Main Challenges Confronting the LGBTQIA+ Community in Today's Society

Written by: Andrés Suro



Time to read 5 min

In recent decades, the LGBTQIA+ community has made significant strides in their fight for rights and equality, particularly in Western nations and North America, particularly in various states across the USA and in Canada.

However, despite these achievements, there is still a long way to go. In many countries around the world, individuals in the community continue to face discrimination, violence, and even death due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Despite advances in rights and visibility, the LGBTQIA+ community still faces numerous challenges in achieving true equality of rights and opportunities. In this article, we will explore both the major advancements in recent years and the main challenges we still face, including legal persecution, discrimination and stigma in Western countries, and recent events that highlight these issues. Finally, we will see what we can do to change this reality.

Recent Advances in LGBTIQA+ Rights

In a global climate of increasing recognition of LGBTIQA+ rights, recent legal reforms in different countries reflect both progress and persistent challenges. In Singapore, the government repealed laws penalizing sexual relations between men in August 2022, marking a significant step towards equality. However, at the same time, constitutional amendments were introduced that restrict marriage exclusively to heterosexual couples, thus limiting the scope of such equality.

On the other hand, Switzerland has adopted progressive legislation on marriage equality, which not only legalizes these unions but also extends rights such as joint adoption and medically assisted insemination to same-sex couples. In South Korea, a significant milestone was reached in recognizing the rights of a same-sex couple within the national health insurance system, setting a precedent for future inclusive policies.

These examples showcase the intricate landscape of the global fight for LGBTIQA+ rights. Yet, in some nations, significant penalties persist for being part of the community.

Handcuffer prisioner in jail

Legal Persecution and Death Penalty

We start with a rather chilling fact: homosexuality is still illegal in 70 countries worldwide. In 12 of these, the maximum penalty is death. And it's not just about being gay, but any expression of identity or sexuality that doesn't conform to traditional norms.

Take Uganda, for instance. In 2023, it passed a law imposing the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," meaning homosexual acts considered particularly serious under the law. This kind of legislation is alarming and represents a serious violation of basic human rights.

An example of this is the discovery of concentration camps aimed at the persecution and extermination of Russian homosexuals in the 21st century, which remains largely unknown to the global public opinion.

Furthermore, in 14 nations, being homosexual means facing penalties ranging from 15 years in prison to life imprisonment. The fight for LGBTQ+ rights remains crucial worldwide, and it's essential to continue working to ensure equality and safety for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Discrimination and stigma in Western countries

Despite strides made in advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights in Western countries, discrimination remains a stark reality. While laws aim to protect individuals from discrimination, the truth is progress hasn't been as substantial as one might assume. Discrimination has taken on subtler yet equally harmful forms. Despite formal recognition, members of the community still encounter social stigma, prejudice, and systemic hurdles.

A recent survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) unveiled that, although LGBTQIA+ individuals in Europe are less inclined to conceal their identities and social discrimination is declining, rates of harassment, bullying, and violence against them are distressingly on the rise.

Despite 52% of respondents in 2023 being open about their sexual orientation (compared to 46% five years prior), there is still fear of living openly. Fifty-four percent avoid common gestures such as holding hands in public out of fear of attack. Moreover, 55% of respondents reported experiencing hate-motivated harassment in the year prior to the survey, compared to 37% in the previous study. Physical or sexual violence has also increased, with 14% of the LGBTQIA+ community reporting being attacked in the past five years.

The Fight Against the Repression in the Trans Community

Throughout the years, the trans community has faced disproportionately high levels of discrimination and violence. According to a report from the Human Rights Campaign, transgender individuals are four times more likely to be victims of violent crimes than the general population.

Example of that is Meghan Riley Lewis, a transgender woman and mother of two, was murdered in front of her home in Baltimore, United States, by a food delivery driver. The incident occurred on December 27, 2023. Meghan was well-known for her activism in the transgender community, dedicating her life to aiding homeless individuals and providing meals to needy queer people.

Her motto was "Stay sparkly," aiming to inspire people to see their own brilliance, even when the world around them didn't. Her death is a devastating loss for the LGBTQIA+ community and is just one of at least 31 violent killings of transgender or gender non-conforming individuals in 2023. It's crucial to honor her legacy and continue the fight for equality and safety for everyone, regardless of their gender identity or orientation.

This particular case occurred in the USA, but similar incidents are happening worldwide, both in countries where the community is more accepted and in those where it is still penalized by law or socially stigmatized.

To learn more about the specific experiences and challenges of transgender individuals, we invite you to read our article  “Gender identities: What is like being a trans person?”  

Protest, trans rights are human rights

What can we do to make a difference?

Equality isn't just about avoiding violence or imprisonment against LGBTQIA+ individuals, it's about enabling this community to live their everyday lives without fear or discrimination. It means being able to stroll the streets without worry, accessing job and educational opportunities without obstacles, freely expressing gender identity and sexual orientation, and fully participating in society without the fear of backlash.

So, what steps can we take to bring about change? Change requires collective effort and consistency over time. To start, it's crucial to promote inclusive education from an early age. This can involve incorporating content on sexual and gender diversity into curricula to cultivate a more tolerant and empathetic society.

Simply committing to not discriminate, mock, or belittle others, and speaking up or raising awareness when witnessing instances of mockery or discrimination in our immediate surroundings can make a significant impact. This act of solidarity and defense of human rights can be powerful. Additionally, attending marches, signing petitions, and supporting inclusive legislation are effective ways to contribute to the cause.

Lastly, offering emotional and practical support to victims of violence and discrimination. This encompasses providing legal and psychological resources, as well as establishing community support networks.

Although progress has been made in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights, there's still much work to be done. By gradually and collectively working towards equality of rights and opportunities, we can ensure that all individuals are accepted and respected for who they are.

Andrés Suro

Author: Andrés Suro  (Sexual Coach at MYHIXEL)

Psychologist specialized in the social area and expert in sexology applied to education.