The gay rights movement is one that has taken great strides towards gaining equality in the legal realm. It has gone from being a “closet” issue to one that has found itself at the forefront of news programs, political debates, religious arguments, and propaganda. Gay rights groups seek to create a world that ends discrimination and protects their rights as human beings. They seek to rid society of the notion that sexuality defines ones worth or identity. In Korea and Latin America the struggle of gays is one that is continually being fought. The question is, should the fight be one to change the legal ramifications that continually counteract equality or should it be directed at changing the norms of society?
In Korea, the progression of the gay rights movement has been a slow one. When it first came to the forefront of discussion, it was approached through education. Schools began to implement programs that not only educated the teachers, but they educated the students. As groups began to form and gain their voice, the main goal was to create an identity. They began to use the media as an outlet to reach people and sway their views that equated homosexuality to psychological deviance and mental illnesses. After awareness was brought in Korea, laws began to be made that would revolutionize society. Laws that once said that only women who were violated by men could prosecute were changed to include victims who were transsexuals that identified themselves as females. Even the statistics drawn in the country no longer related homosexuality to mental illnesses. Was the change that Korea experienced enough?
In Latin America the gay rights movement progressed more rapidly. They used the media to their advantage to bring awareness to the issue of gay rights. They created a legal environment that began to reflect equality. All Spanish speaking countries no longer viewed homosexuality as a crime. Gay marriage was implemented in places such as Argentina, Mexico, and Spain. However, the drawback of creating new laws is that some countries fail to go back and discard the previous ones. For example, in Buenos Aires as late at 1990 there were still laws on the books that forbade homosexuals to vote. It was because of this that it was almost impossible to lobby money for equality campaigns in the 1992. This raises the question, why was it hard to gain financial support if people knew that homosexuality was no longer a crime?
New societies cannot be created by new laws. Although Korea and Latin America have made great strides towards creating a world of equality, norms in society still must be revolutionized. In a speech given by Asra Nomina, she pointed out the role of religion in the fight for equality. She gave an example of how the mosques in the United States forbade females from entering into prayer sessions on Friday nights. She also gave an account of a time that her and her father tried to go to a prayer service and the men ordered her to enter into the back door of the mosque. She reminisced on a time that men would get a large reception hall on campus to pray in and women would be left in small efficiency rooms.
Do the laws in the United States support this type of behavior? No. Do these behaviors go on? Yes! The legal system can only provide regulations of what should be done. Without the support of the people these laws have little to no power. In most societies religious rulings dictate the actions of the people, therefore teaching equality should begin in the homes of our citizens. It should be taught in the school systems. It should be reinforced in the church and infiltrated in religion. As long as there are groups of people that insist on teaching inequality, it will exist.
By: Latoya Alston