Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in 193 Constitutions: Progress and Retrenchment on Equal Rights

Recent years have witnessed a wave of progress on equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in the courts and legislatures. Twenty-two countries now permit same-sex marriage, while 72 prohibit discrimination against gay and lesbian employees. At the same time, 71 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships , including some countries that have newly enacted discriminatory laws. These trends are also playing out in constitutions: while 10 countries introduced constitutional language protecting LGBT rights between 2000 and 2014 , 13 constitutionally prohibited same-sex marriage within the same time period. Other constitutions use gendered language that may provide the justification for denying equal rights. This paper will quantitatively analyze these global trends, provide examples from case law about impact and implications, and discuss the role for both constitutions and international law in strengthening protections against discrimination.