This is Why I Fight
Wednesday, October 14, 20098 Comments
On October 12, 1998 Matthew Shepard died in hospital. Five days earlier he had been attacked by two men, who robbed him, beat him and tied him to a fence post, leaving him to die. He was found 18 hours later in a coma, with so much blood on his face the only clear spots were where his tears had run down his cheeks.
Matthew's killers were not charged with a hate crime because no such law existed in America. After 11 years such a law still does not exist.
Same-sex marriage is legal in only seven countries; the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and of course Canada. It is recognized in only six US States; Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine (pending November 2009) and New Hampshire (effective January 2010).
LGBT teens are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual teens.
In countries like Iraq, LGBT individuals are still treated as sub-humans. In 2009, human rights groups reported that some gay Iraqi men had their anuses glued shut and were then fed laxatives, causing their colons to explode and killing them. Gay Iraqis were also beaten, tortured with electric prods, raped and murdered.
If you are openly gay you cannot serve in the United States military, thanks to “Don't Ask Don't Tell.” The only other major military forces with the same policy are Russia, China and Greece.
A large part of the world still considers homosexuality illegal or immoral.
Religious wingnuts such as the Westboro Baptists claim that God hates gay people, homosexuality is unnatural and a sin, and that AIDS was sent by God to kill homosexuals. They go so far as to protest funerals of soldiers, believing their deaths are punishments from God. They even protested Matthew Shepard's funeral with signs saying "Matthew Shepard burns in hell" and tried to protest Heath Ledger's funeral because he played a gay man in the movie Brokeback Mountain.
An estimated 33.2 million people around the world are living with HIV/AIDS. The disease affects men, women, gays, straights, bisexuals, transgendered individuals, transsexuals, adults and children.
According to surveys, 97 per cent of students in U.S. public high schools report hearing regular homophobic comments such as "that's so gay".
Men who have sexual contact with other men are not allowed to donate blood in Canada and the U.S., despite advances in HIV testing.
At my high school prom, I did not see one same sex couple.
No male professional athlete in a team sport has ever come out as gay or bisexual.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not give Brokeback Mountain the Oscar for Best Picture, despite being one of the most honored films in cinematic history.
The popular belief is that 10 per cent of the world's population is LGBT. That means 10 per cent of the world is directly affected by homophobia. This statistic does not include straight allies.
It is for these reasons and more that I fight as a LGBT activist. I believe all people are created equal, and entitled to the same rights, freedoms and protections.
This is why I fight.
Are you with me?
Queer Identities Week runs from Monday, October 17 to Sunday, October 25
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