Homophobia: A Problem, Not A Phobia

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Human rights are fundamental for the development of any society, and one of the few reasons why the importance of the State can be argued is simply because of the need to protect our rights. Accordingly, “Overcoming centuries of anti-LGBTQ bias and discrimination requires more than the passing of laws” (NSVRC 1). Thus, the right to life, liberty, and property are fundamental traditional rights, not only because they allow people to develop in life, but also because they suppose the foundation on which the Rule of Law is based. Having said that, homosexuality has always existed and there has always been a change in the attitude of society. That being said, all cultures in one way or another have discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community and some have even tried, without success, to make it disappear.

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Discrimination is based on a set of undeserved stigmas, disadvantages, prejudices, rooted stereotypes, and uncritically accepted taboos which often limits individuals by reducing their life expectancy, protection against risks, and access to deserved services. And in the United States, “Individuals who identify as LGBTQ are marginalized in mainstream American society and face a range of forms of bias and oppression, including homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and heterosexism” (1). Thus, discrimination against homosexuality is characterized by the superiority that strengthens intolerance to diversity and denial of equality in rights that normalize inequality in the world. Additionally, this is expressed in mistreatment, abuse, exclusion, fear, and rupture of the social fabric. Homophobia, like all forms of discrimination, is a denial of human dignity. Homophobia is, without a doubt, a complex phenomenon, “Anti-LGBTQ bias and oppression includes hatred and contempt of individuals who identify as LGBTQ based on prejudicial beliefs held to be true by the dominant culture and perpetuated by society’s various institutions. (NSVRC 1)

Therefore, it is essential to understand it better, and to decipher how it has influenced the historical construction of our society. As well as understanding how interpersonal relationships based on respect, equality and mutual recognition make it impossible. Because of homophobia, many individuals have to live in fear because of how they are treated for something that can’t be controlled like their sexual orientation or gender identity. Often, they are forced to live in places where they are continuously exposed in hateful interactions, whether at work, in the streets, in stores or even hospitals: “They may also face abuse in medical settings, including unethical and harmful so-called “therapies” to change sexual orientation, forced or coercive sterilization, forced genital and anal examinations, and unnecessary surgery and treatment on intersex children without their consent” (Unicef 1). Which often leads to feelings of depression and anxiety and it’s no surprise that the “LGBTI youth rejected by their families experience disproportionate levels of suicide, homelessness and food insecurity” (Unicef1).

Accordingly, society has yet managed to go from the recognition of diversity to that of equality, which is constructed from differences and not from uniformity, which involves the elimination of inequality of treatment from all areas of society and in all corners from the country and “The persisting criminalization of homosexuality results in discriminatory denial of freedom of expression, association and assembly for LGBT persons” (Petrova 482). This supposes, fundamentally, the certainty that the sexual orientation and gender identity of each person is a human rights issue, that is, of social and political obligations, and not only in the deepest of each person. Despite this, it has certainly advanced in different ways in the world, although it remains a subject of great complexity. Not only should society be outraged when seeing how there are people who suffer from discrimination, aggression, and even murder for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. But everyone should be aware of how this group of people has historically been subjected to misfortunes because of their sexual orientation, expression of gender, and bodily diversity, and that they continue to be subjected to violence, persecution, and other abuses, which all are a violation of their human rights. Being that, “Anti LGBTQ bias and oppression serves to maintain rigid notions of masculinity and femininity, reinforces gender inequality, and often underlies many forms of violence” (NSVRC 3). Equally important, in many countries, people who consider themselves to be part of the LGBTQ+ community are imprisoned in laws that criminalize their sexual orientation or gender identity that turn a kiss into a crime, and “While welcoming increasing efforts in many countries to protect the rights of LGBTI people, we remain seriously concerned that around the world, millions of LGBTI individuals, those perceived as LGBTI and their families face widespread human rights violations” (Unicef 1).

Specifically, many people suffer from unspeakable crimes, such as being tortured to obtain confessions of deviation, and even as revolting as being sexually abused to get “cured”. In addition, there are countries where homosexuality is not legally punished, but in which LGBTQ+ people suffer daily discrimination and hate crimes like in the United States. Furthermore, despite it not being a crime in this county; the homophobic discourse of many politicians, religious idols, and media promotes a climate of intolerance and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals, and even encourages violence against these people in the same way that sex and race, gender identity and sexual orientation are linked to fundamental aspects of human identity and affect the core of the right to physical and mental integrity of people. Being that, “LGBTI people face widespread discrimination and exclusion in all contexts – including multiple forms of discrimination based on other factors such as sex, race, ethnicity, age, religion, poverty, migration, disability and health status” (Unicef 1). Importantly, the lack of respect for this community enters fully into the realm of human rights, “All people have an equal right to live free from violence, persecution, discrimination and stigma” (Unicef 1).

Being that, these people often see their human integrity violated in areas such as education, employment or health. Uniquely, the expression of intolerance is influenced by a large number of variables and in our country, there are clear differences in the economic and socio-cultural level of minority groups such as immigrants, women, homosexuals, and black people, compared to the rest of the citizens which characterize our society. There are different explanations of how prejudice has been transformed and adapted to the changes that society has suffered. Most of these explanations have been conceived to try to understand the phenomenon of racial prejudice that’s mainly towards black people, in the US. “The rights to equality and non-discrimination are integral to the notion of universality of rights, and are indispensable cross-cutting rights in the international human rights system” (Petrova 478).

This can be related to homophobia in that there seems to be an open manifestation of stereotypes, as well as the perception of threat and rejection from society. In the past, LGBT people faced persecution by the legal systems of many countries where they can now live freely, but there’s still much to be done until these individuals keep being subjected to unjust treatments. It’s also important to note that if any other group of millions of people was forced to live with such fear and stigma, there would be an immediate response in order to improve the situation. Importantly, the fact that some countries refuse to recognize the magnitude of the problem and that some actively nourish the flames of prejudice makes it all the more urgent to keep pushing for a change, since “Anti-LGBTQ bias and oppression affects everyone” (NSVRC 3). Particularly, the key will be to activate a better-informed debate that prohibits insinuation, myths, and that reminds us that LGBT people have the same right to dignity and freedom. Moreover, the word homophobia, for example, is insufficient to designate violence against LGBT people, because in addition to referring only to homosexuals, it addresses these acts as a phobia which excuses hateful acts by elating it to phobias like having a fear of heights or spiders and attacking a person because of their sexual orientation or gender identity goes far beyond a feeling fear. Thus, “Research on the impact of homophobia shows that individuals who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual have a shorter life expectancy and face health risks and social problems at a greater rate compared with the general population” (NSVRC 3).

In like manner, if a person attacks another because they are gay or lesbian, they do not do it out of phobia, but because they most certainly grew up being told that being a heterosexual is the only way in life and that any other sexual orientation should be punished and feared. Similarly, the role of the State must be defined, ensuring that the actions of the State don’t violate these rights and it’s not a matter of arguing against or in favor of the rights to live freely, but of asking oneself in what way and at the expense of what the State can guarantee it. If recognizing a right supposes to violate another, the most probable thing is that we are talking about a right that never existed, to begin with. “Therefore, a holistic approach to equality and human rights is needed to promote LGBT rights, both in terms of conceptual legal consistency and political solidarity” (Petrova 478). Consequently, equality means that all human beings have the same value and should be treated equally, regardless of their ethnic origin, sexual orientation or disability. Importantly, The Declaration of Human Rights applies to all the people of the world and a modern democracy does not work well if human rights are not respected. Also, the State must be able to protect its inhabitants from discrimination and oppression at all times. Notably, if society considers the principle of equality before the law as the minimum floor of democratic coexistence, then it’s not the discriminated that has to argue in favor of their claims, but the discriminator must justify that there is an institution rich in rights and legitimacy to consecrate the bond between people of a different sex.

18 March 2020

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