How do we make Further Strides for LGBT+ Rights?

5th October 2019

Massive strides have been made in LGBT+ rights over the course of the 21st Century. Same-sex marriage is now legal in 29 out of 195 countries , and this progress is not limited to the western hemisphere, with Taiwan becoming the first parliament in Asia to legalise gay marriage this year. In 2011, The United Nations commissioned its first study into LGBT+ issues, and are thought to have reached over two billion people through their Free and Equal campaign.

But while there is much cause for excitement at our progress, there is much to suggest that there is an effective backlash to LGBT+ rights. This year was host to a series of ‘Straight Pride’ protests and a ban on transgender people serving in the US military, while US transgender children’s right to use the bathroom of their choice was rescinded in 2017. Currently, the Trump Administration is attempting to dismantle employment regulations which prevent religious based discrimination, which is thought to threaten LGBT+ peoples’ job security.

In our current political climate, being LGBT+ or an ally is often equated with having a liberal or ‘snowflake’ agenda. This is evident not only from social media trolling, but equally from the rhetoric surrounding the Boston Straight Pride protests, during which signs advocated making ‘normalcy normal again’. Instead of treating the rights of LGBT+ people with seriousness, far-right protests treat them as an unimportant source of mockery which detracts from the rights of ‘normal’ people. The Boston straight pride parades resembled but a murmur against the counter protests, but their message already resonates with the highest levels of US government.

To call someone a ‘snowflake’ is to imply that they are […] easily harmed, reflecting how LGBT+ rights are no longer taken as seriously, because […] the progress we have made casts an illusion that there is no more progress to be had.

The ‘snowflake’ label is a divisive term used by internet trolls which reveals much about why more people will readily question LGBT+ rights. To call someone a ‘snowflake’ is to imply that they are fragile and easily harmed, reflecting how LGBT+ rights are no longer taken as seriously, because, to some, the progress we have made casts an illusion that there is no more progress to be had. An aspect that these legal regressions share is that they predominantly target transgender and non-binary people, highlighting the already present lack of progress for this group. In the US in 2018, 26 transgender people died due to fatal violence, making it apparent that while legal progress was been made, hateful actions persisted. Without the upheaval of the views causing this ignorant violence, LGBT+ rights will remain just as easy to dismantle

Ignorance is a clear cause. The UN’s independent expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz has claimed that some law makers’ understanding of LGBT+ rights is ‘non-existent’ and that they are ‘taking decisions in the dark’. This serves as a reminder that many failings in LGBT+ friendly law making originates in ignorance.

There is a common inference from all the anti-LGBT+ protest: being LGBT+ isn’t a normal topic to discuss or celebrate. And so, pride is responded to with straight pride, and parents encourage schools to maintain our ignorance in education.

We will not remain ignorant, however. The United Kingdom is introducing compulsory sex-education lessons on same-sex relationships and transgender issues into secondary schools. However, the protests of some parents that this isn’t letting ‘kids be kids’ reflects just how far we have to go. There is a common inference from all the anti-LGBT+ protest: being LGBT+ isn’t a normal topic to discuss or celebrate. And so, pride is responded to with straight pride, and parents encourage schools to maintain our ignorance in education.

But Pride is not a revolt against normalcy; it protests how LGBT+ people are often not permitted to live as normal people, free from violence, free to marry or identify as they choose. If the participants in Boston’s Straight Pride Parade were able to recognise that there is still much progress to be made for everyone to feel safe, they would not regard Pride as a snowflake’s parade.

By Jenny Roberts

Editor-In-Chief, The Mondial

Image by Lars Lundqvist