Homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism (I think I just made a new term) has been around as long as humans have been on this earth. And with that, discrimination is as old as time itself.
It wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Then, in 1975 the American Psychological Association took it off the books, but it wasn’t until 1990 that the World Health Organization declassified it as a mental disorder. So people outside of the United States had to wait 20 years beyond Americans before they didn’t have to worry about being institutionalized for liking people of the same sex.
However, even after the WHO said that gay people weren’t crazy anymore, we still face severe discrimination and hatred from those who choose to look at us as subhuman. In the United States, we don’t have to worry about facing death at the hands of the government because of who we love. Others are not as lucky:
Yes, in certain countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. So while some of us are fighting for same-sex marriage, others of us are fighting for our lives. And if you notice, in many of the countries on this list, the punishment is more severe for gay men than for lesbians. Do gay men face more discrimination than lesbians? Well, in 1960, every state in the United States had some form of a sodomy law. Those were slowly struck down as people fought the laws, stating that what happened in the bedroom between consenting adults should remain lawful in all aspects.
But why do men face harsher punishment? It goes back to what we see as archaic gender roles. Men are the breadwinners, women are the caretakers. If a man is gay, then he is effeminate, and if he is effeminate, he can’t possibly have the machismo to be the figurehead of a family. But using that logic, women are meant to make babies. If they’re busy having sexual relationships with other women, how will they get pregnant? Oh, of course. I forgot. In many of these countries, women are not equal to men. They’re looked upon as property, and if a man wants sex, he’ll just take it.
And this is just based on governmental law. This doesn’t include the pain and suffering dealt by the hands of those who take it upon themselves to enforce their version of ‘God’s Law’ based on their interpretation of their religious doctrine. I see myself as a lesbian, and I’ve faced my own brand of discrimination, but never have I felt my life in danger because I’m in love with a woman.
But then, as humans, we all seem to react with extremes to things we don’t fully understand. I don’t fully understand spiders, so they scare me, and I stomp the hell out of them. This is horrible behavior, but it’s how I react. Please don’t think I’m trying to validate why it’s okay to kill or imprison homosexuals or transgenders. I guess I’m just trying to understand how a human could bring such harm to another human regarding something that happens behind closed doors.
What bothers me is not only the countries that punish homosexuals and transgenders by death, but those countries that have no kind of protection in place:
No protection can be just as damaging as active punishment. In both situations, there aren’t any places for homosexuals to turn to for help, support, or safety. It’s a sick observation, but at least in those countries where it’s punishable by death, homosexuality and transgenderism is recognized. It’s as if those countries don’t even recognize that we exist. I dislike the idea of being the white elephant as much as being the decapitated elephant in places like Iran.
What do we do? I don’t entirely know. Obviously if it were easy enough for me to answer, things would probably be different. Staying informed, spreading the word, gaining support – that’s all important, but saving the lives and changing the minds of entire governments is a bit more of a daunting task.
Does anyone have any ideas? Any resources? Are there any groups out there reaching out to those living in countries who are susceptible to death because of their sexuality?