How the LGBT Community is Treated in Egypt

Two men got sentenced to three years in prison for getting married in Egypt according to CNN. More specifically they got arrested for “distributing pornographic material” despite homosexuality not being illegal in Egypt. Even though it is not illegal many LGBT people get arrested for pornography, prostitution, and debauchery. Because people are afraid of getting arrested they often do not come out about their identity or sexual orientation. To secure evidence against the arrested or to find others in the LGBT community, the police make people go through their pictures, contacts, and social media sites to dig up information. Police even go as far as joining applications like Grindr to single out LGBT members.

Not only are people being arrested, but they get charged even if there is no evidence of the actions they are being accused of. Members of the LGBT community hope to see an organization that will advocate for LGBT rights, but the organization needs to be accepted by the government for any advocacy to be truly successful.

The issue is that nobody wants to talk or hear about LGBT issues outside of the LGBT community, especially in a country that is heavy populated with Muslims and Christians, which both condemn homosexuality. It’s difficult to come up with laws to establish LGBT rights and protect these people from arrest if people do not want to start the conversation. That is why I also hope that an organization will be created in Egypt to get the ball rolling and get all people talking about LGBT rights. The police department in Egypt also needs to establish boundaries for police officers. Making people go through their phones and purposefully going after LGBT members on applications like Grindr is known as harassment. The police should be protecting the public and not pick on innocent people, especially since homosexuality is not prohibited in Egypt. The government needs to take charge to establish Egypt as an accepting and supportive country, not one that avoids the issues.

Diversity at Hogwarts

To all the Harry Potter fans out there, J.K. Rowling has confirmed that LGBT students attended Hogwarts, as seen on the Daily News. The author also revealed that Hogwarts actually contained people from all groups except Wiccans. Fans of the series have been questioning the author about the diversity at Hogwarts and she responded to them via Twitter.

I think it is great that Hogwarts did in fact contain students from all sorts of communities, including the LGBT community. The issue I have is that if people need to ask the author if all these people existed in the books, then no group was really well represented because no one knew they were there. Sure the author could have claimed that almost every group was present in Hogwarts but these groups were not showcased for the readers to be able to tell that they actually existed in the series. The Harry Potter movies really broadcast racial diversity, I just would have liked for the whole series to promote sexual diversity and just all kinds of diversity in general. There were so many characters that played prominent roles in the books that it could have been easily done.

The LGBT Community is Under Attack in Russia

Ever since Russian authorities passed an anti-gay propaganda law in the summer of 2013, the amount of persecutions against the LGBT community have increased according to CNN. As the author of the CNN article mentions, the anti-gay propaganda law prohibits the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations around minors.” There has been an increase in harassment and violence against people in the LGBT community since the law was put into effect. People have been beaten, attacked, humiliated, and threatened. These attacks don’t even get reported to the police because victims don’t believe that the police will investigate or help them.

One LGBT activist reported his attack to the police and an police officer told him that because he’s gay it is normal that he was attacked, and questioned him why he would even report it to the police. President Putin has addressed that even though Russia strives to promote traditional families, no one should face discrimination because they do not adhere to the traditional family image.

The first thing that stopped me in my tracks is the anti-gay propaganda law. I do not understand why exposing minors to gay rights and relationships would be harmful to them in anyway. Perhaps the authorities view LGBT topics as a threat to the traditional family unit. Exposing minors to LGBT ideas has no affect on the number of LGBT people in the country. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered comes from feelings that people have and their natural preferences, not from being exposed to other LGBT people. People need to stop treating this as something contagious.

Another thing that is absolutely horrific is that this law actually promotes discrimination and homophobia, which is evident in the increase of attacks. What is even more disturbing is that the people who are supposed to be protecting people don’t do anything to help LGBT hate crime victims. I hope President Putin is working on ways to prohibit discrimination and violence against the LGBT community. One of the things that should be on his agenda is to get rid of that law, if he truly wants to end discrimination.

The Fight for Federal Protection Against Discrimination

With all these Ferguson protests, the LGBT community wants a civil rights bill to protect them from discrimination in housing, education, work, healthcare facilities as mentioned on MSNBC. LGBT rights and civil rights groups have been working for the past few months writing up a proposal for a bill to get federal protection against discrimination. The bill will be introduced in the upcoming Spring. It can take a decade for the for government to extend civil rights to the LGBT community.

It is astonishing that in the 21st century it can still take a decade for a group of people to be granted their civil rights, especially since the United States already went through a couple rights movements. Thirty five states have legalized gay marriage, but only 29 states prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation. This means there are thousands of people losing their jobs and housing because the federal government has yet to protect these people under the Civil Rights Act. Government officials need to be more proactive and cooperative so that the LGBT community doesn’t have to wait another decade or so to live in peace.

Thoughts on Pariah

Recently I watched the movie Pariah in my Introduction to LGBTQQIA Studies course. The movie portrays a lesbian teen named Alike, who hides her identity from her family. Alike finds herself struggling with her religious family, her parents’ marital issues, finding her first lover, and later being rejected. Fortunately, Alike is able to get support from her friend Laura, who like Alike is a lesbian.

The movie was split into two class periods and I found myself not wanting to leave after watching the first half because I was really enjoying it. The movie has taken me somewhat on an emotional roller coaster: happy for the character for finding her first lover, angry at her companion, horrified by the mother’s actions, in tears from Alike’s writing, appreciative of her father’s attempt to make things right, and finally content that Alike is moving on with her life to do what she loves. I really enjoy movies that get me emotionally involved because it makes it a better viewing experience. It allows me to feel attached to the characters.

The movie depicted the lives of many LGBT youth, but as mentioned in my previous post, not all of them end up with a stable plan and future. One of the reasons I wanted to bring up the film is to provide information about visual content that does a great job at showing the possible various components of an LGBT youth’s life. There is the family dynamic that in this case is split into two sides, the mother and then the father and the sister. There are the friends, the lover, and even the school dynamic. The school scenes show how her writing teacher treats and interacts with her with kindness and support. There is also some of society’s views that are depicted not only through her mother’s rejection but also through the older man at the shop who starts to talk about her in a nasty tone.

Even though the movie is considered to be a drama, there is also a lot of humor, which prevents the movie from being too heavy but at the same time it still captures the seriousness. I highly recommend this movie, because it reveals a tremendous amount about what some LGBT teens go through.

Homeless LGBT Youth on the Rise due to Religious Families

Through my class I was introduced to the Rolling Stones article about homeless LGBT youth who have been kicked out by their religious parents for being who they are and coming out. The article shared a few people’s experiences about coming out to their families, living on the streets, finding shelter, and trying to get their life together on their own.

I was shocked to find out that LGBT youth made up forty percent of the homeless youth in the United States. Unfortunately, one of the biggest contributing factors to this percentage is intolerant families who side with their religious beliefs. More and more LGBT teens are coming out to their parents on whom they rely on for financial support. They risk losing that stability in return for being honest with their families and in hopes of being accepted, but a lot of the times that may that be the case. I personally grew up in a religious family with some very devoted people. Even though my family’s religion condemns homosexuality, I have never heard or seen anyone express any disapproval towards the LGBT community. As a matter of fact my family members support gay rights and the LGBT community. Religion is supposed to serve as a guide to be a better person. In my eyes, not everything in religion is meant to be followed exactly, one has to use his/her own judgement to decide what is right and what is wrong to follow.

Besides the fact that religion needs to sort out its priorities, the country needs to work on programs that provide shelter for LGBT youth. There are not many shelters with lots of housing space to begin with so a large amount of resources need to be allocated to building safe spaces for homeless LGBT youth. This is extremely important, because these young people start off the chapter of their lives as open LGBT members on the streets. They need to be surrounded by people who are accepting and supportive, ones that they will not get harassed by. It is equally essential to establish more programs that will help the homeless youth to finish their education or move on to higher education. Such programs also need to offer job training, assistance with permanent living situations, access to healthcare, and availability to speak with professionals. Without the right support, many of these people end up getting into trouble. Homeless LGBT youth should be given the opportunity to be able to make it on their own.

Religious Freedom in Michigan and What it Entitles

Michigan’s House of Representatives passed a bill known as the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA). According to MSNBC, the bill protects people’s religious freedom by preventing any laws that would hinder their ability to practice their religion freely. The exception is if a conflicting law “serves a compelling interest and accomplishes that goal using the least restrictive means possible.”

This bill will lead to discrimination and a possible decrease in resources and services offered to others. For example people can be denied any form of birth control due a pharmacist’s religious beliefs or hospitals can refuse to terminate pregnancies due to medical complications because of their religion. The bill can have a huge impact on the LGBT community since many religions condemn homosexuality. People part of the LGBT community can get turned down from businesses people regularly go to for services and commodities to being kicked out of their apartments because of the landlord’s religious beliefs. It can even be as serious as getting rejected from a hospital because of conflicting views on the LGBT community. This could be potentially life threatening for many people under serious circumstances where someone needs to get to a hospital quickly and the closest one is Catholic-owned.

The bill is a serious issue, but an even bigger issue is that the anti-discrimination laws in the United States only make discrimination illegal against people based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. These laws don’t protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Less than half of the states have passed laws that prohibit this kind of discrimination. Michigan is not on that list and so the LGBT community in Michigan is not protected from the sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination.

It is important to allow people to exercise their religion but it is equally important to protect every single person’s civil rights. A step that should have already happened, but now needs to be taken next is include sexual orientation and gender identity under the country’s anti-discrimination laws.