How WikiLeaks Could Effect The LGBTQ Community

WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange believe in full transparency, which is his justification for releasing thousands of Hillary Clinton’s private emails. Assange has said “The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie.”

However this transparency can have life changing and deadly consequences for members of the LGBTQ community. Outing someone when he or she is not ready has been criticized and an invasion of privacy but is also so much more. Outing a person can cause severe psychological damage.  LGBTQ youth can be kicked out of their homes and outing someone before they are prepared can even have fatal consequences.  The Washington Post has said that WikiLeaks operates under a “reckless just-publish-everything mentality, acting with a blatant disregard for the civilians caught in the crosshairs.”

In ten countries around the world, being LGBT is not only illegal, it is punishable by death. These countries include Yemen, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the same country where WikiLeaks forced gay men out of the closet. In March, a Saudi Arabian newspaper reported that government officials sought to make posting or commenting on one’s sexuality on social media sites would be a crime punishable by death. This ruling follows a rise in sting operations targeting gay men, with thirty-five criminal prosecutions for sodomy in the previous six months.

The latest LGBTQ person was put to death in Iran. The Iranian government claimed that Hassan Afshar, a 19-year-old high school student, raped another young man. Afshar’s parents insisted the sexual encounter was consensual but that did not matter. Afshar was denied representation from an attorney and was put to death by hanging on July 18.

Even in the U.S., the LGBTQ community can face consequences for being out. According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, between 15% and 43% of LGBT people have faced on-the-job harassment.  An individual can be fired for being a member of the LGBTQ community in twenty-eight states, including Kansas, Mississippi, Idaho and Indiana. The Williams Institute of UCLA School of Law reports that 40% of homeless youth identify as a member of the LGBTQ community. A majority of these teens were kicked out of their homes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. A suicide attempt is 8.4 times more likely when LGBTQ youth feel rejected compared to those who feel accepted by their community.

This WikiLeaks’ philosophy is making its way into other media outlets as well. Nico Hines, a writer for the Daily Beast posed as a gay man on hookup apps like Grindr and Jack’d. Hines during the Rio Olympics. Hines claimed he was looking to “meet up” with male Olympic athletes. Hines original article made it simple to figure out which male athletes responded to Hines’ “meet up” requests (identifying information was later redacted by The Daily Beast). Many of these Olympic athletes were from countries where being out remains illegal.  Eventually the article was removed from the site.

By outing LGBTQ people, this WikiLeaks’ mentality is not holding people accountable, it has “helped bigots, bullies and oppressive regimes everywhere.”

The bottom line is “sensitive subject matter requires great sensitivity.”

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