Thursday, 3 July 2008

Sexual Orientation

I'm going to start off this entry with a minor admission. I'm bisexual. This means I like both men and women, not necessarily equally, and not usually at the same time. What this does not mean is that I'm:
  • greedy,
  • confused,
  • unfaithful,
  • lucky...

or anything else that gets thrown at me whenever I decide to be totally open about my sexuality. The worst thing is that the most bi-phobic remarks I receive are normally from within the gay community. I can never understand why someone who has had to put up with prejudice and discrimination on the basis of their sexuality is quite willing to dish it out to someone else. Believe me, I know at times I do have it easy. When I'm dating a guy I don't have to worry about public displays of affection getting me beaten up or jeered at by random passers by. At no point in my life have I had to stop holding hand with a boyfriend simply because a child happens to be walking towards us, whereas I have done this when I was with a girlfriend. (At this point I hasten to add that I am currently only talking about what it is like in the UK, as I might need to worry about PDAs with men in other countries...)

All of this does not mean I prefer going out with men, far from it in fact, it just means that it's easier for me to go out with them, which can be a pain considering I do normally vastly prefer women.


Right, before this turns into an out and out rant about the gay community's treatment of bisexuals, perhaps I should start looking at the matter in hand as a whole.

I'm probably going to start off with a bit of controversy. Gay and bisexual people have it easy in this country now. That isn't to say that it is completely perfect, and discrimination still occurs, but instutional homophobia is rare. Unless we are talking about the asylum system, but I'll come back to that later. All I'm saying is that thanks to the hard work by countless campaigners over the years, same sex couples now have the right to join in the eyes of the law, adopt and foster children as a couple and are entitled to inherit pensions from one another and become next of kin for one another. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people all over the UK are entitled to live free of discrimination at work and through the provision of goods and services. Of course, this doesn't always happen, but at least the legal right is there.

All around the UK, there are countless perfectly visible centres supporting lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people (the latter isn't mentioned again in this post, but I mentioned in my gender post) The photo below shows quite how many postcards about sexuality one of these centres has on display: There are also pride events in most major cities, including London, Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow.

None of this can be said for Syria. The only places gay men get together are cruising grounds infamous for being infested with AIDS and the fact I haven't heard where the lesbians meet up shows quite how visible they are. Homosexuality is illegal in Syria, or at least having sex with someone of the same sex is and the punishment is 3 years imprisonment. So what chance is there that there is going to be laws protecting their rights?

In some countries, such as Nigeria, it is even worse as having sex with someone of the same sex is still punishable by death.

Times when the attitudes towards homosexuals in different countries and here in the UK become undeniably linked is in asylum seeker cases where the claimant cites their sexuality as a reason for not being able to return to their own country. The UK government seemes determined to not accept this as a reaonable claim, even in cases where people's lives have been directly threatened, or the partner has already received the death penalty, like in the case of Mehdi Kazemi, a 19 year old gay Iranian.

The attitude of the UK government seems to be that the best thing for these asylum seekers is "to go back where they came from" and be "more discreet" as if such a thing were possible when you've already been arrested once before and had to flee the country due to this (like in the case of Jojo Jako Yakob, a Syrian claiming asylum in Scotland).

In conclusion, for the main part, I believe that homosexual and bisexual people have a lot to be thankful for when looked at on a global view. There are still problems that need to be addressed, like in the case of the asylum seeker cases. I do wonder however if I would have this attitude if I was a camp looking gay man, who isn't really able to hide his sexuality anywhere he goes. Would I have a different opinion as to how open and accepting this country is?

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