It has been a strange eighteen months. Whilst the equal Marriage legislation in three of the four constituents of the UK is a welcome thing for sure (Come on Northern Ireland, you’re letting the side down), the uglier side of some people has really come to the forefront. Those who wished to oppose any notion of equal marriage seemed to know they were on the losing side, and so seemed to make as much effort to rally people against the idea, if only to try and sour any sense of triumph those who campaigned so hard might feel.
What I have found most alarming is not the right wing nutcases like Nick Griffin with his crackpot ideas about militant gay conspiracies, or UKIP members thinking that people in Somerset were flooded out because God was angry at the legislation. No, it was turning on the television repeatedly to see some very reasonable, rather respectable looking people having a very reasonable sounding, respectable debate as to what human rights people like me, and like many people I know, should be allowed to have.
It is a very disturbing and unsettling sensation that one cannot accurately convey to anyone not in that situation, to be spoken about like we are livestock or mentally ill. There are even some, such as the current Archbishop of Canterbury who stated that denying equal rights to homosexuals was the best way to protect them from violence and prejudice… Because it’s worked so well up until this point, eh Justin?
People on the Right-wing (and no UKIP supporters, I am not just singling you out here) have been publicly lamenting the repeal of Section 28, their argument often going along the lines of “I have nothing against homosexuals, but children should NOT be told it is normal, acceptable and healthy”. That’s like saying “I don’t mind coloureds, but if you treat them as people it will only encourage them.”
“Oh no it’s not!” cry many on the Right. “You can’t compare a dislike of homosexuality to racism!”
I think you’ll find I can, and just have. You want to deny someone access to the same legal protections, respect and support as a majority of people can access based on the way that they are born? Yeah, it is quite comparable.
But of course, the right to decide what homophobia is, has been taken away from those who receive it. Indeed, many ‘respectable, sensible’ men and women, during their ‘respectable, sensible’ debates seem to be of the opinion that they can dictate what can and cannot be deemed hateful, condescending, ignorant or misleading. The widely held belief amongst the scientific community, backed up by nearly every single non-heterosexual’s account of their identity, is that we are hardwired to be what we are, yet this is deemed open to debate. Such as from this charming person…
Speakers on the right are STILL associating Homosexuality with Paedophillia, despite the fact that the vast majority of Paedophiles identify as heterosexual (despite the sex of their victims). There is so much hostility to the idea of staff in schools being able to say to a student that is LGBT or unsure of their sexuality, that who they fancy doesn’t matter. In the article above, UKIP Parish Councillor Iain McLaughlan describes the repeal of Section 28 as a ‘tragedy’. In my mind, a tragedy is something that costs lives, whereas the repeal of Section 28 was a massive leap forward in taking care of the psychological needs of young people who would otherwise have been subject to bullying, harassment or assaults with inadequate means of support available. For three years at school suicidal thoughts and self-destructive urges were as common for me as homework and ‘your mum’ jokes, and the experiences that caused them still haunt me from time to time. I know many others who had similar experiences, and not everyone is able to cope with them. Suicide rates are higher amongst LGBT youth than any other group in society, not because of who were are, but because of treatment by others. For McLaughlan to call this a tragedy shows him to be either an ignorant fool, or an outright malicious bastard.
I believe that people have the right to follow their religious beliefs and live by traditional moral codes if they are important to them, but that is very different to trying to make everyone else follow them too. We have an election coming up in a few days, to decide who gets to represent us in the European Parliament, and the front runners are a bunch of people who, regardless of their stance on other issues (with which I couldn’t agree less), are committed to the sentiment that LGBT rights are not on par with everyone else’s. By voting for politicians who would actively stand against the rights of 5-8% of the population, one has to wonder what message that puts out. When lots of very dull, very sensible sounding, respectable looking men and women will calmly debate the rights of one group or another, or negate scientific evidence in favour of traditional opinion, one has to wonder what knock-on effect in society it will have.