Over the past year, there have been rumours spreading that minority groups within the LGTBQ+ community are feeling underrepresented amongst the many LGBTQ+ groups and associations that advocate for and speak on their behalf. The under-representation is rumoured to have started conversations around creating new and targeted organisations focused around their specific wants and needs. Though just rumours, many of the LGBTQ+ representative groups and associations have come out and publicly denied any potential splintering, however, there is, albeit a small amount of truth that many are feeling marginalised within the community.
Outside of the community, people often joke about the ever-growing number of letters that form the name of the wider community, but people do not often appreciate the need we all have to be represented and the feeling that our voice is being heard. Whether it is non-binary or lesbian, we all want acknowledgement, acceptance, and that we all receive our rights and protection under the law. Over the years, pioneers and advocates as a collective, have fought hard to improve the lives and conditions, though LGBTQ+ is now more widely accepted in certain parts of society and within specific countries around the world, there are still many being persecuted. Whether it is the continual persecution by antiquated regimes, or as in recent years, the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment across the world, it is undeniable that the community still has a long way to go to ensure LGBTQ+ has been truly accepted the world over.
Looking closely at the estimates relating to the community, you can see where the minority groups exist, it is estimated that of the world’s population, 1.34% identify as Lesbian & Gay, 1.29% identify as Bisexual, and less than 1% (0.006%) identify as Transgender. The larger groups tend to be focused on sexuality-related rights and laws, women that identify as lesbian or bisexual will also fight for gender equality, while within the minority groups, though sexuality is important, higher on their priorities is gender expression and anti-discrimination.
It is undeniable that work needs to be carried out to ensure everyone feels represented and that their voices are heard, however splintering off at this crucial time with so many still being persecuted and the constant risk of laws being reversed, this move could dilute both the message and the collective influence the community has overall. There are examples throughout history of very different people uniting together, working towards one common goal. One such example is the Indian Independence Movement, whereby various Indian communities who were all living under the rule of the former British Empire worked together. These very different individuals, with their own cultures, religions, beliefs and languages, worked together to achieve independence. Though the groups fractioned off after independence in 1947 to create modern-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, for over 90 years, they worked together in unity with one common goal in mind.
The world, as a whole is a long way from treating LGBTQ+ individuals as equal, giving people their fundamental rights, the freedom to be their true selves, loving whomever they want without the fear of persecution. Many countries over the years have stepped up and delegalized same-sex relationships, introduced anti-discrimination laws, improved equality and gender expression for LGBTQ+ individuals; however, there is still so much more to do. With 25% of the community living in fear of persecution, and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment growing there is a risk that the laws and rights many fought hard to achieve could be reversed, and the cause is put back years.
In these difficult times, working together in unison could mean we achieve incredible things, work to stamp out extreme political agendas and continue liberating and freeing those being persecuted. We should never underestimate the power that we all have as a community, from our numbers to the money we collectively contribute to society. The fractures need to be addressed, from mandates we all collectively agree to, fairer representation for all groups and better empathy amongst the members of the community is a start, but so is the goal and ambition to ensure everyone, whether they live around the world, has the freedom to be their true self.
Like the pioneers that came before us, the advocates fighting for us now, you do not have to be on the front lines, but it is important that you believe in the cause and that your wants and needs are being fairly represented. The clear message to the world is that we are not asking to be treated differently, just given the same rights and protection under the law as everyone else, that cannot be too much to ask?