Legal recognition of same-sex marriage is a political, social, religious, human rights and civil rights issue around the world. Debates often centre on whether same-sex couples should be allowed marriage, or if the separate principle of civil unions is adequate. More than an emotional issue, the rights of homosexual individuals are connected to concrete issues such as financial (ability to file joint taxes), legal protections (inheritance and hospital visitation rights) and are basic freedoms.
In addition, several sub-national jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to marry including parts of Brazil, Mexico, and the United States of America. Bills allowing legal recognition of same-sex marriage have also been proposed, are pending, or have passed in Andorra, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Nepal, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. A bit bizarrely, Australia recognizes same-sex marriages only if one partner has had gender reassignment therapy.
In some places, basic rights are not only ignored, but just being known as a homosexual can be actively dangerous. It is important o be aware of these threats and conduct yourself accordingly. Laws may include sodomy laws penalizing consensual same-sex sexual activity, anti-lesbianism laws, and higher ages of consent for same-sex activity. Penalties can be severe, including fines, deportation, jail terms, or the death penalty.
There are more than 70 countries (82 if you include political entities such as Gaza/Palestine, the Turkish-controlled northern portion of Cyprus, and Indonesia) where criminal laws exist against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people (LGBTIs).
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