Will 2020 be the beginning of a bright new decade for the LGBT+ world or a death slide to despair?
So will it be the year of Trump’s triumph? Will RuPaul rule her new comedy? A year when LGBT+ Olympians are covered in gold? Or perhaps a year when Brexit undermines LGBT+ rights?
Predictions are a dangerous business. But we can confidently predict at least some of the TV, politics, parties and events that will dominate 2020.
So find out why everybody will be talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and why Sex Education will never be the same again.
1 Time to take on Trump
Naturally, US and international news will be dominated by the Presidential election on 3 November.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, many LGBT+ people have felt threatened and seen their rights eroded. In particular, trans schoolchildren and members of the military have lost protections.
Trump’s record, therefore, will be in the forefront of many LGBT+ American’s minds. Meanwhile, key election issues will include gun control, climate change, international trade, healthcare, abortion and immigration.
Right now, a wide pool of 15 major candidates are still vying for the Democratic nomination. Among them is Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay candidate to seek the nomination, although he is not a frontrunner.
Will one of them win through or will Trump ‘Keep America Great’ until 2025?
2 Thirsty tweets may be over with Twitter’s porn ban
Could Twitter be about to follow Tumblr and ban porn?
The social media company has been messaging users about new terms and conditions coming in on 1 January. And people who actually bothered to read the small print noticed new wording around pornography.
While Twitter doesn’t overtly say it is cracking down on all porn, it does reference tougher rules around explicit content and kink. Some LGBT+ users – particularly those who make their money from sex in one way or another – think it’s likely the rules could be used against them.
Twitter, however, does have a lesson from history. Tumblr’s porn ban in December 2018 created widespread debate in gay circles. And it saw one in five users deserting the platform in the early months of 2019.
3 British LGBT+ rights face Brexit threat
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s huge victory in the 12 December election has given the right-wing Conservative party a sizeable majority in Parliament.
Firstly, this makes Brexit an inevitability, dashing hopes for a second referendum.
Until now, the EU has given an extra layer of protection to LGBT+ people. That has meant the UK government can not undermine key rights. Therefore, Brexit will be the biggest roll-back of LGBT+ legal rights since the 1980s.
Even more urgently, many are nervous of the direction of a future Conservative government. Johnson famously called gay men ‘bum boys’ and has a chequered voting record on LGBT+ rights.
Will he continue the (limited) funding for PrEP? Is the Human Rights Act at risk? Will LGBT+ asylum seekers face an even more ‘hostile environment’?
Meanwhile, early reports suggest Johnson’s election win has sparked a surge in hate-crime against LGBT+ people and people of color.
4 RuPaul takes on new royal role
RuPaul has become the undisputed queen of drag queens – the world’s most famous drag artiste.
And now new comedy series AJ and The Queen is coming to Netflix from 10 January.
The story follows Ruby Red (RuPaul), a down-on-her-luck drag queen. Her sidekick is the recently orphaned, scrappy, 11-year-old stoaway AJ. As the pair travel across America from club to club, Ruby’s message of love and acceptance changes lives for the better.
It appears Drag Race fans will be well catered for. The trailer features around a dozen veterans of the popular reality TV competition.
5 Olympic Team LGBT+ is going for gold
Not many people know it – but openly LGBT+ athletes have been among the most successful medal winners in recent Olympics. And that trend is set to continue in Tokyo in 2020.
In the 2016 Rio games, 35% of all out LGBT+ athletes won medals. That’s an incredible achievement when you compare it to the 20% of medalists from the UK, US and China teams.
And among Paralympians, the results are event better. A massive 75% of out athletes won medals at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
Rio even saw a same-sex proposal when Marjorie Enya proposed to rugby player Isabella Cerullo just after her team won gold.
The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are likely to boast a record number of openly LGBT+ competitors. It may even double Rio’s records.
So far, the most well-known entrant is British gay dad and diver Tom Daley. But women’s football is likely to see a lot of out athletes. Brazil, New Zealand, Netherlands and Sweden’s women’s soccer teams have all officially qualified and all had lesbian or bi women at Rio.
One controversy may be around trans athletes and convincing people it’s fair for them to compete in their true gender. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard and Brazillian volleyball player Tifanny Abreu are two potential trans competitors.
Unusually for sporting events, the Olympics has already scored a victory for LGBT+ rights in Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolitan Government passed a bill to tackle discrimination against the LGBT+ community and commit to more education ahead of the games.
In a country where one person in 10 identifies as LGBT+ but 78% of them are in the closet, that’s very welcome.
6 Tropical Mauritius set to make gay sex legal
The last 20 years have seen slow but steady progress in making homosexuality legal worldwide. In particular there have been big wins in India and Trinidad (2018) and Angola and Botswana (2019).
Could the African island nation of Mauritius be next? Politicians and legal experts in Mauritius have been discussing change for several years. And there are now two major legal challenges before the country’s Supreme Court.
The law against gay sex (sodomy) is a hangover from colonial times and has been found unconstitutional elsewhere. So in 2020, or possibly 2021, Mauritius could also decriminalise.
At the same time, LGBT+ activists in Kenya and elsewhere are continuing their court battles to make gay sex legal.
7 Love and marriage win again in Northern Ireland and Costa Rica
Other positive law changes will see the advance of same-sex marriage.
A decision by the UK Parliament in 2019 means Northern Ireland will have to offer weddings to same-sex couples from 13 January. Northern Ireland has previously only had civil partnerships rather than equal marriage, making it the last part of the UK to come up to date.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica will also offer marriage equality by 26 May 2020. That’s due to a Supreme Court ruling from August 2018. The Justices ruled that Costa Rica legislators had until that date to make same-sex marriage legal.
8 Greece provides picturesque backdrop for Europride
The historic port city of Thessaloniki in Greece will host Europride from 20 to 28 June.
Organisers are yet to announce full details of the festival. But Thessaloniki is considered to be the Greek cultural capital.
While the gay scene is small, the city is a popular tourist destination with access to stunning sandy beaches. It’s also the top spot for street photography in Greece. So expect the InstaGays to be out in force.
Most geeky LGBT+ fact: Thessaloniki is named after a half-sister of bisexual Alexander the Great.
Note, there is no World Pride in 2020. Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmö in Sweden will co-host the next one in 2021.
9 Digital Pride returns: Pride for everybody, everywhere
GSN’s own LGBT+ festival – Digital Pride – will return in 2020.
We are shifting the dates of the event, so it runs from 1 to 7 June – the start of Pride Month around the world.
And we will be making it easier than ever for individuals and organisations to run their own events and activities as part of Digital Pride.
After all, the idea of Digital Pride is that it’s a Pride anyone can take part in, anywhere in the world as it’s all online.
We will be announcing more details and our theme soon.
10 Everybody’s talking as drag musical goes from stage to screen
If you haven’t seen the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie on the stage, you are about to see it on the screen.
The musical is about a 16-year-old teenager as he beats the bullies to become a drag queen.
Now it’s set to become one of the big LGBT+ films of the year – scheduled for release in October.
11 Can corporates really march with Pride?
Are brands and corporates welcome at Pride marches and festivals?
Recent years have seen more and more companies changing their logos into rainbow flags and taking part in Prides. But each year the debate becomes more heated about whether they should be there.
In 2019 we saw brands engaged in silly stunts (including an LGBT-themed sandwich), tokenism and even for pretending to support LGBT+ causes while giving more money to anti-LGBT+ politicians and hate groups.
GSN research shows 58% think brands only belong at Pride if they support the community more generally. And three-quarters think that support should be visible all year round – not just in Pride month.
Expect even more backlash against ‘tokenism’ and ‘rainbow washing’ of brands in 2020, with the debate peaking in June.
12 School’s out forever: Kids get LGBT+ lessons
After years of campaigning, LGBT+ education in state schools in England is about to improve.
From September 2020, all secondary schools will have to teach pupils about sexual orientation and gender identity. Meanwhile all primary schools will teach about different families, including LGBT+ families.
But it’s not just England. School children in Cambodia will also learn about LGBT+ people from 2020, in a bid to tackle bullying.
13 Religious right strikes back down under
LGBT+ people and others are fearing a new ‘religious protection’ law in Australia in 2020.
The Australian government is promoting the religious discrimination bill at the moment. If it passes, it will give people of faith widespread rights to discriminate on the basis of their religion.
For example, image you were having protected sex and your condom broke. A religious doctor could refuse to prescribe you PEP – to stop you getting HIV – if their religion forbids sex outside marriage.
As it will be a federal law, it would override state law. That means priests and therapists could re-start ‘conversion therapy’ or ‘gay cures’ to try to make gay and bi people straight. Note, this never works and is dangerous.
Likewise, a Christian may tell a lesbian they will go to hell unless they repent. Or a doctor may tell an intersex patient that ‘God only created men and women’ so gender is strictly binary.
Opponents of the bill include not just LGBT+ groups but women, disabled people, people of color, workers’ unions and many others.
14 Expo to expose Emirates LGBT+ rights abuses
If you haven’t heard of the World Expo 2020 in Dubai already, expect to soon.
It will see 192 countries take part in a festival running from 20 October 2020 through to 10 April 2021. The whole thing will be a huge PR exercise for the country.
But for LGBT+ people, there’s a big problem. Dubai punishes consensual gay sex with up to 10 years in prison.
And the country is not afraid to use the laws against foreign guests. Trans, lesbian and gay tourists have all suffered arrest, prison and deportation.
In one 2017 case, a Scottish man touched another man’s hip in a bar so as not to ‘bump and spill drinks’. He only escaped three years jail because the ruler of the Emirates intervened.
Meanwhile, Dubai also treats women as second-class citizens. And it has 250,000 foreign laborers living in inhumane conditions which human rights groups say are like slavery.
So how can LGBT+ visitors possibly be safe during the Expo? Moreover, is it right that countries like Dubai are winning and hosting world-class events?
All of it will be a forerunner to an even bigger debate when the FIFA Football World Cup comes to Qatar in 2022. Qatar, of course, has similar laws against homosexuality with punishment including the death penalty.
15 Auschwitz anniversary is time to reflect
The world will mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on 27 January.
To this day, many do not know that LGBT+ people suffered persecution during the Holocaust, alongside the Jewish genocide.
Gay men were the ‘lowest of the low’ in concentration camp hierarchy.
They were frequently beaten, had their testicles boiled off by water, sodomized by broken broomsticks, and were used by the SS as target practice. Nazi ‘scientists’ used them for cruel human experimentation.
Lesbians were raped and forced to work in brothels for officers. Like other victims, many were worked or starved to death or murdered, including in the gas chambers.
And, of course, LGBT+ were also murdered as Jewish people, Roma, Poles, Soviet citizens, religious and political opponents, black people and others.
16 Newcastle’s Pink Triangle takes on UK Pride
The city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north-east of England will host UK Pride 2020.
Newcastle has a larger gay scene than cities of a similar size, with a mix of bars, clubs, two saunas and, of course, LGBT+ friendly veunes. The focus is the ‘Pink Triangle’ near Central Station.
While not normally a tourist city, Newcastle has a thriving music scene and nightlife, a clutch of museums and, of course, a world-famous soccer club. In 2019, it won the accolade of UK’s friendliest city.
Run by LGBT+ charity Northern Pride, the festival will be on from 17 to 19 July.
17 Let’s talk about sex: Sex Education returns
Netflix TV series Sex Education was one of the surprise hits of 2019 – and it’s back on 17 January.
The comedy-drama follows geeky teen Otis as he and friend Maeve set up a sex-therapy business to help their classmates.
In particular, Ncuti Gatwa won gay hearts for his portrayal of gay black teen Eric. Critics admired the way Eric’s character avoided the the clichés of being a gay or black ‘best friend’ character.
The official season two trailer has no spoilers – but shows the favorite characters and comedy will be back.
In the real world, sex education will be one of the key themes of the UK’s National Student Pride. The festival will be celebrating its 15th anniversary in London on 21 to 23 February.
18 Scotland advances modern trans law but Britain is stuck
Trans people in Scotland may soon find it simpler to legally change their gender by the end of the year.
The Scottish government is currently consulting on the bill that will create a new Gender Recognition Act.
But in simple terms, trans people will have to declare their true gender and live in that gender for six months. Gone will be the obligation to get a demeaning psychiatric report or an invasive medical report.
And 16 and 17-year-olds will also be able to apply for a gender recognition certificate.
At the moment, Scotland is not planning to recognise non-binary people. But that will likely be raised as part of the consultation, which ends on 17 March.
Meanwhile, other UK trans citizens may not fare so well. The British government has planned to update its own Gender Recognition Act for years. But with the Conservatives focused on other priorities, that is unlikely to happen quickly – even if they are sympathetic.
The delays have already led to a rise in trans hate. So we can sadly expect to see the ‘TERF’ conflict continue or escalate in 2020.
19 Eurovision makes Rotterdam world’s gayest city in May
The Eurovision Song Contest returns to the Netherlands in May. So Eurovision’s LGBT+ fanbase will be out in force in host city Rotterdam.
So far, only a few countries have chosen their songs, so it’s far too early to make predictions.
But we do know that the stage design is inspired by the flat Dutch landscape and intended to bring the performers closer to the audience. And the artists ‘green room’ – where they join the crowds post-performance – will return.
Meanwhile visitors to Rotterdam will get to enjoy the maritime heritage of this port city, famous for its modern architecture and boasting a lively culture with 174 nationalities living there. The gay scene is small but includes a handful of bars and a sauna.
The final is on 16 May.
20 GSN is relaunching and we can’t wait to be back
We are most excited by the relaunch of GSN – coming in January 2020.
We’re currently rebuilding the site, with a fresh, fast-loading design for all mobile and desktop devices. And there will be a new brand look and feel to reflect our core values of serving the LGBT+ community and take us into the future.
But, most importantly, we’ll continue to offer you our quality, exclusive journalism for free. And we’ll continue to find ways to unite, inspire and empower LGBT+ people around the world.
We look forward to seeing you in 2020.
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Author: Tris Reid-Smith