Posted by Iohborlang Keven Hanson
Any two consenting adults must be allowed to legally get married regardless of their gender and sexual orientation. LGBTQIA+ communities already face a lot of hardships growing up in our society and this inequality only adds to the discrimination.
Our stories are that of bullying, family rejections, and homelessness – these are real threats to the health and wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ communities. Thousands of LGBTQIA+ communities in different parts of the Indian states face intense violence and injustice in schools, danger in our own homes, and uncertainty on the streets. But these threats are not insurmountable. Many well meaning individuals/organisations are displaying progressive mindsets and create space for us by offering opportunities to the LGBTQIA+ communities.
We need to take steps to ensure that we as young adults can grow up free of discrimination and danger that currently threaten us. Policies and programs that have been proposed by some organisations can help reduce the devastating impact of the dangers to the LGBTQIA+ communities and reduce the harms we face such as bullying, family rejection and homelessness.
Bullying can result in physical injury and cause significant emotional distress. Unfortunately, LGBTQIA+ youth not only face danger in classrooms but also suffer from lack of support from our own homes. Half of the LGBTQIA+ youth from different parts of Indian experience a negative reaction from parents when we come out of the closet and disclose our sexual orientation or gender identity. Young members of the LGBTQIA+ community who come out to their parents are vulnerable to rejection and are at an increased risk of victimisation with significant long term health consequences. Family rejection is correlated with increased depression, suicidal behaviour, substance abuse, and also a high risk of HIV as they lack family support or when they engage in unprotected sex.
Young members of the LGBTQIA+ communities who come out to their parents are vulnerable to rejection and harassment.
For thousands of LGBTQIA+ youth, our daily life is fraught with perils that no child should have to face – severe harassment in schools, rejection from families, and the prospect of not knowing where they will sleep at night significantly harm the health and wellbeing of these youth. Community thus becomes an important factor for LGBTQIA+ youth, who seek relationships and find solace in the LGBTQIA+ community. The support system runs deep and the networking isn’t rights-based but on the basis of a sense of community that runs strong as with a group of friends, brothers, etc. However, most conversations around LGBTQIA+ rights are still restricted to mainland India to which we have limited exposure as indigenous LGBTQIA+ communities from the Northeast.
Everyday, thousands of LGBTQIA+ people hide our tears behind our night dreams. We carry around our dreams and wait with an innocent faith, longing for a better future. I don’t understand why growing up is filled with sorrows. We are denied the right to live life the way we want as what we are. Our peace has vanished into thin air, our weak-from-fighting fragile hearts cry aloud in the corner everyday, begging for our rights. Sometimes its hard to articulate just how much discrimination, hardship, and persecution we face everyday simply for who we are. We all long for beautiful memories that we could keep tightly in our minds. Instead we are left feeling at fault and being foolish even if just in our dreams.
Everyone should have the right to enjoy a full life, without sacrificing livelihoods, health, or happiness.
Formalized relationships like engagements and marriage are a way of life for mainstream society, but not us. We too deserve to celebrate the connection that any two individuals share and consider important. Love is too pure to be judged by other people. In fact, we all know love has no gender. Everyone has the right to stand up, to speak out, and to defend their rights without fear of retribution, such as physical violence, slander, or attacks on their families. Everyone should have the right to defend their human rights and enjoy a full life, without sacrificing livelihoods, health, or happiness. True happiness is obtained in the journey of love and how we pay our love forward.
We know how policy makers in opposition to equal rights for the LBGTQIA+ community are concerned with ‘family values’. But they actually need to be made aware of the trauma faced by young people belonging to the LGBTQIA+ communities. We need to ensure the future of marriage equality for anyone who wishes to opt for it, and openly acknowledge the terrible realities faced by us. We need to create changes in policies that can save our lives and ensure that all LGBTQIA+ youth have a fair chance at a better tomorrow. Let’s not forget: humanity is civilisation.