On 12th of September 2017, one of the most popular icons of LGBT rights movement, Edith Windsor, died at the age of 88. As per The Guardian, it was on account of her efforts that the U.S. Supreme Court was compelled to do away with the Defence of Marriage Act 1996 in 2013. This decision not only allowed gay and lesbian couples access to federal benefits but also gave way to legalizing same-sex marriage across US in 2015.
This wave of progress did not only limit itself to U.S.; we have had other countries too heading in the same direction. In fact, it was Netherlands which turned out to be the very first country in the world to have legalised same sex marriage. At the same time, in Australia, the government will let its people decide over the next two weeks if same sex marriages were to be legalised in their country.
As far Europe is concerned it has this east-west divide of some sort in which most of the western countries have legalised same sex marriages (Germany, United Kingdom, France, etc.) whereas the eastern countries (Russia, Ukraine, etc.) are still not supportive of the idea of same sex marriages. The countries in eastern bloc of Europe are not the only ones to have had such a stand over the issue. Unfortunately there are about 73 countries in the world which do not allow same sex intimacy (Source: Human Rights Watch). So imagine there are 73 different governments across the globe (out of which some might even claim to be full-fledged liberal democracies) which are directly infringing the most basic human rights. That too on what grounds?
The idea of same sex marriage is neither an issue of public morality nor does it hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. At the same time Alan Bray talks at length about homosexuality in the 15th century in his book ‘Homosexuality in Renaissance England’ which proves that it is not even a construct of the 21st century that people will have a hard time adjusting with it. A bigger problem than any government not accepting homosexual intimacy is the very concept that the governments are even allowed to ‘legislate’ over it. In general when a single (wo)man feels that he or she wants to marry somebody who is also single and is from the opposite sex are they subjected to wait for the entire legislature to decide whether they should be together? No! In fact the very question sounds absurd.
It is equivalently absurd for the LGBT community and not in just in one state or country, but across as many as 73 countries. So, basically this makes us a part of a world where smoking which kills is not something with which any lawmaker has any issues. However, when it comes to individuals’ right of deciding how to live (without harming anyone else in any way), then the so called government has to either wait for decades to “legalise” their decision or conduct something as expensive as a plebiscite.
In the midst of all this, what is even more disheartening is the trauma that people of this community have to go through. They have to come out on roads, protest, and literally beg for acceptance of their identity. The worst part of the entire turmoil through which they have to go through is that even if they get legal sanction, their journey of fighting for their rights will never end. And it would not be an overstatement to say that time and again they will be faced with prejudice and bias against them just because of who they very naturally are (just like women).
Last month, the President of U.S., Donald Trump “instructed the Defence Department to stop recruiting transgender people for the military”, as reported by The Washington Post. Now we know that the LGBT community is well recognised in U.S. for quite some time, yet its head of state has such a biased command to offer with no legitimate rationale behind it, whatsoever. Unfortunately, this incident does not even come across as a surprise as it is just another manifestation of what the fate of most minorities turns out to be. And it will continue to be like this if the rest of the population does not come forward to support them in their cause.
What we should to understand is that as a human society we need to recognise the rights of this community because once the social recognition comes into place the political acceptance won’t be far behind. Be it USA, Europe, Australia, India, Russia or any other country, the bottom line for every country remains to be the same i.e. every citizen of each country of the world has to accept and fight for the rights of the LGBT community as naturally as they would for the rights of any other.
– Contributed by Richa
Picture Credits: omaat.org