On 29 March 2013, gay couples were allowed to tie the knot for the first time in Britain. There are not many countries across the world where gay couples are allowed to get married. Fifteen countries and several sub-jurisdictions have allowed same sex couples to marry. Now every Briton, whether they are gay or straight, has the right to marry their partner. However, there is still opposition against same sex couples marrying.
Laws enabling same-sex marriages were enacted during the first decade of the 21st century and the Netherlands became the first country to grant same sex marriages. Although this has brought social change in many countries, there are many that still believe it is wrong for same sex couples to marry. The Church of England, for instance, has barred priests from performing same sex marriages. There are also many who believe that a gay wedding ceremony does not have the same significance as a heterosexual ceremony.
The world may be changing its views and attitudes towards same sex marriages but there are also places in the world where governments have been moving in the opposite direction. Homosexuality is illegal in 37 African countries. In Uganda for example, a controversial law was passed which punishes some homosexual acts by life in prison. In 2007, Nigeria also prohibited same sex marriages and any display of same sex relationships. India, a country where a 4 year period of decriminalisation helped bring homosexuality into the open in a conservative country, reinstated a ban on gay sex. People across the world were shocked by this move as many believed the Supreme Court would just place a rubber stamp on a ruling in 2009 in which the Delhi High Court had removed this ban.
So, is it a crime to be gay and be in a same sex relationship? Should same sex couples be given the freedom they deserve? In many parts of the world it is a crime even if same sex couples have a relationship. Many people across the world believe that same sex relationships are a taboo. Many conservative politicians believe that legalising same sex marriages goes against Christian beliefs. As civil partnerships have existed in Britain for same sex couples since 2005, many question whether there is need to take same sex relationships to the next level by allowing them to get married.
All over the world there have been campaigns to legalise same sex marriages. In a country that remains conservative, cities in India were openly holding events for gay people and the gay culture of the country had opened up in recent years. Google has also fronted a campaign supporting gay marriages called “Legalise Love”. After numerous years of campaigning, Scotland has taken the next step and has passed a bill to allow same sex marriages to take place. Regardless of the numerous campaigns and the number of attempts to legalise same sex marriages, research suggests that there are many who claim that they will not attend a gay marriage and there are many who also believe that gay marriages are different from heterosexual marriages. Therefore it is still yet to be seen whether this change in law will bring hope to gay men and women across the world and allow them to be treated as equal to heterosexual men and women.
Legalising same sex marriage or decriminalising same sex relationships and homosexual acts is a historic moment for gay people across the world. Younger people will be allowed to express themselves more freely. They now have the same avenues as a heterosexual person opening up for them. It is a symbolic step towards equality but unfortunately there is still a long road ahead for gay rights across the world.