I celebrate the 10th anniversary of the freedom to marry that began for the US in Massachusetts, continuing its tradition of cradling freedom in its infancy.
I celebrate the acceleration of that very basic human right–marriage equality–now spreading like wildfire across the country, burning through pockets of hatred and fear in some of the reddest states in America.
I celebrate a generation of children, and teenagers, and college students, for whom the sexual orientation of others is irrelevant.
I celebrate the rapid growth of gay romance as a genre–the virtual walking in each other’s shoes that has contributed to broader acceptance and understanding outside this community.
I celebrate how some of our favorite plot lines have become real this year.
I celebrate the sports heroes coming out around the world.
I celebrate the relationships they’re now sharing boldly, lovingly, openly in front of the cameras.
I celebrate the broad acceptance by their teammates on and off the courts and fields in contradiction to the expectations of narrow-minded pundits and bigots.
I celebrate the same-sex partners of the military personnel serving our country.
Those men and women can now stand and be recognized for their vital contribution and support to the partners and spouses laying their lives on the line for the rest of us.
But mostly, I celebrate love.
There is so much of it to celebrate…
…but we still have work to do in our fight against homophobia:
We are still far from the ideal of a universal right to marry.
Far from full constitutional protection from discrimination in the workplace, the marketplace, and even our homes.
The world is full of archaic laws criminalizing homosexuality and free speech with very deadly consequences for something as simple as self-identifying as Gay, Lesbian, or Transgender.
This year Amnesty International is focusing attention on a number of countries where change is urgently needed.
Cameroon: Violence, arbitrary arrest and detention because of real or perceived sexual orientation are commonplace. Cameroon’s penal code criminalizes same-sex sexual acts and the offence is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.
Haiti: Attitudes to LGBTI people have become increasingly hostile since the 12 January 2010 earthquake, when a number of religious groups providing aid to Haiti claimed homosexuality had led to the natural disaster. In November 2013 men armed with machetes and handguns beat up two members of an LGBTI rights group at their office in Port-au-Prince.
Russia: A 2013 act has outlawed public LGBTI events. Several peaceful assemblies have been disrupted by the authorities on the basis of this homophobic law. Police routinely fail to protect LGBTI individuals from violent attacks.
Serbia: A Pride event planned for 31 May is at risk of a last minute ban. Since 2011 public authorities have banned Pride marches on the basis of threats from homophobic groups. A march in 2010 was overshadowed by 6,500 angry counter-demonstrators.
Uganda: On 23 February the President signed into law an Anti-Homosexuality bill which stipulates a life sentence for same-sex relations, and allows for the extradition of Ugandans having same-sex relations abroad. Violent attacks, arbitrary arrests and torture and other ill-treatment of LGBTI people continues with alarming frequency.
Ukraine: After being banned from the city centre, the first Kyiv Pride was held last year in an isolated location. Counter-demonstrators still tried to disrupt it, throwing firecrackers and tearing down banners. Organizers of the 2014 Pride on 5-7 July have received threats of violence, while the government refuses to legislate against discriminating towards LGBTI people.
But let’s not leave without hope. Change has already come to the world, and it will continue to improve with courage and conviction, and attention. Here is the banner from the British Embassy to the United States official Twitter feed:
Yeah, isn’t it?
With Love -LE