On either side of Washington DC’s ‘Embassy Row,’ the dense line of embassies that line either side of Massachusetts Avenue, you could find two very different tributes to perhaps the two most iconic peacemakers of the 20th century — India’s Mahatma Gandhi and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.
At the Indian embassy, dozens of protestors gathered in opposition to the Indian Supreme Court’s decision earlier today that effectively re-criminalizes same-sex conduct, leaving it up to India’s parliament to decriminalize homosexuality. The decision reverses the 2009 ruling of the Delhi High Court, which interpreted much of Section 377 of India’s penal code unconstitutional. Read more about the Supreme Court’s landmark decision here.
Meanwhile, a mile down the way, flowers and tributes to the late former South African president to Nelson Mandela continue to pile up at the South African embassy. The Mandela statue is relatively new — it was erected only a few months ago. Read more about how Mandela’s death poses both a challenge and an opportunity for the future of South Africa here.
Bonus: I saw (but didn’t snap a photograph) former prime minister Kevin Rudd walking out of the Cosmos Club on Massachusetts Avenue. I’m not sure what he’s doing in Washington, but he’d certainly be a welcome addition in a policy role here.