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New Delhi, 28 June 2019 – This June, we the undersigned diplomatic missions in India’s capital, reaffirm our countries' strong commitment to promoting universal human rights and to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, enjoys these rights without discrimination.
Every year around May or June, our governments and our civil society work together to support, organize, or participate in a wide range of events to celebrate the diversity of our citizens, to reduce discrimination and misinformation about the LGBTI community, to build on individual and collective achievements, and to highlight what needs to be done to ensure human dignity and equality for all human beings. Events are as diverse as the countries and communities that host them, but usually concentrate around IDAHOT day on May 17, LGBTI Pride marches and events in June, and sometimes at other moments of the year such as on Human Rights Day on December 10.
This year, events organized by foreign missions in New Delhi include the lighting of embassies in the iconic colours of the LGBTI rainbow flag, hoisting the rainbow flag on the embassies’ flagpoles, LGBTI film screenings, panels and lectures, as well as outreach on social media.
These diverse celebrations raise awareness about this important issue and foster a sense of community and belonging to advance human rights for all throughout the world. When all persons are protected on the basis of equality and with dignity, global stability is enhanced. We note with pride the increasing progress being made around the world to protect the fundamental human rights of LGBTI individuals and have included a list of national and international achievements in the annex.
We take this occasion to express our solidarity with the human rights defenders and civil society organizations working in India and around the world to uphold the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI persons to live freely and with dignity.
Finally, we also take this opportunity to welcome the decision of the Supreme Court of India on 6 September 2018 to read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a critical step towards the full enjoyment of human rights by LGBTI persons without discriminations in India.
Australian High Commission
Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium
British High Commission
High Commission of Canada
Embassy of Croatia
High Commission of Cyprus
Embassy of the Czech Republic
Royal Embassy of Denmark
Delegation of the European Union
Embassy of Finland
Embassy of France
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
Embassy of Greece
Embassy of Iceland
Embassy of Ireland
Embassy of Israel
Embassy of Italy
Embassy of Japan
Embassy of Latvia
Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
High Commission of Malta
Embassy of Mexico
New Zealand High Commission
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Embassy of Norway
Embassy of Portugal
Embassy of Serbia
Embassy of Slovenia
Embassy of Spain
Embassy of Sweden
Embassy of Switzerland
In 1791, France becomes the first West European country to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults, followed by the Netherlands in 1811, Brazil in 1830, Portugal in 1852, the Ottoman Empire in 1858, Guatemala and Mexico in 1867, Japan in 1880 and more than a hundred countries in the 20th century, including India on 6 September 2018, with the reading down by the Supreme Court of India of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, decriminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults.
In 1867, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs becomes the first self-proclaimed homosexual to speak out publicly for homosexual rights when he pleads at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws
Literature, and later theater and cinema, gradually increase visibility of the LGBTI community and its acceptance: in 1895, at the same time Oscar Wilde is sentenced to two years hard labor in prison for "gross indecency," the novel "Bom-Crioulo" is published in Brazil with homosexuality at its center and with a black man as the story's hero. In 1913, Marcel Proust publishes "In Search of Lost Time" in France marking the first time a modern Western author writes about homosexuality. In 1919, "Different From the Others," a German-made film, is one of the first explicitly gay films. Throughout the 20th century, and increasingly around the world, numerous intellectuals and cultural figures come out as LGBTI.
After the Second World War, the rate of countries decriminalizing homosexual acts between consenting adults grows, organizations defending LBGTI rights are created, and publications on the subject grow.
In 1970, the first Pride march is organized in the U.S., later followed in different forms by many countries on all continents. In 1972 "Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays" is founded in the U.S., becoming one of the first large-scale organizations of straight people defending LBGTI rights.
Gradually through the 1970s, homosexuality stops being considered an illness, and in 1981, is removed from the national classification of diseased in Finland, which culminates in 1990 with a formal decision of the World Health Organization.
In 1972 Sweden becomes the first country in the world to legally allow gender change, and in 1989, Denmark is the first country in the world to enact registered partnership laws (similar to civil unions) for same-sex couples, with most of the same rights as married couples. Many other countries soon follow suit.
Starting in the 1990s, openly gay/lesbian candidates win elections in local assemblies, parliaments, city halls, and in some cases reach the head of State and Government. The United Kingdom has the highest number of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual parliamentarians in the world, with more than 30 Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum.
In 1994, Israel legislated a constitutional law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The law’s constitutional status automatically applied the prohibition to all governmental and religious bodies in Israel, and was later expanded to include the public sector including private businesses. The Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv is booming as the travel destination for the LGBT community in the region.
In June 2000, former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, issues the first ever Proclamation marking Gay and Lesbian Pride Month stating; “This June, recognizing the joys and sorrows that the gay and lesbian movement has witnessed and the work that remains to be done, we observe Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and celebrate the progress we have made in creating a society more inclusive and accepting of gays and lesbians.”
In 2000, the Netherlands becomes the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, marking a shift in tide for the recognition of equal rights of LGBTI people around the world. In recent years on the 17th of May, The Netherlands Embassy has organized events in New Delhi on LGBTI issues with the community. The Netherlands and Uruguay, organized an international LGBTI conference in Montevideo on 13-15 July 2016 where more than 200 countries and organisations participated. During this conference, the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) was established with 33 members, with the Netherlands and Uruguay as the first co-chairs. The ERC is the first ever inter-governmental body focused explicitly on advancing LGBTI human rights and inclusive development.
Canada performs the first legally recognized same-sex marriage in 2001, before the government became the first country in the Americas to legalize it nationwide in 2005, the same year in which Spain legalizes same-sex marriage. Belgium legalized it in 2003, and granted same-sex couples the right to adoption in 2006. South Africa follows suit in 2006 and becomes the first African country to extend full marriage rights. Argentina, in 2010, becomes the first Latin American country to approve same sex marriage, and in 2012, becomes a pioneer worldwide in passing a gender identity law. Brazil, besides being an important sponsor of initiatives for LGBTI rights in the United Nations, legalizes same-sex civil unions and marriages in 2011. In 2013, Australia introduces new legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status. This legal reform was recognized as world-leading as Australia was one of the first countries globally to specifically protect intersex persons from discrimination.
Many countries legalize same-sex marriage, Portugal in 2010, France and New Zealand in 2013 Great Britain Finland and Luxemburg in 2014. The Equal Marriage Law, passed by the Finnish parliament, is the first citizens’ initiative approved. In 2015, Chile enacts the family status of "Civil Partner" through the enforcement of the Civil Partnership Agreements. In May of 2015 Ireland holds a referendum on marriage equality and becomes the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. One month later, in June 2015, the United States Supreme Court rules to legalize same-sex marriage. After Colombia in 2016, and Finland Malta and Germany in 2017, Australia became the 26th country and second nation in Oceania to legalize same-sex marriage when the Australian Parliament passed a bill in December 2017.
Third gender rights have been led mostly by Asia. In 2007, Nepal is believed to have become the world's first country to include a third gender option on its census forms. India has long recognized a community of five to six million third gender Indians as citizens who do not identify themselves as either male or female. In India in 2009, the nation's election authorities decided to formally allow an independent designation for intersex or transgender voters and in April 2014 the Indian Supreme Court issued a landmark judgment granting transgender people legal recognition and access to “all rights under the law”. In 2009 the chief justice of Pakistan ordered the National Database and Registration Authority to issue national identity cards with a third gender category for non-binary citizens. In November 2013 the Bangladesh Government announced the recognition of the third gender category in all national documents and passports. In June 2017, the Government of Canada passed legislation that protects transgender and other gender-diverse persons against discrimination, hate crimes and hate propaganda by adding gender identity or expression to existing lists of protected grounds in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
Today, an increasing number of Heads of States and Government in the world, as well as numerous politicians or personalities, do not hide that they are members of the LGBTI community.