State-by-state, and slowly but surely, same-sex marriage laws are being approved across the U.S. Yet, equality continues to be resisted: the Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages in Utah on Monday, questioning the constitutionality of the right to marry.
Six months ago, the Supreme Court decided to give federal recognition to couples married in states with legalized same-sex marriage. While victories for gay rights activists in the U.S. have been widely celebrated, the question of state bans on equal marriage remains on the Supreme Court’s table.
While debates surrounding the rights of marriage equality brought the issue to the forefront in the U.S. and major European countries, discrimination based on sexual orientation is a global issue and should be treated as such. Small victories should be celebrated, as rights gained for some should be considered another step toward equality, but internationally, homophobia still impacts the daily lives of many people.
While the fate of same-sex marriage remains in the air, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association lists 78 countries with criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people.
This past December, India’s Supreme Court overturned a 2009 Delhi High Court ruling decriminalizing homosexuality. The decision has been widely criticized in India, but remains a re-installation of the 153-year-old colonial-era law that deemed same-sex relationships as an “unnatural offense” and punishable with jail time.
Discrimination and hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual people or allies (LGBTQQIAA) is an international issue and recently hit the world stage with the Winter Olympics being held next month in Sochi, Russia.
Six months ago, Russia enacted a law prohibiting “propaganda” or public demonstrations about “nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. In essence, the law condemns and stigmatizes LGBTQQIAA individuals, deeming their lifestyle as threatening toward the well-being of younger generations. Gay rights groups stated the law has opened the door for hatred, intimidation and harassment.
Athletes could potentially be in trouble for wearing a rainbow pin in support of the LGBTQQIAA community, as political demonstrations were banned by the Olympic Charter. The social climate is not much better, with NBC reporting 74 percent of Russians think homosexuality is unacceptable.
Recently, reports of “corrective rape” occurring in South Africa were released. “Corrective rape” involves the atrocious act of raping individuals suspected of being gay or lesbian to “cure them” of their homosexuality. Despite South Africa being the first in the world to offer LGBT people equal rights in its 1997 constitution and fifth in the world to legalize gay marriage, this epidemic of violence against gay and lesbian men and women continues to become a strong method of oppression in the country.
Few media outlets covered the brutality experienced by gay and lesbian individuals in South Africa, where one in four men admit to having sex with a woman without consent, according to a 2009 government survey. Most of the rapes were committed by friends and acquaintances.
Every state or country that legalized same-sex marriage has been widely celebrated, but in reality, only 15 countries in the world have fully done so, and discrimination in those countries is still prevalent. Deeply held biases and hatred toward the LGBTQQIAA community need to be addressed in both political and social contexts throughout the world.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin denied the existence in Russia of discrimination toward people who identify as gay, but continues to promote a biased conservative agenda, such as the “anti-propaganda” law.
Additionally, South African laws promise equality for all people, but fall short in providing protection against rampant homophobia. The U.S. legalized same-sex marriage federally, but couples can only marry in 16 states and the District of Columbia — not even 33 percent of all states.
Homophobia is pervasive and entrenched in many countries, including the United States. Unfortunately, political rhetoric does not always reflect social climates. Institutions like courts, law enforcement and politicians need to be held accountable for improving the social climate. These groups need to pursue justice by not just promising equality, but also following through with congruent actions.
Sources for Infographic :
The Guardian, 2012
Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide, 2013
Erasing 76 Crimes, 2012
P.A.P. – Blog // Human Rights Etc., 2010