All around the planet the LGBTQ situation is kind of awkward. In some countries, they’re killed, in some others kinda accepted, but everywhere they are asking for more rights and recognition. And this situation is not the only one of its kind. There are a lot of minorities struggling to have more rights, and everywhere they have or had to face (sometimes violent) opposition.
So how do minorities get their rights and how can we as majority react to actual minorities concerns?
The problem arises when a group of people that we never saw before demand recognition. How should we react? Should we give all kind of rights to everybody just because they ask? Or should we never change the laws because they are good the way they are.
In all civil rights movements, we can observe at least two sides: The minority and The majority.
- The minority is the group of people who require more rights
- The majority is pretty much everyone else
Why does a minority want more rights? People, who share a culture, an ethnicity or a religion want to express themselves more freely and be equal to everybody else. There is probably a lot of these minority groups in your region or country without you noticing them. We usually notice them only when they ask for more recognition. Or more accurate: they DEMAND it! This was the case for African-American in the USA, for Slovenians during Yugoslavia, for Irish under the UK and for the LGBTQ movement right now.
What all the minorities have in common is their struggle before acquiring equality or independence. Most of the time a minority will struggle silently during years, decades or maybe even centuries. Eventually, their requests might be heard, but this doesn’t mean they will get what they want. Sometimes they have to persist during years, while sometimes the war will last ten days. Sometimes they will reach their goal and sometimes they will have to settle for less.
But why do minorities even want rights at this cost? Mostly so they can be who they are and have the same rights no matter who they were born to be. Because it is easier to change the society than it is to change your own identity.
On top of recent history stands African-American people who obtained their civil rights after a long struggle. They went from being slaves to free people and from free people to having equal rights as everybody else. At least on paper.
Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther, are just some of the names. We can read all about it in a couple of pages but the struggle for equality and rights of African-Americans is more than words and names we can read in a book. It is a puzzle of millions of people of all colors struggling.
In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, same-sex sexual behavior and cross-dressing were totally unacceptable and were serious crimes sometimes ending with death. In the 20th century, there were many individuals and groups who wanted gay rights, but it wasn’t until the period after the war that the real fight began in the western world. The new social movements of the sixties, such as the Black Power and anti-Vietnam war movements in the US, the May 1968 insurrection in France, and Women’s Liberation throughout the Western world, inspired many LGBTQ activists to become more radical.
1973 was a big breakthrough: homosexuality is no longer mental disease in America.
In America today African-American and white people are supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law and have same opportunities.
Sadly, the researches show that this is not the fact in real life. African Americans who are arrested are seven times more likely to be imprisoned than whites; they are sentenced to death four times more often than whites, and the average prison sentence is 10 months longer for African-American men than for white men. It is also least likely for an African-American person to own a home compared to all the other ethnic groups in America.
Since 2001 a lot has changed for the better for LGBTQ. In 2001 the same sex marriage was legalized in Netherlands. Since then most of the countries in the western world have either legalized gay marriage or legal union of gay people. However, in some of the countries in Africa and Asia homosexuality is still illegal and gay people can face prison time, life in prison or even death penalty.
On the bright side, 2017 was a good year for transgender community as Denmark became the first country in the world to officially remove transgender identities from its list of mental health disorders.
Major changes do not happen overnight, but change is the only constant thing in our lives. Black people have come a long way since being enslaved but they still have a long way to go. Same goes for LGBTQ community. Things that are acceptable today could earn you a death sentence in the past. For some (minority) things are moving too slow, while for others (majority) things are moving way too fast.
MAJORITY POINT OF VIEW
Why is the majority so conservative, so slow to change their minds and so hard to convince?
Black people were brought from Africa especially to be slaves of white people. This doesn’t mean that all white people were bastards who wanted to enslave the black ones, it was just the way things were at the time. When black people suddenly wanted rights, this came as a shock. It sounds absurd today. But at that time they all thought that black people were worth less than white ones, and then the black people wanted to be free, have same rights and live the same life as white ones. It was a shock even for the progressive ones.
Same is true for gay people. Slowly it is more and more acceptable to be gay and to see gay people on the street. But it still comes as a shock to some, especially older people to see a gay couple or a family, let alone transgender people or any other group of people who are not fitting the social standards perfectly.
We also have to understand that when a majority has to give more rights to other people, they feel like they are giving up on their own like they are losing something that was just theirs before (which often they actually are). They feel like things are taken from them personally and so they fight harder to keep things the way they are. If black people can enter the same restaurant, less white people can find a table there and if the gay community is commonly admitted in society it is totally challenging the vision of the traditional family.
The majority is not part of the fight of minorities, they do not even notice them during minorities’ fight for rights. And as their struggle is usually long and hard, they become more aggressive. Once the majority notices them, the minority has already put on a good fight for their cause. This is why once they state their demands super loud and the majority hears them, those demands can trigger a negative reaction.
Which doesn’t mean the minority should stop, get desperate or start a war, but just understand that giving rights is not such an easy decision and when a minority asks for more rights it should do it precautiously and considering the majority’s point of view in order to be understood clearly and not be seen as a threat.
While on the other hand, the majority should always keep an open mind and be ready to participate in a dialogue in order not to reproduce crazy shit like slavery.
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