The travel guide for the gay community, published for over 40 years has been providing information on the legal situation of gays and lesbians in a total of 138 countries for many years. The editorial staff is in regular contact with the German Foreign Office, foreign embassies in Germany and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) activists from all over the world. In addition to the US (+8 ranks), countries such as Panama (+15), Taiwan (+14), Fiji (+14), Brazil (+8), Thailand (+8), Chile (+8), Malta (+8), New Zealand (+5) and Uruguay (+3) are among the winners of 2013.
This is due to new laws or modernised constitutions, such as the legalisation of gay marriage or new anti-discrimination laws. The clear loser is India, which has re-categorised homosexuality as a criminal offence in 2013 and thus slipped 15 ranks to 105th in the Gay Travel Index.
USA: Year of decisions
The news of the year 2013 for LGBT certainly came from the United States. The Supreme Court issued two important rulings strengthening the rights of gays and lesbians last June. After years of legal uncertainty, gay and lesbian marriages in California remain effective. The DOMA ruling grants gay and lesbian marriages equal federal benefits if they were legally registered in a US State. These landmark rulings have brought great movement to the discussion about gay marriage and more states than ever before have accelerated legalisation (including Hawaii, Colorado, Illinois, Maine and New Mexico) within a very short time. And the process continues. The positive development is reflected in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index, with the USA moving up eight ranks.
Loser 2013: India
The country’s highest court made negative headlines in 2013: Homosexuality in India was banned again after a lower legal body had legalised it. This made India the clear loser in the ranking for 2014. It is to be hoped that the world’s largest democracy will reconsider the ruling after the forthcoming elections and and that politics will push for legalisation again.
Under surveillance: Mexico
There were numerous legal rulings in Mexico – partner country of this year’s ITB – in 2013 that strengthened the rights of gays and lesbians. Politics here also is lagging behind and it remains to be seen whether the laws and rules will be adapted by the government accordingly. Mexico ranks 40th in the upper middle of the index (as of February 2014).
Germany under pressure
On the other hand, standstill can still be diagnosed in Germany when it comes to extending rights for gays and lesbians. Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel expressly spoke out against homosexual marriage and a an equal right of adoption. With the great success of the CDU at the last federal elections in addition, gays and lesbians can only hope for the Federal Constitutional Court, which has been demanding equal rights for gays and lesbians for years from the politicians in power.
Top ranks and lowest remain constant
As in the previous year, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Russia, etc. fill the lowest ranks in the 2014 Index. Widespread homophobia and homophobic legislation in general came under close scrutiny in Russia as a result of the Winter Olympics in Sotchi and culminated in the refusals of some important national representatives such as US President Barack Obama, German Federal President Joachim Gauck and French President François Hollande. The index’s top ranks also remain unchanged: Sweden ranks first, followed by Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Great Britain, which share second rank between themselves.
The complete Gay Travel Index can be found here