Harassment, abuse, victim, intimidate…all these are associated with bullying and when they occur on the web and the internet, it is called cyberbullying.
On 22 July 2021, the Young Queer Alliance, through its Treasurer and Senior Executive Member, Mr Lasavanne Jürgen Soocramanien, participated in an anti-cyberbullying webinar as a panellist. The webinar was organised by Behind the Scene and powered by AIESEC Réduit.
The focus of the webinar was on cyber-bullying & mental health, legal aspects of cyber-bullying, the good, the bad and the evil of social media and cyber-bullying in gender, sexual orientation and disability. Noteworthy to point out, LGBTQ+ people are regularly victims of cyberbullying and this often affects the mental health of the person.
Bullying occurs when the bully wants what you have as a form of jealousy or envy and/or hate that person due to differences in terms of religion, culture, gender or sexual orientation. Bullies might also find bullying fun, having a sense of toughness and power or think that bullying will make them more popular among their peers.
Besides, LGBTQ youth are more prone to be victims of bullying in their daily lives than heterosexual youth. At school, between 80 – 90% of LGBT youth report being victims of bullying (both verbal and physical). Despite sexual orientation not being a choice, it is challenging for LGBTQ youth to embrace their sexual identity because of the ongoing threats, intimidation and bullying.
The advent of the internet is often seen as providing a safe space to LGBTQ+ people whereby they have more freedom to express themselves. The anonymity provided by their screen allows them to have open-hearted conversations with others. However, the threat still exists. They risk being exposed and outed. In these situations, they might become victims of bullying, persecution, and sextortion which can have a negative impact on the mental health and physical well-being of the LGBTQ people.
Cyberbullying is also a threat to the mere existence of people with disabilities, for instance with the recent dismay for people living with disabilities in Mauritius. The struggles of people living with disabilities are not much different from LGBTQIA+ people in Mauritius, where they have to fight two challenges which are intersectional: “being ostracised, discriminated against, denied access to services and face challenges in their daily lives.” These challenges normally result in early school dropout, leading to unemployment and thus impacting the living conditions and purchasing power of those victims.
Therefore, the best way to help and prevent these sorts of bullying is to become an Ally for these victims because allies are the most powerful and effective voices for marginalised groups including LGBTQ people.
Young Queer Alliance