Is the world now a better place for LGBTI people?

rainbow flagQ. A journalist asked, “In the years that Erasing 76 Crimes has covered criminalization of queerness around the world, has the situation improved, stayed stagnant or gotten worse?”

Here’s a quick, non-definitive answer:

A. During my time publishing Erasing 76 Crimes, from 2012 to the present, the situation has been fluid — possibly improving, with a modest reduction in the number of enforced anti-LGBT laws.

Mozambique repealed its law, as have tiny Palau, Lesotho, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Just this month, tiny Seychelles and Nauru did too.

Malawi has a moratorium on enforcement of its law during court deliberations on whether it is constitutional.

Uganda‘s harsh 2014 law lasted only a few months before it was overturned.

North Cyprus repealed what had been Europe’s last anti-homosexuality law.

Several Caribbean countries seem close to eliminating their sodomy laws, despite conservative Christians’ objections, but haven’t done so yet.

During the same period, however, three large nations took steps in the wrong direction.

Nigeria passed its harsh law against same-sex marriage, “public show of same-sex amorous relationship” and “gay organizations.”

Russia imposed its law against “promotion” of homosexuality. Similar proposals are under consideration in neighboring countries.

India‘s Supreme Court reinstated that nation’s anti-gay law, dating from the time of the British Empire. The law had been overturned by a lower court, and the Supreme Court is now pondering whether it made a mistake by rescuing the law from oblivion.

For a somewhat broader time frame, consider this from ILGA’s latest report:

” ‘State-Sponsored Homophobia’ started out in 2006 as a comprehensive listing of the black letter law in the world’s then 92 criminalising States regarding same-sex sexual activity. By 2016, on its 11th edition, that number is at 75 States … .”

Make that 74, once Seychelles is removed from the list.

All those answers focus only on laws, not on the underlying social problems of discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and denial of access to health care, which are heart-breakingly prevalent worldwide.

Overall, the world is probably a better place for LGBTI people than it was a few decades ago, but whether that generalization sounds right or sounds offensively optimistic depends on an individual’s outlook and local circumstances.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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  1. Living in Australia, it certainly feels like things have improved a lot over the past 30 years, but with our government committed to a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage, if re-elected, it’s becoming clear that there’s still plenty of homophobia lurking not far below the surface of our society, Fortunately, there is also a lot of pushback, including from state governments – so overall, I’m hopeful that social attitudes will keep getting better.

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