The recent decision not to allow transgender people to serve in the US military brings into play the blasé approach to basic human rights demonstrated by all levels of society, underlines the total absence of ability to grasp the fundamental issues behind the LGTBQ community and demonstrates a latent sexist, homophobic and exclusive approach to social policy.
Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer, LGTBQ. Labels. Tags. Branded as if with hot irons, the people who identify themselves as members of the LGTBQ community are human beings and as such have the same rights enshrined in law as all other human beings or whatever gender or sexuality orientation, in most countries of the world, although there remains a great deal to be done. Let us separate the wheat from the chaff.
Separating the issues, there is a difference between what is culturally acceptable in a given geographical region and what is allowed under the law. In Russia for instance all citizens regardless of their sexuality or gender orientation have their rights guaranteed and can serve as equals in any area of activity in the private or public sector. This does not mean however that people are allowed to distribute literature or other materials promoting non-traditional practices among human beings to minors. Therefore it is irrelevant to argue whether people can insinuate to minors that such non-traditional practices are "normal".
While Russia is much criticized among some members of society in western countries, and especially among the LGBTQ community, these are the facts and whatever "repression" that exists on a case-by-case basis comes from the vector of societal norms and practices, not from any policy of repression from the State. Those who know the law in Russia are very well aware of this.
We can conclude that in Russia the attitude is more balanced and more mature than in the West, where gay parades take place in the middle of capital cities, with groups of men and women kissing each other in public, tongues down throats and hands under the trousers, front and back, greeted by a mixture of wry smiles, glares, stares, sighs, cheers, waves, laughter, shock, embarrassment and nonchalance.
In other words, each to her/his own, the general consensus being go and do that behind closed doors, or get a room somewhere. This goes for women kissing women, men kissing men, men kissing dogs, an eighteen-year-old man kissing a 99-year-old lady, or a busty broad flashing her boobs outside a football stadium after three glasses of beer. Unnecessary.
But just a minute. We are all committing a fundamental error here, by identifying the LGBTQ issue as a sexual issue when all it is, is a question of identification. Being LGBTQ does not mean a person is going to walk around flashing his penis or baring her breasts, it does not mean public manifestations of sodomyor "abnormal" sexual practices by women on women, any more than a so-called "normal" and "upright" citizen with a wife and family is going to perform in public as he does in his bedroom, namely prance around in a pink ballet dress with a cucumber up his anatomy being tickled by his wife with a feather duster, squealing like a pig. But he is "Mr. Heterosexual Normal".
And just because someone is LGBTQ, does this mean that this person is going to practice her/his sexuality in the open? Why should they, any more than anyone else? They are human beings. Some will, some will not. Many will be faithful to their partners, behind closed doors. Others may be more promiscuous, like any heterosexual.
And this being the case, then what is the problem with these people serving in the military, or in shopping malls, or in hospitals, or in public administration, or in art galleries, or in public transportation networks, or schools, or offices in the public sector or offices in the private sector, or zoos, or concert halls or marketplaces?
The very fact that the question has been brought up at all means that we still have a substantial percentage of society that acts with extreme embarrassment when faced with issues that go out of their limited box and become violent or else feel the need to make idiotic statements such as "Queer? Someone who likes his vice...versa (chuckle)" or "Hey guys keep your backs to the wall"; "Lesbian? Wow I'd like to see those two at it!"; "I wonder who plays the role of Mister and who plays the role of Misses".
And does Donald Trump really have a vision of the US military with Transgender people serving in it as a chaotic scene in which soldiers refuse to go to battle because "Hey Sarge! Some queer stole my panties"?
Is it not time everyone took a mature and balanced look at the LGTBQ issue as a social and identity question, one in which basic rights must be established in the law for people to conduct their lives as they please in private and for members of this community also to understand that what is acceptable in Rome is not necessarily so in Etruria? In parts of Africa, while sexual acts between males incur the death penalty, in the same region it is common to see males walking around holding hands as a demonstration of friendship.
A touching story told to me recently sums up this issue in a nutshell. The mother and father of a seventeen-year-old boy were suspicious of his activity on his computer and one day went prying around and found that he had been chatting to a gay friend about gay issues (they were not even a couple, just friends). When the young man came back home, there was a five-minute scene in which the father and mother yelled obscenities at him, hitting him on the head and back, called him "queer", "poofter", "soft", a "nancy boy", "faggot", "fairy", "pansy"... banned him from the house and told him he was a disgrace to the family. There were tears, there were hysterics but after the initial explosion the father hugged his son, both flooded in tears and asked: "My son, are you happy?"
No further comment.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.