When the clock struck midnight, a fairy tale finally became a reality as England saw its first gay marriages yesterday. Even though we are still far from achieving equality and gay rights, it is undeniable that this weekend’s historical event is a strong stride in the right direction.
Supporters around the country gathered to wish the couples well. Bridgend’s first gay wedding even had a parade! We should be proud of living in a country that has shown exponential social progress in its support for gay rights over the past 50 years.
Of course, this is not to say that the entire nation is completely supportive. A survey conducted by BBC showed that 22% of citizens would not attend a same-sex wedding if given an invitation; and we still see evidence of homophobia on an almost daily basis, particularly as its victims reveal their experiences on social networks.
We don’t need reminding of homosexuality’s illegality in Britain prior to 1967. This out-dated prejudice and homophobia resulted in a range of unforgivable crimes, including the brutal torture and chemical castration of a national hero, Alan Turing –the infamous Nazi Enigma Code breaker.
Some argue that it is neither homophobia nor prejudice that has led to opposition towards same-sex marriage, but a concern for the traditional sanctity of marriage as a union between man and woman. Yet we do not think it is fair to refuse gay couples the joy of celebrating their love in the presence of their family and friends simply because of their sexuality; particularly when we are constantly fighting for gender equality.
Although religion should be celebrated for having set the foundations for ethical righteousness and morality, the struggle for equality in gender, race and gay rights demand a rethink for certain religious preconditions. According to the Bible, women are to be submissive and worship the man; the way men are to worship God. If we fight this for the progress of humanity, who is to say we cannot accept gay marriage on similar terms?
Pope Francis is yet to change the Catholic Church’s position on gay marriage, but has adopted a philosophical view on the issue, stating that it should be discussed rather than condemned. The humble pope, who has earned the love and respect of people around the world (regardless of their religion), led by example last year when he said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
What does this mean for the students at Loughborough? It means that the country that we will be graduating in will be a more accepting country than the one in which we began our higher education career. It means that each generation has become more and more tolerant. It means that those who are gay or struggling with their sexuality will be faced with a little less pressure and will be encouraged to let their freak flag fly. From the voices at Label, we support you!