In today’s world marrying your partner should be the same regardless of gender, sexuality or location but unfortunately, same sex marriage is only legal in 30 countries around the world. Most of these countries are part of the Western World, but why is this the case? Why is homosexuality such an issue in so many places around the world? What does it matter who someone falls in love with or what their sexuality is as long as they aren’t harming others, then it shouldn’t be relevant.
To understand the changing attitudes of today’s world we need to acknowledge that hate crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community is on the rise. I saw a post today on Twitter where a gay man faced horrendous backlash for him and his partner taking their child to a Pride event. He eventually deleted the post, and his reasoning was that the abuse he recieved was overwhelming and hurtful. In fact, in the UK homophobic hate crimes have increased over the past few years by a horrifying amount and two-thirds of LGBTQIA+ people (64%) have experienced violence or abuse according to Stonewall.org.uk.
In fact, the UK is according to Gay Times now ranked 17th out of 49 countries in Europe for Lgbtqia+ rights when only nine years ago it was ranked 1st, so what’s changed? First of all a new government came in and they had an anti-migrant stance and intolerant rhetoric which has worsened dramatically over the past ten or so years. Since Brexit more and more hate crimes are being committed against minorities and the Lgbtqia+ communities. There has also been a platform given via social media to bigots, to racists and to homophobes/ transphobes. People such as JK Rowling have led this charge and are somewhat responsible for how society has turned more openly homophobic and discriminatory.
I recall witnessing an elderly man reaching out to a charity I follow on Twitter and asking for help to repair his boiler. He desperately needed it repaired as winter was coming, but he also felt the need to point out to the CEO of the charity that he was gay and that his husband was in a care home. This broke my heart on so many levels because this man was in his late 80’s if I remember correctly and he was still worried about whether or not a charity would be willing to carry out an urgently required repair due to his sexuality. This shows that although Section 28 has been repealed, those who lived through still suffer the consequences of this horrifying law.
What is section 28 you may be asking? Section 28 was a series of laws across the UK that, according to Wikipedia, prohibited the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities. It was passed in 1988 by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and was repealed in Scotland in 2000 with the rest of the UK following in 2003. What this meant was that same sex relationships were not visible or discussed in schools, so children who were part of the queer community had no representation or education about their sexuality.
Why is this relevant to this article you may be asking? Well if in this country (the UK) where we used to be seen as one of the safest places for those in the LGBTQIA+ communities but isn’t now due to people being more openly discriminatory then how is it around the world?
If we look at places like the USA where homophobia, extreme religious views and certain people are less tolerant of anyone they perceive as different, then how safe are those who aren’t straight? In the state of Florida they are currently banning books, taking children from parents who allow their children gender afiming care that they now class as child abuse agaisnt minors and shutting down freedom of learning and healthy discourse. This is horrifying to watch and a very scary time to be part of the queer community.
A UN expert has warned that queer rights in America are being eroded and with Roe v Wade being repealed then this has given rise to a vitriolic rise in abuse of members of the queer community with 51% of queer Americans facing violent abuse at the hands of others according to a study by Logan S Casey and others. Further, recently there was a story of a graphic designer who denied service to queer members of the community was upheld by the Supreme Court. This in turn could open the door for further cases of businesses discriminating not just against the queer community, but against other minorities which is extremely worrying.
Although it is still legal to marry in all fifty states of the United States since 2015, things that are happening in Florida are extremely worrying and it concerns me that young members of the queer community will have more fear about coming out, will suffer from more mental health problems and discrimination from their peers and families as they struggle to form their own identities. Not only is the ‘don’t say gay’ law in Florida completely horrendous, but it’s also paved the way for books on school shootings, the Holocaust, black history, and queer relationships to be removed from schools. Over the last year there has been, according to the Guardian newspaper, a 28% increase in books that are banned from school libraries and is driven by a large, vocal minority who are demanding censorship of books.
As people we learn from stories and having access to those stories denied can cause ignorance of ourselves, others, and history. It is not okay to ban books or to try to prevent the youth of today from educating themselves through the written word. As parents, we have a responsibility to protect our children but we also have a responsibility to support children as they grow and develop into the people who they are meant to be. Punishing them or depriving them of literature that can help with that self-discovery is both short-sighted and disgusting.
Queer children and young people have a right to grow up in a world where they are accepted for exactly who they are, where they are loved because of their uniqueness and in spite of their differences and religion has no right to determine what love is acceptable and what isn’t. Queerness is just another facet of human nature and we should celebrate it, celebrate love when we see it instead of discriminating against that love or punishing people for who they love. Being queer is part of our genetic makeup and is as much a part of us as our eye colour. It is something we can’t change and we all need to stand up and support the queer communities in this world.
62 countries around the world have homosexuality outlawed, according to Fair Planet.org. Many of those punish queer folk by death and isn’t it time that this stopped. People often comment on Twitter why queer artists don’t or won’t or can’t come out and this is why. They are discriminated against, threatened with reduced sales, punished for their queerness in countries where it’s against the law to identify as queer. Coming out shouldn’t even be a thing. You don’t have to come out as straight, therefore you shouldn’t have to come out as queer either.
The world has come a long way in accepting uniqueness in the last century but we still have a long way to go in order to have a world where everyone is accepted, everyone is loved and religious nuts don’t dictate what love is. Moving forward we need to be vocal in support of all of those under the queer umbrella. We need to fight back against those who would oppress us and educate ourselves and others on the struggles people face in their lives. It’s not enough to be anti-homophobic or to be an ally, we should be vocal, changing hearts and minds and showing everyone around us that love is love, regardless of which gender loves which, how we dress, what we identify as. We are all human and we all deserve the same love and kindness.
Thanks for reading!