Quantcast
Home / Around the World / Gay Laws Around the World

Gay Laws Around the World

September 1, 2014

Gay Laws Around the World
Broadly, while the LGBT community the world over had been making inroads progressively into the mindsets of nations and their peoples, recent laws not really favoring these sections have been instituted in some countries bringing them once again back to square one. All this, despite the corporates and several countries around the world making LGBT development part of their prime CSR agenda.

Anti-gay protestors are once again making their presence felt as President Vladimir Putin has taken the opportunity before the Sochi Olympics to speak out against ‘gay propaganda’ at the venues, linking gays’ issues with pedophiles. Earlier on 30th June 2013, he signed a law that made ‘non-traditional’ relations with minors illegal.

Several countries have since joined the bandwagon outlawing gay relationships, including in about 80 countries where it is criminal to have such relations and 5 countries, where it is definitely punished by death. In Saudi Arabia, any same sex sexual activity warrants death or life imprisonment. Yemen gives death penalty, Afghanistan – death penalty for any gay sex activity, Maldives – punishment upto death is awarded sometimes, Iran – illegal, death penalty, Sudan – death for the 3rd offence for men, 4th offence for women, and Mauritania – death penalty. In Nigeria too, sometimes death penalty is given.

In countries where gays are frowned upon, they are usually dealt with disdain and their rights not included in the regular human rights regime. While the fight for their rights goes on with several hurdles on their way, the gays are not yet calling it a day.

The First Gay Laws
These were first instituted in Netherlands in 2000-01 when gay unions were given legal consent. Four marriages of three male and one female couples took place in Amsterdam, where pink cake and champagne were served on the occasion. It has frequently been named as one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world. The National Homomonument was the first monument built in 1987 here, to pay tribute to the homosexuals slayed during World War II.

Gay Laws in Africa
Nigeria is the latest to outlaw gays. Its anti-gay laws resulting in 10-year imprisonment for same-sex relations has invited criticism from countries such as the US. The new legislation totally bans same-sex marriages, forming gay groups and public display of same-sex affection – now same-sex couples could face up to 14 years in prison. Generally, most of the countries in Africa are singing the same song. In Sudan, death penalty is awarded to the individual for the third offence in men and 4th offence in women. In Egypt, it is illegal.

South Africa has legalized same-sex marriages.

Gay Laws in Asia
India for now has levied a ban on gays–same-sex marriages with the recent high-court ruling that has levied fines and imprisonment on such relations. The Supreme Court has recently ruled under Section 377 of the Indian penal code that same-sex relationship is punishable by law. It has further said the ruling can be made void if Parliament passes an amendment. Several organizations like the National Human Rights Commission, The Planning Commission of India, etc., are in favor of decriminalizing homosexuality in India. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and acclaimed writer Vikram Seth and other prominent Indians have already given their support for the same and demanded the repeal of section 377 of the IPC.

Its neighbors, including Pakistan and Bangladesh and other nations in Asia such as Malaysia too have outlawed gay relations. Pakistan – any form of same sex sexual activity gets 2 years of life imprisonment, Malaysia – penalty in form of fine or whippings or 2-20 years of jail is given, and in Bangladesh – upto 10 years of life imprisonment can be awarded.

However, countries like Thailand are more open and progressive and have promoted equal rights amongst its gay citizens. China and Vietnam too favor lesbians and gays, however gay laws are not still in place for same-sex marriages. Nepal – favorable towards gays, legalizing same sex marriage is being considered; Thailand – highly tolerant, Bangkok is popular as the Gay Haven in Asia; the 1st LGBT Thai magazine was published in 1983; China – while same sex marriage is still forbidden, it is no longer criminalized. Open, gay strongholds and gay bars exist in Beijing and Shanghai; Taiwan – its pending same sex marriage laws allow civil unions for now; Cambodia – no stand as yet, at least 1 case of same sex marriage has been recognized; while Vietnam is considering making it legal.

Gay Laws in the Middle East
Countries such as Israel and Lebanon too have accepted these communities with open arms but in the Palestinian region, it is still taboo. Israel is very progressive – Tel Aviv is rated as one of the most gay-friendly cities and is famous for its Annual Pride Parade and gay beaches. Tel Aviv is also known as the Gay Capital of the Middle East. Ranked as the best gay city in 2011 by LGBT travelers surveyed online.

In several of the Middle East Muslim countries, death is the punishment for such relations. Middle East countries like Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Palestine, Jordan, Iran, and Iraq have banned gay marriages/activity. In Iran, it is punishable by death.

Kuwait is developing medical/clinical tests for GCC countries for screening homos.

Gay Laws in Europe
Russia has become more vocal against gays in the recent past. Fine of 5,000 rubles ($156) is levied against forming non-traditional sexual set ups, as such relationships are not socially acceptable. Fine goes up to even 5,000 rubles ($156) for tampering with the information. Though the gays live in confusion over what is permissible and what is not because of the June 2013 law, President Putin has welcomed gays in Russia.

There are no anti-gay laws in place, the subject of gay relations is taboo in most parts such as Serbia where anti-gay protests too have taken place.

In Croatia, legally, a marriage is considered as a union only between a man and a woman. Similarly, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova, Belarus, and Ukraine in Eastern Europe too consider marriage legal only between a man and woman. In countries like Italy, Greece, Malta, Albania, same sex marriages are not recognized.

In France, President Hollande has vowed to bring in equal rights for gays as part of his political agenda. Though the gay laws favoring same-sex marriages etc., have been passed recently, protests against gays continue. In Europe, 10 nations including Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Portugal, France, and Spain have legalized gay unions and marriages. In Great Britain and Wales, the same-sex unions will be legalized in March, 2014.

Countries like Austria, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, etc., have given legal recognition to only registered partnerships among the same sexes. Legislation favoring gay laws has been brought in 2013 in Finland, and 58% of Finns have been found to favor and making same-sex unions legal – it is expected to be legal soon. Luxembourg expects to have same sex union laws by March, 2014. Laws in Ireland will be floating a referendum for same-sex marriages in early 2015.

Gay Laws in North America
Even in countries such as the US where there is so much openness and gays as a community are welcomed, certain states here have of late passed anti-gay laws. But nationwide, several parts of the US such as Illinois, Delaware, New York, Maryland – about 17 states, all of Mexico, and Canada have legalized same sex unions and marriages. It is recognized as civil union with most of rights given, in Hawaii.

Gay Laws in South America
Several countries in South America have openly welcomed gays and granted laws in their favor. Cuba has recently opened up to gays, after a public apology was rendered by former president Fidel Castro for their persecution in the past. Amongst the other nations in this continent, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina have given legal consent to gay relations and unions.

Certain countries like the Honduras and Caribbean nations consider them taboo and are not inclined in their favor. Several incidents such as mugging and assault on gays have happened time and again. These countries have laws dating back from 1936 and are not open to reviewing these.

Gay Laws in Oceania
New Zealand has given acceptance to same sex unions and marriages.

Australia is the fifth most supporting country in the world for same-sex marriage behind Czech Republic, Canada, Germany and Spain (which is ranked first), 2013 Pew Research says. The Australian Government and the Human Rights Commission have taken various steps and measures to ameliorate the conditions of the same-sex couples. However, currently same-sex marriages are banned under the law.

Sydney has a rich and diverse culture and its Lesbian community is situated in New town and Enmore in Sydney’s inner west. It holds Sydney Mardi Gras, an annual LGBT pride parade thronged by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. It begins on second Thursday in February and ends on First Saturday in March. There are two Magazines on Sydney’s lesbian community monthly available for free: LOTL and Cherry.

Read More