This is my first guest post ever. It comes to us from my friend, fellow writer, journalist, vagabond, and all around cool chick, Leyla. I met Leyla during my travels, first online when she interviewed me for her site, and then in person when she graciously opened her French farmhouse to me while I traveled through France. This is what my travels were all about. We were total strangers and yet she had me over for a week of relaxing fun in the countryside and we easily became fast friends and I was lucky enough to see her again recently in New Jersey when she was in town for a UN conference.
This article is a part of her newsletter for her site Women on the Road – an amazing resource for independent, traveling women…hey, that’s me (and might be you too)! I thought it was important to spread the word here.
Homophobia around the world, Alive and Well?
Around the world, tolerance and diversity have been taking a beating.
Recently Uganda threatened to jail anyone taking part in homosexual activity – in other words, if you’re gay, you’ll go to jail, possibly for life, this despite an outcry around the world. Malawi’s police are actively hunting down people they think might be gay, and Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe once called homosexuality ‘un-African’. Across Europe, spikes of discrimination are casting a shadow over the continent’s once exemplary tolerance. Worldwide, hate groups are becoming more active, in person and online.
But the voice of reason may prevail. Everywhere people are speaking out. People who are gay, of course, but also people who are not.
- South Africa’s constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the first one to do so.
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has spoken firmly against homophobia.
- In Canada, Spain, Belgium and several other countries, same-sex couples have the same rights as everyone else to marry.
- The UK, Sweden and Norway have made development assistance conditional on supporting human rights, threatening to withhold it – from Uganda and elsewhere – in the face of discrimination against homosexuals.
- Across conservative Africa, human rights groups are making themselves heard, as is the continent’s largest trade union, COSATU.
- In Scotland, educational authorities have decided that every high school will receive a powerful anti-homophobia DVD.
- In the European Parliament, politicians are pushing back discriminatory laws.
- Daniel Radcliffe, better known for his role as Harry Potter, has spoken out publicly and is taking action.
- In the US, the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in the armed forces is being watered down, and television stars are taking part in public service announcements against homophobia.
- Just 24 hours after Britain made history by holding Parliament’s first same-sex marriage in late March 2010, the Household Cavalry – one of the oldest and most distinguished regiments in the British Army – celebrated its first gay wedding.
Sometimes, people can go to almost ridiculous extremes to stay away from homosexuals. Constance McMillen, a lesbian student in Fulton, Mississippi, wanted to attend her high school’s senior prom with a female date. After a federal court ruled in her favor, the school board cancelled the prom so McMillen could not attend. According to The Guardian, this was replaced by a privately organized prom, open to all students. This story was then contradicted by gay blogs in Mississippi who claim school authorities pulled a fast one, organizing the ‘real’ prom elsewhere behind Constance’s back… If this weren’t so sad, it would be funny.
To help the fight against homophobia or to find out more: