Courts are leading the global battle for LGBT equality

Stunning legal wins in Costa Rica, Lebanon, Bulgaria & more

London, UK – 20 August 2018


On 26 June 2015, the US Supreme Court struck down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, effectively bringing marriage equality to all 50 states.

It was seen, rightly so, as a massive step towards equality and is arguably the most famous LGBT+ judicial win so far.

But hold on.

India’s Supreme Court is expected to decriminalise same-sex acts by repealing Section 377 – an old colonial-era homophobic law imposed by Britain in the nineteenth century, which makes homosexuality unlawful. This will have a liberating impact on almost one fifth of the world’s LGBT+ people. It will be the biggest judicial ruling for LGBT+ equality ever!

At the Peter Tatchell Foundation we have noticed that the courts are increasingly stepping in and supporting LGBT+ human rights.

Look at the list so far this year:

  • Costa Rica’s Supreme Court rules marriage equality must be law by 2020.
  • A top court in Lebanon says homosexuality is not a crime.
  • Bulgarian courts recognise the marriage of same-sex couple.
  • Romania’s Constitutional Court affirms the right of residence of same-sex married couples if one of the spouses is an EU citizen.
  • Bermuda’s courts rule the government ban on same-sex marriages is illegal.
  • Trinidad and Tobago’s judiciary strikes down the criminalisation of homosexuality.

And in 2017:

  • The European Court of Justice ruled that EU countries may not obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant residence rights to their non-EU same-sex partner.
  • The UK Supreme Court declared that the discrimination against same-sex couples in pensions rights needs to end immediately.

Courts around the world are now playing an important role in protecting LGBT rights.

Earlier this year, Bermuda was the first nation to overturn its own marriage equality law. The Island’s courts saw sense and restored the legality of same-sex marriage.

In Trinidad and Tobago, judges struck down a law outlawing ‘buggery’ and in Lebanon the courts declared homosexuality is not a crime. Both judgments look set to have a wider impact, respectively in the Caribbean and in the Middle East.

Judges are now playing an important and increasing role in the battle for LGBT+ equality. They are showing leadership where politicians too often display weakness and cowardice.

The courts are fast becoming our friends and allies. Long may that continue.