In Family, General Knowledge

LGBT Rights Around the World

LGBT Rights

The United Nations has a detailed document called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which became formal on Dec. 10, 1948. This document includes the recognition of the need to equalize the differences between women and men, rich and poor, condemnation of racism and discrimination and many other human rights. LGBT people were missing from this original human rights document. What happened to LGBT Rights?

“LGBT” stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, which includes, a) women who love women; b) men who love men; c) those of both sexes who like to mix it up, and; d) those in a physical body, which does not match how they feel about themselves regarding their gender.

No LGBT person is trying to convert people of other sexualities to change, because they know the feeling they have inside comes from their nature. It is simply a part of who they are. LGBT people are not asking for special rights, just to have the same rights as everyone else. Even if the majority is offended by them, the majority has no right to harm LGBT people, just because LGBT people are different. This is obvious to anyone with a sense of fairness.

In many parts of the world, the mere existence of such LGBT people is enough to create hostility and attack. For example, a transgender person may look different from many others, but is this enough reason for them to suffer physical attack, when simply walking down the street?

Humanity has suffered from this particular form of ignorance for a very long time. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world LGBT people are still under attack. In many cases, these attacks are life threatening.

Just a few years ago, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published its report for the first time on the global violence against LGBT people. This report (announced on Dec. 11, 2012) made it clear human rights abuses against LGBT people were rampant in many countries. Discrimination exists in the workplace, in the healthcare system, in schools and in government actions and programs.

At that time, the OHCHR report noted consensual same-sex relationships were still a crime in at least 76 countries, punishable by long-term prison sentences and even death in some places. Many of these criminal laws where inherited when countries were under colonial rule. The report found violence, where the motivation was hate specifically targeted LGBT people, included physical attacks (commonly called “gay-bashing”), sexual attacks such as violent rape, and murder.

The OHCHR called for a complete ban on discrimination and violence against LGBT people. One of the main principles of human rights is everyone is born equal and free with the same dignity and rights as everyone else. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) contains this statement as its first declaration, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

On the sixtieth anniversary of the UDHR, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke very logically that “all” means everyone. No one has the right to deny human rights to any other human being. Another attendee of the event, Ms. Chaka Chaka, a musician from South Africa, who lived through the abolishment of Apartheid equated homophobia (the fear of LGBT people) to both racism and sexism. She said, “Equality is for all or is not equality at all.”

In 2011, the U.N. sponsored a new resolution put forth by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. The general assembly of the United Nations voted on the declaration of LGBT rights. The results of the vote were 94 members supported LGBT rights and 54 members were completely against them. 46 members abstained from voting.

This summary of worldwide LGBT rights tries to capture an overview of the state of affairs for LGBT rights in different countries.

For the sake of this analysis, by country, of LGBT rights worldwide, let us divide countries into four types: 1) The Progressive; 2) The Tolerant; 3) The Oppressive, and; 4) The Barbaric. The information about the countries listed below comes from a 2013 report entitled “State-Sponsored Homophobia” (pdf retrieved Sept. 2014) parts summarized as LGBT Rights on Wikipedia. The status is continually changing, nevertheless it is a good overview to compare extremes.

The Progressive

Some countries have advanced very far towards complete acceptance of LGBT people. One of the reasons is these countries are more open to differences in people. They do not have repressive regimes and most citizens find no threat in the activities of LGBT people. Here are some examples:

  • Argentina – Argentina signed the U.N. declaration for LGBT rights. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1887. Same-sex marriage and adoption became legal in 2010. Openly serving in the military, became legal in 2009. Transgender people are allowed to change name and gender without having surgeries or needing court permission.
  • Brazil – Brazil signed the U.N. declaration for LGBT rights. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1824. Openly serving in the military, became legal in 1969. All discrimination against LGBT people became illegal in 1988. Transgender people could legally change name and gender since 2009. Same-sex marriage became legal in 2010. Adoption by single LGBT persons was legal since 1996 and married ones since 2010.
  • Canada – Canada signed the U.N. declaration for LGBT rights. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1969. Openly serving in the military, became legal in 1992. Same-sex marriage was legal nationwide in 2005. Same-sex adoption is legal with rules varying in each province. All discrimination against LGBT people is illegal including “hate speech.” Transgender people may change name and gender legally only after medical intervention.
  • European Economic Union – The member countries include, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In all member countries, same-sex sexual relations are legal and discrimination against LGBT people is illegal. Openly serving in the military is the same in all member countries except Cyprus. Same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland and Gibraltar). Transgender rights different from country to country, but since 2002, they are included in the E.U. laws against discrimination.
  • Mexico – Mexico signed the U.N. declaration for LGBT rights. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1872. Openly serving in the military, was legal since 2003. All discrimination against LGBT people became illegal in 2003. Transgender people could legally change name and gender in Mexico City since 2008. Same-sex marriage became legal in parts of the country during 2010 and expanded countrywide in 2013. Adoption by a single LGBT person was always legal and for married ones in Mexico City since 2010.
  • New Zealand – New Zealand signed the U.N. declaration for LGBT rights. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1986. Openly serving in the military was legal since 1993. New Zealand banned all LGBT discrimination in 2006. Same-sex marriage and adoption became legal in 2013.
  • United States – The US signed the U.N. declaration for LGBT rights. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal nationwide since 2003. Openly serving in the military, became legal in 2011, except for transsexuals. Discrimination in employment, based on sexual orientation, became illegal in 1998. For transgender people, the law applied to them since 2012. Same-sex marriage is legal in 21 states, but not federally recognized. Adoption by LGBT persons varies by state.
  • Other countries/territories in this category include Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Greenland, Israel, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The Tolerant

  • The tolerant countries do not have laws making homosexuality illegal, but have not advanced all the way to embrace same-sex marriage, adoption, and anti-discrimination for all LGBT people. Many now actively advocate for these countries to move to the progressive category. They include countries like, Australia, China, Japan, Mongolia, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The Oppressive

  • Jamaica – Female homosexuality is legal, but male homosexuality is a crime with a penalty of up to ten years in prison with hard labor, which is reminiscent of slavery.
  • Russia – Homosexuality became legal since 1993. Nevertheless, a recent law prohibits giving information to minors about homosexual issues, including such things as HIV prevention and safe-sex information. This news about banning “gay propaganda” caused a major increase in homophobic attacks. This changed the LGBT rights movement in Russia, especially in relation to bullying. These vicious physical attacks, over the civil rights of teens, targeted LGBT groups peacefully marching in public, LGBT teen groups, and the LGBT teens themselves. This prompted worldwide condemnation by LGBT rights organizations. Same-sex civil union, marriage, openly serving in the military, and same-sex adoption are illegal in Russia. Transgender people face sterilization in order to change gender.
  • Other countries in this category are those which still make homosexuality a crime, penalized by lengthy prison sentences. They include, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Burundi, Cameron, Comoros, Dominica, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania Togo, Tunisia, Western Sahara, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Totally Intolerant 

  • Afghanistan – Homosexuality is illegal and the penalty is death.
  • Brunei – Homosexuality is illegal and the penalty is death by stoning.
  • Egypt – Homosexuality is illegal and the penalty is up to 17 years of prison with or without hard labor, and with or without torture. As reported in Pink News (Europe’s largest gay media service), Egyptian police officials have been using social media to entrap gay men. Men face arrest at same-sex private parties. Seven men went to jail for simply being seen in a video attending a gay wedding celebration. There was no proof of any sexuality of the men, or evidence of sexual activity.
  • India – Homosexuality is illegal since 1860. This archaic law came from British rule, and the penalty is up to ten years in prison.
  • Iran – Homosexuality is illegal and the penalty is death.
  • Saudi Arabia – Homosexuality is illegal. Penalties include whipping, public flogging, male castration, torture, life in prison or execution even for the first offence. Suspected LGBT people face violent attack and death. Mob killings occur without a trial. This is one of the most vicious regimes in the world.
  • Uganda – Homosexuality is illegal and the penalty is life imprisonment.
  • Yemen – Homosexuality is illegal and the penalty is death.

The invitation to the human race is to reach for the higher standard of progression, which is more compassionate, to make a happier world for everyone.

The Declaration of Truths

We are all different, yet we are all equal.

Intentional harm to others is wrong.

Love expresses itself in many different ways.

Life is about diversity.

Ignorance is the cause of suffering.

Valuable contributions may come from anyone.

Intelligence overcomes ignorance.

Sexuality and gender identification is not a crime.

Involve yourself in the betterment of the world.

Open your mind for best results.

Nobody deserves bullying (or death) for being who they are.

A society becomes a better one, through improvements on how they deal with the weaker members of a minority. The powerful, who exercise dignity according to truths, become enlightened. This comes from the philosophy, as stated so eloquently in the simple phrase, “Live and Let Live.”

We declare it is the fundamental right of any person on Earth to live their life in any way they want, without concern about what others think of them, as long as they do no harm to others.

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