The Civil Rights Movement for equal rights for LGBTQ communities is variously called the Gay Rights Movement / Homosexual Rights Movement / Gay Liberation Movement. It’s about putting an end to the discrimination facedover centuries by the LGBTQ communities in different arenas of life.
The stigmatization of same-sex relationships can be largely attributed to the religious restrictions and silence of the Judiciary in many countries.
In the beginning of the 16th century, the legal system of Britain chose to criminalize same-sex relationships. Henry VIII passed the Buggery Act in 1530s that made sexual relationships between men a criminal offence punishable by death. It remained a capital offence till 1861. In 1865 a parliamentary amendment created the offence of ‘gross indecency’. Many other countries too had laws against same-sex relationships.
It was Berlin that saw one of the first movements in favor of homosexual relations. The Scientific- Humanitarian Committee was formed in 1897. Countries like Germany, The United States and Britain started witnessing formations of support groups. But, the intolerance in public and political arenas continued.
The mid-20th Century saw a further rise in the support for both men and women. The US LGBTQ community saw increased support. Britain achieved a milestone when Sir John Wolfenden submitted a report to decriminalize private homosexual liaisons between consenting adults and a decade later the recommendation was implemented for men 21 years or older.
The LGBTQ movement turned around when the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, on June 28, 1969. 400 people joined a riot that day and on subsequent nights. ‘Stonewall’ is commemorated with Gay Pride celebrations in June each year, the world over. Groups like Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and ACT UP etc. began speaking up for reforms for the LGBTQ communities.
In 1988 The National Coming Out day was established. It’s gained prominence world over. The LGBT US community’s movement received a fillip when political personnel came out and contested openly. Many other countries are now seeing people from LGBT communities run for office and winning.
Many states in the US have now legalized same-sex marriages. LGBTQ India community tasted some measure of success with The Delhi High Court decriminalizing same-sex relationships in 2009 and now the Supreme Court (the highest judicial body in India) revoking the provisions of Article 377 that criminalized same-sex relationships.
Non-discriminatory policies, disease prevention, ending bans on military services are some very important issues for the LGBT communities world over.
Though there are still miles to go, we are hopeful of more open and inclusive civil society.