Today is Human Rights Day, known as the anniversary of the 1948 United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This historic document laid out the basic human rights and freedoms of all human beings, regardless of their identity. Sexual orientation and gender identity are huge parts of who we are as humans. Yet, so many people in the LGBTQ+ community continue to face violence, inequality, torture, and execution because of who we are and who we love. Below are a few of many unfortunate examples:
- 72 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships.
- In 10 countries, such as Yemen and Iran, same-sex activity is punishable by death.
- Only 50 countries allow trans people the legal right to change their name and gender. In many more countries, LGBTQ+ people face discrimination, violence, and a whole lot of other human rights violations, just for being themselves.
- More specifically, in the United States:
- An estimated 40% of homeless children are LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ youth often end up homeless because their families and communities ostracize them at a time when they remain economically dependent. As a result, they face depression and even homelessness.
- 42% of people who are LGBTQ+ report living in an unwelcoming environment.
- 80% of gay and lesbian youth report severe social isolation.
- 6 in 10 LGBTQ+ students report feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
These facts are unacceptable, yet they are the unfortunate reality of the world we live in today. So how do we fight this reality? Like any civil rights movement, we must not only fight for laws to be enacted, but we must also advocate for everyone to be accepted for who they are. We cannot allow LGBTQ+ children to grow up in a society of hate and discrimination.
By spreading facts such as the ones mentioned above, we are educating people on what the LGBTQ+ community faces on a daily basis, and, as a result, creating understanding among people who may not be aware of the tragic reality for so many. Over the last year, hate groups have shared much misinformation about the LGBTQ+ community, including its “dangers.” These campaigns often result in bullying, abuse, and even killings of people due to their sexual orientation and identity. We can rid our communities of this hatred by becoming advocates and spreading awareness about the LGBTQ+ community on our social media and everywhere else we go. Even if you don’t consider yourself part of the community, there are always ways to help.
Besides spreading facts, we must not forget to spread the signature message of our movement: love. Whether you are a part of the community or an ally, we can all empower those around us by simply showing that it is okay for them to be who they are. By wearing our pride, we are normalizing something that should have been normal all this time: the freedom to be exactly who we want to be.
We hope you found these tips useful. While you celebrate Human Rights Day, remember we have a lot of work to do!