International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 16th May 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert Conservative, Arundel and South Downs 3:32 pm, 16th May 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the International day against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

I am grateful to the Backbench Business Committee for granting this debate at such an appropriate time, given that the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia is tomorrow, and was also marked by the House last year.

In previous debates, including last year, I spoke about how LGBT+ rights are now a tale of two worlds. A year on, it is worth recapping where the world has gone forward, and also where it has gone backwards. Seventy countries still criminalise homosexuality, or at least sexual acts between men, and 45 of those also criminalise sexual acts between women. Only 42 states actively protect against hate crimes based on sexual orientation, and 11 countries still carry the death penalty as a maximum punishment for LGBT conduct. Only three countries in the world—Brazil, Ecuador and Malta—have nationwide bans on conversion therapy, and we have seen alarming reverses of LGBT rights in countries such as Armenia, Brunei, Chechnya, Tanzania, and Turkey. I will come on to those issues shortly. First, however, I think it is worth acknowledging that in other countries things have been moving in the right direction.

In September last year in India, section 377 of the penal code, which prohibited same-sex intimacy as against the order of nature—doubtless a legacy of the UK’s laws—was struck down by the Supreme Court of India after a case was brought by a coalition of civil society groups. Homosexuality is now effectively decriminalised in this major country, although it is also true that there are no legal protections against discrimination. This is a momentous decision, because the Indian penal code was used as a template in other former colonies. There is a huge role for the UK to play in supporting legal cases against those colonial laws for which we have an historic responsibility elsewhere in the Commonwealth.