Category: Gay rights

Gay relationships marriage

The American Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage

America lives up to its promise of freedom and justice for all’, a man in the festive crowd shouts before the Supreme Court, after it has declared gay marriage legal for the whole country. The attendees will sing The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem. The land of the free and the home of the brave’, it sounds on the steps of the Court, a bit solemn as befits a great moment in history.

It is not only the legalization of same-sex marriage as such, but also the speed with which public opinion on such an important social change has tipped over the past few years. After a long history of discrimination against homosexuals and lesbians, things suddenly went very fast. In 2011, there were only six American states that recognised same-sex marriage. In four years’ time, this number has risen to 36. With its ruling, the Supreme Court is now closing the last gap: the remaining fourteen states must also allow same-sex marriage. Polls show that most Americans are in favour of it.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court was still reluctant to legalise the country. This hesitation was prompted by the ruling in 1973 by which the Court ruled from above that abortion would henceforth be permitted. Many states had great difficulty in doing so. To this day, they are doing everything they can to undermine the legalisation of abortion. It is one of the most important fronts in the lingering ‘culture wars’ between the right and the left.

In order to prevent same-sex marriage from being the same thing, a majority of the nine judges of the Court in 2013 still felt that this issue should primarily be dealt with by the states themselves. So from the bottom up, so that there would be a democratic basis. But after that, the acceptance of same-sex marriage went so fast that the Court was, as it were, overtaken by time. Strengthened by the fact that a large majority of the states have now accepted same-sex marriage, it gave way and announced a nationwide legalisation.

It was pretty close. Five judges were in favour, four against. Judge Anthony Kennedy, who is often on the edge of the progressive and conservative block, was the deciding factor. He had been the hope of the LGBT movement (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) for years. He points out that proponents of same-sex marriage ask for ‘equal dignity before the law’. Kennedy: ‘The constitution gives them that right’. According to him, states may not prohibit same-sex marriage because of a provision in the Fourteenth Amendment of the constitution, which provides for equal protection.

All four conservative judges in the Court contest the majority opinion. Judge Antonin Scalia believes that the Supreme Court should not proclaim national legalisation. Today’s ruling says that I and 320 million Americans from coast to coast are governed by a majority of the nine judges of the Supreme Court. Judges who have not been elected. According to him, this threatens American democracy.

LGBTQ rights are human rights1

LGBTQ rights are human rights

Who you fall in love with is something that only concerns you. Moreover, there is nothing you can do about it. It happens to you. Men can love men, and women can love women. And if, as a man, you don’t feel at home in your own body and want to become a woman, or the other way around, you can’t do anything about it. If people are discriminated against for that reason, it makes them extremely powerless. Especially if the government doesn’t act against it or if it promotes this discrimination.

What’s the problem?

There are 193 countries in the world that are members of the United Nations.

  • In 70 countries, homosexuality is a criminal offence
  • In 44 countries, the same applies to women
  • In at least six countries you can even be sentenced to death
  • LGBTQ rights are included in the constitution in only 9 countries
  • Same-sex marriage is recognised in 26 countries


In 72 countries it is a crime to have a relationship with someone of the same sex. In 45 countries, people have been arrested for their sexual orientation in the past three years. This is unacceptable. That is why Amnesty is fighting against discrimination against LGBTQ’s. Because if we stop seeing each other as people with the same rights, repression will only increase.

LGBTQs are victims of human rights violations all over the world.

  • LGBTQ’s can be put to death by the state.
  • They regularly have difficulty accessing the labour market, housing or care.
  • They could lose custody of their children.
  • Sometimes LGBTQ’s asylum is refused
  • In captivity, they are often the victims of rape and other forms of torture.
  • In many countries, LGBTQs are threatened because they are campaigning for their rights.

More violence against LGBTQs

Small steps are being taken worldwide to combat discrimination against sexual minorities. In 85 countries, the authorities are taking action to protect them, for example by combating discrimination in job search.

At the same time, however, the last year has seen them being treated in an increasingly hostile manner. We also see violence against LGBTQ’s reviving. Three examples.

Chechnya: no place for gays

In April 2017, the independent and renowned Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta delivered shocking news, which was subsequently confirmed by other reliable sources. The newspaper reported that the authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya had started a witch hunt against (alleged) homosexual men. More than a hundred men were allegedly locked up in secret prisons, tortured and forced to say which other LGBTQ’s they knew. At least three men would have been killed.

In religious-cultural conservative Chechnya, homosexuality is a big taboo. Those who are ‘suspected’ of it run great risks, varying from extortion by the police to (sometimes deadly) violence by the authorities or their own family, which is encouraged by the authorities to ‘restore honour’. The leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, denies the allegations and even the existence of homosexuality in his republic.

Since the witch hunt, many victims and potential victims of homophobic violence have fled or are trying to flee Chechnya. Western countries are only scarcely willing to give them asylum.

Beaten up and squeezed

At the end of April 2017, the British newspaper The Guardian spoke to a number of persecuted Chechen homosexuals. Ismail (not his real name) was arrested by men in military uniform, after he had agreed with another man via social media to meet each other. They drove him to a forest, undressed him and beat him up, breaking his jaw. They also filmed the horrific incident. Then they threatened to put the video online and tell Ismail’s family that he was gay, unless he would give them a large amount of money.

He did. But when the rumours about gay persecution in Chechnya increased, Ismail fled the Russian republic. The police went looking for him and told his mother that he was gay, which is a great shame for his family. Ismail is now afraid that his own family will want to kill him.

What does Amnesty do?

Amnesty took action and organised a petition. In it, we call on the Russian authorities to investigate the disturbing reports about the abduction, torture and murder of homosexual men in the Russian republic of Chechnya. We also call for steps to be taken to protect homosexual men in Chechnya.

Indonesia: 85 floggings for gay couples

In Indonesia, sexual minorities are being treated with increasing hostility. In the province of Aceh, on 17 May 2017, a gay couple was sentenced to 85 caning, not least on the International Day against Homophobia. And that is only because they love each other.

The two men were attacked by their neighbours. They had entered their house, filmed the couple and then handed them over to the Sharia Police. It is the first condemnation of homosexuality by a Sharia court since October 2015, when Sharia law came into force in Aceh.

A cruel and humiliating punishment

Only Aceh knows Sharia law, the rest of Indonesia doesn’t. Penalties include intimacy or sex if you are not married, extramarital sex, the consumption and sale of alcohol, and gambling. Punitive battles are often carried out in public places. There are large crowds who take pictures and videos of it. This contributes to the humiliation and suffering of those who have to endure this already cruel, painful and inhumane punishment. All corporal punishment is prohibited by international human rights.

Bangladesh: men are ‘suspected’ of being gay

On 19 May 2017, an anti-terrorism unit of the police in Bangladesh arrested 28 men on suspicion of homosexuality on the basis of their clothing and behaviour. This is punishable in the country, where the vast majority of the population is Muslim. The men, mostly students between 20 and 30 years old, had travelled from all over the country to the capital, Dhaka.

Every two months they gathered there to party. The police commander said that they would be charged with drug possession – for which life imprisonment or even the death penalty could be imposed – and not with homosexuality, as the arrests took place before sexual activities took place. The police are said to have found illegal drugs and condoms in the suspects.

On 21 July 2017, the last of these men were released on bail.

LGBTQ activist and his friend murdered

In April 2016, 35-year-old Xulhaz Mannan and his friend were murdered in his home in Dhaka. Mannan was an LGBTQ activist and founder of ‘Roopbaan’, the only LGBTQ magazine in Bangladesh. Since his horrific death, many gays and lesbians have left the country after receiving death threats. Many others lead double lives to avoid problems.

LGBTQ rights are human rights

Everyone, anywhere in the world, always has exactly the same human rights. Whether you are white, black, short, tall, male, female, homosexual, heterosexual, transgender or an intersexual person, discrimination is never allowed. This is laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Almost all countries in the world have promised to respect human rights. We continue to remind them of this. Over and over again.

In the UDHR, the rights of LGBTQ’s are not specifically described. But the document leaves nothing to be desired in terms of clarity. All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. That is what Article 1 says. And Article 2 specifies that no distinction may be made between people, ‘without any distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’.

In addition, the human rights of LGBTQs are violated, as laid down, inter alia, in Article 5 of the UDHR (prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment), Article 9 (freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention) and Article 20 (freedom of association and assembly).

Gay rights

LGTBQ, homophobia and gay hatred

All over the world, LGBT people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual) are victims of human rights violations. These range from subtle discrimination to imprisonment and torture.

In almost half of the world’s countries, homosexuality is a criminal offence. In some countries, it is even punishable by the death penalty.

In 2009, the International Organisation for Homosexual Rights (ILGA) published a report which stated that homosexuality is illegal in 80 countries, compared to 73 in 2017. About ten countries have the death penalty for homosexuality, but only in a few countries does the death penalty apply, such as Iran. In Uganda, a law on the death penalty for homosexuality was not adopted in 2014, after lengthy preparation. In 2017, same-sex marriage was permitted in some 25 countries, and this number is growing steadily. Only a few European countries and Canada have legal protection against homosexual discrimination. This world map of ILGA shows the state of freedom and criminalisation of sexual orientation in 2019.

Little is often known about the persecution and discrimination of homosexuals outside the West. In many countries, homosexuals are prosecuted on charges such as vagrancy or sexual crimes. In many countries, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, homosexuality is hardly accepted and prosecution is not seen as a violation of human rights. The Vatican considers homosexuality to be unnatural and strongly opposes same-sex marriage.

Every year, ILGA produces a world map of the situations in each country.

Position of LHBTIs in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, legal discrimination against homosexual behaviour has been banned since 1971. According to the Equal Treatment Act (1994), the fact that someone is heterosexual or gay can never be a reason to discriminate or discriminate. On 1 April 2001, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to introduce legal marriage for same-sex partners; Belgium did so in 2003. Dutch married gay couples can also legally adopt children from home or abroad.

There are many people who find homosexuality reprehensible, sinful or unacceptable on religious or other grounds. Such an attitude is often referred to as homophobia or homophobia. Freedom of speech generally allows for negative judgements. Whether negative statements about homosexuals are a form of hate speech, and therefore punishable, depends on the circumstances in Dutch case law. Not every disparaging statement is a reason for prosecution.

Rights of LHBTIs: Amnesty’s vision

Amnesty International decided in 1991 to take action against all cases of imprisonment on the grounds of homosexuality. Amnesty International has an international LHBTI network that takes action against discriminatory practices. Now that same-sex marriage has been recognised in only a few countries and seems unacceptable in many, Amnesty argues that a state should not prevent homosexuals from entering into contractual relationships similar to the terms of a marriage.

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