Everything in this world is dynamic in nature. Time after time, everything changes, from societies, countries, technologies and even human nature. However, some things have never changed in the world.
When the barbarity of World War II ended, there were lots of people saying that something like it should never happen again. However, nature has a problem in changing and people go guns blazing all over again be it in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Rwanda or Congo. These were the wars that should’ve been avoided in the first place but were pretty much shrugged at by the superpowers, NATO, Warsaw Pact and even the UN.
According to Neil Halloran, although there are no wars which could even match the magnitude of the World War II, the era of New Peace (Post War) does not mean we have learnt our lesson from World War II for the reasons stated above.
Another part of human nature is hatred towards anything and everything. It could be towards people of the opposite gender, people with different sexual preferences, religions, nationality and even choices. Hatred is primarily the reason why wars are even fought.
Mein Kampf is the biggest example which depicts Hitler’s hatred towards Jewish people, communists and Slavs. That hatred also became a reality when 11 million people were killed in the “Shoah” (Holocaust), of which 6 million were Jewish people.
This article, however, will touch on the hatred towards the LGBTQIA+ community and how they face harassment online. For example, the use of homophobic slurs likes “Gay”, “Faggot”, “Queer”, “Chakka”, “Hijra”, etc. towards people of the LGBTQIA+ community, celebrities, people who use TikTok, Kpop celebrities, etc. The internet has allowed, and worse, justified the use of these slurs, which result in further discrimination.
The hatred towards people of the LGBTQIA+ is called homophobia. This kind of hatred leads to discrimination against the said community.
Although homophobia has no clear history, it did have its roots when King Henry VIII passed a law which stated that two males having sexual intercourse would be sentenced to death by hanging. Another prominent example of homophobia in history is when English Mathematician Alan Turing, who was one of the significant reasons for the victory of the Allied powers by cracking the German Enigma Code, was arrested and forced to have conversion therapy because he was Gay.
Harvey Milk, who was one of the pioneers of Gay rights in the United States was assassinated in 1978 by Dan White who was a former police officer who had a battle with Harvey regarding the LGBTQIA+ issues in California. In the 1980s British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher passed Section 28 of The Local Government Act 1988 which prevented the promotion of same-sex relationships in schools. It was later repealed in 2003.
Juxtapose to the 21st century and there has been a major shift towards the rights and acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community around the world. As previously stated, the world is dynamic in nature. New cultures and practices which were once rejected on the grounds of religion, morality, etc. now find acceptance.
In the case of Obergefell vs Hodges (2015), the United States Supreme Court held that same-sex marriage should be a legal right all over the country with Justice A M Kennedy writing in the decision, “No longer may this liberty be denied”. In India, the case of Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India(2018), Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 which criminalised the practice of same-sex relationship was considered a constitutional violation of the people in India. In the U.K., the Equality Act 2010 protects people of the LGBTQIA+ community from discrimination in the workplace.
Despite the paradigm shift towards the LGBTQIA+ community, some countries still criminalise same-sex activity and human rights are being suppressed on “religious” and “moral” grounds.
In Saudi Arabia, the Sharia Law, which is a religious criminal code, forbids people to have same-sex relationships and the punishment can even lead to death penalties. In Russia, people of the LGBTQIA+ community are treated like garbage because of the anti-gay laws. It is also the same story in Uganda under that Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imprisons a person for 7 years for having a same-sex relationship.
One of the worst violent act against the LGBTQIA+ was the Orlando Nightclub Shooting in 2016 where Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured 53 people due to his hatred for the LGBTQIA+. Westboro Baptist Church, the Klu Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis are hate groups that have shown hostility towards the members of the LGBTQIA+.
The reasons for such homophobia is mostly due to:
The internet is like a ruthless mob led by a ruthless dictator. The place where it brings people together ironically also divides people thanks to the divide and rule mentality brought by the British. It also brings people together for the wrong reasons. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc., are used as tools to destroy someone’s life.
One such tragic example is the suicide of Amanda Todd, who made a video on YouTube about how she was harassed online before committing suicide. Online witch hunts are another problem where people who have different opinions or sexualities are hunted down and harassed, reminiscent of McCarthyism in 1950s America.
Online harassment against members of the LGBTQIA+ is a rising problem as well. With the current pandemic, there has been a rise in cases of harassment against the said community. According to Out Online, 42% of LGBTQIA+ youth are more likely to be cyberbullied and 27% of the youth do not feel safe to be online. People in countries like Morocco have been receiving death threats because they supported the rights of people in the LGBTQIA+ community.
The use of homophobic slurs is also prevalent online. Celebrities like Justin Bieber, One Direction and various Kpop stars have been subjected to the homophobic slurs.
In India’s context, Article 19(1)(a) gives the right to freedom of speech, but that does not mean anyone should say whatever they want. This isn’t the First Amendment, where freedom of speech is absolute. Article 19(2) puts reasonable restrictions on Article 19(1)(a) because it wants to protect the morality, relations with other countries, decency, integrity and public order of the sovereign. It also protects people from defamation. In recent times, due to the harassment of Rhea Chakraborty, Tiktokers, Bollywood Starkids, Kpop Idols, etc., it seems Article 19(2) has been thrown out the window.
This year saw one of the biggest controversies on the internet, i.e. YouTube vs TikTok. Before the ban of TikTok in India, there was a feud between YouTubers and TikTokers with some of the biggest creators of both sides getting involved. The feud brought the worst out in people on the internet and people have been using homophobic slurs against TikTok creators under the impression of being cool and under the guise of “it’s a joke”.
It is one thing to joke about homophobic slurs; it is a different matter when people are using it for derogatory means. Popular Indian YouTuber Dhruv Rathee has shown concerns regarding the use of homophobic words which could harm the people of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Another YouTuber Shwetabh Gangwar says that the overuse of the word “chakka“ against TikTokers has become dangerous because of the changing of times. The use of the word “chakka” in this day and age only promotes bigotry and hatred towards the members of the LGBTQIA+ community and does not promote inclusion in society.
Youtuber Yogi Baba further adds that use of homophobic slurs is not normal and people should stop using it normally since the attitude towards people of the LGBTQIA+ community is still negative in Indian society despite major changes in 2018.
The psychological effects of online harassment against people of the LGBTQIA+ community are as follows:
Alternative ways to prevent online harassment against the LGBTQIA+ community:
In conclusion, people of the LGBTQIA+ community are human beings too. They also need help, support, inclusion and acceptance in society. Understandably, neither the people nor system and laws can change overnight. It will lead to even more hostilities if it is forced upon them. However, that doesn’t mean that people should have a free reign to say whatever they want.
People need to be aware of the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and should be taught respect and acceptance. People should learn to have a filter because in this era decency has become the most important thing. Like diamonds, decency is rare because of the mob mentality which exists today.
The Holocaust was the darkest period of history where 10,000-15,000 people of the LGBTQIA+ community were murdered by Nazis. And the era of the 21st century where character assassinations, cancel culture and witch hunts reign supreme, this form of hatred is rising again. So it is important for people to have a filter and for the law to punish the perpetrators who are responsible for infringing the rights of a section of people.
In time, people online might begin to respect everyone and countries that once persecuted people of the said community might also begin to accept them in the future. In the end, it is a hope that the world which U.S. General Douglas MacArthur envisioned — of freedom, tolerance and justice — might be a reality soon.