In recent years, many things have improved for homosexuals, bi-sexuals and transsexuals: they can largely live openly in their private lives and enter into civil partnerships. Professionally, they can reach top positions in politics and business. People with non-binary gender identities are increasingly visible in the media. And the transsexual law, criticized as disparaging, is soon to be replaced by a self-determination law. This will make it easier for trans, intersex and non-binary people to change their gender entry at the registry office.
On the other hand, the figures for hate crime and violent crimes based on homophobia and transphobia are rising. Hate and agitation against queer people(definition at Wikipedia) are alsoomnipresent on the net. The anonymity of the internet makes it easy to express discriminatory opinions. And the knowledge that one will hardly be held accountable contributes to uninhibited sentiment.
Thus, LGBTQIA+(definition on Wikipedia) are ridiculed in posts and memes, their lifestyles are insulted in comment columns as deviant and disgusting. High-reach queer-friendly hashtags are hijacked and used for hate triads. Laws like "don't say gay" in Florida set off waves of hate that know no national boundaries on the Internet. And sometimes it goes so far that queer people are directly threatened and intimidated.
Behind this are not infrequently religious fundamentalist, right-wing populist or right-wing extremist groups and individuals. They know how to use the possibilities of the Internet for their propaganda and stylize people with non-binary(definition at Wikipedia) gender identities into a supposed threat.
Young people are in a developmental phase in which they are just finding out who they are and how they want to live. As individuals, they are therefore particularly at risk of becoming the target of devaluation, hostility and violence. The transition to cyberbullying is fluid.
However, incitement directed against LGBTQIA+ as a group can also restrict young people in their development. When the idea of inequality is adopted into one's worldview, free development of one's gender identity and sexual orientation is hardly possible.
Especially for young people beyond cis-gender(definition at Wikipedia) and hetero-normative(definition at Wikipedia) sexuality, the Internet plays a major role: there they can find information that is little or not at all available in their environment. They can try themselves out in a protective anonymity and get in touch with other queer youth. Many find confirmation, understanding and encouragement there and can be more open than in their analog environment.
There is still a long way to go until full equality and acceptance of diverse lifestyles is achieved. Everyone can show solidarity for a colorful, tolerant, diverse and democratic coexistence - not only, but especially in June!
No human being should be exposed to hatred and violence. This is especially true for children and young people. When we encounter hate speech on the Internet, there are many ways to actively combat it. This applies both to those affected and to witnesses.
- Be brave!
Haters and constant troublemakers (so-called trolls) must not be allowed to cause adolescents to withdraw from social media for fear of violence. Take a stand for open-minded and respectful coexistence. Point out to others if you consider what they post to be discriminatory. Pay attention to netiquette and a fair tone. Sometimes humor helps to debunk absurd arguments.
- Protect yourself!
Be aware of your power and your limits when dealing with hate comments - after all, it's your lifetime. If someone just keeps rushing, even though you've engaged in a discussion, say a friendly goodbye. And if posts from trolls offend you, delete or block them.
- Set limits!
Delete insults and threats as a moderator of a page. Block people who deliberately make racist comments. Delete them from your friends list. Report hate comments to the site operators so that they can be deleted. Do not forget to provide evidence in the form of screenshots. Statements that incite violence are forbidden by law and can be punished by the police. If you do not want to file a complaint yourself, the reporting offices www.jugendschutz.net or www.internet-beschwerdestelle.de can help you.
- Get help!
If you are unsure or if you are being attacked, talk to friends, parents or other trusted people and get support. You can also find help at these initiatives: No Hate Speech Movement, HateAid, #NetzCourage, Nummer gegen Kummer e.V., Juuuport (for young people).
And what can we do to curb homophobic and transphobic hate speech in advance?
- Creating experiential spaces:
Young people need experiential spaces to develop a factual, open and appreciative debate culture. This includes genuine opportunities for them to help shape their (digital) lives and experience the value of democratic processes.
- Teaching media skills:
Young people should know the means and options for using the Internet in a critical and self-determined manner. This includes, among other things, the protection of personal data and images, classification and verification of information, and contact risks.
- Gender-sensitive pedagogy:
Gender-sensitive pedagogy that takes gender issues and sexuality into account can also provide an important building block for preventing hate speech.
- Reducing discrimination in everyday life:
Pedagogical professionals and parents should seek to address the content of discrimination. In this way, everyday discrimination structures that provide the breeding ground for homophobic and transphobic hate speech can be broken down.
Further information on the topic of hate speech can be found in the topic area and in the following klicksafe materials: