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.
Over the past decade, while some countries have decriminalized LGBTI identities and activities, others have imposed harsh new laws. Russia famously enacted a law in 2013 that prohibits “gay propaganda”—that is, making any information available to minors about LGBTI rights and health. Since it was passed, Russian society has seen an increase in homophobic violence. Ugandan Parliament made world headlines when its Anti-Homosexuality Bill was proposed in 2009. The original AHB would have punished “aggravated homosexuality” with execution. A bill altered to have life imprisonment as the maximum sentence passed in February 2014, but it was overturned that August thanks to the efforts of organizations like UHAI EASHRI. In October 2014, however, Gambia passed a similar law that punishes “aggravated homosexuality” with life imprisonment. Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, and other countries are still considering laws that are similar to Russia’s “propaganda” ban, but with worse penalties.
On an international scale, there are many groups working to prevent the recognition of LGBTI human rights. However, there are also local organizations on the ground in countries around the world combatting discrimination against LGBTI people and fighting for equality. You can learn about these invaluable organizations here.