In 2017 Australia joined a list of 25 countries around the world where same-sex marriage has been legalised. The list includes 17 European countries, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, the United States and Colombia. However, there are still many countries where homosexuality is criminalized and the LGBTIQ+ community is heavily discriminated against. In these countries, members of the LGBTIQ+ community are advocating and encouraging change.
Angus Leung and Scott Adams are currently taking the Hong Kong government to the High Court. Angus married Scott in New Zealand five years ago, however the Hong Kong government refuses to recognise their marriage. The proceedings were commenced because Scott was denied spousal benefits under Angus’ medical insurance policy. Angus said the couple was ‘only striving for equal treatment’. The court of Final Appeal will determine whether legal and societal aspects should be considered in this case and hand down judgement.
Same sex marriage has not been legalised in Hong Kong however the Court of Final Appeal has ruled that Hong Kong’s immigration department must recognise same-sex unions for the purpose of spousal visa applications.
In the Congo, members of the LGBTIQ+ community are too afraid to leave their homes. In 2016 the Congo government attempted to criminalise homosexuality without success. Homophobia is so much of an issue that members of the LGBTIQ+ community are prevented from accessing employment and education.
Gloria, a young artist and member of the LGBTIQ+ community living in the Congo had to flea her home town after members of the town broke into her house and beat her. Gloria said ‘LGBTI people are persecuted and hunted in the Congo’.
In Brazil, 713 LGBTIQ+ hate crimes have occurred so far in 2018. These statistics coincide with a movement by the LGBTIQ+ community in Brazil to prevent the election of anti-gay presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro who is currently leading in the polls. Millions of Brazilians have protested against Bolsonaro’s election and stand together to fight for LGBTIQ+ rights.
In 2018, India decriminalised homosexual conduct. A judgement handed down by the Supreme Court unanimously ruled to decriminalize homosexual intercourse. Indu Malhorta, a Justice of the Supreme Court said ‘history owes an apology to members of the community for the delay in ensuring their rights’. Thousands of Indians took to the streets to celebrate the landmark decision.
Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Tokyo Metropolitan government has promised to stamp out LGBTIQ+ discrimination. In September, the government introduced a bill which included anti-discrimination measures and awareness raising measures to promote better understanding and acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ community.
Same-sex relations were legalised in 1983, and in 2010 same-sex marriage was also legalised. Portugal also allows its citizens to change their gender on all legal documents and was one of the first European countries to include a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in its Constitution. Lisbon holds the Lisbon Gay & Lesbian Film Festival each year and is regarded as one of the most LGBTIQ+ friendly countries in Europe.
Canada was the first non-European country to legalise gay marriage in 2005, and has continued to be at the forefront of supporting the LGBTIQ+ community. Since 1982, the Constitution of Canada has guaranteed fundamental human rights to the LGBTIQ+ community. Each summer the gay pride festival is celebrated all around Canada with tens of thousands attending.
There are many countries around the world where the LGBTIQ+ community are discriminated against; however there are also many countries leading by example and striving to support the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community.
Read more about the struggles members of the LGBTIQ+ community face around the world here: https://www.gaystarnews.com/