Magazine article New Internationalist

All Love Is Equal - but Not before the Law

Magazine article New Internationalist

All Love Is Equal - but Not before the Law

Article excerpt

1 APRIL

10th ANNIVERSARY OF WORLD'S FIRST LEGAL GAY MARRIAGE

Exactly 10 years ago, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. A group of Dutch gay rights activists had campaigned for the change in law from the mid-1980s onwards, and, following the introduction of registered partnerships in 1998, the right to marriage equality was finally won in 2001. According to the Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics, between 2001 and 2009, 13,460 same-sex couples in the country enjoyed their equal right to marry. The landmark ruling kickstarted a global trend, and same-sex marriage has since been legalized in South Africa, Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Iceland, plus seven US states and Mexico City.

However, this global shift towards equality represents a stark contrast to LGBTI marriage rights in the 80 countries where same-sex relationships are illegal. In 2005, Uganda amended its constitution to become the first African country to ban same-sex marriage. The extent of the persecution of Ugandan gays was recently highlighted when, on 26 lanuary 2011, committed LGBTI rights activist David Kato was found bludgeoned to death in his house. He had received homophobic death threats and had been named by Uganda's tabloid Rolling Stone in an article that called for gay people to be killed.

In January 2009 a bill to ban 'same gender marriage' was approved by the Nigerian House of Representatives. At a public hearing later that year, international human rights groups testified against the bill, and it is yet to come to a final vote. According to Human Rights Watch, the law would punish people of the same sex who live together 'as husband and wife or for other purposes of same sexual relationship' with up to three years of imprisonment. …

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