We can all let out a collective sigh of relief because 2020 is officially over! There is no doubt about it, 2020 was a harsh year for everyone. It saw everything from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest to raging wildfires and “Murder Hornets.” But, 2020 also marked incredible milestones for the LGBTQ+ community.
1. A ‘Rainbow Wave’ of LGBTQ+ political candidates
Another major story this year was the historic election between President Trump and Joe Biden. While the world focused on the race for the presidency, more LGBTQ candidates were elected to public office in 2020 than ever before.
Nearly 340 LGBTQ+ candidates won their categories. Many were the firsts in their positions identifying as LGBTQ+. For example, Delaware voted in Sarah McBride, the nation’s first out transgender state senator. Even more, candidates will run in future elections.
2. Anti-LGBTQ+ employment discrimination ruled illegal
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal. The decision was based on three cases, one involving a transgender woman and two involving gay men. The individuals say they were fired by their employers because of their LGBTQ identities. Lawyers argued that these events violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
3. Utah and Georgia ban conversion therapy directed at LGBTQ+ youth
Utah and Virginia became the 19th and 20th states in the US to ban conversion therapy. An administrative rule banning the practice for LGBTQ+ youth in Utah went into effect in January and was issued by govenor Gary Herbert.
According to The Trevor Project, conversion therapy programs can lead to an increase in suicide attempts.
Virginia’s ban made it the first southern state to ban conversion therapy for minors.
“Conversion therapy sends the harmful message that there is something wrong with who you are,” said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (R) in March. “No one should be made to feel they are not okay the way they are — especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”
4. A ban on the gay and trans panic defense
This year, New Jersey, Washington, and Colorado banned the “Gay and Trans Panic Defense.” In these respective states, a defendant who commits murder can not claim it was due to “panic” after discovering their victim was LGBTQ. The District of Colombia also banned the defense as well.
According to the National LGBT Bar Association, dozens of murderers have been acquitted by using it.
“Gay and trans panic defenses are rooted in homophobia and abhorrent excuses that should never be used to justify violence against vulnerable populations,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in a January statement. “With this new law, we are enacting critical measures to protect our friends and neighbors in the LGBTQ+ community.”
5. President-Elect Joe Biden to install LGBTQ+ protections
In addition, Joe Biden promised LGBTQ+ Americans a positive change for the community. More importantly, these changes would protect the transgender community.
Specifically, Biden’s pledges include reversing the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender people in the military, reinstating Obama era protections for transgender students, and using federal resources to curb violence against trans people.
Biden has also promised to prioritize passing the Equality Act during his first 100 days in office. The Equality Act would ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination at the national level.