The Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People

The struggle of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people for equal rights has moved to center stage. LGBT people are battling for their civil rights in Congress, in courtrooms and in the streets. Well-known figures are discussing their sexual orientation in public. Gay and lesbian people are featured in movies and on television – not as novelty characters, but as full participants in society.

Despite these advances into the American mainstream, however, LGBT people continue to face real discrimination in all areas of life. No federal law prevents a person from being fired or refused a job on the basis of sexual orientation. The nation’s largest employer – the U.S. military – openly discriminates against gays and lesbians. Mothers and fathers lose child custody simply because they are gay or lesbian, and gay people are denied the right to marry. 

One state even tried to fence lesbians and gay men out of the process used to pass laws. In 1992 Colorado enacted Amendment 2, which repealed existing state laws and barred future laws protecting lesbians, gay men and bisexuals from discrimination. The U. S. Supreme Court struck it down in the landmark 1996 Romer v. Evans decision.

The modern gay rights movement began dramatically in June 1969 in New York City’s Greenwich Village. During a typical „raid,“ police tried to arrest people for their mere presence at a gay bar, but the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back – and the gay rights movement was launched. Using many of the grass-roots and litigation strategies employed by other 20th century activists, gay rights advocates have achieved significant progress:

But the increased empowerment of LGBT people has brought about even more open and virulent anti-gay hostility:

In 1986, after more than two decades of support for lesbian and gay struggles, the American Civil Liberties Union established a national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. Working in close collaboration with the ACLU’s affiliates nationwide, the Project coordinates the most extensive gay rights legal program in the nation. Increasing opposition from a well-organized, well-funded coalition of radical extremists and fundamentalists promises many battles and challenges ahead.

The struggle for legal equality for LGBT people rests on several fundamental constitutional principles. 

Nothing is more important than making schools safe and welcoming places for gay and lesbian youth, who often face tremendous hostility from their family and community during their formative years. This means protecting students from violence, guaranteeing their right to organize events and clubs like other students, and making sure that gay teachers who might serve as healthy role models are not themselves victimized by discrimination. The ACLU has fought harassment of students in California, Nevada, Ohio and Washington, defended gay teachers in California, Idaho and Utah, and advocated for gay student groups in Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, Utah and Wisconsin.

Mary Jo Davis had high hopes when she accepted a job offer with the Radiology Department of Pullman Memorial Hospital in Whitman County, Washington. All that changed after her supervising doctor discovered she was a lesbian. The doctor started calling her a „dyke“ and „faggot,“ and wouldn’t work with her or even speak to her. When Mary Jo protested this harassment, she was fired. Represented by the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, Mary Jo hopes to establish that public employees have a constitutional right to be free from discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

David Weigand could take it no longer. His son was living in the home of his former wife, along with the boy’s stepfather – a convicted felon with a drinking and drug problem who was beating his wife in the presence of the child. Things got so bad that the boy had to call 911 to save his mother’s life, and as a result of all the violence, the family was ultimately evicted from their home.

David asked a Mississippi family court to give him custody of his son. The court refused to do so, in essence saying that living in a home wracked with violence was preferable to living with a father who is gay and „commits sodomy.“ In addition to representing David before the Mississippi Supreme Court, the ACLU will continue fighting on behalf of lesbian and gay parents, and to eliminate state sodomy laws.

States are supposed to make rules on adoption and foster care to protect the best interest of children in need of loving homes and families. But somehow it does not work out that way in states like Florida and Arkansas, which ban gays and lesbians from adopting and being foster parents, respectively. By challenging the discriminatory policies of these states, the ACLU is working hard to prevent similar policies from being adopted in other parts of the country. 

As a reminder of what is supposed to be the essence of child-welfare policy, the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project in 1998 published a report entitled In the Child’s Best Interest: Defending Fair and Sensible Adoption Policies. To order this, the 1998 videotape Created Equal about employment discrimination against LGBTs, or any other ACLU publication, please contact ACLU Publications at 1-800-775-ACLU.

As the Supreme Court explained in Romer v. Evans, there is nothing „special“ about laws which prevent people from losing jobs and homes because of who they are. Most of us take the right to participate in daily life on an equal footing for granted, the Court said, either because we already have the right under the law, or because we are not subjected to that kind of discrimination. Laws which prohibit discrimination simply give LGBT people that basic right to be equal participants in the communities in which they live. 

Most Americans do not realize that many LGBT people who face discrimination – in areas from housing and employment to parenting – have no legal recourse since federal law does not prohibit discrimination against LGBT people. Extending such protection from discrimination to LGBT people is one of the many important battles ahead for the ACLU and other advocacy organizations. 

ARE LGBT PEOPLE PROTECTED AGAINST DISCRIMINATION ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY?

Yes, twelve states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin), the District of Columbia, many municipalities, and hundreds of businesses and universities have enacted laws that protect gay, lesbian and bisexual people from employment discrimination. A smaller number of jurisdictions protect transgender people. 

But in most locales in the remaining 38 states discrimination against LGBT people remains perfectly legal. Businesses openly fire LGBT employees, and every year, lesbian and gay Americans are denied jobs and access to housing, hotels and other public accommodations. Many more are forced to hide their lives, deny their families and lie about their loved ones just to get by.

The ACLU believes the best way to redress discrimination is to amend all existing federal, state and local civil rights laws and all existing business and university policies to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Many cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, the District of Columbia and Minneapolis, have created „domestic partnership“ registries. They give official status to same-sex couples who register with the city. Scores of government and private companies recognize the domestic partnerships of their employees. The state of Hawaii recognizes domestic partners. 

While these laws do not confer most of the rights and responsibilities of marriage, they generally grant partners some of the recognition accorded to married couples – typically, the right to visit a sick or dying partner in a hospital, sometimes sick and bereavement leave and in a few cases, health insurance and other important benefits. 

Perhaps as important, these policies give some small acknowledgement to the intimate, committed relationships central to the lives of so many lesbians and gay men, which society otherwise ignores. 

Denying lesbian and gay couples the right to wed not only deprives them of the social and spiritual significance of marriage; it has serious, often tragic, practical consequences. Since they can not marry, the partners of lesbians and gay men are not next of kin in times of crisis; they are not consulted on crucial medical decisions; they are not given leave to care for each other; they are not each other’s legal heirs, if, like most Americans, they do not have wills. Marital status is often the basis on which employers extend health insurance, pension and other benefits. The ACLU believes that since we have attached such enormous social consequences to marriage, it violates equal protection of the law to deny lesbian and gay couples the right to wed.

WHAT ARE „SODOMY LAWS“ AND WHY BOTHER WORKING TO REPEAL THEM? 

Sodomy statutes generally prohibit oral and anal sex, even between consenting adults. Penalties for violating sodomy laws range from a $200 fine to 20 years imprisonment. While most sodomy laws apply to both heterosexuals and lesbians and gay men, they are primarily used against gay people. For example, some courts say sodomy laws justify separating gay parents from their children. Some cities use sodomy laws to arrest gay people for talking with each other about sex, in conversations which parallel those heterosexuals have every day. 

In recent years, the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Nevada and Rhode Island joined the 23 other state legislatures which repealed sodomy laws in the 60s and 70s. Courts in Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana and Tennessee have struck down the statutes. The remaining sodomy laws will be challenged in the legislatures and the courts until they are all eliminated.

„We must conclude that Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. This Colorado cannot do. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.“ 

– Justice Anthony KennedyMajority Opinion in Romer v. Evans

LGBTI rights

In too many countries, being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) means living with daily discrimination. This discrimination could be based on your sexual orientation (who you’re attracted to); gender identity (how you define yourself, irrespective of your biological sex), gender expression (how you express your gender through your clothing, hair or make-up), or sex characteristics (for example, your genitals, chromosomes, reproductive organs, or hormone levels.)

From name-calling and bullying, to being denied a job or appropriate healthcare, the range of unequal treatment faced is extensive and damaging. It can also be life-threatening.

In all too many cases, LGBTI people are harassed in the streets, beaten up and sometimes killed, simply because of who they are. A spate of violence against trans people has claimed the lives of at least 369 individuals between October 2017 and September 2018. Many intersex people around the world are forced to undergo dangerous, invasive and completely unnecessary surgeries that can cause life-long physical and psychological side effects.

Sometimes, hostility directed at LGBTI people is stoked by the very governments that should be protecting them. A state-sponsored campaign in Chechnya led to the targeting of gay men, some of whom have been abducted, tortured and even killed. In Bangladesh, LGBTI activists have been hacked to death by machete-wielding armed groups, with the police and government taking little interest in delivering justice to the families of victims. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, LGBTI people continue to live in fear of being found out, and attacked or even murdered.

Same-sex sexual activity is a crime in 70 countries, and can get you a death sentence in nine countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. And even where these restrictive laws are not actually enforced, their very existence reinforces prejudice against LGBTI people, leaving them feeling like they have no protection against harassment, blackmail and violence.

LGBTI rights

Legislation Affecting LGBT Rights Across the Country

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in America continue to face discrimination in their daily lives. While more states every year work to pass laws to protect LGBTQ people, we continue to see state legislatures advancing bills that target transgender people, limit local protections, and allow the use of religion to discriminate.

*Note: Bills are reported as Active below if they were introduced in their states‘ 2020 legislative sessions and have carried over to 2021. The status date indicates the convening of the state’s 2021 session or the most current activity on a particular bill.

Legislation Affecting LGBT Rights Across the Country

Key dates for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality

This is an overview of key dates in not just Stonewall’s history but in the development of lesbian, gay, bi and trans history in terms of social, political and legislative change, representation and visibility.

Key dates for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality

Gay and Lesbian Rights

During the annual leadership conference of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, a Washington-based group that promotes legislation affirming…

During the annual leadership conference of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, a Washington-based group that promotes legislation affirming homosexual rights, Senator Charles Robb (D-Virginia) spoke about the need for civil rights for homosexuals. Before Senator Robb’s speech, Congresswoman Jolene Unsoeld (D-Washington) and Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) made brief remarks.

Javascript must be enabled in order to access C-SPAN videos.

*This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.

Gay and Lesbian Rights

Gay rights movement

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Gay rights movement, also called homosexual rights movement or gay liberation movement, civil rights movement that advocates equal rights for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendersodomy laws barring homosexual acts between consenting adults; and calls for an end to discrimination against gay men, lesbians, and transgender persons in employment, credit, housing, public accommodations, and other areas of life.

Equality for All, not for some

The Human Rights Campaign envisions a world where every member of the LGBTQ family has the freedom to live their truth without fear, and with equality under the law. We empower our 3 million members and supporters to mobilize against attacks on the most marginalized people in our community.

LGBTQ Rights Milestones Fast Facts

(CNN)Here is a look at LGBTQ milestones in the United States. LGBTQ is an acronym meaning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning. The term sometimes is extended to LGBTQIA, to include intersex and asexual groups. Queer is an umbrella term for non-straight people; intersex refers to those whose sex is not clearly defined because of genetic, hormonal, or biological differences; and asexual describes those who don’t experience sexual attraction.

Employment Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or sex. On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that discrimination based on „sex“ includes discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

That means workers cannot be passed over for promotions, terminated, or otherwise face negative treatment based on their sexual orientation, such as being gay, or their gender identity, such as being transgender.

The protection extends to workplace discrimination that:

Beyond the landmark case that offered protection from employment discrimination, as a general rule, federal law doesn’t protect individuals from sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in housing, lending, education, or in any other area. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule including:

Protections By Private Employers

Employers may grant higher protections to their gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer employees even when not required to do so by state or federal law. Therefore, if you have experienced harassment or discrimination on the job, the first place to check is your employer’s internal discrimination policies. The human resources department should make this information available to you.

Why are LGBTI rights important?

Everyone should be able to feel proud of who they are and who they love. We all have the right to express ourselves freely. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which set out for the first time the rights we’re all entitled to) protects everyone’s right to express themselves freely.

Bringing an end to homophobia and transphobia will save lives. Anti-LGBTI harassment puts LGBTI identifying people at a heightened risk of physical and psychological harm. Everyone has the right to life, freedom and safety.

By embracing LGBTI people and understanding their identities, we can learn how to remove many of the limitations imposed by gender stereotypes. These stereotypes are damaging across society, defining and limiting how people are expected to live their lives. Removing them sets everyone free to achieve their full potential, without discriminatory social constraints. 

LGBTI people, especially transgender and gender non-conforming people, are often at risk of economic and social exclusion. Fighting for laws that are more inclusive of people of regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity will allow them access to their rights to health, education, housing and employment

What is Amnesty doing to promote LGBTI rights?

We are committed to standing up to discrimination against LGBTI people around the world. We give recommendations to governments and other influential leaders on how to improve laws and protect people’s rights regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

After a global Amnesty campaign, the highest court in Taiwan ruled that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. In May 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex marriages.

In other areas, our work has strongly influenced new laws in Denmark and Norway that allow people to have their true gender legally recognized by the government.

While there is no doubt that the LGBTI movement has made significant progress, there is still work to do. Amnesty helps activists around the world by producing resources on various issues that affect LGBTI people, such as an advocacy toolkit that can be used to combat discrimination in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Body Politics series aimed at increasing awareness around the criminalization of sexuality and reproduction.

If you are talented and passionate about human rights then Amnesty International wants to hear from you.

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Contents

The gay rights movement in the United States has seen huge progress in the last century, and especially the last two decades. Laws prohibiting homosexual activity have been struck down; lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are now allowed to serve openly in the military (transgender individuals were allowed to serve openly from 2016 until March 2018, when a new ban was put in place). And same-sex couples can now legally get married and adopt children in all 50 states. But it has been a long and bumpy road for gay rights proponents, who are still advocating for employment, housing and transgender rights.

The Early Gay Rights Movement

In 1924, Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded in Chicago the Society for Human Rights, the first documented gay rights organization in the United States. During his U.S. Army service in World War I, Gerber was inspired to create his organization by the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, a “homosexual emancipation” group in Germany.

Gerber’s small group published a few issues of its newsletter “Friendship and Freedom,” the country’s first gay-interest newsletter. Police raids caused the group to disband in 1925—but 90 years later, the U.S. government designated Gerber’s Chicago house a National Historic Landmark.

The Pink Triangle

The gay rights movement stagnated for the next few decades, though LGBT individuals around the world did come into the spotlight a few times.

For example, English poet and author Radclyffe Hall stirred up controversy in 1928 when she published her lesbian-themed novel, The Well of Loneliness. And during World War II, the Nazis held homosexual men in concentration camps, branding them with the infamous pink triangle badge, which was also given to sexual predators.

Additionally, in 1948, in his book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Alfred Kinsey proposed that male sexual orientation lies on a continuum between exclusively homosexual to exclusively heterosexual.

READ MORE: What Is the Meaning of the Pink Triangle?

The Homophile Years

In 1950, Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Foundation, one of the nation’s first gay rights group. The Los Angeles organization coined the term “homophile,” which was considered less clinical and focused on sexual activity than “homosexual.”

Though it started off small, the foundation, which sought to improve the lives of gay men through discussion groups and related activities, expanded after founding member Dale Jennings was arrested in 1952 for solicitation and then later set free due to a deadlocked jury.

At the end of the year, Jennings formed another organization called One, Inc., which welcomed women and published ONE, the country’s first pro-gay magazine. Jennings was ousted from One, Inc. in 1953 in part for being a communist—he and Harry Hay were also kicked out of the Mattachine Foundation for their communism—but the magazine continued.

In 1958, One, Inc. won a lawsuit against the U.S. Post Office, which in 1954 declared the magazine “obscene” and refused to deliver it.

The Mattachine Society

Mattachine Foundation members restructured the organization to form the Mattachine Society, which had local chapters in other parts of the country and in 1955 began publishing the country’s second gay publication, The Mattachine Review. That same year, four lesbian couples in San Francisco founded an organization called the Daughters of Bilitis, which soon began publishing a newsletter called The Ladder, the first lesbian publication of any kind.

These early years of the movement also faced some notable setbacks: the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a form of mental disorder in 1952.

The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order that banned gay people—or, more specifically, people guilty of “sexual perversion”—from federal jobs. This ban would remain in effect for some 20 years.

Gay Rights in the 1960s

The gay rights movement saw some early progress In the 1960s. In 1961, Illinois became the first state to do away with its anti-sodomy laws, effectively decriminalizing homosexuality, and a local TV station in California aired the first documentary about homosexuality, called The Rejected.

In 1965, Dr. John Oliven, in his book Sexual Hygiene and Pathology, coined the term “transgender” to describe someone who was born in the body of the incorrect sex.

But more than 10 years earlier, transgendered individuals entered the American consciousness when George William Jorgensen, Jr., underwent sex-reassignment surgery in Denmark to become Christine Jorgensen.

Despite this progress, LGBT individuals lived in a kind of urban subculture and were routinely subjected to harassment and persecution, such as in bars and restaurants. In fact, gay men and women in New York City could not be served alcohol in public due to liquor laws that considered the gathering of homosexuals to be “disorderly.”

In fear of being shut down by authorities, bartenders would deny drinks to patrons suspected of being gay or kick them out altogether; others would serve them drinks but force them to sit facing away from other customers to prevent them from socializing.

In 1966, members of the Mattachine Society in New York City staged a “sip-in”—a twist on the “sit-in” protests of the 1960s—in which they visited taverns, declared themselves gay, and waited to be turned away so they could sue. They were denied service at the Greenwich Village tavern Julius, resulting in much publicity and the quick reversal of the anti-gay liquor laws.

The Stonewall Inn

A few years later, in 1969, a now-famous event catalyzed the gay rights movement: The Stonewall Riots.

The clandestine gay club Stonewall Inn was an institution in Greenwich Village because it was large, cheap, allowed dancing and welcomed drag queens and homeless youths.

But in the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn. Fed up with years of police harassment, patrons and neighborhood residents began throwing objects at police as they loaded the arrested into police vans. The scene eventually exploded into a full-blown riot, with subsequent protests that lasted for five more days.

Christopher Street Liberation Day

Shortly after the Stonewall uprising, members of the Mattachine Society split off to form the Gay Liberation Front, a radical group that launched public demonstrations, protests, and confrontations with political officials.

Similar groups followed, including the Gay Activists Alliance, Radicalesbians, and Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries.

In 1970, at the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, New York City community members marched through local streets in commemoration of the event. Named the Christopher Street Liberation Day, the march is now considered the country’s first gay pride parade. Activists also turned the once-disreputable Pink Triangle into a symbol of gay pride.

Gay Political Victories

The increased visibility and activism of LGBT individuals in the 1970s helped the movement make progress on multiple fronts. In 1977, for instance, the New York Supreme Court ruled that transgender woman Renée Richards could play at the United States Open tennis tournament as a woman.

Additionally, several openly LGBT individuals secured public office positions: Kathy Kozachenko won a seat to the Ann Harbor, Michigan, City Council in 1974, becoming the first out American to be elected to public office.

Harvey Milk, who campaigned on a pro-gay rights platform, became the San Francisco city supervisor in 1978, becoming the first openly gay man elected to a political office in California.

Milk asked Gilbert Baker, an artist and gay rights activist, to create an emblem that represents the movement and would be seen as a symbol of pride. Baker designed and stitched together the first rainbow flag, which he unveiled at a pride parade in 1978.

The following year, in 1979, more than 100,000 people took part in the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

Outbreak of AIDS

The outbreak of AIDS in the United States dominated the struggle for gay rights in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report about five previously healthy homosexual men becoming infected with a rare type of pneumonia.

By 1984, researchers had identified the cause of AIDS—the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV—and the Food and Drug Administration licensed the first commercial blood test for HIV in 1985. Two years later, the first antiretroviral medication for HIV, azidothymidine (AZT), became available.

Gay rights proponents held the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987. The occasion marked the first national coverage of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power), an advocacy group seeking to improve the lives of AIDS victims.

The World Health Organization in 1988 declared December 1 to be World AIDS Day. By the end of the decade, there were at least 100,000 reported cases of AIDS in the United States.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Retired Sgt. Tom Swann wears a “lift the ban” armband to protest the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy against gays in the military. At center is Navy Capt. Mike Rankin. All were part of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Veterans of America.

In 1992, Bill Clinton, during his campaign to become president, promised he would lift the ban against gays in the military. But after failing to garner enough support for such an open policy, President Clinton in 1993 passed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which allowed gay men and women to serve in the military as long as they kept their sexuality a secret.

Gay rights advocates decried the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, as it did little to stop people from being discharged on the grounds of their sexuality.

In 2011, President Obama fulfilled a campaign promise to repeal DADT; by that time, more than 12,000 officers had been discharged from the military under DADT for refusing to hide their sexuality. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was officially repealed on September 20, 2011.

Gay Marriage and Beyond

In 1992, the District of Columbia passed a law that allowed gay and lesbian couples to register as domestic partners, granting them some of the rights of marriage (the city of San Francisco passed a similar ordinance three years prior and California would later extend those rights to the entire state in 1999).

In 1993, the highest court in Hawaii ruled that a ban on gay marriage may go against the state’s constitution. State voters disagreed, however, and in 1998 passed a law banning same-sex marriage.

Federal lawmakers also disagreed, and Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which Clinton signed into law in 1996. The law prevented the government from granting federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage certificates from other states.

Though marriage rights backtracked, gay rights advocates scored other victories. In 1994, a new anti-hate-crime law allowed judges to impose harsher sentences if a crime was motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation.

The Matthew Shepard Act

Matthew Shepard, who was brutally killed in a hate crime in 1998.

In 2003, gay rights proponents had another bit of happy news: the U.S. Supreme Court, in Lawrence v. Texas, struck down the state’s anti-sodomy law. The landmark ruling effectively decriminalized homosexual relations nationwide.

And in 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law a new hate crime act. Commonly known as the Matthew Shepard Act, the new law extended the reach of the 1994 hate crime law.

The act was a response to the 1998 murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, who was pistol-whipped, tortured, tied to a fence, and left to die. The murder was thought to be driven by Shepard’s perceived homosexuality.

In 2011, President Obama fulfilled a campaign promise to repeal DADT; by that time, more than 12,000 officers had been discharged from the military under DADT for refusing to hide their sexuality.

A couple of years later, the Supreme Court ruled against Section 3 of DOMA, which allowed the government to deny federal benefits to married same-sex couples. DOMA soon become powerless, when in 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, making gay marriage legal throughout the country.

Transgender Rights

One day after that landmark 2015 ruling, the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban against openly gay leaders and employees. And in 2017, it reversed a century-old ban against transgender boys, finally catching up with the Girl Scouts of the USA, which had long been inclusive of LGBT leaders and children (the organization had accepted its first transgender Girl Scout in 2011).

In 2016, the U.S. military lifted its ban on transgender people serving openly, a month after Eric Fanning became secretary of the Army and the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch. In March 2018, President Donald Trump announced a new transgender policy for the military that again banned most transgendered people from military service. On January 25, 2021—his sixth day in office—President Biden signed an executive order overturning this ban. 

Though LGBT Americans now have same-sex marriage rights and numerous other rights that seemed farfetched 100 years ago, the work of advocates is not over.

Universal workplace anti-discrimination laws for LGBT Americans is still lacking. Gay rights proponents must also content with an increasing number of “religious liberty” state laws, which allow business to deny service to LGBT individuals due to religious beliefs, as well as “bathroom laws” that prevent transgender individuals from using public bathrooms that don’t correspond to their sex at birth.

Gay Marriage Legalized 

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage, and the first legal same-sex marriage was performed on May 17, 2004—a day when seventy-seven other couples across the state also tied the knot.

Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer wed in Ontario, Canada in 2007. The State of New York recognized the residents’ marriage, but the federal government did not. When Spyer died in 2009, she left her estate to Windsor; since the couple’s marriage was not federally recognized, Windsor didn’t quality for tax exemption as a surviving spouse. Windsor sued the government in late 2010 in United States v. Windsor. Months later, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Barack Obama administration would no longer defend DOMA.

In 2012, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that DOMA violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments for the case. The court ruled in favor of Windsor.

Gay marriage was finally ruled legal by the Supreme Court in June 2015. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the plaintiffs—led by Jim Obergefell, who sued because he was unable to put his name on his late husband’s death certificate—argued that the laws violated the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with Justices Ruth Bader GinsburgStephen BreyerSonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in favor of same-sex marriage rights, ultimately making gay marriage legal across the nation on June 2015. The ruling read, in part:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Sources

How WWI Sparked the Gay Rights Movement: Smithsonian.

First gay rights group in the US (1924): Chicago Tribune.

Chicago’s Henry Gerber House Designated a National Historic Landmark: U.S. Department of the Interior.

Harry Hay, Early Proponent of Gay Rights, Dies at 90: The New York Times.

Stonewall Riots

The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents .. more

7 Surprising Facts About the Stonewall Riots and the Fight for LGBTQ Rights

The movement for LGBTQ rights in the United States dates at least as far back as the 1920s, when the first documented gay rights organization was founded. Since then, various groups have advocated for LGBTQ rights and the movement accelerated in the wake of the Stonewall Riots of .. more

How Activists Plotted the First Gay Pride Parades

Everything changed at 1:20 a.m. on June 28, 1969, when the New York city police barged into the Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall was operating without a liquor license at 51-53 Christopher Street in Manhattan. The N.Y. State Liquor Authority did not give out licenses to .. more

What Happened at the Stonewall Riots? A Timeline of the 1969 Uprising

On a hot summer night in 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar located in New York City’s Greenwich Village that served as a haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community. At the time, homosexual acts remained illegal in every state except Illinois, and bars .. more

Gay Marriage

In the landmark 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, making gay marriage legal throughout America. The ruling was a culmination of decades of struggles, setbacks and victories along the road .. more

Stonewall Riots Apology: NYPD Commissioner Says 1969 Police Raids Were ‚Wrong‘

Police crowded the Stonewall Inn, beating the bar’s patrons with nightsticks and brandishing their guns. In 1969, it was common practice for police officers in New York and other cities to harass owners and patrons of bars that they suspected of providing safe harbor for gay .. more

How the Mob Helped Establish NYC’s Gay Bar Scene

It was an unlikely partnership. But between New York’s LGBT community in the 1960s being forced to live on the outskirts of society and the Mafia’s disregard for the law, the two made a profitable, if uneasy, match. As the gay community blossomed in New York City in the 1960s, .. more

The Supreme Court Rulings That Have Shaped Gay Rights in America

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was established in 1789, but it didn’t rule on a case that directly influenced gay rights until nearly 170 years later. Since then, the highest federal court in the country has weighed-in on about a dozen other LGBTQ rights–related .. more

Gay and lesbian rights

South Africa’s Constitution is the first in the world to prohibit unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. It thereby guarantees equality for gay and lesbian people.

Just as this section specifically mentions race and ethnicity in response to South Africa’s past, sexual orientation is included because of the injustices gay and lesbian people have suffered.

Just 10 years ago sex between two people of the same sex was a crime and public displays of affection were considered indecent. Gay people were harassed and blackmailed (frequently by the police), often denied employment and refused custody of their children after divorce.

One of South Africa’s most bizarre and notorious anti-gay laws was introduced after a police raid on a gay party in a suburb of Johannesburg in 1966. Amendments to the Immorality Act resulted in the infamous „three men at a party clause“, which criminalised any „male person who commits with another male person at a party any act which is calculated to stimulate sexual passion or give sexual gratification“. A „party“ was defined as „any occasion where more than two persons are present“.

Unlike children, gays and lesbians do not have a special section in the Bill of Rights devoted to their rights. Rather, the relevant part of section 9 of the Constitution, entitled „Equality“, states that:

„(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.“

Gays and lesbians are protected by the inclusion of sexual orientation as one of the listed grounds on which unfair discrimination may not take place.

The listing of specific cases in section 9(3) does not mean, however, that to be considered unconstitutional, discrimination would have to be based on one of the grounds mentioned.

Gay rights might enjoy protection even in the absence of the specific reference to sexual orientation. But their explicit mentioning gives our Bill of Rights a special place in the world: South Africa was the first country to enshrine gay rights in its Constitution and, in so doing, provide its citizens with constitutional protection from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

A number of decisions handed down by the Constitutional Court confirm that this section prohibits the state from unfairly discriminating against gays and lesbians. The legal term that describes this is „vertical discrimination“, because it operates from the top (from the level of the government) downwards (to the citizen).

But what about private individuals – people such as employers, doctors, hotel owners or shopkeepers – who can also be a source of discrimination? This question of „horizontal discrimination“, committed by ordinary people (or even organisations and companies), is tackled by section 9(4) of the Constitution. It says:

(4) „No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3).“

Section 8(2), which says a provision of the Bill of Rights binds a natural or a juristic person if applicable, is also relevant here.

Unlike children, gays and lesbians do not have a special section in the Bill of Rights devoted to their rights. Rather, the relevant part of section 9 of the Constitution, entitled „Equality“, states that:

„(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.“

Gays and lesbians are protected by the inclusion of sexual orientation as one of the listed grounds on which unfair discrimination may not take place.

The listing of specific cases in section 9(3) does not mean, however, that to be considered unconstitutional, discrimination would have to be based on one of the grounds mentioned.

Gay rights might enjoy protection even in the absence of the specific reference to sexual orientation. But their explicit mentioning gives our Bill of Rights a special place in the world: South Africa was the first country to enshrine gay rights in its Constitution and, in so doing, provide its citizens with constitutional protection from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

A number of decisions handed down by the Constitutional Court confirm that this section prohibits the state from unfairly discriminating against gays and lesbians. The legal term that describes this is „vertical discrimination“, because it operates from the top (from the level of the government) downwards (to the citizen).

But what about private individuals – people such as employers, doctors, hotel owners or shopkeepers – who can also be a source of discrimination? This question of „horizontal discrimination“, committed by ordinary people (or even organisations and companies), is tackled by section 9(4) of the Constitution. It says:

(4) „No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3).“

Section 8(2), which says a provision of the Bill of Rights binds a naturThe Constitutional Court has played a profound role in enforcing this prohibition against such unfair discrimination. The Judges have, in a number of cases, struck down or adjusted legislation that violates the constitutional right to equality.

National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and another v minister of justice and others (read the judgment)

This case dealt with the offence of sodomy in the common-law (that general body of law that isn’t contained in statutes but is based on judicial decisions and custom). The crux of this matter was that the law prohibited sodomy between two consenting adult men.

The Constitutional Court had to confirm an order that the existence of this common-law offence was unconstitutional and invalid – as were references to sodomy in three statutes.

The Court found that the existence of these offences violated the right to equality.

Sodomy laws criminalised the intimate relationships of a vulnerable minority group – gay men. This degrading treatment constituted a violation of the rights to dignity and privacy.

These offences – which did not constitute reasonable or justifiable limitations on the rights of gay men to equality, dignity and privacy – were unconstitutional and invalid.

National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and others v minister of home affairs and others (read the judgment)

The High Court had declared section 25(5) of the Aliens Control Act of 1991 unconstitutional because it omitted to give persons who were partners in permanent same-sex life partnerships the benefits it extended to „spouses“.

The case, referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation, considered whether it was unconstitutional to allow the immigration of the foreign spouses of permanent South African residents but not to afford the same benefits to South African gays and lesbians in permanent same-sex life partnerships with foreigners.

The Court held that section 25(5) suggested that gays and lesbians were unworthy of having their family lives respected or protected – an invasion of their dignity.

Section 25(5) discriminated unfairly on the grounds of sexual orientation and marital status, and seriously limited rights to equality and dignity in a way that was not reasonable and justifiable.

The Court held Section 25(5) to be unconstitutional and decided that to read words into the statute would be better than to strike down the problematic section. The words „or partner in a permanent same-sex life partnership“ needed to be added.

Du Toit and another v minister of welfare and others (read the judgment)

Two partners in a longstanding lesbian relationship had brought an application in the Pretoria Children’s Court jointly to adopt two children. But, because the Child Care Act confined joint adoption to married couples, custody and guardianship rights could be granted to one partner only.

The applicants then brought an application challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Child Care Act and the Guardianship Act. The High Court agreed.

In the confirmation proceedings, the Constitutional Court found that the statutory provisions discriminated on the grounds of sexual orientation and marital status, and that the dignity of the first applicant had been infringed. The Court held that the legislation also infringed the principle that a child’s best interests were paramount. It confirmed the order of constitutional invalidity.

Satchwell v the president of the Republic of South Africa (read the judgment)

A High Court order had declared sections 8 and 9 of the Judges‘ Remuneration and Conditions of Services Act unconstitutional to the extent that they afforded benefits to the spouses of judges but not to their same-sex life partners.

The applicant, a judge, and her same-sex partner lived as a married couple but were not legally „spouses“.

The Constitutional Court found that the provisions unfairly and unjustifiably discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. It ordered that sections 8 and 9 be read as according benefits not only to spouses of judges but also to permanent same-sex life partners of judges where reciprocal duties of support had been undertaken.

J and B v the director-general of home affairs and others (read the judgment)

This case concerned provisions of the Children’s Status Act of 1987, which defined the status of children conceived by artificial insemination.

Section 5 of the act provided that, where a married couple used the gamete or gametes of another person to conceive a child through artificial insemination, that child be considered the legitimate child of the married couple.

The two applicants had been involved in a permanent same-sex partnership since 1995. In August 2001, the second applicant gave birth to twins conceived with sperm from an anonymous donor.

Both applicants wanted to be registered as the parents of the twins, but only the second applicant, as the „birth-mother“, succeeded.

The High Court declared the section unconstitutional on the grounds that it unfairly discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.

Justice Goldstone – delivering the judgment in the Constitutional Court’s confirmation hearing – declared section 5 discriminatory and unjustifiable.

The Court ordered that the section be read to provide the same status to children born from artificial insemination to same-sex permanent life or a juristic person if applicable, is also relevant here.

Since 1994, Parliament has passed a lot of new legislation that deals with labour issues.

This Act, which came into effect on 1 December 1998, applies to all employees and employers except the South African National Defence Force, various intelligence bodies and unpaid volunteers working for charities.

It limits the hours that may be worked in a week and regulates meal breaks and rest periods. But these conditions do not apply to all categories of workers, for example to senior managers.

The Act also sets entitlement to annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave and family-responsibility leave. It explains what workers can expect if their employment is terminated.

This legislation prohibits forced labour and the employment of children under 15, and gives the Minister of Labour the power to place restrictions on the employment of children over 15.

The Labour Relations Act, which came into effect on 11 November 1996, intends to bring labour law into conformity with the Constitution and with international law. It recognises and regulates the rights of workers to organise and join trade unions, and the right to strike. It guarantees trade union representatives access to the workplace and regulates the right of employers to lock workers out in certain situations.

It also facilitates collective bargaining and makes provision for bargaining councils.

The Act also established a number of important bodies, such as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration – which creates simple procedures for the arbitration and resolution of labour conflict – and the Labour Court and Labour Appeals Court, which adjudicate disputes.

This legislation prohibits unfair dismissal and defines a dismissal as automatically unfair if it is due to the exercise of labour rights (including participation in or support for a legal strike or protest), pregnancy, or unfair discrimination on the ground of race, gender and other grounds.

This legislation, which came into effect on 9 August 1999, prohibits unfair discrimination on grounds of race, gender, sex, pregnancy and marital status, among other things. Affirmative action, however, is allowed.

The Act regulates medical testing, HIV testing and psychological testing.

The Act requires designated employers (for example, those with more than 50 employees) to conduct a detailed analysis of employment policies, practices, procedures and the working environment to identify barriers that adversely affect the designated groups: black people, women and people with disabilities.

Such employers need to prepare employment equity plans.

The Act, which came into effect on 10 September 1999, aims to develop and improve the skills of the South African workforce. It provides a framework for the development of skills of people at work and establishes a number of bodies to co-ordinate and oversee the training and development of South Africa’s workforce.

South Africa’s Constitution is the first in the world to prohibit unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. It thereby guarantees equality for gay and lesbian people.

Just as this section specifically mentions race and ethnicity in response to South Africa’s past, sexual orientation is included because of the injustices gay and lesbian people have suffered.

Just 10 years ago sex between two people of the same sex was a crime and public displays of affection were considered indecent. Gay people were harassed and blackmailed (frequently by the police), often denied employment and refused custody of their children after divorce.

One of South Africa’s most bizarre and notorious anti-gay laws was introduced after a police raid on a gay party in a suburb of Johannesburg in 1966. Amendments to the Immorality Act resulted in the infamous „three men at a party clause“, which criminalised any „male person who commits with another male person at a party any act which is calculated to stimulate sexual passion or give sexual gratification“. A „party“ was defined as „any occasion where more than two persons are present“.

Unlike children, gays and lesbians do not have a special section in the Bill of Rights devoted to their rights. Rather, the relevant part of section 9 of the Constitution, entitled „Equality“, states that:

„(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.“

Gays and lesbians are protected by the inclusion of sexual orientation as one of the listed grounds on which unfair discrimination may not take place.

The listing of specific cases in section 9(3) does not mean, however, that to be considered unconstitutional, discrimination would have to be based on one of the grounds mentioned.

Gay rights might enjoy protection even in the absence of the specific reference to sexual orientation. But their explicit mentioning gives our Bill of Rights a special place in the world: South Africa was the first country to enshrine gay rights in its Constitution and, in so doing, provide its citizens with constitutional protection from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

A number of decisions handed down by the Constitutional Court confirm that this section prohibits the state from unfairly discriminating against gays and lesbians. The legal term that describes this is „vertical discrimination“, because it operates from the top (from the level of the government) downwards (to the citizen).

But what about private individuals – people such as employers, doctors, hotel owners or shopkeepers – who can also be a source of discrimination? This question of „horizontal discrimination“, committed by ordinary people (or even organisations and companies), is tackled by section 9(4) of the Constitution. It says:

(4) „No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3).“

Section 8(2), which says a provision of the Bill of Rights binds a natural or a juristic person if applicable, is also relevant here.

Unlike children, gays and lesbians do not have a special section in the Bill of Rights devoted to their rights. Rather, the relevant part of section 9 of the Constitution, entitled „Equality“, states that:

„(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.“

Gays and lesbians are protected by the inclusion of sexual orientation as one of the listed grounds on which unfair discrimination may not take place.

The listing of specific cases in section 9(3) does not mean, however, that to be considered unconstitutional, discrimination would have to be based on one of the grounds mentioned.

Gay rights might enjoy protection even in the absence of the specific reference to sexual orientation. But their explicit mentioning gives our Bill of Rights a special place in the world: South Africa was the first country to enshrine gay rights in its Constitution and, in so doing, provide its citizens with constitutional protection from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

A number of decisions handed down by the Constitutional Court confirm that this section prohibits the state from unfairly discriminating against gays and lesbians. The legal term that describes this is „vertical discrimination“, because it operates from the top (from the level of the government) downwards (to the citizen).

But what about private individuals – people such as employers, doctors, hotel owners or shopkeepers – who can also be a source of discrimination? This question of „horizontal discrimination“, committed by ordinary people (or even organisations and companies), is tackled by section 9(4) of the Constitution. It says:

(4) „No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3).“

Section 8(2), which says a provision of the Bill of Rights binds a naturThe Constitutional Court has played a profound role in enforcing this prohibition against such unfair discrimination. The Judges have, in a number of cases, struck down or adjusted legislation that violates the constitutional right to equality.

National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and another v minister of justice and others (read the judgment)

This case dealt with the offence of sodomy in the common-law (that general body of law that isn’t contained in statutes but is based on judicial decisions and custom). The crux of this matter was that the law prohibited sodomy between two consenting adult men.

The Constitutional Court had to confirm an order that the existence of this common-law offence was unconstitutional and invalid – as were references to sodomy in three statutes.

The Court found that the existence of these offences violated the right to equality.

Sodomy laws criminalised the intimate relationships of a vulnerable minority group – gay men. This degrading treatment constituted a violation of the rights to dignity and privacy.

These offences – which did not constitute reasonable or justifiable limitations on the rights of gay men to equality, dignity and privacy – were unconstitutional and invalid.

National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and others v minister of home affairs and others (read the judgment)

The High Court had declared section 25(5) of the Aliens Control Act of 1991 unconstitutional because it omitted to give persons who were partners in permanent same-sex life partnerships the benefits it extended to „spouses“.

The case, referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation, considered whether it was unconstitutional to allow the immigration of the foreign spouses of permanent South African residents but not to afford the same benefits to South African gays and lesbians in permanent same-sex life partnerships with foreigners.

The Court held that section 25(5) suggested that gays and lesbians were unworthy of having their family lives respected or protected – an invasion of their dignity.

Section 25(5) discriminated unfairly on the grounds of sexual orientation and marital status, and seriously limited rights to equality and dignity in a way that was not reasonable and justifiable.

The Court held Section 25(5) to be unconstitutional and decided that to read words into the statute would be better than to strike down the problematic section. The words „or partner in a permanent same-sex life partnership“ needed to be added.

Du Toit and another v minister of welfare and others (read the judgment)

Two partners in a longstanding lesbian relationship had brought an application in the Pretoria Children’s Court jointly to adopt two children. But, because the Child Care Act confined joint adoption to married couples, custody and guardianship rights could be granted to one partner only.

The applicants then brought an application challenging the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Child Care Act and the Guardianship Act. The High Court agreed.

In the confirmation proceedings, the Constitutional Court found that the statutory provisions discriminated on the grounds of sexual orientation and marital status, and that the dignity of the first applicant had been infringed. The Court held that the legislation also infringed the principle that a child’s best interests were paramount. It confirmed the order of constitutional invalidity.

Satchwell v the president of the Republic of South Africa (read the judgment)

A High Court order had declared sections 8 and 9 of the Judges‘ Remuneration and Conditions of Services Act unconstitutional to the extent that they afforded benefits to the spouses of judges but not to their same-sex life partners.

The applicant, a judge, and her same-sex partner lived as a married couple but were not legally „spouses“.

The Constitutional Court found that the provisions unfairly and unjustifiably discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. It ordered that sections 8 and 9 be read as according benefits not only to spouses of judges but also to permanent same-sex life partners of judges where reciprocal duties of support had been undertaken.

J and B v the director-general of home affairs and others (read the judgment)

This case concerned provisions of the Children’s Status Act of 1987, which defined the status of children conceived by artificial insemination.

Section 5 of the act provided that, where a married couple used the gamete or gametes of another person to conceive a child through artificial insemination, that child be considered the legitimate child of the married couple.

The two applicants had been involved in a permanent same-sex partnership since 1995. In August 2001, the second applicant gave birth to twins conceived with sperm from an anonymous donor.

Both applicants wanted to be registered as the parents of the twins, but only the second applicant, as the „birth-mother“, succeeded.

The High Court declared the section unconstitutional on the grounds that it unfairly discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.

Justice Goldstone – delivering the judgment in the Constitutional Court’s confirmation hearing – declared section 5 discriminatory and unjustifiable.

The Court ordered that the section be read to provide the same status to children born from artificial insemination to same-sex permanent life or a juristic person if applicable, is also relevant here.

Since 1994, Parliament has passed a lot of new legislation that deals with labour issues.

This Act, which came into effect on 1 December 1998, applies to all employees and employers except the South African National Defence Force, various intelligence bodies and unpaid volunteers working for charities.

It limits the hours that may be worked in a week and regulates meal breaks and rest periods. But these conditions do not apply to all categories of workers, for example to senior managers.

The Act also sets entitlement to annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave and family-responsibility leave. It explains what workers can expect if their employment is terminated.

This legislation prohibits forced labour and the employment of children under 15, and gives the Minister of Labour the power to place restrictions on the employment of children over 15.

The Labour Relations Act, which came into effect on 11 November 1996, intends to bring labour law into conformity with the Constitution and with international law. It recognises and regulates the rights of workers to organise and join trade unions, and the right to strike. It guarantees trade union representatives access to the workplace and regulates the right of employers to lock workers out in certain situations.

It also facilitates collective bargaining and makes provision for bargaining councils.

The Act also established a number of important bodies, such as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration – which creates simple procedures for the arbitration and resolution of labour conflict – and the Labour Court and Labour Appeals Court, which adjudicate disputes.

This legislation prohibits unfair dismissal and defines a dismissal as automatically unfair if it is due to the exercise of labour rights (including participation in or support for a legal strike or protest), pregnancy, or unfair discrimination on the ground of race, gender and other grounds.

This legislation, which came into effect on 9 August 1999, prohibits unfair discrimination on grounds of race, gender, sex, pregnancy and marital status, among other things. Affirmative action, however, is allowed.

The Act regulates medical testing, HIV testing and psychological testing.

The Act requires designated employers (for example, those with more than 50 employees) to conduct a detailed analysis of employment policies, practices, procedures and the working environment to identify barriers that adversely affect the designated groups: black people, women and people with disabilities.

Such employers need to prepare employment equity plans.

The Act, which came into effect on 10 September 1999, aims to develop and improve the skills of the South African workforce. It provides a framework for the development of skills of people at work and establishes a number of bodies to co-ordinate and oversee the training and development of South Africa’s workforce.

Anti-Trans Bills

These measures target transgender and nonbinary people for discrimination, such as by barring or criminalizing healthcare for transgender youth, barring access to the use of appropriate facilities like restrooms, restricting transgender students’ ability to fully participate in school and sports, allowing religiously-motivated discrimination against trans people, or making it more difficult for trans people to get identification documents with their name and gender.

Other Anti-LGBTQ Bills

Read for the first time and referred to committee 1/11/21

Passed on second consideration and referred to committee 2/22/21

Read the second time and referred to committee 3/16/21

LGBTQ Equality Bills

Read for the first time and referred to committee 3/3/21

Read for the first time and referred to committee 2/25/21 

Passed on the third reading in Senate 2/26/21; Passed on the third reading in House 3/24/21

Read for the first time and referred to committee 3/3/21 

Read for the first time and referred to committee 2/25/21

Gay and Lesbian Rights

The term The drive for legal and social equality represents one aspect of a broader gay and lesbian movement that, since the late 1960s, has worked to change attitudes toward homosexuality, develop gay community institutions, and improve the self-image of gay men and lesbians.

Although homosexuality has been recorded in every historical period and culture, the gay and lesbian rights movement developed only with the emergence of a self-conscious, gayidentified subculture that was willing to openly assert its demands for equality. Until the 1960s, virtually all lesbians and gay men were secretive about their sexual orientation and frequently shared the attitude of the general society that homosexuality was sick, sinful, or both. The phrase „in the closet“ refers to gay men and lesbians who hide their sexual orientation.

The first national gay organizations in the United States were the Mattachine Society (1951) and the Daughters of Bilitis (1956). The emergence of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s energized gay and lesbian groups, and the development of the women’s movement of the late 1960s made explicit the link between political activities and personal identity.

The watershed moment for gay men and lesbians occurred in 1969 when the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, forcefully resisted arrest by city police officers who had raided the bar. Stonewall became a symbol for a new set of attitudes on the part of younger gay men and lesbians who resisted discrimination and negative stereotyping. As gay men and lesbians became more open and decided to „come out of the closet,“ U.S. society was challenged to question assumptions about most gay and lesbian rights activity remains local, national organizations such as the National Gay Task Force, the Lambda Defense and Education Fund, and the Human Rights Campaign have played a significant role in challenging discriminatory treatment. For example, in 1974, the National Gay Task Force successfully lobbied the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

The recognition of gay and lesbian rights has been accomplished through both court challenges and legislative action. The ability of gay and lesbian organizations to make significant financial contributions to political candidates has helped lead to more sympathetic hearings in the legislative arena.

Safety for LGBTI schoolkids and support for teachers

Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools is serious. We are working to provide school kids, teachers and families with appropriate resources to tackle any bullying they may experience at school.

Statewide and Nationwide LGBTI Surveys

How many of us still feel afraid to hold a partner’s hand walking down the street? Our daily experiences, as well as our interactions with Government services, need to be seen and heard by those in power.

Australia said YES to LGBTI equality in 2017 – it’s time for NSW’s anti-discrimination laws to catch up.

Thursday 11 October 2018 The New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has called on NSW Parliament to overhaul its dated Anti-Discrimination Act to reflect modern community sentiment. Co-Convenor Lauren Foy said the outdated NSW laws were now among the worst in the nation. “As we’ve all been reminded this week by many, includingAustralia said YES to LGBTI equality in 2017 – it’s time for NSW’s anti-discrimination laws to catch up. →

Religious Freedoms Report signals social cohesion and the rights of Australian Kids now at risk from Canberra

After media leaks today from the ‘Religious Freedoms’ Report, both major federal political parties must immediately rule out legislating discrimination against LGBTI Australians, warned the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby today. “This is about our children and the type of country we all want to live in,” Lobby Co-Convenor Lauren Foy said. “Do weReligious Freedoms Report signals social cohesion and the rights of Australian Kids now at risk from Canberra →

Rights Lobby welcomes Inquiry, warns Police they must do more to earn community’s confidence

19 September 2018 The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW) welcomes today’s announcement of a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into gay and transgender hate crimes and the current criminal justice culture relating to such crimes. The Lobby has been involved in the collection of evidence around LGBTI hate crimes for nearly 30 years – a numberRights Lobby welcomes Inquiry, warns Police they must do more to earn community’s confidence →

NSW Government signals reforms to state’s vilification laws to protect all LGBTI people

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby today welcomed the Berejiklian Governments moves to strengthen protections for LGBTI communities in NSW via the passage of the Crimes Amendment (Publicly Threatening and Inciting Violence) Bill 2018. “The limited coverage offered by previous the NSW anti-vilification framework was in clear need of reform and this Bill presented aNSW Government signals reforms to state’s vilification laws to protect all LGBTI people →

New Committee of Management for NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby

The fight for LGBTI rights has made significant advances in recent years, but there is still much to do – and the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is leading the charge. At the recent Annual General Meeting the Lobby’s Committee of Management was refreshed, with new members bringing a range of skills and Committee of Management for NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby →

SENATOR SMITH’S MARRIAGE AMENDMENT BILL: THE ONLY LEGITIMATE BILL COME 15 NOVEMBER 2017

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) has today called on Federal Parliament to immediately enable debate on marriage equality legislation if the survey result is a majority “YES” on 15 November 2017. “With nearly 11 million Australians having voted, and the Labor Caucus today backing Dean Smith’s Bill, the nation’s attention now rightlySENATOR SMITH’S MARRIAGE AMENDMENT BILL: THE ONLY LEGITIMATE BILL COME 15 NOVEMBER 2017 →