Amsterdam (AP) — Twenty years ago, shortly after the midnight stroke on April 1, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to have a legalized same-sex marriage, and the mayor of Amsterdam joined four couples in the city hall. got married.
“There are two reasons to rejoice. Before the pink champagne and pink cake were served, Mayor Job Cohen told the newlyweds,” You are celebrating your marriage, and you are also celebrating your right to marry. I will. “
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 28 countries around the world and in Taiwan, the autonomous island. This includes most of Western Europe. Still, its spread was uneven — Taiwan is the only place in Asia to take a step forward. South Africa is the only African country to do so.
“Twenty years ago, if I told me that today’s same-sex marriage would be a reality in 29 countries, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Jessica Turn, secretary-general of the global LGBTQ rights group Out Right Action International. Says.
But she points out how the world is polarized regarding the acceptance of LGBTQ, and nearly 70 countries continue to criminalize same-sex relationships.
“No doubt the progress was great, but we have a long way to go,” Stern said.
In many countries, outside of Asia and Africa, there is growing opposition to marriage equality. In Guatemala, some lawmakers have proposed a bill that explicitly bans same-sex marriage. In Poland, President Andrzej Duda was reelected last year after a campaign describing the LGBTQ rights movement as more harmful than communism.
Poland is one of the solid blocks of Eastern European countries resisting same-sex marriage, but 16 Western European countries have legalized it.
Switzerland is set for 17th — Parliament approved the legalization of same-sex marriage in December. However, the law has not been enforced and opponents are trying to collect enough signatures to demand a referendum on whether to overturn it.
In other places, same-sex marriage is legal in the United States, Canada and Costa Rica. Five countries in South America. The majority of Mexico’s 32 states. Australia and New Zealand.
In total, there are about 1.2 billion people living in these countries, which is about 15% of the world’s population. Legalization was done in various ways. Court decisions, legislation, and, in the case of Ireland, the firm support of voters in the 2015 referendum.
Several European countries, including Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic, offer civil unions to same-sex couples. However, even though these arrangements provide much of the protection of marriage, many LGBTQ activists consider them a sneaky secondary position.
Just two weeks ago, the Vatican’s Orthodox office declared that the Catholic Church would not bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin.”
According to the Dutch Central Statistical Office, there have been more than 18,000 same-sex marriages in the Netherlands since 2001, about 53% of which are between two women. According to the agency, about 400 same-sex marriages are disbanded each year.
To celebrate the anniversary of April 1, Amsterdam will host an online symposium and a “Rainbow Walk” route along 20 sites considered important in the fight for LGBTQ rights.
“There are still sources of concern,” the city said. “Equal rights do not automatically treat everyone the same.”
Gert Kasteel and Dolf Pasker, one of the couples who got married 20 years ago, said the Associated Press was warmly accepted by their neighbors and peers, although they knew that anti-LGBTQ sentiment continued elsewhere. Told.
“For most people, that’s no longer a problem,” Pasker said. “Oh, a happy day.”
In the United States, in contrast to the Netherlands, there was an 11-year gap between the first legal same-sex marriage in 2004 in Massachusetts and the 2015 Supreme Court ruling. In 2020, 513,000 same-sex couples were married in the United States, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA Law School that specializes in studying LGBTQ issues.
As in other countries that legalize same-sex marriage, there has been steadily increasing general support for this concept in the United States since 2004. At that time, 42% of Americans thought that same-sex marriage should be legalized. By last year, that number had reached 67%.
In Africa, where religious and cultural traditions are often resentful of homosexuality, no country will soon join South Africa to legalize same-sex marriage.
The situation in Asia is more fluid. A same-sex partnership bill was proposed by the Thai parliament. In Japan, where some local governments allow same-sex marriage, courts recently ruled that same-sex marriage should be permitted under the Constitution. The ruling has no immediate legal effect, but activists say it could affect other proceedings and encourage Congress’s quest for permission to allow same-sex marriage.
India broke colonial law in 2018, allowing gay sex to be punished with up to 10 years in prison. There are also openly gay celebrities. However, same-sex marriage is still illegal. The government says gay and lesbian couples do not guarantee “family unit” status.
Opponents around the world have proposed some basic counter-arguments as the marriage equality movement has materialized in Europe and the Americas over the last two decades.
One of the common warnings related to religious freedom, some religious leaders predict the impact on religions that deny same-sex relationships.
In most cases, the beliefs of same-sex marriages were able to maintain their own marriage rituals. However, there have been some highly public proceedings, including one that reached the US Supreme Court involving a conservative Christian bakery who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
Another argument was that legalizing same-sex marriage would undermine the marriage system itself.
Evan Wolfson, a lawyer who helped organize the US marriage equality movement as head of advocacy Freedom to Marry, evaluated this discussion in a recent article in the European Human Rights Law Review.
“The history of marriage is a history of change and is expanding its inclusion …. When the marriage accepts same-sex couples, the sky is not falling,” he writes. “There are enough marriages to share.”
Clary reported from New York. The Associated Press reporter Vanessa Gera of Warsaw and Krutika Pathi of New Delhi contributed to this report.