It is nearly a universal truth that in most societies today, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals (LGBTQ+) face added societal challenges from homophobia to state oppression and hostility to ingrained bigotry and institutional failures. However, overall, the global LGBTQ+ community made remarkable progress over the last year and witnessed significant advancements in the fight for equality and human rights. From legal victories to societal shifts, numerous countries have taken steps forward in recognizing and protecting the rights of sexual and gender minorities.
Several countries made historic strides in legalizing same-sex marriage, recognizing gender identity, and protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination. In May 2023, Nepal became the first country in South Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, marking a significant milestone for queer rights in the region. Numerous Caribbean nations passed legislation benefitting LGBTQ+ citizens, marking a definitive shift in the region becoming more “gay friendly.” Slovenia also legalized same-sex marriage and will finally allow queer families to adopt children. In Hungary, the government passed a law in 2022 effectively banning the portrayal or promotion of homosexuality or transgender issues to minors, however, in April 2023, Hungary’s president struck it down in a rare win for LGBTQ+ people in the country. Similarly, activists in Poland were awarded a major legal victory in April 2023 after courts overturned a decision to make some regions in the country an “LGBT-free zone.”
The global movement to ban conversion therapy, a harmful and pseudoscientific practice aimed at changing a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, has also gained momentum over the past year. Numerous countries, including Canada, and France, and Greece, introduced legislation to outlaw conversion therapy, prioritizing the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals. These efforts send a strong message that such practices have no place in modern society.
Unfortunately, while significant progress has been made in certain regions, challenges and setbacks persist in others. This is particularly true in regions that have been unsettled by conflict. Russia has cracked down on LGBTQ+ identities and freedoms amid its ongoing war against Ukraine. Azerbaijan and Turkey have also seen an uptick in discriminatory attitudes and legislation. And while transgender and gender-diverse individuals are getting more visibility and recognition globally, there has also been a backlash and uptick in violence against them. These regressive measures highlight the work that still needs to be done to combat intolerance and protect the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.
The continued efforts of LGBTQ+ activists, allies, and organizations have played a crucial role in driving these advancements. While challenges and disparities still persist, the strides made over the past year offer hope for a more inclusive and equitable future for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. Celebrate these victories and challenges with Global Voices this PRIDE month through this selection of pieces from around the world.
Stories about Celebrating global LGBTQ+ rights
After fleeing Russia due to the war and mounting homophobia, the couple is adjusting to being together without worrying that they could be arrested for being gay
Divisions between between Turkey's conservatives and secularists are worsening. The latest showdown occurred after conservatives attacked a queer volleyball player after her team brought home a gold medal.
The LGBTQI+ movements in South Asia have to work with little to no funding support. As a consequence, the rights and issues of LGBTQ+ people are severely under-resourced.
From Australia to United States, some conservatives are blocking the inclusion of gay penguin stories in schools and libraries.
"The freer we are as individuals, the freer we are as a people."
"Whether you need a little dose of queer feminist fire or seek a soundtrack for your own resistance, this playlist stands ready to uplift and speak truth to power."
The march this year focused on advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Moldova to have their marriages legally recognized.
The emphasis on family values and the portrayal of LGBTQ+ people as a threat to these values has been part of a narrative often weaponized by local politicians including President Erdoğan.
Civil society and LGBTQ+ activists in Sri Lanka arranged a series of vibrant and empowering Pride events advocating for equality and demanding an end to discrimination.
Pride marches in all Balkan capitals all came with similar demands: stopping hate speech and hate crimes fueled by widespread homophobia and transphobia.
Local authorities have banned all PRIDE related events for the month including film screenings and tea drinking events.
Despite the challenges, Ashkan Shabani remains determined to fight for LGBTQ+ freedom and equality in Iran and worldwide. He longs for a future where he can return home without fear.
With President Erdoğan's reelection, some Turkish citizens are questioning whether voting is enough for democracy
Thailand's LGBTQ+ community made strides in the last election after three self-identified LGBTQ+ people won MP seats, including one trans woman who hopes to make the education system more inclusive.
Uganda's LGBTQ+ community is now under threat of imprisonment and capital punishment following the enactment of this discriminatory "anti-homosexuality" law.
Malaysian officers under the Home Ministry raided 11 stores on May 13 and 14 and confiscated 160 Pride collection watches made by Swatch, a Swiss watch company.
In a world where sex work is often not recognized and is criminalized, the work of unions is imperative.
Over the past year, the situation for the transgender community in Russia has significantly deteriorated. in May 2023 the Ministry of Justice actively discussed either making more difficult or completely banning transgender transition.
According to ILGA Europe, an international non-governmental organization advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms, Azerbaijan occupies the last place among 49 countries on the organization's Rainbow Index consecutively for three years in a row.
On May 2, 2023, same-sex marriage was finally legalised by Nepali by order of the Supreme court in Nepal after several years of legal disputes.
Greater inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community could see Kenya's economy gaining billions per year.