Homophobia In Modern Society
Homophobia is an issue in both secondary and primary schools within the UK, as the learning culture needs to encourage and development every student and not just a few. However, the Stonewall Schools Report (2017) has reported that almost half of LGBT pupils still face bullying at school for being gay. It found that out of the 3700 pupils who participated over half reported being subjected to being bullied at school for being LGBT. It also found that just one in five LGBT pupils had received sex education about same sex relationships. More than one in five trans young members have attempted to take their own life and one in five LGB students who are not trans had reported trying to do the same. Faith schools continue to be the worst type of school environment for LGBT pupils, with a third of respondents to the survey admitting that teachers and school staff never challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language when they hear it. The Education Secretary Justine Greening announced compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) classes to be rolled out across all schools in England, following years of campaigning from the LGBT community and others. LGBT activist Peter Tatchell said this acted as a “get out clause” for faith schools, allowing them the power to “either ignore LGBT issues or to teach that same-sex relationships are immoral and sinful”.
A survey carried out by YouGov poll (2017) has reported that Homophobia is rife in British Society particularly in relation to political life. It found that it is endemic in political parties particularly LGBT people expecting to be discriminated against if they sought selection for a political party. Political parties like the Labour Party have a self-identified group LGBT Labour that states – The Labour Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* Rights is a socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party. Members include trade unionists and members of the Labour Party (Labour Party 2018). LGBT Labour has set up a fund to support LGBT parliamentary candidates and it covers elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, London Assembly and the European Parliament to try and redress the underrepresentation of LGBT candidates at all levels. The Conservative Party also has a Conservative LGBTQ group which it states provides an LGBTQ voice within the party. However, the current debate regarding transgender women and all women shortlists clearly identifies the shortcomings of the all-inclusive parties. T
he Labour Party uses women-only shortlists in several of it constituencies in a bid to boost the number of female MPs in Parliament. Under the system, some local Labour Parties are required to pick a Parliamentary candidate from a list exclusively comprised of women. There are currently zero openly transgender MPs in Parliament, though several ran for election in 2017, and many serve as local councillors (Pink News) The homophobic discrimination is still prevalent in society and is evident with the view from feminist’s groups that feel equality will never be achieved with 650 men in Parliament and 325 could claim to feel like a woman which regresses equality for women. Feminists groups view Transwomen not as women, they are biological males. But trans women are already competing for seats under long-standing Labour policy.The discriminatory and homophobic practices is further evidenced in the debate around Gender Neutral toilets both in political and educational establishments. Within the Labour Party the debate is heightened with the discussion on transgender policies which could impact on creating neutral-gender environments that may prove more of a risk to women themselves.
A recent case at, the University of East Anglia where they have gender-neutral toilets, discovered that a man was using them just to harass women in those facilities, and has been convicted on charges. This is the basis of the Feminists argument relating to self-identification could lead to female-only spaces being compromised. The debate is continuing to cause division and resentment which is further evidence of homophobic tendencies in society as transwomen are labelling feminists as Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist and chanting “No TERFS on our turf”
A further study carried out by UK Gay’s Men Network identified that Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people have experienced significant health inequalities in relation to mental health, suicide, self-harm, sexual health, eating disorders, substance misuse and bullying and highlights the relationship between homophobia, heterosexism and social exclusion and the health status of LGB people. To eradicate health inequalities is to target those responsible for developing, organising and delivering staff training, the training and qualified health and education professionals need to receive training in values and attitudes and, specifically, addressing homophobia and heterosexism.
Medical students and clinicians need to be trained to communicate better with patients. Trans people can receive legal recognition of their acquired gender through a process set out in the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004. Since the GRA came into force, only 4,910 people have legally changed their gender. The Feminists claim they are standing up for their rights but trans members are feeling vulnerable and sacred which does not foster inclusivity. A group within the Labour Party called Labour Against Transphobia was formed.to oust ‘transphobes’ from the party. Labour member Jennifer James was suspended, and she set up a crowdfunding site to launch a legal challenge to the party’s decision. In the eyes of Labour’s transgender militants, wanting all-women shortlists to be the preserve of biological females (or women with a gender recognition certificate) makes you a transphobe. To the Labour Party it seems that to be a woman means nothing more than having declared you are a woman. The argument over who is a woman is clear evidence that homophobia has not been eradicated from our society. it has descended into ugly victim politics.
The UK Labour Party’s use of all-women shortlists raises many questions. Are women deemed incapable of getting elected on their own merits? However, the all women shortlists do pose the question “What does it mean to be a woman?” The Labour Party has clarified this by stating All Women shortlists to self-identifying women which includes trans women. This has prompted a row between those who think the lists should be preserved for real women (or at least those with a Gender Recognition Certificate proving their womanly credentials). Trans Rights are Human Rights and should be the same whether you’re male, female, trans, cis, black, white, however it is clear that homophobic tendencies still exist with our society despite the equality legislation and advancement of LGBT rights. Transphobia and homophobia are inextricably linked and divisions within the LGBT community will only harm both sides. Homophobia and transphobia are not the same, but they are linked as powerful tools in the arsenal of those who seek to undo equality.
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