In Focus with Gerard Veldhoven
During the past few months the efforts against the gay community has been escalating in many parts of the world.
I am fully aware that my columns contain so many depressing and negative stories. However, I would really prefer to report that the LGBT citizens of this world live in freedom, void of discriminatory actions, homophobic attitudes, no attacks, murders, beatings, a world where the likes of countries such as, Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, India and others, are continuing their aggressive attacks against the gay population.
Ten countries have laws that contain the death sentence such as Saudi Arabia. I have been an activist for LGBT rights for 40 years and have observed many changes and many very positive in nature.
The Netherlands was one of the earliest countries to adopt gay rights and was the first nation to change it marriage laws to include same-sex couples. Norway, Belgium, Spain and then Canada followed.
South Africa, the first and only country to approve same-sex marriage, was the first and only country in that part of the world to be inclusive. Nineteen countries have joined in so far and I am certain more will follow.
A number of states in the United States have adopted the law to include gay couples to tie the knot. However, let’s not pretend all is well.
In Canada, the attacks against gay men have doubled during the past few years. Seventy-five per cent of LGBT teens feel unsafe in Canadian high schools and the list goes on.
Having said that, we remain one of the most accepting societies in the world and one where we do see a slow progress to equal treatment.
We must be thankful to leaders such as Barrack Obama and the UN who continue to speak out against atrocities against gays around the Globe.
Stephen Harper has been rather silent, but John Baird has vocalized his opposition to the leaders of places such as Russia and Uganda.
Opposition however, has been mild and not very productive to date. We, in the western world, cannot possibly imagine the trauma, the angst, the profound feeling of total rejection by leaders of countries where attacks continue on a daily basis.
Of course, the leaders also follow the wishes of the majority. No wonder that only 16 per cent of Russians approve of gay rights and equal treatment, making gays an easy target.
During my remaining years I will not see the equal rights that our LGBT brothers and sisters so richly deserve in our world. Next time, a happy report! Comments and information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in The Amherst News.