Columns

Barney Frank on LGBT Rights: ‘Clearly, Islamic Countries Are Bad’

Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said there is “no denying” that Islamic countries have had a “negative influence” on the treatment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals, adding that the poor human rights record in Islamic countries is not mentioned enough in the media.

“Clearly, Islamic countries are bad. I mean, I don’t understand how that cannot be. You tell me that a country that is an Islamic majority – I wish that were not the case – but you know we shouldn’t tiptoe around this,” Frank said during a discussion on LGBT Rights in the Developing World in Washington.

“I know it’s dangerous to push back against Barney Frank but just to push back a little bit here,” said Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality. “I think what we see is a correlation between Islamic countries and non-Democratic countries, and the really bad African countries like Zimbabwe that have a Muslim population but not a large one are horrible.”

Frank countered Bromley’s point.

“I think this is a case of leftist delicacy – the fact is when they voted in the U.N. and Catholic countries – it wasn’t just that they were saying no – it was that the Islamic block was in the lead against it and I think there was just no denying that Islamic countries, that Islam has been a negative influence, not just in Africa,” he said.

Susan Dicklitch-Nelson, professor of government at Franklin & Marshall College, said evangelical Christianity is having a negative influence on the treatment of LGBT individuals in some countries.

“It is. I agree, but they don’t control as many countries,” Frank replied.

In response, Dicklitch-Nelson said evangelicals are a growing influence.

“But then mention both,” Frank said. “Well, let’s put it this way – in fact, I have heard a lot of criticism about the evangelical Christians who have gone over to Uganda and caused trouble, but I don’t hear as much about the Islamic ones and I think that’s a mistake.”