HERO and Chechnya

Since the defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in November 2015, LGBT activists have portrayed Houston as a backward city. The latest salvo in this campaign is an article in the Chronicle titled “The ‘humanitarian emergency’ in Chechnya.”

The articles starts:

Chechnya is a world away from Texas.

But for LGBT Houstonians, Chechnya has seemed terrifyingly close, as a stream of news reports over the last two months has flowed out of the country about a vicious pogrom targeting gay men.

From these opening sentences, you might think that the article is going to detail similar assaults on gays in Houston. You would be wrong. Houston isn’t mentioned again in the article.

To be clear, what is happening in Chechnya (and many other places in the world) to gays is atrocious and should be condemned. But implications that something similar is occurring in Houston should also be condemned.

To the LGBT crowd, the defeat of HERO and the torturing of gays in Chechnya is morally equivalent. But there is a fundamental difference. Indeed, HERO was founded on the same premise that “justifies” the Chechnyan government’s actions against gays.

HERO prohibited property owners from discriminating against individuals on the basis of certain characteristics, including gender identity. Among other things, HERO would have forced property owners to allow individuals to use the restroom of their choosing, regardless of the property owner’s choices and desires. Under HERO, community standards would supersede individual rights.

The Chechnyan government is acting on the same premise. Community standards in Chechnya hold that homosexuality is immoral. A part of the government’s campaign is aimed at exposing gays, and thus subject them to ridicule and ostracism. The rights of gay individuals are superseded by the standards of the community.

Every individual has a moral right to act on his own judgment in the pursuit of his own happiness, so long as he respects the rights of others to do the same. The purpose of government is to protect the freedom for voluntary interactions between consenting adults. That includes choosing who may use the restrooms on one’s property and with whom one will engage in sexual relations. Both HERO and the actions of the Chechnyan government violate this principle.

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