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12 Of The Best LGBTQ Stories Of 2023

Here’s to more LGBTQ wins in 2024.

Here are 12 of the best LGBTQ stories that happened in 2023.

1. In a historic moment, Nepal legalized same-sex marriage

Nepal became the world’s first least developed country to achieve marriage equality.

This comes after the country’s Supreme Court issued a temporary order to allow same-sex marriages on Wednesday June 28.

The temporary order was issued by a single judge as the court rules on a case brought forward by LGBTQ activists.

In November, it registered its first ever same-sex marriage between Maya Gurung, a transgender woman, and Surendra Pandey, a man.

Nepal is the second country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage after Taiwan.

2. Japan’s top court ruled that forcing people to be sterilized to change gender is unconstitutional

In a step forward for LGBTQ rights, Japan’s top court has ruled that forcing people to be sterilized to change gender is unconstitutional.

Currently, Japan requires people to have their reproductive organs removed before they can legally change their gender.

They must also meet several other conditions.

People must be diagnosed with gender dysphoria by two doctors, undergo transition surgery, be older than 18, not married and not have any children under 18.

The requirements have been widely criticized by human rights and medical groups.

On Wednesday Oct. 25, Japan’s supreme court unanimously ruled that the sterilization requirement violates the country’s constitution.

The verdict comes after a trans woman brought forward a case when she was unable to change her gender from the biologically assigned male to female in her family registry.

The court ruled that the requirement “restricted her freedom not to harm herself against her will.”

The government must now follow up and amend the law, according to Human Rights Watch.

3. Iceland officially banned LGBTQ conversion therapy

Iceland has passed a law banning conversion therapy, a widely discredited practice that seeks to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

So-called conversion therapy relies on the assumption that sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed or “cured.”

Some of these techniques include talk and behavioral therapy and medical treatments.

The practice has been rejected by medical associations, the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other rights groups, who say it causes harm to its victims and are calling for a global ban.

The law was passed unanimously by Iceland’s parliament on Monday June 9 and makes it illegal for people to practice conversion therapy.

People found guilty of practicing conversion therapy on adults may face up to three years in prison, with the sentence extending up to five years for practicing conversion therapy on children.

Those who conduct the practices can also face up to two years in prison.

4. Finland has passed a new law allowing people to self-identify their legal gender

The Finnish parliament approved a new law making it easier for people to legally change their gender.

The new law will allow people over 18 to choose their legal gender on official documents without undergoing invasive medical and psychological procedures.

Individuals can now use a declaration to change their gender on official documents and includes a 30-day “reflection period” in which people can change their minds.

Previously, people in Finland could only change gender after they demonstrated infertility or sterilization.

The previous requirements were criticized by LGBTQ rights organizations as being designed to prevent trans people from having kids.

The law passed on Wednesday Feb. 1 by 113 to 69 votes and has been a priority for the country, according to Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin.

5. Trans men in Italy entered the Miss Italy pageant after it banned trans women from competing

Trans men in Italy started entering the Miss Italy pageant after it banned trans women from competing.

After a trans woman was crowned the first trans Miss Netherlands in July, Patrizia Mirigliani, the organizer of the Miss Italy pageant, criticized the Dutch pageant, saying that it was an “absurd strategy to make the news”.

Mirigliani’s comments caused a controversy, but Miss Italy organizers still confirmed that only people who are assigned female at birth can compete.

Federico Barbarossa, a trans man activist, then announced on Instagram that he had successfully registered for Miss Italy as he was assigned female at birth.

He also encouraged other trans men to sign up to protest the organizers’ decision, leading more than 100 trans men to reportedly register for the competition.

Miss Italy organizers told local media that it had indeed received “some” of these applications and confirmed that the men will be eligible to take part in the selection process, starting with local casting.

6. In a first for Asia, Taiwan now allows same-sex couples to adopt non-biological children

In a historic moment, Taiwan now allows married same-sex couples to jointly adopt non-biological children.

In 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

However, the law only allowed same-sex couples to adopt children who are biologically related to one parent.

This meant that if a same-sex couple wanted to adopt a non-biological child, only one partner could be the child’s legal parent.

In January 2022, a same-sex couple in the southern city of Kaohsiung had won a lawsuit to jointly adopt a child.

However, the court dismissed other similar cases, according to CNN.

On Tuesday May 16, Taiwan’s parliament passed an amendment that allows same-sex couples to jointly adopt children, further moving the country towards achieving full marriage equality.

7. This same-sex couple sued South Korea’s health insurance for denying them partner status and won

South Korea’s supreme court ruled that its national health insurance must cover same-sex partners, recognizing the rights of same-sex couples for the first time.

It comes after So Seong-wook and Kim Yong-min, a same-sex couple, brought forward a case when one partner was denied insurance cover as a dependent of his partner.

In South Korea, a spouse or partner can be considered a dependent under their partner’s health insurance plan and are not required to make separate health insurance payments, if they meet certain criteria.

So and Kim, who held a wedding ceremony in 2019 and live together, managed to register as a dependent with the national health insurance in February 2020, making them the first same-sex couple to do so successfully, according to Amnesty International.

However, the national health insurance revoked So’s dependent status eight months, arguing that same-sex partners did not qualify for the social benefit.

The couple filed a lawsuit at a lower court, which sided with the national health insurance, but they appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday Feb. 21, the high court ruled in favor of the couple, arguing that the decision to deny the benefit to same-sex couples could be considered discrimination, given that the national health insurance had previously granted the benefit to civil unions.

“By not recognizing partners in same-sex relationships, the National Health Insurance Service was discriminating against same-sex couples, denying basic rights afforded to couples of the opposite sex,” Amnesty said.

The decision has been hailed as a landmark one that will hopefully bring South Korea closer to marriage equality.

8. In a first in Europe, Latvia’s government elected its first openly gay president

The government of Latvia has elected the country’s first openly gay president.

Foreign minister Edgars Rinkēvičs was elected by lawmakers as president of Latvia, a largely ceremonial role, on Wednesday May 31.

The 49-year-old, who came out as gay in 2014 on Twitter, will also make history as the first openly gay head of state in Europe.

He has fought for LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage in Latvia, which is still not allowed in the country.

His appointment is seen as a win Latvia, which is one of the worst countries in Europe for LGBTQ people.

9. This Dutch model became the first transgender woman to be crowned Miss Netherlands

The Dutch model, Rikkie Kollé became the first trans woman to be crowned Miss Netherlands on Saturday July 8.

The 22-year-old represented her country at the Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador later this year.

She became the second openly trans woman to compete in a Miss Universe competition after Spanish model Angela Ponce, who was crowned Miss Spain in 2018.

Kollé said she realized she was born in the wrong body when she was eight years old.

After joining a waiting list for two years, she finally transitioned in 2022.

She said she hopes to use her position to uplift young LGBTQ people and raise awareness about transgender health care procedures in the Netherlands.

10. A court in Hong Kong ruled that the government must legally recognize same-sex partnerships

Hong Kong’s Court of Appeals has ruled that the government must provide a legal framework to recognize same-sex partnerships.

In Hong Kong, the constitution only recognizes “marriage” as being between between a man and a woman.

The move comes after Jimmy Sham, a pro-democracy activist, sued the government for not recognizing same-sex marriage.

Sham married his partner in the USA in 2013, but his marriage is not recognized in Hong Kong.

Sham, who is currently in prison under the national security law, argued that this is unconstitutional and brought the case forward in 2018.

On Sep. 6, the court ruled that the government must provide a legal framework to recognize same-sex partnerships as there are currently no options like civil unions.

However, it still did not recognize that its ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The government now has two years to create an alternative legal framework that will protect same-sex couples’ rights and “provide them with a sense of legitimacy, dispelling any sense that they belong to an inferior class of persons whose relationship is undeserving of recognition.”

11. This Czech football player became the world’s first active player to come out as gay

Jakub Jankto, a Czech football player, has become the first active and highest-profile international male player to come out as gay.

The 27-year-old, who is on loan at Sparta Prague from Spanish club Getafe, shared a video on Twitter making the announcement on Monday Feb. 13.

“Like everybody else, I also want to live my life in freedom without fears, without prejudice, without violence, but with love,” Jankto said.

“I am homosexual, and I no longer want to hide myself,” he said.

Jankto had been open about his sexual orientation with the Sparta Prague‘s management, coach and teammates, according to a statement released by the club.

“You have our support. Live your life, Jakub. Nothing else matters,” Sparta Prague said in the statement.

12. In a landmark moment, Pope Francis said Catholic priests can bless same-sex couples

In a document released on Monday Dec. 18, the Pope said that priests could offer blessings to same-sex couples as long as they did not resemble marriage.

This means that blessings cannot be done during or in connection to ceremonies that resemble a civil or same-sex union.

It said that the blessings are about helping people increase their trust in God and a sign that God welcomes all.

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