A quick glance at Wikipedia or this ILGA report is enough to tell you that there are a LOT of countries where it’s dangerous or deadly to be (or even to be perceived as) lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
There are still more than 80 countries with sodomy laws, and punishment can include flogging, imprisonment, and in about a dozen jurisdictions, the death penalty. Those suspected of being LGBT are also routinely the victims of harassment, discrimination and violence. Many of those who speak up for LGBT rights – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – are themselves persecuted with impunity.
Here are 7 countries Amnesty International has recently had particular concerns about:
Amnesty International activists take part in Gay Pride in Paris
On Tuesday, Amnesty International staff delivered the signatures of Amnesty activists and supporters to the U.S. Senate urging them to repeal DOMA and end discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
DOMA – or the “Defense of Marriage Act” – is a discriminatory law that denies lawfully married same-sex couples the right to access federal protections and benefits.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) which would repeal DOMA and take an important step towards ending discrimination against same-sex couples. Amnesty International submitted a letter of support for the Act and delivered the petitions directly to the Committee to show our support!
Pride Month is the annual commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots where courageous members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community stood up to police brutality and discrimination at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. This resistance galvanized the LGBT community and gave birth to the modern LGBT rights movement.
Ten out of the country’s 11 Justices were present for the ruling, which involved two LGBT civil rights cases. The unanimous verdict states that partners in same-sex unions have the same rights as heterosexual unions.
“The recognition made by the court today responds to the rights of a group of people who has long been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, whose identity was denied, and whose freedom was overwhelmed.”
The decision has enormous implications for same-sex couples, who will now have access to the same rights that heterosexual couples have long enjoyed, including rights of inheritance, tax deductions, adoptions and immigration.
The verdict is in. A federal judge in San Francisco today struck down a voter-approved ban on gay marriage in California.
At Amnesty, we welcome the decision as Proposition 8 challenged our basic human right to be treated equally under the law. In response to the ruling, Amnesty International USA Executive Director Larry Cox issued the following statement:
“The U.S. District Court has sent a clear message on Proposition 8: discrimination by any means is unacceptable. This affirms not only equality in civil marriage, but the basic human right to be treated equally under the law, without regard to an individual’s sexual orientation.
“Proposition 8 served only to stigmatize same-sex relationships in ways that can fuel further discrimination. Denying equal civil recognition of same-sex relationships compounds the effects of discrimination and undermines other rights, such as the right to housing or social security. Amnesty International welcomes today’s ruling as an affirmation of equality under the law.”
The stars appear to be aligning. Yesterday, for the first time, a state legislature voted to allow same-sex marriage. Vermont joined Connecticut, Massachusetts, and recently Iowa, in recognizing marriage equality. But unlike those states that overturned the ban on same-sex marriage through judicial establishment of constitutional protections, Vermont’s voter-elected representatives made the historic move. And they did it with enough support to overwhelm Governor Jim Douglas’ veto. All this happened while the Washington D.C. city council voted unanimously to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Those of us who believe in marriage equality are feeling pretty good. Just don’t turn on your television. Today, the National Organization for Marriage (don’t be confused by the name) launched a new ad campaign that “that highlights how same-sex marriage undermines the core civil rights of those who believe in the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” Huh? The people who don’t want to let same-sex couples get married are claiming their civil rights are at risk?
This illogical dribble is part of a larger strategy to make people who have recognized marriage rights, feel threatened by people who don’t. They have been up to it for a while. The “Defense of Marriage” Act that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed by states was passed by Congress in 1996.
I recently listened to a radio interview, where the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, issued ominous warnings that overturning bans on same-sex marriage will “suppress, marginalize and punish” all the hetero marrieds. According to Brian, the state-by-state move to marriage equality represents a terrible threat to the country as a whole and to each marriage between a woman and a man:
I’ve tried, but I can’t see how my marital institution faces imminent threat because gay and lesbian couples are now able to get married in a handful of states. Just in case I am missing something, I took an extra hard look at my husband as we started our day. Nothing seemed amiss as I eyed him over my coffee mug. Was our union facing disintegration, brought on by allowing (gasp) gay people to have what we have? No revelations here. I can’t seem to find my way around the belief that this argument over “protecting” civil marriage is really just a mask for bigotry. Someone needs to explain it to me.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.