LGBT Rights are Human Rights

It’s the 21st century and yet we’re still prone to the blind hatred of the Jim Crow era. This time, however, the world has targeted a new minority – members of the LGBT community.

There are two widely-publicized cases of legislature targeting members of the LGBT community in the U.S. and several others across the world. A South Carolina case involves the ban of literature written by gays or lesbians and Arizona’s Supreme Court passed legislature that would allow small business owners to use their religion as an excuse to discriminate against gays or lesbians.

Arizona’s SB 1062 bill has been in the national spotlight since Feb. 20, when it passed the state House of Representatives with a 33-27 vote, according to In a nutshell, SB 1062 gives businesses the right to refuse to serve anyone “based on religious motivation”. SB 1062 gives businesses the right to discriminate against people with no constitutional basis.

The actual text of SB 1062 states that “person” can mean “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly, institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity” and that said person is not required to serve anyone that they don’t wish to, a term that is called “unreasonable burden” in the bill.

A few have tried to argue that SB 1062 isn’t necessarily discrimination against members of the LGBT community, but the largest persecution of gays and lesbians (in the U.S) comes from those with strong religious convictions, such as the Westboro Baptist Church or the Evangelicals.
Thankfully, state governor Jan Brewer repealed the bill on Feb. 28, but quite frankly, it’s ridiculous that these pieces of legislature gain the majority vote in a state’s house of representatives.

South Carolina’s House of Representatives has also exercised its legislative power in an aggressive manner towards gays. According to The Washington Post, members of the house voted to cut $70,000 from two colleges that assigned books about same-sex relationships to freshman students.

Colleges have always been institutions where students learn different perspectives and push boundaries, but according to South Carolina Representative (R) Gerry Smith, that’s not possible with LBGT literature ,according to The Washington Post. “I understand academic freedom, but this is not academic freedom,” Smith said. “This was about promoting one side with no academic debate involved.”

Let’s be realistic – the majority of classic novels have some type of religious motifs and colleges are not places where students are simply indoctrinated with a single perspective. Colleges are learning institutions where students are encouraged to engage in discussion. Dissent is welcomed and even encouraged.
It’s obvious that the U.S. isn’t the bastion of anti-gay sentiment, but those against gay rights find underhanded, devious manners to legalize their views. In some cases, their attempts are vetoed or deemed illegal (as with SB 1062).

In other countries, the methods of suppression are more apparent and met with less opposition. The worst example of this occurred in Africa on Feb. 20. The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, signed an anti-gay law into effect which sentences anyone who is accused of repeated homosexuality to life in jail.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the law also persecutes people who know of friends, neighbors, co-workers or relatives who are homosexual. If a Ugandan knows that someone is gay, they must report them to the authorities, or face up to 14 years of jail time.

The bill that Museveni signed into effect fosters an atmosphere of fear and legalizes persecution, which is in direct violation of human rights. It’s appalling that the UN, which recognized LGBT rights as human rights, failed to intervene before the law was signed into effect in the African country.

The point of this is that LGBT rights aren’t given the protection they deserve and various government systems make it far too easy for large majorities to violate the rights of gay people. LGBT rights are human rights and infringing upon those rights shouldn’t be possible, let alone simple to do.