After nearly two years of lockdowns and restrictions, this year is a big year for the gay and trans community. Around the globe, major cities are prepping for Pride celebrations and calling for equality, visibility, inclusivity and unity. LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, but the fight for sexual equality around the world is far from over.
However, some countries are more LGBTQ+-friendly than others. From legalising same-sex marriage and adoptions, to banning conversion therapy and growing awareness of trans rights, these places are making great strides in the push for equality.
Argentina has a reputation for being one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly places in the world – and for good reason. It was the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage, including giving full adoption rights, and even subsidising IVF treatments for lesbian couples who want to give birth naturally.
In 2012, the government enforced new legislation in Argentina, adding life sentences to hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. That same year, Argentina also passed the Gender Identity Law, becoming the first country in the world to allow people to legally define their gender without permission from a doctor or lawyer – a huge milestone for the trans community and incidentally the country’s most prominent claim to LGBTQ+ fame.
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The law now allows Argentines to change their gender without surgery, hormone therapy or even psychiatric evaluation, and all costs – including reassignment surgery – are covered between public and private health care plans.
In June 2021, Argentina went even further and passed a law stating that at least 1% of all public sector jobs must be held by trans people. It’s a landmark legislation that gives a voice, lends visibility and provides the trans community with more opportunities in the workforce.
Over the past five decades, the Canadian government has made huge progress when it comes to equality for LGBTQ+ people. The country first authorised same-sex relationships back in 1969 and gay and lesbian couples gained the majority of legal benefits of marriage when the government extended common law marriages to include them.
Then, starting in 2003, nine of the 13 provinces and territories legalised same-sex marriages. The federal government followed suit just a few years later, legalising gay and lesbian marriages nationwide in 2005.
And can we talk about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?! Since his election in 2015, he’s become something of an iconic figure for the LGBTQ+ community. He always leads the way at Toronto’s annual Pride parade (just one of many celebrations held across the country) and has acknowledged and apologised for discriminative laws and violence that have been inflicted on the LGBTQ+ community in the past.
The country has already come a long way but still continues to make moves towards equality. After a unanimous vote in December 2021 at the House of Commons, conversion therapy was successfully banned following two failed attempts. The federal ban protects both adults and minors from the controversial practice to change their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
And the country’s most recent success saw Canadian health officials finally dropping the ban on blood donations from gay men. It’s a huge milestone towards a more inclusive blood donation system – a move that will quite literally save lives.
For decades, New Zealand has been considered to be one of the inclusive and progressive countries in the world. Its government is more diverse than any other state – with nearly half of their sworn-in parliament female, and 11% openly part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Pride events have been taking place since the 1970s and the country’s government has been passing anti-discrimination laws from as far back as 1993, such as removing the LGBTQ ban on the military, introducing the right to change legal gender and legalising gay marriage.
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The country is making continuous strides towards equality, becoming the latest country to ban conversion therapy in February 2022. The legislation makes it an offence to attempt to change the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of anyone under 18 – and comes with a punishment of up to three years’ imprisonment for anyone found guilty.
It also makes it an offence to perform conversion practices that cause “serious harm”, regardless of age, and carries a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment. The new laws are a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community and a big step towards equality.
Taiwan is regarded as the most progressive country in Asia when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. In 2019, the island became the first (and only) Asian country to legalise same sex marriage – a monumental legislation that thousands of people have taken advantage of since. That same year, Taipei courts ruled gender self-identification without surgery a constitutional right for trans people... 2019 was indeed a historic year in Taiwan.
Since then, support for same sex marriage and trans people has nearly doubled and today, there are nearly 8,000 registered same sex couples in the country. Taiwan’s increasing support for the gay and lesbian community in the country represents hope not just for the LGBTQ+ community in Taiwan, but also for its neighbouring countries in Asia.
And the progress isn’t ending. Just this year, same-sex couple Wang Chen-Wei and Chen Chun-Ju won the right to adopt their daughter together. It was the first time the country saw a married same-sex couple adopt, but of course hopefully not the last.
During the UK’s first Pride celebration in 1972 staged by the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) around 2,000 participants marched together calling for gay rights. Now 50 years later, over 1.5 million people took to the streets of London to celebrate and protest in support of LGBTQ+ rights, making this year's Pride 'the biggest and most inclusive event in history'.
The UK’s long road to LGBTQ+ equality is filled with political, legal and societal milestones to be proud of. The government repealed the Section 28 – a legislation which banned local authorities and schools from “promoting” homosexuality, same-sex marriages were legalised and adoption rights were extended to include gay and lesbian couples.
More recently, the UK government simplified the application process for gender recognition certificates (GRC) and reduced the costs from £140 to £5, a move to make the certificate more accessible for the trans community.
The UK is full of LGBTQ+ trail blazers such as Alan Turing, April Ashley, Derek Jarman, Phyll Opoku Gyimah, Justin Fashanu, Peter Tatchell, Munroe Bergdorf and Sir Ian McKellen – all of whom have fought hard for equality and helping to create a society proud of its diversity.
A great deal of progress has been made for the UK’s LGBTQ+ community since it first celebrated Pride 50 years ago – we can’t wait to see what happens next.
Watch: Author and campaigner Damian Barr on why we still need Pride