Gay rights are a global issue and transgresses every nation, and therefore should be treated with the importance that this subject matter deserves. For we do matter! Here I am not confining my discussion to gay men only, but the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBT) Community as a whole.

In an age were a lot has been done to protect other groups and minorities, this is a community that still needs considerable work on. Our voice does matter, and needs to be heard! Our human rights are integral and important. Our position in society, and the valuable contribution to society as a whole needs to be noted, engaged and acted on. Most importantly, our status cannot go unnoticed unless you want a global society that is negatively impeded, and one that will forever remain underdeveloped – lost in the realms of prejudice.

So where do we start? That is one of the central questions. Just like Rome was not built in a day, we cannot be deluded that LGBT equality can be tackled overnight. It is going to take time, a lot of thought and debate, not to mention perseverance. At the epicentre of all this, is to address those groups, organisations and individuals that seek to thwart the development and integration of the LGBT Community into society. Here I am not talking solely about the ‘western world’, but all nations. This was recently stressed by Hillary Clinton in her address to the UN on “Free & Equal in Dignity and Rights” Speech, 2011. Paramount in her address was for the LGBT Community to be embraced and for those that act on prejudice to hold their tongues and not act in their personally held beliefs, when it negatively and destructively impacts on the right and recognition of others. Ultimately, it is a global phenomenon that has to be addressed head on, and is not a ‘western’ only issue – for we all have a part to play!

So to start we need recognition, along with acceptance of who and what we are. People once considered slavery acceptable, and thankfully now consider it it horrific and inhumane. This has to be applied to the prejudice and attacks on those that make up the LGBT Community. We all eat, we all breath and we all bleed. We all speak, go to bed, dream and have nightmares. We just have to make sure those nightmares don’t materialise and become real. A LGBT person does not differ from others in one general sense, and that is, we are all human! So once everyone accepts this generalised and real status, we can then positively move on. So, let’s start with this general classification and then progress from there, in a constructive and non destructive manner.

As a gay man, I have experienced prejudice, from the way people look at me (indirect) through to blatant verbal insults (direct). These I call attacks, regardless of them being direct and obvious, or indirect and submissive. In all senses, such treatment is wrong and degrading. No one has the right to make others feel as if they are of less worth and value, nor to feel less human than others. Indeed, what divine right do they have to do so? The answer is, there is none!

If you say you are Catholic, and that it is wrong to be gay and that we should not exist, then you should be ashamed of yourself. The Bible for instance teaches us that ‘thou should treat others as thou wish to be treated.’ It is this teaching that should be treated as the primary, and most important one. You may ask: why? The answer is simple; all the rest of the teachings stem from this, and are so interconnected to it, that they cannot be divorced, or treated separately from it. Nor can people say that I am acting out against the Catholic Community, as I am one, and if anyone says otherwise then they are wrong, even if the Pope said it! Tgis also applies to all religions for that matter. Believe what you believe, but don’t force it on others. Being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered is not a disease, just like being Caucasian, Black and Asian, or mixed race is not. This needs to be accepted!

Why do LGBT rights matter, you may ask? The answer can be stated. this: because they do! We all need each other. We all need to learn from one another. We all need to accept that we are human and worthy of being treated equally and respected. No one in the 21st Century should be bullied, tortured or even killed due to their sexual orientation or sexual preference. This needs to be accepted and embraced!

The most important message to be taken from this can be put as follows, in one sentence: WE ALL MATTER, EACH AND EVERYONE OF US FOR WE ARE ALL HUMAN AND THEREFORE ALL SHOULD HAVE THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS UPHELD AND RESPECTED!