Countries making the most progress for the LGBTQ+ community

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Festival goers enjoy the Brighton & Hove Pride festival. (Image: Brighton Pride)

After nearly two years of lockdowns and restrictions, this year is a big year for the gay and trans community. Around the world, major cities are gearing up for Pride celebrations and calling for equality, visibility, inclusiveness and unity. LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, but the fight for gender equality around the world is far from over.

However, some countries are more LGBTQ+ friendly than others. From legalizing same-sex marriage and adoptions to banning conversion therapy and growing awareness of trans rights, these places are making great strides in the fight for equality.

Argentina

Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina in South America

In June 2021, Argentina passed a landmark law stipulating that at least 1% of public sector jobs must be filled by trans people. (Getty Creative)

Argentina has a reputation for being one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly places in the world – and for good reason. It was the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, including granting the right to full adoption and even subsidizing IVF treatments for lesbian couples who want to give birth naturally.

Read more: Respect the most common sentiment towards LGBT people: “It reminds us of how far we’ve come”

In 2012, the government implemented new legislation in Argentina, adding life sentences to hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. That same year, Argentina also passed the Gender Identity Law, becoming the first country in the world to allow people to legally define their gender without permission from a doctor or lawyer – a milestone for the trans community and, incidentally, the country’s most important claim to LGBTQ+ fame.

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The law now allows Argentines to change sex without surgery, hormone therapy or even psychiatric evaluation, and all costs – including reassignment surgery – are covered between public and private health care plans.

In June 2021, Argentina went even further and passed a law stipulating that at least 1% of all public sector jobs must be filled by trans people. This is a historic law that gives voice, gives visibility and offers the trans community more opportunities in the labor market.

Canada

A Canada, LGBTQ+ Pride flag waving together at a Pride Festival

Since his election in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become an emblematic figure of the LGBTQ+ community. (Getty Creative)

Over the past five decades, the Canadian government has made tremendous strides in equality for LGBTQ+ people. The country first allowed same-sex relationships in 1969, and gay and lesbian couples gained the majority of legal marriage benefits when the government expanded common law marriages to include them.

Then, starting in 2003, nine of the 13 provinces and territories legalized same-sex marriages. The federal government followed suit a few years later, legalizing gay and lesbian marriages nationwide in 2005.

And can we talk about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?! Since his election in 2015, he has become an emblematic figure of the LGBTQ+ community. He still leads the way in the annual Toronto Pride Parade (one of many celebrations held across the country) and has acknowledged and apologized for discriminatory laws and violence inflicted on the LGBTQ+ community in the past.

Read more: Why We Still Need Pride: ‘I Was Fired And Evicted Because I Was Gay’

The country has already come a long way but continues to move towards equality. After a unanimous vote in December 2021 in the House of Commons, conversion therapy was successfully banned after two failed attempts. The federal ban protects both adults and minors from the controversial practice of changing their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

And the country’s most recent success saw Canadian health officials finally drop a ban on gay men’s blood donations. This is an important step towards a more inclusive blood donation system – a decision that will literally save lives.

New Zealand

New Zealand, North Island, Auckland

The New Zealand government is the most diverse in the world. (Getty Creative)

For decades, New Zealand has been considered one of the world’s inclusive and progressive countries. Its government is more diverse than any other state – with nearly half of its sworn parliament female and 11% openly part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride events have been taking place since the 1970s, and the country’s government passed anti-discrimination laws as early as 1993, such as removing the LGBTQ ban from the military, introducing the right to change legal gender and the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Read more: Coming out as LGBTQ+: how to support someone

The country is making steady progress towards equality, becoming the latest country to ban conversion therapy in February 2022. Legislation makes it an offense to attempt to change sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of anyone under the age of 18 – and comes with a punishment of up to three years in prison for anyone found guilty.

It also criminalizes any practice of conversion causing “serious harm”, regardless of age, and is punishable by up to five years in prison. The new laws are a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community and a big step towards equality.

Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan - October 31, 2015: Group of people attend Taipei Gay pride

In 2019, Taiwan became the first (and only) Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. (Getty Creative)

Taiwan is considered the most progressive country in Asia when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. In 2019, the island became the first (and only) Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage – monumental legislation that thousands have since benefited from. That same year, courts in Taipei ruled that gender self-identification without surgery was a constitutional right for trans people… 2019 was indeed a historic year in Taiwan.

Read more: Yahoo is the main sponsor of this year’s Brighton & Hove Pride festival

Since then, support for same-sex marriage and trans people has nearly doubled and today there are nearly 8,000 registered same-sex couples in the country. Taiwan’s growing support for the country’s gay and lesbian community represents hope not only for the LGBTQ+ community in Taiwan, but also for its neighboring countries in Asia.

And the progress does not stop. This year again, the homosexual couple Wang Chen-Wei and Chen Chun-Ju obtained the right to adopt their daughter together. It was the first time the country had seen a same-sex married couple adopt, but of course hopefully not the last.

UK

London, UK, July 6, 2019: Happy lgbt people and their supporters wearing colorful rainbow costumes marching during the famous Pride Parade on July 6th in London, UK.

UK Pride celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. (Getty Creative)

At the UK’s first Pride celebration in 1972, organized by the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), around 2,000 participants marched together to demand gay rights. Now, 50 years later, more than 1.5 million people took to the streets of London to celebrate and demonstrate for LGBTQ+ rights, making this year’s Pride “the biggest and most most inclusive in history”.

The UK’s long road to LGBTQ+ equality is filled with political, legal and societal milestones to be proud of. The government repealed Article 28 – a law which prohibited local authorities and schools from “promoting” homosexuality, same-sex marriages were legalized and adoption rights were extended to gay and lesbian couples.

Read more: LGBTQ+ parenting: “It was a difficult path to become one day, but I love it”

More recently, the UK government simplified the application process for Gender Recognition Certificates (GRCs) and reduced costs from £140 to £5, a move aimed at making the certificate more accessible to the trans community.

The UK is full of LGBTQ+ trailblazers such as Alan Turing, April Ashley, Derek Jarman, Phyll Opoku Gyimah, Justin Fashanu, Peter Tatchell, Munroe Bergdorf and Sir Ian McKellen – all of whom fought for equality and contributed to create a society proud of its diversity.

Great strides have been made for the UK’s LGBTQ+ community since they first celebrated Pride 50 years ago – we can’t wait to see what happens next.

Watch: Author and activist Damian Barr explains why we still need Pride


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