Are labels like 'LGB and T' becoming irrelevant?

Do you think ‘that labels such as ‘LGB and T’ are irrelevant in an increasingly gender fluid world.’? If your answer to that is ‘don’t know’ then you have missed out by not attending iDebate’s debate at City Hall on Wednesday 29th November. 

LGBT labels debate

With 2017 the fiftieth anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality we were celebrating by looking forward in a debate that looks at where next for LGBT rights. Over the last half century, we have made great advances in such rights, to the point that now ideas such as gay marriage are in law and no longer controversial. So, is the next step to ensure that labels disappear as part of normalising the community?

Navigating this potentially complex debate were our debaters from our World Debate Clubs across London. Our proposition City and Islington College, Tech City College, Lewisham and Southwark College, and West London College argued that labels create a sense of difference and serve to divide communities. This is important as labels also are prescriptive molding people into the labels to try and make them fit when in practice they may not. Labels therefore are not helpful in modern society, we no longer need these labels, and this may have benefits such as a reduction in violence against the LGBT minority as they are no longer an other.

Opposition, made up of debaters from Queens Park Community School, Lillian Baylis Technology School, and Tech City College, countered that it is not possible to simply abolish labels and that taking the label away will not take away systematic oppression. Far from it. On the contrary it damages the ability to protect the minority. Instead self-segregation and the resulting labels are necessary and important for the LGBT community as it allows the provision of community space and the building of a positive identity.

However, those community spaces provide places where there is a serious risk of hate crime. Labels create a sense of being a minority, often a harassed or oppressed minority. Instead we should look at race as a model, using Martin Luther King’s maxim that people should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”, proposition argued. Just as labels should not be applied to races they should not be pinned on other minorities such as LGBT people.

Of course, proposition can agree with that sentiment. But that does not have to mean an abandonment of labels in order to carry it through. Instead LGBT people can take pride in the label which has been an integral part of the fight for equality. We don’t need to address the labels, but to hack out discrimination at its route; through more education to ensure everyone is respected.

After the debate a vote was held to see if the audience had been persuaded by either side of the debate. A few people shifted their positions from undecided or neutral to the opposition. There was also a chance for the audience to interrogate the positions the teams had taken with the opposition team in particular being quizzed.

This was followed by IDEA UK’s trainer, Duncan Crowe provided a brief adjudication where he gave tips to everyone on how they can improve in the future, as such we hope that there will be continuing improvement over the coming weeks, in preparation for the London iDebate Cup on the 9th December.