Equality. Something most of us consider natural. Everybody should have the same opportunities right? Everybody should be able to live their lives the way they want to without fear of persecution, correct? Well unfortunately many people wouldn’t agree with that statement and one group who suffers a lot are people in the LGBT+ community.
Now, there has been a lot of progress in the past decades, from allowing same sex marriage in various countries to laws benefitting members of the LGBT+ community. But the fight is not over. Did you know that, according to Stonewall International, sex with someone of the same sex is illegal in 75 countries? And it’s actually punishable by death in 10. Yes, you read it right. Death. Plus only 55 countries actually recognise trans people’s rights to change their name and gender on official documents. That’s approximately a quarter of all countries that exist. Sounds intense right? With the media focused so much on advances, suffering is often overlooked. This is now. In the past it was even worse. In April 1952 the American Psychiatric Society actually listed homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance. They actually said that two men or women who love each other are psychologically damaged. It was only removed from their list in 1973 after a vote of 5854 to 3810.
Imagine living in fear of being killed just for who you are or who you love. Imagine having to hide your true self from even your closest friends and family, for fear of acceptance. Imagine what a burden it is, to hide yourself from the entire world. For many people, that’s the reality. They have to go to school, go to work, meet their friends, even date somebody who they might not prefer, only to keep their secret because their country and its inhabitants don’t recognise them as human. If this doesn’t make you see that equality is far from being achieved, then what will?
But of course, there have been many good things that happened as well to carry us until today, and will hopefully lead us to an even more equal and inclusive future. On June 28, 1970 community members of New York City marched through the streets to recognize the one year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which was at the time called the Christopher Street Liberation Day and is actually considered the first ever pride parade. Ever since then, annually in more and more countries members of the LGBT+ community and their supporters march together and take action on equality and human rights.
A lot has happened in the last 70 years, good and bad. But the fight for equality is not going to be over until not a single person lives in fear of who they are, who they love and who they want to be. It was Linda Thompson who said “Being transgender, like being gay, tall, short, white, black, male, or female, is another part of the human condition that makes each individual unique, and something over which we have no control. We are who we are in the deepest recesses of our minds, hearts and identities.”
What are you doing in your everyday life to combat inequality?