Global equality is out of our reach

Carly Besser Opinion Editor

While we’re slowly but surely seeing equal rights for the LGBT community in America, there are other countries who are on a far different side of the spectrum.

Because of the Sochi Winter Olympics, foreigners questioned whether gay and lesbian athletes would be safe to compete in a country that has strict laws against homosexuality.

In 2013, Russia passed a law that bans the distribution of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” which makes it illegal to suggest that homosexual relationships are equal to heterosexual ones.

Russian youth who question their sexuality are not allowed to receive guidance from parents, teachers, priests or psychologists. Obviously, with no form of a support system, suicide rates among Russian teens who identify as LGBT have skyrocketed.

According to a study led by sociologist Mark Hatzenbeuhler, gay and lesbian teens who live in less supportive countries are five times more likely to commit suicide. These children feel sick, abnormal and disconnected with society.

Most countries who have established laws against LGBT members have one thing in common: they are usually economically and politically unstable.

In third world countries like Sudan and Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death.

Shouldn’t improving the economy, decreasing corruption of law enforcement and achieving political rest be more imperative than targeting gays and lesbians?

Some groups have taken it upon themselves to serve as vigilantes for Russia, violently attacking homosexuals, filming it and using it as a way to alienate them.

These people are protected by the Russian police and military.

You may be wondering why we should even care, and I’ll explain. It took us decades to find ourselves here, as Americans, supporting and giving equal opportunities to the LGBT community.

Even the majority of Americans who are against gay marriage would never justify violence against them simply for their sexuality. It’s brutal. It’s barbaric.

We’ve seen firsthand that gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people can hold positions in office, educate youth and be strong leaders. To think that these people of influence would be treated no better than dirt in other countries should appall us.

Think of how many people the world has lost to these crimes that could have made a huge difference. People who could have been doctors, teachers, public figures, politicians and more are losing their lives before they have a chance to do something great.

As an American who identifies as LGBT, equal rights are something I hold of high importance. The right to marry is something worth fighting for, but I can’t help but think this problem needs to be fixed first.

It doesn’t matter how you feel about homosexuality. If it makes you uncomfortable, that’s fine. However, using violence and oppression as a way to regulate society should be a thing of the past. Why do countries still do this?

 

Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor