The campaign for equality

I have been clear in saying I deeply regret the creation of our new Domestic Partnership Act 2018, which takes away marriage equality for same sex couples.

The United Nations has an entire area devoted to sexual orientation and I quote from its website as follows:

Equality and non-discrimination

“Equality and non-discrimination are core principles of international human rights law. Everyone, without distinction, is entitled to enjoy all human rights, including the right to be treated as equal before the law and the right to protection from discrimination on various grounds that include sexual orientation ...”

Discriminatory laws and policies

“ ... Other examples of discriminatory measures include ... the denial of legal recognition of same-sex relationships ...”

Are there LGBT people only in Western countries?

No. LGBT people exist everywhere, in all countries, among all ethnic groups, at all socioeconomic levels and in all communities. Claims that same-sex attraction is a Western practice are false ...”

Is it possible to change a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity?

“No. A person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity cannot be changed. What must change are the negative social attitudes that stigmatise LGBT people and contribute to violence and discrimination against them. Attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation often involve human rights violations and can cause severe trauma ...”

Are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people dangerous to children?

“No. There is no link between homosexuality and child abuse of any kind. LGBT people all over the world can be good parents, teachers and role models for young people. Portraying LGBT people as paedophiles or dangerous to children is wholly inaccurate, offensive and a distraction from the need for serious and appropriate measures to protect all children, including those coming to terms with their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Does being around LGBT people or having access to information on homosexuality endanger the wellbeing of children?

“No. Learning about or spending time with people who are LGBT does not influence the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors; nor can it harm their wellbeing. Rather, it is vital that all youth have access to age-appropriate sexuality education to ensure that they have healthy, respectful physical relationships and can protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. Denial of this kind of information contributes to stigma and can cause young LGBT people to feel isolated and depressed, forcing some to drop out of school and contributing to higher rates of suicide.”

Can depriving LGBT people of their human rights be justified on grounds of religion, culture or tradition?

“No. Human rights are universal: every human being is entitled to the same rights, no matter who they are or where they live. While history, culture and religion are contextually important, all states, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, have a legal duty to promote and protect the human rights of all.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy in the United States Supreme Court judgment in the final case in the US, which confirmed the constitutional right for persons of the same gender to marry (Obergefell v. Hodges) said:

“The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation ... There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices.

“Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there. It offers the hope of companionship and understanding and assurance that while both still live there will be someone to care for the other.

“While Lawrence confirmed a dimension of freedom that allows individuals to engage in intimate association without criminal liability, it does not follow that freedom stops there. Outlaw to outcast may be a step forward, but it does not achieve the full promise of liberty.

“Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.

“Same-sex couples are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives. As the state itself makes marriage all the more precious by the significance it attaches to it, exclusion from that status has the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. It demeans gays and lesbians for the state to lock them out of a central institution of the nation’s society.

“Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them ...”

“It is of no moment whether advocates of same-sex marriage now enjoy or lack momentum in the democratic process. The issue before the Court here is the legal question whether the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.

“Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfilment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilisation’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law ...”

Allowing all persons to marry creates a more loving, inclusive accepting society; one where all persons enjoy the same legal rights.

The campaign to create equality will not end until we have it.

Monica Jones is a former attorney, and modern-day artist and writer, who has sold her art through private sales from her home studio in Pembroke for the past several years. She started her personal writing in 2010 and has published a newsletter, blog and regular Facebook dialogue, with the goal of creating a more peaceful and humane world