We can’t deny it, the European Union is riddled with flaws and by no means perfect – but in today’s world, what is? It’s run by men (and woman, don’t kick off) so imperfection is unavoidable. However, despite these imperfections, my personal opinion is that we have to remain in the EU. And one of the most influential reasons behind me choosing to vote to stay in the EU is the effect leaving it will have on the LGBT comminty.
It isn’t working to its fullest potential, but being a part of the EU embodies a very important principle: a sense of togetherness. Generally in life that’s all we strive for – certainty in these very insecure times. – Remaining gives a sense of internationalism. It helps protects against the isolation that stems from certain avenues of politics – isolation that we as the LGBT community know all too well. Being a part of the EU helps us battle against inwardness, inequality and division. Not just in the UK a but in neighbouring countries.
Yes, the EU is lagging behind when it comes to LGBT rights, but isn’t that more of a reason to remain? Turning your back on the EU does effectively mean turning your back on the safety of LGBT members all across Europe because we will have no sway or influence over their safety. Progress on LGBT issues in the UK feeds out across EU, and that in turn has a domino effective in changing opinions in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia. By remaining we will help LGBT rights and issues grow elsewhere; our combined voices are important not only in Europe but across the world.
America is leaps and bounds ahead of some countries in the EU in regards to LGBT laws and rights, marriage being the most notable issue. But the difference is the US marriage equality vote is based on their constitution – it wasn’t actually ever illegal in terms of constitutional debate, it just took them a (very) long time to work out the kinks and then accept it. It never changed recently true, but it is now interpreted as requiring same-sex marriage because of the colossal progress LGBT rights have made in the US – progress made by banding and sticking together.
There are many anti-gay counties in the EU, but not so long ago we were the same here in the UK. By sticking together, by remaining, we will have more influence and be able to offer protection. A lot of the progress the LGBT community has made in the UK may not directly stem from EU LGBT law, but EU laws regarding human rights is what keeps us safe, thus allowing us to raise our voices and opinions without fear of being beaten, jailed, even murdered. Look at Russia, what power do we have to protect the LGBT peoples’ human rights there? Oh, none? Germany isn’t exactly hot on LGBT rights, but I’d sure feel a lot safer there than in Russia.
The debate will continue regardless of today’s outcome. For me remaining apart of the EU seems the right choice. At the end of the day people are set in their ways. True acceptance and equality is gained through time; as the older generation die off and the younger ones replace them offering a fresh perspective on both social values and life. Whatever you vote, just make sure you weigh up all options.