The History Of LGBT Laws Around The World: Part V

In part four of our series on the history of LGBT laws around the world, we discussed the legacy of the British Empire and its many laws passed by individual colonial administrators in the 19th century. These laws have persisted for over a century, and have resulted in continued oppression against LGBT folks in at least half of the 71 countries that criminalize homosexuality today.

One of those countries was Australia, which has made great strides in adopting pro-LGBT legislation in the last couple decades. Australia was colonized in 1788. Fun fact: although many anti-LGBT laws existed, they targeted gay men for biblical reasons. Sodomy was outlawed. From 1788 to 1899, the punishment for sodomy was execution. From then until 1994, the punishment was life in prison. There were no laws specifically outlawing homosexuality for adult women.

In 1994, Australia passed the Human Rights Act. This law decriminalized consensual sexual activity between adults, including any activity between two gay men. 

The fight to make it to that point, though, was long and tumultuous. LGBT rights groups first arose during the late 1960s, when the ACT Homosexual Reform Society was organized in Canberra. The Daughters of Bilitis group was formed in Melbourne in January 1970. These two groups are given credit for jumpstarting a movement that would change the course of history. This led to the Sydney-based Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP) forming in June 1970. 

One year later, CAMP groups had arisen in every major city and university in the country. Protests erupted quickly. Not by coincidence, homosexuality’s classification as a disease or illness was removed by the Australian Medical Association in October 1973. Most states repealed anti-LGBT laws by 1991. 

Although it would take another decade for Australia to decriminalize homosexuality, the last man arrested for sodomy was in Hobart, Tasmania on December 14, 1984 — and realistically, he should’ve been arrested anyway, since he was caught fornicating in public. He was incarcerated for eight months.

Are LGBTQ Individuals More Likely To Go Bankrupt?

Anyone who visits our website will know that LGBTQ individuals face a number of obstacles not shared by our straight counterparts. We are more likely to suffer from depression, alcoholism, or drug use. We are more likely to attempt suicide. Young people are especially vulnerable to anti-LGBTQ sentiment. What about money? Are LGBTQ people more likely to go bankrupt — especially during this economic downturn as the result of the coronavirus pandemic?

Madonna called COVID-19 a “great equalizer,” and was nearly canceled as a result. She had failed to adequately articulate how the virus is far more likely to infect people of color or homeless individuals or anyone else in a minority community. These groups are often more likely to die of serious complications as well. It stands to reason that these groups — which already suffer financially — will be more burdened by these realities as well.

Although LGBTQ people aren’t necessarily at increased danger from infection, their financial situation might be. 

A 2019 poll discovered that more than half of members of the LGBTQ community are “anxious” about their financial situation. Only 41 percent of heterosexuals feel the same way. Of course, the poll didn’t actually look at specific finances — only feelings toward — and so the results could simply be indicative of character traits rather than financial stability or instability.

The Fullman Firm ( acknowledged that many clients come from LGBTQ homes or are in same-sex relationships, but admitted that they hadn’t compiled any relevant statistics.

Here’s what else the 2019 survey divulged: 42 percent of LGBTQ individuals are depressed because of money compared to 31 percent of straight people. LGBTQ people were both more pessimistic and more likely to feel something akin to shame than their straight counterparts. Straight people routinely felt more confident about their financial situations — and more in control. This survey was conducted with more than 6,600 participants by the WNYC podcast “Nancy.”

President Biden has already taken several steps to support LGBTQ equality, but none of these occurred within the context of economic relief passed for COVID-19. In one of his first acts during the first day in office, Biden signed Executive Order “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” which forces federal agencies to ensure that the recent Supreme Court decision of Bostock v. Clayton is upheld. It guarantees that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes both gender identity and sexual orientation as part of its discrimination protections.

Biden’s nominations have also bolstered the LGBTQ community’s participation in National politics. Former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was nominated (and later confirmed) as Biden’s Transportation Secretary. Biden also nominated Dr. Rachel Levine as his assistant secretary of health, who has extensive experience leading during the coronavirus pandemic and writing about important issues like LGBTQ medicine, the opioid crisis, medical marijuana — and hey, guess what? She is openly transgender!

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.”

What Health Care Laws Protect The LGBTQ Community From Discrimination?

Generally, victims of medical malpractice have a lot to worry about: Maybe a delayed diagnosis resulted in a terrible prognosis or a bigger bill. Maybe a surgeon left an instrument in a body cavity or accidentally damaged important tissues. Or maybe they simply overbilled for no reason. But sadly these events are more common for the LGBTQ community — which is why there are actually lawyers who specialize in LGBTQ medical malpractice law.

A medical malpractice attorney knows that one of the biggest complaints from LGBTQ clients is that a doctor or nurse is trying to refuse treatment on the basis of religious liberty. But hey, guess what: that’s why we have important federal legislation to protect our rights as American citizens.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has a specific set of ethics-based rules that members must follow to practice medicine. One of these rules includes protections for LGBTQ patients, whose doctors and nurses cannot refuse treatment due to their sexual orientation.

According to the AMA: “Physicians who offer their services to the public may not decline to accept patients because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other basis that would constitute invidious discrimination.”

Keep in mind that doctors and nurses do enjoy the right to deny certain types of treatments — like abortion — to patients. But that’s different from denying treatments to one type of person over another. The AMA added that it will continue to “work to reduce the health disparities suffered because of unequal treatment of minor children and same sex parents in same sex households.”

Do you believe that you have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation? These states outright ban it: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Do you believe that you have been discriminated against based on gender identity? These states outright ban it: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Many states have organizations built to offer support to LGBTQ patients. For example, California-based “Legal Pride” is a network of professional attorneys and other professionals who offer advice and build lawsuits based on medical malpractice. They serve Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County. 

Sadly, there are a number of healthcare organizations that believe the rules do not apply to them. For example, a California-based fertility clinic denied service to Lupita Benitex because she is gay. She filed a lawsuit. The clinic’s argument that it did not have to abide with the state laws based on its religious views was overruled by unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of California.

The History Of LGBT Laws Around The World: Part III

Throughout history — especially modern history — it hasn’t been unusual for governments to censor the ability of LGBTQ individuals to express themselves or even protest unequal treatment by friends, family, employers, and those very governments. Censorship occurs even today in big countries like China and Russia, and, to a lesser extent, in the United States of America.

One example of Chinese censorship occurred on December 31, 2015, when the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) in China decided to block TV programs that included “unnormal sexual relationships.” At least shows depicting homosexual relationships were pulled from the lineup that season. Other programs retroactively censored these types of depictions.

These laws are harder to enforce when international programs are up for an award, such as when the Oscar-winning movie “Call Me By Your Name” appeared briefly in the Beijing International Film Festival’s lineup. It was eventually pulled. Critics suggest that the festival organizers came under pressure from Chinese authorities (or were threatened outright).

Laws against homosexuality have always been especially strict in Russia. The Law for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values was signed by President Vladimir Putin on June 30, 2013. The law’s express purpose was to deny the very existence of homosexuality and restrict content that presented it as a societal norm. 

Russia is dominated by far-right nationalists, most of whom subscribe to the Russian-Orthodox Church. This made support for the censorship very strong.

In the United States, the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas all have anti-LGBT curriculum censorship laws to restrict the topic of homosexuality in schools. They even restrict the types of extracurricular clubs that can function on school grounds, like the gay-straight alliance.

Other states have recently repealed such laws. They include Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah.

Does The LGBTQ Community Make Less Money?

For decades, equal pay has been a gender-specific issue. We hear about the pay gap between minority groups and white or straight men much less often — but this pay gap most definitely exists. Few studies have looked into this matter in the last decade, which means the time for action is now. And to answer our headlines question, yes, members of the LGBTQ community make less money than straight men.

There are a number of studies that have identified a pay gap between gay or bisexul men and straight men. These include a study done by Lee Badgett in 1995 that proved a gap of anywhere between 11 and 27 percent between the earnings of straight men and gay or bisexual men. Interestingly, no such pay gap could be proved between gay or bisexual women  and straight women.

Another study done by Dan Black, Gary Gates, Seth Sanders, and Lowell Taylor in 2000 showed a more defined gap of 14 to 16 percent. In another twist, the study seemed to show that gay women might actually make between 20 and 34 percent more than other women.

A study conducted by Sylvia Allegretto and Michelle Arthur in 2001 showed that gay men were likely to make about 15.6 percent less than their straight, married counterparts when they were in a same-sex relationship.

More studies show that transgender individuals have more trouble finding work and often make much less. After transitioning, transgender individuals were likely to make about one-third less the pay they were making when their biological sex was apparent. In another sticking point about our society’s obsession with masculinity, male transgender individuals actually made more money after transitioning. 

This waiter pay infographic shows what the average person would make during a less-than-minimum wage job. But keep in mind that LGBTQ individuals who work in the service industry still make the majority of their money off tips — but maybe not as much as their straight or cis-gendered counterparts. There isn’t any information or data on any such disparity yet. But we’d like to see some! It stands to reason that individual customers have less to worry about (legally speaking) than employers who must dot every “I” and cross every “T.”

What does all this mean? Well, it means that the already troubling obstacles present for those who are gay, bisexual, or transgendered are just as bad in the workplace. Another study has shown that the average household income for same-sex couples is a whopping 20 percent less than the household income of their straight counterparts. This is unacceptable in 2021. 

Gay and transgender individuals are statistically more likely to live below the poverty line, making it more difficult to build substantial relationships, have fun, or even have children. Transgendered individuals live at a rate of poverty 400 percent that of straight individuals. Think about that number for a minute before going about your day!

The History Of LGBT Laws Around The World: Part II

Today we’ll explore the historical influence of LGBT-related laws in Ancient India, Ancient Israel, and Assyria. Although many of these societies existed at the same time, they treated homosexual activity very differently — ranging from no big deal, to a minor fine, to death. Why was there such a broad range of views regarding homosexuality? Well, the answer is religion. The answer is always religion.

Ancient Indian law punished any non-vaginal intercourse whether a person was homosexual or not. Notably, however, unlawful heterosexual behavior was punished much more severely. Older texts place a larger penalty on taking a woman’s maidenhood than anything else. But in Ancient India, the fines for homosexual behavior were typically minor — and morality was rarely mentioned in religious texts important to Hinduism. 

Assyria was another society in which homosexual behavior seemed to be no big deal. In fact, sexualized crimes did not differentiate between homosexual and heterosexual behavior — you were prosecuted for the same crime either way. An Akkadian tablet read: “If a man copulates with his equal from the rear, he becomes the leader among his peers and brothers.” 

This meant that consenting adults even of the same sex could legally have anal sex with one another, and it might even have been seen as a “lucky” event. Notably, it was more frowned upon in lower social classes or in the military than it was in the upper tiers of the social hierarchy. 

And then we come to Ancient Israel, where we transition from homosexuality as “no big deal” to homosexuality as “you need to die.” Ancient Israeli law stems from the Torah, where several passages seem to suggest that men who have sex with one another are actively subverting God’s will. Thus, those who were found to have violated these biblical laws were most likely put to death as a result.

Does Sexual Abuse Influence Sexuality?

When we discuss sexual abuse (occurring at any age), we often discuss depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or feelings, eating disorders, addiction, and relationship difficulties. The latter category might sometimes fall under the umbrella of sexuality, which encompasses all of our sexualized thoughts and feels. It doesn’t necessarily include sexual orientation in the case, but we’ll discuss it anyway.

According to Roller, Martsolf, Draucker & Ross, “The sexual functioning and sexual identity in adolescence and adulthood is a particularly vulnerable factor in survivors. When a child suffers sexual abuse, sexual arousal becomes activated prematurely and can largely impact the survivor’s sense of autonomy over their body and sexual sence of self.”

No one can deny that men in particular associate sex and sexual thoughts with feelings of power and control — but also immense guilt. It’s also not uncommon for men and women to feel fear, confusion, or shame while exploring sexual arousal during late childhood and early adolescence. Others will feel a connection to pain. 

One of the most psychologically damaging aspects of abuse is that the victim can feel pleasure in response to that abuse — and it would be totally normal. This leads to shame later in life, but more commonly a distrust of the body’s physiological responses to normal sexual stimuli. This can lead to conditions like sexual aversion or sexual anorexia. 

Sexual aversion occurs when a victim tries to avoid all genital contact with a partner. Those with sexual anorexia might avoid intimacy altogether. Either condition can result in connected conditions like impotence. Neither condition is a guaranteed indicator of sexual abuse.

If you’ve been the victim of abuse here in LA, a California sexual abuse attorney might be able to help determine whether or not now is the time to cast light on your past trauma. Doing so can be very difficult and painful, but it can also help a person move on from the pain. Alternatives include therapy and possibly medication.

Another condition that most people probably don’t associate with abuse is sexual addiction. This term refers to those people who cannot control their actions and have sex compulsively — often with associated feelings of shame and depression. 

Research on whether or not childhood sexual abuse can affect later sexual orientation is severely lacking, but what limited research we do have says “probably not.” Orientation is primarily dependent on biological factors like epigenetics or chemical reactions in the mother’s womb after she has already had several children. And of course there’s a ton we simply don’t know!

One of the reasons why we don’t understand whether or not abuse is connected to sexual orientation is because of the “correlation versus causation” argument. In other words, are the children who others perceive to be gay or transgendered more likely than their straight counterparts to be abused? The answer to that question based on research is “yes.” And that could have a large impact on whether or not childhood sexual abuse has an impact on orientation. 

The History Of LGBT Laws Around The World: Part I

To say that the history of civil rights laws protecting the LGBT community has been long is an understatement if ever there was one. We’ve had to fight every step of the way, and in many parts of the world many LGBT individuals are still forced into hiding or treated as criminals simply based on who they love. This series will explore how laws here at home and abroad have evolved in relation to LGBT rights.

Let’s first discuss the strides that the LGBT movement has made in recent decades. Only a decade ago, gay marriage was still illegal in the United States — and although we were not the first ones to pass a law reversing course, there are now twenty-nine states where gay marriage has been officially recognized by law! The only country known to still execute members of the community is Iran.

There are still laws that levy a death penalty for homosexual behavior in other countries as well, including: Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, parts of Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). None of these countries continue to enforce these barbaric laws. 

Only a decade ago in 2011 did the United Nations Human Rights Council pass a revolutionary resolution to recognize that LGBT rights were human rights. This occurred after the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a comprehensive report on human rights violations that were born out of hate for gay people, including criminal activity and legislation that criminalizes homosexual activity. 

These new laws have been a long time coming. There were LGBT laws on the books as far back as the human eye can go! In the next part of our series, we will look at human rights in Ancient India, Ancient Israel, and Assyria — and perhaps ask the question “why did homosexual activity go from no big deal to the most heinous crime ever?”

Can I Sue For A Hate Crime?

Oxford Languages defines the term “hate crime” as such: “A crime, typically one involving violence, that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds.” Because hate crimes so often involve violence against one or more victims, that means the perpetrator has two types of liabilities: criminal and civil. Criminal liability means you might owe the jurisdiction where you were arrested money in the form of fine or restitution for the victim (plus get put in jail), and civil liability means you might be sued for any financial losses incurred by the victim because of your crime.

In most cases, victims will want to consult with a personal injury lawyer immediately after the crime takes place or as soon as they have recovered from their injuries. Needless to say, but a victim cannot recover damages without first consulting the police. In some cases, it might even be prudent to report the crime to the FBI!

Victims almost always have means to recover damages from the perpetrator because 47 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books to determine punishments for crimes that fit the category of “hate.” The federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 might also mean the perpetrator committed a federal crime.

Not sure if the criminal activity fits the definition of a hate crime? No problem. You can consult with a personal injury attorney to find out, or check UCLA Law Library’s section on hate crime statutes for a state-by-state list.

There are several types of “damages” or recompense for which a victim can sue. These include physical damages to the body, pain and suffering damages to the mind, lost wages both during and after recovery, reduced productivity damages, and punitive damages. Most of these categories are self-explanatory, but the last is based on a judge’s decision to punish the perpetrator for gross negligence — in this case through voluntary action, which is when punitive damages are most likely stacked with the rest.

Victims of a hate crime should document everything from the bills they pay and the hours they miss at work to the feelings they experience during recovery. Keeping a journal of the entire ordeal can help a personal injury attorney file a successful claim on a victim’s behalf.

What should you expect? What you shouldn’t expect is to move mountains. You are owed recompense for any losses sustained, but the vast majority of criminals who owe criminal or civil restitution pay it back slowly over a period of years — if at all. The criminal justice system has yet to find an efficient way to expedite or guarantee that restitution is paid, and you should be prepared to wait a while.

That said, you should still file a lawsuit. A crime without serious consequences is a crime that will happen again. Not only could a strong lawsuit help you but it could also help those who would have been future victims. We owe it to ourselves to hold those who would do us harm accountable for their actions!