It’s time for many of us to jet off on holiday to warmer climes. But what of life for LGBTQ+ people in our destinations of choice? Guest writer Hadley discusses.
We’re well into the summer season and depending on which part of the country you find yourself in at the moment, your desire for some sea and sunshine may be greater than others. Of course, holidays don’t always go to plan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how hard you try to plan, there’s always a chance something goes wrong: getting lost on the way to the hotel, a delayed flight or even lost luggage. But how about being locked up in prison, being told you’re using the wrong bathroom or the threat of the death penalty? These are just some of the challenges LGBTQ+ people are facing across the world today.
I know many of my gay friends are heading off on holiday this summer, but I’m yet to hear one of them discuss laws or policies affecting LGBTQ+ people in the country they’ve chosen to jet off to. Yes, we’re in 2016 and we live in a country where LGBTQ+ people are protected by law from discrimination – we can even get married and adopt children! That said, we know that even here, there’s still a long way to go on the road to equal rights for LGBTQ+ people.
So, spare a thought for those living outside this bubble – what’s life like for them? Are they able to hold their partner’s hand, march in a Pride parade or even discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity? In the world we live in, these privileges aren’t always awarded to the millions of LGBTQ+ people living in some other countries. In fact, many LGBTQ+ people are living in fear on a daily basis, because of attitudes and laws that send a message to their society, family members and friends that they are wrong, dirty or no longer deserve a place in that society. This behaviour has devastating consequences for people who just want to be themselves.
I know many of my gay friends are heading off on holiday this summer, but I’m yet to hear one of them discuss laws or policies affecting LGBTQ+ people in the country they’ve chosen to jet off to.
Recently, we saw media coverage regarding the Bathroom Bill, with a primary focus on North Carolina. Many people, including those in a position of power, joined the movement to give trans people the right to use the bathroom which reflects their gender identity. But what about the thousands of LGBTQ+ people living in other countries? When do we get to hear their stories and experiences? And what is being done to influence leaders and Heads of State of countries who believe the rights of their LGBTQ+ citizens are irrelevant?
Many UK holidaymakers are heading off to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is illegal. Are LGBTQ+ visitors putting themselves at risk of deportation or imprisonment? Putting aside the UEA, there are many other countries with somewhat questionable human rights laws that are seeing growing numbers of tourists – are people simply unaware of these laws? As somebody who is gay, I am always anxious about traveling to any country where I could be put behind bars, or worse.
The UAE is one of 73 countries where it is still a crime to be gay and in 10 of those countries, gay men and women face the death penalty. Organisations such as All Out, are currently working to improve the human rights of LGBTQ+ people across the world. Campaigns have been led by All Out in countries such as China, Paraguay and Uganda. They have also worked with countries such as France, with their ‘Marriage for All’ campaign.
What is being done to influence leaders and Heads of State of countries who believe the rights of their LGBTQ+ citizens are irrelevant?
But who are we to interfere with another country’s laws? Some people may argue that this issue doesn’t concern us. However, I would argue that we are the example that many countries should be following. The only way Heads of State will begin to understand and value human rights is by fellow countries showing them the way. If we stand back and let this continue, nothing will change.
It is clear that there is a need, across all countries, to improve the rights of LGBTQ+ people, especially given the fact that in no country can we say that LGBTQ+ people have equal rights to their heterosexual neighbours. In the UK, we have come a long way, but in other countries there is such a greater mountain to climb towards equality. Only when governments are motivated to change their attitudes regarding human rights will this start to change.
LGBTQ+ holidaymakers aside, it’s important to acknowledge the citizens of the 73 countries where being gay is a crime, and how fortunate we are to be able to come back to a country where human rights are respected. It is an ongoing conversation, where we are looking at ways of improving equality for various groups within our society. The LGBTQ+ people living in other parts of the world aren’t so fortunate. So, if you are travelling this summer, take a moment to reflect on just how much further other countries have to travel on the road to equality – and what you can do to help them on the way.
Follow Hadley on Twitter (@wordsbyhadley)