Laws and governments are not the only forces impacting the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world. Society, culture, and religion can also strongly impact the well-being of LGBTI people. Religion is often given as a justification for discrimination and mistreatment of LGBTI people. Those who persecute LGBTI people also accuse them of violating long-held cultural traditions. Social change is often more difficult to achieve than legal change.
Transgender and intersex people around the world are fighting for control over their own bodies, for their right to self-expression, and for dignity and equal treatment in the public sphere. Our world is built around the idea of two discrete genders that correspond with two discrete sexes and remain the same throughout any person’s life, and most societies punish those who do not conform to that expectation.
Globally, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people live at greater risk for a number of health problems, notably HIV/AIDS, nonconsensual surgery, and barriers to transitional healthcare. Many LGBTI people struggle to get by with little support from their families or communities. These people are also more likely to be homeless, to suffer from substance addiction, and to experience mental illness.
Across the globe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people live in fear for their physical safety. In countries that criminalize LGBTI sexuality, identity, or gender expression, governments may incarcerate LGBTI people in dangerous prisons. Several governments punish LGBTI people with torture and execution. LGBTI people are also vulnerable to abuse outside of government punishment.
Despite more and more victories for equality, legalized homophobia and transphobia still thrive in every corner of the world. While a handful of countries provide specific legal rights and protections to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) citizens, many more do not. In fact, nearly 80 countries still criminalize sex between LGBTI people, and some even impose the death sentence for same-sex sexual activity. Cross-dressing, same-sex marriage, and even advocating for LGBTI human rights are also illegal in many places. It is also legal to discriminate against LGBTI people in employment, education, housing, healthcare, and public spaces in most parts of the world.