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'Gay Rights' Are Human Rights

Ariana Shives |
September 4, 2014 | 5:45 a.m. PDT



Christina Fonthes, a lesbian resident of Manchester, was kidnapped this week—by her mother.

According to the Daily Beast, Fonthes’ family is holding her hostage in the Demoratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in hopes of "curing her" of her homosexuality. Fonthes was kidnapped on a family trip to Kinshasa, where she was allegedly denied asylum at the British embassy. 

Though the simpler issue of "gay marriage" has been a long-standing and heated debate, bringing out emotion and opinion in even the quietest Americans, Fonthes’ controversial kidnapping should open eyes around the world to the often-ignored issue of global human rights—or lack thereof—for those who identify as LGBT. Human rights violations around the world have always been and will continue to be a problem, but in this case the problem isn’t the question of the "rights," it’s the question of the "human."

READ MORE: Stop Talking About Marriage Equality

Homosexuality is punishable by law in 42 of the 53 British commonwealth countries. While it is legal in the DRC, the 2010 U.S. Department of State’s Human Rights Report found that "individuals engaging in public displays of homosexuality were subject to prosecution under public decency provisions in the penal code and articles in the 2006 law on sexual violence."

In fact, homosexuality or some form of it—gay marriage, gay sex or simply identifying as gay—is illegal in the majority of countries. In nearly a dozen of those, it is punishable by death. It is well known that, be it lawful or not, those who identify as LGBT across the globe face execution, loss of child custody, rape, torture, threats and persecution, not to mention constant subjection to verbal abuse.

More shockingly, however, is the fact that those who identify as LGBT are not only subject to heinous crimes, excessive punishment, ruthless discrimination and groundless execution, but also to exclusion from the protection of basic human rights. In many countries, it is lawful to be imprisoned and/or to be denied employment, housing and health services simply for being openly LGBT. This means that not only are some people denied a legal marriage to the person they love and therefore a right to the pursuit of happiness, but human beings all over the world are forced to go without roofs over their heads simply because of their preferred sexual orientation.

Everyone who has ever been labeled "different" for any reason has been subject to verbal abuse, but not everyone has had to experience execution, job loss or denial of basic services. Why? Because long ago, it was decided that all humans have basic rights and are entitled to those rights regardless of their race, background, orientation or religion.

As is stated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "everyone is entitled to the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind." So when did it become okay to make a distinction based on sexual orientation? According to the most well-known and widely accepted declaration of human rights that exists in the modern world, every single living human being is supposedly entitled to things like security of person, freedom from slavery, degradation, arbitrary arrest or detention and harm, as well as recognition as a person in front of the law.

It is a sad reality that there will always be people denied their human rights. There will probably forever be women and girls unlawfully sold as sex slaves and there will probably forever be people denied basic freedoms. However, to put in writing a law denying human beings their right to shelter and self-security is a despicable act of infringement on the life of a person.

READ MORE: First O.C. Residernt Sentenced Under New Human Trafficking Law

Just as we finally established that skin color doesn’t change one’s status as a human being or give them need for separate laws, it is long past time for us as citizens of the world and as humans to establish that sexual orientation of any kind doesn’t make anyone more or less human than anyone else. This shouldn’t even be a debate of "gay rights," just as there shouldn’t be "gay marriage" or a "gay lifestyle." Liz Feldman said it best when she said:

"It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or as I like to call it: marriage. You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not ‘gay lunch.’ I parked my car; I didn’t ‘gay park’ it."

"Gay rights" has sadly become a universal term. But will that change if it's a term we continue to use? Mere acknowledgement of the term by the rest of the world is what allows this to be a continuing issue. We as humans, gay, straight or otherwise, need to acknowledge the humans around us as simply that—no less, no more. The fact that "gay rights"—or rejections of them—are written in black and white in our laws will not change if we don't. Just as it was decided that women were no less human, it is time for it to be decided that anybody who identifies as LGBT is no less human. This isn’t to say that there aren’t women still unlawfully denied their rights and that there won’t be LGBTs still illicitly denied their rights. But to blatantly and by law deny human rights on the basis of someone’s sexual orientation is dehumanizing and vile and must be stopped.

Contact Contributor Ariana Shives here.



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