CNN - "How do gay rights look in your country?"

With the Supreme Court ruling Friday in favor of same-sex marriage rights in the United States, CNN Opinion approached gay rights activists and leaders in other countries to get their view of the situation in their own societies.


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With the Supreme Court ruling Friday in favor of same-sex marriage rights in the United States, CNN Opinion approached gay rights activists and leaders in other countries to get their view of the situation in their own societies.

According to Pew Research, the view of same-sex marriage has shifted dramatically in the United States in the past 14 years -- from 57% opposed in 2001 to 57% now saying they are in favor. But Pew has also found that, across the globe, majorities in many countries still believe that society should not accept gay relationships.

Two of our program coordinators discussed issues from their regions of focus. Here are excerpts from the article.

Maria Mercedes Gomez, our regional coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean commented on Columbia:

Colombia's Constitutional Court has taken some important steps in guaranteeing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights. From decisions on civil unions, social security and protections for intersex children to the adoption of the biological child of a domestic partner, the country's top court has provided legal recognition of LGBTI rights.

Earlier this year, for example, the court handed down a landmark decision on trans rights, telling Colombia's army that it could not compel trans women to serve in the military. The case was a breakthrough for trans women, who had typically been treated as male for military service purposes and compelled to get the military passbook for accessing basic rights. In spite of these advances, the petitioner in the case, Gina Vanesa Hoyos Gallego, is aware that dropping this requirement to serve is merely one of many obstacles she has to face to be fully recognized as a citizen.

More recently, on June 5, the Colombian President signed Decree 1227, which authorizes citizens to change their sex on identification documents and ends a long-standing element of discrimination. This decree ends the insecurity faced by transgender people of being misrecognized by the state and having to live with the criminalization and insecurity of not having the basic identification documents that others are guaranteed. With this decree, which was promoted by the Colombian ministries of the Interior and Justice, and with the help of Aquelarre, a coalition of trans organizations and civil society allies, trans people can finally have their ID changed to the sex with which they identify, rather than sex they were assigned at birth.

Yet despite these gains, state and nonstate violence continues to affect LGBTI communities. Much more work remains to be done, and Colombia will need to see a transformation in both the country's political and cultural practices to ensure these recently introduced rights are fully implemented.

LGBTI groups and individuals in Colombia have come a long way in gaining a political voice and recognition. Our hope is that one day, all Colombians will be able to enjoy their rights in peace, safety and with dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ging Cristobal, our project coordinator for Asia commented on the Philippines:

When the Pew Research Center asked Filipinos if they agreed with the statement "Homosexuality should be accepted by society," almost three-quarters of respondents said yes. Yet, however promising this sounds, this rosy picture doesn't match the reality for far too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Phillippines.

The reality is that discrimination persists in both the workplace and the education system in the Philippines, while violence continues to haunt the lives of many gay men and transgender women. Meanwhile, stigmatization and bullying are still a curse for LGBT youth.

What has the official response been? Unfortunately, for the past 16 years, a national anti-discrimination law that would penalize and prevent discrimination against LGBT individuals and others has been stalled in the country's legislature.

That said, there have been breakthroughs and pockets of progress around the country. For example, increasing numbers of local anti-discrimination ordinances have been enacted in cities across the Philippines, although these lack clear and specific details and processes to integrate them into the present legal, judiciary, and government system. As a result, these local efforts are left toothless.

As a result, the idea that there is "acceptance" in the Philippines creates a false sense that LGBT Filipinos are free and equal and that they live in dignity. Instead, the road to achieving the basic rights they were born with as human beings is still very much an uphill one.

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