LGBT Identity Issues in the Developing Countries
In the modern world, due to the advances of science, culture and law, the major part of the representatives of lesbian, gay, and transgender community in the developed countries have their human rights protected. These aspects include both recognition of their sexual identity by the citizens of the country, respect for it, and the existence of an advanced legal basis, which protects these populations. As a result, in general, the representatives of LGBT community in the developed countries such as the US, the European Union and other live full life without the fear of repressions or social bias. However, in the rest of the world, the rights of LGBT representatives are pressured with different degrees of severity from wide social misjudgment to legal punishment as a grave crime. This paper investigates the dimension of the ability of an LGBT representative to live according a chosen sexual identity in the developing countries. It focuses on analyzing the legal aspects of the existence of such people in the countries of the third world as well as various real-life aspects including their aspirations, problems, and living constraints. Last, the investigation provides recommendations for the countries, in which LGBT community is in an especially disadvantaged social position feeling underprivileged and oppressed. The research suggests that respect for a chosen sexual identity of a person is a part of a rational, humanistic, and democratic thinking, which is not a feature of the problematic countries of the third world. As a result, such states require education of tolerance of their population towards LGBT community, which would make a shift in the manner of thinking and remove social bias. The demonstrations of the efficacy of these procedures should be the development and adoption of a profound legal framework, which grants the rights of a complete citizenship for an LGBT community member.
Sex, Gender and Sexual Identity
Before considering the problem of the paper, there is a need for clarifying the notions associated with the investigated phenomena, which would enhance the understanding of its nature and the associated issues. Thus, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexuality as A central aspect of being human throughout life encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. This aspect of life is experienced in thoughts, fantasies, beliefs, attitudes, desires, values, relationships, social roles, and practices sometimes leaving them non-expressed. The main aspect of sexual identity is that it defines whether an individual feels attraction towards a representative of the same or the opposite sex or both. From this point of view, the major part of the English-speaking countries differentiate the three types of sexuality, which is heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual stating that gender identity may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth. These differences may be manifested in different ways ranging from the choice of dress and speech to the wishes of modification of appearance by surgical means.
The feeling of people towards those, who represent homosexual, bisexual or transgender community, is diverse and ranges from tolerant and respectful to homophobic one. The latter definition is the result of the investigations of George Weinberg, a scholar that investigated the problem of antigay prejudice and stigma in the late 1960s. The researcher differentiates sexual stigma, from heterosexism, sexual prejudice and internalized homophobia, which are different patterns of expression of homophobic mentality. In the modern developed countries, the mentioned issues mostly remain solved with occasional cases of sexual prejudice, but in their developing counterparts, the situation is drastically different.
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In the countries of the developing world, the attitude towards the idea of being a part of an LGBT community or demonstrating transgender behavior is mostly negative. This suggestion becomes evident when considering the legal framework of these countries and comparing and contrasting it with the legal practices of the Western countries and the concerns of international organizations. In this sense, diverse international organizations have developed a legal framework, which demonstrates recognition of and respect to any sexual identity. For instance, according to The Yogyakarta Principles, the need for tolerance towards the representatives of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity communities is one of the essential principles of application of international human rights law. It assures that within the framework of human rights, the representatives of LGBT community have rights for privacy, personal security, work, education, freedom of opinion and expression and other. Therefore, by signing this and similar documents, the participating countries accept the declared policies and demonstrate the recognition of the rights of LGBT representatives of the society. However, some of the developing countries demonstrate neglect to these international standards by supporting homophobic ways of thinking and establishing heterosexist societies by internal legislations.
One of the best examples of legislations that violate the international standards established in the sphere of human rights is present in Uganda. The authorities of this East African country seem to decide that having social prejudices against its LGBT members is not enough, which is why homosexuality requires a legal ban. As a result, in 2014, the country adopted The Anti-homosexuality Act, which recognizes homosexuality as a criminal offense and punishes it with lifetime imprisonment. The legislation includes an advanced list of aggravating factors, which include assistance to those involved in committing homosexual act, commitment of a homosexual act when having an authority over the victim, and a broad range of compensations to the victims of the homosexual abuse. As a result, since 2014, the representatives of the LGBT community have lost the right to live according to their identity due to the fact that they may become state offenders. One presumes that this legislation has drastically affected the well-being of LGBT individuals in Uganda, which includes a big scope of aggravating factors such as stigmatization. In this respect, the critical evidence is a research of the well-being of LGBT individuals in Uganda conducted by Ilan H. Meyer. His investigation is provided with the data from the current scientific literature that includes psychology, medicine, sociology, and other, which allows observing a comprehensive picture of the problem. The report by Meyer demonstrates that the society of Uganda has three problems connected to the LGBT representatives, which include stigma, social prejudice, and the law. Defining stigma as a function of having an attribute that conveys a devalued social identity in a particular context, the scholar states that in the case of stigmatization people label human differences, and provide them with stereotypes. As a result, the victim of stigmatization loses his or her status and becomes a subject of unequal social outcomes. These social outcomes are mostly the loss of access to social, economic and political power by a labeled person. Moreover, his research demonstrates that stigma can be significantly aggravated by the law. Stating that law can eradicate or dismantle stigma, the researcher claims that in the case of Uganda the history of the social stigma of the LGBT individuals has been aggravated by the legal framework. Nevertheless, real-life analysis and comparison of the situation with LGBT issues in the world demonstrates that the relationships between the legal framework and the social bias are far more complex than expected.
Real-life cases of the relationship of LGBT representatives with other members of their community in diverse spheres of life demonstrate that these individuals have problems with the validation of the dimension to live according to a chosen sexual identity. For instance, in Cyprus, sexual minority employees often face with the cases of stigma at the workplace, which deteriorates their working conditions and well-being overall. A typical situation accompanying this problem is that the Cyprian employers view sexual minorities as poor-skilled and less profitable when contrasted with the general population. These occupational access constraints lead to the fact that LGBT individuals of Cyprus have no access to well-paid jobs and are unable to fully actualize themselves as respectable representatives of the community. As a consequence, one presumes that even the most skilled LGBT workers have a perspective of having increased identity-associated stress and depression that deteriorate their well-being. In this respect, one should consider the fact that although geographically Cyprus is located close to Western countries that actively practice LGBT integration, the sexual minorities remain disadvantaged. One of the reasons for this is that the society of Cyprus has deeply-rooted historically developed stigmatization of LGBT representatives. For instance, the South Cypriot Cities inhabited mostly by the Greek speakers recognize LGBT topics as a social taboo whereas for the Turkish inhabitants of the North Cypriot Cities they are a threat to national and orthodox tradition. At the same time, the situation with Cyprus is not that grave if compared to the issues in other countries, which tend to lead towards prejudice-based crime.
Although among the considered countries that involve LGBT prejudice-based crime are both developed and developing countries, the aspects of crime are somewhat different. Thus, the two common problems associated with LGBT identities are violence and refusal to report the criminal acts against an LGBT individual to the police. Thus, the reporting rates are drastically low globally with the 75 % of the victims of homophobic hate crime in the UK, 60 % in Sweden, and 90 % in Germany. These cases demonstrate that these communities tend to refuse to assist to LGBT individuals in having individual protection and freedom for self-expression of identity as granted by international human laws. Also, a specific degree of crimes based on sexual orientation is especially violent. For example, over 50 % of crimes in the U.S. and 65 % of crimes in Canada reported to police involve murder, assault, or sexual assault. Similarly, there is a tendency towards characterizing crimes against LGBT representatives as incidents rather the crimes, which demonstrates that the bias problem is deeply rooted in any society. At the same time, one of the most typical cases of crime on the basis of sexual identity is present in South Africa. Thus, the research by Wells and Polders demonstrates that 15% of African ethnicity and 59% of White ethnicity LGBT women and 7% of African ethnicity and 22% of White ethnicity LGBT men are the subjects of regular insults at the workplace. This statistics increases for both races and genders in such places as car parks, parks, victims home, clubs, pubs, shopping malls, and main roads being 35%-45% on average. The cases of hate-based crime against LGBT individuals of both ethnicities and genders are diverse, but the main forms of victimization are verbal abuse and physical assault. According to the statistic, these account for 67%-75% and 22% of cases respectively. Therefore, the analysis demonstrates that LGBT community in any country faces a problem of fulfilling the right of an LGBT representative to live according to a chosen sexual identity. At the same time, such regions as Africa require special assistance due to the fact that some countries on the continent bypass the need for acceptance and validation of the international human rights policies.
In order to fix the exposed problem in such regions as Africa, one recommends using the assistance of international organizations and the political and economic tools practiced by the governments of the developed countries. These means are essential for establishing a rational and humanitarian legal framework in countries such as Uganda, which would grant the human rights of the LGBT individuals. For instance, one of the most efficient tools of the influence of the government of Uganda might be economic sanctions due to the fact that they provide direct political and economic pressure on the government. One of such examples is the policy of the UK, which declared that countries that ban homosexuality would lose economic and humanitarian aid. The aim of such policies is to assist the national human rights movements in fighting for the rights of LGBT communities, which would lead to the establishment of a reformist, identity-based politics similarly to one of the 1970s in the US. Therefore, the proposed method would allow intensifying the influence of local LGBT organizations in African and other countries that fail to grant human and civil rights to their citizens disregarding their sexual orientation.
Summarizing the presented ideas, the paper concludes that although the developed countries have numerous advances in the sphere of granting human and civil rights to LGBT individuals worldwide they are present in any country. Thus, despite there are widely-accepted international treaties that grant human rights for diverse individuals such countries as Uganda make homosexuality illegal violating them. Similarly, the problems involving the rights of LGBT individuals for free expression of their identity are pressured in the most countries because of the social bias. Therefore, each country has to review its policies and make them more favorable towards LGBT communities. At the same time, some countries of the African region require additional economic and political pressure used as assistance to the local organizations that aspire for the human rights of LGBT individuals. Such tactics would allow establishing adequate legal frameworks equalizing all the citizens of the countries disregarding their sexual orientation and identity.