When it comes to the oppression of gays and lesbians in Muslim countries, gay activism hasn’t died; it never really existed. Gay activists have used two types of excuses to justify their failure to aggressively mobilize for the rights of gay Muslims–moral and strategic. The moral argument is that Americans are in no position to criticize Iranians on human rights–that it would be wrong to campaign too loudly against Iranian abuses when the United States has so many problems of its own. Then, there are two strategic rationales: that it is better to work behind the scenes to bring about change in Iran; and that gay rights groups should conserve their resources for domestic battles.

The strategic rationales are not especially compelling, but it is the moral argument that is particularly troubling, because it suggests that some gay and lesbian leaders feel more allegiance to the relativism of the contemporary left than they do to the universality of their own cause. Activists are more than willing to condemn the homophobic leaders of the Christian right for campaigning against gay marriage; but they are weary of condemning Islamist regimes that execute citizens for being gay. Something has gone terribly awry.