Flash Points

Themed journeys through our archive.

The Connection Between LGBTQ Rights and Democracy

Inside the worldwide fight for equality.

Gay rights activists march during a rally against Russia’s then-proposed “gay propaganda” law in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 1, 2013.
Gay rights activists march during a rally against Russia’s then-proposed “gay propaganda” law in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 1, 2013.
Gay rights activists march during a rally against Russia’s then-proposed “gay propaganda” law in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 1, 2013. OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images

It’s the final weekend of Pride Month—a time to commemorate the fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States and beyond. For decades, that struggle has been closely intertwined with movements for democracy, freedom, and human rights worldwide.

In this collection of essays and reporting from our archives, we document LGBTQ activism in spaces from the U.S. military to a choir in Turkey. We also explore why gay reparations may be past due, how gay rights advance democracy, and where LGBTQ Muslims in India turn for solace.—Chloe Hadavas

Gay Reparations Are Past Due 

The United States lags behind many other countries in making up for its abusive past. Here’s why—and how to fix it, Omar G. Encarnación writes.

It’s the final weekend of Pride Month—a time to commemorate the fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States and beyond. For decades, that struggle has been closely intertwined with movements for democracy, freedom, and human rights worldwide.

In this collection of essays and reporting from our archives, we document LGBTQ activism in spaces from the U.S. military to a choir in Turkey. We also explore why gay reparations may be past due, how gay rights advance democracy, and where LGBTQ Muslims in India turn for solace.—Chloe Hadavas


Gay pride flag at half-staff
Gay pride flag at half-staff

A gay pride flag hangs at half-staff during a memorial service for the victims of Florida’s Pulse nightclub shooting in San Diego, California, on June 12, 2016. SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images

Gay Reparations Are Past Due 

The United States lags behind many other countries in making up for its abusive past. Here’s why—and how to fix it, Omar G. Encarnación writes.


A LGBT member waves a rainbow flag during a rally staged by the LGBT community in Istanbul on June 26, 2016.
A LGBT member waves a rainbow flag during a rally staged by the LGBT community in Istanbul on June 26, 2016.

A person waves a rainbow flag during a rally staged by the LGBT community in Istanbul on June 26, 2016.OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images

How Gay Rights Advance Democracy in the Middle East

LGBT activists are in the vanguard of the struggle against the region’s dictators and theocrats, Antoun Issa writes.


Retired Sgt. Tom Swann wears a "lift the ban" armband to protest the "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays in the military in Washington.
Retired Sgt. Tom Swann wears a "lift the ban" armband to protest the "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays in the military in Washington.

Retired Sgt. Tom Swann wears a “lift the ban” armband to protest the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy against gay people in the military in Washington on April 30, 2000. At center is Navy Capt. Mike Rankin. All are part of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Veterans of America. The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fighting ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Paved the Way for Gay Rights 

A new book chronicles the arduous struggle for LGBTQ equality in the U.S. military, Elizabeth Becker writes.


Yeliz Guzel practices her musical instrument, the baglama—a kind of lute, in her one-room apartment in Mersin, Turkey, on Nov. 23, 2020.
Yeliz Guzel practices her musical instrument, the baglama—a kind of lute, in her one-room apartment in Mersin, Turkey, on Nov. 23, 2020.

Yeliz Guzel practices her musical instrument, the baglama—a kind of lute, in her one-room apartment in Mersin, Turkey, on Nov. 23, 2020. Ahmer Khan for Foreign Policy

Singing for Inclusivity in Turkey 

Yeliz Guzel’s pride choir brought LGBTQ Turks together—but left her ostracized, Ahmer Khan writes.


Syeda Lameeya Parween and her partner, Naina, play with their cats at their house in New Delhi on Feb. 21.
Syeda Lameeya Parween and her partner, Naina, play with their cats at their house in New Delhi on Feb. 21.

Syeda Lameeya Parween and her partner, Naina, play with their cats at their house in New Delhi on Feb. 21. Shefali Rafiq photos for Foreign Policy

LGBTQI Muslims in India Find Solace in Their Pets

“The first living being to know that I am a gay was my pet parakeet,” Shadab, a 28-year-old man from New Delhi, told Saqib Mugloo and Shefali Rafiq.

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