Welcome to The Bloch,
In honor of Pride this month, I decided to take a moment to appreciate the progress that the LGBTQ+ community has made in the struggle for civil rights, and also to highlight where progress is desperately needed.
An article titled, The Changing Landscape of Global LGBTQ+ Rights from the Council on Foreign Relations sums it up nicely:
“The United States has long been an important battleground for LGBTQ+ rights, and U.S. leadership has been prominent in defending them worldwide. However, a rapid expansion of protections in the United States during the Barack Obama administration was stalled — or, in areas such as health care and military service, even reversed — by the Donald J. Trump administration. Trump also deprioritized the promotion of LGBTQ+ rights in U.S. foreign policy.
This erosion of the U.S. global standing on human rights issues poses an initial challenge for President Joe Biden, who is expected to pursue robust LGBTQ+ rights advocacy. Biden is likely to face resistance from conservative lawmakers and judges, but his commitment to using executive powers — evident in the signing of an executive order on his first day in office to protect LGBTQ+ Americans from discrimination — bodes well for the restoration of the United States’ standing as a global leader in the defense of such rights.”
Here is some of the history of the movement:
And here is the current state of LGBTQ+ rights around the globe:
As you can see, in North America, Western Europe, Australia, South Africa, and much of South America, same-sex marriage is legal or in some cases has constitutional protection. On the flip side, in Syria, Lebanon, and many countries in Africa, people can still face imprisonment for same-sex sexual acts. Other countries in the Middle East including Iran and Saudi Arabia still impose the death penalty while countries like Jordan and Egypt have de-facto criminalization. Israel is by far the most progressive country in the Middle East when it comes to this issue. In Israel, same-sex sexual activity was legalized in 1988, while discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was prohibited in 1992, and after a landmark court decision in 2008, same-sex couples are allowed to adopt. Israel’s laws fall into the “limited or uneven protection” category with countries like Italy, Greece, Chile, South Korea, and Japan. The last category, “no protection or criminalization” includes countries like Russia, China, Jordan, Turkey, and India.
The last category is clearly a catch-all, as homosexuality is decriminalized in India while Russia passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (and they are in the same category).
I’m proud that here in America my LGBTQ+ friends have the freedom to love who they want. But that right is under attack. The Supreme Court will hear a case this month Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, where a Catholic social services agency contracted by the city is trying to deny rights to same-sex couples. The important question in the case is whether same-sex couples are allowed the same protection against discrimination as racial minorities, or whether religious groups can define marriage as being only between a man and a woman. I can’t believe I’m actually writing this in 2021 in America, but unfortunately, the right to love freely is not as protected as it should be, and it needs our constant support. One great way is by supporting the Equality Act being considered in the Senate. I wish it hadn’t taken so long to get it there.
In closing, I’m proud that the largest Pride parade in the world happens right here in the USA in New York City. As of June 2019, the largest LGBTQ+ events in other parts of the world include:
- Europe: Madrid, Spain
- Asia: Taipei, Taiwan
- Middle East: Tel Aviv, Israel
- Oceania: Sydney, Australia
- Africa: Johannesburg, South Africa
I’ll never forget going to the Pride parade in San Francisco a few years ago with one of my close gay friends. I thought he was coming to visit me, but really he came for Pride weekend. I was happy to have him crash on the couch, and I was incredibly inspired by the energy of the celebration that year. And while it is certainly time to celebrate again now, it is also important to remember that the struggle is not over; there is more work to do. Freedom comes in all shapes and sizes and liberty comes in many colors — including rainbow.
Until next time.