Homophobia: The New Epidemic Sweeping the Globe Off Its Feet

As long as a person is comfortable under their skin and is living their life peacefully, their personal life shouldn’t concern anybody else. Accepting and embracing ourselves for our faults can be hard enough already; adding on stress of judgment from other people makes it even worse.

Even though we’re all different in our unique ways, we’re all the same. We’re all strong-minded, soulful people who aim to be happy and successful in our lives. Since we aren’t that different after all, how can we fathom, to this day, mistreating minorities such as LGBTQ+ for being themselves? Society, that has nothing to do with the lives of those in this community, shouldn’t have the authority to make judgments about a person solely based on their sexuality.

The unfortunate reality is that for centuries, many cultures have promoted keeping a distance from gay people, telling the straight population that those groups are mentally unstable and sometimes encouraging attacking them.

For instance, in Asian culture, children are reared to fear bending norms since standing out from what’s considered “normal” (i.e. being open about one’s sexuality) might make others question one’s character and even their mental health. Above all, being the subject of gossip and forging a negative reputation for one’s self doesn’t sound appealing. Moreover, others should have no reason to be overly affected by anybody who doesn’t pose a threat to their well-being.

In Brunei, a country ruled by a Sultan, the majority of the population consists of Muslims who follow the strict interpretations of Islamic law aka “Sharia.” One of these laws denotes that same-sex attraction or relationships are “haram,” not allowed. In early April of this year, the Sultan passed a law, under the Syariah Penal Code Order, that any gay/lesbian couple spotted in public (with proof) would be sentenced to death. This received a lot of media coverage and sparked international outrage, even causing celebrities to get involved by boycotting luxury hotels linked to Brunei.

Homosexuality was already illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Although the death penalty from this “crime” was removed in May of the same year, people were still horrendously abused in jail. This is ironic since, in 2015, activists established the Brunei Project to promote human rights, which included religious freedom, free speech, and LGBT rights, through the use of social media. In 2016, the group organized a community event to celebrate Brunei’s first International Day Against Homophobia event. Nevertheless, that was the past. The current violation of human rights has left Brunei’s gay community in shock and fear at the punishments.

Other examples include certain Christian families in Eastern Europe and Russia that are peculiarly homophobic, believing that every gay couple they see on the TV is propaganda. In Azerbaijan, people get disowned if they aren’t straight. In Eritrea, a small country in Africa with a bit less than half the population consisting of Christians, being gay is punishable by 14 years of jail. This is probably due to a conservative Christian slogan: God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Such a situation — not letting a person be with someone they love due to religious and legal restrictions — is rather unfortunate. It’s similar to not letting someone else eat at all because the other person is on a diet. The only factors that should define or be used to judge a person should be their personality and character. Judging someone based on their sexuality is similar to judging someone based on their gender or race. Instead, we should look at and love for what truly makes us who we are. At the end of the day, we are more productive when we focus on each other at a soul-to-soul level, rather than judging the ocean’s wildlife by the tides seen on the surface.