Over the past century there’s been progress for LGBT equality across the world and in the last 30 years there’s been much to celebrate.
Since 1990 over 40 countries have outlawed homophobic hate crimes and, as of October 2017, 24 countries recognise same-sex marriage.
However, while some countries have become increasingly tolerant, others are becoming more repressive.
What’s happening in the US right now with the Trump-Pence administration’s attack on trans equality is a stark reminder that just because equality has been achieved doesn’t mean it will be guaranteed forever.
And for some countries, the journey to full equality is likely to be long and the fight will be hard won. Today, we know that 72 countries criminalise same-sex relationships (and in 45 the law is applied to women as well as men).
The death penalty is either ‘allowed’, or there’s evidence it occurs, in eight countries. In more than half the world, LGBT people may not be protected from discrimination by workplace law. And most governments deny trans people the right to legally change their name and gender from those they were assigned at birth.
While the situation is bleak, the number of LGBT organisations – and their capacity – has grown in recent years. The path to equality is rarely the same, and how equality is achieved will inevitably vary from country to country.
However, in 2011 Stonewall acknowledged that there is huge benefit in the LGBT global community working together, and learning and sharing from each other’s experiences.
In October 2011 Stonewall’s board of trustees approved a change to extend the charitable objectives so that Stonewall could start working internationally. Stonewall’s first three-strategy was approved a year later.
Since then Stonewall has established links with LGBT non-government organisations (NGOs) in over 70 countries. Stonewall works to support the advocacy and campaigning of these organisations.
In 2014, Stonewall launched its first Global Workplace Equality Index. Through this programme, Stonewall works with over 160 global employers to ensure equal access to employment for LGBT people globally.
Stonewall has also recently embarked on a revolutionary joint research and advocacy project called Out of the Margins. The project spans 25 countries and is aimed specifically at lesbians, bi women and trans people, all whom continue to be excluded by international movements.
The project is a collaboration between Stonewall and 29 other human rights organisations across three world regions – Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern and Southeast Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
As well as creating a coalition of campaigners across 25 countries, the project will appeal for immediate action to improve human rights in those countries and gather more evidence to demonstrate why this work is so important. Out of the Margins is a two-year project, focusing on the areas where lesbian, bi women and trans people face acute marginalisation including political participation, economic well-being, education, health and personal security and violence.
At the core of Stonewall’s international work is the tenet that LGBT rights campaigners should always lead the change in their country. Find out more about Stonewall’s international work.