Wed, Sep 05, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Anti-LGBT referendums harmful

By Liu An-chen 劉安真

The Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance has submitted three anti-LGBT referendum proposals to the Central Election Commission. If there really are such referendums in November, what would that mean for LGBT people?

Try to imagine the following scenarios: A teenager who has not revealed their sexual orientation to their family might hear their parents say: “Why would the government allow those people to get married? They are perverts.”

A student who chooses not to come out at school might hear teachers and classmates make statements against the right to marriage equality or sarcastic remarks about same-sex couples.

Many gay people would see Line chat room messages fiercely defaming education about homosexuality and opposing marriage equality.

Should they stand up and refute these assaults? Regardless of whether they do, they would never feel good.

Walking down the street, they would see slogans campaigning against same-sex education and marriage equality, which tells LGBT people: “We do not want our children to know of the existence of your kind lest they become like you” and “We do not think you should enjoy the same right to marriage as straight people.”

On Facebook, LGBT people might see their friends voicing anti-LGBT opinions or calling on people to vote against same-sex education and marriage equality. It is next to impossible that this would not affect them.

Many people have said that those with anti-LGBT opinions have also been made to feel bad, as their statements encounter equally fierce criticism from LGBT rights advocates, so why keep emphasizing the harm caused by the referendums to gay people?

Regardless of whether someone supports or opposes LGBT rights, they would have to face pressure from people who disagree. The difference is that verbal assault is always directed toward gay rather than straight people, because there would never be controversy over the “normalcy” of heterosexuality or whether schools should incorporate heterosexual relationships into the curriculum.

Therefore, the dispute over LGBT rights is unfair, as gay people must not only bear the psychological pressure inflicted by debating others, but they must also see that society’s antipathy toward their sexual orientation has not disappeared.

This feeling of belittlement is something that LGBT people have to experience throughout their lives and is repeatedly evoked by the debate over LGBT rights. It time and again inflicts pain upon them and makes them feel like “abnormal,” second-class human beings.

As a result, there is reason to be worried about the aftereffects of the referendums. They might bring severe pain to young LGBT people who do not have much support or resources, as well as those who have not come out to their family and friends.

As to their effects on mental health, evidence can be found in overseas studies.

In the US in 2004, 14 states passed referendums defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, which bears a striking resemblance to a question posed in one of the referendum proposals.

Mark Hatzenbuehler and others analyzed the prevalence of psychiatric disorders from 2004 to 2005 and compared the results with the prevalence from 2001 to 2002. They found that the prevalence of mood disorders — including depression and bipolar disorder — had increased 36.6 percent, generalized anxiety disorders rose 248.2 percent and alcohol addiction grew 41.9 percent among self-identified LGBT respondents from 2004 to 2005.

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