Equality isn’t just magically achieved when one thing is changed. LGBTQI+ issues go well beneath the public eye. I mean, obviously, marriage equality is a huge step in the right direction, but it is such a non-thing to have as a top priority for the LGBTQI+ community. (Why? Well, let’s take a look at the social disasters caused by the Australian marriage equality postal vote, let alone when the No campaign got an app). So, what actually are the other issues?
Conversion therapy is still legal in 41 US states, as well as in all of Australia. In 2016, Malta became the first EU country to ban conversion therapy. Whilst Victoria and NSW have been working on crackdowns, and Victoria managed to pass a law allowing the “investigation” of anyone claiming to turn LGBTQI+ people straight, we still have a Health Minister who won’t do anything about it. For those of you who don’t know, conversion therapy uses a variety of techniques to make LGBTQI+ people conform to the heteronormative identity. It generally has one of three outcomes: live life as a “straight” person with mental illnesses (including dysphoria, depression, anxiety, and PTSD), commit suicide (an over 50% suicide rate is recorded by most organisations offering conversion therapy), or survive as an LGBTQI+ person with mental illnesses (as above). You can read the story of an American teen here and the story of an Australian here.
Homophobia, transphobia, and heteronormativity are rife. It is illegal to be gay (including “homosexual tendencies”) in 72 countries, and it is punishable by the death penalty in 8, including Uganda, which had its first pride in 2012 and has since had the movement crushed by authorities. Discrimination in medical services (both physical and psychiatric) means that LGBTQI+ people are less likely to seek or receive appropriate or adequate treatment, an issue which especially effects trans and intersex people. In connection to that, gay and bisexual men have the highest rates of HIV and AIDS (24x more at risk than the general population), and LGBTQI+ people continue to suffer from poorly treated side effects, from both the disease and the medications.
Mental illness and suicide are much more common in the LGBTQI+ community, with rates of both anxiety and affective disorders more than double. Around 80% of Australian LGBTQI+ people reported having a period of intense anxiety in the twelve months prior to completing a BeyondBlue survey. Up to 50% of trans people have attempted suicide, and suicide rates are 14 times higher in same-sex attracted people than the rest of the population.
The majority of intersex people aren’t raised knowing they are intersex and only become aware of that later in life (anywhere between adolescence and adulthood), as a binary gender is typically chosen for them at their birth.
61% of LGBTQI+ youth recorded verbal abuse, and 18% recorded physical abuse.
Almost 50% of Australian gay and bisexual men with HIV have reported feeling depressed. Depression is more common among trans people than the rest of the LGBTQI+ community.
Almost two-thirds of intersex people had considered suicide and one in five had attempted suicide.
Equality isn’t magically achieved when one thing changes. The institutions of oppression built over hundreds of years (I would say thousands, but a lot of ancient cultures were hella gay). Marriage equality may have been legalised in many Western countries, but for a lot of us it came at the cost of the trust in our overall safety that we lost when swastikas and slurs began appearing in our cities and when Donald Trump was elected despite support of queerphobic hate groups, queerphobic comments and legislature, and queerphobic staff (Mike Pence (for example this, and this, and a couple of victories (courtesy of Adam Rippon and Pence’s Aspen neighbours)) and Robert Redfield). So it’s time to stop screwing over LGBTQI+ communities by making an unnecessary fuss over an issue that is trivial in comparison to the rest of the problems faced by our communities daily.
A quick favour: if you liked this post, or are passionate about this issue and know it needs more awareness, please share this! Every little helps, and I’m just finding my way around getting voices heard on these topics. Thank you:)
Look to the present with the future in mind, and to the future with the past in mind.