By George Harvey, the action circle coordinator on LGBT issues in Toronto.
Amnesty International joins human rights enthusiasts everywhere in applauding the recent decision by the governments of Uruguay, New Zealand, and France to legalize same sex marriage.
Equal marriage is an important step for the LGBTQ community on the path towards equality, freedom from discrimination and the right to live with dignity.
The path towards marriage equality has been a challenging one and the courageous and determined work of equal rights activists should be acknowledged. LGBTQ individuals have faced many challenges, even within the activist community. It is important to realize that the loving relationship between two individuals of the same gender is just as deserving of the legal and social recognition that comes with the term marriage as every other relationship.
Dignity… It is such a powerful concept. It is so crucial to our well being and it is something that far too many people in the world have to fight for. The ability to walk down the street with our loved ones, free from fear of attack, free from leers and insults. Marriage equality doesn’t negate these things entirely, but it does become a tool against the demonization of LGBTQ individuals.
There is still so much work to be done. In many countries LGBTQ people face discrimination, violence, and legalized and systemic persecution. In recent weeks Amnesty International has worked on cases involving such terrible things as the corrective rape and murder of a lesbian activist, helping a grieving mother find justice for her murdered son, and working to protect individuals in Eastern Europe as they organize a rights movement. In many countries it is still illegal to be homosexual, with sentences ranging from high fines to the death penalty. Even in countries with strong human rights laws, transgendered people face legalized discrimination and are often excluded from human rights progresses. With the passing of these marriage equality laws in Uruguay, New Zealand, and France, the global LGBTQ community is given something very important; hope. Hope that one day everyone can live their lives with dignity and equality.
Arundhati Roy once said “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” Pride season is upon us. It is a time where we can reflect on the battle for equality that has been fought and continues to be fought for. It is a time when we can celebrate our successes and embrace the wonderful diversity that is our community. Take a moment during these celebrations to reflect on this coming world. A world that you are helping to create. Take a moment to welcome her.
Congratulations again to Uruguay, New Zealand, and France.