In ESN we stand for equality and inclusion. Our main goal is the enrichment of society through international students. This enrichment has to be reached taking everyone into account, regardless of their background, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation and identity. Today, we want to focus on these last aspects. There are many things that have changed recently, but we also want to highlight the work that has to be done yet.
Currently, there are only 29 out of the 50 European countries where same-sex marriage has been recognised and legalised. Moreover, there are more countries where the adoption by a same-sex couple is not allowed and the discrimination against the LGBT+ community is not penalised. Moreover, the inequality situations are even more usual when coming to transgender people.
It usually depends on legalization in countries but it is more common to find more acceptance of this community where people tend to be more open-minded and the image and education on sexual freedom is normalised. This acceptance can bring laws that help them, while this situation also leads to a normalisation of the relationships of LGBT+ people in society.
The EU is supporting and working for everyone to have the same rights. Around 70% of the European people support LGBT+ rights, so most governments are working on it. They are supporting different key factors and actions, together with other institutions, in order to approve the recognition of the collective request, so they raise awareness about homophobia.
Thanks to different international mobility programs, many people can have a positive experience regarding the LGBT+ community. As people start meeting international students from different backgrounds, they tend to be more open-minded and inclusive with all the social groups.
We have been speaking with different international students and ESN volunteers who belong to the LGBT+ community to know about their perspectives about this.
Most people think that a mobility program helps, as we have stated, broadening minds. In general, young people, thanks to different campaigns on social media and the increasing visibility on TV and movies of this collective, are becoming more aware of the discrimination that may suffer a person belonging to the LGBT+ community. When it comes to experiencing international mobility, the destiny you choose can be very important. Some other people had felt that they were a more natural way of themselves, they felt who they really were during their mobility. But, we have to admit that there are comments that hurt you when it comes to expressing yourself in a society that has always thought you were another person.
In Spain, we have done a lot of work on this inclusion and the universities are aware of this too. Most of them have an inclusion department where people can go to inform about disadvantage or discriminatory situations.
Some people who have answered us said that their friends, or themselves, rediscovered their sexuality while doing their Erasmus. Some of them, because of their personal and cultural background, didn’t dare to question it before, or couldn’t show how they really are. Being surrounded by an intercultural open environment helps these people find who they really are and define their lifestyle. Many people have fought for the LGTB+ community rights, so they can be normalised in society. And this is one of the things that all the people who know about the need to obtain equality must do.
As the youngest generations, we must be proud of all the progress we are achieving. From the 1970s, many people have stood for the rights of the LGTB+ community, have suffered huge discrimination, even violent attacks, just because of being who they are or fighting for the rights of those who couldn’t do it.
We are the ones that have inherited this responsibility. Young people have to keep moving forward until no one has to be scared of showing who they really are. We cannot step back and forget the work from those in the past.
That’s why we stand for justice, equality and respect.
We are proud of who we are.
We must be the change we want to see and show younger generations the values that we are promoting.
We hope you feel free to share your experiences and thoughts on the topic with us, and remember: LGBT+ rights are human rights, always.