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Homosexual's Rights & Celebrations

01 July, 2011 00:25  Erin Erin

Rainbow flag © RikkeThe last few weekends have been filled with festivities. As always, summer brings out the festivals in cities around the world as people are celebrating: Music, Food, Environmental, and- of course- Gay Pride. In America, June has officially been declared a Gay and Lesbian Pride Month by former President Bill Clinton since 2000 (this was slightly amended in 2009 by President Barack Obama proclaiming June to be LGBT - lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexualism Pride month). However, the US continues to struggle with recognizing the rights of the LGBT community, as does much of the world.

Infringement on the rights of LGBT people to be recognized by the government in a same-sex relationships, to adopt, to serve in the military, and to be protected by anti-discrimination laws ranges widely depending on your location. Much of the history of sexuality is unrecorded, but there is evidence to support the existence of homosexuality from ancient Hindu culture to ancient Rome to feudal Japan to many more societies.

    Same Sex marriage is legally recognized in:
  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Iceland
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • South Africa
  • Spain (although a catholic country, the right exists since July 3, 2005)
  • Sweden

However, only 14 countries have national laws that protect gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from discrimination.

  • Canada - The Canadian Human Rights Act forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation by federally-regulated employers, landlords and services. The law applies to the federal government, banks, broadcasters, the phone and telecommunications industry, railways, airlines, and shipping and inter-provincial transportation. Provincial human rights laws provide protection based on sexual orientation in all Canadian provinces except Alberta, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island.
  • Denmark - The Danish Penal Code has an anti-discrimination clause dealing with sexual orientation. Finland - The Finnish Penal Code protects individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation in terms of public or commercial services or access to public meetings. The law also prohibits discrimination in hiring and working conditions.
  • France - The French Penal Code prohibits discrimination based on moeurs (morals, habits, or lifestyles). This includes sexual orientation. The Code of Labor law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace, including civil service and armed forces positions.
  • Iceland - The Icelandic Penal Code criminalizes actions that defame, slander, humiliate, or degrade a person or a group because of their sexual orientation and makes it illegal to deny goods or services based on a person's sexual orientation.
  • Ireland - The Irish Employment Discrimination Law protects against dismissal from employment based on sexual orientation. The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act protects against hate in speeches.
  • Israel - Israel's Knesset has passed a law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants because of sexual orientation.
  • Netherlands - The Dutch Penal Code bans discrimination on the basis of "hetero- or homosexual orientation". Article One of the Constitution also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Equal Treatment Commission provides redress from discrimination in work-, education- and service-related situations.
  • New Zealand - The New Zealand Human Rights Act includes protection based on sexual orientation in employment, education, access to public places, provision of goods and services, and housing and accommodation.
  • Norway - The Norwegian Penal Code prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services and in access to public gatherings. It also prohibits hate speech directed at sexual minorities.
  • Slovenia - The Slovenic Penal Code includes protection based on sexual orientation and denounces anyone who "denies someone his human rights or fundamental freedoms recognized by the international community or set by the Constitution or a law."
  • South Africa - The South African Constitution includes sexual orientation as a protected category.
  • Spain - The Spanish Penal Code declares the right to express one's sexual orientation as a fundamental freedom and bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, public services, and professional activities. It also criminalizes hatred and violent acts against individuals based on their sexual orientation.
  • Sweden - The Swedish government has passed laws forbidding commercial organizations from discriminating on the grounds of homosexuality.

There are also several municipalities and states within nations that extend legal protection to sexual minorities.

Australia- The Australian Parliament is considering federal legislation to prohibit discrimination based sexual orientation. Such protections against employment discrimination are already part of the Australian Human Rights and Equality Commission Act. Several states (New South Wales, South Australia, Northern Territory, and Capital Territory) have also passed anti-discrimination legislation based on sexual orientation.

United States - Six states now perform same sex marriage: Connecitut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and- as of June 24th, 2011- New York.

For a complete listing of rights by country, there is an extremely helpful map of LGBTI rights around the World by the International Lesbian and Gay Association.


Despite the recent vote in New York and the continuing acceptance of homosexuals and their rights, progress can seem depressingly slow for gay rights advocates. Discrimination against sexual orientation has long been an issue with individuals working to gain equal rights. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City was raided. This appeared to target the homosexual community and for possibly the first time, people in the homosexual community fought back. Now known as the Stonewall Riots, this event helped defined the early LGBT community and the need to establish a presence. The first parade was held as a reminder of the riots and was held that year, on November 2. Christopher Street, a main site of the demonstrations, became a point of remembrance and in many places the event is best known by the name of "Christopher Day Parade".

Today, parades are held around the world to celebrate the LGBT community and continue to send a message. Some notable parades include:


Toronto has become a leader on progressive gay and lesbian policy in North America and hosts the parade Pride Toronto.
The next event will be on Sunday July 3rd 2011.

Amsterdam has held a Gay Pride Parade since has been held since 1996. The Canal Pride takes place on boats on the canals of the city.
The next week long event will take place on July 30th till August 7th 2011.


Joburg Pride is the only gay pride parade on the continent of Africa. Held in Johannesburg, it usually the 1st Saturday in October. The first Joburg Pride parade was held in 1990 with fewer than one thousand participants. There are now over 20,000 participants.
The next parade will be held on October 1st, 2011.


Philippines's Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay Philippines) organized the First LGBT Pride March in Asia on June 26th, 1994. The event is now held in December to coincide with Human Rights Week and World AIDS Day (December 1).


Sydney's pride parade, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the world's largest with almost 200 floats. The parade is unusual in that it is held at night. Held on the first Saturday of March, there are 3 weeks of festivals preceding it.
The next event will be March 3rd, 2012.


Brazil's São Paulo Gay Pride Parade is an annual gay pride parade, held June 26th this year. Once the biggest pride parade of the world, the event still draws around 4 million people.
The next event will be held Sunday June 10, 2012.

Four Indian cities (Delhi, Bangalore, Pondicherry and Kolkata) have been co-ordinating pride events since gay sex was made legal in July, 2009. Though still highly contentious, the events have been a success in that right-wing groups have not attacked or protested the pride parade. Attendance continues to grow with an estimated participation of 3,500 people in Delhi and 1,500 people in Bangalore in 2010.

Many eastern European countries are still trying to reconcile a sexually conservative culture with the growing population and recognition of the LGBT community. In Bulgaria, homosexuality was decriminalized in 1968, but at it's first ever pride parade in 2008 the almost 200 participants were attacked. Since then, the parade has grown in strength with the event on June 18th garnering over 1,200 participants.
The next event will be held in June 2012.

Israel hosts gay pride events in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Three Pride parades occurred on the week of June 11th, 2010. The main parade, which is also partly funded by the city's municipality, was one of the largest ever to take place in Israel, with approximately 100,000 participants.
The next Pride Parade will be held June 8th 2012.

Many cities in the US host pride parades, but San Francisco is one of the American cities most associated with gay rights. 2011 marked the 41st anniversary of the San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade. San Francisco Pride was held on June 25th -26th and offered a range of events all over the city.
The next event will be held on June 23rd and 24th.

The Gay Pride March in New York City started it all. The latest event, held June 26th, received an extra boost as it occurred just after the legislature legalized same sex marriage. Known simply as Pride, this is the event that started them all. Performances, a larger-than-life parade, and a joyous community set the event apart.
The next parade will be June 24th, 2012.

Paris and many other cities in France host large and well-attended Gay Pride Parades, called Marche des Fiertes. Paris held their last event on June 25th with attendances of over half a million participants. This year's parade was especially invigorated by the legalization of gay marriage in New York and many participants promoted doing the same in France.
The next event is in June 2012.

Pride parades, like Moscow Pride, are banned in Russia by city authorities due to opposition from politicians, religious leaders and right-wing organizations. An attempted parade was held June 25th, resulting in the detention of 14 gay rights activists.
Activists will continue to organize and plan an event for June 2012.

The Madrid Pride Parade is known as Orgullo Gay. The first Gay Parade was held after the death of Franco in 1979, with the last held on June 28th. It is the biggest gay demonstration in Europe, with more than 1.5 million attendees.
The next parade will be held June 28th, 2012.

Turkey is the first Muslim majority country to hold a gay pride march. In Istanbul and in Ankara, gay marches are gaining increased participation. The pride march of 2011 was the biggest so far with more than 10,000 participants. Organized by Lambda Istanbul, dance parties, panel discussions and special screenings occurred on June 28th to commemorate the event.
The next event will take place the last weekend in June 2012.

LGBT Resources for Travelers & Expats

Luckily, there are now many organizations and groups dedicated to protecting the rights of the LGBT community and advancing the cause. When traveling, or living abroad, become familiar with some of the major organizations and resources. They can offer advice, support, and a valuable advocate.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission monitors steps taken by state parties to carry out their obligations to protect human rights. It can hear and issue opinions on cases filed by individuals alleging violations of their rights.

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.

The International Human Rights Law Group has worked to promote the applications of international human rights standards to persons facing violence or discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

The Human Rights Watch has declared that it opposes "state-sponsored and state-tolerated violence, detention and prosecution of individuals because of their sexual identity, sexual orientation, or private sexual practices."

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association is a world wide network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered groups.

Expat Stories

To find out more about expats in the LGBT community, read the BlogExpat Interviews and blogs of:


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Pride Parades in India [Reply]

Many Indian cities have been holding pride parades since 2008, with Kolkatta having one since 2003.
Chennai has a parage in June.
Kolkatta and Thrissure have parades in July.
Delhi and Bangalore have parades in November.
Mumbai holds its parade in January.
New cities across India join these ones every year.

ARK     01 Jul 2011, 06:01

LGBT Rights in the UK [Reply]

I'm surprised the article doesn't mention the extensive framework of anti-discriminatory legislation that exists in the United Kingdom from employment rights, the right to serve in the military, the right to adopt children and the right to form a civil partnership (which provides the same legal protection as marriage). Nor does the article mention London Pride which was celebrated on the 2nd July or the various pride events that happen each year up and down the country.

  Jack Scott     05 Jul 2011, 16:16