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?”