A Timeline of Gay World History

Ancient Times: Cultures such as the Indian, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman accommodate homosexuality and crossdressing among a minority of its citizens since the earliest recorded times. The castration of homosexual slaves and house servants becomes a custom of the Middle East, and Jewish tribes criminalize homosexual behavior.

  • 8000 B.C. The world’s earliest depictions of homosexuality are found in the ancient San rock paintings of Zimbabwe, Africa.

  • 3100. The Mahabharata of India describes how Arjuna was well-received in the palace of Maharaja Virata while spending one year as a crossdressing transgender.

  • 2697. Legendary Chinese Emperor, Huang Di, is described having male lovers and is by no means alone in the history of China’s ancient ruling monarchs.

  • 2460. One of the earliest Egyptian pharaohs associated with homosexuality is King Neferkare, who is described having an affair with his top military commander, Sasenet, during the Sixth Dynasty.

  • 2450. An Egyptian tomb of two royal manicurists, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, depicts the couple embracing and nose kissing with the inscription “joined in life and joined in death.”

  • 2100. The custom of castrating homosexual slaves and house servants is established in Ancient Assyria.

  • 2040. The Contendings of Horus and Seth, a text of Egypt’s early Middle Kingdom, narrates a homosexual union between the two gods.

  • 1200. The Jewish prophet Moses condemns crossdressing and homosexuality in the Torah (Book of Leviticus), punishing the latter by death for both men and women.

  • 1075. The Code of Assura from Middle Assyria prescribes castration for soldiers caught engaging in passive homosexual behavior.

  • 800. The Shatapatha Brahmana, a text from India’s Vedic Period, mentions homosexual union between the brother-gods, Mitra and Varuna. Eighth-century Greek epics like the Iliad and Odyssey portray homosexual unions between gods and young men such as Zeus and Ganymede, Poseidon and Pelops, Apollo and Hyacinth, etc.

  • 700. The custom of castrating homosexual slaves and house servants is introduced into Persia from conquered Assyria and Media.

  • 600. On the island of Lesbos in Greece, Sappho becomes highly regarded as a female poet and writes many poems speaking of love and infatuation between women.

  • 445. Plato and Xenophon, two prominent disciples of Socrates, describe their teacher as “helpless” among beautiful, adolescent boys. Plato further writes: “Same-sex love is regarded as shameful by barbarians and by those who live under despotic governments, just as philosophy is regarded as shameful by them.”

  • 400. India’s renowned medical text, the Sushruta Samhita, describes homosexual, transgender and intersex conditions as inborn and incurable. Historian Herodotus describes Middle Eastern slave traders selling castrated boys in Sardis to satisfy the lust of wealthy Greeks. The practice of castration, he writes, is considered “undignified, with only a few exceptions.”

  • 338. The Sacred Band of Thebes, a homosexual army comprised of more than three hundred soldiers, is defeated by Phillip II of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great.

  • 334. In Troy, Alexander the Great and Hephaestion profess their love by garlanding the statues of Achilles and Patroclus.

  • 330. Bagoas, the favorite male concubine of Persia’s emperor Darius III, is presented to Alexander the Great as a gift after the emperor’s death.

  • 300. India’s Manusmriti (Manu Samhita) lists homosexual behavior as a minor offense for ordinary, twice-born males and for underage, unmarried girls but does not condemn it otherwise.

  • 200. The Cybele cult of Greece holds initiation rites wherein men voluntarily castrate themselves, wear women’s clothing, and assume female names and identities.

  • 100. India’s Narada-smriti includes homosexuals in its list of men who are impotent with women and declares them incurable and unfit for marriage to the opposite sex. Roman historian Diodorus Siculus documents one of the earliest known references to homosexuality among the Celtic tribes of Britannia and northern Gaul.

The Dark Ages: With the advent of Christianity, homosexuality and crossdressing are criminalized in the Roman Empire but remain widely accepted throughout the rest of the world. Western Europe resists the Middle Eastern practice of male castration.

  • 0 A.D. In the first century, castration is banned throughout the Roman Empire.

  • 100. Greek moralist Plutarch describes the many male lovers of Heracles (Hercules) that include Apollo, Aberus, several of the Argonauts, Nestor, Iolaos and others said to be beyond counting.

  • 300. The Kama Sutra is put into writing during India’s prosperous Gupta Period. The renowned text describes homosexual practices and people in much detail and refers to them as a third nature or sex (tritiya-prakriti).

  • 303. Two Roman officers, Sergius and Bacchus, are executed in Syria for preaching Christianity. They are later recognized as saints and become a model for the same-sex union or “wedded brotherhood” ceremonies performed in the Christian world from the eighth to the eighteenth century.

  • 313. Rome enacts the Edict of Milan, which ends all religious persecution and returns confiscated property to the Church.

  • 324. The Roman Empire effectively becomes a Christian state with the ascension of Emperor Constantine I.

  • 389. Rome enacts its first law against homosexual citizens under Christian leadership, taking away their right to make or benefit from wills.

  • 370. The Roman Empire criminalizes sex between men with a prescribed penalty of death by burning.

The Middle Ages: With the growth of Christianity and the advent of Islam, the criminalization of homosexuality and crossdressing spreads across Eurasia and into Africa. Although driven underground, the practice itself remains widespread and in most cases silently tolerated within the shadows of society. The Middle Eastern custom of castrating homosexual slaves and house servants becomes commonplace in the East Roman Empire (Byzantium) and is introduced into northern China and India. Oblivious to the outside world, American and South Sea natives maintain their traditional acceptance of homosexual behavior and crossdressing.

  • 632 A.D. Shari’a Law is formulated during the seventh century and gradually established throughout the Islamic world. It punishes homosexuality by flagellation or death by stoning, burning, collapsing a rock wall upon, or throwing off from a high point.

  • 642. The Visigothic Code is crafted in Spain and gradually established throughout Christian Europe. It orders castration or death by burning for anyone convicted of “sodomy.”

  • 700. The custom of castrating homosexual slaves and house servants is introduced into northern China by Muslim merchants during the eighth century.

  • 780. Korean Emperor Hyegong is executed fifteen years after his ascent to the throne when royal subordinates can no longer tolerate his effeminate behavior.

  • 800. Traditional legends and practices of the Norse are put into writing, some of which include homosexual practices and crossdressing.

  • 1000. The custom of castrating homosexual slaves and house servants is introduced into northern India by Muslims during the eleventh century. Temple construction flourishes on the Indian subcontinent and some are adorned with openly erotic images depicting homosexuality.

  • 1100. Archbishop Theophylaktos argues in favor of eunuchs as an important and contributing social class of Byzantine society in his work, Defense of Eunuchs. Eunuchs are placed in charge of guarding the Prophet Mohammed’s tomb in Medina during the twelfth century or earlier.

  • 1184. Roman Catholic Inquisitions begin in France using torture to extract confessions and punishing homosexuality by death. The Inquisitions spread across the globe and remain in effect for more than seven centuries.

  • 1327. England’s King Edward II is grotesquely executed after refusing to end his “unnatural” relationship with Hugh Despenser, a son of the earl of Winchester.

  • 1351. Slavery and male castration reach their peak in India under the Islamic rule of Firuz Shah Tughlaq of the Sultanate of Delhi.

  • 1453. Ottoman Turks conquer the Byzantine Empire and attitudes toward homosexuality improve under the new Islamic emperor, Mehmet II.

  • 1486. In Bengal, India, transgender dancers bless the newborn child Nimai (Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu), an important incarnation of Radha and Krsna.

  • 1492. On his quest to find a shorter route to India, Christopher Columbus discovers the New World.

The Early Modern Age: Christian Europe wages its greatest assault upon homosexuality to date while the practice remains silently tolerated in the Muslim world. Expeditions into sub-Saharan Africa, the New World and the South Seas reveal an astonishing acceptance of homosexuality and crossdressing among the indigenous people there. France becomes the first Christian nation to repeal its sodomy laws.

  • 1519 A.D. In a report to King Carlos V of Spain, conquistador Hernando Cortez reports widespread homosexuality among the Veracruz natives of Mexico.

  • 1528. Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro gives detailed reports of Incan priests and chieftains engaged in crossdressing rituals and sodomy.

  • 1533. King Henry VIII of England establishes the Buggery Act, which replaces the penalty for homosexuality from castration or burning at the stake to public hanging.

  • 1536-1821. Thirty homosexuals are burned at the stake in Portugal during the Portuguese Inquisition.

  • 1570-1630. More than one hundred homosexuals are burned at the stake in the city of Zaragoza, Spain, during the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834).

  • 1591-1593. In one of the earliest accounts of homosexuality in Africa, a series of court records from Portugal’s Brazil colony describes sodomitic practices among the natives of Angola and Congo.

  • 1599. Rome sanctions the castration of young boy singers known as castrati.

  • 1625. Jesuit priest Joao dos Santos writes of a class of native Africans in Portuguese Angola, known as chibados, who dress like women, marry other men and “esteeme that unnaturale damnation an honor.”

  • 1629. A baffled colonial American court orders intersex woman, Thomasine Hall, to dress partly as a man and partly as a woman.

  • 1633. Christina Alexandra, widely believed to be intersex or lesbian, is crowned Queen of Sweden.

  • 1636. Dutch officers Caron and Schouten write of the unabashed acceptance of sodomy they find among Japanese Buddhist priests and gentry.

  • 1646. Jan Creoli becomes one of the first-known persons executed for sodomy in colonial America (Dutch-ruled New Amsterdam, now New York City). He is garroted (strangled to death with a cord) and his body “burned to ashes.”

  • 1656-1663. Several hundred homosexuals are publicly garroted in San Lazaro, Mexico, during a well-publicized effort by Spain to purge that country of sodomy.

  • 1660. Jan Quisthout van der Linde is convicted of sodomy with a servant in New Amsterdam, tied into a sack, thrown in a river and drowned. London’s scandalous periodical, The Wandering Whore, describes English “hermaphrodites” who are “given to much luxury…and to that abominable sin of sodomy.”

  • 1669. Spanish writer and traveler Francisco Coreal reports of a class of “hermaphrodite” boys in Florida who dress up like women and engage in sodomy with the native men.

  • 1682. Robert de La Salle claims the Louisiana Territory for France. Early French explorers in Quebec, Louisiana and the Great Lakes observe crossdressing homosexual natives and coin the term “berdache” to describe them.

  • 1691. Dutchman Engelbert Kaempfer observes the popularity of crossdressing Kabuki dancers that also work as boy prostitutes throughout Japan.

  • 1702. One of the last public burnings of homosexuals occurs in France during a well-publicized male prostitution scandal in Paris.

  • 1730-1732. Seventy-five homosexuals are sentenced to death and garroted in the City Hall cellars of Holland during a harsh campaign to exterminate that country of sodomy “from top to bottom.”

  • 1740. Frederick II the Great, one of the earliest known German homosexuals, is crowned King of Prussia. The Qing Dynasty enacts China’s first law against homosexuality but it is rarely enforced and the penalties are mild.

  • 1770. Captain James Cook observes an acceptance of homosexuality among the Maori tribes of New Zealand. Similar observations are made by European explorers throughout the South Seas.

  • 1771. Gustav III, widely believed to be homosexual, is crowned King of Sweden.

  • 1778. Thomas Jefferson writes a law proposing castration instead of hanging for sodomy but the idea is rejected by the Virginia Legislature.

  • 1791. A Cuban newspaper article criticizes the “effeminate sodomites” that apparently thrive in eighteenth-century Havana.

  • 1791. France becomes the first Christian nation to decriminalize sodomy through a revision of its penal code during the French Revolution.

  • 1796. New York state replaces hanging for sodomy with a maximum prison sentence of fourteen years.

The Nineteenth Century: France, Holland, Spain and Portugal repeal their sodomy laws along with those of their colonies while Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia manage only to reduce their penalties from death by hanging to long prison sentences. Britain’s harsh sodomy laws are implanted into all of its many important colonies around the world. The Islamic world maintains a mostly silent tolerance of homosexuality and the practice of male castration dissipates in unison with the global slave market. Germans usher in the world’s very first homosexual rights movement.

  • 1801 A.D. New York state increases its prison sentence for sodomy to a mandatory life sentence.

  • 1803. Austria decreases the punishment for sodomy to one year in prison.

  • 1806. English traveler John Barrow describes the sodomy he finds among Hong Kong officials in his book, Travels in China.

  • 1810. France’s Napoleonic Code is legally established, thus ratifying the country’s landmark repeal of all private sodomy laws. Several German states, including Bavaria and Hanover, adopt the code as well.

  • 1811. The Kingdom of Holland repeals its sodomy laws while incorporated into France from 1810-1813. Spain and Portugal also repeal their sodomy laws during the early 1800s.

  • 1820. Queen Mujaji I, a female monarch of Lesotho’s Lovedu tribe, keeps a large harem of wives and legitimizes the practice for other neighboring South African tribes.

  • 1828. Australia records its first hanging for sodomy and the executions reach their peak in the 1830s. New York state reduces its sodomy penalty from a life sentence to a maximum of ten years in prison.

  • 1830. Brazil repeals its sodomy laws, eight years after gaining independence from Portugal.

  • 1834. The British Slavery Abolition Act ends slavery throughout most of the British Empire. The practice of male castration gradually disappears in tandem with the decline of world slavery during the nineteenth century.

  • 1835. Russia establishes its first sodomy laws.

  • 1836. In a well-publicized trial, Reverend William Yate, second in line to the bishop of Sydney, is prosecuted for engaging in sodomy with six Maori men in New Zealand.

  • 1857. James Buchanan, widely believed to be homosexual, becomes the fifteenth president of the United States. Scottish explorer David Livingstone reports crossdressing shamans among the Ambo tribes of South-West Africa (Namibia).

  • 1860. Great Britain revises its penal code, changing the penalty for sodomy from death by hanging to life imprisonment. The new code is established in British colonies all over world including India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, the Caribbean, etc. and has a long-lasting effect in those countries.

  • 1861. German psychiatrists study homosexuality and begin to consider it innate. Karl Heinrich Ulrichs popularizes “Uranism” and the concept of a “third sex.”

  • 1862. Mexico repeals its sodomy laws while under French rule from 1862-1867.

  • 1864. Ludwig II, widely believed to be homosexual, becomes a popular albeit eccentric king of Bavaria. Australia replaces hangings for sodomy with long prison sentences and floggings. Sweden establishes sodomy laws prescribing up to two years in prison. British explorer Richard F. Burton locates the mysterious Amazon women of Dahomey (Benin, Africa) who identify as men, engage in warfare and “share passions between each other.”

  • 1865. British-ruled Hong Kong enacts sodomy laws prescribing life sentences.

  • 1869. The modern term “homosexuality” (homosexualitat) is first coined in a German pamphlet written by Karoly Maria Kertbeny.

  • 1870. Anna Leonowens expresses shock at the crossdressing and “unnatural vice” among Siamese natives in her bestselling book, The English Governess at the Siamese Court. Italy outlaws the castration of young boy singers.

  • 1871. King Wilhelm of Prussia creates a new German Empire and reestablishes sodomy as a crime (Paragraph 175).

  • 1873. Japan briefly establishes sodomy laws from 1873 to 1881.

  • 1883. The Kama Sutra is translated into English and published by Sri Richard Francis Burton. A German translation is published by Richard Schmidt in 1897.

  • 1886. Native American two-spirit, We’wha, creates a sensation in Washington D.C. when introduced to President Grover Cleveland and dined at the White House. Two-spirit traditions are documented and occasionally photographed in nearly 150 North American tribes.

  • 1889. Italy repeals its sodomy laws.

  • 1890. South African Zulu chief, Nongoloza Mathebula, orders his bandit-warriors to abstain from women and take on boy-wives instead, a time-honored practice in the region.

  • 1892. New York state eliminates its minimum requirement of five years in prison for sodomy.

  • 1892-1921. Over two-hundred and fifty sodomy cases are tried in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, with the most common defense being that sodomy has been a longstanding custom among the African natives.

  • 1893. Famous Russian composer and known homosexual Pyotr Tchaikovsky dies unexpectedly at age 53.

  • 1894. Canada replaces flogging as a penalty for homosexuality with prison terms of up to fifteen years.

  • 1895. London’s most popular playwright, Oscar Wilde, is convicted of “gross indecency” (homosexual acts not amounting to buggery) and sentenced to two years of hard labor in a highly-publicized trial.

  • 1897. Magnus Hirschfeld founds the very first modern homosexual movement, the Wissenschaftlich-Humanitare Komitee, in Germany.

  • 1899. Hirschfeld publishes the first annual journal for homosexuals, Jahrbuch Fur Sexuelle Zwischenstufen, in Germany.

The Twentieth Century: The English-speaking world begins repealing its sodomy laws en masse and the modern gay rights movement is born in the United States. Islamic countries begin to modernize but fall back into anti-gay religious fundamentalism. Asian countries maintain a mostly silent tolerance of homosexuality while Western Europe begins offering equitable marriage rights for gay couples.

  • 1901 A.D. Reputed German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing concedes that homosexuality is inborn and not pathological, as he had earlier claimed.

  • 1903. Celebrated British soldier, Sir Hector Archibald Macdonald, commits suicide when his homosexuality is uncovered while stationed in British Ceylon.

  • 1908. The Inquisitions are officially ended by the Roman Catholic Church.

  • 1912. The last vestige of China’s eunuch system ends with the collapse of the Qing Dynasty.

  • 1917. Russia repeals its sodomy laws after the Bolshevik Revolution, citing their origin in Biblical teachings.

  • 1918. The world’s first demonstration for homosexual rights takes place one day before Germany surrenders in the Great War. Hirschfeld speaks before a Berlin crowd of five thousand, calling for the repeal of Paragraph 175.

  • 1921. California lowers its sodomy penalties from a maximum life sentence to a maximum of fifteen years in prison.

  • 1926. Portugal reinstates its sodomy laws under the Salazar dictatorship.

  • 1930. The world’s first modern sex change operation is performed on Danish painter Andreas Wegener, who travels to Germany for the procedure.

  • 1932. Poland repeals its sodomy laws but homosexuals are soon persecuted under Nazi and later Soviet rule.

  • 1933. Denmark repeals its sodomy laws. Joseph Stalin reinstates sodomy laws within the Soviet Union. In Germany and throughout much of Europe, homosexuals are viciously persecuted, imprisoned and killed by the Nazis up until the end of World War II.

  • 1935. J. Edgar Hoover, founder of modern police investigation and widely believed to be homosexual, is appointed as the FBI’s first director.

  • 1944. Sweden repeals its sodomy laws.

  • 1945. Nazi concentration camps are liberated at the close of World War II. Approximately 15,000 homosexuals, marked with inverted pink triangles, are believed to have died in the camps.

  • 1948. Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (The Kinsey Report) is published, bringing the taboo subject of homosexuality up for debate in the United States.

  • 1949. Strict sodomy laws are enacted in China after the communist takeover.

  • 1950. New York becomes the first U.S. state to reduce sodomy from a felony to a misdemeanor. America’s first homosexual organization, The Mattachine Society, is founded in New York City. Homosexual marriages among the Zulu of South Africa peak during the 1950s, with weddings held monthly.

  • 1951. Greece repeals its sodomy laws. California’s Supreme Court rules against the practice of suspending liquor licenses at bars serving homosexual clientele.

  • 1952. Christine Jorgensen becomes America’s first modern transsexual after returning home from a sex-change operation in Denmark.

  • 1955. America’s first lesbian organization, Daughters of Bilitis, is founded in San Francisco.

  • 1956. Allen Ginsberg crosses censorship lines by publishing Howl, a book celebrating his homosexuality, and emerges victorious when challenged in court one year later. Thailand abolishes its British-inherited sodomy laws during an effort to purge Thai legal codes of obsolete edicts.

  • 1962. Illinois becomes the first U.S. state to repeal its sodomy laws.

  • 1963. Israel repeals its sodomy laws.

  • 1964. Life magazine dubs San Francisco the “Gay Capital of the U.S.”

  • 1966. The commencement of China’s notorious Cultural Revolution includes a vicious and organized attack against homosexual people and art (1966-1976).

  • 1967. England and Wales repeal their sodomy laws.

  • 1969. In June, homosexual riots break out on Christopher Street at the Stonewall Inn in New York City as a response to routine police harassment, marking the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. Canada and West Germany repeal their sodomy laws.

  • 1970. The world’s first Gay Pride parades occur in Chicago, New York and San Francisco to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

  • 1971. British anthropologist Edward Evans-Pritchard documents the widespread tradition of homosexual marriage among the Zande tribes of Sudan. Austria repeals its sodomy laws. Minnesota invalidates the first known same-sex marriage in the U.S. between Jack Baker and Michael McConnell. The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the ruling a year later.

  • 1972. Sweden enacts the world’s first law legalizing transsexual operations. A comprehensive study of female-female seagull pairing on Santa Barbara Island (California) creates a sensation as the first publicized observation of homosexuality in the animal kingdom. Norway repeals its sodomy laws.

  • 1973. The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental and emotional disorders, followed two years later by the American Psychological Association.

  • 1974. Chris Vogel and Rich North, a gay couple from Winnipeg, Canada, shock the world by becoming the first homosexual couple to publicly marry in a church and file a legal challenge to the country’s ban on same-sex marriage. A Manitoba judge declares their union invalid later that year.

  • 1975. South Australia becomes the first Australian state to repeal its sodomy laws. California repeals its sodomy laws by a single vote.

  • 1977. Harvey Milk becomes the United States’ first openly gay elected official. Florida bans homosexuals from adopting children.

  • 1979. Cuba repeals its sodomy laws. Pakistan adds Shari’a law to existing penal codes and consequently the death penalty for sodomy. Iran similarly reverts to Shari’a law and the death penalty for sodomy after its 1979 revolution. Spain removes anti-homosexual laws imposed under the dictatorship of General Franco. Homosexuals riot in San Francisco after Dan White receives the lightest possible sentence for his murder of Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone.

  • 1980. New York sodomy laws are ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court but not formally repealed until 2000. Colombia and Scotland repeal their sodomy laws.

  • 1981. HIV/AIDS is diagnosed for the first time among American homosexual males.

  • 1982. Wisconsin becomes the first U.S. state to outlaw discrimination against homosexuals. Portugal repeals the sodomy laws imposed under the Salazar dictatorship.

  • 1984. The Unitarian Universalist Association becomes the first major Protestant church to approve religious blessings for gay unions. The U.S. Virgin Islands repeals its sodomy laws.

  • 1985. France becomes the first country in the world to enact an anti-discrimination law protecting homosexuals.

  • 1986. Equal rights and freedom from discrimination are guaranteed to homosexuals and transgenders under Canada’s new Charter of Rights and Freedoms. New Zealand repeals its sodomy laws.

  • 1987. Rep. Barney Frank (D) becomes the first member of the U.S. Congress to come out publicly as homosexual.

  • 1989. Denmark becomes the first country in the world to establish civil unions for gay couples.

  • 1990. The World Health Organization removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

  • 1991. Hong Kong abolishes its sodomy laws.

  • 1993. Minnesota becomes the first U.S. state to ban discrimination against transgenders. The Intersex Society of North America becomes the world’s first organization in support of rights for intersex people. Hawaii’s Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage and ignites America’s gay marriage debate. Russia and Ireland repeal their sodomy laws. Norway establishes civil unions for gay couples.

  • 1994. Alain Danielou publishes The Complete Kama Sutra. Bermuda repeals its sodomy laws.

  • 1995. Sweden establishes civil unions for gay couples.

  • 1996. The South African Constitution specifically guarantees equal rights and protections on the basis of sexual orientation. Iceland establishes civil unions for gay couples. The U.S. Congress enacts a law forbidding the federal recognition of same-sex marriage or any similar union (The Defense of Marriage Act).

  • 1997. China repeals its sodomy laws. Tasmania becomes the last Australian state to repeal its sodomy laws.

  • 1998. South Africa repeals its sodomy laws. Chile becomes the last major Latin American country to repeal its sodomy laws. Alaska and Hawaii become the first U.S. states to effectively ban same-sex marriage by constitutional referendum. The Netherlands establishes civil unions for gay couples.

  • 1999. France establishes civil unions for gay couples. California becomes the first U.S. state to extend limited domestic partnership benefits to gay couples. India’s very first Gay Pride march is held in Kolkata. Brazil becomes the first country to ban "conversion therapy" for gay minors.

The Twenty-first Century: LGBTI people continue their fight for full equality under the law, culminating in the quest for equal marriage rights. Modern gay movements begin to effect change in Latin America and parts of Asia while most African, Middle Eastern and East European countries are held back by anti-gay religious fundamentalism.

  • 2000 A.D. Germany establishes civil unions for gay couples and Vermont, after great resistance, becomes the first U.S. state to do the same.

  • 2001. The Netherlands becomes the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Bertrand Delanoe becomes the first openly gay mayor of a major world city (Paris). Nova Scotia becomes the first Canadian province to extend limited domestic partnership benefits to gay couples. The Cayman and British Virgin Islands repeal their sodomy laws. GALVA-108, the Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association, is established.

  • 2002. Quebec becomes the first Canadian province to establish civil unions for gay couples.

  • 2003. The United States repeals all remaining state sodomy laws by virtue of the Supreme Court. Belgium becomes the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Puerto Rico repeals its sodomy laws. Tasmania becomes the first Australian state to extend limited domestic partnership benefits to gay couples.

  • 2004. Massachusetts becomes the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. New Zealand establishes civil unions for gay couples. San Francisco begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California but is stopped one month later by court order.

  • 2005. Spain becomes the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Canada becomes the fourth country in the world and the first in North America (and the New World) to legalize same-sex marriage. The United Kingdom establishes civil unions for gay couples. California extends full marriage benefits to registered domestic partners. Fiji’s sodomy laws are invalidated by its High Court.

  • 2006. South Africa becomes the fifth country in the world and the first in Africa to legalize same-sex marriage.

  • 2007. Nepal repeals its sodomy laws.

  • 2008. Uruguay becomes the first Latin American country to establish civil unions for gay couples. In California, same-sex marriages resume in June by court order but are stopped after a constitutional referendum is passed five months later. A Florida court strikes down that state’s ban on gay adoptions. India holds its first official Gay Pride marches in six major cities.

  • 2009. The High Court of Delhi strikes down much of Section 377, effectively decriminalizing sodomy in India. Norway and Sweden become the sixth and seventh countries in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Johanna Siguroardottir becomes the first openly gay head of government (Iceland). Hungary establishes registered partnerships for gay couples.

  • 2010. Argentina becomes the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. Portugal, Iceland, Washington D.C. and New Hampshire legalize same-sex marriage. Austria establishes registered partnership laws for gay couples.

  • 2011. New York becomes the sixth U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. The United States lifts its ban on homosexuals serving in the military. Colombia bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

  • 2012. Denmark and the U.S. states of Washington and Maine legalize same-sex marriage. Hawaii establishes civil unions for same-sex couples. The American Psychiatric Association removes transgender identity from its list of mental and emotional disorders. California becomes the first U.S. state to ban "conversion therapy" for gay minors.

  • 2013. Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, France and the U.S. states of Maryland and Hawaii legalize same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and legalizes same-sex marriage in California. Russia enacts “gay propaganda” laws criminalizing public support for gay rights or identity. India’s Supreme Court upholds its colonial-era sodomy laws.

  • 2014. The United Kingdom, Scotland and Finland legalize same-sex marriage. More than 25 additional U.S. states legalize same-sex marriage after DOMA is repealed. Mozambique, Northern Cyprus, Palau and Sao Tome & Principe decriminalize homosexuality. Eleven African nations tighten their sodomy laws.

  • 2015. Same-sex marriage is legalized in the United States after its Supreme Court strikes down all same-sex marriage bans. Conservative U.S. states begin enacting “religious liberty” laws, allowing LGBTI discrimination based on religious views. Ireland legalizes same-sex marriage by referendum. Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice allows state courts or legislatures to legalize same-sex marriage state-by-state.

  • 2016. Nauru, Seychelles and Belize repeal their sodomy laws. Colombia and Greenland legalize same-sex marriage. The United States allows transgenders to serve in the military. Conservative U.S. states begin enacting “bathroom bills” to prevent transgenders from using public restrooms matching their gender identity. Chad criminalizes homosexuality.

  • 2017. Germany, Bermuda, Malta and Australia legalize same-sex marriage.

  • 2018. India's Supreme Court reads down Section 377, effectively legalizing homosexuality. San Marino establishes civil unions for same-sex couples. Trinidad and Tobago's High Court overturns its colonial-era sodomy laws.

  • 2019. Angola legalizes homosexuality and bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its new penal code. Taiwan becomes the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. The World Health Organization removes transgender identity from its list of mental disorders. Botswana's High Court overturns its colonial-era sodomy laws. Gabon criminalizes homosexuality but repeals the law one year later. Brunei tightens its sodomy laws to punish homosexuality with death by stoning. Northern Ireland legalizes same-sex marriage.

  • 2020. Costa Rica legalizes same-sex marriage by court order. U.S. Supreme Court bans gay and transgender employment discrimination on the basis of sex (Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act). Russia bans same-sex marriage in its constitution. Sudan abolishes flogging and death penalty as punishments for homosexuality.

(Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex, Abridged Edition, pp. 125-139)

Image: Sir Hector Archibald MacDonald (1853-1903), victim of British sodomy laws in India.

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