29 NOVEMBER, 2022
A movement that had been simmering for years was rekindled and ignited at the Stonewall Inn on a June night in 1969.When police stormed the well-liked pub on June 28, 1969, New York City's then-underground queer community resisted police brutality. In the history of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights movement, the Stonewall riots constituted a turning point.
In a series of maps illustrating the status of LGBT rights around the world, Human Rights Watch celebrates global progress toward decriminalising consenting same-sex relationships and marriage equality during this Pride Month and on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
Botswana and Angola have decriminalised same-sex relationships since January. Similar measures have been adopted in Bhutan, and Austria, Ecuador, and Taiwan have eliminated legal barriers to same-sex unions. The same-sex spousal benefits were recently granted by Hong Kong's high court, which found that "the absence of a majority consensus as a reason for rejecting a minority's claim is inimical in principle to fundamental rights." The court also struck down penal code provisions that discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. The high court of Botswana overturned the country's "unnatural offences" statutes, ruling that any legislation that "oppresses a minority" constitutes "discrimination against all."
The equality clause of Ecuador's constitution was used by the country's constitutional court in its decision that the government must permit same-sex unions. However, a year that was cause for celebration also included setbacks. The US suggested reversing non discrimination laws that protected the right to health of transgender people, and Kenya's high court upheld its discriminatory colonial-era law. Although Brunei adopted a cruel penal code that punishes men having sex with the death penalty, it responded to the outcry from around the world by announcing a moratorium on the death penalty.
As the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights so beautifully states, the struggle will go on as long as governments do not fully respect and protect the "inherent dignity" and "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family," regardless of their gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Transgender persons, bisexuals, lesbians, homosexual men, and runaway adolescents who had grown weary of eluding the law stood up against persecution at Stonewall fifty years ago.
They have served as an inspiration to numerous generations of activists and jurists who have devoted countless hours to removing legal barriers to equality. Their boldness is responsible for a lot of the advancement we now see. This Pride Month, we've shared both laughter and tears, but we've also carried Stonewall's spirit forward. The light must not be extinguished.
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