State Of Affairs: LGBTQ+ Laws And Legislations in 2023

Written by: Jaimie-lee

For the LGBTQ+ community, the change in how outsiders perceive and accept LGBTQ+ persons is a long time coming. Social acceptance of homosexuality within the United States stands at 72% as of 2022.

However, the number of people who keep their sexual orientation under wraps is still 83% globally.

So, why the disconnect?

Global Foundations For Girls helps LGBTQ+ members and gender-diverse youth throughout the world, in particular, those in South Africa, Brazil, Trinidad, Indonesia, and the United States, who remain victimized to this day.

Today, we’ll take a look at the status of gender-focused laws and legislation in these countries. We’ll also consider the attitude of each country’s population towards the LGBTQ+ community.

How far have we come and how far remains to go?

Let’s dive in.

South Africa Leads The Way But Still Has Room To Grow

In South Africa, it’s written into law that discrimination due to one’s sexual orientation is prohibited, making LGBTQ+ people equal to heterosexual persons in the eyes of the law.

South Africa was reportedly the first country to explicitly enshrine policies protecting the rights of gay persons into their Constitution. Neither public nor private entities hold the right to discriminate against someone in South Africa due to their sexual orientation.

The move marks a stark difference from just ten years ago when LGBTQ+ persons found themselves facing harassment, denial of employment, child custody losses, and blackmail — often committed by authorities, among them, the police force.

The permitting of same-sex relationships is a step forward for human rights in the country, as is their lawful allowance of same-sex marriage.

In addition, major cultural shifts have followed. For instance, 62% of South African Catholics believe homosexuality should be accepted by society.

However, some areas, notably the Zulu population which makes up one-fifth of the country’s population, are not entirely on board, viewing homosexuality as morally wrong.

The LGBTQ+ community, including gender-diverse youth in school, still face bullying and violence in the country, which, by the way, is the only country in Africa to have legalized same-sex marriage.

Brazil LGBTQ+ Human Trafficking A Problem

Since 2013, LGBTQ+ members have enjoyed same-sex marriage nationwide. The world’s fifth-largest population is, on paper, leading the way towards acceptance of gender-diverse persons.

Discrimination against non-heterosexual persons is illegal, and same-sex couples can adopt children, join the military, and change their gender without surgery, a medical diagnosis, or taking hormones.

As for acceptance in the religious community, 71% of Catholics believe homosexuals should have society’s approval. In the general community, 79-80% of the population believe homosexuality should be accepted within society.

Brazil’s example gives hope, but below the surface, things remain overwhelmingly dark.

The country’s human traffickers target transgender women at disproportionate rates. And the fact that the country’s conservative Social Christian Party is against LGBTQ+ acceptance is no help either.

Trinidad & Tobago LGBTQ+ Leaves Much To Be Desired

Trinidad and Tobago holds a population of 1.526 million. As of 2023, the LGBTQ+ persons within that figure have no legal right to get married, change their gender, or adopt children.

The LGBTQ+ community of Trinidad and Tobago doesn’t receive protection from discrimination due to sexual orientation in the areas of employment or housing. However, they can serve in the military.

Trinidad and Tobago’s current status reflects a long-running culture of hate and resentment against persons who belong to the LGBTQ+ community within the Caribbean — and the world by extension.

The bare minimum tolerance is in the country’s lack of censorship against LGBTQ+ promotion and discussion. Basically, LGBTQ+ persons have free speech.

Also, since 2018, members of the community no longer have to fear the former “buggery” law which applied a sentence of up to 25 years in prison for bedroom practices typically practiced by same-sex couples.

In a 2013 survey by Gallup, 49% of the population said that Trinidad was “not a good place for homosexuals” to live, an improvement on a 2009 survey in which 69% of Trinidadians shared that they did not support the giving of rights to gays and lesbians on the island.

Trinidad and Tobago clearly has a way to go to catch up to practicing the basic human right of equality.

Indonesia Fully Against The LGBTQ+ Community

In Indonesia, the LGBTQ+ community has few rights and even less protection.

Censorship of LGBTQ+ topics is state-enforced, discrimination is illegal only in some contexts, and they can be discriminated against with no legal protections in areas like housing and employment.

Indonesia is the only country on our list where known gays and lesbians are not permitted to serve in the military. Additionally, same-sex couples cannot adopt children.

There is no ban against conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ persons in Indonesia. Plus, identifying with any LGBTQ+ label is classified as a mental disorder in the country.

However, it is not illegal to just be homosexual. And as regards bedroom practices, sex between consenting adults, whether of the same sex or not, is not criminalized.

Meanwhile, a whopping 80% of Indonesia’s population does not believe society should accept homosexuality. This is largely influenced by the main religion in the country, Islam, to which 86.7% of the population adheres.

Thankfully, there are opposition groups who continuously fight for the rights of the Indonesian LGBTQ+ population.

LGBTQ+ activists in Indonesia continue to protest the legal and societal discrimination they face. And for that, they face the brunt of outward resentment and hate speech from the population.

Meanwhile, those who remain discreet and quiet regarding their sexual orientation and bedroom practices typically lead peaceful, albeit unfairly restrictive, lives.

Making A Change

Global Foundation For Girls continues to keep up with the changing legislation, societal advancements, and gender-based violence against youth within these four countries.

Often, violent acts that the LGBTQ+ community face occur in areas with poor economic status and lack of education opportunities.

Law and policy can only do so much when people hold hate in their hearts.

If you want to be part of the difference we’re trying to make across the world, make a donation or reach out and find out how you can help.