Effect of the world
Much as there is not much written about the effect of the two world wars, the little information available suggests that it had profound impacts. A gay rights movement had taken root in Germany and yet it remained largely outside state institutions such as the army. The Germany just like other armies in America and elsewhere prohibited recruitment of gay men into military ranks1. These policies didn’t stop gay men to quietly enlist as servicemen in Germany a practice that happens everywhere2.Besides the death of about 2million soldiers, in Germany in the World War 1, there came stories of gay soldiers writing to their dear ones letters some of which were publicised by the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1916.3After the war, veterans formed the League for Human Rights to champion for gay rights whose membership grew to over One hundred thousand (100,000) ex-servicemen which flourished in the fourteen (14) year window till the rise of the Nazi to the helm of German politics.
Across the Pacific Ocean, the Second World War had very many impacts on the way of life in America generally and the most significant being rural-urban migrations where rural people came to town seek for employment. These got into contact with urban gay life. This is was revolutionary in a sense that urban life was a bit more liberal and thus gave an opportunity for people to freely express themselves more than ever before. As the war was nearing end military leadership cracked the whip leading to the dishonorable discharge of gay men from the military. This created a clash back and planted seeds of resistance in the American society which provided a solid base for events that followed up to ‘Stonewall4’ and the resulting gay liberation movement5.
Besides, the two world wars created momentum for the grown of international law beginning founding of the League of Nations which later collapse after the Second World War broke out leading to the creation of the United Nations in 1945. On the 10 December 1948,United Nations General Assembly adopted of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)6 Drafted as ‘a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations’, the Declaration for the first time in human history spell out basic civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all human beings should enjoy.
The United Nations system and LGBT rights
Owing to the fact that pre UN inception gay rights proponents indentified gay and lesbian rights as human rights well in advance, it provided a starting point for effective advocacy based on core concept of human rights that was to be central to the United Nations system for decades to come. However, when international instruments were adopted such as the declaration of human rights among many others LGBTI rights were not expressly provided for.
The debate as to whether LGBT rights are part of the international law has been a subject of great contention. Progressive countries and organizations seem to agree that by necessary implications gay rights are part of international human rights and yet other countries and organizations particularly those in Islamic world oppose such interpretation 7.
While the contentions are apparent and perhaps projected to remain in the foreseeable future because the world’s varying civilization levels and socio-cultural diversity, none the less, the world has seen radical shift towards recognizing LGBTI rights in international law and affording protection of those rights in the spirit of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The journey for recognizing LGBTI rights as already discuss has come a long way and the creation of the United Nations that prioritized human rights became the most important entry point for the struggle to have these rights interpreted or otherwise applied in the international law.
The UDHR was revolutionary in many aspects and in fact oiled the homophile momentum that was on course. The Shakespeare Club, a Dutch gay organization which was earlier founded in 1946 rebranded itself in 1949 to Cultuur en Ontspanningscentrum and based its policy on the UDHR8.Rebasing gay movement on UDHR was also to attract the, Kresden af 1948, Denmark was founded following the UDHR and further spread wings to Sweden and Norway in 1949 and 1950 respectively.
The year 1951 was monumental in the LBTI movement as the first International Congress for Sexual Equality (ICSE) has held leading to a telegram from delegates to the U.N. demanding equal rights for homosexual minorities9.
According to the Swiss periodical Der Kreis which publicized the telegram sent by the ICSE founding congress to the United Nations and the demands were not only elaborate but also explicit;”In keeping with “the Principles of the United Nations laid down in the Rights of Man,” the “findings of modern psychological, biological and medical research,” and “mankind’s greater awareness of social injustice”—a clear reference to the Nazi Holocaust—they called on the UN to “initiate steps towards granting the status of human, social and legal equality to homosexual minorities throughout the world.”10 The Congress in itself gave birth to a global network and linked existing homophile groups across national borders and brought together the homophile organizations of Northern and Western Europe and, later on, the United States in the quest to win basic civil rights in the inhospitable environment of the Cold War 1950s.11
The case of ICSE needs to be emphasized as it created a international network to protect the rights of gays and lesbians with a direct engagement with United Nations Inspite of the post war hostile environment characterized by crack down and violence targeting homosexuals in men in many countries.
Despite heavy resistance and repression the new global network is responsible for precipitating a wave of repealing laws against homosexuality, sodomy laws and the permeability of advocacy in both public and policy circles on the the normality of same-sex desires and the need to win full civil equality and human rights for homosexual men and women for many decades after.
As the global network was gaining momentum the Arcadie, became the first French homophile organization in 1954 and constantly spearheaded campaign for equal treating of all people based on universal human rights and institutionalized tolerance12.This later was to attract a leading international organization-Amnesty International into the gay rights movement discussion.13
1http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/23/us/23military.html accessed on 9th December 2017.In America while the policy prohibiting recruitment of gay men into the military was ended by the don’t ask don’t tell which altogether was repealed by President Obama in 2011,it remains a challenge as President Trump seeks to undo the gains so far made. The attempted reversal has been thwarted by courts and it seems that the status quo is poised to remain.
2 Laurie Marhoefer May 12, 2017,The forgotten origins of the modern gay rights movement in WWI , https://theconversation.com/the-forgotten-origins-of-the-modern-gay-rights-movement-in-wwi-76691
3 ibid 24
4 Brief History of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement in the U.S. University of
Kentucky (http://www.uky.edu/~lbarr2/gws250spring11_files/Page1186.htm ;The Stonewall riots (also known to as the Stonewall uprising involved a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the (LGBT) community against a police raids and brutality that took place in 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village in New York City. These are considered be the catalyst of the gay liberation movement as we know it today.
5 Chris Love ( 2012) https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2012/5/25/1094817/-Remembering-LGBT-History-How-World-War-II-Changed-Gay-and-Lesbian-Life-in-America accessed on 9th December 2017
6 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted 10 December 1948 UNGA Res 217 A(III) (UDHR)
7 Zamir Akram, Delegate of Pakistan and Representative behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Remarks at the March 2012 Meeting of the U.N. Humans Right Council, (March 7, 2012).
8 Who’s Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History Vol.2: From World War II to the Present Day 124 (Robert Aldrich & Garry Wotherspoon eds., 2000).
9 Leila J. Rupp, Professor, University of California–Santa Barbara, American Historical Association conference: Transnational Homophile Organizing: The International Committee for Sexual Equality (Jan. 2011). See also COC, Report of the First International Congress for Sexual Equality (1951), 2.19.038, box 158.
10 “Telegramm an die UNO,” Der Kreis 7 (July 1951): 1. The text of the telegram was printed in both English and German. See also Periodical Newsletter from the ICSE, n.d. September 1951, NL?HaNA, COC, Box 159.
11 Olivier Jablonski, “The Birth of a French Homosexual Press in the 1950s,” in Homosexuality in French History and Culture, eds. Jeffrey Merrick and Michael Sibalis (New York, 2001), pp. 233-48; Monika Hingst,et al (eds),
12 Sexual Orientation and the AI Mandate, Luxembourg Section, for 1982 ICM, AI Index: 21/01/82 in Stephen Hopgood, Keepers of the Flame: Understanding Amnesty International 116 (2006).
13 Samuel Moyn, the Last Utopia: Human Rights in History 4, 222 (2012) Havard University Press . In this pioneering book, Samuel Moyn emphasizes, human rights a deep rooted in advent of Western civilization, the age of the American and French Revolutions, or the post–World War II moment when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. The Last Utopia demonstrates that decade after 1968 that human rights began to make sense to broad communities of people as the proper cause of justice creating a wave of social activism and rhetoric that transcended Europe, as well as throughout the United States and Latin America into what he describes as the hallways of the United Nations and finally to the global forefront.