The gay community has been slowly making strides toward legislative progress in the Western world, with Australia recently having voted in support of gay marriage. Yet the world still has leaps and bounds to go when it comes to equality everywhere, whilst some countries legalize same-sex couples adoptions, others criminalize same sex relationships. Features writers explore the world of LGBTQ+ movements around the globe.
India had followed the colonial law, Section 377, imposed by the British during imperial rule – criminalizing all manner of “unnatural” sex, including homosexual relations. In a historic 2009 ruling, sex between consenting adults of any gender was decriminalized – yet this was overturned in 2013, and Section 377 is back in place. Indian political opinion on the ruling is divided, with Rajnath Singh of the ruling party claiming that HIV/AIDS would be “promoted” by decriminalizing homosexuality, whilst Arun Jaitely of the same party is in support of overturning Section 377. The left-leaning Congress party is generally in favor of decriminalizing homosexuality, with leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi vocally expressing support.
The LGBTQ+ community in India is often visible yet incredibly ignored. Pride movements and parades happen in most Indian cities, frequented by colourful banners, drag queens, and members of the hijra community. However, these events are often met with opposition from the large population of the religious right wing in the country, regardless of religion. Neha Shaji, Features Editor
Nicknamed the ‘Little Red Dot’, Singapore is a modern, cosmopolitan city with very old-fashioned views on LGBTQ+ rights. Singapore does not recognize same-sex relationships; therefore, couples are unable to purchase public housing, of which over 80% of the population live in; or to adopt children. Interestingly, female homosexual relations have never been criminalized. The Little Red Dot’s LGBTQ+ voice has emerged since 2009 in the form of the Pink Dot Rally, but it still has a long way to go, attracting controversy from the various religious groups in Singapore.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ decision to ban foreign residents and foreign sponsors from helping or attending the event hindered the 2017 rally. Ultimately, while only sporadically enforced on private sexual conduct, Section 377A of the Penal Code, which carries a punishment of up to two years imprisonment for homosexual behaviour, remains entrenched in the Singaporean psyche, bound by their ideal of the nuclear family. Rosie Shepard
With its success in bidding on the 2020 Gay Games as the first Asian country to ever host the games since its start in 1982, the committee is critical of Hong Kong’s lack of protection for sexual minorities. Mr Choi, the director of the bidding team, hopes that the games in 2020 will push the HK government to create nation-wide anti-discrimination laws to protect the LGBTQ communities. Whilst homosexuality was decriminalized in the early 90s, same-sex marriage and relationships are still not recognized, which becomes an issue when applying for residency with a partner or something more extreme, such as if a significant other dies and their partner is excluded.
There is hope however, with Taiwan’s movement to allow same-sex marriage and the high court in HK ruling that a lesbian couple could apply for a dependent visa. Moreover, some 120 of HK’s biggest companies that have a major standing in government, politics, sports, business and cultural events are open supporters of improvement in Hong Kong. The biggest influencers are arguably Cathay Pacific and the Tourism Board.
One may wonder if Hong Kong is allowing this move because of the tourism benefits. With 15,000 athletes and a predicted 40,000 guests expected to travel to see the games, it is predicted a profit of HK 1 billion for the city. But even so, such a widespread event hopefully will push Hong Kong forward in recognizing same sex couples and others within the LGBTQ+ community. Alexandra Gough
The activist group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) was formed in support of the 1984-1985 British miners’ strikes. Formed by Mark Ashton and Michael Jackson, they came up with the concept for LGSM after collecting donations for the miners at the 1984 Gay Pride march in London. By the end of the strike, there were eleven groups throughout the UK, and the London group alone raised over £11,000 (~£33,000 in 2017) for the striking miners. The alliances formed between the LGBTQ+ community and British Labour groups were an important turning point in the progression of LGBTQ+ issues in the UK.
Miners’ labour groups supported, endorsed, and participated in various Gay Pride events throughout the UK. In addition, at the 1985 Labour Party conference, a resolution committing the party to the support of LGBTQ+ rights was passed, due to voting from the National Union of Mineworkers. Olivia Powell
Germany has a reputation for being a pioneering country when it comes to liberal-minded policy making and progressive thinking, which is why it came as a surprise to learn that same-sex marriage was only legalized there in 2016, despite polls suggesting that 83% of German citizens were already in support of it. But while German citizens may have had a slightly longer wait for equality than the likes of their UK or even American counterparts, Berlin’s Gay Pride event (known as Christopher Street Day) is now the biggest in Europe, and general consensus certainly seems to be one of love and acceptance towards the Gay Pride movement. Christine Cornock, Germany Correspondent
Australia’s Pride movement is one of
the biggest in the world, with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras happening annually since 1979. A commemoration of the Stonewall riots in 1978 was broken up by police in Sydney, despite being a legal demonstration.
Since then, Sydney pride events have gathered huge traction despite internal disputes regarding businesses being granted floats in parades. Australia legalised same-sex sexual activity as recently as 1997, having inherited much of its anti-homosexual legislation from the British Empire. Same-sex marriage was legalised in late-2017 after a bitter campaign, culminating in the voluntary ‘Australian Marriage Postal Survey’ in September-November 2017 which saw 61.6% of 12,727,920 votes cast as a ‘yes’ vote. Australian parliament passed the law legalising same sex marriage on the 7
Russia has a complicated relationship with LGBTQ+ rights, and one which has had more breaks than breakthroughs over the years. An early, temporary victory for the LGBTQ+ community was won in the form of the decriminalisation of same-sex sexual activity in 1917 under Vladimir Lenin. While no policy of support towards a Pride Movement was followed by the early Soviet Union, homosexuality remained legal until 1933 when Joseph Stalin recriminalised it. It was then decriminalised again in 1993.
However, Pride parades in Russia have faced homophobic attacks on multiple occasions since 2000, and Moscow was sued in 2010 for its resistance and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community by the EU Court of Human Rights. Edd Church, Online News Editor