The Brazilian congress is about to vote the criminalization of homophobia.("O Globo" newspaper Friday May 13th). Religious parties and churches oppose the law, because priests preaching against homosexuality would face arrest for the crime of homophobia. The proposed law was amended to exempt priests preaching while inside churches. In other words, anyone outside a church can not voice any negative opinion about homosexuality.
Brazil already has anti-discrimination laws favoring gays (in addition laws against racism, religious discrimination, etc.). Business owners, or building managers, who disallowed public display gay deep French kissing face arrest and fines, except if they could prove they also had a history of disallowing heterosexual kissing. Hotels must not discriminate against gay couples. This law would further strengthen existing anti-discrimination laws and impose stiff jail sentences.
This attempt at passing laws criminalizing homophobia comes right after the Brazilian Supreme Court, in a rare unanimous vote, decided to take lawmaking it its own hand and declared that homosexual couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples on all issues. For example, inheritance, joint tax declarations, joint health insurance, common law marriage, right to property acquired during cohabitation, etc. Some minor doubts remain if this includes the right for gay couples to adopt children.
No free speech, nor free academic research
Historically, for anti-discrimination laws, even science is not a valid excuse: the book "The Bell Curve" was prohibited in Brazil because of the crime of racism, due to long existing laws against racism. The US is not much better, then president Clinton condemned the book, admittedly without having read it. But in the US nobody will be arrested and jailed for research on racial differences (they will just be harassed).
It is interesting to note that Brazil’s and Rio’s officials fought to win the title "best gay destination in the world" but are vigorously opposed to "sexual tourism", meaning heterosexual males in search of sex with Brazilian women.
The slippery slope from protecting against violence to policing words, thoughts and research
Political correctness started as a well meant attempt to correct legitimate grievances, like violence against homosexuals or other races (especially Blacks) and religion (especially Muslim), and gender discrimination (harassment). The next step, still defensible, punishes hate speech meant to directly and immediately incite violence.
So the initial intent was to outlaw "Kill blacks", "exterminate Jews", "beat faggots" speech. But that soon led to stifling thoughts and speech that hurts the sensitive of protected minorities.
It is a serious restriction to freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of research to extend these anti-violence codes to
- people who tell their kids not to become homosexual or
- scholarly researcher’s writings about racial differences in IQ and criminality.
- people who warn to avoid parts of town because they are more dangerous (and predominantly black)
Homophobic jokes, Racist speech, racist jokes, can get people arrested and jailed.
Geert Wilders in court for offending Muslims (who threaten his life and already killed Theo van Gogh)
Almost everything that can be said is offensive to some protected group, or actually constitutes a crime: our society suffers from overcriminalization.
Public speech, commercial advertising, is very difficult, because it is easy to offend some group, be it Blacks, Indians, women, obese, handicapped, nurses, any group whatsoever. Maybe with the exception of white males that can be bashed at will for allegedly not pertaining to a protected disadvantaged minority.