LGBTQ+ Mistreatment: Love Is Not A Crime | Emily Bashforth

LGBTQ+ Mistreatment: Love Is Not A Crime


On 27th October, two girls in Marrakesh embraced and kissed on a rooftop. Because of this, they are now facing up to three years in prison. Have I caught your attention? Good.
The two girls are named Sanaa and Hajar, Sanaa is just sixteen years old and Hajar is not much older at the tender age of 17. Whilst expressing their love to one another, one of the girls' cousins photographed them kissing. She sent this photo to the girl's mother who then decided to take it further and report her own daughter to the police.
Immediately, both Sanaa and Hajar were arrested and taken to jail where they remained until their temporary release on 3rd November. They were held in an adult prison, as oppose to a juvenile detention centre, and Hajar's mother said Hajar had confided in her, saying she had been mistreated by other prisoners.

So, what are the girls being punished for? That would be the logical question to ask. They are being charged with "licentious or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex" under Article 489 of the Moroccan penal code, an article which criminalises all homosexual acts. The youngsters could face anything between six months and three years in prison if convicted, as well as a fine of up to 1200 dirhams (£260). 
Sanaa and Hajr were due to be on trial on Friday 4th November, however the trial has been postponed until 25th November.

Now you know the story of Sanaa and Hajar, let's discuss their mistreatment because this vile injustice against members of the LGBTQ+ community cannot be swept under the rug and should not be treated as the norm. Countless LGBTQ+ members are mistreated and discriminated against daily across the world, sometimes because the law in their country deems their acts illegal or sometimes because of sheer homophobia, despite the law being accepting of same sex relationships.
However, just because we live in a world where the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ members is well-known about, that doesn't mean we ought to just sit on it and do nothing. Evil flourishes when people with the potential to do something do nothing. It would be impossible to campaign forcefully for each individual case of mistreatment, because there are sadly so many and because a lot go unreported, such as verbal abuse and exclusion. In an ideal world, we would be able to talk about each case, well, in an ideal world they wouldn't exist in the first place, however, by discussing larger incidents such as this one and past events like the horrific Orlando shooting, we are helping to work towards that ideal of there being no existing mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people. It would be naive to think it'll just go away overnight, but why should it be seen as naive to think we can one day live in a world where everybody treats LGBTQ+ members as they would everyone else? That shouldn't be seen as naive or ambitious. It's what we need to aim for.

I sit here, in my house, typing this on my laptop, unafraid of there being any consequences of me writing this blog post. Homophobia exists in my country but homosexuality is legalised, (which sounds ridiculous to even say simply because it shouldn't be treated as something which we need to legalise) and the chances of me being punished for this are slim. But, not everyone around the world is as fortunate as me. People disgusted by the mistreatment of members of the LGBTQ+ community aren't always able to speak out against it as freely as I can because they live in fear of being arrested or even killed for wanting equality. So, I speak out on their behalf. Which is what we all need to do. Social media exists, TVs exists, we have amazing technology and if you're reading this right now, you probably have a phone or computer. You're also probably in a very privileged situation and are able to walk the streets a lot more safely than most. So, let us give a voice to the voiceless and stand up and speak out against the abominable mistreatment of LGBTQ+ members that is happening under our noses. Don't for one second think that your voice is invaluable. Do not get into that mindset of "Oh I'm only one person, what can I do?" because one person is one more person campaigning against this injustice. In this case, we need to add fuel to the fire. One more person is one more person fighting this cruelty. The more people we have on our side, the better and more powerful we are. Sometimes, a lot of people doing a little can be more beneficial than one person doing a lot alone.

There is no need for our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters to be treated unfairly. They are not a whole other species. It's as if they're seen as human beings up until the point when they come out and as soon as they tell the world what their sexuality is BAM - they're an alien. But they are human beings, regardless of their sexuality. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are no different to anybody else walking this Earth. Chances are, if you saw one walking the street, you wouldn't know. For example if you work in a shop, half the amount of your daily customers are probably part of that community and you still serve them, having no idea. But you don't need to know. You don't need to be on the constant look out for homosexuals lurking around every corner as if they're some sort of disease. They are no less of a person as anyone else and they deserve to be treated in the same, equal way. Why are they denied BASIC rights and dehumanised? In what kind of world do we live?
Do not allow yourself to get into that mindset of "heterosexual people are the best. LGBTQ+ members are inferior." Don't let the media, your families views, historical views, stereotypes or pathetic opinions in general get inside your head. You have your own mind and you are strong enough to see that any form of mistreatment of ANYONE is wrong and, in this case, you would be ludicrous to believe that LGBTQ+ members are deserving of this cruelty. The life of an LGBTQ+ person is just as beautiful and valuable as that of anybody not part of that, sadly, marginalised community.

We all deserve to be able to give love and receive love freely without the fear of being punished for it. The words 'love' and 'punished' just do not even sit right together in sentence to me. They couldn't be more opposing. 'Love' is defined as a strong feeling of affection whereas 'Punishment' is defined as inflicting a penalty or sanction on someone as retribution for an offence. Where on Earth does one even make the link between the two?
Here on Earth, we're all just trying to do the best we can. We're all just trying to get through each day and make the best of things. We'll inevitably encounter obstacles so all anyone is trying to do in life is get over them and carry on. All anyone wants to do is live a happy life so why are we not able to just LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE? At the end of the day, LGBTQ+ people are just trying to get on with their lives in the same way that you are trying to get on with yours and, let's face it, by making them unhappy, are you really making yourself happy? At the root of happiness is not evil. Happiness cannot be derived from hatred and ignorance towards others. Self happiness comes from acceptance, understanding and appreciation. Happiness also comes from love, because we all need a lil' bit of love in our lives every once in a while and it doesn't just have to be love in a romantic relationship, love and be found anywhere and everywhere, even in the smallest actions. So, if love contributes towards our happiness, why would we want to deny ourselves that love and if making other people happy makes us happy, why would we want to deny other people of love, which will also make them happy, you get me?
By choice, nobody wants to live a miserable life. It's draining and will surely drain those around you, so, why are we allowing ourselves to be in a miserable world filled with people whose actions are hurting others? Love is no crime. It's what makes the world go round.

We live at a time when many magical things are happening. There are advances in medicine, technology, people are just generally doing fantastic things and most things that we don't even think about would have been condemned sixty years ago. However, there is still such a sickening amount of conflict and hatred in our world. People are abused and killed for their skin colour, sexuality, people are tortured, people's homes are taken away from them, disasters happen, and we need love more than ever to ensure the violence does not win. Hatred cannot destroy hatred. Only love can do that. In the same way that darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. And, if you really are so against human beings of the same sex expressing their love for one another, why are you bringing it upon yourself to be hateful towards them? Why would you want that weight upon your shoulders? If you consider LGBTQ+ acts to be so wrong then why are you trying to remove those wrong acts from society by doing hateful things yourself? By showing love towards the LGBTQ+ community, you are removing their so-called negativity from your life. By showing understanding and compassion towards them, you are creating peace. Each day, when you wake up, you have to either consciously or subconsciously make a decision of whether you're going to be a nice or nasty person for the next twenty four hours, to put it simply, and it's an easy decision to make. When you get out of bed in the morning, you can quite simply decide that, you know what, I'm going to be accepting and kind today. The only person stopping you from being understanding of the LGBTQ+ community is YOURSELF. You cannot blame your hatred towards them on your parents or religion or the media or the education system, you are the one allowing yourself to accept their beliefs and it's up to you to ignore them. If you have so much strength in you that you can be so accepting of such hateful views then why can't you use that strength to be accepting of something simple like two people of the same sex kissing? We need more love in this world and we are the only ones who can create it. It does not appear by magic. Do not walk around with a negative mind, wondering why we live in such a hateful world. Balance out hate with love.

Personally, I feel incredibly honoured to be able to say that I am surrounded by such a vast amount of diversity. I am excited by the fact that everyone around me is so different yet we are all connected. The fact that there are now an array of sexualities is beautiful to me - don't you think the world would be a boring place without them? Society is modern now and I look forward to it progressing further and I look forward to my grandchildren, hopefully, not even feeling the need to question their sexuality or to 'come out' if they are LGBT. I hope to one day live in a world where sexualities just are not a big deal, or I at least hope that somebody will live in a world like that, if I don't get to.
You really should feel blessed to be alive at a time when love exists in so many wonderful forms, wonderful forms that should be celebrated and embraced with open arms, open minds and open hearts. We need every last little drop of love that we can get, more so now than ever, so why are we trying to stop love? And I used the inclusive pronoun 'we' because the only way in which we can annihilate the horrendous of minorities is by UNITING. No one can work alone on this and I'm glad that millions of people want to fight for this cause on behalf of other people. TOGETHER we can move on from this barbaric behaviour.

For goodness sake, love is not a crime. Love is something to admire, it is something to be in awe of. Love is something to give, receive and cherish in every possible moment. Literally, just throw it around like confetti because barriers have existed for far too long. We need to break down unnecessary walls that attempt to categorise people based on who they find attractive. There is more to a person than their sexuality but, at the same time, their sexuality is a marvellous thing and no one should have to feel afraid of shouting about it. LGBTQ+ love is just as beautiful as any other form of love and members of that community deserve to know how valuable they are. Everyone on this planet adds value to it because we are all equals and we are all in this life thing together. So, stop trying to prevent people from expressing their love towards one another. Whether you agree with LGBTQ+ expressions of love or not, they are happening and they are here to stay. At the end of the day, we all need love to keep us functioning. It is the thing which we all go crawling back to, it's the thing we all crave and cry out for so stop trying to snatch love away from others. Please, just GET OFF PEOPLE'S BACKS. Live each day with a positive mind and see everyone around you as a light to the world. Realise how precious love is and fall in LOVE with LOVE.

To any members of the LGBTQ+ community, I want to remind you that you are so very worthy of love and that you have every right to express your feelings of love however you choose, regardles of whether you love men, women, both or neither. You should never allow anyone to get inside your head and make you believe that they are superior to you. Never allow anyone to make you think that you do not deserve to be in love or to be loved. There is no hierarchy here. I promise that you are on the same level as everyone else, regardless of what you are told. I pray that, one day, we will all be free to accept and express our love in every shape and form but, until then, just remember that your relationships are no different from a heterosexual relationships and anyone who has enough evil in their hearts to want to hurt you for being who you are clearly lives a life void of love themselves. Quite frankly, they are the ones losing out. You have not done anything wrong, you are being brave by being yourself in a world which questions your choices every day. You have strength and use that strength to get you through dark periods and to help you remind yourself that this negativity will one day be non existent.

To reiterate, I am not fearful of the ramifications of me having these opinions and writing this blog post because I live such a privileged life, however, it terrifies me to know that, if I were born in a different country, my LGBTQ+ friends and I could be facing imprisonment for carrying out a simple act which people in the country I currently live in take for granted. It is 2016 and the time for injustice against minorities has long passed.

Below is the petition to sign against the mistreatment of Sanaa and Hajr or click HERE to be taken to it. Please sign it to show your support and share it with your friends, family and followers. It takes two seconds but it can really make a difference. And even just by sending a Tweet, posting one Instagram picture, writing one Facebook status, by writing one article, you are helping to make a difference and you are standing by LGBTQ+ members across the globe. I get emails whenever someone has signed the petition because of me and the fact that so many people have already done so through my Tweets and Instagram posts makes me smile. Thank you for joining the campaign.
Also, use the hashtag #FreeTheGirls on your social media accounts to spread the word and to open people's eyes to this.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you didn't mind me posting about this issue, although, if you did, you're probably homophobic in which case, go away.
I refuse to stay silent on LGBTQ+ mistreatment and it is something I will always speak out against online. The day I stop doing so is the day when you are allowed to throw flaming pitchforks at me.

Love, Emily :) xx

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