«It’s important that we deal with this now, before people stops coming out of the closet!”
Studies show that there is an acceptance culture among LGBT people around others reacting to who they are. It is often heard that others' opinions are excused by "... but, I understand why they think so". The suicide rate among LGBT people is high, and as many as 90% are under 25 years of age. Many feel insecure, are afraid to take on roles, and to take the word and express their opinion. Hate crime against this group of people is increasing, both in Norway and several places in Europe.
Why is there done so little about this problem, and who is responsible? The Center for Gender Equality invited to comments and debate during Arendalsuka.
The panel was attended by Minister of Culture and Gender Equality ,Trine Skei Grande, Parliamentary Representative Solveig Skaugvoll Foss from SV, Deputy Secretary General in Salam, Thee-Yezen Al-Obaide, leader of FRI, Ingvild Endestad, and Eldar Snilstveit, police officer and investigator of the hate crime group in Oslo. The debate was led by Eirik Aimar Engebretsen from Bufdir.
LGBT is a collective term for sexual minorities and gender minorities, which is used by governments, rights organizations and researchers alike. The concept has evolved gradually through the rights work of NGOs, which went from being only "gay" organizations to making visible lesbian women (l), recognizing bisexual (b) and including everyone with a different gender identity or expression (t). It is twice as common for gay people to be exposed to hateful expressions as the general population. The same group receives serious threats three times as much. For LGBT people with multiple minority characteristics, the figures are even higher.
Belonging to several minorities is hard
Minela Kosuta, Advisor at KUN, presented the project 'Queer in the village', about how being queer is something that becomes invisible and met with silence. She points out that it is particularly difficult to be queer with an immigrant background. The fact that having to wear both hats, one for being an immigrant and one for being queer, can be very challenging in the village. "That's why many flee to cities, where there is more acceptance, and where it’s also easier to find others like themselves". Minela talks about the need for belonging, which is difficult if you live somewhere where there are few who are like yourself. Often, you as an immigrant are already affected because you belong to a group. Are you able to belong to another minority group?
Toril Hogstad, Gender Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator in Kristiansand Municipality, presented 'Gay peoples Living Conditions in Agder', highlighting the importance of asking others, "how are you - really?". She says that the main findings from the study show that transgender and bisexual women struggle more than bisexual men, gays and lesbians. “There seems to be an acceptance culture around others reacting to who you are. It is often heard that other people's opinions are excused by 'I understand that they think so' '. She points out alarmingly high suicide rates among LGBT people, with as much as 90% being under 25. “We need to be better at following up and working on measures. Attitude work is important»
Audun Fladmoe, a researcher at the Institute for Social Research (ISF), works to measure hateful statements based on self-report. The reporting is based on experiences of hate speech among LGBT people and the rest of the population. He explains that they evaluate the tone and style of speech and who the speech is aimed at. From the surveys, we can be seen that LGBT people are most prone to hate speech. "The consequences of hate speech are, to a great extent, about people getting upset and angry, more engaged, and insecure - even unsafe to say their opinion."
"Norway is not just Oslo"
When asked what politicians think about the development and what is being done, the Minister of Gender Equality and Discrimination replies that knowledge about how to deal with hate speech must be disseminated, something she believes is lacking today. In addition, she acknowledges that there is a problem in the districts, as a result of the police reform on centralization that has led to less police and thus less security in the villages. It is also pointed out that many do not dare to report, and that transgender persons are not protected in the Discrimination Act.
Ingvild Endestad from FRI says that not having anyone to go to, that no one is seeing "me", is the biggest problem. “The responsibility cannot just lie on voluntary work. There must be groups that look after those who need someone, it cannot just be on the shoulders of FRI. ”Here, Eldar Snilstveit from the Police points out that Oslo has a new center of competence at Manglerud, which handles hate crime, but receives answers from Thee-Yezen that Norway is not just made up of Oslo, and that resources must be allocated to the right areas. He says that he himself has been exposed to hate crime, which marked him severely the days afterwards. "I felt I just had to manage myself. I did not receive follow-up or protection, even though I was afraid to walk out the door for a week. However, the journalist, who covered the case, received a visit from the police at home, while I had to go down to the police station myself to submit a review - is heterosexual life more worthwhile? ”.
A Resting Pillow
Endestad points out that it is too poor resources to follow up those who come to FREE - "It is important that we take hold of openness now, before people stop coming out of the closet as a consequence of fear. That is where we are heading now if nobody does anything. " She also points out that she is afraid the development may end up in the direction of Poland, where gay-free zones now has been created, reflecting a growing hatred of LGBT people in Europe. "We need stand-at-will, and more resources for concrete action - not just talk." Trine Skei Grande believes it is important to emphasize that Norway is not Poland, and reminds us that hate crime does not only apply to this generation. She tells of someone who was killed because he was gay, but at that time it was not registered as hate crime with the police. Today's challenges with hate speech are the same type of challenges as hate against women. "We need specialists. Manglerud must share his expertise. We need to change values and attitudes,” she says, drawing on University of Agder (UiA) as a good base and platform for developing just that. Thee-Yezen, on the other hand, thinks it can be a resting pillow just to say that "we are not Poland" - and that it can quickly become like elsewhere in Europe, here too.
Challenging in southern Norway
The report on LGBTQ peoples living conditions in Agder from 2018, indicates that many LGBTQ people living in Agder perceive that the religious environments contribute to norm pressure and exclusion. Solveig Skaugvoll Foss from SV can confirm this. She says she was dismissed from her church in Lyngdal when it became known that she was with a girl, which testifies to the negative culture against LGBT people in certain religious environments. She points out that left-wing politicians in southern Norway are more concerned with, and positive about, public institutions or organizations than elsewhere in the country, and thinks that it may have something to do with the private creating externalities, citing her own experience of the congregation.
A bit like the fight for women's right
Skei Grande believes that the biggest challenge lies in how we can secure LGBT people.
"We need the competence of Manglerud, and we need to get information all the way from kindergarten and up, preferably Sunday school too," and refers to the challenges in the South. "This is a bit like the women's struggle. We must be persistent in the way of making changes for the generations to come - we must bother to stand in the shit. That's the only reason why it's possible to both be a politician, to be fat, a woman and single too, in politics today," she says to a laughing hall, referring to women's rights today as a result of other people's struggles. She also draws on the desire and need for a center of expertise for sexuality and gender diversity in Southern Norway, where the idea is that the center will be based at UiA.
By Synnøve Marie Rui Fronth Haaland.