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Gay Rights Movement Around the World

02 May, 2013 10:18  Erin Erin

Rainbow flag © RikkeIn mid-April, France passed legislation to become the 14th country to legalize gay marriage. This is another sure sign that the movement is gaining momentum, but the march of progress is frustratingly slow. For every country that has recognized important rights for same-sex couples, there are areas of the world that do not acknowledge these rights with conditions that are outright dangerous.

France's Bill 344 was introduced to the National Assembly on November 17th, 2012, it was passed on February 12th, 2013 in a 329-229 vote, and on April 23rd, 2013 the law was approved by the National Assembly in a 331-225 vote. At this time, the Constitutional Council has one month to rule on whether the law conforms to the Constitution. The same-sex marriage bill that also permits gay couples to adopt children must be signed by President Francois Hollande and published in the Official Journal before the new legislation is instated.

As usual with controversial legislation, extreme reactions were immediate. This legislation still faces difficulties as the right-wing opposition party, UMP, (among others) has plans to delay its formal enactment. There has also been public protests in Paris and Lyon, with violent clashed between protesters and police.

Legal recognition of same-sex marriage is a political, social, religious, human rights and civil rights issue around the world. Debates often center on whether same-sex couples should be allowed marriage, or if the sperate but equal principle of civil unions is adequate. More than an emotional issue, the rights of homosexual individuals are connected to concrete issues such as financial (ability to file joint taxes), legal protections (inheritance and hospital visitation rights) and are basic freedoms.

Countries with Same-Sex Marriage

In addition, several sub-national jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to marry including parts of Brazil, Mexico, and the United States of America. Bills allowing legal recognition of same-sex marriage have also been proposed, are pending, or have passed in Andorra, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Nepal, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. A bit bizarrely, Australia recognizes same-sex marriages only if one partner has had gender reassignment therapy.

Watch New Zealand's MP Maurice Williamson speak about MP Louisa Wall's Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. It passed, making same-sex marriage legal in New Zealand on August 19th, 2013. New Zealand is the first Asia-Pacific county to legalize same-sex marriage.


New Zealand continued to impress with the announcement of the votes affirming the Definition of Marriage Amendment, followed by singing of "Pokarekare ana". A Maori love song, it is unofficially New Zealand's second national anthem.


To find more about civil rights in different corners of the globe, go to GayCivilRights.com where you can find an impressive list of civil rights organizations around the world.

LGBT Rights Worldwide

World homosexuality laws map As mentioned above, progress is uneven and many places are still struggling with the decision to recognize homosexual's rights to marry, adopt, and even exist. At a vote of 53 to 42, a same-sex marriage motion was just defeated in Northern Ireland's Assembly. Sinn Fein assembly member Bronwyn McGahan stated,

"MLAs, regardless of religious belief, represent every section of our community, including our LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) members and this motion is about ensuring marriage equality for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation...What churches do is a matter for churches but the state needs to treat everyone with equality."

Even more severe, anti-LGBT laws include: sodomy laws penalizing consensual same-sex sexual activity with fines, jail terms, or the death penalty, anti-'lesbianism' laws, and higher ages of consent for same-sex activity. Though the United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution recognizing LGBT rights, there are many countries that still do not protect even these basic freedoms.

There are more than 70 countries (82 if you include political entities such as Gaza/Palestine, the Turkish-controlled northern portion of Cyprus, and Indonesia) where criminal laws exist against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people (LGBTIs).

  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Benin
  • Botswana
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Comoros
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Malawi (enforcement of law suspended)
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • Sao Tome
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
    Asia & the Middle East
  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Brunei
  • India (enforcement of law suspended)
  • Iran
  • Iraq (no law against homosexual acts, but homophobic violence is unchecked and self-appointed sharia judges reportedly have imposed sentences for homosexual behavior)
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Myanmar
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestine/Gaza Strip
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Syria
  • Turkmenistan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen
  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • St Kitts & Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent & the Grenadines
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Cook Islands
  • Indonesia (Aceh Province and South Sumatra)
  • Kirbati
  • Nauru
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Northern Cyprus
  • Russia (several cities and regions have laws that prohibit discussion of homosexuality in the presence of minors)

For complete listing of rights and restrictions, Wikipedia provides a complete LGBT rights by country or territory.

Posts about Being Gay Abroad

Expat bloggers are great at sharing their triumphs and tribulations of life abroad. Here are some great gay bloggers to check out.

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