LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance: the struggle for human rights persists.

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Disclaimer: This blog post solely reflects the opinion of the authors and should not be taken to represent the general views of IPPR’s management/ editorial team or those of fellow authors.

The LGBTQ+ social movement has made great strides in recent years in pursuing equality in the West. Allowing openness and acceptance for all members of the LGBTQ+ community and throughout pride month there has been an increase in positivity and awareness through the messages that are being promoted on social media. However, there is still much to be done politically and socially for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people globally. In many places there is still a struggle, people are outcasted and actively persecuted for their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity. In some parts of the world, people put their own lives at risk and place themselves in a great deal of danger in order to live as their true selves. This is often met with little recognition and acceptance or even with outright hostility from both the state and within society. 

The LGBTQ+ Social Movement and Success:

In the last three decades, in the West, there has been an increased acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community. A shift in attitude towards the acceptance of queerness and homosexuality has been significant in recent years, and many laws have been changed to allow individuals of the LGBTQ+ community human rights and civil liberties. In the last decade there have been significant strides made where there has been religious and social acceptance pertaining to same sex marriages in the majority of western countries and in the last thirty years, 40 countries have outlawed homophobic hate crimes (Stonewall, 2021). These changes have been long sought after and have been fought for by the LGBTQ+ community for many decades, and there is a shift towards a more accepting and tolerant world. This is not without limitations, as many people even in the most tolerant and accepting countries face a great deal of hate and are often subject to abuse. For instance, many transsexual individuals face a great deal of difficulties and there is still much less acceptance for them in the majority of countries. The complications in more traditional countries, however, are increasingly unnerving. 

The Worldwide Situation:

Despite some success in these movements, there are still many countries where individuals cannot be free and accepted for who they truly are both socially and politically. People living within these countries live under threat of harm being done to them, risking their wellbeing and safety for simply existing.

In many countries there still persists an intolerance for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly pertaining to homosexuality. The legal stance towards homosexuality in many countries, as illustrated in the image below, is still oppressive as there are a number of countries that still view same sex activity as illegal (Collman and Gal, 2020). Among these countries there are some that still issue the death penalty for homosexuality, therefore there is great concern for the safety and wellbeing of their citizens.

Above: The different levels of legal acceptance for homosexuality across the world.Source: ILGA.

Many people live in fear and cannot live as they wish due to the lack of acceptance not only from the state and government, but also through their communities and families failing to understand and accept them for who they are. One example of the risks and dangers faced by many across the world, is the intolerance in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where homosexuality is illegal, and same-sex acts are punishable by death. A gay man was believed to be brutally murdered by family members due to his sexual orientation. Alireza Fazeli Monfared was killed for his sexuality days before he was due to leave the country to seek amnesty in Europe (Yurcaba, 2021) . This case illustrates the grave dangers and difficulties that persist for many individuals, where even when attempting to escape their countries for safety, they are unable to and instead are brutally murdered.

Issues persist, not only in countries where there are legal complications, but also in many places throughout the world there is a lack of social acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. For instance, in Russia there are ‘propaganda bans’ for any media that supports the LGBTQ+ community or promotes ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ for minors. The promotion of these laws comes hand in hand with the social ideas within the country and illustrate the attitudes, explaining the rise in cases of homophobic attacks (Saner, 2013). These problems will continue to persist particularly in traditional, religious countries where there are conservative values towards marriage and sexuality.

Concluding Thoughts:

There can be no doubt that rights for the LGTBQ+ community have improved in recent years in many parts of the world, the growth and strength of the social movement has allowed progress in certain countries. However, there are still many areas in the world where people still live in fear, simply for being gay or queer. In these places, individuals are criminalised for being who they are, and in many cases they live under threat of physical violence and sometimes death. Therefore, the importance of spreading awareness and support for the LGBTQ+ community is crucial to furthering the social movement in promoting acceptance and tolerance and safety for those who are persecuted. Which is why it is more important now, during pride month, that we spread awareness of these issues, highlighting the difficulties that members of the LGBTQ+ community face, and to fight for their rights all over the world. 

References:

Campaigning for global LGBT equality (2019) Stonewall. Available at: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/campaigning-global-lgbt-equality (Accessed: 6 June 2021).

Collman and Gal (2020) 10 maps showing how different LGBTQ rights are around the world, Business Insider. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/lgbtq-rights-around-the-world-maps-2018-10 (Accessed: 6 June 2021).

Maps – Sexual orientation laws (2020) ILGA. Available at: https://ilga.org/maps-sexual-orientation-laws (Accessed: 6 June 2021).

Saner (2013) Gay rights around the world: the best and worst countries for equality, the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/30/gay-rights-world-best-worst-countries (Accessed: 6 June 2021).

Yurcaba (no date) Gay Iranian man dead in alleged ‘honor killing,’ rights group says, NBC News. Available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/gay-iranian-man-dead-alleged-honor-killing-rights-group-says-n1266995 (Accessed: 6 June 2021).

By Sarah

Sarah is studying a MSc in International Public Policy. Interested in Iranian foreign and domestic politics. She is passionate about foreign policy, human rights, and ethics.

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