LGBT Communities World Wide Take Two Steps Forward but One Step Back

There are a lot of newsworthy developments surrounding LGBT+ communities around the world right now.

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For example, knowing full well that he’ll be faced with a steep uphill battle, it seems that Pope Francis is on a mission to welcome LGBT+ community members and encouraging others of the Catholic faith to do the same. CBS News said that after Bishops meeting at the Vatican failed to come to an agreement on the issue of homosexuality, Pope Francis appeared to be “barely able to contain his frustration.” They also said that he cautioned bishops not to cling to doctrine with “hostile rigidity” and that “God is not afraid of new things.”

In addition, earlier this month Wyoming became the latest state to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s a pleasant change in a state that many still relate to the 1998 tragedy of Matthew Shepard, a gay student from the University of Wyoming who was the victim of a hate crime when two homophobic men beat him to death and left him tied to a fence. But as Wyoming’s recent acceptance and acknowledgement of same-sex marriage clearly demonstrates, things have changed since the Matthew Shepard murder and that hate crime doesn’t reflect the feelings of the majority of citizens.

Wyoming is just one state among many that are overturning previous bans on same-sex marriage. It’s a development that ABC News claims was inspired by the Supreme Court ruling on Oct. 6 that “refused to hear appeals from states that wanted to defend gay marriage bans.” As a result, more than 30 states have agreed to recognize same-sex unions.

As noted on Adam and Eve, we’ve seen positive growth from the government’s acknowledgement of LGBT rights over the last decades, from revoking the law that sodomy was unconstitutional to President Barack Obama signing a memorandum offering benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. However, there are some areas of the US and the world that are still lagging behind this trend.

Recently, members of LGBT communities from Africa who have sought asylum in the U.K. have been advocating for new practices from the government when accepting refugees. The U.K.’s Channel 4 recently interviewed Prossy Kakooza, a woman with first-hand experience in the matter. A Ugandan refugee, Kakooza claimed asylum in 2007 after spending time in a Ugandan prison because of her sexuality. While in prison, she was brutally beaten by police officers. However, when she attempted to claim asylum after the incident, British officials dismissed it as a “random attack of unruly police officers and nothing to do with sexuality.” As a result, she was forced to “prove” her need for asylum because of her sexuality by answering a range of highly personal questions about her sex life.

Unfortunately this happens all too often to those seeking asylum. Kakooza reported that, “Such is the dismissal for LGBT asylum seekers. The humiliation of having to describe what you like in the bedroom, how many people you’ve slept with and turning your whole life into being all about sex.” She went on to say the Home Office needs to take a look at cases individually while training their representatives to ask more appropriate questions.

This degrading interview is understandably a demoralizing and dehumanizing experience. While fearing for their lives at the hands of their own people, LGBT asylum seekers are being treated as if they are lying about their reasons for being persecuted in the first place. After years of trying to hide their true identities, to finally escape only to find the new government approaching it as if it were a choice can be just as painful for the victims.

Many places in the world have come a long way in the acceptance and welcoming of members of the LGBT community. However, it seems that even those at the forefront of the movements in Europe and the U.S., still have a long way to go in understanding the people experiencing the discrimination firsthand.

Brought to you by Adam and Eve

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, PhD, CASA, CSE

One of a handful of global experts on polyamory and the foremost international expert on children in polyamorous families, Dr. Elisabeth Sheff has studied gender and
families of sexual minorities for the last 16 years. Sheff’s television appearances include CNN, and the National Geographic, and she has given more than 20 radio, podcast, print, and television interviews with sources from Radio Slovenia to National Public Radio, the Sunday London Times to the Boston Globe and Newsweek. By emphasizing research methodology and findings in her discussions, Dr. Sheff presents the kind of public intellectualism that encourages audience members to think critically regarding gender, sexualities, and families.

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