The month of June marks the celebration of Pride all throughout the world. This isn’t just a celebration for the individuals that are part of the LGBT+ Community, this is a celebration for any and every individual or group who has been oppressed, silenced or discriminated against. Pride is a celebration of diversity, acceptance and love. However, Pride Month has proven to also be a reminder of how we lack these celebrated matters in our society.
In the early hours of the 30th of May, two women, a couple, were left beaten and bloodied by 4 male teenagers when they refused to kiss. Another appalling incident occurred on the 22nd of June when two men were attacked after three armed youths threw homophobic insults to them. Even after nearly 50 years of Pride, the LGBT+ community still face so much hardship.
To think that these attacks happened in the UK, one of the most accepting countries in the world, says a lot of the work that still needs to be done in order to create a truly safe space for everyone.
There are still so many gaps in the law that need to be addressed.
First, gay conversion therapy is still legal in the UK. No law addresses this matter and because of such, accredited mental health professionals with problematic views could, and some do, offer gay conversion therapy to individuals who seek it. Sure, you can say, “it’s their choice” but the fact of the matter is, these individuals are only seeking this because they don’t feel accepted. The whole process mentally and emotionally damages the individual, some to such a severe degree that they think that taking their life is the option to ‘right the wrong’.
The government not banning such a thing from occurring only reinforces, if indirectly, the notion that who they are needs to be and can be ‘cured’ because there isn’t a law that stands up against gay conversion therapy, saying “Gay conversion therapy is wrong, but you are perfectly right and okay.”
Another matter that needs to be looked at is education. The second set of influencers that a child learns from are teachers. The lack of LGBT+ inclusive relationship and sex education affects both LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ children. Both will remain ignorant to the reality of LGBT+ relationships and individuals, leading to a whole range of problems, one of which is bullying.
As with most living creatures, the unknown will always be scary or, at the least, will evoke a certain degree of hesitation. As such, the lack of education on the reality of LGBT+ individuals will always result in a similar reaction. Take for example the ‘armed youths’ attack on the two men mentioned earlier. Children can act in very problematic ways with lack or wrong guidance.
The law speaks volumes to people. It’s very existence acts as a guide for many in order to determine what’s right and wrong. If the government says that it stands by the LGBT+ community but the law they work with and enforce says nothing about this, then there’s obviously going to be a discrepancy.
So, while same-sex marriage isn’t legal in Northern Ireland or while there are still no laws that mandate LGBT+ relationships and sex education be taught in schools in the UK, there will always be individuals who will see the LGBT+ as ‘wrong’.
Laws were meant to be enforced and put to action, acting as a guide on how many will act so a law more inclusive and aware of LGBT+ concerns is a necessary step. The fields of medicine, education and law still have so much love to accept. A love necessary if we want a society that’s free and safe for everyone.