Sexuality and Society
Historically,the issue of sexuality has been the subject of concern for religious,political, legal and the society as a whole. The traditionalunderstanding of sexuality has been perceived as male or female. Thesociety has evolved and many people today are going public regardingtheir sexual orientation including lesbians, gays, bisexuals andtranssexuals otherwise known as LGBT. This group has been widelydiscriminated in various societal platforms. This is consistent withthe homophobic views that most people have expressed. Homophobia canbe expressed as an intense and irrational fear or intolerance ofhomosexuality (Wolf, 2009). Homophobia is not a social problem perse, but the society responds to it as a social problem. However,discrimination against LGBT is a social problem that has broughtabout much debate. This essay seeks to explore the issue ofdiscrimination against LGBT.
Discriminationmeans, unfair treatment. The society has discriminated against LGBTin various ways. First, social institutions do not supporthomosexuals. In law the issue of homosexuals has been a heateddebate. Some states have very strict laws concerning homosexuals.Most states have enacted discriminatory laws against homosexuals. Gaymarriages are prohibited, gays are not allowed to adopt children,homosexual conduct is criminalized and benefits to universal partnersnot acknowledged. Generally homosexuality in Africa is largelyprohibited. In 38 countries out of the continent’s 54 states,homosexuality is prohibited. In four of these states, homosexualityis a capital offence punishable by death (Stewart, 2010). The recentblow in the fight for gay rights was in Uganda when President YoweriMuseveni signed into law an anti gay policy. Under the current law,gays will face up to a life imprisonment for engaging in homosexualconduct (Associate Press, 2014). The issue has also been polarized inthe United States. Legal discrimination against gay people started in1972. In the U.S the first case was in Minnesota in Baker vs. Nelsonwhen the State’s Supreme Court ruled that the denial of a civilmarriage certificate by the state was not a violation of the law. InArizona the legislators had passed a bill that would see privatebusiness owners discriminate on religious believes against anythingthat they do not support and have the full protection of the law.California also had proposed Preposition 8 which would criminalizesame sex marriage.
Inaddition several institutions have led to discrimination ofhomosexuals. The way our institutions such as the education sectorare structured, does not support LGBT. The curriculum for instancedoes not include such sexual diversity and is only confined instraight sexual orientation (heterosexuals). Teachers find itdifficult to teach as the society has continued to change embracingLGBT. Even if the curriculum included this diversity, some teacherswould not find it appropriate to teach about it (Stewart, 2010). As aresult, there is a lot of discrimination of gays in schools. Forexample in documents in schools, one is only required to identifywhether they are male or female. Gay people feel that there should bemore room for them to identify themselves.
Theschool is not the only place where discrimination of the gay isprevalent. Family being the basic unit of the society is responsiblefor much of the discrimination. Parents especially those that haveraised their kids under strong religious beliefs are not able orready to accept that their children have a different sexualorientation, away from the norm (Wolf, 2009). Some parents have goneto an extent of disowning their children for establishing themselvesas gay. Homosexuals are usually denied support by their families andare forced to change their orientation or pretend to do so in orderto receive support from their families.
Thesociety as a whole has also discriminated against gay people to alarger extent. In most regions of the world being gay is a taboo andmost people suffer in silence as they are not allowed to reveal theirsexual orientation which is considered an abomination. The developingworld is rampant with extreme cases of discrimination of LGBT. InCameroon, people are more convicted for being gay more than in anyother country that has prohibitive laws (Stewart, 2010). This isusually because people tend to make inconclusive judgment about thosethat are believed to be gay.
Homosexualshave often faced hate crime from the society over the years. Evenwith the enactment of laws supporting and protecting LGBTs, thesociety has not been able to accept them fully. Murders have alsobeen reported targeting gay people. Since 2008, over 50 percent ofmurders against transgender were recorded in Brazil (Stewart, 2010).In the United States, there were 30 fatally violent hate crimesperpetrated against lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual victims in2011.
Inthe workplace, LGBTs have also faced discrimination. In the U.SMilitary one of the largest public institution, being gay is a crimethat can lead to one being dismissed from the forces. To protect fromthe high number of servicemen involving in homosexual conduct, thegovernment established a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy whichprohibits anyone asking another about their sexual orientation ortelling others (Warner, 2012). This shows that the society is notaddressing the issue in a more comprehensive way.
Inthe past, most cases of LGBT discrimination went unreported as thevictims were afraid they would be humiliated or will not beunderstood by others. This caused several people to suffer in silenceas even families and the larger society shun them out. With theincreasing awareness regarding sexuality and especially the lawsenacted to protect them, most people are able t report and seek helpwhen discriminated (Stewart, 2010). Even though, there is need formore awareness, change in societal structures and strengthening ofthe laws so as to protect these people.
Conclusively,the issue of homosexuality has become a hot topic in almost alldomains. Religious leaders, politicians and activists have beeninvolved in the tussle of whether gay people have rights in thesociety or not. These debates have always brought about controversywith some people opting to remain neutral. The Archbishop of theAnglican Church Desmond Tutu of South Africa recently made a stand insupport of LGBT saying that, he would not worship a homophobic God.The new Catholic Pope St. Francis II have also been involved in thedebate arguing that the church has become so concerned about othermatters such as gay rights, and forgetting its principle role in thesociety, which is being a home for all. The U.S president BarackObama is very clear though on the matter and has actively challengedanti gay states such as Uganda and other states to support andprotect LGBT.
AssociatePress. (2014 February, 24).YoweriMuseveni, Uganda`s president, signs anti-gay bill.Retrievedhttp://www.cbc.ca/news/world/yoweri-museveni-uganda-s-president-signs-anti-gay-bill-1.2548851(Accessed April 27, 2014).
Stewart,C. (2010). Greenwood encyclopedia of LGBT issues worldwide.Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood Press.
Warner,S. (2012). Acts of gaiety : LGBT performance and the politics ofpleasure. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Wolf,S. (2009). Sexualityand socialism history, politics, and theory of LGBT liberation.Chicago, Ill: Haymarket.