· December, 2023

A person's face and hands painted rainbow. Image via Canva Pro.

Since 1969, queer communities all over the world have marked June as PRIDE month, celebrating and advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and gender nonconforming individuals’ rights (LGBTQ+). But how has the state of queer rights changed over the last year? The global landscape of LGBTQ+ rights has been marked by both significant progress and notable setbacks, reflecting a world of increasing populism and political polarization, wherein LGBTQ+ communities are often caught in the crossfire.

While LGBTQ+ communities face an increased risk of oppression and violence in nearly every country on earth, the fight for queer protection and rights is making slow but steady progress. At the end of 2023, homosexuality was defined as a criminal offense in at least 66 countries — down from 72 just two years prior, and over 90 in the year 2000, according to Xtra, an LGBTQ+ news magazine. Numerous other countries, including Sri Lanka and Uganda, are considering repealing anti-sodomy laws in 2024 due to ongoing court challenges and droves of international pressure. 

Aside from draconian anti-sodomy laws, there are also more subtle ways queer people are targeted, including microaggressions, increased incarceration rates, and societal exclusion. Queer folks from marginalized backgrounds, such as refugees or disabled people, face especially unique challenges. Likewise, Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine has meant LGBTQ+ people have had to return to the closet as Putin has unleashed a crackdown on the “Western Gay Agenda,” which has also spread to influence neighboring countries. Queer Ukrainians haven’t escaped this plight as many who are forced to flee face increased risk and dangers that their straight counterparts don’t.

Several Latin American states also took notable steps back in terms of LGBTQ+ rights, with Peru officially classifying trans people as “mentally ill” and Argentina passing an Omnibus law that could lead to the erosion of queer rights. 

But despite this onslaught of hate and pressure, queer communities continued to resist and make time to celebrate themselves and their achievements. In October, Taiwan, one of the most LGBTQ-friendly spaces in Asia, held its annual PRIDE celebration, the largest to date, complete with drag queens, a parade, and thousands of queer folks and allies. In Australia, conservative efforts to ban books containing gay characters resulted in mass support of the books, causing them to explode in popularity. Despite increasing state hostility in Hong Kong, the city successfully co-hosted the Gay Games, the world's largest LGBTQ+ sports and culture event, last November alongside Guadalajara.

Overall, the last twelve months have underscored the dynamic and often contentious nature of LGBTQ+ rights worldwide. Progress continues to be made in many areas, yet significant obstacles remain, highlighting the ongoing need for vigilance and advocacy in the fight for true equality.

Stories about An eye on PRIDE 2024 from December, 2023