What does “LGBT” mean?

LGBT stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.” While these terms have increasing global resonance, in different cultures other terms may be used to describe people who form same-sex relationships and those who exhibit non-binary gender identities (such as hijra, meti, lala, skesana, motsoalle, mithli, kuchu, kawein, travesty, muxé, fa’afafine, fakaleiti, hamjensgara and Two-Spirit).

What is gender identity?

Your gender identity is how you see yourself in your head.

What is gender expression?

This is how you express your gender to the world through the way you act, dress and interact.

What is sexual orientation?

This refers to sexual and romantic feelings for another person. People attracted to someone from the same gender may be described as gay or lesbian (homosexual). People attracted to the opposite gender may describe themselves as being straight (heterosexual). People attracted to men and women might describe themselves as being bisexual (bi meaning two), and pansexual (pan meaning all). People who use the term “queer” may use it to mean lesbian, gay, bisexual, or pansexual, or they may use it because other terms don’t quite describe their experiences.

What determines sexual orientation?

Human beings have a basic sexuality that can be expressed in a variety of relationships: homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual, categories that are fluid and may overlap. According to researches, one's basic sexual orientation is predisposed at birth. While one's orientation may not be recognised or acknowledged for many years, once established, it tends not to change.

Who are transgenders?

Transgender is an umbrella term for any number of identities and behaviours that cross society’s gender boundaries.

What does cisgender mean?

A person who has gender identity that aligns with what they were assigned at birth.

What does it mean to be intersex?

Intersex people are people born with ambiguous genitalia or genitalia having characteristics of both sexes. Surgery may be used on intersexed babies to give function to the genitals or a more usual appearance.

What are homophobia and transphobia?

Homophobia is an irrational fear of, hatred or aversion towards lesbian, gay or bisexual people; transphobia denotes an irrational fear, hatred or aversion towards transgender people. Because the term homophobia is widely understood, it is often used in an all-encompassing way to refer to fear, hatred and aversion towards LGBT people in general.

Have LGBT people always existed?

Yes. LGBT people have always been a part of our communities. There are examples from every locality and time-period, from prehistoric rock paintings in South Africa and Egypt to ancient Indian medical texts and early Ottoman literature.

Is it possible to change a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity?

No. A person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity cannot be changed. Attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation often involve human rights violations and can cause severe physical and mental trauma.

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