2018 gave us many victories, but there are still many more battles that need to be won…
Last year we saw a major victory when India’s supreme court decriminalised gay sex. A High Court judge in Trinidad and Tobago also ruled that the law that criminalised same-sex relations was “unconstitutional.” Many states in America have introduced bans on gay ‘cure’ therapy for minors, with New Hampshire’s ban coming into force yesterday.
At the start of 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that all countries under its jurisdiction needed to treat same-sex couples “without discrimination” and called on 20 countries to legalise same-sex marriage. And despite legal battles, it looks like same-sex marriages will once again be legal in Bermuda.
And there has been an increase in the amount of LGBTQ voices in politics. Back in March, Israel elected Eitan Ginzburg as its first openly gay mayor. And in the American mid-term elections, Wilton Manors became the first council in Florida to be made of entirely LGBTQ politicians. Other gains saw Jared Polis become the first ever openly gay man to become a governor and Sharice Davids become the first LGBTQ Native American member of Congress.
However, there are many more victories that need to happen, and here some that could potentially happen this year.
Kenya legalises homosexuality
Given the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that is usually associated with Kenya, it may be surprising to hear that the country could be decriminalising homosexuality. However, on February 22, Kenya’s High Court will deliver their verdict on whether Sections 162 and 165 of the Kenyan Penal Code are unconstitutional. There was a rare win for LGBTQ rights in the country earlier this year, after forced anal examinations were ruled to be illegal. The judges are known to be taking into consideration the fact that India recently decriminalised homosexuality, so hopefully this verdict will go the same way.
Botswana legalises homosexuality
Kenya isn’t the only African country which might decriminalise homosexuality, as Botswana’s High Court has a case coming up which seeks to overturn the ban on consensual gay sex. The High Court will begin hearing evidence from 15 March. The claimant, only known as LM, argues that the current penal code violates his constitutional rights. Unlike in Kenya, where it’s known that at least one judge is in favour of overturning the ban, it’s not known how the judges here will vote. However, the High Court has made progressive decisions in the past, including recognising the rights of trans people to identity as their actual gender on official documents, and forcing the government to backtrack on its ban of an LGBTQ group.
Czech Republic legalise same-sex marriage
A poll from earlier this year found that 75% of Czech citizens wanted to see same-sex marriage legalised. The government subsequently gave their backing to a draft bill that would have seen same-sex marriage legalised in the country. However, the law was never voted on, simply because time ran out. However, hope is not lost as a spokesperson from the LGBTQ advocacy group Jsme fér (We Are Fair) pledged to keep fighting for the Czech Republic to become the first former post-Communist country to give full equality to LGBTQ couples.
Cuba legalises same-sex marriage
For a country that used to execute people because of their sexuality, this is a massive step forward. A new constitution was initially going to pave the way for same-sex marriage to become legal in the country, however evangelicals successfully campaigned to have it removed. But as many influential figures in the Cuban government like Miguel Diaz-Canel, Cuba’s president and Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuba’s former leader Raúl Castro publicly support its legalisation, we doubt the calls will be silenced. Although it may now take longer, once the new constitution is passed, reforms to it can begin to be discussed.
A transgender person elected to the UK Parliament
There are currently 45 LGBQ MPs sitting in the House of Commons, however there has never been a single transgender person elected. Trans women have made it onto candidate lists, but it’s about time that one actually gets elected, especially since reforms to the Gender Recognition Act are due to be debated in the coming months. The next scheduled UK General Election is in 2022, but given the chaos surrounding UK politics at the moment who knows when the next election will be. And even if the next one is in 2022, a trans person could still be elected through a by-election, if any are held in the coming year.
Supreme Court throw out Trump’s transgender military ban
Every day we wish we could hear that this ridiculous policy has been dropped, and yet despite every court rejection, Tr*mp continues to try and push it. Tr*mp is already trying to disregard the legal process, by attempting to have the Supreme Court rule on the policy before the Court of Appeals has even heard it. If the policy does get to the Supreme Court, hopefully it goes the way of Roe vs. Wade, as opposed to the ruling in favour of Jack Phillips who refused to make a same-sex wedding cake for a couple as it went against his deeply held religious beliefs.
More American states and the United Kingdom ban gay ‘cure’ therapy
Every respected medical organisation has slammed gay ‘cure’ therapy as dangerous, and there is no medical evidence to suggest that it even works, and yet it still continues to be carried out. Last year, the government announced that it would be seeking to ban the practice in its LGBT Action Plan, however it has yet to take steps. Meanwhile, last year five states banned the discredited practice for minors, Washington State, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire and Delaware. Massachusetts failed to make it illegal after a dispute over the wording of the bill, and Maine’s governor vetoed a ban that was passed by the House. Lawmakers have pledged to bring the Massachusetts bill back when their next term begins in January, and bills seeking to ban the practice are active in Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico.
Same-sex couples on Strictly Come Dancing
The show has been skirting around this issue for a while, always opting to go for the more “traditional” format of mixed-sex couples. However, voices in support of the BBC introducing same-sex couples continue to grow with judges alongside former and current professional dancers on the show all voicing their support. And most importantly, the public seem to be behind the move as well. Polls from Digital Spy have shown a majority in favour of the move being made, albeit marginally, and fans were in awe at some of the professional routines featuring same-sex pairings, with AJ Pritchard and Gorka Márquez at the start of the series being a major highlight.
RuPaul Drag Race UK becomes a massive success
It felt like it took forever to be announced, but last month we finally got confirmation that the cultural phenomenon that is RuPaul’s Drag Race will be heading to our shores. We know that RuPaul will be hosting, and Michelle Visage will be joining him on the judging table, but it’s anyone’s guess as to which guest judges may be joining them, perhaps Graham Norton given his appearance on All Stars 2. And with the sickening queens we’d love to see on the show, and a Meghan Marckle-inspired challenge already promised, we’re sure that this will prove to be as successful on our shores as it is stateside.
Rafiki wins at the Oscars
Rafiki was banned in its home-country in Kenya, at least until it needed to have been released for seven consecutive days for it to get an Oscar nomination, and then the ban was lifted. In the small time that it was available in the country, it smashed the box office in the country, becoming its second highest ever grossing film. And to top if off it even won three awards at two separate film festivals, winning Best Narrative Feature at the TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival and the Silver Hugo award at the Chicago International Film Festival. Winning at the Oscars would be the icing on the cake, and if Kenya does legalise homosexuality, perhaps its ban in its home country could be permanently lifted.