Consider that many of the world’s worst anti-gay nations can boost their economy by selling oil. This natural resource often retards growth by letting governments not invest in developing human capital, leading to a stifling of innovation. This can be seen in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia. (This is not uniformly the case, as Norway is LGBT friendly and an oil producer. Jamaica is homophobic and is not a petro state.)
When a nation cannot rely on oil, it is often forced to attract talent and rely on technology — which means fostering a tolerant atmosphere that includes — or at least does not openly persecute and prosecute — LGBT people. The fact is, smart, creative, productive people in the new economy usually have gay friends. They are disgusted by anti-gay bigotry and discrimination, and certainly don’t want to work with closed minded, superstitious people with hate in their hearts. Furthermore, such places that celebrate ignorance are not know for supporting education, meaning that new economy businesses would not be able to fill crucial positions with educated workers.
For instance, would an Internet entrepreneur ever consider creating a start-up in an intolerant moral cesspool with genocidal tendencies — such as Uganda?
The same concept that applies to LGBT people also applies to the rights of women. Countries that don’t provide equal opportunities — or practically enslave women to their husband masters, are always, by definition, backwards. The standout in this category is Saudi Arabia, the last country on earth that forbids women from driving. If this weren’t bad enough, Saudi women are not allowed to leave the country without permission from their husband or a close male relative. The government has now taken such appalling repression to an extreme, by electronically monitoring the movement of women. If a woman attempts to leave the Kingdom on her own, her husband will now receive a text message alerting him that his wife might be fleeing.
What surprised and disturbed them most, Al-Sharif, a women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia told CNN, was the fact that the husband had not registered with the Interior Ministry to begin receiving such notifications.
“It shows how women are still being treated as minors,” said Al-Sharif. She went on to explain how, even though a notification system has actually been in place since 2010, before last week, a male guardian would have had to specifically request the service from the country’s Interior Ministry before receiving such messages.
It is nauseating that a hellhole like Saudi Arabia, which is sadly considered a United States ally, treats women like pets — placing them on short electronic leashes. The desert kingdom is able to get away with this monstrosity because they have huge oil fields, so the west turns a blind eye to the abuse. If the world was energy independent, Saudi Arabia would have no choice but to innovate and stop treating women like property. With few natural resources, the country would sink into oblivion unless it tapped its full human potential — and that means empowering women and sexual minorities. If Saudi Arabia does not soon move into the 20th Century soon (the 21st is way too ambitious), it will be left in the dust the moment the oil runs dry, or if a competing energy source gains traction in the world economy.
Oil can only mask societal shortcomings for so long before a day of reckoning arrives. That moment can’t come soon enough in Saudi Arabia and other authoritarian petro states that will one day be forced — kicking and screaming, no doubt — to join the modern world.