Jessica Stern, Executive Director, in "The Guardian"

Report on Global LGBTIQ Community

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is a legal right across the country marks a milestone in the march for equality.

But the ever-expanding rainbow map of America, bolstered by the Friday verdict, is in stark contrast to the state of LGBT rights in the rest of the world, where as many as 80 countries are still hostile toward gay people.

Despite recent progress in the U.S., Latin America and even Ireland – one of the most conservative societies in Europe – the global campaign for the rights of sexual minorities has experienced a series of setbacks in other regions including Africa and the Middle East.

Fewer than 1 billion of the world’s population live in countries where same-sex marriage or civil unions are recognized, compared to almost 2.8 billion living in countries which criminalize gay people and impose severe punishments on homosexuality, such as imprisonment, lashings and even death sentences.

In around 10 countries, homosexuality is punishable by death, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Brunei.

Jessica Stern, the Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday but said that the campaigners’ work is far from over.

Today and for weeks and months to come, Americans will celebrate today’s historic ruling – a dream come true for tens of thousands of [people],” she said. “The US has joined 19 other countries in recognition of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide and yet, our work is far from over – not in the U.S. and not around the world.

She added:

Marriage equality is one slice of the pie, but homophobia and transphobia morph into different shapes in law and practice. Nearly 80 countries still criminalize same-sex intimacy and countless prohibit so-called ‘cross-dressing’.

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