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In The Majority Of White Western

In the majority of white Western countries LGBT people live safely under the protection of the law, and are provided with the same rights as heterosexuals. But in 72 countries around the world, legislation exists that criminalizes homosexuality, which leads to the degradation of physical safety and mental health among LGBT people. Homosexuals in particular across the globe are presently living in dangerous environments, mainly in the African continent. According to the International Gay and Lesbian Association, in approximately 69 percent of countries in Africa it is illegal to engage in same-sex relations. This legislation directly causes state sponsored violence, such as police brutality, death sentences, and imprisonment. Because of hateful legislation, LGBT people in countries that have criminalized homosexuality are often victims of human rights violations and violence against them by both citizens and the governments of the countries they live in, which is detrimental to their physical and mental health.

Laws concerning criminalization of homosexual acts and the identity itself have been in effect for all of recorded history (A Timeline of Gay World History). Only recently have there been improvements in the decriminalization and legal recognition of gay people, but only in the continents of North America, South America, and Europe, leaving members of the LGBT community in Asia and Africa in an unsafe state. There exists evidence of considerable violence by the state against LGBT people in more than half of all countries in the world (State Sponsored Homophobia). Governments in the African continent have strict laws in reference to the criminal nature of homosexuality, and outlines proper sentencing for this crime as imprisonment and often execution. Police are allowed and often encouraged to beat and harass anyone suspected of being gay, and often seek these people out to inflict violence upon them. Violence against LGBT people by the general public is a very prevalent and infrequently reported occurrence, acts which are directly due to the aforementioned state sponsored violence (Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men). The anti-LGBT violence and victimization occurring in many countries in Africa is a direct result of the legislation that criminalizes such identity.

LGBT people are victims of human rights violations perpetrated by the governments and state they live under in 36 countries in the continent of Africa. According to the report by the United Nations Human Rights Council titled “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” in at least five countries homosexual people face the death penalty if they are caught or turned in. Referenced in articles by Reuters and the Independent concerning police brutality against gay men in Uganda, police officers use torturous methods to “prove” that the arrested men are gay, and then the officers take these men into custody and sentence them to lengthy prison sentences. Just being in prison presents a considerable threat to the lives and well-being of gay people, as they are in an isolated and enclosed environment in close quarters with convicted criminals who likely share the homophobic sentiment of the government that put them there. Concerning discrimination laws, 49 countries in the continent of Africa do not have any legislation in effect that outlaws discrimination against LGBT individuals.

People in the LGBT community are victimized by civilians, who are influenced by the laws of the countries they live in. As outlined in the 2008 United Nations report on discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation, homophobic violence of both physical and physiological nature is present in all countries across the world. It is recorded as being most prevalent in the countries in Africa, imposing significant danger to both the mental and physical health of LGBT people. Certain countries in Africa, primarily in the Northern region, that operate under Sharia law or have a primarily Muslim government show significant levels of violence against gays, due to the values of Islam woven into the legislation. Many people in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as in Namibia, believe that homosexuality is “un-African,” and doesn’t adhere to the nationalistic view of an African person, which provides further justification for violence against gay people. People originating in the African continent have been known to associate homosexuality with witchcraft, anti-family values, and being against the religions of Christianity and Islam which leads to street violence against people who are even suspected of being gay (Homophobic Africa? A more nuanced view).

Victimization by both civilians and governments lead to increased rates of suicide and mental health problems. LGBT people are at increased risk for suicidality than their heterosexual counterparts, due to discrimination (Interrelationships between LGBT-Based Victimization, Suicide, and Substance Use Problems in a Diverse Sample of Sexual and Gender Minority Men and Women). According to this report, “sexual minorities experience unique and chronic stressors” that are in direct relation to their identities, and these stressors are detrimental to their mental health. A considerable amount of research has suggested that people in the LGBT community often experience hardships such as family rejection, homelessness, lower incomes, and higher rates of poor mental health (State Sponsored Homophobia). Violence, and even the threat of violence, against gay people leads to deteriorating states of mental health, and development of issues such as depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. This is widely known in all regions, with numerous reports and scholarly research that suggests discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual people is a direct factor leading to a poor psychological state. This deteriorated condition of mental health among LGBT people is a hindrance in all aspects of their lives, from employment to family to general well being. According to the American Association of Suicidology approximately thirty percent of LBG youth in the United States, one of the safest countries in the world for gay people, had attempted suicide. This number is likely far higher in African countries with harsh legislation against homosexuals, as they live in constant fear for their well-being and are repeatedly told that being gay is absolutely unacceptable.

Anti-LGBT legislation is a cause of victimization, violence, and the perpetration of hate crimes against gay people, with the most affected area being the African continent. People who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual are in active danger in countries that have hateful legislation, and they do not deserve to live in fear based solely off of sexual identity. There are short term solutions to this very pressing issue, including increase of funding to entities in legal systems that represent gay people or fight on their behalf. Asylum needs to be more readily offered to LGBT people in oppressive countries, and foreign entities must start rescinding aid to countries who do not comply with a mandate to decriminalize homosexuality. A permanent solution would consist of a legislative overhaul in all countries with criminalized homosexuality.

Freelance Writer

I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.