FACTBOX-Eight legal hotspots for global LGBT+ rights in 2020

by Hugo Greenhalgh | @hugo_greenhalgh | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 7 January 2020 16:50 GMT

From Botswana to Barbados, here are some of the key legal fights that will dominate LGBT+ news in 2020

By Hugo Greenhalgh

LONDON, Jan 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From Caribbean "buggery laws" to U.S. bathrooms, here are some of the key court cases that are likely to dominate the headlines for LGBT+ rights in 2020:

1. United States - The U.S. Supreme Court is due to rule before June as to whether LGBT+ people are protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on discrimination at work. Access to bathrooms for transgender students and lawsuits against the Pentagon over HIV-positive military personnel who were dismissed or banned from deployment are also hot-button topics where rulings are expected.

2. Botswana - A ruling is expected on a government appeal against a High Court ruling in June last year to decriminalise gay sex, making Botswana one of a handful of African countries to accept same-sex relations.

3. Singapore - The High Court could rule on decriminalisation of gay sex this year. At least three men have filed cases arguing the law is unconstitutional or violates human dignity.

4. Jamaica - The Caribbean island's colonial-era sodomy laws are being challenged by a petition lodged at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Any ruling would not be binding, but decriminalisation could cause waves in the region. Legal challenges to colonial "buggery laws" have been launched or planned in Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.

5. Barbados - A law punishing sex between men with life imprisonment in Barbados was challenged in 2018 with a petition to the IACHR, which has asked the government to respond. If the commission recommends reform and the government refuses to implement it, the matter could be referred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

6. Hong Kong - With two cases filed, same-sex marriage could become a key issue in the city, where homosexuality has been decriminalised since 1991, despite an October ruling that there was no obligation to allow LGBT+ unions.

7. Kenya - The National Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission has appealed against a High Court ruling in May to maintain the ban on gay sex, punishable by 14 years in jail. A hearing date has yet to be set.

8. Europe - The European Court of Human Rights is reviewing the case of a gay man who said he was persecuted in Chechnya and holding an inquiry into a wave of arrests in 2017 of LGBT+ people in Azerbaijan.

Sources: OutRight Action International, Human Dignity Trust, All Out, Allen & Overy, Amnesty International, Open For Business, Lambda Legal

(Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh with additional reporting by Matt Lavietes @mattlavietes; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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