Same sex marriage reaches 1-billion milestone in 2016

Across the world‚ one billion people can now benefit from marriage equality‚ meaning they live in a place where same-sex marriage has been legalized‚ the World Economic Forum shared on social media on Wednesday‚ as it highlighted breakthroughs reached in 2016.

“From zero to 1 billion in 15 years: the extraordinary growth of marriage equality‚” the WEF tweeted.

World Economic Forum on Twitter

 

The milestone was first noted by Tony Pitman‚ an Australian LGBT activist‚ who conducted an analysis on marriage equality. Calling it a historic shift on a truly global scale‚ he noted the landmark number of one billion was reached in July 2016‚ when nine Mexican states and Mexico City followed the lead of other Latin American nations Argentina‚ Brazil‚ Colombia and Uruguay to legalize same-sex marriage.

The first country to allow same-sex marriage was The Netherlands in 2001.

South Africa took five years to catch up: Mzansi’s first gay marriage took place on Friday 1 December 2006‚ when Vernon Gibbs (38) and Tony Halls (52) exchanged wedding bands at the Home Affairs department in George.

However‚ same sex couples still complain that acceptance is limited. Earlier this year‚ Mambaonline reported that only 28‚6% of Home Affairs branches — 117 of the 409 offices nationwide — have marriage officers who are willing to marry same-sex couples.

The Civil Union Act that legalised same-sex marriage in 2006 allows marriage officers to opt out of registering same- sex marriages “on the ground of conscience‚ religion and belief”.

Attacks on lesbian women in South Africa‚ in particular‚ have also marred South Africa’s reputation. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development recently released a draft bill that aims to combat hate crime including that relating to sexual orientation.

Pitman also found that the issue has divided nations elsewhere. In Mexico many states have resisted same-sex marriage‚ while within the UK‚ Northern Ireland still does not allow it.

However‚ a seismic shift came when the ruling by the United States Supreme Court in 2015 guaranteed same-sex marriage throughout the whole country‚ bringing marriage equality to over 320 million people.

Brazil offers over 200 million people this right‚ followed by France with 67 million.

The Netherlands and Spain tie for most gay-friendly country in the world‚ according to a 2015 Gallup Poll. Of those asked the question ‘Is the city/area where you live a good place to live for gay and lesbian people?’ 87% of people in both nations responded ‘yes’.

Europe took eight out of the top ten spots. Canada came in third and Uruguay took seventh place‚ scoring better than Sweden and Britain.

Despite this‚ Europe still has a long way to go before the entire continent can be described as “gay friendly” — The International Lesbian‚ Gay‚ Bisexual‚ Trans and Intersex Association Rainbow Map 2016 shows‚ some countries‚ particularly in Eastern Europe‚ have low levels of equality.

In America‚ according to a Gallup Poll in May 2016‚ sixty-one% of the country believes marriages between same-sex couples should be recognised by the law as valid‚ consistent with the 58% and 60% recorded in 2015.

The WEF reporting on Pitman’s work cautioned‚ however‚ that although one billion people now have marriage equality‚ this only represents around 14% of the world’s population.

Same sex-relationships are still illegal in more than 70 countries.

 

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