The History Of LGBT Laws Around The World: Part IV

In part three of our series on LGBT laws around the world, we discussed the continued censorship of LGBT issues in some of the largest countries in the world. These include Russia, China, and the United States. Sadly, one would think that the most advanced nations would have the most advanced civil rights protections — but not yet. Even in 2021 we have a lot of work to do!

It’s important to know that even a single nation can influence dozens of other nations to amend their laws. For example, there are currently 71 countries around the world that criminalize homosexuality. More than half were once under the rule of the British Empire, which first introduced many anti-homosexuality laws in the 19th century. What’s so meaningful about this fact? It’s simple: these laws were inherited in the same way that a child might inherit religion from his or her parents.

Former British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke about this legacy a couple years ago: “I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now. As the UK’s Prime Minister, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.”

Believe it or not, there was no standardized legislation within the Empire relating to anti-LGBT laws. The laws that spread throughout the empire were the result of colonial administrators — just a few men out of the hundreds of millions who lived under British rule.  

British Colonialism and the Criminalization of Homosexuality author Enze Han said, “(The British also) had this conception that the ‘Orient,’ the non-Western subjects, were overly erotic and over-sexed, and that’s the reason why they were worried young colonial officers going abroad would be corrupted by those sexual acts.”