equality

That’s so Hateful

Target… Raven Symone’s sexuality has been blamed for ‘ruining people’s childhood’.

Although rumours of her sexuality had been circulating the web for the better part of a year, former Disney star, Raven Symoné publicly acknowledged her orientation on Twitter a few days ago. The reactions proved that homophobia is still rife in society, despite the march towards marriage equality in much of the Western world.

Other than dying or having a baby, there is nothing more provocative a celebrity can do than come out of the closet. Time and time again, the public and the media have worked up a storm over the sexuality of the likes of Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga, Zachary Quinto etc. Although, nobody is at all perturbed by a confession of bisexuality as every female pop star will tell you; it’s the must-have edge to a star’s persona. Regardless, this confession in a supposedly tolerant society shouldn’t cause a stir – more a passing acknowledgement and then let’s get on with our lives. Having said that, a media frenzy is a much more welcome reaction than the one Raven Symoné received. An account called ‘Childhood Ruined’ that tweets sinister observations of popular crazes from people’s childhood tweeted the news as if it had somehow tainted her hit comedy show, ‘That’s So Raven’. Frighteningly, people latched on to the tweet to agree with its sentiment. Even celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris, perhaps most famous for playing womaniser, Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother who has been ‘out’ for years is still targeted with (hopefully) inadvertent homophobic comments.

We can see the prominence of homophobia in sports such as football where homosexuality is fair game for a cheap ‘banterous’ dig at the opposition, meaning that discriminatory insults are likely to lurk in the minds of kids for generations to come. Also, recently there has been a rise in ‘homophobic’ terms seen on social networking sites with remarks like ‘faggot’, ‘no homo’, ‘dyke’ and ‘so gay’ becoming increasingly popular social vernacular. Although, usually non-intended with any malice, these words can affect the confidence of young LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender) people wondering whether they are in a safe environment to be who they are, a potentially permanent effect on their self esteem. One site (NoHomophobes.com) has collated all of the tweets with the previously mentioned terms in since July 5th 2012. Astonishingly, today alone, there have been (as of 5:17pm BST); 34,311 tweets mentioning ‘faggot’, 8,354 ‘no homo’ tweets, 8,275 ‘so gay’ posts and 2,735 utterances of ‘dyke’. Remember, this is just tweets, Facebook statuses and comments, ask.fm questions and Tumblr posts are not included in those scarily high numbers. Statistics show that 64% of LGBT students feel unsafe at school, which is no surprise given the popularity of homophobic slurs in modern slang. It’s tough enough to come out as gay when you’re pretty sure you’ll be accepted but the uses of such language will only make youths doubt their comfort in themselves. Harmful lies about gay stereotypes are also stacked against many people today. The view that gay men are always effeminate lead to the ‘no homo’ catchphrase, only enforcing the idea that a gay youth being themselves will change people’s perception of them.

Rising... The use of homophobic slang is on the rise.

Rising… The use of homophobic slang is on the rise.

I obviously realise that a lot of the uses of homophobic slang is not meant in a derogatory way but the words will have an affect on others and society in the long run. Pretty much every person has had a critical joke made about them and wondered if there was any sincerity behind it, this is exactly the same. Don’t alienate people – think before you speak.

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My same-sex marriage speech

I was asked to do this by quite a few people actually. So theoretically, if I were to stand up in the House of Commons or House of Lords, this is what I would say;

I have always maintained that the best way to resolve an argument is to talk through both sides of it and make a decision, and that’s what I intend to do here.
I’m strongly in favour of passing the legislation that makes same-sex marriage legal but in truth, that’s irrelevant. In the next few moments, I won’t be speaking as a Liberal. I will simply be pleading my case as a human being.

The reasons for favouring this legislation are less in volume but no less in importance than those opposing it. Gay men and women across the country simply want the right to be able to stand before their loved ones and celebrate their relationship. It’s really that simple. To those, that say this right is already afforded to the gay community through means of a civil partnership, hear this; separate but equal is never equal, separate but equal is an inequality disguised as compromise.  The LGBT community of this country simply want to know that their inter-personal relationships are just as valued as any other.

They are the few but valid arguments supporting this legislation. The arguments opposing them are more numerous but dismissible. Many of these arguments are strongly linked to religion. Some theists out there are worried that the inclusion of gay couples will threaten God’s idea of marriage. Those advocates seem to have ignored much of what God said was acceptable in marriage. In fact, concubines, prostitutes, incest, rape and even kitchen condiments are all feasible in a Bible-based marriage but a relationship between two committed women for example is classified as immoral. This is not me taking a bash at religion; this is me taking a bash at religion trying to impose its views on government. Politics is a secular matter and theists have no right to assert their religious laws on the entire nation. Others claim that if this legislation passes in to law then those of a religious disposition will be forced to offer a double bed to gay couples at a bed & breakfast or to make a cake for a gay wedding, those worried about this possibility should probably find themselves another career because if you’re unable to cater for all cross-sections of society, no matter their gender, race or sexuality then public service really isn’t the place for you.
Away from religion, others are worried that this legislation will destroy the sanctity of their marriage and threaten their union. These people can be assured that allowing others the same union they have will not threaten theirs, these couples will still bicker about who gets the remote control and what to have for tea. This inclusion of gay people in to marriage will threaten heterosexual marriage much less than say Kim Kardashian’s 72-hour, just-for-fun marriage.
Some parents are also fearful of explaining to their children that two people of the same gender can be in love. Children are not naturally bigoted; if you tell them something they will accept it, these are people that believe in Santa, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny. As a matter of fact, just this week I saw a mother post on to Twitter how she told her kids about their uncle who happened to be gay and her story went like this;
“I’ve been forced to explain homosexuality to my kids (aged 3 and 4) because their uncle is gay. This incredibly difficult and traumatic experience went as follows:

Child: Why does Uncle Bob go everywhere with Pete?
Me: Because they’re in love, just like Mummy and Daddy are.
Child: Oh. Can I have a biscuit?”

Every child is different obviously but this just isn’t an argument. A child is a parent’s responsibility. How can you ask a portion of the population to omit their human rights just to save you a potentially awkward conversation?

Then there are those who take it a step further and consider homosexuality unclean or unnatural, to those people I say this; homosexuality is commonly observed behaviour in tens of thousands of species, homophobia is only commonly observed in one. You tell me, which is unnatural.

Progressing down the line of opposition, parties like UKIP claim this isn’t the right time. Funnily enough, I agree. This legislation should have been passed sooner. How can we wait on human rights? Imagine if Rosa Parks had decided to sit at the back of the bus because it wasn’t a convenient time to make her stand that day, somebody. When will the time be? There will always be issues in this country, meaning there will always be an excuse for parties such as UKIP to set this policy aside.

My favourite argument against this legislation is that this policy of equal marriage will lead to incestuous marriages, marriages with animals etc. Simply put, that is nonsense. When women were granted the right to vote, it didn’t go to dogs afterwards. A goldfish can’t sign a marriage licence. This is no slope and it isn’t slippery.

Those opposed to this legislation, and this may be controversial, needn’t be considered anything else but homophobes. If you want to deny someone equal rights because of their sexuality under any of the aforementioned sub-arguments then that is homophobia. That is hate against love. This legislation isn’t about gay rights; it’s about human rights that have been denied to people of a certain predisposition for too long.

We hear frequently in this country of gay teenagers taking their own lives because they are treated like second-class citizens for being who they are. They hate themselves that much because they’re being brought up in a world, where there love is less important than their families’ or their friend’s. If we don’t allow this legislation to pass then more and more generations will grow up thinking their sexual preference means they’re worth less than everybody else. This law will change social norms and literally save lives. Change is coming, whether people like it or not. And those who oppose same-sex marriage today will forever be mocked on the wrong side of history.

The Gay Marriage Debate

One of modern day’s social taboos is the issue of gay marriage. Particularly in the Western World where homosexuality is on the whole more accepted, the idea of same-sex marriage is becoming more and more prevalent.

And to me, when weighing up the pros and cons, it’s a ‘no brainer’.

The main opposition to same-sex unions seems to derive from fierce conservatives or passionate theists. Conservatives claim that because gay couples cannot reproduce they should not be allowed to marry. Theists, particularly Christians and Muslims draw inspiration from their hate for homosexuality from ancient verses of their gods, who condemn it. Many American Christians believe that homosexuals would damage the sanctity of marriage in the eyes of God, citing it as immoral.

I wholly respect the rights of both conservative and religious groups to hold their own views but is the justification for their prejudice really there?
The extreme right wing’s main argument relies on a homosexual couple’s incapability to reproduce, however would they deny an infertile couple the opportunity to enter in to a legal union?
Religious groups also rely on God’s firm stance of heterosexual marriages only. However, God also allows marriages which constitute of incest, rape and pedophilia.

How the parties see it

Bigoted... UKIP are opposed

Bigoted… UKIP are opposed

UKIP and the BNP are the main adversaries to same-sex marriage in the UK. The Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Green party support the movement whereas the Conservatives are split. The main criticism as the picture shows above is that UKIP believes it’s bad timing. They don’t see a need for a change regardless and especially not now.

Apparently, it’s not a pressing issue in today’s politics. What could be more important than basic HUMAN (not gay) rights?

Dismantling the argument

During my time, researching the area of same-sex marriage debate, several key arguments come up and here’s my direct response to each;

1. “Being gay is not natural.”
Homosexuality is common behaviour in THOUSANDS of different species. Homophobia is only found in one, which is natural?
Also, by this logic. You should not be accessing the internet through a mobile, laptop or any other means because that too is ‘unnatural’.

2. “Adam and Eve not  Adam and Steve”
You mean that story about how a floating man in the sky created the Earth in six days which also  features a cameo by a talking snake?

3. “Heterosexual couples are the traditional definition of marriage.”
…and traditionally, blacks and women did not have equal rights either, should it still be the case?

4. “Straight marriage will lose it’s meaning.”
Yes, the sanctity of Kim Kardashian’s 72 day marriage will be destroyed.

5. “Marriage is the place for children.”
Because elderly and infertile couples are denied the right to marry too, aren’t they?

6. “Gay parents will raise gay children.”
The same way, straight parents always raise straight children.

7. “It goes against God.”
So is wearing more than one type of fabric. I respect your right to be a theist, but who are you to impose the wills of your leader on non-believers? Marriage is granted by the state, an organisation in which religion should have MINIMAL say.

8. “If gay people can get married soon paedophiles and bestialitists will have the same rights too

A gross miscalculation of change. A same-sex marriage is entered in to by two consenting adults. A child nor an animal can legally or physically consent to marrying a human being. Homosexuality is victimless.

9. “It will lead to gay adoption and children NEED both male and female parents to succeed.”
Because single parents always do such an awful job by themselves?  I find it difficult to ascertain why somebody’s genitals affects their skills as a parent and/or role model.

The main argument against gay marriage is as always God and the bible, a book written thousands of years ago when people believed the world was flat. A book that only SOME christians actually believe. Marriage is a legal right not  a religious one. Why would you deny two people happiness when you’re indirectly affected? Would you tell someone they can’t eat a doughnut just because you’re on a diet?

In hindsight, this is less of a debate than fucking obvious. The fact this is still only discussion even seems ludicrous in 2012. But for now, all I can advise the opposition is if you’re against gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person.