Law & Order: SVU often breaks new ground when it comes to issues related to sexual assault, but it hasn't always written great stories for the LGBTQ community, especially in the early years.
More often than not, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender characters are murder victims rather than full-fledged characters. However, despite this lack of balance, SVU has also advocated on behalf of the LGBTQ community in some of its stories.
Here are 13 times SVU not only got it right, but supported positive change for LGBTQ Americans.
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Prevalence of Gay People - Bad Blood
Law & Order: SVU Season 1 Episode 11 marked the first time the show addressed gay issues. After the son of a virulently anti-gay activist was murdered, the team discussed the irony of a homophobe having a gay child and provided the audience with statistics about the prevalence of gay people.
Transgender People In Prison - Fallacy
Law & Order: SVU Season 4 Episode 21 was the first of several episodes to tackle transgender issues. In this story, ADA Cabot struggled with guilt after sending a transgender rape victim to prison for killing her rapist, as the woman would be assigned to a male unit. As Cabot feared, the transgender character was beaten up in prison.
Conversion Therapy - Abomination
Law & Order: SVU Season 5 Episode 8 addressed conversion therapy -- the idea of giving gay people therapy to turn them straight -- and how damaging that can be for them.
HIV Status and Privacy - Lowdown
Law & Order: SVU Season 5 Episode 20 was ostensibly about the issue of some men having sex in secret with other men while married to a woman. However, a subplot presented an important ethical dilemma, as ADA Novak outed one man's HIV status to his wife so that the wife could protect herself and others questioned whether it was appropriate for her to do so.
Parental Acceptance - Strain
Some of the best LGBTQ-supportive moments on Law & Order: SVU come from the detectives' personal lives, and Law & Order: SVU Season 7 Episode 5 was a case in point. In this story, Fin learned his son Ken was gay and struggled to accept Ken's sexual orientation.
Homophobic Ideas About Sexual Deviance - Alien
Law & Order: SVU Season 7 Episode 11 was the first to deal with homophobic beliefs that gay people are pedophiles. In this story, a young girl's grandmother manipulated her to make false allegations of sexual abuse against one of her lesbian moms.
The Danger of Outing People Without Consent - Closet
It can be dangerous to out someone as gay without their permission, as Law & Order: SVU Season 9 Episode 16 demonstrated. In this story, a gay football player was suspected of murdering his boyfriend and got beaten up badly when the press outed him as gay.
Transgender Children - Transitions
Law & Order: SVU Season 10 Episode 14 dealt with several issues related to transgender children, including the question of whether they should take hormone blockers and the connection between parental rejection and suicide.
Coming Out at Work - Hardwired
Law & Order: SVU Season 11 Episode 5 featured an LGBTQ subplot when Dr. Huang came out to the team during the course of an unrelated investigation. Huang's portrayer, BD Wong, is gay in real life, which helped add nuance and realism to this story.
Hate Crimes - Criminal Hatred
By the time Law & Order: SVU Season 14 Episode 12, storylines involving crimes against LGBTQ people were all too common. However, this story took things a step further by having ADA Rafael Barba attempt to charge the perpetrator with a hate crime.
Gays Aren't Pedophiles Part II - Dissonant Voices
Law & Order: SVU Season 15 Episode 7 again explored the theme of false accusations of pedophilia, this time with the ruination of the career of a popular -- but gay -- teacher thanks to baseless accusations.
Transphobic Bullying - Transgender Bridge
Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 3 told the story of a transgender girl who was bullied by a bunch of kids and who ultimately ended up dying of her injuries. This story was an imperfect examination of the issues, but it did shed light on the fact that bullying often came out of ignorance and that it could be fatal.
The Exclusion of Transgender People From the Military - Service
Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 18 was one of the most topical SVU episodes of that year. Shortly after President Trump first floated the idea of banning transgender people from serving in the military, SVU provided a tale of a transgender soldier who was afraid to testify against some fellow service members who had raped a woman because he would lose his career if he were to be outed as transgender. When he did testify, his fellow service members engaged in plenty of transphobia on the stand in an effort to discredit him.