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Decoding Homophobia Against the LGBTQ Community: An Inter-nation Comparison

Why is homophobia is on a rise?

‘GAY’ a word that originally meant happy and carefree became a label to describe homosexuality in the 20th century and finally ended up being a term used to abuse or pinpoint to someone whom people dislike and/or want to distance themselves from. It is extremely unfortunate that people do not realize the aftermath of using it and the impact that it has on those, whose identity and sense of self revolves word.

If a young person, growing up gay, constantly hears the word being used to refer to something that is useless or to harass someone, they are naturally going to feel that reflects on them. The statistics by World Health Organization (WHO) state that 23% of gay or bisexual young people have tried to take their own lives and 56% have engaged in self-harm further provides affirmation to this fact.

Transphobia, a sentiment that is limited not only among conservative or uneducated but is also quite reminiscent among governments and politicians who use it for serving their own narrow political agendas. According to Equaldex, as many as 71 countries have a range of gay activities that are termed illegal.

An inter-nation analysis of countries who have passed unjust laws against LGBTQ

Despite coming under the bracket of developed countries, a majority of nations are way too constricted in their approach towards the queer community. For instance: Brunei, Oman and Kuwait, (developed nations) have as strict punishment as death penalty, lashings or imprisonment for same-sex relationships, thus inflicting the physical and mental pain of bullying and hate crimes against them. Brunei also enacted an Islamic law making it legal to flog and stone LGBTQ people to death. In Saudi Arabia, police routinely arrest people based on their gender expression.

Malaysia and Nigeria criminalize transgender and gender non-conforming people. In Nigeria, people can be put in prison for up to 14 years just for being gay, and some states even have death penalty under the Sharia law. In the United Arab Emirates, laws prohibit men “posing as” women, this law has been used to prosecute gay and transgender people. The situation is barely pleasing among nations most cited as having the potential of achieving the superpower status in the 21st century. For instance: countries like China and Russia which are considered economically progressive are quite regressive in their approach towards gender equality. Russia’s Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage; harms not only the basic human rights but also exploits the dignity of LGBTQ people.

A lot has already been said, but why is there a need for legalizing marriages of the LGBTQ Community?

The ban on same-sex couples marrying is unacceptable and against humanitarian grounds as it can lead to chronic social stress and mental health problems for the LGBTQ community. Quite a number of psychologists had pointed out that such stigma and prejudice may undermine the healthy development of queer adolescents and young adults. Marriage not only bestows economic and social support to these couples in committed relationships, but also results in substantial health benefits as married couples generally experience better physical and mental health than comparable cohabiting couples. Put simply, equality means making the same choices available to all. If cisgender (that is, a person whose gender identity matches their sex at birth) is allowed to marry; then why not a transgender or homosexual for that matter?

Economic cost of stigma against LGBTQ

Homophobia against queer community not only raises humanitarian crisis but also creates economic harm; such as potential labor time loss, lost productivity, underinvestment in human capital and the inefficient allocation of human resources via creating labor market stigmatization for LGBTQ people. This forces them into endless generational cycle of prostitution and begging. In this light the provision of ‘Gender Inclusion Fund’; which seeks to ensure equitable education for all girls and transgender students; under the recent National Educational Policy 2020 is a commendable step by the government.

The way forward

I believe LGBTQ-inclusive education in schools would be a great start. This means not only practical information on safe copulation, but also open, encouraging conversations on identity, relationships and mental health. Young people struggling to come to terms with their identity in a hetero-normative world need that space and opportunity where they can safely talk about it. It would grant a chance for everyone to understand and respect one another in a better manner.

Equal marriage legislation passed by Indian government may suggest that society had advanced in its thinking, but there remains a gap in its grasp of gay identity, culture and sexuality. Nations need to adopt a more inclusive – gender holistic approach via recognizing LGBTQ section of the society. Until the approach towards them changes, young people will continue to grow up feeling that the word “gay” means alien, embarrassing, stupid, or has something wrong associated with it.

Featured Image Credits: PEW Research Center

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