In the year since the last Pride Month, there have been substantial developments for LGBTIQ+ communities all around the world. From the decriminalization of same-sex marriage in Slovenia, to the inclusion of transgender people in Bangladeshi textbooks, and much more, see what’s changed since June 2022:
In November 2022, Australia passed a law allowing individuals to change their legal gender marker on their birth certificate without requiring surgery or hormone treatment. The Bill, once passed in Parliament, is expected to become law in 2024. “What most people in Australia take for granted as a simple piece of paper is for trans and gender diverse people the right to exist and be seen for who we are,” Ymania Brown, a fa’afafine trans woman and spokesperson for national LGBTIQ+ advocacy group Equality Australia, said in a statement.
New textbooks introduced for school children in Bangladesh show transgender people or ‘hijras’ to nurture acceptance and raise awareness. While the Bangladeshi government officially recognized hijras as third gender in 2013, they remain a marginalized group in Bangladeshi and other South Asian societies, so these textbooks will play an important role in educating students about and celebrating diverse identities.
A criminal justice reform in Canada allows people convicted under historic indecency and anti-abortion laws that target women and the LGBTIQ+ community to clear their records. "Canadians deserve non-discriminatory policies that put their safety first," Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth said in the statement.
In April, the Cook Islands removed a colonial-era law that criminalized homosexuality. Our local member association, the Cook Islands Family Welfare Association, fought long and hard for this law reform, which has faced many hurdles since the movement kicked off in 2017. Staff and volunteers at CIFWA have worked in step with Pride Cook Islands and the Te Tiare Association (TTA), two of the biggest LGBTIQ+ advocacy organizations in the country, to end discrimination and promote human rights.
In Croatia, same-sex couples can now apply for joint adoption and second-parent adoption after a court decision following a six-year legal battle. According to the ruling, as reported in Croatian media: “Taking into account the position of the European Court of Human Rights, the Court states that a different treatment of persons in similar situations, based exclusively on their sexual orientation, represents a form of discrimination.”
A new law in Finland abolishes the harmful requirements for trans adults to endure invasive medical and psychiatric procedures, including sterilization, before they can have their gender recognized. This is a major step for equality, and we encourage Finland to amend the legislation to advance the rights of transgender children as well.
In May 2023, Germany introduced legislation that aims to simplify the legal gender recognition process for transgender and non-binary individuals, removing expensive and time-consuming requirements such as medical interventions or psychiatric diagnoses, which have been in place since 1981. Following this important news, the German Health Minister has also pledged to end discrimination against men or trans women who have sex with men who wish to donate blood. The Minister said that these blood donors would be assessed only on their individual risk behavior, not their sexual orientation.
The Icelandic government has adopted a new equality action plan prevent discrimination on the basis of gender and to maintain gender equality and equal opportunities for all genders. The law also adds sex characteristics protection in the penal code.
A Japanese court ruled it is "unconstitutional" for the nation not to legally recognise same-sex unions, a mark of progress for LGBTIQ+ rights in the only Group of Seven countries without legal protections for sexual minorities. The decision came after Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party on May 18 submitted to parliament a bill to "promote understanding" of LGBTIQ+ issues. If passed, the bill would forbid "unfair discrimination" based on sexuality or gender identity.
In March 2023, after a decade-long legal battle, the Kenyan Supreme Court ruled that everyone has a right of association and it criticized the government for failing to register associations for LGBTIQ+ people. However, the case has faced significant backlash from anti-LGBTIQ+ groups in the country, and the ruling comes against a backdrop of increasingly draconian laws against the LGBTIQ+ community in other parts of the continent, such as Uganda.
Moldova has jumped 14 places in ILGA’s Rainbow Map and Index, after it amended its equality law and penal code to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
In October, the last of Mexico’s 32 states, Tamaulipas, voted to recognize same-sex marriage, making it legal across the country. The president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Arturo Zaldívar, welcomed the vote. “The whole country shines with a huge rainbow. Live the dignity and rights of all people. Love is love,” he said on Twitter.
Namibia's Supreme Court ruled in May that the government must recognize same-sex marriages contracted abroad. This decision marks a significant milestone in a country where homosexuality is still illegal. This is a step in the right direction, ensuring same-sex couples their right to dignity, equality and to a family.
The Supreme Court of Nepal recognised the marriage of a same-sex couple registered abroad in May 2023. In addition the Court also recommended an equal marriage law or amendment of existing laws to recognise same-sex marriages extending recognition to other same sex relationships. The landmark decision made Nepal the first country in South Asia to recognise same sex marriages. The decision is being closely watched by neighboring country India, where the apex court is hearing pleas for legalization.
In November 2022, Singapore’s parliament decriminalised sex between men but amended the constitution to block full marriage equality. The British colonial-era law penalised sex between men with up to two years in jail, although the statute was not actively enforced. The law had long been criticised as discriminatory and stigmatising to the LGBTIQ+ community. The changes do, however, leave room for a future parliament to expand the definition of marriage to include same-sex relationships.
In February 2023, Slovenia legalized same-sex marriage and adoption, making it the first country in Eastern Europe and the 18th country across Europe to pave the way for marriage equality for all. A Constitutional Court ruled that the previous ban was "inadmissible discrimination against same-sex couples."
In February, a South Korean court ruled in favour of a same-sex couple seeking equal health benefits, overturning a lower court’s earlier decision in a ruling hailed by supporters and activists as the first recognition of the legal rights of such couples. The ruling moves South Korea closer to achieving marriage equality.
Spain has introduced new legislation to improve the lives of its LGBTIQ+ citizens, including allowing gender self-determination and banning conversion therapy. The law reforms also go further to support sexual and reproductive health and rights, by also introducing menstrual leave and easing abortion limits. Learn more about this legislation, which is a big step forward for Spain and serves as an example for other countries to follow.
In what’s been described as a ‘monumental milestone’ by the ruling political party, Taiwan has become the first Asian country to pass legislation to grant same-sex couples full adoption rights - a right previously only open to single people and heterosexual couples. The ruling also came on the heels of Taiwan’s first Pride celebration in two years – after the country relaxed its strict COVID-19 restrictions – which attracted over 120,000 people to the capital Taipei.
In what would be a massive victory for trans rights, a gender identity law could be included in Vietnam’s parliamentary agenda next year. The proposed law would allow people the right to change gender identity, request a different gender identity to the one assigned at birth and the right to choose a medical intervention method for gender-reaffirming surgery. Currently, there are no legal documents regulating gender identity in Vietnam.
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