Data Mapping: The Power of Policy Visualizations in the Fight to be Free & Equal
Seth Davis, Communications Officer, Community Systems Foundation
Globally, LGBTQ+ individuals face discrimination, stigma and violence due to dangerous national legislation. This is especially the case in at least 72 countries where discriminatory laws criminalize private, consensual same-sex relationships. These policies expose “millions of individuals to the risk of arrest, prosecution and imprisonment – and even, in five countries and several regions, the death penalty” – for simply loving another person. 
To highlight where these discriminatory laws exist, Community Systems Foundation (CSF) began a partnership with the UN Free & Equal Campaign in 2016 to create a powerful depiction of a history of criminalization of same sex relations. This interactive map, the first of its kind, tells the story of an evolution in national policies from 1799 to 2016, demonstrating the ever changing realities in the recognition of human rights for the LGBTQ+ community.
On 6 September, India became the latest country to recognize and protect same sex relations. In the landmark case, the Indian Supreme Court struck down one of the world’s oldest LGBTQ+ discrimination laws.
The United Nations in India noted that the recent decision will “boost efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons in all areas of social, economic, cultural and political activity” in the country. 
CSF welcomes the opportunity to reflect this new reality on an updated map, highlighting not only India’s achievement, but also all positive changes worldwide.
Through this, CSF, with UN Free and Equal, will highlight national policy shifts and the new commitments to the human rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, while continuing to advocate for positive change.
CSF remains firm in our commitment to continued support to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the work of UN Free & Equal in fighting for the rights of LGBTI individuals.
 UN Free & Equal. "Fact Sheet: Criminalization." 2016. Accessed at: https://www.unfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/UNFE-Criminilization.pdf
 United Nations in India. "United Nations in India Welcomes Supreme Court Judgement on Section 377. September 2018. Accessed at: https://in.one.un.org/un-news/united-nations-india-welcomes-supreme-court-judgment-striking-section-377/
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