The Biden administration’s pledge to champion LGBTQ rights abroad was the dominant international story in 2021, but anti-LGBTQ crackdowns and efforts to expand rights also made headlines around the world last year. Here are the top 10 international stories of 2021.
#10: Botswana’s Court of Appeal decriminalizes homosexuality
On November 29, Botswana’s Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that criminalized consensual same-sex sex in the country.
Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) challenged colonial-era criminalization laws.
In 2019, the High Court of Botswana unanimously ruled the law unconstitutional. The Batswana government appealed the decision.
“Today is an important day in history, a triumphant victory in ensuring the freedom, privacy and dignity of LGBTIQ people in Botswana and, of course, this judgment sets a precedent for the world at large,” Legabibo CEO Thato Maruti said after the Court of Appeal ruling.
#9: LGBTQ athletes compete in the Summer Olympics
A record number of openly LGBTQ athletes participated in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Laurel Hubbard, a weightlifter from New Zealand, became the first out trans person to compete in any Olympics. Quinn, a non-binary trans person who is a member of the Canadian women’s soccer team, won an Olympic gold medal.
Tom Daly, a British Olympic diver who is married to Dustin Lance Black, also won a medal during the Games.
#8: LGBTQ activists, journalists arrested in Cuba
LGBTQ activists and journalists were among the hundreds of people arrested during anti-government protests in Cuba on July 11.
Michael González Vivero, director of Tremenda Notar, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba, was violently arrested near Havana’s Revolution Square during a protest.
Yon de la Cruz, a gay man who live-streamed the first protest in San Antonio de los Baños, remains in custody. He faces up to 8 years in prison.
The protest came against a backdrop of growing food shortages, a growing economic crisis, human rights abuses and criticism of the government’s response to the pandemic. On July 26 thousands of Cuban Americans marched on the Cuban Embassy in DC in support of protesters.
#7: Hong Kong Gay Games remain in doubt
Hong Kong’s bid to hold the 2023 Gay Games is in doubt amid growing concerns over China’s human rights record.
In September the Gay Games Hong Kong postponed the event until 2023 due to the pandemic.
Hong Kong’s national security law, which rights activists say makes it easier for authorities to punish anyone in the former British colony who challenges the Chinese government, took effect in 2020. More than 2 million Hong Kongers took part in pro-democracy protests. Before.
The Women’s Tennis Association has suspended tournaments across Hong Kong and China in response to the disappearance of a Chinese tennis star, Peng Shuai, after she publicly accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual harassment. Diplomats from the United States and other countries will also boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“The Federation of Gay Games continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong regarding Covid-19, national security laws and all other aspects affecting the safety and security of our events,” said Sean Fitzgerald, vice-president of the Federation of Gay Games, the women’s tennis association in China. said the Blade in a statement after announcing the suspension of all tournaments. “We are committed to hosting the Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong in November 2023.”
#6: Anti-LGBTQ crackdowns continue in Hungary, Poland
In 2021 the governments of Hungary and Poland continued their anti-LGBTQ crackdown.
The European Commission announced legal action in July against Hungary over a law that bans the promotion of homosexuality and sex-reassignment surgery on minors. Hungarian lawmakers approved a resolution in November that paves the way for a referendum on LGBTQ issues.
The European Commission threatened in September to cut off funding to five Polish provinces that have enacted so-called LGBTQ “free zones.” Polish lawmakers have also tried to ban pride marches and other pro-LGBTQ events.
#5: LGBTQ candidates are elected all over the world
LGBTQ candidates won elections around the world in 2021.
Two transgender women – Tessa Ganserer and Nike Slavik – won seats in the German parliament in September. In November Emilia Schneider became the first trans person elected to Chile’s Congress.
In November Victor Grajeda became the first openly gay man to win a seat in the Honduran Congress.
Openly gay Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll is the youngest person in his country’s new government that was formed in June after the ouster of longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is also openly gay.
#4: Efforts to ban conversion therapy gain traction
More countries have moved to ban so-called conversion therapies in 2021.
A Canadian law banning the notorious practice in the country will take effect in January.
French lawmakers approved a bill on December 15 that would ban conversion therapy in their country
Measures to ban conversion therapy are also before lawmakers in Finland and New Zealand. In 2022 the British Parliament is expected to debate a bill that would ban conversion therapy in England and Wales.
Brazil and Malta are two countries that have already banned conversion therapy.
#3: VP Harris acknowledges anti-LGBTQ violence as cause of immigration
Vice President Kamala Harris acknowledged throughout 2021 that anti-LGBTQ violence is a “root cause” of immigration from Central America.
Harris raised the issue in June during a meeting in Guatemala City with Daniel Villatoro, executive director of Visible, Ingrid Gamboa of the Association of Garifuna Women Living with HIV/AIDS and other Guatemalan civil society members. State Department spokesman Ned Price, who is openly gay, told the Blade a few weeks ago that protecting LGBTQ immigrants and asylum seekers is one of the global LGBTQ rights priorities of the Biden administration.
Immigrant rights activists who criticize the Biden administration’s immigration policy note Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measure that closed the southern border to most asylum seekers and immigrants due to the coronavirus pandemic, remain in place. The so-called stay-in-Mexico policy that forces asylum seekers to pursue their cases in Mexico has also been reinstated by a court order.
“Being a trans person is synonymous with teasing, harassment, violence and even death,” Venus, a transgender woman from La Ciba, Honduras, told the Blade during an interview in the city in July.
#2: LGBTQ Afghans desperate to flee after Taliban regain control
LGBTQ Afghans are desperate to flee after the Taliban regained control of the country on August 15.
Two groups of LGBTQ Afghans who were evacuated by Stonewall, Rainbow Railroad and Micro Rainbow with the help of the British government arrived in the UK in the autumn. Some human rights activists in Afghanistan who are LGBTQ have been able to leave the country since the Taliban regained control, says Taylor Hirschberg, a researcher at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health who is also a Hearst Foundation scholar.
In July, a Taliban judge said the group would once again execute homosexuals if it returned to power in Afghanistan. The Rainbow Railroad and Immigration Equality are among the groups calling on the Biden administration to do more to help LGBTQ Afghans inside the country.
#1: Biden commits US to promoting LGBTQ rights abroad
The Biden administration issued a memorandum in February that committed the United States to promoting LGBTQ rights abroad.
State Department spokesman Ned Price, who is gay, told the Washington Blade in May that criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships is one of five global LGBTQ rights priorities for the Biden administration.
The White House in June named Jessica Stern, then-Outright Action International executive director, as the next special US envoy to promote LGBTQ rights abroad. The State Department announced in October that it would issue passports with an “X” gender marker.