Connect to share and comment

Rainbow Planet: The worldwide struggle for gay rights

Information and narratives from 20 countries show the spectrum of the gay rights struggle.

People dance and cheer during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Montevideo, on September 30, 2011. Hundreds of gays, lesbians and people supporting them in their fight for equal rights for homosexuals, took part in a cheerful and colorful parade along Montevideo's main avenue by night. (Pablo Porciuncula /AFP/Getty Images)

Editor's Note: We invite you to explore the global struggle for gay rights in 20 countries through Rainbow Planet's interactive map which features population statistics, spending power, legal struggles, advances and setbacks and, most importantly, voices of men and women who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

BOSTON — All across the world, countries, cultures, societies and religions are struggling with the issue of gay rights.

Over the last year, GlobalPost correpondents from China to Chile, Uganda to Lebanon have reported on compelling stories of the struggle of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people for their rights.

Our stories recorded legal advances, like in Spain and Argentina, as well as setbacks, as in China, and complicated stories of how traditional societies are grappling with the issue, like in Senegal.

As the stories accumulated, we recognized that gay rights is an issue that resonates around the globe and so we decided to do this survey of 20 countries. Our team found lightness, dark and most of all a half-light, where some progress in gay rights has been achieved but there are still obstacles.

In Australia, Sydney’s Gay Pride parade is a festive carnival-like street celebration where thousands of tourists go to see transvestites in extravagant costumes cavort with musclemen. It would seem that the land down under is a place where gays can enjoy full rights and tolerance. But our reporter found that Australian laws do not allow gay marriage and in our interviews some Australian gay men say they still do not feel comfortable or safe.

The worldwide struggle for civil rights for gays has met with opposition from some religious groups. GlobalPost columnists have explored different sides of these issues.

Right now Uganda is a flashpoint for gay rights because of the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” currently before the parliament of that central African country. Proposed by a Ugandan Christian, who had been a close associate of prominent American fundamentalists, the proposed law calls for the death penalty for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” a new crime defined by the bill as gay sex with an underage person, an HIV positive person having gay sex, a person using alcohol or drugs to seduce someone into having gay sex or a serial offender.

(To hear from the gay community in Uganda, watch this video.)

Crowds in Kampala demonstrated in favor of the bill and at first many Kampala-based commentators thought it would pass easily. But resistance to the bill grew domestically and internationally. The influential U.S. pastor Rick Warren issued a statement denouncing the bill. Then Uganda President Yoweri Museveni distanced himself from the bill, saying it was not simply an issue of domestic politics but it had become a “foreign policy issue.” Now its passage is not certain.