Secularism and LGBT issues Know no Borders

This is a guest post by Mike Brownstein, political science graduate student and blogger at Politics and Pucks.

At the SSA conference last week, Greta Christina said one thing that has been on my mind all week. She said that the secular movement is the first political movement where she has been a part of where she felt that people had her back on LGBT issues. As an ally I take this as a great compliment. One thing that atheists and LGBTQ individuals share it is a sense of pride about their causes and communities. In many cities around the world, LGBTQ communities share this pride with parades and a variety of other events. In some places it is very warmly received. For example, the Stanley Cup made a visit to the Chicago parade. However, in some places LGBTQ events are met with stark religious opposition. One of these places is in Israel.

The pride parade in Jerusalem is one that continues to be starkly opposed. In years’ past, the parade has seen its members severely insulted, and murder is not uncommon. Most of this opposition comes from the very religious nature of the city. This year, deputy Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus suggested the city run a “donkey parade” alongside the pride parade as a counter-protest. Pindrus claimed he wanted to show the “bestial nature of the pride march”. Luckily, the municipality was not in favor of sponsoring this. Although this idea was shot down, counter-protest occurred. Organized protests had posters that claimed that homosexuality is a voluntary disease, “sick perverts, leave Jerusalem”, and even a parade of puppet donkeys. Having been to Israel, this doesn’t surprise me. It is one of those major cities (similar to Cincinnati, OH), that has a conservative mind set. It should be expected for the religious symbolism, but at the same time, hate like this is unacceptable.

If there’s something to take from this, it is that LGBT as well as church-and-state issues exist globally. Israel, like the United States, has problems with ignorance on issues of LGBT and religion. Although America’s problems with religion are different, the similarity with Israel is sometimes sickening. The religious institutions there are very entwined with the government too. Even in another highly democratic country exist the same religious conflicts.

Something else that we should take into consideration, is that the LGBT community is our ally and vice versa. After hearing Greta Christina’s speech I’m even more convinced that our groups should be supporting one another. For one, there is considerable overlap between the communities. Not to mention the Purdue Society of Non-Theists are a part of the Queer Student Union. We should be using that to our mutual benefit, because we are fighting the same people about similar issues. As an ally, I’m proud to be a part of the secular movement, and happy that my LGBT peers feel safe that people like us exist!

This is post 26 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.


  1. LS says

    This has given me a lot to think about. I’ve generally supported the state of Israel in a sort of passive, lackadaisical way. But this is…I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.Thank you, Mike.

  2. says

    Last year some members of the IPFW group United Sexualities commented that we at CAA (IPFW’s atheist group) seriously addressed LGBT issues more often than they did at US. I remember the first cause I took up after shedding my religion was equal marriage rights, driving to Indy for a protest over the recently passed prop 8 in California a few weeks after my ‘deconversion’.Toward the end of my belief, i’d grown pretty liberal in my views and was already supportive of the LGBT community (although marriage rights were still something I struggled with due to a religious view of marriage), once the belief was gone I realized that it was about damn time that I put my money where my mouth was and did something about it.

  3. says

    I’ll be honest, coming from a Jewish background and not reading a lot of non-Jewish critique of Israel, my support for Israel is slowly lessening. I highly recommend anything by Bernard Lewis if you’re looking to understand the Middle East. Theists in all religions don’t like him, which I think is generally a good thing when talking about the Middle East.

  4. LS says

    I may actually do that, I’ve been meaning to educate myself on the issues in that region. Before now I’ve primarily applied my thinking towards domestic issues. To be frank this is something of a scary topic for me. I have a very old, very dear, and very fundamentalist Jewish friend. One of the most lovable people I’ve ever had in my life, who has always supported me.Being critical of his religion isn’t something I’m sure I’m ready to do.

  5. the_Siliconopolitan says

    It should be amazing that the cognitive dissonance never hits home, but I guess that’s par for the course.Is it cruel of me to wonder if these bigots’ relatives were attacking the gays in the camps as viciously?The oppressed have become the oppressors yaddah yaddah yaddah

  6. MaryLynne says

    Mike! Why “similar to Cincinnati, Ohio”? I wanted to make sure you know that Cincinnati, Ohio had an awesome Pride parade and festival a month or so ago. P&G and their gay employee organization had a float, as did banks, Kroger (our big grocery) and other corporations. The square was packed for the festival. Northside, in Cincinnati, is and promotes itself as an inclusive LGBT community. It is not as monolithic as you make it sound!

  7. says

    The only reason I used Cincinnati, OH is because my family lives there, and every time I go back I realize how conservative it is. I usually pick on Cincinnati in my blog because its a metro area with a majority of GOPers. It’s awesome that there’s support for LGBT individuals in Cincinnati, and I’m happy about it.

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