LGBT rights are considered human rights by Amnesty International, however, laws affecting lesbian, gay and bisexual people vary greatly by country or territory. Marriage is an important issue in Western countries but in the more than 70 countries where homosexual acts are illegal, LGBT people are being put to death or thrown in jail.
The interactive map above has visualised the rights afforded to homosexuals around the world according to six equally weighted criteria:
These are combined to give a country a shade that articulates its current level of rights as of the 1st of June, 2017.
The rights of LGBTIQ people are “ever-evolving,” said Helen Kennedy, co-secretary-general of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Assn., based in Geneva.
Through pursuing initiatives aimed at reducing violence and discrimination, the last 10 years has seen a drop in countries that criminalise consensual same-sex activity from 92 to 73 (2016). “However, these advances haven’t wiped out the continuing human rights violations facing LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the world,” she said. “Thousands of people have been killed or have suffered violent attacks; many more still have to face daily discrimination in healthcare, employment, education and housing.”
There are currently 13 countries where the death penalty might be applied for same-sex sexual acts, according to Kennedy. The greater visibility of gay people, while a welcome development, can expose the community to negative attention, activists say.
“The overall trajectory for a lot of LGBTIQ people is positive, but we’re also seeing an acute backlash around the world,” said Jessica Stern, executive director for OutRight Action International, an advocacy group. “The backlash is akin to what happens to many communities and movements when they stand up and advocate for their rights.”
However without this advocation, the rights for LGBTIQ people will not be delivered. But for how long must we stand?
For many activists, gay marriage is not the final step in achieving equality, rather far from it; With the repression and abuse against the LGBTIQ community spanning globally, many activists will turn their attention to helping the repressed find their voice and call for equality in countries where that might be distant goal.
While the interactive map above has shown the gay rights per country, it is important to understand that basic rights don't necessarily mean that the LGBT community is wholly accepted within the community. In order to examine this idea more closely we will use Australia as a case study.
In respect to its neighbouring countries, Australia scored relatively well in delivering rights to its homosexual community, qualifying every right bar Gay Marriage. However how does this actually translate to equality in the day to day life of a gay Australian? In order to gain an insight into the experience of a gay individual in Australia, we will examine a number of categories.
The first test is a comparison between an individual’s experience of discrimination, compared via sexuality. The act of being discriminated against exposes a fundamental discord in the social perception of a particular group or person in a society. The results of this research articulates the position that homosexuals are put in during their everyday life - almost twice as likely to be a victim of active discrimination in their job, study or social life.
The next test compares whether an individual has experienced homelessness, again, compared via sexuality. With very similar findings to the first test, this again enforces a devastating injustice within our society. For many homosexual individuals, being homeless is a result of their family deeming their sexual identity unacceptable, with secondary factors including drug abuse or financial struggles. With such a notable rate of homelessness compared the Australian heterosexual community, this identifies a rift in social acceptance for differing sexual identities.
Whether an individual has experienced an incident of crime in the past year similarly identifies groups of people that are likely to experience exclusion and discrimination for their identity. The findings of this test again enforce the lower foothold that homosexual australians are permitted.
The next category is the occurrence of mental illness. How mental illness would be affected by an individual’s sexuality is a question that is easily understood through an exploration through the previous tests. In a country where homosexuals are up to twice as likely to experience discrimination, homelessness and crime it is easy to understand that their mental health would also suffer.
However, it is also important to understand where our homosexual community resides. Through exploring the Australian General Social Survey, we have found that the majority of homosexual Australians are located in major cities. Juxtaposed against the same findings for heterosexual Australians, these results don't simply inform that Homosexuals appear in major cities, rather show that major cities play an important role in attracting gay australians and/or allow individuals to identify more openly than rural Australians.
Further, the age of both homosexual and heterosexual Australians (by percentage of responders) shows a bold decrease in homosexual responders over 55 years old. Again, this doesn't simply inform that individuals over 55 are less likely to be gay, but rather gives an insight to those individuals opportunity to come to terms, and to be open with their sexuality.
From the outside, Australia is a country of opportunity and acceptance, however simply scratching the surface shows that this often isn't the case. All of these factors used above are incredibly valid and important tenants to consider when examining the social wellbeing of a particular subculture in a community and have helped to demonstrate the injustice that Australian homosexuals face in their daily lives.