Looking forward to 2014

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At the moment, there are a lot of blogs being posted looking back at the tsunami of changes that have taken place for the LGBT community this year. While some massive steps have been taken towards real equality, there are still plenty more to take. So, I thought I’d look forward to 2014 and find ten things I’d like to see happen in the world in the new year.

1. Equal marriage to become a reality in Australia, Scotland, Ireland, those countries in the EU and those states in the US that haven’t yet done it. These places are now out of step with the prevailing mood in western democratic nations. I’d also like to see progress on the issue in India and Japan, two democracies with strong trade links with the west that could make same-sex partnerships a reality for their citizens.

2. Steps taken, especially in the US where it seems most prolific, to silence the kind of scaremongering homophobic rhetoric that is quite simply wrong. I’m all for freedom of speech and I’m not suggesting banning someone saying “I don’t agree with homosexuality because…”, if that’s how they feel. What should be stopped is the kind of factually incorrect nonsense spouted by out and out homophobes. A sample from 2013 of the kind of thing I mean that should be illegal: LGBT people were responsible for typhoon Haiyan; gays/lesbians should not be allowed to donate organs, they are contaminated; LGBT people don’t make great athletes because they are mentally impaired; gay men in San Francisco, who are infected with HIV and AIDS, deliberately infect people by cutting them when they shake their hand.

The reason that something needs to be done about this kind of public statement is that it spreads. 2013 saw an alarming rise in the export of this brand of vile slander from the US. Notably, both France and Russia received anti-gay tourists in the form of leaders of US hate groups.

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3. A global acknowledgement that when someone transitions they are the gender that they say they are. Genitalia is not a test of gender, it is a test of biological sex, and even then it could be wrong. Unless you are going to state that your facilities are divided by sex, rather than gender, and test everyone before you allow them to use the public toilet or changing room, transwomen must be permitted to use the ladies and transmen to use the gents. The transperson is at far greater risk of abuse than the other users of the facility. This is particularly true when it comes to segregating inmates in prison.

4. Some movement by all religious groups towards an acceptance of homosexually as a natural part of the human condition.

5. Action by Christian groups to put right the damage done by missionaries at the end of the nineteenth century in Africa. I’d like to see a revival of the missionary zeal that delivered a Victorian brand of Christianity to those countries that were formally part of the British Empire, but this time used to preach tolerance and inclusion. The damage being done to LGBT citizens in former colonial countries is a direct result of the lack of development there towards a more educated and enlightened Christianity.

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6. More positive portrayals of transgender people in the media. News reportage still tends to paint transgender people as victims and documentary/reality TV uses transgender people as the hook to draw viewers like the barker used to do at the Victorian freak show. To move away from these two strains of media exposure, we need a breakthrough film or television drama that has a transgender lead whose transgenderism is less important than what is happening in the rest of their life.

7. An outpouring of gay pride at the winter Olympics in Sochi that is so widespread and so constant that the IOC and Russian authorities are powerless to stop it.

8. Less showboating. This comes in two parts. Part a): an end to the big splash “coming out” announcement by celebrities. To really move towards equality, “coming out” needs to become a thing of the past, which means labeling oneself as L, G, B or T becomes irrelevant. Tom Daley got it right this year by announcing not that he was gay or bi but that he was happy in a relationship with a man. Part b): an end to media coverage of homophobic remarks by people who should know better. Celebs know the game. They know that if they speak out of turn it will be all over the media. The free publicity that Alec Baldwin’s remarks generated last month cannot be bought. Stop reporting it and they’ll stop saying it.

9. A decrease in the transgender homicide rate worldwide and an increase in prosecutions for transgender homicides.

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10. A big old lesbian wedding for Caroline and Kate in “Last Tango in Halifax” as a great way to celebrate the advent of same-sex marriage in the UK!

Finally, happy new year to all my friends and followers, wherever you are in the world. I hope that 2014 is good to you and brings yet more progress on LGBT issues.

Copyright © 2013 Liberation Publishing (www.liberationpublishing.co.uk)

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