On 17 June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a Resolution on Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, affirming that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are entitled to the same rights as any other human being. Great news, although it shouldn’t have taken that long to point out that gay humans are just as human as ‘others’, entitled to the same human rights. To ensure international protection of LGBT rights, the next step forward is to amend the national laws and international treaties to include ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ as one of the grounds against which discrimination is prohibited. Although caselaw has interpreted treaties like the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human rights to include ‘sexual orientation’, changing the wording of the provisions would make it unarguably clear that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is prohibited.
Earlier this year, in May 2011, I attended a workshop on child rights, including LGBT rights at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia. I remember a lady telling her story about a friend who was born a hermaphrodite: having both male and female reproductive organs. The parents chose to raise the baby as a girl, thinking it was in the child’s best interest. Years later, the girl did not feel comfortable in her own skin. She wanted to be a boy. It turned out later, that her chromosomes showed XY, meaning she was actually a boy. I don’t understand how the parents and medics could have been so careless by not testing the chromosomes. It would’ve been a simple procedure which would have saved a child from a lot of depression, stress and confusion. This shows that ‘a child’s best interest’ is not always known as parents often choose for ‘normalcy’, thinking this is what is best for their child – it is not.
In June 2011, CNN aired a special documentary on “The Sissy Boy Experiment”: a government-funded ‘experimental therapy’ designed to make feminine boys more masculine. In 1970, Kirk Murphy’s parents thought he was too effeminate and enrolled him, at age 5, in a UCLA programme where he was plunged into a series of experiments using aversion therapy. The behaviours judged feminine (playing with girls’ toys or clothes) were beat out of him – literally and figuratively – and Kirk’s case was seen as a success, although in reality, this ‘therapy’ not only destroyed his gender identity, it destroyed him. He struggled with being gay his whole life and never allowed himself to have a loving relationship with a man. Years later, at age 38, this ‘success case’ for changing gender identity ‘disorder’ was so depressed and disturbed, he committed suicide. Today, there are still people who believe in this harmful type of therapy to prevent children from ‘becoming gay’. How long will it take for people see that a ‘different’ gender identity is not a disorder or illness and it is not to be ‘cured’?! People are who they are and they should be accepted and loved for who they are, especially by their parents.
On a happier note, here’s a beautiful and touching video of gay parents in a ‘family-style’ restaurant in a conservative part of Texas. They are being berated by the waitress, which is all acting, but the people’s reaction to this is real.
Additionally, here is a link to the most hilariously convincing gay marriage signs. I love these! Just recently, New York State has finally allowed for same-sex marriage on 24 July 2011. Yet, there are still many US States that prohibit same-sex marriage. Republicans, including most candidates for the 2012 presidential nomination, seem to oppose same-sex marriage while the Republican Party seeks to provide equal rights to all. Now, how is this compatible? We support equality, but we like to discriminate?!
So Thailand is one of countries that prohibits same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. Yet, all kinds of sexual and gender identities are tolerated in Thai society. I have never seen so many gays, lesbians and transgenders (especially ladyboys) in public – especially, considering it is quite a conservative culture! This shows that even though the law prescribes one thing, as long as people are respectful and loving, society can be turned into something much better! It’s what you make of it, so let’s stop the hate and ignorance.