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Rainbow Planet: The worldwide struggle for gay rights

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

In Brazil, same-sex relations are not criminalized so, according to a popular song, “there are no sins south of the equator.” Although the country has a reputation for openness and sexual freedom, the actual legal rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Brazilians are not clear. The courts are ruling on several cases over topics ranging from inheritance to the rights of same-sex couples to adopt. Despite growing public acceptance of homosexuality, there has been a wave of murders based on sexual orientation, 190 in 2008.

This Rainbow Planet series also features gays telling absorbing stories about the situations in their countries. Some say they are relatively happy, some say they feel they must hide their identity and others say they are afraid for their safety. These quotes from the countries in the survey give a ground level account of what the situation is like for gays.

The survey looks at the legal situation in 20 countries from South Africa, where the rights of gay people and other minorities are enshrined in the constitution and same-sex marriage is legal, to Afghanistan, where under Shariah law same sex relations are illegal.

The legal situation rarely tells the full story, however. In South Africa, for instance, there are still many hate crimes committed against gay people, such as the rape and murder last year of a member of the national women’s soccer team, who had said she was a lesbian. And in Afghanistan, there is a traditional practice in which a man has sex with a young boy.

In no country is the situation fully clear. Rainbow Planet shows the complicated stories of the gay rights efforts worldwide. There are horror stories and there are advances. We have gathered information and narratives to improve understanding of the struggle for gay rights in all its complexity.