The 2010 FIFA World Cup is down to the quarterfinals, which means there are only eight countries left with a chance at the title. The World Cup brings together numerous cultures, languages and different worldviews on LGBT equality. So how do the final 8 countries rank as far as gay rights?
You would be hard pressed to find a more welcoming place for LGBT people in the world than the Netherlands. In April of 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to grant full marriage equality to all citizens. Homosexuality was decriminalized there in 1811 and today, in addition to marriage rights, LGBT people enjoy anti-discrimination laws, complete adoption laws, the right to serve openly in the military and the right to legally change gender. Since Aruba is in the kingdom of the Netherlands, the Caribbean nation even recognizes same-sex marriages registered in the Netherlands. The only visible smudge is that gay men are not allowed to donate blood.
Spain has experienced a significant evolution on LGBT equality since 1979, when homosexuality was decriminalized. In 2005, the predominately Roman Catholic country enacted full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. In addition to full marriage rights, LGBT Spaniards enjoy full non-discrimination laws, full adoption rights, open military service, gender-change laws and gay men are allowed to donate blood. Although, who knows how much of that gay-friendly attitude makes it onto the actual World Cup team? Recent gay speculation about a Barcelona soccer player prompted the player to respond, "Come to my house with your sister and see if I'm queer."
Uruguay is one of the smallest South American nations, but arguably the most LGBT friendly country on the continent. Despite its Roman Catholic leadership, Uruguay was the first Latin American country to allow civil unions and the first to grant full adoption rights for same-sex couples. Uruguay also allows gay people to openly serve in the military, and there are employment non-discrimination, trans inclusive hate crimes and legal gender change laws on the books.
Germany has a thriving LGBT community that is in line with other progressive European nations. There is not full marriage equality in Germany, but gay and lesbian couples have been able to register in domestic partnerships since 2001. Germany has non-discrimination laws and they have allowed openly gay military servicemembers since 2000. The mayor of Berlin and the Vice Chancellor are both openly gay. Germany doesn’t have a very gay friendly past with the famous Paragraph 175 that killed thousands of gay people during the Holocaust. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1968 (East Germany) and 1969 (West Germany).
Despite its machismo reputation, Argentina is the home to the first legally married couple in Latin America. The marriage situation there remains complicated though, as nationwide marriage equality is still being debated in the Argentine Senate. In February of this year, Argentina opened up its military to allow openly gay servicemembers. Some anti-discrimination protections are in effect, but Argentina still has a long way to go on transgender rights.
Earlier this month, Brazil hosted the world’s largest gay pride parade with over three million participants. Right before the parade, it was announced that the country will celebrate a “National Day Against Homophobia” each May 17. As far as relationship recognition, Brazilian same-sex couples can achieve a certain level of legal recognition through the “Brazilian Homosexual Stable Union Contract,” which is basically a common-law marriage or “unregistered cohabitation.” Gay and lesbian couples were awarded the right to adopt children a few months ago. In 2007, the Brazilian President convened a national LGBT conference to discuss the future of LGBT rights in the country. Transgender individuals who have undergone gender-reassignment surgery are able to legally change their name and gender.
Their names may be similar (and super guay), but Paraguay and Uruguay are quite far apart on LGBT rights. There is no legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples in Paraguay, there are no discriminatory protections for sexual orientation or gender identity and there are no adoption rights for LGBT people. There is one bright spot in Paraguay — in 2009, they lifted a ban on gays in the military, so LGBT servicemembers can now serve openly in the armed forces.
The only African nation left in the tournament unfortunately has a long way to go in becoming a safe place for LGBT Ghanaians. Male homosexuality is illegal in Ghana, but there are no laws regarding female homosexuality. Ghana’s opposition to LGBT rights is less public than some other African nations like Uganda and Malawi, but earlier this month, Muslim leaders in Ghana called on the government to enact Sharia Law in the country, which would “scare people from engaging in immoral conducts, like gay and lesbianism that are gaining root in some parts of the country.” There appears to be traces of an LGBT community in the cities of Ghana, but it is obviously not very vocal.
Photo credit: Limonada