Around the World

Global Gay Rights, from Marriage to the Death Penalty

A lawmaker called it “a Christmas gift to the people.”

But the proposed law late last year in the East African nation of Uganda was not a reprieve on taxes or better social services. It would add harsher punishments for convicted homosexuals, even up to a life sentence in prison.

Uganda’s treatment of homosexuals is one end of a wide range of approaches to gay rights around the world. Even as several U.S. states recently voted on same-sex unions, and the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in two different cases, rights for the LGBT community differ from country to country, from full recognition of same-sex marriages, even up to the death penalty for homosexual acts. As gay rights supporters push for more acceptance, the issue is increasingly being framed worldwide as one of fundamental human rights.

The Netherlands was the first country to recognize gay marriage about a dozen years ago, and now 12 countries, mostly in the developed world, recognize same-sex unions. But a significant portion of the globe, mostly in the Muslim world and Africa, considers homosexuals as criminals, sentencing them to prison and even capital punishment. In many countries, even where the law is unclear, members of the gay community are subject to enormous societal pressure. They are ostracized, bullied and sometimes physically attacked.

Russia has recently seen an uptick in attacks against gay people, since nine regions of the country have banned the promotion of “homosexual propaganda” among minors. Using that law, conservative activists even tried to sue Madonna after her summer concert, but a St. Petersburg court threw out the case.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda and the pending anti-gay bill is broadly popular among citizens and legislators. The country’s parliament was set to vote on the bill around the holidays but will likely take another look early this year. World leaders have denounced the proposal. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu likened the law to apartheid in an open letter to Ugandan lawmakers.

U.S. leaders have recently been more outspoken on the issue of gay rights. In an exclusive interview with ABC News in May 2012, President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage. In late 2011, during remarks in recognition of International Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same.”

Christiane speaks about the global state of gay rights with Urvashi Vaid of Columbia University’s Law School. She’s a long-time social justice advocate and the author of the recently published book “Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics.”

Loading...
  • Sierra Leone declares emergency as Ebola death toll hits 729
    Sierra Leone declares emergency as Ebola death toll hits 729

    By Umaru Fofana FREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims on Thursday, joining neighbouring Liberia in imposing tough controls as the death toll from the worst-ever outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa. The World Health Organisation said it was in urgent talks with donors and international agencies to deploy more medical staff and resources to one of the world's poorest regions. The WHO reported 57 new deaths between July 24 and July 27 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Authorities in Nigeria, which recorded its first Ebola case last week when a U.S. citizen died after arriving on a flight from Liberia, said all passengers travelling from areas at risk would be temperature-screened for the virus.

  • Gaza truce over, Israel soldier captured, 70 dead in Rafah shelling
    Gaza truce over, Israel soldier captured, 70 dead in Rafah shelling

    By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel declared a Gaza ceasefire over on Friday, saying Hamas militants breached the truce soon after it took effect and apparently captured an Israeli officer while killing two other soldiers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his security cabinet into special session and publicly warned Hamas and other militant groups they would "bear the consequences of their actions". The 72-hour break announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was the most ambitious attempt so far to end more than three weeks of fighting, driven by mounting international alarm over a rising Palestinian civilian death toll. U.S. President Barack Obama called for the Israeli soldier's unconditional release and said that after the day's events it would be tough to reinstate a truce.

  • Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap
    Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Republican candidate for California governor said Thursday he spent a week living as a homeless person in Fresno to highlight the disparity between the governor's claim that the state is making an economic comeback and the reality faced by the working poor in the nation's most populous state.

  • Ebola-infected doctor's extraordinary sacrifice
    Ebola-infected doctor's extraordinary sacrifice

    Even from his own sickbed, Dr. Kent Brantly continues to put the well-being of others before his own.

  • 2 women survive ordeal along Indiana rail bridge
    2 women survive ordeal along Indiana rail bridge

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A video camera captured the terrifying plight of two women as a freight train bore down on them as they walked along an 80-foot-high railroad bridge in Indiana.

  • AP Analysis: Putin cornered over Ukraine
    AP Analysis: Putin cornered over Ukraine

    MOSCOW (AP) — For Russian President Vladimir Putin, there are few options left in the Ukraine crisis and they all look bad.

  • Homeowner who fought off Trump is moving on
    Homeowner who fought off Trump is moving on

    She once called Donald Trump "a maggot, a cockroach and a crumb." This week, he remembered her as "an impossible person."

  • Pilot sentenced for groping teenage girl on flight
    Pilot sentenced for groping teenage girl on flight

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A former Utah airline pilot was sentenced Wednesday to more than two years in prison for groping a 14-year-old girl in the seat next to him during an off-duty flight.

Loading...