This article was published on December 23rd, 2020
If you’re reading this, congratulations, you made it through 2020. It has been a rollercoaster year for most people, characterized by challenges, change, growth and resilience. As you look back, pat yourself on the back and appreciate the strides you’ve made during the year.
Beyond individual experiences, 2020 has been a remarkable year for the LGBTQ+ community. As a social and closely-knit group, the COVID-19 pandemic hit us hard, disrupting events and forcing people to adapt to a life without the usual circuit parties.
Sadly, we’ve also lost some members of the community to COVID-19. We extend our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones.
Despite the challenges, the LGBTQ+ community made critical strides in fighting for rights, equality, and freedom from discrimination. Indeed, this year’s wins extend beyond politics to include other vital issues such as mental health and job protections.
We unpack the top wins for the LGBTQ+ community in 2020 and look, with hope, at 2021 and beyond.
The LGBTQ+ community remembers…
All the countries that legalized (or made strides on) same-sex marriage
Everyone deserves to marry the person they truly love, regardless of gender or sexual identity. Marriage has always been a key rallying point for the LGBTQ+ community, and this year, several countries heeded the call to legalize same-sex unions.
The list includes:
- Northern Ireland which legalized same-sex marriage in January
- Costa Rica in May
- Montenegro voted to legalize same-sex partnerships in July
- Tlaxcala in Mexico legalized same-sex marriage in December
Meanwhile, governments have made progress in extending more rights to the LGBTQ+ communities. The notable ones include:
- Croatia removed a law that blocked gays from fostering children back in February.
- Hong Kong extended housing protections to LGBTQ+ members clawing back discriminatory public housing policies.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxed blood donation restrictions for men who have sex with men.
- In Gabon, Central Africa, the administration signed a law decriminalizing same-sex activity.
- Sudan lifted the death penalty for homosexuality, although homosexuality remains a criminal offence.
Sadly, some moves thrust the community back to the dark ages. For instance, a referendum in Russia resulted in a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.
The landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling extending protections for LGBTQ+ workers
In a landmark ruling back in June, the U.S. Supreme Court extended federal job protections to LGBTQ members. In the ruling, the court noted that the language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, extends to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, the conservative Trump nominee who wrote for the majority, “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”
Celebrities who came out
A record number of celebrities come out in 2020. As we celebrated National Coming Out Day and stood with LGBTQ+ youth on Spirit Day, celebrities reminded us that it’s okay to be different. They came out as examples for the rest of us, even those who cannot come out due to fear of discrimination.
According to Pride.Com, more than 70 celebrities came out this year. They include:
- Dennis Del Valle, a professional Swiss volleyball player
- Lili Reinhart, Riverdale and Hustlers star who publicly came out as bi
- Justice Smith, Jurassic World: the Fallen Kingdom and Pokémon Detective Pikachu star
- Spencer Brown, DJ and music producer
- Tegan Nox, WWE NXT star
- François Arnaud, Canadia actor and star of The Borgias came out as bi
- DJ Qualls
- Phillip Schofield, TV host
And many others.
Black Lives Matter marches
The Black Lives Matter marches were a defining moment for the LGBTQ+ community as they were for the black community. Why? Because discrimination affects marginalized communities more.
The LGBTQ+ community faces similar incidents of police brutality and racial or sexual-orientation-motivated violence. Therefore, marching with the Black community and lending our voice was a significant milestone in ensuring everyone’s fundamental rights, regardless of skin colour, gender, or sexual orientation.
The fight is far from over.
Virtual Pride events
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the 2020 calendar of gay events. It led to the cancellation of most Pride events, including popular marches across the world. However, that never dampened the spirit.
The gay community got together in a series of virtual events, including Global Pride Online, an event that streamed across the world on June 27. It brought together people from diverse backgrounds. At the same time, we learn the dos and don’ts of virtual events.
Abolishment of conversion therapy
Conversion therapy is the mistaken, scientifically baseless practice of “praying the gay away.” It aims to change a person’s sexual orientation using physical, psychological or even spiritual interventions. It doesn’t work. If anything, it makes matters worse and can lead to depression, anxiety, drug abuse and even suicide.
Fortunately, the world is listening to science. 2020 has seen a record number of countries ban conversion therapy. They include Germany, Albania, Mexico City, State of Mexico, and the Yukon in Canada.
Historic election win for Joe Biden & Kamala Harris
The Trump administration was terrible for the LGBTQ+ community. Indeed, transgender people bore the brunt of the administration’s assault on fundamental rights for the community, including healthcare protections.
This is why the election win of president-elect Joe Biden and VP elect Kamala Harris means so much for the community. They have vowed to undo the outgoing administration’s draconian policies on several LGBTQ+ issues.
At the same time, the 2020 U.S. election ushered numerous community members into the political arena. South Bend, Indiana, former mayor Pete Buttigieg became the first openly LGBTQ candidate to earn delegates towards a nomination for the U.S. presidency. While he didn’t make it, he’ll be serving in Biden’s new administration as the secretary of Transportation if confirmed by the Senate.
Surprisingly, more openly LGBTQ candidates ran for office in the U.S. in 2020 than ever before. They won too, including Sarah McBride from Delaware becoming the first openly transgender person to serve in the Senate, Adrian Tam from Hawaii, and others.
Other notable moments
In a documentary titled “Francesco,” Pope Francis expressed his support for LGBTQ civil unions, breaking with years of tradition.
Disney also released a new, short, Pixar-animated film, “Out.” It tells the story of a young man who is reluctant to come out to his parents. The film was the first Pixar project (Disney owns Pixar) to feature a gay lead character.
There are so many other moments that stood out for the LGBTQ+ community in 2020. Please let us know in the comments section below or on social media what stood out most for you this year.