Eastern Europe and Central Asia: #speakout4LGBT

What I can do?

You can tackle ‘hate speech’ with more speech – challenge and stand up to discrimination that you see online.

How to counter ‘hate speech’ online?

  1. Gather information

There are many myths about LGBT people that are widespread and repeated over and over again. Many people probably don’t even realise that they are untrue, and they can be easily contested by facts.

  1. Pay attention to language

Sometimes in a heated discussion it is easy to use inappropriate or offensive words. Be calm, don’t get provoked to use hate speech in return. Use more inclusive/friendly language as a way of showing solidarity and sensitivity.

  1. Show support to targets of ‘hate speech’

It is crucial to make supportive comments to those being targeted by hate speech, to show that they are not alone.

Myths about LGBT people

Myth 1

‘LGBT people don’t exist in our country, it is not part of our culture’.

LGBT people exist in every society and in every country regardless of culture and traditions. Sometimes politicians deny the existence of LGBT people in their country; LGBT people are described as ‘unnatural’ and ‘foreign’. Statements like these intimidate LGBT communities and stop many people from coming out from fear of persecution and violence.

Myth 2

‘Families should be ‘traditional’: a wife, husband and kids; children in same-sex families are often abused and unhappy’.

Research studies show that children brought up by same-sex couples do not differ from other children. As stated in the 2004 Resolution of the American Psychological Association, the world’s largest association of psychologist …‘there is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of their sexual orientation. On the contrary, research suggests that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.’

Traditions, culture or religion, although very important in our lives, cannot be used as a basis for restricting people’s enjoyment of human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All states are obliged to protect the human rights of all people equally.

Myth 3

‘Homosexuality is a disease’.

On 17 May 1990, the General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders.

In the past there were many attempts to ‘cure’ homosexuality using inhumane practices. This often amounted to torture and cruel or degrading treatment, and in turn sometimes resulted in suicide. For example, Alan Turing, the British mathematician considered to be the father of modern computers for breaking the Enigma code during World War II, was forced to undergo chemical castration following a court ruling. Following this ‘treatment’ Turing committed suicide in 1954. He was eventually pardoned posthumously in 2013. Thousands of other men convicted of homosexual acts were forced to undergo ‘treatment’ using electric shock or hallucinogenic drugs.

Myth 4

‘The rights of LGBT people are not violated, they can do whatever they want at home’.

Would you consider yourself free if you could only express your political or religious views, or your love or feelings for your partner at home? In many countries LGBT people’s rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are violated as they are prevented from expressing their opinions in the public sphere – for example through ‘homosexual propaganda’ bans, restrictions on pride marches or limits on what they can teach their children.

LGBT people are not advocating for ‘additional rights’ or ‘special treatment’: it is about ensuring that LGBT people can live their lives without discrimination and violence. As stated in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. LGBT people should enjoy same rights as everybody else.