International Comparisons of Current LGBTQ Policies
The current Biden administration declared its commitment to advancing equality for LGBTQ individuals. This will require undoing the wrongs caused in the last four years by the previous administration as well as generations of systemic discrimination. Despite the nation making great strides to fulfil the fundamental promises of equality and freedom of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex persons, LGBTQ families and individuals continue to face barriers preventing them from participating in the Nation’s civic and economic life. As such, President Biden’s administration has policies in place to eliminate disparities and unlawful discrimination of LGBTQ people, defend their safety and rights and pursue a comprehensive approach to facilitate the delivery of the full promise of equality that is consistent with Executive Order 13988 of January 2021.
One of the policies that is currently in place is the executive action that ensures the nondiscrimination of LGBTQ people in government benefits, services and programs. Within the last one years, one in three LGBTQ individuals has encountered discrimination. The experiences have a negative effect on the psychological, financial and physical well-being of LGBTQ individuals who in turn result in making changes in their lives to avoid discrimination. In June 2020, the Supreme Court asserted in Bostock v. Clayton County that the seventh title in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibition when it comes to sex discrimination within the employment scene prohibited discrimination due to gender identity and sexual orientation (Green et al. 1221). Before the landmark decision by the high court, courts across the countries interpreted sex discrimination as also prohibiting gender identity and sexual orientation.
Another LGBTQ policy practice has to do with executive actions meant to protect and restore civil and religious liberty rights for all Americans. Religious liberty is a right and the federal government possesses a compelling interest in eliminating discrimination against LGBTQ individuals as well as people with disabilities, religious minorities and individuals in need of reproductive health care when accessing government services (Truong, Adrian and Joseph, 36). Additionally, there is a dual-track policy instituted by the Department of Defense that reverses the ban on transgender military service and ensure there is no discrimination for people living with HIV in the military.
In Canada, sexual activity between the same sex has been legal since 1969. Canada’s age of consent is 16 years which also applies to same-sex relationships. Before then, same-sex relationships were punishable by imprisonment. Later that year, an omnibus bill was passed that decriminalized sexual activities between people above 21 years, marking the first breakthrough in treating LGBTQ individuals as equal under the law. The Canadian Human Rights Commission, is responsible for giving information about sexual orientation and human rights. The Commission’s annual report is responsible for recording progress, complaints and other activities. Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom states that every person is to be treated equal regardless of race, religion, color, ethnicity, age, sex, or disability. The Supreme Court of Canada in Egan v Canada (1995) maintained that despite sexual orientation not being included in the grounds for discrimination of the Charter, it is an equivalent ground for claims of discrimination. Three years later, the courts held that the legislation had omitted sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination. Parliament passed a bill giving same-sex couples the same sex and social benefits as heterosexual couples. In 2005, the biggest milestone was attained when the Civil Marriage Act permitted same-sex marriages anywhere within Canada.
Just like in Canada and the United States, LGBTQ individuals in Australia are cushioned from discrimination by law. Australia has a Sexual Discrimination Act in place that prohibits treating people less favorably as a result of their sexual orientation. Worth noting same-sex couples are cushioned from discrimination in the definitions of relationship or marital status in the Act. In Japan, the legal rights of LGBTQ individuals are different from those in the United States, Japan, and China. Although Japan’s social component is more tolerant than most Asian countries, LGBTQ individuals face legal challenges that heterosexual people do not face (Chung, 465). Same-sex relationships in Japan were criminalized briefly between 1872 and 1880 after which a local version of the Napoleonic Penal Code became adopted. Same-sex households and couples are not eligible for legal protection of heterosexual households although some cities started providing partnership certificates to same-sex couples since 2015. In essence, out of all the G7 countries, Japan is the only one that is yet to recognize same-sex relations of any form.
Chung, Wei‐Yun. “Same‐sex partnership in the family policies of Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan.” International Journal of Social Welfare 30.4 (2021): 465-477.
Green, Amy E., et al. “Self-reported conversion efforts and suicidality among US LGBTQ youths and young adults, 2018.” American Journal of Public Health 110.8 (2020): 1221-1227.
Truong, Nhan L., Adrian D. Zongrone, and Joseph G. Kosciw. Erasure and Resilience: The Experiences of LGBTQ Students of Color. Black LGBTQ Youth in US Schools. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). 121 West 27th Street Suite 804, New York, NY 10001, 2020.