Although gay rights are far from universal, the number of countries granting gay rights, such as right to marriage, is increasing. However, which countries have made the most and least progress so far?
Here are the top 10 countries with the most inclusive federal policies for homosexuals:
10. Iceland: Same-sex couples have had the right to marry since 2010 and the right to adopt a child since 2006. Both these laws were passed without any political resistance. “The attitude in Iceland is fairly pragmatic,” said Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland. “[gay marriage]has not been a big issue in national politics – it has not been controversial.” Iceland also is the only country in the world to have an openly gay head of state.
9. Sweden: Same-sex couples have been legally allowed to adopt in Sweden since 2003 and in 2009 gay and lesbian couples were granted the right to legally marry.
8. Denmark: In 1989, it became the first country on earth to allow civil unions for gay couples. However, it wasn’t until 2012 that same-sex marriage became legal. Recently, it also became mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages despite nearly one third of the country’s priests stating that they will refuse to carry out the ceremonies.
7. United States: A single individual gay person may adopt in all 50 U.S. states, although there are fewer states where a gay couple may adopt children jointly. Since September 20, 2011, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals have been able to serve openly in the military after the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”. However, Marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman in 38 states. The issue of gay rights remains a hugely divisive political issue in the country.
6. Norway: Norway legalized same-sex marriage and adoptions among same-sex couples in 2009. Homosexuals can serve openly in the Armed Forces and have had full rights and anti-discrimination protections since 1979.
5. South Africa: On Dec. 1, 2006 South Africa became the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalize same-sex marriage. The country had come a long way considering that the former South African military practiced so-called “aversion therapy” on gay men, applying electric shocks to victims while they observed images of naked men, a report on human rights abuses stated in the 1990’s.
4. Canada: By July 2005, same-sex marriages were legally recognized in all provinces. Since September 2003, military ministers have been allowed to bless same-sex unions and even to perform these ceremonies on a military base.
3. Spain: Way back in June 2005, Spain gave full marriage rights to gay and lesbian people. The country added just one sentence to its existing marriage law- “Marriage will have the same requirements and results when the two people entering into the contract are of the same sex or of different sexes”.
2. Belgium: In 2003, Belgium was the second country in the world to grant gay marriage. Adoption by gay and lesbian couples became legal in 2006.
1. Netherlands: On April 1, 2001, Netherlands was the first country in the world to grant full marriage and registered partnership rights for same-sex couples. The Netherlands was also voted the largest backer of same-sex marriage in 2006 by the European Union and is the leading destination for LGBT travellers and residents alike.