How accepting are straight people of LGBTs? And just because they say they’re tolerant, do they behave in a tolerant fashion? “Beyond the Box”, an eye-opening new study from Belgium has tried to answer these tricky questions.
The study was commissioned by the State Secretary of Brussels, Bruno De Lille, and took six months to complete. It concluded that sexist and anti-LGBT sentiments are deeply-rooted in Belgian society, despite recent advances such as the legalisation of same-sex unions.
Myrte Dierckx, an academic from Antwerp University, believes the findings show that straight people will say they are welcoming of gay, lesbian and transgender people, while secretly harbouring discriminatory views. Furthermore, older heterosexual men were found to be more resistant to equality while those respondents who had a diverse range of friends and family members were more likely to support LGBT rights.
Worryingly, the study also showed that a number of young heterosexual Belgians have bullied, harassed or in some other way exhibited inappropriate behaviour towards gays and lesbians. Some commentators have called for Belgium’s struggle against homophobia and sexism to be as serious and committed as the country’s campaign against racism which, in a relatively short period, has transformed popular attitudes to ethnic minorities.
Mr De Lille intended “Beyond the Box” to confront LGBT hatred in Brussels, which is one of Europe’s most diverse and open-minded cities. ‘If we can bring different people into more contact with each other,’ says Mr De Lille, ‘we will have good results in the area of homophobia and sexism, and that’s good news for a city like Brussels.’
image source – Alberto de Pedro’s website