SOGI Legislative Database

The SOGI Legislative Database is a collection of laws covering issues of concern to LGBT individuals and communities around the world.  This pilot project is the result of a collaboration between the International Commission of Jurists and the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.  For the past year, law students have collected and analyzed laws with the intent of offering in one database a collection of legislative examples on a wide variety of topics, including same-sex parenting, sexual activity, gender recognition, partnership benefits, marriage, and military service.

The SOGI Legislative Database hopes to address a need among lawyers and activists for the actual texts of laws.  They are presented here in either the original language or in English.  The database is searchable by both country and topic.  It should be noted that the database should not be taken as a substitute for legal advice.

The purpose of this pilot project was to present examples of LGBT-friendly laws, rather than focusing on laws that criminalize gender expression or same-sex sexual activity which have been well-documented by other organizations.  However we do not assume that these laws are actual best practice.   For example, with regard to laws establishing a legislative framework for recognizing a change of gender identity, it was decided to include such laws even though the domestic laws might impose requirements that are inconsistent with human rights laws and standards.   This was done because many countries around the world lack any legislative framework for recognizing a change of gender identity.  Furthermore, the SOGI Legislative Database is limited to a presentation of laws and does not offer analysis of the extent to which these laws are implemented in practice or their impact on people’s lives.  To do so would have required in-depth on the ground research, which was beyond the capacity of the partners.

The following countries are included here:  Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Iran, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Mozambique, Netherlands, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.  In countries with federal systems of legislation, one or two jurisdictions were selected.  As a pilot project, the database is not comprehensive.  The selection of countries was based on the desire to present laws from a variety of geographical reasons as well as on student interest and language ability.

By presenting examples of how a variety of jurisdictions have adopted laws, the ICJ and the International Human Rights Program hope that this database will be of special use for LGBT human rights defenders advocating for legislative change.