- Do my rights change if I belong to the lgbtq community?
The answer to this question should be “No, civil rights are human rights and apply to all of us, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity.” Unfortunately, this is not the answer. At least, not yet.
For many decades, the LGBT community, not only in Greece but all over the world, has been exerting political pressure and claiming political rights that straight people have the opportunity to enjoy by definition. Historically, there have been many significant legal inequalities between LGBTQI individuals and cis straight individuals. Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association included homosexuality in the list of psychiatric disorders and considered homosexuals to be “mentally ill.” With this stigma, the state denied rights to non-straight individuals. Specifically, in Greece, homosexuality was legalized in 1951, but until 2015 sex between men was considered “indecent by nature” and was punished under certain conditions. LGBT people were excluded from entering into a cohabitation agreement and are still excluded from civil marriage, childbearing, and parenting in general. Also, people with same-sex sexual intercourse are not allowed to become blood donors!
The good news is that the success of the LGBTQI community is obvious and things are changing! Since December 2015, the cohabitation agreement has been extended to same-sex couples, while a law was recently proposed to institutionalize LGBTQ parenthood and to extend the right to civil marriage to same-sex couples. In 2016, the legal recognition of gender identity was approved, which simplified the process of changing state documents for trans people, removing all obsolete and scientifically incorrect conditions that were valid until then.
There are two categories of legal rights: compensatory and protective. The former equates LGBTQ+ individuals by not excluding them from existing legal frameworks (eg cohabitation agreement, civil marriage, parenthood, access to assisted reproduction services, blood donation, etc.). The latter aims to protect LGBTQI people from incidents of violence, harassment, and discrimination experienced because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. With the voting of the anti-racism law in 2014, hate speech about LGBT individuals was criminalized, a law that was implemented during the Ambrose trial in 2019. Now, the law prohibits and punishes violence – verbal or physical – and discrimination against LGBT people in the provision of goods or services, in work, in housing, and thus protects their dignity and equality.
Legislative changes come slowly, having significant emotional and often physical – costs to LGBT people. At the same time, homophobia continues to exist in Greek society, thus making LGBTQI individuals a vulnerable social group. Things are however improving as a result of the pressure of individuals themselves for equal treatment before the law and protection from it. LGBT people now have more rights than ever!
2. Can I also enjoy sex, even though I’m not straight?
Of course! LGBT couples do not differ at all in terms of their sexual satisfaction compared to straight individuals. Enjoyable sex is a right for all of us and you can claim it in every sexual encounter, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
One of the first questions you will probably need to explore is what “sex” means to you. Historically, “sex” was considered as “entry of the penis to the vagina”. This perception is outdated for many reasons. Firstly, this definition does not include non-straight people. Secondly, it includes that sex leads only to reproduction, while we know that people have sex much more often, to meet emotional, physical needs – and not just when they want to have children. Thirdly, some people may have difficulty with their penis or vagina and do not include penetration in their repertoire. In any case, sex is what every one of us defines with our partner! Sex may be vaginal, anal, oral, or with hand touching genitals or may not involve any genital irritation at all. Our bodies have many different erogenous zones. It is important to discover your own!
Toys and aids are a very important topic in sex. These are objects or devices used for sexual or erotic arousal and may involve the genitals, anus, nipples, lips, etc. They come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and materials, with which you can experiment.
Given the right conditions, sexual discovery and experimentation are creative and enjoyable. One most important condition is the choice of a sexual partner. If you feel safe, trust, love, respect, and accepting of your identity, then any sexual choice will turn to be a great experience – even if it is awkward at first. The second major condition is consent. Consent is not just a “yes” or a “no”. It is participating with enthusiasm and meaning YES, not just not saying NO. It must be reversible, that is, you can take it back at any time. It must be specific to each activity and free, that is, not to be afraid or threatened that you will lose something if you say no. If these conditions exist, then you can have a unique sex life and discover sexuality and yourself freely and openly!
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