The idea of human rights revolves around the central premise that all human beings are equal. It follows a certain metric that all humans have equal dignity, and therefore inherently enjoy equal privileges. Anything that undermines that dignity is a violation of their individuality and their very lives, which cannot be pardoned by morality. The concept of human rights is important in preventing such violations among all human beings.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of everyone’s personalities and individuality, and therefore are protected by human rights. To prevent any discrimination and abuse stemming from these aspects, rights for the LGBTQ+ community aim to reduce the social stigma against a multiplicity of identities — including gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, and non-binary identities — by presenting solutions and safeguards against a multitude of issues.
As a celebration of Pride Month, TDA brings you a comprehensive insight into some of the most important judicial decisions and enacted laws which have played a major role in establishing rights for the LGBTQ+ community for the 21st century and the future.
The first documented organisation for LGBTQ+ rights, especially gay rights, was formed in 1924 by Henry Gerber. It was established in Chicago and played a vital role in acknowledging LGBT rights as human rights. It was also the first recognised LGBTQ+ organisation in the USA.
In July 1961, Illinois became the first state in history to decriminalise homosexuality by repealing their laws on sodomy.
In the ’90s, there were 366 legal changes made affecting LGBT people. Some of the more notable of these events were the formation of the LGBTQ+ direct action group Queer Nation in New York City, and the formation of OutRage!, another LGBTQ+ direct action group, which was formed in the UK.
In 1994, the UN stated that violating LGBTQ+ rights was the same as violating human rights. Australia legalised homosexual activity. New Zealand made revolutionary changes in its legal system, which positively affected the LGBTQ+ community in their country.
LGBT discrimination became strictly illegal and homosexuals were legally allowed to serve in the military. Discrimination in the employment sector with regards to sexual orientation and gender identities was prohibited on a major scale.
In 1996, Hawaii became the first state in the US to recognise that gay and lesbian couples were entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples. This was a monumental decision in paving the way for recent legalisation of same-sex marriages around the world.
In 2008, the UN again released a statement in support of the LGBTQ+ community. And finally, in 2011, the UN passed a resolution to document discrimination and crimes against the LGBTQ+ community and punish them accordingly. 23 countries voted in favor of this resolution.
In Taiwan, same sex marriages and fraternisation has been legal since 2019, after a Constitutional Court ruling in May, 2017. Taiwan is widely regarded as the most progressive country in Asia regarding the LGBTQ+ community.
District of Columbia residents became the first to be able to choose a gender neutral option “X” as their gender marker in Driver’s Licenses and Identification Cards in 2017. Similar policies now exist in countries like Canada, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, etc.
However, there are still countries where the LGBTQ+ community is oppressed and discriminated against. And some of the countries that participate in this bigotry most prominently are right here in the Indian subcontinent. All the countries present in the Indian subcontinent are benighted in regards to LGBTQ+ rights.
In Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Maldives, partaking in any kind of homosexual activity will result in imprisonment and other punishment. This has been the case in these countries since the 1800s. In said countries, these punishments are meted out according to Section 337, a travesty of a law that states that any sexual acts that goes against “the flow of nature” is condemnable.
Section 337 has been a part of the legal system of these countries since 1860, after it was introduced by the British during colonial rule. It is the core legal barrier that allows the oppression of the queer community in these countries.
Other major reasons behind the bigotry against the LGBTQ+ community are misconceptions and social prejudice. These issues are also prevalent among politicians and leading figures in these countries. As a result, violent outbursts and legal pressure towards the LGBTQ+ community continue rampantly in these countries.
However, in India and Nepal, the LGBTQ+ community have decriminalised and given proper recognition. The existence of a third identity in official documents is a prevalent privilege in all countries of the Indian subcontinent. India and Nepal are also vying for equal privileges between LGBTQ+ couples and heterosexual couples.
We have a long way to go before discrimination and abuse against the LGBTQ+ community matches that of normal society, but the efforts of countries around the world are working, and will further contribute to this purpose in the future.