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LBTQ Rights in 2018: A Survey

In 1994, the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that laws criminalizing same sex relationships between consenting adults violated the right to privacy guaranteed by Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[1] In the last ten years, individual countries have made substantial legal and legislative advances towards recognizing the rights of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual individuals (“LGBT”). [2] Despite these advances and international principles, LGBT adults all over the world continue to face discrimination, inequality, violence, torture and execution. [3] Discrimination is often formally embodied in the law. In November 2017, over 60 Egyptian parliament members proposed a bill that would criminalize same-sex activity. [4] Under the proposed bill, “promoting or inciting homosexuality” is punishable by five years in prison. [5] Multiple offenders of the proposed law could receive up to fifteen years in prison. [6] Similarly, in Ghana, LGBT individuals face criminalization under the country’s 1960 Criminal Offenses Act, which prohibits and provides punishment for “unnatural carnal knowledge.” [7]

Transgender people also continue to face discrimination, for example, in August 2017, two Singaporean nationals were arrested for “disguising as women” in the United Arab Emirates. [8] The cisgender man and a transgender woman were charged with violating federal and local law, their heads were shaved and they were deported. [9] Similarly in Indonesia in January 2018, the police raided transgender-owned businesses, forced the owners to undress and publically cut their hair. [10] In Brazil same-sex activity and gender expression are not criminalized , yet the law failed to provide full protection and freedom from discrimination when a judge in 2017 overturned a decades-old ban on “therapy” that attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation. [11] [12] In the United States, the Supreme Court is currently weighing how to balance gay rights with vendors who cite religious reasons to deny services to LGBT people. [13] Although twenty-four years have passed since the UN Human Rights Committee ruling, and some advances have been made, much progress is still needed before LGBT people enjoy full equality under the law.

This post is a student blog post and in no way represents the views of the Fordham International Law Journal.