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G.3. Global Struggles for LGBT rights in 21st Century

Volume Two -> G. LGBT: Campaigns for Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Rights -> G.3. Global Struggles for LGBT rights in 21st Century

Pride marches and festivals were held in many parts of the world on 29 June 2014 to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. But whilst there has been progress towards recognition of LGBT rights and acceptance of gays, lesbians and trans, in some parts of the world – for example Latin America, other regions such as the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East remain generally hostile. (Exceptions are Cuba and South Africa – though in the latter liberal laws conflict with many examples of deep social prejudice and violence.) In some countries the position has got worse. In 2013 the Indian Supreme Court overturned the liberal ruling of the Delhi High Court on section 377 (originally introduced under the British) – effectively re-criminalizing gay sex (the 2013 ruling resulted from a campaign that included right wing politicians and conservative Christian and Muslim groups; a counter campaign by rights activists persuaded the Court to decide on 2 February 2016 to review their 2013 decision). Putin’s Russia passed a law banning homosexual propaganda to minors, providing a basis for clamping down on LGBT organization and activism. The Russian police had for years been breaking up pride demonstrations and assaulting protesters, and the BBC reported on 17 August 2012 that Moscow’s leading court had upheld a ban on gay pride marches in the Russian capital for 100 years.

Widespread international concern was expressed over Uganda’s plans for draconian legislation against lesbians and gays – first proposed in 2009 and widely seen as a response to strong pressure from American Evangelicals. Although the final law, signed by President Museveni in February 2014, did not incorporate the death sentence (as had been indicated earlier) it did propose life sentences for same sex activity, enabled the government to extradite Ugandan gays and lesbians living abroad and made it a criminal offence not to report on those suspected of being lesbian or gay. Archbishop Tutu eloquently attacked the proposed legislation, comparing it with the former apartheid rules on sexual relationships in South Africa (Guardian, 24 February 2014). Rights groups and some MPs took legal action to get the law declared invalid, and judges struck down the law in August 2014, on the grounds that Parliament was not quorate when it passed the bill. However, homosexuality remains illegal under colonial-era law. By the end of 2014 the government was proposing new draconian legislation.

Detailed information on the state of LGBT rights globally is available from ILGA (at: and from ILGA Regional bodies such as ILGA-Europe. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), also publishes reports on individual countries and annual reports on its activities, available at: The UK lobbying group Stonewall includes reports on international developments on its website:

Transnational organizations also engage in various forms of campaigning. IGLHRC engages in advocacy and reporting and gained consultative status at the UN in 2010; ILGA attend conferences of international organizations such as the UN and its agencies, provide speakers and policy papers and issue press releases. In 2013-14 ILGA-Europe also campaigned in the context of EU parliamentary elections, submitted third party interventions to the European Court of Human Rights, ran the ‘No hate Campaign’ jointly with the European Network against Racism, and supported the first Cyprus Pride march and the Belgrade Pride march.

Altman, Dennis, Global Gaze/Global Gays, GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, Vol. 3, issue 4, 1997, pp. 417-436

Altman, Dennis, Globalization, Political Economy and HIV/AIDS, Theory and Society, Vol. 28, 1999, pp. 559-584

Notes threat to developing countries but also potential of new forms of global cooperation through UN AIDS programmes, and discusses how best to analyze the spread and impact of AIDS. See also: Altman, Dennis , Aids and the Globalization of Sexuality World Politics Review, 10/08/2010

Ekine, Sokari ; Abbas, Hakima, The Queer African Reader, Cape Town, Pambazuka Press, 2013, pp. 220

Wide ranging reader including poetry and analysis, personal testimonies, and activist accounts and discussions of strategy. Testament to resistance of LGBT communities across the continent.

Epprecht, Marc, Sexuality and Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia and Forging Resistance, London, Zed Books, 2013, pp. 220

Covers activism for rights and over HIV. Notes external influences exacerbating position of lesbians, gays and trans, as well as role of some African leaders and cultural influences.

Hochberg, Gil Z., Introduction: Israelis, Palestinians and Queers: Points of Departure, GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, Vol. 16, issue 4, 2010, pp. 493-516

ILGA: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, State Sponsored Homophobia 2016: A world survey of sexual orientation laws: criminalisation, protection and recognition, [2006], Geneva, ILGA, 2016, pp. 193

Provides global overview of LGB legislation and country-by-country summary of states that still criminalize same-sex acts between consenting adults in private. Published annually since 2006.

Manalansan IV, Martin F., In the Shadows of Stonewall: Examining Gay Transnational Politics and the Diasporic Dilemma , GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, Vol. 2, issue 4, 1995, pp. 425-438

Samba, Chesterfield, Solidarity Based on Sexual Orientation: Regional Organising in Africa, In Clark, People Power: Unarmed Resistance and Global Solidarity (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements), London, Pluto Press, pp. 171-176

Discusses attempts to develop African regional organization and activism and difficulties encountered up to 2006.

Taracena, María I., La Caravana de la Resistencia, NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. 50, issue 2, 2018, pp. 386-391

Taracena reports on the abuse that people belonging to the LGBTI+ community suffer at home and in Mexican detention centres because of their sexual orientation. She also juxtaposes the violations they encounter during the journey from Honduras to Mexico and portrays their immigration as an act of resistance against transphobia and homophobia.

In addition to Taracena 's report, attached is also an account of the death of a transgender woman, Roxsana Hernández, from Honduras who died in a detention centre in New Mexico who gave rise to LGBTI+ activism in the country. 

Whitaker, Brian, Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East, Palo Alto CA, University of California Press, 2006, pp. 264

Argues Middle East moving away from sexual diversity, which is demonized by clerics and persecuted by governments – but notes ‘pockets’ of change and tolerance.