• Larry’s Blog

The Dictionary defines freedom as: “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants” and “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved”.

Around the world, the debate continues almost on a daily basis about Freedom.

Freedom has been something fought for in many countries and in many categories…a fight that continues even today.

There are also several questions on the topic, for example what is freedom and is it really an absolute right?

Research shows that freedom is often interpreted from different aspects, and according to different cultures, freedom varies from one culture to another.

History is replete with examples of how lack of freedom stifles communities, cities, nations and mankind even having traumatic outcomes.

I have always heard the saying with Freedom comes responsivity. You cannot just do what you like and say “I am a free man”. You cannot break laws and rules in the name of Freedom. There should be respect to other people and their needs. As a career journalist, I have been witness to the ongoing debate on Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Both are serious issues that often cause life shattering events. I am a firm believer that the Press must be free but we must also be responsible. The same applies to freedom of speech. Not because we are free to speak means we will defame other people’s character. And in the LGBT community with the freedoms now enjoyed comes the huge responsivities to those who have fought for the freedoms enjoyed and those who are still fighting up to today and those still to come. But more so to those who do not share your opinion, lifestyle choice or decisions.

I must urge however that we must be careful to not confuse the terms “freedom” and “liberty.”

Freedom usually means to be free from something, whereas Liberty usually means to be free to do something, although both refer to the quality or state of being free.

Here in Netherlands, in 1811 same sexual activity was legalized. Giving freedom to members of the LGBT community. Today Netherlands is home to many LGBT individuals who have fled from there countries of birth to find freedom. In fact, recent statistics say the fight for freedom for the LGBT continues at a rapid pace in countries around the world.

In June 2014, a report in the Washington Post is quoted as saying: “the wave of acceptance for same-sex couples that has washed through some Western Countries has not reached all shores.” Many countries according to the article still punish homosexual acts with Prison time, torture and even death.

In Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Mauritania and United Arab Emirates homosexual acts can still be punished by death.

In more than 65 countries homosexual acts are illegal. Some of these countries say that while the laws remain on the law books it is not implemented but that’s not always the stories heard by members of the LGBT community who are faced with what are sometimes heart wrenching and devastating events.

The search for freedom continues daily as the news reports on scores of people fleeing war torn countries in a bid to live safer lives. The fight does not limit itself to war torn countries but also LGBT rights. Recently reports surfaced of a 24-year-old Ghanaian refuge Seidu Mohammed who almost died during his cross from the U.S. to Canada. He had all his fingers amputated after severe frostbite.

At our monthly COC meetings, we hear some very chilling stories from LGBT Asylum Seekers of all ages and gender and races.

The Government of Netherlands on its website says the Netherlands champion’s improvements in the legal position and safety of lesbian woman, gay men, bisexuals, transgenders and intersex people worldwide.

It also referred to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10th 1948 in Paris.

Article 1 of the declaration says; “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” While article 2 says: “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other status.”

So as many find the much sort after freedom let us remember that with freedom come responsibility. And no matter where you come from no matter race, religion, sexual preference of political ideologies we must be able to cherish and enjoy our freedom, vrijheid, liberté, Özgürlük, zadî, . حرية

We would like to invite you to send us your own personal stories and comments. You can reach us by sending an e-mail to asiel@cocgd.nl. You can also read Larry’s previous blog here.