Being gay is not easy anywhere in the world. I have interviewed gay people about how the conditions are for them in their country.
Norway, USA, India, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Bolivia or Russia. The situation of being gay differ from country to country. In some countries it is easier than others. But still, in every country there are challenges.
Many of my respondent said it was very hard to be open about being gay in their country. While in others, it is easier to be open about their orientation. Robert from Norway, says that he is open to basically everyone, which are pretty liberal related to the topic. However, he is not open while he travel abroad.
“There are a lot of countries in the world where LGBT persons are imprisoned, killed or just not liked that much. When traveling to these types of countries I tend to keep it more to myself”, Robert says.
And the reality is like that in many countries, and Uganda is one of them. I struggled to find a gay person in Uganda to interview. I asked everyone I know in Uganda, however no one knew anyone that were gay in their country. Saying that if you are gay in Uganda, you have to be really secretive about it. When I finally found one gay person that was Uganda, that would like to be anonymous, he confirmed that this was true, and stated that he could not be open to anyone in his country about him being gay.
The same applied for India and Nigeria. When I was in Nigeria, the organization I worked for got offered a big sum of money for work with the rights of gays. However, the response the director of the NGO was: Why should I work with sick people. Not even sick animals have sex with the same gender, why should I help sick people having it?
In fact, scientists have observed that most of the different animal species have sex with the same gender.
That being said, this director was very religious. Robert, also had problems related to religion and being gay with his American religious dad.
“Of my closest friends and family it is only my father that has not taken it well. He is quite religious and that makes it very difficult for him. I am sure he thinks about it a lot and probably prays for me to change”, Robert states.
Though Norway is leading within gay rights, not everyone one is open about their orientation. A very good friend of mine is not open to his family, due to that they are religious. He is afraid that they will not accept it. Based on this, I have seen very close how hard it is for someone to keep something like this a secret! Once I asked this friend, if he could chose, if he would still like to be gay? The answer I got was: “No!”
Religion plays a strong role related to a negative perception of gay people also in Bolivia. Fernando, told me that his family is very catholic. Due to this they sent him to the psychologist after he came out of the closet. He says: “I was a few months with my family psychologist before my family understood that I’m not sick, nor that it’s a divine punishment or failure that my mother did, or something that caught me somewhere and that can be healed.”
Though they have accepted this today, “They do not like to talk about it. It is a taboo”. Fernando continues.
Furthermore, he told me about a friend of him that committed suicide for being gay, due to that his family did not accept because of religion.
While a respondent from Saudi Arabia, also claim he cannot be open about it due to his religion Islam, and the values of his family. Furthermore, he is that is forced to marry a lady.
But it is not only religion that influence how people see gay. So do politics. In Russia, it much physical abuse of gays. I remember well some videos I saw during the Olympics. Gay people that were filmed while being physical abused, beaten while laying down. One being forced to rape himself with a bottle. Some of the most disturbing images I have ever seen. My respondent in Russia, confirmed that this is a reality. Furthermore, he told me that people yell at them on the street, and that many gay and lesbians are not open about it. He blame Putin for much of the negative perceptions there is of gays in Russia.
In Bolivia, the president Evo Morales, claim that by eating chickens and drink coca cola you will become gay due to all the hormones in it. While in many other countries, it is the Presidents and politics that make laws to prison and kill people that are gay.
While in countries like Norway, where gay and lesbians should by law have the same rights as everyone else, there are other challenges. Robert says:
“When I look at obstacles in my future I first think of the difficulties with starting a family. I love children and would love to have my own one day. Adopting or finding egg donors and a surrogate to carry your children is hard and extremely expensive. At the same time even though my family accepts me for being they just assume that because I am gay that I will not have children and at times they make comments about how great a life my partner and I can have even though we won´t ever have children. In a way I feel like it will be a mini “coming out” all over again”.
Furthermore, a Norwegian friend of mine got married to the woman of her dreams about two months ago. They wanted to get married in the church. By law they should have the right to do so. However, the priest in their local church said no due to their orientation.
So, even in the leading countries of LGBT rights in the world, there is still a long way to go. Though it is still much better than in many other countries.
Maybe some of you reading this will be mad. You might think being gay is a sickness. That it is disgusting. That men and men, and woman and woman are not naturally created of being together. Because, I know, there are many people out there still thinking like this.
But one thing is for sure. For me, the gay and lesbians that I have met are some of the most amazing, kind and loving people I know. And I personally believe they deserve the same right to love and be loved, as anyone else.
How is the situation for gays in your country?