Year in review: LGBTI world news in 2013
From encouraging progress in some parts of the world to distressing backward steps in others, 2013 was a year of triumph and tragedy for the global LGBTI community. Ron Hughes looks back at the people and events that made headlines around the world.
OBAMA CALLS FOR EQUALITY
In a historic first, US President Barack Obama included a reference to LGBTI citizens in his inauguration speech in January. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama said. He continued the theme months later in Thanksgiving Day address: “This [Thanksgiving] tradition reminds us that no matter what our background or beliefs, no matter who we are or who we love, at our core we are first and foremost Americans”. God bless Obama. (Photo: Getty Images)
GAY MARRIAGE SPREADS
Same-sex marriage spread steadily across the world in 2013. April saw same-sex marriage bills approved in three countries: Uruguay, New Zealand and France (where the bill provoked massive rallies both for and against). England and Wales followed in July when the Queen gave her royal assent to a bill which had a sometimes stormy passage through the UK Parliament. These countries joined The Netherlands, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark and Belgium as nations where same-sex couples can wed. Scotland, which has its own parliament, is set to pass similar legislation in the near future.
NIGERIA CRACKS DOWN ON GAYS
Despite progress in other countries, the Nigerian parliament passed a bill in May criminalising same-sex marriage. Under the proposed law, gay or lesbian couples who marry could face 14 years in prison. Anyone who helps couples marry could go to jail for 10 years. Anyone advocating for gay rights or running a gay club or caught in a ‘public show’ of affection would also face prison. President Goodluck Jonathan is yet to sign the bill into law. Homosexuality already attracts a 14 year sentence in the southern states and in the northern states under Sharia Law, the death penalty applies.
RUSSIA HARDENS STANCE AGAINST GAYS
In June international protests followed the signing into law by Russia's state Duma of a bill banning any positive discussion of homosexuality as “propaganda”. In July, President Vladimir Putin approved a bill banning same-sex couples in other countries from adopting Russian children. In August he signed a law banning all LGBTI protests at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Increasing reports of violence against LGBTI people are emerging, including a bomb hoax at a gay film festival and gas attack at a Moscow nightclub. Despite all this, Putin repeatedly says LGBTI people have nothing to fear in Russia. (Photo: Getty Images)
EXODUS BOWS OUT
Controversial ‘ex-gay’ organisation Exodus International ceased activities in June with its president Alan Chambers apologising to LGBTI members who had been potentially harmed by their insistence sexuality could be changed. “I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced,” Chambers said. “I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change.” A year earlier Chambers had repudiated so-called “reparative therapies” saying it was “bizarre” to think being gay could be “cured”.
US SUPREME COURT DECISIONS
The Supreme Court of the United States made two historic rulings in June, when they ruled section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, meaning the US federal government must now recognise same-sex marriages performed in individual states. The Court also dismissed an appeal in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, effectively overturning the anti-gay Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage in California, allowing gay and lesbian couples in that state to once again marry.
In August US soldier and Wikileaks' whistleblower Private Bradley Manning revealed in a statement to the Today Show she identifies as a woman and wants to transition behind bars, asking to be referred to from now on as Chelsea. The soldier was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment at Fort Leavenworth for her part in the Wiki-Leaks affair. Since then Manning has reported the army refuses to transfer her to a women’s prison and she is being forced to dress as a man. She has declared she may take the army to court over her treatment.
POPE SOFTENS ON GAYS?
As Pope Francis ascended to the papacy it was expected there would be no softening of the Catholic Church's attitude towards homosexuality. However, by July the Pope was telling journalists he would not judge people for being gay. The Pope's call for acceptance is in direct contrast to the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, under which concerted efforts were made to root out gay priests and seminarians. Pope Francis has since said it is not necessary to talk about issues like same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception all the time. “We need to find a new balance,” he said. (Photo: Getty Images)
DALEY DATING A GUY
UK diving champion Tom Daley, admitted in a YouTube video that he was in a relationship with another man. “In spring this year my life changed massively when I met someone, and they make me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great,” Daley said. “That someone is a guy”. He did not identify himself as either gay or bisexual but said he always felt like something like this could happen. His friends and immediate family have been supportive. Rumours soon arose that 19 year old Daley is dating screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, 38. Neither has confirmed the relationship. (Photo courtesy ITV)