The games are over, and the thousands of condoms distributed in the games village have, in my imagination at least, fulfilled their enviable purpose. Its not hard, with all those fit and passionate young men and women, to imagine what might be going on behind those rather suburban doors of the games village.
No doubt there are a few of these condoms, used either in the village or more likely outside of it, that are providing for some horny athletes, a very new experience.
If you were, for example a member of the Pakistani mens hockey team, you might find yourself in the embrace of a fellow hockey player from Malaysia, a Nigerian sprinter or a Tuvuluan table tennis player.
Should such a coupling happen it could be a very unique experience for any of these people. For a Nigerian or a Pakastani it could be the first time that they have contemplated the fulfilment of their natural desires without fear of the state killing them if it found out.
In fact there are only 12 countries of the 54 in the commonwealth where it is not illegal for men to make love. In some cases the penalties apply to women also, but the laws are mostly related to the crime of sodomy. Some penalise ‘unnatural desires’ of any sort, but most are aimed at queer men.
So I’m contemplating my own little awards ceremony, a set of medals for the places in the world with the greatest queer freedom.
Countries in contention, who according to my web based research are Belize, Cyprus, Domenica, Lesotho, Malta, New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Vanuatu, who are the only countries in the commonwealth not to criminalize homosexual acts.
Since I started writing this article I’ve been on hold to our Department of Immigration to find out if our country might offer protection, in the form of a protection visa to anyone, athletes included, who might want to escape persecution at home. Hopefully I’ll have a response by the end of the page. But if its anything like actually waiting for a visa to come through, we might be here for a long time.
So I wait and look about for other sources of information. A recent issue of Attitude (a UK gay magazine) reveals that the UK is putting itself well out of medal contention by having deported many gays who have applied for protection back to the places that have the death penalty for gays. One judge, who refused an application for protection, refered to ‘unnatural acts’ and ‘engaging in buggery’ as reasons not to grant asylum.
The Victorian attitudes that England so successfully exported to the world in its age of empire seem alive and well there. No medal for the England.
Canada is looking in good form. In the past 3 years they have had something like 2,500 applications on the grounds of sexual orientation. There have also been applications from the USA, Ireland and even more strangely, the Netherlands.
I’m finally getting thorough to our Immigration department. It seems you want to fill out form 866. The woman on the phone tells me that there have been successful applications based on sexuality. But I think I must disqualify us based on Peter Costello’s pronouncement that we should count ourselves lucky not to be in jail. John Howard’s obvious distaste for us must also rule us out.
Ultimately though, it’s impossible to come to any conclusion. The legal situation for queers can not fully reveal the reality of the situation for queers living in cultures that are so dissimilar to our own.
The only conclusion I can come to is that the most popular game in the commonwealth, when it comes to queers, is not a race to achieve freedom and equality, but a competition to see who can put the most gays in prison. Away from the privileged zone of white affluence, the world is still a dangerous place for queers.
My research suggests that you can be sent to prison for being gay in at least 32 commonwealth nations. Can we call ourselves truly free and liberated while our brothers and lovers in the majority of the world live in a state of constant fear, sometimes of death, and with no rights at all.