In the early hours of the morning of 28 June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City, sparking six days of rioting (led by trans women of color Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera) – a breaking point after years of tensions. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the riots, a moment of resistance by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination, police harassment and exploitation.
After the Stonewall Riots, many people were inspired to take action as LGBTI rights entered the spotlight. The Christopher Street Liberation Day march was organized on 28 June 1970 on the anniversary of the riots. Today we see annual Pride celebrations in many cities and countries around the world.
The Stonewall Riots served as an important catalyst for a new generation of activism. A new wave of organizations were formed in their wake to protest the continued oppression of LGBT people, with similar movements established in many countries around the world.
Fifty years on from the riots we ask ourselves; how much progress has been made for the rights of the LGBTI community?
A glimmer of hope in 2019
Already, 2019 has seen some historic wins for LGBTI rights – Botswana’s High Court overturned a ban on same-sex relationships to Taiwan becoming the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Despite such positive progress, LGBTI communities around the world still face stigmatization, discrimination and even violence. Currently, there are 72 countries where homosexuality is illegal and in some of those countries, it’s punishable by death.
People who identify as anything other than heterosexual and/or cisgender are prone human rights violations, which are aggravated by incitement to hatred. This is why organizations like Stonewall and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) are critical to the LGBTI movement.
IPPF and its Member Associations are dedicated to improving the livelihood of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities. IPPF’s fight for sexual rights include the rights of all people whatever their gender and sexuality. People like Sakuni, a transgender woman living in Sri Lanka or Joseph Ikatlholeng, a gay man from Botswana living with HIV.
Our mission is for all people to be free to make choices about their sexuality and well-being, without fear of discrimination or violence.