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  • Human Rights Research Center

LGBTQ+ Rights Are Human Rights

June 28, 2024

The struggle for LGBTQ+ rights has been a long battle, marked by significant milestones and moments of resistance, as well as by setbacks and continued discrimination. LGBTQ+ rights are fundamentally human rights because they center on the principles of equality, dignity, and freedom that are inherent to all human beings.

According to Our World in Data, LGBTQ+ rights include the following:

“[P]hysical integrity rights, such as not being executed for their sexuality or gender and not being subjected to conversion therapies; social rights, such as changing their legal gender, being sexually intimate, marrying, and adopting children with people of the same sex; economic rights such as not being discriminated at work; and political rights, such as being able to advocate for themselves and their communities publicly.”

The early 20th century saw the beginnings of organized LGBTQ+ activism. One of the first known LGBTQ+ rights organizations was the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee founded in 1897 in Berlin by Magnus Hirschfeld, a pioneering sexologist. This group aimed to repeal anti-homosexuality laws in Germany.

The post-World War II era brought about more visibility and activism. In 1950, Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Society in the United States, one of the earliest gay rights organizations in the country. One of the most significant victories for LGBTQ+ rights came in 2015 with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. This decision was the culmination of decades of activism and legal battles.

(For more information, see Equaldex’s LGBT Equality Index.)

In recent years, there has been a concerning rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and policies in some regions. Organizations such as Human Rights Campaign and ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) aim to promote and protect the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals worldwide.

Equaldex data shows that LGBTQ+ people are protected from discrimination in 55 countries. LGBTQ+ protections vary widely across the world. While significant progress has been made in many regions in Western Europe and some parts of America, many countries still impose tough penalties and societal discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

Recognizing LGBTQ+ rights ensures that every person, regardless of their identity, is treated with respect and has access to the same opportunities as others. Upholding these rights is crucial for fostering inclusive societies where everyone can live authentically and without fear. This is key for upholding the universal human rights that protect the dignity and worth of every individual.


Useful Sources about LGBTQ+ Rights Across the Globe

United States, Western Europe and Central Asia:  

Australia and New Zealand: 

Latin America:


Middle East and Africa:

Eastern Europe:  


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