Crystal Ball Gazing: Global LGBTQ+ Rights in 2022

I consulted my crystal ball on your behalf despite its relative failure over my 2021 predictions (having been too optimistic is a first for me). Here are the top ten predictions of geopolitical developments which will impact the global movement for LGBTQ+ equality in 2022. We are starting with what we can expect to see.

EXPECT

The US regains its global leadership role on LGBTQ+ issues. 

With the latest Senate confirmations of out LGBTQ+ foreign affairs officials and the appointment of Jessica Stern last year as LGBTQ+ Special Envoy, the US Foreign policy apparatus has never been so well equipped to foster change. The Biden Administration has also asserted LGBTQ+ rights as a foreign policy priority. Expect greater visibility, new instruments to advance LGBTQ+ equality, and frank discussions at Blair house.

Qatar: calls for a boycott of FIFA’s World Cup to intensify.

In case you care as little about soccer as I do, the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) Men’s World Cup sees 32 nations compete against each other for the world cup (FYI, the French have won it twice). This year, host nation Qatar, a country known for egregious human rights violations, including against LGBTQ+ people (see HRW’s November 2021 article). Diver Tom Daley will be leading the charge to boycott.

UK: all eyes on #SafeToBeMe 2022.

Government officials, activists, and business leaders will head to UK’s first global LGBTQ+ conference in London in June 2022: #SafeToBeMe. The conference is essential as Covid derailed impacted global LGBTQ+ conferences for the past two years (the ILGA World Conference will take place in Los Angeles a month prior). In the coming months, pressure will intensify on Boris Johnson’s Government to appease national rifts over issues such as trans rights and the conversion therapy ban. A tall order but nothing impossible.

China: pondering over its course on LGBTQ+ equality. 

2021 showcased an unmistakable clampdown by the autocratic Chinese regime on civil society, including LGBTQ+ movements. Some even described it as a “second cultural revolution.” And yet, China remains sensitive to Europe and US’s public approval, sensitive to harassment against LGBTQ+ people, as the regions remain China’s main commercial destinations. Similarly, it cannot ignore “Taiwan’s rainbow victories” as the regime obsesses over “reunification.” 2022 will tell us whether China will put the brakes on its anti-LGBTQ+ stance. The fate of the Hong Kong Gay Games (now planned for 2023) might be a telltale sign.

Australia: a case study on “religious freedom.” 

The artificial clash between religious freedom and LGBTQ+ issues will have its first test case as Prime Minister Morrison charges ahead with a “religious discrimination” bill. The outcome could have ripple effects globally as other conservative movements eye similar legislation.

DON’T EXPECT

The US Senate passing the Equality Act. 

The US Senate: where LGBTQ equality legislation (and social expenditure bills for that matter) goes to die. While organizations like ours will try to win over Senator Joe Manchin and ten Republicans before the midterm elections, chances to pass the Equality Act feel more elusive by the day. Read the proposed bill here. 

Also the US: At local level: an end to anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

The wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation nationwide, especially bills targeting transgender young people, will continue in 2022 due to extreme political polarization in the country.

France: entering the global LGBTQ+ rights conversation. 

The first round of the 2022 French presidential election will be held on 10 April 2022, and Macron will need to increasingly cater to extreme right voters to fend off presidential hopefuls Zemmour and Le Pen. Questions like immigration and LGBTQ+ rights will go back on the Government’s back burner.

Eastern Europe: ending the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. 

The European Union might be showing signs it is losing its patience; anti-lgbtq+ antics will only grow in the region because of its political payoff. Hungary’s Orban will continue to cast himself as the defender of traditional Hungarian values against “LGBTQ+ ideology” ahead of the 2022 parliamentary elections, and the 2022 referendum on LGBTQ+ issues will be a low point. Similarly, Polish conservatives will ramp up anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric ahead of the next parliamentary elections to the Sejm, and Senate that will be held in the autumn of 2023.

Better headlines from Sub-Saharan Africa. 

With vindictive bills in the works in Ghana (tagged the ‘most draconian anti-LGBTQ legislation on earth’) or Senegal and persecution on the rise from Cameroon to Mali, sub-Saharan Africa will still make negative headlines on LGBTQ+ rights despite some positive developments.

South America: a continuation of positive momentum. 

2021 was an excellent year for LGBTQ+ rights in South America, including the recent passing of same-sex marriage in Chile. 2022 might be more tricky. General elections are scheduled in Brazil on 2 October 2022, which means Bolsonaro will ramp up his anti-LGBTQ+ shtick.

To conclude my predictions for this year, while 2022 should continue to see progress on LGBTQ+ equality globally, the unfortunate political instrumentalization of LGBTQ+ rights from Brazil to Hungary will create new opportunities for backsliding. In all these contexts, the private sector has a crucial role to play in supporting grassroots movements and unequivocally sending the signal that it stands for human rights.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. For example, the 2022 Presidential election in the Philippines, progress on civil unions in Japan, the rise of LGBTQ+ sustainable finance. 

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

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