By: Sabia Prescott, EI blogger
This year saw a number of unprecedented landmark victories, both locally and globally, for the LGBT community and its allies. Thanks to advocates ranging from civil society members to cultural icons, 2015 was a year of great progress. Although largely characterized by a focus on marriage equality, 2015 saw advances in a variety of LGBT issues including trans* rights, workplace discrimination protections, cultural visibility, and political representation. Despite these advances, LGBT people locally, nationally, and internationally still continue to face discrimination and persecution.
While there are always more issues to address and causes to fight for, understanding the strides we’ve made is crucial to the ongoing fight for equality. The following list highlights some of the LGBT news stories from around the world in 2015:
The Austrian Constitutional Court lifted the country’s ban on non-biological adoptions by same-sex couples.
February 18: First Openly Bisexual U.S. Governor Takes Office
Kate Brown started office as the 38th governor of Oregon, becoming the first openly bisexual governor in the U.S.
Shibuya became the first municipality in the country to recognize same-sex marriages, granting partnership certificates that are ‘equivalent to marriage.’
The White House becomes the first government building in the world to have gender-neutral bathroom, which is now open to White House staff and visitors.
In an historic vote, Ireland becomes the first country to approve same-sex marriage nationwide.
May 28: First Lesbian Ad Airs in India
Myntra, an India-based clothing and apparel company, airs the first televised ad featuring a lesbian couple, in a country where homosexuality is still criminalized.
Mozambique joined 20 other African countries when it revoked laws that made homosexuality illegal. The new legislation took effect June 29th.
To kick off the 14th Annual Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference, the City Hall flew the Trans* Pride flag for the first time.
June 9: Guam Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
Guam legislature turns down ban on same-sex marriage, making it the first US territory to legalize marriage equality.
In what remains the benchmark of LGBT progress in 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states in a 5-4 vote.
September 17: Nepal’s New Constitution Protects LGBT Rights
The Nepali government approved a new constitution which promises to protect LGBT people from discrimination, violence, and abuse. The new law stops just short of marriage equality.
In a new clause to Ukraine’s Labor Code, the government passes new protections against abuse and discrimination for LGBT people in the workplace.
After much debate in the Greek government, Parliament passed a bill allowing same sex couples in Greece to obtain a civil partnership, recognized as a legally-binding union by the state.
There is clearly more work be done, locally and internationally. But as 2015 draws to a close, we can be grateful for the positive steps that have been achieved this year and strive for even greater progress in 2016.