Gay Dem: Internet can be ‘salvation’

High-speed broadband Internet can be vital to gay, lesbian and transgender people struggling to understand their sexuality and gender identity, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said on Thursday.

Cicilline, who is gay and one of the co-chairmen of the congressional LGBT caucus, said that the Web can be especially important for people in countries where homosexuality is illegal. He urged Congress to do what it could to allow as many people as possible to get online. 

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“It has particularly important significance ... in places where gay and lesbian and bisexual people – transsexual people – live in dangerous, repressive conditions,” he said at an event unveiling a new report on the LGBT community’s use of broadband Internet.

“Access to the Internet may be the salvation for these individuals to connect and understand that there are other places to be, other people who are experiencing the same kind of challenges.”

A Pew Research Center survey last year found that LGBT Americans are incredibly likely to use the Internet, which Cicilline said allowed people to find social support and connect with other people like them. 

According to the Pew poll, 80 percent of LGBT adults have used social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, compared with just 58 percent of the general public.            

Thursday’s report from the LGBT Technology Partnership and Institute called for the government to ensure that computers at schools and libraries allow people to search for LGBT information, make more of the nation’s airwaves available for public use and make sure that people’s privacy is protected online, among other recommendations. 

Cicilline said that the report should “motivate us to undertake some policies to invest and make sure that that kind of access is available to people all across the country.”