LGBTQ

Book your flights: 7 places around the world making positive changes for LGBTQ people

There’s no sugarcoating how much bad news there has been for LGBTQ communities in the U.S. Violence against trans and gender nonconforming people in the U.S. continues to happen all too often. Even the Pope’s statement last week that homosexuality should be decriminalized was tainted by his clarification that, yes, “it’s a sin.”

Anti-LGBTQ bills are hitting record numbers, with West Virginia proposing two bills that would classify “transvestite and/or transgender exposure” as “obscene matter” towards minors. Regardless of whether nationwide anti-LGBTQ bills pass, the impact they have had on young people have already begun. Nearly 9 in 10 trans youth say recent wave of anti-LGBTQ bills have negatively affected their mental health, according to a poll released on Jan. 19 by The Trevor Project. Due to the surge of anti-trans bills, trans youth were also 25% more likely to report they didn’t feel safe going to a doctor when they were sick or injured than cisgender LGBQ youth, the poll also found.

In the thick of what seems like a never-ending influx of anti-LGBTQ news this year alone, recognizing the wins of the LGBTQ community worldwide can cushion the negative impact of bad news. Sharing good news helps people to adapt after difficult situations, according to a study by Society for Personality and Social Psychology, who found that sharing good news and witnessing the recipient of the news be actively happy heightens the positive experience for both parties.

Despite the bad news, there are lots of places around the world achieving progress and support for the betterment of the LGBTQ community. Here are Reckon’s roundup of places around the world making changes in LGBTQ communities for the better.

TAIWAN: Transnational same-sex marriage is recognized

On Jan. 19, Taiwan recognizes same-sex marriages even if the spouse is not Taiwanese. The decision was made by Premier Su Tseng-chang, a political grandee from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party on the same day he resigned to President Tsai Ing-wen.

Taiwan’s Interior Ministry informed local authorities that couples with non-Taiwanese partners from jurisdictions that do not allow same-sex marriage, including Hong Kong and Macao, can now wed in Taiwan.

However, because citizens of mainland China are governed under separate regulations in Taiwan, Chinese partners will not be applicable to the amendment, except for those in Hong Kong and Macao.

From 2019 to 2022, there were five court rulings allowing transnational same-sex couples to register their marriages, according to an Amnesty International analysis published last month. Based on the judges’ decisions, abolishing the marriages of transnational same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

GERMANY: German parliament recognizes LGBTQ Holocaust victims

Bärbel Bas, president of the federal German parliament—the Bundestag—honored the LGBTQ community for the very first time, during the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony on Jan. 27. For decades, activists made efforts to arrange an official ceremony honoring LGBTQ victims of the Holocaust.

“The harshest fates were suffered by the many thousands of women and men who were deported to concentration camps as a result of their sexuality. Sometimes on false pretexts. They found themselves on the very bottom rung of the so called ‘camp hierarchy’ and were exposed to constant violence with absolutely no protection,” said Bas in a speech during the ceremony in Berlin last week. “Many of them were exploited in medical experiments. Most of them died within a short period of time or were murdered.”

Since 1871, Germany’s Criminal Code outlawed homosexuality in Paragraph 175. The statute is also known as Section 175.

“Tens of thousands of men were accused of homosexuality during the National Socialist [Nazi] period. Often, such accusations in themselves were enough to marginalize them within society,” Bas continued during her Holocaust Memorial Day speech. “Although section 175 only applied to men, lesbian women were by no means safe from persecution, as was the case for anybody unable or unwilling to conform to the gender identity dictated by society. Anybody who did not conform to National Socialist norms lived in fear and apprehension.”

She told Agence France-Presse (AFP): “this group is important to me because it still suffers from discrimination and hostility”.

ENGLAND: Oxford City Council to monitor wage gaps between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ workers

At an Oxford City Council’s Scrutiny Committee meeting on Jan. 16, the wage gap between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ working people will officially be monitored, per the recommendation of Oxford Green Party leader and local councilor Chris Jarvis.

Currently, employers with at least 250 employees are mandated under law to publish gender pay gap information every year. According to a survey of 4,000 employees by YouGov for LinkedIn and UK Black Pride, LGBTQ employees are paid over £6,703 less per year than their cis and straight counterparts.

“A [cis and straight] male colleague who started after me in essentially the exact same role was earning over £1k more than me,” Laura, a queer woman in Manchester told Refinery 29. “We have very similar experience and even did the same degree at universities with similar reputations.”

“We need to know whether LGBT+ staff are facing barriers in their workplace,” Jarvis said to Oxfordshire Guardian, sharing his satisfaction of the council decision. “That’s why it’s important that the Council has agreed to begin monitoring and reporting on its LGBT+ pay gap.”

THAILAND: Thailand to be the first Southeast Asian country to provide LGBTQ healthcare

Back in 2002, Thailand became the first Middle Income Country(MIC) to provide universal health care coverage, at a price of THB30 (US$1), funded by taxpayers and allocated on a per capita basis by the National Health Security Office (NHSO).

According to Coconuts.co, “despite the common association that Thailand is some kind of gay paradise, stigmas and discrimination persist against its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer citizens. When it comes to health care, that discrimination is economic.”

In 2020, Kritima “Jemma” Samitpol, supervisor of Tangerine Clinic, a transgender health center in Bangkok, and her coworkers petitioned the NHSO to include gender-affirming counseling and care as part of its universal health care program. To their surprise, it was accepted and is now being researched by Jemma and her team before presenting logistical findings to the NHSO board.

INDIA: Same-Sex Marriage Could Be Legal in India

India’s highest court will hear arguments on whether same-sex marriage will be legalized on Mar. 13.

“Same-sex marriage would cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws in the country,” Sushil Modi, a Member of Parliament from his Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) said in parliament this past December.

India already legally recognizes a third gender since 2014, the recognition of sexuality to be “an essential attribute of an individual’s privacy and dignity,” and decriminalizes homosexual sex since 2018, overturning the British-colonial era law.

In 2018, Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) expressed their opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage because same-sex relationships are “neither natural nor desirable.” However, Mohan Bagwat, the head of RSS hinted at support of LGBTQ rights, saying LGBTQ people “have always been there” and are “a part of the society,” though he did not explicitly mention a support of LGBTQ rights.

The nation’s constitution includes a general guarantee of equal rights to all, and while LGBTQ people are no longer at risk of being prosecuted, there are no anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation in employment or housing as of now.

Amidst religious marriage codes like the Hindu Marriage Act, the Indian Christian Marriage Act, the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, and (uncodified) Muslim personal laws as well as the Special Marriage Act, which governs unions between interfaith couples, non-believers and others, law experts believe the court might allow same-sex marriage under a secular law, so the religious codes don’t need to be expanded.

CHILE: 42 Organizations came together to host Chile’s “LGBTQIA+ Roundtable”

Organizations across Chile met up on Jan. 6 to discuss the future of LGBTQ rights, one year after its inaugural “LGBTQIA+ Roundtable.” Promoted by President Gabriel Boric’s government, the monthly meetings consisted of “representatives of different public institutions, organizations and Chilean LGBTQ and intersex activists who are working to improve the quality of life for the country’s queer community that over the last year has seen an increase in attacks and hate crimes.”

Under Boric’s direction and the Women and Gender Equity’s Undersecretary Luz Vidal Huiriqueo, they launched Chile’s first LGBTQ and intersex rights campaign in hopes to reduce discrimination against the community. He also appointed Marco Antonio Avila, a gay man, as his government’s education minister and Alexandra Benado Vergara, a lesbian woman, as Chile’s next sports minister.

Between the Women and Gender Equity Ministry’s Women, Gender Equality Undersecretariat and the Interior and Public Safety Ministry’s Crime Prevention Undersecretariat, an agreement was signed to aid victims of anti-LGBTQ attacks.

Chile’s first trans congresswoman Emilia Schneider claimed it is important, moving forward, “to make a permanent change in the State, which recognizes the importance of having a space that responds to the needs of the queer population and takes charge of combating inequality, discrimination and violence to which our community is exposed.”

CHINA: A trans clinic is a safe haven for teens in Beijing.

Pan Bailin, who in 2017 founded Peking University Third Hospital’s general trans clinic, has become the notable go-to clinic for trans teens in Beijing, according to Ginger River, a newsletter on showcasing the priorities of the leadership and the people of China.

“It was never easy to be [LGBTQ] in China, where the government cares little about the rights of sexual minorities,” according to The Economist. “June is celebrated as ‘pride month’ in parts of the world, but China’s only big [LGBTQ] celebration, Shanghai Pride, has not occurred since 2020, when police interrogated several of its organizers.”

Although doctors performing gender-affirming care for the Chinese trans community have faced scrutiny—including a trans patient’s unsupportive parent stabbing a doctor—Bailin has been persistent in his advocacy for young trans people seeking appropriate healthcare.

“Doctor Pan’s team has brought us great hope, despite the huge risks and pressure,” an unnamed teen wrote to Pan in a letter, according to the Ginger River newsletter. In addition, the doctors of Bailin’s clinic refer to the trans youth as “visitors” rather than “patients,” to create a less clinical and more neutral atmosphere for them.

Denny Agassi

Denny | denny@reckonmedia.com

Denny is a writer, actor, and musician who has co-starred in POSE (FX) and New Amsterdam (NBC), and will appear in the upcoming series City On Fire (Apple TV). Aside from The Grammy, Allure Magazine, PAPER, and more, her recent writing—“He Made Affection Feel Simple”—was published in The New York Times’ Modern Love.

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