Recently, music artist Sir Elton John spoke out about gay rights. Due to the recent debate about gay clergy members being prevented from marriage rights in the UK, Elton has also expressed his desire to meet with the president of Russia. Last year the Russian President issued laws on gay rights, which challenge basic human rights.
The artist has spoken out quite controversially for some; he believes that if Jesus were alive today, he would accept homosexual marriage. He has observed the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the matter and praised him for ‘doing a good job,’ this is constructive as it sends a message that even perhaps the most traditional of views are working to eradicate inequality. Furthermore, he also thinks Pope Francis is ‘wonderful’ for the attitude he has expressed about gay rights; he champions his emphasis on ‘love and inclusiveness’. This latter statement is a productive channel to employ when campaigning for gay rights worldwide, as it addresses some of the fundamental ethics celebrated in almost all religions and cultures and also in basic human rights laws.
Elton noted that ‘we are very lucky in this country,’ in regards to gay rights, however other countries face bigger challenges in terms of gay acceptance. Freedom of expression for Russian citizens is being challenged. Citizens have been prevented from talking about their political beliefs and their expression of gender and sexual orientation. For the effective functioning of human rights, this needs to be challenged and can act as a valuable indicator that inequality will be far from tolerated.
Sir Elton John’s recent statements have provided some valuable awareness of the issue. His behaviour acts as a productive example for gay rights campaigns; the singer performed two concerts in Russia last year, defying protests challenging the events. His fearlessness and confidence on the issue is a great asset to equality campaigns – the singer plans to return to Russia this November for scheduled concerts and would like to communicate his beliefs with Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. He stated that he wanted to ‘build a bridge,’ adding ‘the only way to get things solved is by talking to people’. His celebrity status allows him the chance to transmit these views and potentially influence the president’s decisions with regards to gay rights laws. His actions may also comfort those affected by the laws and allow them to feel that they have support and understanding. With plans such as these, citizens may feel assured that change is possible.
It is important to appreciate our lawful ability to express ourselves freely in the UK, in regards to gay rights, though prejudice remains and as Elton points out, ‘we still have a long way to go’. Gay people globally continue to face challenges due to their sexual orientation, which is a challenge to accept in an age of modernisation. It is also a task to accept when Christianity and Catholicism (two of the most widely recognised religions in the world) believe that God created man. Therefore a refusal to accept the sexual preference of a person, who statistically accounts for one quarter of the world’s population, is a refusal to accept God’s wishes. A counter debate may recognise that some religious followers believe that God created individuals with more challenging preferences. However, those that are gay do not harm anyone, to a valid degree, through their orientation.
An aspect challenging to accept for many is the failure to include some members of society from common institutions, like marriage, due to their sexual orientation. Elton points out that a functional society embarking on a successful journey of human rights could only be fully effectual if we ‘try and take everyone with us’. The fact that the laws in Russia clearly defy human rights laws enjoyed in the UK, allow for the view that those laws should be challenged and altered. The recent words of Sir Elton John and his symbolic statement of returning to a country, which far from accepts his sexual orientation, may be a productive example for all of us. It acts as a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done for the rights of future generations, but efforts must be far from mild. Elton’s example can also provide the courage and support in the belief that if individuals continue campaigning for global gay equality a difference can be made. There are powerful, influential and religious figures also supporting the cause.
How can we move forward with the acceptance of human rights on certain marriages into society?