Globally, June is the month of the year people where queer people are able to celebrate: who we are, where we come from and remembering those who risked their lives so we can be free today. With the number of companies brandishing the rainbow on their Linked In profiles, the advertisements for lesbian and gay couples on the TV, and the plethora of colourful clothes hanging on clothes rails in retail stores, you could assume that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is over, or at least nearing the point of equality.
However, only 2 days into Pride month 2022 we hear of another homophobic and transphobic attack committed in broad daylight on the streets of central Dublin. The survivor of the assault: a queer non-binary person in their 20s, out with friends at 7 pm. The reason for the assault? Their friends had wrapped a Pride flag around them. The victim was beaten unconscious with a bat and stabbed several times by multiple assailants before they ran away, leaving the person for dead. They are now in the hospital, fighting to recover from this brutal attack.
This attack, however, was not an isolated incident, but rather one more incident in a growing pattern of violence against queer people – not just in Ireland, but across the globe. Looking back just a couple of months in Dublin, a gay man was physically assaulted, and just a month ago a lesbian couple was violently assaulted. Unfortunately, this is not the worst of it. April 2022: a spree killer with a homophobic motive killed two gay men, Aiden Moffit and Michael Snee just a day apart from each other. What was then quoted as a “rare” occurrence, does not look to be so rare anymore? Both victims were found mutilated in their own homes, and a third man was stabbed in the eye – all by a man they had met on dating apps.
The attack against queer people is not just a physical assault, however. Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation has risen significantly over the past few years, both in the UK and in the US. Let’s take a moment to consider Texas, USA – the state where just two weeks ago 19 children were killed by a gun attack in an elementary school. Lawmakers are scrambling, but not for tighter gun control or psychological checks, no their newest method to protect the children is to ban drag queens. This comes after a gay bar in Texas held a daytime family-friendly drag brunch over the weekend, where several anti-LGBTQ+ protesters arrived to harass attendees and queens. Texas State Representative Brian Slaton has declared his intention to introduce legislation banning minors from drag shows and queens on Twitter of all places, writing that “drag shows are no place for a child”. He didn’t stop here, declaring that drag queens are “perverted adults… obsessed with sexualising young children”.
The event in question was a Pride fundraiser to help queer kids, playing Disney songs, entertaining babies, and inviting the children to join them on the stage. This speaks volumes to Slaton’s real intent: he doesn’t want to protect children from “perverted drag queens” – he wants to stop queer youth from feeling accepted both within themselves and in society. This marks another notch in several hostile legislations against LGBTQ+ youth in Texas state. Only this year, lawmakers declared gender-affirming health care for minors as a form of child abuse, bringing in Child Protective Services to investigate. Trans kids are also banned from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity. Although Texas is a particularly hostile area, this is being replicated across the country – as of March 2022, only three months into the year – nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed across the country, most of them targeting trans kids. Compare this to 2018, where only 41 were filed in 12 months, this paints a grim picture for the LGBTQ+ community.
This trans-specific attack is being replicated in “tolerant” societies in all areas of the world – in the UK this year conversion therapy was banned for ‘LGB’ kids but not for transgender youth. The IRCT (International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims) describes conversion therapy as “cruel, inhumane, degrading and in many cases torture”, yet the government is happy to allow treatment such as electroconvulsive therapy, electric shock therapy, vomit-inducing drugs, exorcism and violent ritual cleansing, force-feeding and food deprivation, forced nudity, and forced isolation to be inflicted to people both young and old across the country – but only if you’re trans.
Unfortunately, these are merely just a few examples of how LGBTQ+ rights are being stripped away over the last couple of years. I could speak about the increase in homophobic attacks globally during the lockdown, the fact that 2021 was the highest murder rate against Trans people in recorded history or the fact that during the Ukrainian war, transgender Ukrainian people are not being allowed across the border to safety due to passport disparities – yet this still would only scrape the surface. The question we ask now is, what can we do?
How to support the LGBTQ+ community during Pride and every other month:
- Vote! Research whether your local politician supports LGBTQ+ rights, and who best furthers their interest
- Stand up against rainbow washing: if your company is painting the rainbow flag on their LinkedIn profile during June, ask them: what are you doing to support LGBT rights?
- Be an ally: Research, research, research – if you hear microaggressions or anti-LGBT rhetoric in the workplace or anywhere else, speak to and educate people, however you can
- Protest – whether it be at work or in the streets, we still have our voices, and we can make a stand against these acts
- Donate! There are so many amazing charities supporting the LGBTQ+ community, rather than buying your morning coffee one morning a week, a couple of coins could make a difference to an LGBTQ person’s life
- Who are you working with? As a recruiter, I work with a lot of different companies. Taking the time to see whether they are inclusive of LGBTQ+ folk, offering education if they don’t, and making sure my LGBTQ+ candidates feel supported are just small ways to create more accessibility
Although these things may seem small, if we all stand up for the safety and support to the LGBTQ+ community, Pride can become a time of celebration, and not a time of fear.
If you’d like to donate to Trinnovo Group’s LGBTQ+ EEG’s fundraiser to TENI – Trans Equality Network Ireland, the link is below: any donation is appreciated!
Donate to TENI