Considering the strongly felt, and expressed, views of gay marriage’s opponents, news of the bill’s final passing into law seemed to be greeted comparatively quietly – here the indifference of the media to this significant legal breakthrough comes in for some criticism.
As the Washington Post observes, the British response generally has been far more phlegmatic than that of the French, who took to the streets in large numbers to protest their own gay marriage bill recently.
Elsewhere news is not so positive. An LGBT activist, Eric Lembembe, has been murdered in Cameroon, where homosexual acts are punished by jail terms of up to five years. This is the most serious in a string of attacks against supporters of LGBT rights, including arson and death threats. No one has yet been convicted for any of these crimes although recently Roger Jean-Claude Mbede was sentenced to three years in prison on charges relating to homosexuality.
Russia continues to harden its stance against LGBT rights. Following its legislation criminalising the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality, Ireland has issued a warning to gay tourists planning to visit the country, and the International Olympics Committee has raised concerns over this issue ahead of the 2014 Winter games in Sochi. Earlier this month Putin signed a law banning the adoption of Russian babies by same sex couples from other countries.
Although the Middle East (Israel aside) is not generally seen as a place where LBGT rights flourish, the Jordanian magazine Kali bucks the trend, and the Free Arabs blog reports on signs that Egypt is becoming a more tolerant society. And here is news of what looks like an interesting film about a relationship between an Israeli and a Palestinian man from Ramallah.
Although in the US great strides have been made, backed by important court rulings, there is still a gulf between the most liberal states, where gay marriage is legal, and states where conservative views still prevail. Here it is reported that the latter states may suffer a brain drain, if LGBT professionals choose to live in places which offer them better rights and benefits.
The prize for the silliest recent example of homophobia goes to Stephen Green of Christian Voice, who thinks he knows the root cause behind Tesco’s mouse infestation:
Christian Voice’s national director Stephen Green told PinkNews: “It is symptomatic of the bad management of Tesco. Any company which announces its support for gay pride six weeks before Christmas obviously can’t operate basic pest control.”
Back to gay marriage – it’s good that the Coalition saw this one through, ignoring reactionary mutterings. Far from being devalued, marriage has been strengthened by this change in the law which will finally allow same sex couples to declare their commitment to each other on an equal footing to heterosexual couples. There may be few discrepancies still left to tackle, but this is still a great step forward.