I come from a country where LGBT+ rights are discussed frequently and openly. Everyone is appreciative of how far our country has come in reaching for equality and non-discrimination for all, but we are still not all the way there. LGBT+ people are still ridiculed by some, out cast by social groups and experience the attack of hate crimes. This can be extreme at times, but we are fortunate as a nation that these times are now rare. Many people feel scared at the idea of coming out to their friends and family, especially to those in particularly traditional or religious families whose conservatism does not make space for these differences.
One way in which groups working to promote LGBT+ rights have destigmatized different sexual orientations and gender identities has been through public faces. As people in the public sphere, notably politicians or celebrities, came out, people could see that those that they most respected and idolised often had different sexual orientations than expected.
The video by the MP, Pavle Bogoevski, feels particularly effective to me. He condemns discrimination against the LGBTI community and the taboo presented when discussing their rights. He actively suggests social and institutional debate, presenting the attitude of the state as the main objective for change. His status in government gives weight to this goal.
Suggestions for change are something that I feel could be built on in the videos. The speakers could suggest specific actions that could be taken by either individuals, groups, or those with links to the government to combat discrimination. Bogoevski, for example, could call upon his colleagues in government who are also allies to the LGBTI community to join him in speaking out, or alternatively to those partial to discrimination to join him in open debate. By calling on specific people to help, or even to engage them in discussion, one could open further dialogue and encourage action.
The slogan that ends these videos, “Rights and Justice for all”, gives a clearly serious yet positive message. It promotes the idea that the issues faced by the LGBTI community are everyone’s issues, and that the changes needed should be considered by all.
The best part of the videos released by the LGBTI Support Centre, however, is the variety in both people and message. Although every individual speaks for a freer society for the LGBTI community, each has a different stance towards it. The members of the LGBTI community videoed are able to give another perspective.
There are two videos that appear to be aimed at the LGBTI community- one from Borjana Mojsovksa, a human rights activist, who calls for people to say the words they’re afraid to use and come out, and live a “more honest life”. The other, Bekim Asani from LGBT United Tetovo, sends a message to those of the LGBT community to be more firm and stable, and for their supporters to be there for them. I found both of these to feel very honest and encouraging. What could strengthen them would be an example of the support that’s available in the local community- groups and initiatives, or even online forums/support that can be sought for encouragement.
In order to add to the intensity of the videos (if so wished), to make the messages more hard-hitting, examples of acts of discrimination or stories of those who have struggled unnecessarily could be described by all of those filmed. This would not be to encourage pity but to open the eyes of the viewers to the prejudice around them.
The videos of the LGBTI Support Centre do very well to promote the need for the country to keep moving forward towards better LGBTI rights, and raising the awareness of attitudes, both locally and institutionally, towards the LGBTI community.