We were very intrigued by Donald Donham’s article, “Freeing South Africa,” and, upon realization that we were all from different countries (and continents!) around the world, we decided to take Linda on a metaphorical trip to three countries: Sri Lanka, Hungary, and the United States, and see the way in which he would feel in regards to his sexual orientation. Let’s go!
First stop: Sri Lanka
If Linda were a Sri Lankan, she would be categorized as a gay man. Homosexuality in Sri Lanka is illegal and this is largely due to the remains colonial anti-sodomy laws. While conservatives and some lawmakers are in favor of these anti-homosexuality laws the gay community is working hard to change this, and there is an increased visibility of homosexual activism especially in the capital Colombo. For instance many of the prominent theatre personalities are homosexuals, bi-sexual or have undergone gender reconstruction surgery and are very open about their sexual preferences. They host gay parades and the annual ‘Olympic Gaymes’ to promote LGBTQ rights.
If Linda were a Sri Lankan he would be free to walk on the streets and even hold hands with his boyfriend in public and the most he would get in the city would be laughs and ridicule. However I cannot say the same for the more rural areas where people are more conservative. Nevertheless even in rural areas homosexuals are very rarely subject to violence. While most people may not agree with homosexuality they also do not actively oppose it.
I think that this passive attitude towards homosexuality comes from the country’s Buddhist religious influence. Buddhism urges people to judge sexual acts (and all other acts) having given consideration to its intention. Thus an act of genuine love for another person would be judged positively because of its pure intentions.
As such if Linda were a Sri Lankan, his level of acceptance would have been decided by the area he lived in (rural or urban) and he would have most definitely been a part of the gay rights movement had he been living in the city. However if he was born in a more rural area, chances are that his family would have been very unhappy about his sexuality and he would not have had as much freedom as he did in South Africa.
Next stop: Hungary
If Linda were Hungarian, he would not be socially accepted into society, especially due to the recent shift to a more rightist government. He would live with the knowledge that the Constitution (revised in 2012), which condemns discrimination against gender, language, religion, and so forth, does not include sexual orientation. Moreover, the Constitution of Hungary does not acknowledge marriage within sexes as a
viable option in the country. According to Article L, “Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman” (“The Fundamental Law of Hungary”). In this respect, Linda would not be able to legally marry his partner; moreover, it is improbable that this situation would change in the near future.
Thus, although Linda would live in a country in the European Union, and so live under the overarching protection that the EU provides against intolerant behavior towards the LGBT community, he would have to be careful in Hungary. He would likely take part in the gay parade, in which he would articulate pride of his sexual orientation. He would have to be wary, however; gay parades are given specific physical boundaries, and participants must remain within them. Linda may be frustrated, as this restriction severely minimizes the extent to which non-participants can learn or take part in the parade.
Police encircle the event; it is not uncommon for members to be physically as well as verbally harassed.
It is ordinary for men and women to walk hand-in-hand on the street with each other; people, however, rarely see members of the same sex doing the same act. Although there are sufficient amounts of people who have liberal minds and condone discrimination, the rise of the right wing has provided stimulus for negative remarks. I have a close friend who cannot publicly show affection to her girlfriend; she binds her chest, she dons male attire, and uses the men’s restroom when she goes to the city. They have been subject to physical as well as verbal violence, and it is with this mentality that they live their romantic lives.
However, Linda would be able to find a niche in city life, namely, in Budapest, the capital city. There is an emerging LGBT culture, in which bars, parades, and other social functions generate popularity and acceptance in Budapest. Hungary attests to being socially accepting of the LGBT community, and it is depending on where you are and how outwardly you present your sexual orientation that will decide the way in which people react.
Linda would therefore find a multitude of challenges living in Hungary in 2013.
Last stop: United States
From the perspective of the United States, Linda’s situation seems potentially more clear. Typically, western notions do not consider male/male relationships to be ‘heterosexual,’ as they did in Lesotho. Linda would in today’s age be considered a homosexual, regardless of his own perspective. The culture in the US is unfortunately, judgmental based primarily on appearance/actions. Therefore, if Linda was seen with other men, he would deemed gay, even though he legitimately considers himself a female, both gender and sexuality.
I believe this is the current discourse, but there are emerging discourses that are beginning to expand our ideology, such as bisexual, transgender, or polysexual.
This concludes Linda’s journey. We learnt a lot during this week’s discussion; it is important to note, however, that, despite the varying perspectives on sexual orientation, our increased interconnectedness will likely cause a more united notion of discourse.
“THE FUNDAMENTAL LAW OF HUNGARY.” Kormany.hu. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.
Images retrieved from globalvoicesonline.org