Dis­crim­i­na­tion is the cul­prit

The News (New Glasgow) - - OPINION - Ger­ard Veld­hoven Ger­ard Veld­hoven is a long­time ac­tivist for the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der com­mu­nity. His col­umn ap­pears weekly in The News. Com­ments and in­for­ma­tion may be sent to lgbt­con­nec­tion­sgv@gmail.com.

There are 7.6 bil­lion peo­ple who roam this earth, di­vided into many races, countless be­liefs and end­less dis­crim­i­na­tory at­ti­tudes that are ram­pant. It’s the di­vi­sions that are the main source of dis­crim­i­na­tion in a world where heal­ing seems a long-dis­tance goal. Nev­er­the­less, countless are mak­ing hon­est at­tempts to make a dif­fer­ence. Dis­crim­i­na­tion is the cul­prit.

As we study the world’s in­hab­i­tants, we soon dis­cover the di­ver­sity of peo­ple. There are great num­bers of races, lan­guages, man­ners of dress, sex­u­al­i­ties, gen­der iden­ti­ties and so many vari­ants in be­hav­iour. We are sur­rounded by despots, those who pos­sess ab­so­lute power and those who can­not, or dare not speak and be counted. Wars are plen­ti­ful, with the pow­er­ful, the ab­so­lute rich, those who make it their life’s am­bi­tion to rule. Why? The rea­son is not so dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand.

We are fully aware of the ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ing the mi­nor­ity, and thereby they rule with iron fists and the need to over­see that equal­ity for all peo­ple is nonex­is­tent, or in­deed unattain­able. Yes, it all comes down to dis­crim­i­na­tion, groups, or in­di­vid­u­als, it mat­ters not, be­cause it is called by the same name. We find it in gov­ern­ments, in schools, in our places of busi­ness, the per­son on the street and our re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions. All we have to do is search out the Vat­i­can, or other de­nom­i­na­tions, and we re­al­ize that re­li­gious in­flu­ence re­mains quite pow­er­ful, espe­cially in re­gards to LGBTQ+ cit­i­zens.

Thou­sands are call­ing for ac­tion to make pos­i­tive change, with some suc­cess. The em­pha­sis must be placed on equal rights for all, bar none. Our gov­ern­ments must be on our side to change laws that are an­ti­quated and re­dun­dant. Of course, they only pay slight at­ten­tion to the need for change at elec­tion time, and even so, we must con­vince the elec­torate to be on our side. That is not an easy task. First and fore­most, the fact dis­crim­i­na­tion con­tin­ues and is on the rise ev­ery­where to­wards all mi­nori­ties is the is­sue.

Around the globe, we hear of pun­ish­ments for LGBTQ+ peo­ple who face tri­als, beat­ings, prison and even death. Many are not even af­forded a trial and face pun­ish­ment im­me­di­ately. LGBTQ+ folks in the United States have much to fear from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and the Repub­li­can Party as they con­stantly at­tempt to, or in­deed are suc­cess­ful, chang­ing the laws that of­fer some pro­tec­tion from dis­crim­i­na­tion. Within our schools, we find LGBTQ+ stu­dents who do not feel safe, or ac­cepted, through bul­ly­ing and other means.

This is not iso­lated, but quite com­mon in our Cana­dian schools, el­e­men­tary, high school and post-se­condary ed­u­ca­tion. How are we able to fight that hor­rific at­ti­tude and feel that we are a con­tribut­ing part of our so­ci­ety? We work, we are in re­la­tion­ships, buy homes, go to the same churches, if one is so in­clined, pay our taxes, and do all things as oth­ers in our na­tion.

The im­por­tance of gain­ing equal­ity is self-ev­i­dent in that it places ev­ery­one on par with all in our so­ci­ety. Our skin colour, the way we speak, the way we dress and whom we love must not be crit­i­cized or dis­missed. Each of us is in­di­vid­ual and each of us has the hu­man right to co-ex­ist on this earth.

If we must fight for that free­dom, so be it, and we should ap­proach our jour­ney with a pos­i­tive mind. That is not an easy task, as we see so much in present day that must be cor­rected. Our com­mit­ments must be set forth in the com­ing years and in do­ing so we will see a bit of a dent in the process to elim­i­nate dis­crim­i­na­tion. It is the cul­prit that must be de­feated.

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