], in addition to all the health and socioeconomic issues they are facing, LGBT people still have to deal with stigmas and prejudice, which are being fueled by religious fundamentalists, who, irresponsibly, rashly and cruelly are taking advantage of the crisis, to increase the LGBTphobia, by now unbearable. These fundamentalists are crossing geographic, political and religious borders.

 

By: Wilson Honório da Silva, PSTU National Political Education Secretariat (Brazil)

 

One of the most known examples is Ralph Drollinger, an evangelical Christian, pastor of Donald Trump’s office and responsible for weekly Bible studies in the White House, who has stated that coronavirus is a consequence of “God’s wrath” against those people who have an “inclination to lesbianism and homosexuality”, in addition to “people with depraved minds”, as the environmentalists, and, naturally, in the head of an ultraconservative, racist and xenophobe one, the Chinese.

Also in the country which today is the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic, the influential protestant pastor and Republican Party politician Earl Walker Jackson (who is unfortunately black as well) used his TV program to popularize the disgusting idea that Covid-19 is caused by what he called as “homovirus”. While, another tele-evangelist, Pat Robertson, argued that the pandemic was a way God found to “pay back”, and punish the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriage in 50 states across the country.

Evidently, representatives of the most conservative sectors of Catholicism also did not want to be left behind in this insane preaching of hatred. In the USA, a regrettable example was given by Cardinal Raymond Burke, who lives in Rome, but sent messages to his followers, defending that the “grave danger that haunts the world” is due to efforts to promote sex and gender equality.

 

Criminals in the name of God

 

It is not an exaggeration to say that these gentlemen will take to their tombs a significant part of the blame for the death (only until April 8) of almost 16 thousand people  in their country alone[2], inasmuch as they contributed criminally to the virus expansion, not only making their followers believed that they were “immune to God’s wrath”, but also playing a harmful role, in resisting the implementation of social isolation and detachment  measures (acting as anointed spokesmen for another imbecile and irresponsible, Donald Trump).

However, the North Americans are not alone in this genocide levity. In Mexico, for example, the Catholic bishop Ramon Castro, of Cuervanaca, sharing recklessness with the president, López Obrador (who recommended kisses and hugs, instead of quarantine) also preached that young transgender people were among the “evils that made God infect the world with a virus”.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, in Northern Ireland, John Carson, congressman of the country’s biggest party (the Unionist) added the legalization of abortion to the reasons indicated by his peers in the USA. The very same thing that has been said by the Christian pastor Oscar Bougardt, in Cape Town (South Africa), and by the Nigerian evangelist pastor Mike Bamiloye, who added one more culprit for God’s wrath: transplants made by transsexuals.

Moreover, as a proof that LGBTphobia unites even “mortal enemies” and extrapolates religious boundaries, it is worth mentioning examples from the Jewish and the Islamic world.

In Israel, Meir Mazur, an ultraconservative rabbi, stated that coronavirus was a “God’s retribution”, specifically against the LGBT Pride Parades. In addition, some days later, many people read (unable to hide the ironic smile) that the Minister of Health, Yaakov Litzman, likewise a Zionist, had caught the virus, after having preached, that the pandemic was a result of Yahweh’s wrath against LGBT people.

The news was later denied when it was released that they had confused the Minister with that rabbi. Which, however (and if true…), does not ease Litzman’s guilt about the spread of the virus, since, demonstrably, Israel’s ultra-orthodox community, of which he is a member and leader, is the one that has been particularly most affected by the contagion, due to their resistance to adopting preventive measures.

On the other hand, in the Islamic world, one of the worst examples comes from Iraq, where the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr also blamed marriage between LGBT’s for the pandemic. In Ghana, Africa, the Muslim Mission’s spokesman, Sheik Amin Bonsu, called the country for a day of prayers and fasting, so that Allah’s intervened against the pandemic provoked by “sins against the world, specially the most abominable acts, such as homosexuality, lesbianism, transsexualism besides the destruction of water sources and forests.

Talking about fasting, we should not forget that, surely, here in Brazil, though (for now) not having publicly related the pandemic to his LGBTphobia, it is evident that the guy who has already said that “having a gay son is due to lack of punches” and that a “person with HIV is an expense for everybody else”, was also thinking about this kind of things when he convoked an irresponsible fasting, selling the illusion that the way out for the crisis was in religion, instead of providing healthcare investments, protection to the workers and social confinement for all.

Coming from all sides and multiple beliefs, it is unquestionable that statements like these, however unreasonable they may seem, they strenghten LGBTphobia, and may end up generating even more violence against those who already suffer discrimination. It has been like this along History, in which there are innumerable and deplorable examples of blaming women, LGBTs, black and native people, foreigners in general and other oppressed sectors for tragedies ranging from plages to natural disasters.

However, we need to remember that it is not only LGBTphobia, and the reinforcement of other oppressive speeches, that worry us in these statements. They are not “just” an attack against us, the non-heterosexual. They constitute a crime against humanity as a whole; a crime that has an even broader range in moments of an economic and humanitarian crisis, when despair accentuates the search for supernatural ways out and answers to the woes and suffering which contaminate reality. These preachers of hate divert the attention from what is truly fundamental to secure survival.

 

In defense of life, it is not possible to put faith above science.

 

Furthermore, this is a crime, in several ways that complement one another, since these fundamentalists make use of the genuine despair and people’s faith to radiate a prejudice pandemic, and simultaneously, to promote an attack on science, at the moment when we most need the technical knowledge, based on research, studies and methodological rigor.

On the question of faith, here it is not the case to develop the subject. However, we must not fail to mention that the way these “Men of God” are performing is a manifestation of not only their hypocrisy, but they also serve to remind us how false their customary attacks on “communism” as the enemy of people’s faith are.

Just as a recommendation, we suggest the reading of a text written by Lenin in May 1909 – entitled “The Attitude of the Worker’s Party to Religion” in which the leader of the Soviet Revolution points out that despite the fact that Marx, Engels and all genuine revolutionaries were “materialists”, in the sense of putting their “faith” in a concrete, objective and scientific analysis of reality and believing, above all, in the deepest human power that resides in the class struggle essence, we, communists, have never seen atheism as a “programmatic issue”; we do not believe that making a “declaration of war on religion” should be the role of our party, much less, are we among those who would use faith as a weapon against humanity itself.

It is true, yea, as written by the Brazilian black Marxist, Clóvis Moura (on the book “Sociologia do Negro Brasileiro” – [Sociology of Afro-Brazilians], discussing, in this case, the religions of African origin) that we believe that in a society in which men and women could live in complete freedom, in economic, political and social equality, and be able to fully develop themselves in cultural, affective and emotional terms (in other words, non- alienated persons, in all possible ways) religions will tend to “slowly disappear of society, due to their lack of function and necessity to mankind”.

Nevertheless, here and now the problem is another one, and it has all to do with the deplorable contemporary religious leaders’ attitude, whose above examples are only extreme expressions of something much broader: the use of religions (where it is worth remembering, there are also the “dominating and dominated ones”), like Moura also wrote, as an “instrument of social, political and cultural domination”, which reproduce “the levels of subjection and domination that the capitalist society creates on earth”.

It is not an accident that absolutely all the quoted examples have tight relations with the political institutions of their countries and even more promiscuous bonds with the interests of Capital. For this reason, the use and abuse they take of people’s faith is particularly criminal, since it is not even about the beliefs that guide the population, but rather solely about what is most interesting for them: the economic and political power that could guarantee the continuity of million people’s oppression and exploitation. Even if that implies many others’ deaths.

[1] [1] https://litci.org/pt/especiais/coronavirus/a-pandemia-da-covid-19-e-as-lgbts/

 

[2] Today, May 20, the official number of people killed by the pandemic is more than 93.800.