2020 wasn’t all that bad, if you think about it. (PinkNews)
If you can bring yourself to look back at 2020, it’s hard not to write it all off as a screaming trashfire ejected straight from the bowels of hell.
It’s incredible to think that a year that began with an entire burning continent and an impending World War Three could possibly have got worse, but hey, here we are.
But even more incredibly, this annus horribilis wasn’t actually all bad, and some of the best silver linings came in the field of LGBT+ rights.
1. Marriage equality in Northern Ireland, Switzerland and Costa Rica.
Love kept on winning in 2020 as Northern Ireland, Switzerland and Costa Rica joined the growing list of countries where same-sex couples can legally marry.
“It’s a huge day of celebration,” said Patrick Corrigan, director of Amnesty International Northern Ireland, celebrating as an October law change marked “the final piece of the jigsaw in bringing marriage equality to Northern Ireland”.
“We fought to change the law so it would cherish all couples and all families equally and now we have achieved that – first with civil marriage, then religious marriage and now finally, with civil partnership conversion.”
2. The movement against conversion therapy gained pace.
All around the world an increasing number of states and countries introduced bans against so-called conversion therapy, either for minors or in entirety.
Germany, the state of Virginia, and Mexico City all outlawed the “torturous practice” for minors, while Albania implemented a full ban.
And just this month, hundreds of religious leaders joined calls for it to be banned worldwide to “affirm and celebrate the dignity of all, independent of their sexuality, gender expression and gender identity”.
3. The UK got its first ever pansexual MP.
The Lib Dem MP Layla Moran came out as pansexual in an interview with PinkNews just two days into 2020. She’s the first UK parliamentarian ever to do so publicly.
“Pansexuality, to me, means it doesn’t matter about the physical attributions of the person you fall in love with, it’s about the person themselves,” she said.
“It doesn’t if they’re a man or a woman or gender non-conforming, it doesn’t matter if they identify as gay or not. In the end, these are all things that don’t matter – the thing that matters is the person, and that you love the person.”
4. Gabon and Bhutan decriminalised homosexuality
The country of Gabon in central Africa and Bhutan in South Asia moved to decriminalise homosexuality, two landmark decisions that will transform the lives of their LGBT+ communities.
“Parliament is restoring a fundamental human right for its citizens: that of loving, freely, without being condemned,” said Sylvia Ondimba, the wife of the Gabonese president, as she joined others in celebrating the bill.
“The Republic defends respect for everyone’s privacy and remains one and indivisible beyond feelings. Yes to dignity, no to hate.”
5. The historic Supreme Court Title VII ruling.
Another huge LGBT+ win came in June, when the US Supreme Court ruled that LGBT+ people are entitled to protection from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The ruling extends the sex-based employment discrimination protections known as Title VII to LGBT+ people in all 50 states – a huge leap forward for equality after being stalled by Republicans in Congress.
6. The Oscars introduced an LGBT+ representation quota.
In September, the body that hands out the Academy Awards announced that as of 2024, films hoping to qualify for the top Oscar will have to meet a set of and off-camera inclusion quota that includes LGBT+ representation.
The new standards signal from one of the most influential awards ceremonies a desire to change an institution long criticised as too straight, white and male.
7. Donald Trump was defeated in the US election.
The biggest victory of 2020 undeniably belonged to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris – followed closely by America’s LGBT+ community, who will soon have a president that will fight for their rights instead of steadily chipping away at them.
Biden’s presidency will bring a much-needed moment of peace for queer Americans, beginning with the Equality Act which he’s vowed to pass within his first 100 days. It won’t be the antidote to all of Trump’s poison, but it’s certainly a start.
8. A rainbow wave of LGBT+ election wins.
The US election saw nearly 600 out candidates on the ballot this year, a record number that reflects stronger support for queer people among ordinary Americans.
Dozens of fresh LGBT+ candidates won their races, including Oklahoma’s Mauree Turner, the very first non-binary state lawmaker in US history.
“Of all the states to achieve a milestone political moment for non-binary people, few would have thought it would be Oklahoma, where there are so few LGBTQ elected Victory Fund.
“But Mauree ran a tireless campaign focused on the issues that matter to their district while also being authentic and open about who they are.
“Mauree is now a trailblazer for non-binary people and their courage to run openly will inspire more non-binary people to pursue careers in elected office.”
9. Elliot Page came out as transgender
Trans people everywhere gained an incredible role model when Hollywood A-lister Elliot Page came out as trans at the height of his career.
They did so with a message of love and defiance that cast a spotlight on the global discrimination against trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.
“I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self,” he wrote.
10. The UK lifted restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men
The UK finally reviewed its outdated restrictions on blood donations from sexually active gay and bisexual men, allowing them to donate if they are monogamous.
Previously they could only donate if they remained abstinent for three months, a deferral period that LGBT+ advocates had long argued was redundant, discriminatory and reinforced negative stereotypes.
The new rules both preserve the future of the nation’s blood supply and bring the donations in line with the modern era – great news all round.