LGBT Rights and the Government: An Examination of Denmark, the United States, and Iran

Sarah Colegrove POS 200W: Comparative Government 12/6/2012


Some countries are much more restrictive. while other countries offer equality for everyone regardless of what their sexual orientation is (International Lesbian. Laws were added in 1981so that anyone harassing or discriminating against homosexuals in the military. 2012). Denmark. the United States.LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 2 LGBT Rights and the Government: An Examination of Denmark. or lack of acceptance. could be dismissed from the military. this changed to allow same-sex marriage through what is called gender-neutral marriage (Itaborahy. However. from a complete democracy to a partial democracy to communism to fascism to a theocracy. and Iran all have made policies regarding the rights and privileges those with different sexual orientations have. Homosexuals are allowed to serve openly in the military. In 1989. it was illegal to engage in same-sex relations. there has never been a ban in place to keep homosexuals out of the military. to be widely believed among the citizens. LGBT Rights and the Law Until 1933 in Denmark. There are also anti-discrimination laws in place for entirety of the nation (Jeppesen De Boer & Kronborg. and Iran Differences in sexual orientation have existed throughout human history. In 2012. and even violent towards those who are homosexual. These differences emerge from the emphasis each places on the role of the government. most of society has traditionally accepted the heterosexual orientation as what is normal and acceptable. (Draper & Ramsay. . because of their sexual orientation. Government has been a key institution in society that has helped to pave the way for this acceptance. 2012). etc. Denmark was the first nation to allow same-sex couples to be formally recognized by the government as registered partnerships. The shape of government and the policies that the government has varies widely across the globe. 2009). the United States. that has started to change across the globe. Over the past 100. in fact.

Texas. became the first state to allow same-sex sexual activity between consenting partners. 2012). then later died from his injuries. Vermont. domestic partnerships. or same-sex marriages. all of this just because he was gay. Iowa. Male to male sexual activity is strictly forbidden and the punishment is death. that recognize and allow same-sex marriage. The Matthew Shepard Act provides for protection against discrimination and under the definition of hate crimes it includes any crime someone commits because of the supposed gender. single homosexuals can adopt while many times same-sex couples cannot (Itaborahy. and Washington) as well as Washington D. the Matthew Shepard Act was passed. sexual orientation. But it was not until 2003. tortured. or gender identity (Weiner. . in 1964. Article 110: Punishment for sodomy is killing.C. Massachusetts. “Article 109: In case of sodomy both the active and the passive persons will be condemned to its punishment. Maine. The United States is very split on the laws pertaining to sexual orientation. 2009) Same-sex marriage. Eleven years after Matthew Shepard was brutally attacked.LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 3 2011). There are only nine states (Connecticut.” (International Lesbian. New Hampshire. Maryland. Illinois. New York. fourteen states still outlawed some or all aspects of same-sex sexual activities) (Pitas). LGBT families.” (International Lesbian. LGBT adoption. The majority of states have laws in place that ban civil unions. 2009) Female to female sexual activity is also strictly forbidden but the punishment is not as harsh as it is for men. through the Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. the Sharia judge decides on how to carry out the killing. 2009) Iran has very strict laws on LGBT and same-sex sexual relations. that same-sex sexual activity became legal throughout the entirety of the United States (until the decision was handed down. “Article 129: Punishment for lesbianism is hundred (100) lashes for each party. It varies by state whether same-sex couples can adopt but in most states.

President. The form of government in the United States is a republic that has a federal system. 2009). while not formally forbidden in the law. The centralization of the government also helps to decrease the variety of forms that laws regarding LGBT rights take around the country whereas in a government that gives power to local areas. however. there is potential for a wide variety of laws to be enforced in different areas throughout the country (Bureau or European . Government Denmark’s form of government is a constitutional monarchy that is centralized with a parliament. Iran does. is the head of state while the prime minister functions as the head of government. The local governments do not have much power other than the very basic ones for the municipalities to function. 2012). The federal system divides the government – there is the U.LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 4 and being allowed to serve in the military. With the exception of Thailand. The monarch. It is much easier for Denmark’s government to pass laws to grant rights to LGBT because there is less diversity in the country because of its small size. have very progressive laws regarding transsexuals. Supreme Court. The small size of Denmark. The . The Iranian government subsidizes sex change surgery. allows for all laws passed by Parliament to affect the entire nation rather than just a small portion of the nation.S. and Congress at the national level and the power is also divide amongst the state level. Iran allows the most sex-change surgeries in the world and even issues new ID for the individual after surgery (International Lesbian. based on the above punishment for engaging in same-sex sexual activity would be forbidden as well. along with the centralization of the government. currently Queen Margrethe II. Denmark’s unitary form of government plays an important part in the LGBT rights that are enacted in the country.

encounter in the United States. individual states are given the choice on the laws that they want to make. Several LGBT advocacy groups are pushing for the federal government to become more involved in the LGBT rights like they have done in the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement (Pitas). These differences in state laws can allow for someone to be given unequal treatment in the workplace because of their sexual orientation while they would have full equality under the law in another state. horrific hate crimes (such as killing someone who is homosexual or bullying someone who is homosexual until they feel forced to commit suicide so they can escape) still occur. is the form of government in place. While the federal government can intervene in many different areas. varies in the laws that shape the nation. they just do not officially bring people to trial for sodomy between consenting adults. Some of the fourteen states still have not repealed their anti-sodomy laws. 2012). much (such as LGBT rights laws) has been left to the states to decide.LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 5 Constitution gives the states a considerable amount of power to determine the laws within their state boundaries. such as making sure all hate speech against LGBT is targeted by law enforcement (Draper & Ramsay. on a rather consistent basis. The United States. Individual states are able to determine many of their own practices (Draper & Ramsay. . as a result of the federal system is has. A problem that proponents of equality for all. This can allow for Vermont to have laws that are very accepting towards LGBT while Texas (thirteen other states) did not decriminalize same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults until 2003 (Pitas). Within the United States. all of this within the same nation. 2012). and some law enforcement officers still use sexual orientation to harass individuals who appear to fall outside of the heterosexual norm (Human Rights Campaign). In regards to sexual orientation. yet these crimes can often not be thought of as hate crimes because of the laws or lack of laws within certain states (Human Rights Campaign).

2009). “Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini introduced the idea of clerical supervision of a modern republican state that has all three standard branches of government – the executive. preserve the status quo. the supreme cleric (or leader) is the moderator of the government. and worth of everyone irrespective of their sexual orientation (International Lesbian. Liberalism looks to the future while conservatism looks to the past or present. They have changed laws and continue to change laws to allow equal recognition of the rights. but the tradition of Muslim jurisprudence and practice called the Sharia. dignity. This split can be seen when looking at campaign slogans used in the . Denmark seems to have taken a liberal approach to sexual orientation. The supreme leader and the guardian council do have the authority to vet anyone before they take public office and have the power of the veto (Sadjadpour). The supreme leader and the 12-man guardian council function mainly as the head of state for Iran while the president functions as the head of government (Iran: Government). Conservatism. legislature and judiciary. or even move back to policies and positions that the country used to have (Draper & Ramsay. or God? Liberalism in comparative political science has been described as a movement towards evolutionary change while conservatism has been described as a desire to not change. Areas within the United States have taken a liberal approach while other areas have taken a conservative approach. The supreme leader is appointed for life while the president is popularly elected every four years. republic. After the 1979 revolution. along with a 12-man guardian council. “The starting point for debates in Iran is not secular law and civil rights.” (Cole) Iran remains one of a kind in the world with its mix of a theocracy and republic.” (Cole) In Iran. Liberalism. and a democracy. 2012).LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 6 The form of government in Iran is a mix between a theocracy.

2012). Shropshire. they would (more than likely) desire change to live out their faith. However. Shropshire.LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 7 2012 presidential election (although this split is not necessarily along party lines). More . Obama used “Forward!” to describe his campaign and goals while Romney. Iran looks to God. at one point used the phrase “Keeping America America” (Baker. If their country follows closely with what their scriptures and teachings say. 2012. or Morality? There is a debate on whether freedom or equality is more important to have in a nation. Equality. and their holy scriptures to determine what should happen in their country. which can be considered as liberalism as it would be a move forward (Sadjapour). as Iran would be more interested in maintaining the status quo. Iran is slightly different in approach than Denmark and the United States. 2012). Freedom. morality. The emphasis that a country puts on either freedom or equality can shape the laws that are made (Draper & Ramsay. 2012. 2012. There are a significant number of people who want to move “Forward!” (which would be the liberalism approach as change is sought for the future) while there are a significant number of people who want to be “Keeping America America” (which would be the conservatism approach as the status quo is important) (Baker. such as not discriminating against those with differing sexual orientations and allowing for same-sex marriage. Denmark seems to have taken the approach that equality is more important. These words and phrases point to the different opinions on how our government should proceed. they could be described as taking a conservative approach. 2012). it could be argued that if the Iranian people felt like they had not reached a place where their country lined up with their teachings and scriptures. There are many laws in Denmark to ensure equality for all. Draper & Ramsay.

on the other hand. There are few limitations on what laws a state can and cannot have (such exceptions are those like having their own currency or taxing goods from other states). This emphasis on morality is very important in what laws are passed and what laws are not as equality and freedom take the form of what their scriptures tells them they can and cannot do or should and should not do (Sadjadpour). to own arms. This emphasis on freedom allows for much more freedom of law while much more equality for all is forsaken (Human Rights Campaign). There are many ways for a government to be shaped – the United States with a republic/democracy/federal . The Bill of Rights – with the ideas of the freedom of speech. without limitation. morality is very important. 2011). The United States. is still considerably far behind Denmark. and property – has been taken to heart by many of the citizens. the U. Following the teachings of Islam and Sharia law are the first priority in Iran. Conclusion While the United States has made more advancement to recognizing the dignity and rights that LGBT have than Iran. is an important concept (Bill of Rights). Each state is given significant amount of power to shape the laws in their state. seems to value freedom more.LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 8 restrictions are put on such things as limiting speech by increasing what is considered a hate crime or hate speech so that equality for all can be achieved as best they can (Jeppesen De Boer & Kronborg. Iran takes a different approach than Denmark and the United States. Clerics have a very important role in Iran to make sure that teachings of Islam are followed.S. Because Iran is a semi-theocracy. Being able to express oneself. This plays a role in types of laws that are enacted – the people might not want laws that restrict freedom even if equality might be achieved through the law. religion.

not just what laws are passed but also even if a law is considered before the legislature. 2012. Cole. and rights that are in each of us. The form each government has and emphasis each government puts on the above mentioned concepts help to decide the fate of the nation and the LGBT within the nation.) also helps to shape how an issue is talked about or decided upon in the country (Draper & Ramsay. they each can lead to a different outcome for the recognition of the LGBT rights. Their emphasis on freedom. 2012). equality.LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 9 system.S. and Iran with a theocracy/republic/democracy – each of which can helped to shape the types of laws that passed and implemented (Draper & Ramsay. The movement towards liberalism or conservatism (in regards to which way they want their country to move and does not necessarily mean what liberalism and conservatism have come to mean in the U. Denmark with a monarchy/parliament/democracy. While none of the above mentioned forms of government are wrong. worth. or morality influence the priority in the country that shapes. 2012). Bureau of European. . they all recognize the same human dignity. It would be beautiful to one day say that regardless of what form of government each country has.

Inc. Retrieved November 18. “U.blogs." to "Forward!".” Retrieved October 31. (2011).com." October 30. Alan and Ansil Ramsay. State-sponsored Homophobia: A World Survey of Laws Criminalising Same-Sex Sexual Acts Between Consenting Adults. Retrieved December 6. 2012. 2012. Iran and islam. 2012.usip. Draper. Relations with Denmark. "Obama's Slogan Moves from "Forward. Gay. Gay.infoplease. International "Human Rights Campaign.state. "National Report: . from http://www. Trans and Intersex Association. 2012. Retrieved December 6. June 15. 2012. Retrieved December 6. J.nytimes. from http://billofrightsinstitute.igla. Peter. Bisexual. The Good Society: An Introduction to Comparative Politics. (www. (http://thecaucus. Itaborahy. Retrieved December 6. 2012. Lucas P. 2011. 2009. Iran: (www. International Lesbian. IL: Pearson Education. Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Trans and Intersex Association. Christina G. 2012. 2012. 2012 (www.LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 10 Works Cited Baker. Bill of rights of the united states of america (1791).hrc. Glenview. from". Bisexual. Jeppesen De Boer.S. and Annette Kronborg.

" Retrieved October 31. Spencer Piston and Alexander Von HagenJamar. "History of the Gay Rights Movement in the US." American University Journal of Gender. R.LGBT RIGHTS AND THE GOVERNMENT 11 Adam S. from Shropshire. K. from http://iranprimer. Yanna Krupnikov.html ." Retrieved December 6. Hate crimes bill signed into law 11 years after matthew shepard's death. 2010. Social Policy & the Law. Retrieved December 6. Terry. Lupia. "Why State Constitutions Differ in their Treatment of Same-Sex Marriage. (www. Retrieved December 6. (http://rollingout. Levine. 2012. Pitas. Arthur. Jeannine.The supreme leader. (2011). "Mitt Romney Slogan Very Similar to KKK Message Against 2012.huffingtonpost. 2012. Sadjadpour.lifeintheusa.usip. 2012. Weiner." Journal of Politics.

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