Most people believe that democracy and freedom go hand in hand, and on the surface of it, that seems to be the case. After all, countries which operate under democratic principals are by and large far freer societies than those that do not. If you’re lucky enough to live in a country which operates as a democracy, you’re quite entitled to say, for instance, that you hate certain politicians with no fear of reprisals. Democracy at it’s core is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people. A lofty ideal, and good on paper even when it falls short in practice due to the inherent imperfections of our politicians on all points on the political spectrum.
This said, true democracy has but one serious flaw built into it; the risk of the tyranny of the majority. Such a system would undoubtedly oppress minorities needlessly, wouldn’t it? Of course it would, there is no other way for it to be without various checks and balances being put into place which would prevent just that from occurring.
It is for this reason that the concept of HUMAN RIGHTS exists, to act as that check and balance to ensure that the rights of minorities to practice alternative lifestyles are afforded. On paper, again it all looks very very good, all people have the right to a private life, a family life, and sexual autonomy. So, what’s that to do with us?
Well, actually EVERYTHING. We are one minority that this system has so far failed miserably. Anti-incest laws are still on the books, we are still institutionally discriminated against despite being a threat to nobody. In truth these laws are still in effect due to public opinion; the public find us disgusting. Is that not the tyranny of the majority?
My argument here is that human rights concepts ought be applied universally when dealing with minorities that are harmless. We’re probably the most misunderstood and demonised sexual minority on Earth, and as such we should be protected from the tyranny of the majority, not subjected to it by our own governments on the basis that people are disgusted.
How can any system SERIOUSLY claim to believe in and practice human rights when those rights extend only to those that are approved of by the majority? That’s not real human rights, that’s just accepting those that are approved of already and to hell with anyone else! Human rights is the gateway to freedom for ALL consenting adults to engage in whatever relationships they please, regardless of whether or not it is popular. We cannot expect everyone to like us, obviously, but we can expect our governments to quit persecuting our people and throwing us in jail. We can expect to be protected from harassment and bullying, unfair dismissal at work on the basis of such relationships…etc. In short we can and SHOULD expect to be treated with the same respect and dignity as any other group of people.
We’re certainly a democratic society, but are we a FREE society? On the basis that human rights seem to apply to some and not to all, I would have to conclude that NO, we’re actually not as free as we think we are. When consenting adults can be jailed simply for having a sexual relationship which is unpopular, what kind of society are we living in? Not the pleasant, tolerant and progressive one that most people seem to think that they live in that’s for certain.
We will win the fight against bigotry and hate, we just need to get enough people to see that we are normal people leading normal lives, not weirdos or perverts. We do not need to justify our relationships because love justifies itself. We will get society to realize that just because they personally find something disgusting, does not make it necessarily wrong for everyone. We are both need and deserve equal rights, and we will settle for nothing less.