Effect of technology on rights and freedoms of the queer community

Exploring how technology has affected the queer community

Today the entire world is just one screen away, with technology turning from an option to a necessity. And in recent years we’ve seen the internet turn from an online repository of information to a tool for spreading knowledge to cause change. So it becomes our duty to stand for what we believe in, and show our support in humans everywhere.

We at IET NITK stand with NITK spectrum, and we’d like to raise awareness of how advances made in tech in the last decade have done wonders for queer representation and queer rights. We believe no one should force your opinions, so we aim to provide our opinion, and leave you to decide what to do with it.

Queer rights

Isn’t it strange to think that a significant percentage of people are being persecuted for being the way they think or feel, and are trapped in a system that treats them like second class citizens? For many places around the world, this is still a reality, but the advent of technology has done much to remove the stigma around the issue. With more and more people putting their lives and experiences forward, we can help decriminalise the act of being who we are.

Let’s start off in India, where nearly two years ago Section 377 still hadn’t been amended. Section 377 was a section of the IPC initiated in British Raj, which treated consenting homosexual sex between adults as a punishable offence, with up to 10 years of imprisonment. You may remember the many peaceful demonstrations and parades held to draw attention to how it criminalised approximately 2.5 million Indians. That small victory, to be treated as citizens equal to anyone else, was the culmination of about 150 years of being trapped on the wrong side of the mob. So what do you think changed?

Undoubtedly, the people changed. The general view on queer rights changed, society became more accepting and tolerant, but a big observation was that, the way we protested had changed. People are naturally fearful of what they don’t understand. Sexuality is taboo in India, and it was the norm to sweep those issues under the rug. So we needed to raise awareness, but since the queer community couldn’t simply run into the streets for fear of persecution, we were stuck.

Until the internet came along.

Tech for queer rights

Historically, improved communication has forced issues that were previously ignored to come to light. It’s really easy to not address an issue you don’t know about, but when enough people know about something and feel it has to stop harming others, then change can really start to spread. When the queer community is ostracised in society and treated poorly, it’s society turning a blind eye to a problem that it doesn’t know how to solve. In a 2014 survey, it was shown that the number of people who were definitively against homosexuality dropped from 89% in 1990, to a mere 24%. And this was even before the decriminalisation of Section 377, which goes to show how much work went into the movement.

Technology has helped speed the movement along. It gives every person a voice and lets the queer community interact beyond physical boundaries, fostering strength, and providing support to those shunned by others. By showing brave, proud members of the LGBTQ+ community, we not only add our voice to the call but also let other people know that it’s okay to embrace who you are because everyone deserves to be treated the same. Tech has made it easier to reach out to people, increase visibility for queer issues, and initiate campaigns for change, especially with social media constantly looking out and alerting us to problems we didn’t know existed. Online campaigns promoting openness of thought and freedom of expression have been resounding successes, showing how much of the world supports the queer community.

In most places, people of the LGBTQ+ community deal not only with the laws stacked against them but also with the crushing loneliness that comes from having to lead a double life to avoid persecution. With no one else to talk to and connect with, it’s no wonder that they are disproportionately represented in studies of poor mental health, exhibit higher rates of suicide, and report feeling isolated compared to their peers. Technology has helped to lower the barrier for communication, allowing people to express themselves, free of the bias in society. When tech goes awry

With dating apps and social media, members of the queer community are able to live digitally as they should in the real. There are now exclusively LGBTQ+ apps for dating and chatting, to help people connect. But like any platform, it’s still not entirely free from attack by dangerous people. GPS based dating apps, in several cases, have been used to identify and persecute people of the LGBTQ+ community. There are groups online that exist solely to deny them rights and freedom, as well as several campaigns to defame and shame members of the queer community and its allies.

In the end, technology still remains a tool, incapable of deciding for itself what it should and shouldn’t do. That responsibility falls to us, the people, and it is important that we use it wisely. We’ve all read that we should be kind and caring, gentle and nurturing, and this is how we can show our support for those held at arm’s length by society.

NITK Spectrum was created with this very aim in mind, and since its conception in 2018, we’ve spread the word and helped raise awareness to the plight of members of the LGBTQ+ community. We hold events and celebrate the uniqueness that we all bring into this world, and this pride month we’ve got a lot more planned.

Join us at @thenitkspectrum, and follow us on our FB page and other socials to learn more about how you can spread a little joy in someone’s life.

How you can help

We still need your support, and it’s still an uphill battle for many of us around the world. Spreading awareness is something we can all do, so if you have the time, take a few moments out of your schedule and spread the word in your own social circles.

Speak out for people when you can, and try to make a difference. This is a group of people trying to do good by them, and everyone is an Ally. It doesn’t take much to just be mindful of people and their hardships, so let’s all try and be a little more caring and understanding of everyone.

If you’re feeling adventurous, read more at :

https://www.glaad.org/publications/talkingabout/terminology

https://engage.youth.gov/resources/being-ally-lgbt-people

Written by Feyaz Baker on 29 Jun 2020

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