June 2015 could well become a monumental month for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights around the globe.
US President Obama proclaimed June 2015 as LGBT Pride month, calling upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.
Not only in the US, but also elsewhere, June 2015 is an important month to reflect on the rights of LGBT people. On June 11, the UN Human Rights Council will hold a seminar on the new report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on discrimination and violence against LGBT people. Amongst many other recommendations, the High Commissioner calls on national governments to repeal laws used to punish individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. He calls on governments to prohibit discrimination and incitement to hatred and violence against LGBT persons, and enact hate crime laws that punish those who target people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The report also recommends the legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
Latvia will host this year’s Europride on June 20, which will focus on freedom of expression and association – rights that are restricted for LGBT people in neighboring Russia.
Last month, 62 percent of Irish voters supported marriage equality in a referendum. As Ireland is a predominantly Catholic country, its ‘Yes’ resonates in other countries.
Take Germany, for instance, one of the few Western European countries that does not allow marriage equality. All German political parties represented in parliament are in favor – except for the biggest governing one, chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christlich Demokratische Union ( CDU). Famous Germans from the arts, science, and political world sent an open letter to the chancellor, saying “Please allow same sex marriage, the time is right.” While many CDU members are against this, Jens Spahn, CDU parliamentarian, said in an interview in Die Welt that Ireland had reignited the debate in Germany and that "We can learn from what happens in other countries." It is expected that the Berlin Christopher Street Day Parade on June 27 will turn into a massive pro-marriage equality demonstration.
By the end of June, the US Supreme Court is expected to render its decision on marriage equality. Human Rights Watch submitted an amicus brief referencing marriage equality in Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and South Africa, where marriage equality has been introduced without incident and has served to strengthen a human rights culture. If the US Supreme Court will take these positive examples into account and allow marriage equality, June 2015 will become a pivotal point in civil rights history.