Substantial advances for LGBT rights were achieved in 2016, amid anti-gay violence, arrests and setbacks that marred the past 12 months.
This article is the first of three recaps of the events of 2016. The other two are:
- “2016 in review: A year of anti-LGBT violence, repression” and
- “2016 in review: Progress toward LGBTI equality”
The record of 2016 included:
Three fewer nations with anti-LGBT laws
These three nations dropped their anti-LGBT laws this year:
- Nauru repeals anti-homosexuality law
- Seychelles repeals ban on gay sex
- Top court in Belize overturns sodomy law
However, the parliament in the north-central African nation of Chad this month approved a new penal code that will make homosexual activity a misdemeanor, assuming that the country’s president signs the legislation into law.
By this blog’s count, Chad’s action would bring to 77 the updated total of countries with anti-homosexuality laws. An alternative tally puts the total number at 73 countries, according to the criteria used by ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
One failure to overturn an anti-LGBT law
The East African Court refused to take a stand on LGBTI rights, rejecting a challenge to the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014. The gay-friendly Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) of Uganda had filed suit in hopes of a court judgment that such anti-gay laws are unacceptable throughout East Africa.
Two anti-LGBT laws nullified, but not overturned
The Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that a homosexual must be allowed into Belize and Trinidad despite those countries’ laws banning the entry of gays. The court urged both countries to repeal the laws, but did not overturn them.
Proposals for progress in the Caribbean
Many leaders in Caribbean nations have raised hopes that their countries’ rarely enforced anti-LGBT laws will be repealed, but that has not yet happened, except in Belize.
The head of Grenada‘s Presbyterian Church spoke out on the rights of the LGBT community. Dr. Osbert James argued that although “homosexual practice” is “immoral,” it should not be a criminal offense.
Antigua‘s cabinet stated that the courts there would likely nullify that nation’s ban on sexual relations between men if LGBTI rights activists mount a legal challenge. But the cabinet made clear that the Antiguan government won’t take such action on its own, despite a proposal from the Antiguan minister of social transformation that it should do so.
The president of Guyana, the only country in South America with an anti-gay law, in effect, that he considers that law to be a human rights violation. He has not acted to repeal either the unenforced law that calls for life imprisonment for homosexual acts or a law against cross-dressing.
A legal challenge against Jamaica‘s anti-sodomy law is under way.