The fun facts and dark truths about PRIDE and worldwide LGBTQIA+ rights
June has for a long time held a special place in the heart of the LGBTQIA+ community, ever since the riots at the Stonewall Inn, New York in 1969. These riots acted as a catalyst for the LGBTQIA+ movement worldwide, bringing people together and harmonising the international fight for LGBTQIA+ rights. For more information on the Stonewall Riots, please see my previous article on the subject here.
Just over 50 years later, the LGBTQIA+ landscape has materially changed and whilst largely for the better, it is important to reflect on how much further we have left to go in order to secure LGBTQIA+ equality worldwide – both outside of and within the LGBTQIA+ community itself!
Therefore, below are a number of fun facts and dark truths about the state of LGBTQIA+ rights and PRIDE more generally across the world, which I hope offer some interesting insights and points of reflection during this year’s Pride month.
Fun fact #1
Bisexual rights activist, Brenda Howard, is considered the ‘Mother of Pride’ as she first coordinated the Liberation March (the original name of what we call Gay PRIDE today) in New York in June 1970, exactly a year after the Stonewall Riots. Thanks to the great work of Brenda, many other nations have followed in the USA’s footsteps, including the UK, with more and more Pride marches being held every year.
Dark truth #1
Being a gay man in the following countries was or is still illegal, but being a gay woman in these countries was never illegal or has since been legalised:
- United Kingdom – being a gay man was illegal until 1967; being a gay woman was never illegal;
- South Africa – being a gay man was illegal until 1998; being a gay woman was never illegal;
- Jamaica – being a gay man is still illegal (legalisation has been proposed) and the current penalty is 10 years imprisonment and / or hard labour; being a gay woman was never illegal;
- Singapore – being a gay man is still illegal and the current penalty is two years in prison; being a gay woman has been legal since 2007; and
- Bangladesh – being a gay man is still illegal and the current penalty is 10 years in prison; being a gay woman is not illegal.
Fun fact #2
Every colour on the LGBTQIA+ flag has a meaning:
- RED means LIFE;
- ORANGE means HEALING;
- YELLOW means SUNLIGHT;
- GREEN means NATURE;
- BLUE means HARMONY; and
- VIOLET means SPIRIT.
Dark truth #2
Whilst a large majority of the world has come to recognise and allow trans people to legally change their gender identity prior to or without having any medical surgery or treatment, there are a number of countries where medical surgery / treatment remains a pre-requisite for legally changing your gender identity. Such places include South Africa, Panama, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Mongolia, South Korea and Taiwan.
Fun fact #3
South Africa is home to one of only a few Pride marches on the African continent and holds annual marches in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Another African country to have held pride marches in Africa is Eswatini, despite the fact that being homosexual in this country is illegal. Here’s hoping that South Africa and Eswatini can pioneer the way forward for its remaining continent allies.
Dark truth #3
The UK first allowed LGBTQIA+ couples to adopt in 2002 with the passing of the Children and Adoption Act, notwithstanding the historic (and more importantly, flawed) notion that LGBTQIA+ parents could have a negative effect on the upbringing of children.
Whilst the UK has been progressive in this way, there remains a number of other countries which either do not allow LGBTQIA+ individuals to adopt or, strangely, do allow LGBTQIA+ individuals to adopt but not LGBTQIA+ couples. Such countries include the Philippines, Serbia and Greece.
Fun fact #4
Sao Paulo, Brazil holds the Guinness world record for the number of attendees at a pride event, with a staggering three to five million people turning up at the event every year – and I thought Soho square was busy!
Dark truth #4
An online survey conducted by the Law Society in 2009 found that 96% of gay male and 92% of gay female respondents were ‘out’ in their personal lives, but only 9% of gay male and 27% of gay female respondents described themselves as ‘widely out’ in the workplace. Interestingly, whilst junior solicitors were more likely to be ‘out’, 40% of those under 25 had kept their sexual orientation a secret at their first firm.
I would hope that a survey taken today would show improved figures but these statistics highlight how important it is for employers to take diversity and inclusion seriously and ensure their employees feel just as comfortable at work as they are in their personal lives.
Fun fact #5
Amsterdam is the only city whose Pride celebration floats on a river. The parade involves 100 decorated boats that sail through the city on the Prinsengracht River.