Are LGBTQ+ People Safe In 2023?

A group of people holding a rainbow flag

As we reach the midpoint of 2023, the challenges that queer people have been enduring highlight the ongoing and pressing concern for the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ people, which continues to weigh heavily on the public’s mind. Although some people believe that queer people are safer than before, those residing in advanced and emergent economies and societies still face ongoing challenges and risks. 

Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are issues that are deeply rooted in many diverse cultures worldwide, leading to yet another violation of human rights against LGBTQ+ people. One example is Turkey’s latest ban on Pride marches. This unlawful act didn’t stop people from exercising their fundamental right to protest. Therefore, Turkish police intervened in the protest in a violent way and detained 113 people in Istanbul. Given the Turkish President’s constant targeting of LGBTQ+ people and diminishing their basic rights within the parliamentary system, the future of queer people in Turkey appears increasingly risky. In light of Turkey’s troubling history of violence against LGBTQ+ people, every year thousands of queer people seek asylum in safer countries, hoping to find protection.

Discrimination, prejudice and violence are even more alarming for trans people. Many individuals within the trans community are compelled to relocate in order to undergo their transition and live in a safer environment; however, this is not the ultimate solution for everyone. 

Eden Knight, a trans woman of Arab descent, sought refuge in the USA to escape the oppressive environment of her conservative parents’ home. Tragically, she fell victim to manipulation and coercion, leading her to cease receiving gender-affirming care. This resulted in Eden Knight’s death by suicide, highlighting that there is a trans genocide endangering the safety of trans communities. This incident is also an example that the challenges faced by trans people, particularly women of colour, are exacerbated by systemic injustices and prejudice that persist in society. What LGBTQ+ people experience extends beyond people’s perceptions, it represents a profound systematic oppression that demands immediate revolution. 

Another distressing example highlighting the lack of safety for queer people, even in advanced economies, is the recent regulation in the USA that permits businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. Such regulations mark the beginning of further limitations on the constitutional rights of queer people. While some Americans express concern about their children being “influenced” by corporations allegedly using LGBTQ+ communities as a propaganda tool, the reality is that queer people face far more significant challenges, including combating discrimination and securing their rights. 

Peer pressure is another issue that queer people encounter, making their pubertal years even harder. Both the systemic homophobia prevalent in society and the absence of education on LGBTQ+ matters, which stems from parents failing to teach their children about diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, contribute to the distressing issue of bullying experienced by queer people.

On 11 February 2023, Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old British transgender girl was killed in Warrington by two 15-years olds. Following her passing, it came to light that she had endured years of constant transphobic harassment and unrelenting bullying, within a school environment and beyond. This heart-wrenching incident stands as a stark reminder of the significant role that schools, teachers, and government institutions play in preventing such issues, emphasizing the disheartening reality that they often choose inaction rather than taking meaningful steps to address them. 

Although it may seem daunting to overcome a deeply rooted homophobic system, we can take simple steps to support the LGBTQ+ community by consuming LGBTQ+-produced media, attending pride parades, holding corporations accountable, educating ourselves and people around us about LGBTQ+ matters and lastly, supporting queer-owned businesses.

Words by Birgül Daş

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