Question of the Week: June 2nd, 2015

What’s the next step in the push for full LGBT rights?

This is an interesting topic of conversation among some of my friends of the queer persuasion, and seems to stimulate a good bit of controversy. Obviously some major strides have been made, but the achievement of marriage rights has reached the tipping point in the US, and is beginning to dawn in most of the West. This issue isn’t over, but its victory seems assured, so what’s next? There’s a lot of places for the movement to go from here. I feel that the most obvious next move is securing adoption rights, but many seem to disagree with me– what push matters most to you? What’s the next logical step in achieving equality globally?

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7 Responses to Question of the Week: June 2nd, 2015

  1. Nienna says:

    I don’t care about rights quite honestly, but I would like to see homeless lgbtqq people esp. youth housed and receiving support, as it’s a disgrace how many are on the streets after being discarded by their families due to their sexuality. That to me really matters, as a home is a basic, and life or death, safety need so should come before anything else.

  2. Sennkestra says:

    My short answer would be: probably antidiscrimination legislation

    My long answer would be: I think there’s a couple different ways to answer this, depending on what the goals are.

    Specifically, I think I have different answers depending on whether we’re talking about the problems that most urgently need to be solved, vs. talking about the problems that we actually might have the ability to solve in the near future. I think that answers will also change depending on whether we’re considering only legal change (adding more protective laws or removing harmful laws) vs. other types of change (like electing LGBT friendly officials, getting institutions to change their actual practices, changing social attitudes, etc.).

    In terms of issues that most need to be addressed, I think some of the big ones are things like murder/violence against LGBT people, homelessness among LGBT people (especially youth), family rejection, unemployment, and limited access to supportive mental and physical health institutions.

    The thing is, many of these are things that are complex issues that are hard to address via legislation alone – for example, murder is already illegal, but it still keeps happening. While legislation might be able to use harsher penalties and stricter policies to encourage better prosecution, it doesn’t necessarily keep people alive – that will take much more complex policy changes, as well as social change and simple time.

    On the other hand, there are other issues that I think are much more practical as next steps because of their feasibility. These include things like couple’s rights (adoption, immigration, custody etc.) and antidiscrimination statues for things like employment and housing. While some of these may not always be the most life-or-death issues, they are ones that we can actually expect to make a lot of progress on, and even lower-hanging victories like these can serve as stepping stones for later action.

    By “couple’s rights”, I mean things generally accorded to both married and often unmarried couples that are not a part of marriage itself – things like the right to adopt children, to have shared custody of children, to speed up the immigration process for a partner, etc. These should be fairly achievable through legislation or court action in areas where same-sex marriage has already been approved, though it would still take time and work.

    Employment and Anti-Discrimination policies are another tangible goal that I see being a good target for action, because we already have existing statutes in many areas that could easily be copied and extended to new jurisdictions; they can also build on existing antidiscrimination policies based on sex or gender. Basically, we have existing policy examples and campaign structures here already, so we can work on extending those instead of creating new ideas from scratch, which makes them more immediately achievable than issues where new approaches still need to be built.

  3. epochryphal says:

    Trans-inclusive ENDA. Trans-competent healthcare. Greater recourse for having been discriminated against. Trans-safe homeless shelters and survivor services. All of this including non-binary people.

    I’ll pay attention to marriage/adoption (rather than their implied subsets of hospital visitation and fit parenthood and immigration) rights after we get some more every-individual-person right-to-live stuff nailed down.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t really see why there has to be a “THE” next step—why not work on more than one issue at the same time? That sort of single-issue framing really gets to me because so often it’s used to say “nobody has time for the issues you care about right now, don’t even try.” As with trans issues throughout the entire history of LGBT groups, and many others besides.

    So… I don’t think there’s a “next logical step.” I think there are several. Different activist groups can choose to focus on whatever the feel they can best contribute to.

    However, the issues I’m most concerned about are (trans-inclusive) anti-discrimination acts, access to health care, safe places for people who have been kicked out or have no other place to go, survivor resources (obviously). They’re not necessarily legal issues. Employment discrimination is very much a thing, but good fucking luck proving it, really. People will accept any tenuous excuse in order to believe it was not “really” discrimination, even when the standards being applied to other (perceived-as-hetero) workers are obviously drastically different.

    • Sennkestra says:

      Yeah, that’s definitely a good point. I think we can articulate multiple goals to work towards without having to pick just one – it’s not a zero sum game where only one cause can succeed.

      I think it’s also useful to think about what goals are best for what kinds of groups – for example, non-discrimination ordinances are great goals for politically-connected activists at the city, state, or national level, while fundraising for and creating things like support centers and homeless shelters might be a good goal for more locally based community organizers. Different people’s and orgs’ time may be better spent on different issues.

  5. siggys_robot_boyfriend says:

    If we’re looking at “globally,” it’s worth remembering that the state of TBGL rights varies wildly on a global scale. Looking first at BG, male sexual activity is still criminally prohibited across most of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia (including India), and significant parts of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. It’s legal everywhere in Greater Europe and in most of the Americas, though there are eleven Latin American nations that prohibit it (mostly tiny nations in the Caribbean). Many but not all of these laws also cover female-female sexual activity. (There are no countries that prohibit F/F but not M/M). So LGB activists in those countries are going to have to work on decriminalization before they get to other issues.

    As for T, the worldwide state of trans rights is just as varied as the state of LGB rights, though the regional trends aren’t as pronounced. I’m not sure if any country has laws on the books that explicitly prohibit being trans (and not closeted) but trans people are effectively criminalized in all sorts of places. Even in Europe, policies on change of legal gender vary from “legal change of gender is impossible” (e.g., Ireland) to “legal gender can be changed but only with sterilization” (e.g., Finland) to “legal gender can be changed without any medical intervention requirements” (e.g., Denmark).

    So in terms of what’s next, what’s next completely depends on what country you’re in!

  6. elainexe says:

    Thinking about it globally….there’s no one step to be taken at the global level. Every culture can have its individual ways people will figure out what direction they want to take. Having other people in cultures with more power talk over you and dictate the direction queer activism should take is sadly pretty common. For instance, people will say things like “Islam hates lgbt people and therefore we need to liberate them (from Islam, or from their culture/political structure)!” On the other side, pressure from non-Muslims causes some Muslims to create this Islam/the West dichotomy in which “queer” clearly falls on the side of the West. Therefore, queer Muslims must just be Westernized (and therefore more secular).
    At the very least, controlling the course of lgbt rights in other cultures will lead to things that don’t make sense in that culture and ignore queer structures that already exist because they look different.
    Not to say that people can’t learn from each other and support each other. But we can’t lead other communities on this and push our vision for how things should be.

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