Problems of toleration are generated by dislikes towards important differences manifesting in other individuals or groups, with subsequent interference in their activities. Hence toleration is defined as the “suspension of the power of interference towards disliked or disapproved differences” so long as no harm is caused to anyone by the existence of these differences (Galeotti, 1993: 587).
The purpose of this paper is to examine the importance of toleration for citizenship. It will be determined whether political tolerance exercised by the government has an influence on the practise of toleration by citizens in society. The importance of the cultivation of friendship between diverse people for beneficial impact on toleration among citizens, and toleration towards sexual minorities and their inclusion will be discussed. The argument detailing how toleration and citizenship cannot be completely free from exclusion, the paradoxes in toleration and the contradictions in citizenship will serve to give a different perspective to the debate.
In a planned or deliberate democracy, there is more expected from citizens than the mere silent toleration of attitudes and reasons that they dislike; especially if it is acknowledged that an important goal of democratic functioning is to find optimal and mutually agreeable solutions to problems and conflicts. Since citizens have to critically engage with each other, toleration pertaining to non-interference would not help for confrontational yet cooperative discussion. Further, when toleration is exercised by a majority, it may even be undemocratic. A deliberative theory of tolerance underscores how deliberation across differences can be both tolerant and democratic. “In a democracy, tolerance is exercised in resolving conflicts, and in making disagreements fruitful”(Bohman, 2003: 758, 762). Further, it is found that a