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Worldwide Trend: Gays Gaining Acceptance

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday May 31, 2011

A new study from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago indicates that in most nations worldwide, gays are gaining greater acceptance, the AFP reported on May 30. The glaring exceptions include countries that were socialist in recent history, such as Russia, where a Pride parade held despite a ban encountered physically violent opposition.

The AFP article said that the study identified 27 nations where acceptance of sexual minorities had increased, and four--Russia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, and Latvia, all formerly part of the now-defunct Soviet Union--where anti-gay sentiment had intensified.

The article did not mention African nations such as Uganda, where homophobia has taken a decidedly more serious cast. Although Ugandan law already punishes gays harshly, a new law proposed by lawmaker David Bahati last year would have put gays to death and imposed steep penalties on heterosexuals who declined to turn in gays for having a relationship. The highly controversial bill provoked worldwide condemnation and did not proceed to law.

South Africa, where the rights of gays and their families are Constitutionally stipulated, and where marriage equality is the law of the land, also made the list, but it was lower down in the rankings. Despite the country's unique position in extending Constitutional protections to sexual minorities, gays--and especially lesbians--and subject to social antipathy and physical attack. A number of so-called "corrective rapes" have befallen South African women, including national soccer star Eudy Simelane, who was sexually assaulted by a group of men and then murdered in 2008.

But global trend is an ebb in anti-gay sentiment, the study showed. A map that accompanied the article showed that eight nations extend marriage equality to gay and lesbian families; a further ten nations provide some form of civil unions.

"The study rated the top five most tolerant countries regarding homosexuality as the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and Belgium," the AFP article said. Overall, "The growth in approval ratings was stronger than the decline."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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