LGBT Country Profiles Track Shifting Terrain

Human Rights Watch has published during Pride Month a compilation of the records of 63 countries in recognising and protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

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The country profiles include research on LGBT rights from the Human Rights Watch 2017 World Report and other sources to provide a single reference for information about LGBT rights protections in individual countries and global trends.

“We join the Pride March in New York this Sunday with the recognition that the path toward global equality for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities remains long and arduous,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT program director at Human Rights Watch. “While the U.S and some other countries are backsliding, we are buoyed by the progress that indefatigable activists have made all around the world.”

Examples of such progress include Belize, Nauru, and the Seychelles, all of which decriminalised same-sex sexual conduct in 2016.

Several countries have affirmed the right to marriage for same-sex couples, including Colombia and most recently Taiwan. Tunisia took steps toward banning forced anal examinations of people suspected of homosexuality. And Bolivia passed a bill that allows people to revise the gender noted on their identification documents without prior judicial approval.

The United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn as the first independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, a development that will allow the UN system to address human rights abuses directed against LGBT people in a more comprehensive and systematic way.

While notable progress was made during the past year in some countries, the conditions facing LGBT people remained harsh and even deteriorated in others, often as a result of pressure from conservative religious groups. In the U.S, state legislatures introduced a record number of bills seeking to restrict the rights of LGBT people, based on religious exemptions. Two men in the Indonesian province of Aceh were publicly flogged in May for allegedly having same-sex relations in private, as the social and political environment in Indonesia became increasingly hostile toward LGBT people. In Russia, law enforcement and security officials in the Chechen Republic carried out an unprecedented anti-gay purge, detaining and torturing dozens of gay men, some of whom were forcibly disappeared.

“In the midst of Pride Month, the progress made in the past year is certainly cause for celebration,” Reid said. “But many LGBT people still lack the ability to come out and live openly for fear of discrimination and violence by the state, private actors, or even their own families. While celebrating, we must remember that the stakes are high, and recommit ourselves to the struggle for equal rights for all.”