New Delhi, 02 June 2019

European Union missions in New Delhi dedicated the month of June for supporting the equal rights for all. Together they reaffirm their nations’ solid responsibility to advancing widespread human rights and to guaranteeing their rights without separation, knowing their sexual preferences.

The EU missions welcome the decision of the Supreme Court of India of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, taken on 6 September 2018, for LGBTI persons to live without discriminations and with human rights in India. The EU missions in New Delhi expressed their solidarity with the human rights defenders and civil society organizations working in India and around the world for the freedoms of LGBTI people supporting their right to live freely.

The EU nations organised such events or programs to support and celebrate the diversity within people, to reduce discrimination and misinformation about the LGBTI community, building individual and collective achievements, and to highlight what needs to be done to ensure human dignity and equality for all human beings. The events were widely unique with special focus on May 17-IDAHOT day.

This year, events organized by foreign EU missions in New Delhi include the lighting of embassies in the iconic colours of the LGBTI rainbow flag, hoisting the rainbow flag on the embassies’ flagpoles, LGBTI film screenings, panels and lectures, as well as outreach on social media, as explained by the EU mission’s website. 

Courtesy – Embassy of Spain in India


The key importance of such events was to raise concern over the importance of the issue and foster a sense of community and belonging to advance human rights for all throughout the world. When all persons are protected on the basis of equality and with dignity, global stability is enhanced.

Have a look at the history of progress made by the EU countries for the cause (source-EU mission website)

In 1791, France becomes the first West European country to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults, followed by the Netherlands in 1811, Brazil in 1830, Portugal in 1852, the Ottoman Empire in 1858, Guatemala and Mexico in 1867, Japan in 1880 and more than a hundred countries in the 20th century, including India on 6 September 2018, with the reading down by the Supreme Court of India of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, decriminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults.

In 1867, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs becomes the first self-proclaimed homosexual to speak out publicly for homosexual rights when he pleads at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws

Literature, and later theatre and cinema, gradually increase visibility of the LGBTI community and its acceptance: in 1895, at the same time Oscar Wilde is sentenced to two years hard labour in prison for “gross indecency,” the novel “Bom-Crioulo” is published in Brazil with homosexuality at its centre and with a black man as the story’s hero. In 1913, Marcel Proust publishes “In Search of Lost Time” in France marking the first time a modern Western author writes about homosexuality. In 1919, “Different From the Others,” a German-made film, is one of the first explicitly gay films. Throughout the 20th century, and increasingly around the world, numerous intellectuals and cultural figures come out as LGBTI.

After the Second World War, the rate of countries decriminalizing homosexual acts between consenting adults grows, organizations defending LBGTI rights are created, and publications on the subject grow.

In 1970, the first Pride march is organized in the U.S., later followed in different forms by many countries on all continents. In 1972 “Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays” is founded in the U.S., becoming one of the first large-scale organizations of straight people defending LBGTI rights.

Gradually through the 1970s, homosexuality stops being considered an illness, and in 1981, is removed from the national classification of disease in Finland, which culminates in 1990 with a formal decision of the World Health Organization.

In 1972 Sweden becomes the first country in the world to legally allow gender change, and in 1989, Denmark is the first country in the world to enact registered partnership laws (similar to civil unions) for same-sex couples, with most of the same rights as married couples. Many other countries soon follow suit.

Starting in the 1990s, openly gay/lesbian candidates win elections in local assemblies, parliaments, city halls, and in some cases reach the head of State and Government. The United Kingdom has the highest number of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual parliamentarians in the world, with more than 30 Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum.

In 1994, Israel legislated a constitutional law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The law’s constitutional status automatically applied the prohibition to all governmental and religious bodies in Israel and was later expanded to include the public sector including private businesses. The Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv is booming as the travel destination for the LGBT community in the region.

In June 2000, former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, issues the first-ever Proclamation marking Gay and Lesbian Pride Month stating; “This June, recognizing the joys and sorrows that the gay and lesbian movement has witnessed and the work that remains to be done, we observe Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and celebrate the progress we have made in creating a society more inclusive and accepting of gays and lesbians.”

In 2000, the Netherlands becomes the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, marking a shift in the tide for the recognition of equal rights of LGBTI people around the world. In recent years on the 17th of May, The Netherlands Embassy has organized events in New Delhi on LGBTI issues with the community. The Netherlands and Uruguay organized an international LGBTI conference in Montevideo on 13-15 July 2016 where more than 200 countries and organisations participated. During this conference, the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) was established with 33 members, with the Netherlands and Uruguay as the first co-chairs.  The ERC is the first ever inter-governmental body focused explicitly on advancing LGBTI human rights and inclusive development.

Canada performs the first legally recognized same-sex marriage in 2001 before the government became the first country in the Americas to legalize it nationwide in 2005, the same year in which Spain legalizes same-sex marriage. Belgium legalized it in 2003 and granted same-sex couples the right to adoption in 2006. South Africa follows suit in 2006 and becomes the first African country to extend full marriage rights. Argentina, in 2010, becomes the first Latin American country to approve same-sex marriage, and in 2012, becomes a pioneer worldwide in passing a gender identity law. Brazil, besides being an important sponsor of initiatives for LGBTI rights in the United Nations, legalizes same-sex civil unions and marriages in 2011. In 2013, Australia introduces new legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status. This legal reform was recognized as world-leading as Australia was one of the first countries globally to specifically protect intersex persons from discrimination.

Many countries legalize same-sex marriage, Portugal in 2010, France and New Zealand in 2013 Great Britain Finland and Luxemburg in 2014. The Equal Marriage Law, passed by the Finnish parliament, is the first citizens’ initiative approved. In 2015, Chile enacts the family status of “Civil Partner” through the enforcement of the Civil Partnership Agreements. In May of 2015 Ireland holds a referendum on marriage equality and becomes the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. One month later, in June 2015, the United States Supreme Court rules to legalize same-sex marriage. After Colombia in 2016, and Finland Malta and Germany in 2017, Australia became the 26th country and second nation in Oceania to legalize same-sex marriage when the Australian Parliament passed a bill in December 2017.

Third gender rights have been led mostly by Asia. In 2007, Nepal is believed to have become the world’s first country to include a third gender option on its census forms. India has long recognized a community of five to six million third gender Indians as citizens who do not identify themselves as either male or female. In India in 2009, the nation’s election authorities decided to formally allow an independent designation for intersex or transgender voters and in April 2014 the Indian Supreme Court issued a landmark judgment granting transgender people legal recognition and access to “all rights under the law”. In 2009 the chief justice of Pakistan ordered the National Database and Registration Authority to issue national identity cards with a third gender category for non-binary citizens. In November 2013 the Bangladesh Government announced the recognition of the third gender category in all national documents and passports. In June 2017, the Government of Canada passed legislation that protects transgender and other gender-diverse persons against discrimination, hate crimes and hates propaganda by adding gender identity or expression to existing lists of protected grounds in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

News Desk, Diplomacytoday (courtesy-EU Mission website)


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