Feature: The most important international stories of 2013

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Having brought you the most important UK and US stories of 2013, it is only natural to follow with the most important international stories of the year too.

While we cannot claim a thoroughly scientific approach to the rankings, we have selected the stories through a combination of how widely read they were, how much debate they provoked, and our own editorial judgement as to the effect they will have on LGBT life.

With some ups and some downs, here are what we would consider the most important international stories of 2013 (in no particular order).

India’s Supreme Court reinstates ban on gay sex.


In a shock ruling earlier in December, India’s Supreme Court ruled to ban gay sex.

The Supreme Court upheld a law which criminalises gay sex, reversing a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court order which had legalised same-sex sexual activity.

Section 377 of India’s penal code bans “sex against the order of nature”, which is widely interpreted to mean gay sex, and can be punished with up to 10 years in jail – although at the moment prosecutions remain rare.

Swedish athlete at Moscow Athletics Championship paints nails in rainbow colours against anti-gay law

Rainbow Nails

Swedish High jumper Emma Green-Tregaro, at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, made a stand against anti-gay laws introduced in Russia in June, by painting her nails in rainbow colours.

She admitted she did it to support LGBT people in Russia and was later advised not to do so. She said: “It felt right”.

Uganda passes anti-gay bill


After several years of threats, Uganda’s Parliament last week passed the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The bill increases the penalty for other acts – including mere sexual touching – from seven years to life imprisonment.

It has been widely condemned, including by the UK and US Governments.

Costa Rica accidentally legalises same-sex marriage


In July, Costa Rican officials passed a bill which accidentally approved same-sex unions.

It was after they voted to change a bill which previously only recognised legal partnerships as between a man and a woman that the language of the new legislation allowed same sex-couples to marry.

Nelson Mandela, human rights hero, dies aged 95


South African human rights campaigner Nelson Mandela died earlier this month surrounded by his family. The announcement was made by South African President Jacob Zuma this evening. He said that in the last few hours of his life.

The legendary human rights campaigner helped push for equality for gay South Africans, and helped to make South Africa the continent of Africa’s first and so far only country with same-sex marriage.

Protesters on both sides of the equal marriage debate strip off to demonstrate their causes


A campaign group formed to protest against equal marriage legislation in France, staged a D-Day landing recreation, topless, to show their continued opposition to equal marriage in the country. Hommen also staged protests against equal marriage in the streets of Saint-Lazare.

They formed in response to Ukranian human rights group Femen, an all-female group who protest about equality for all, and always with their tops off.

Femen staged topless demonstrations for equality in front of Russian President Vladimir PutinPope emeritus Benedict XVI, in Notre Dame Cathedral, and soaked the Belgian Catholic Archbishop with water.

Two members of Femen were last week charged after protesting topless at the Stockholm Russian embassy in August during the city’s gay pride festival.

France: Far right activist commits suicide in Notre Dame following legalisation of equal marriage


Drawing a poignant line under the often violent debate around equal marriage in France, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was evacuated, after former far-right activist Dominique Venner committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, shortly after writing a blog post slamming France’s recently passed equal marriage bill.

Following months of, sometimes violent, protests, and a substantial rise in homophobic attacks, in May French President Hollande signed the law, making France the fourteenth country in the world to allow equal marriage.

Luxembourg became the first country to have gay prime minister and gay deputy PM


Xavier Bettel, the gay mayor of Luxembourg City and leader of the country’s Democratic Party, was in November officially appointed prime minister designate of Luxembourg by Grand Duke Henri, the country’s head of state.

Mr Bettel also announced that Etienne Schneider, the gay leader of Luxembourg’s Socialist Workers’ Party (LSDP), was his choice as deputy prime minister.

Italy: 14-year-old commits suicide because of anti-gay bullying


Spurring Italian politicians and influencers into action was the death of a fourteen-year-old. Rome has taken his own life because of anti-gay bullying, and struggles with finding acceptance of his sexuality.

After causing cuts to his arms and groin, the teenager killed himself after 2am on Friday by throwing himself from a balcony. It was the third case in Rome in less than a year of a young gay person taking their own life.

The teenager joins many others around the world and here in the UK who have committed suicide because of bullying.

South Africa: Gay couple hope their traditional wedding will inspire the black community


A gay couple in South Africa married in a wedding ceremony uniting Zulu and Tswana traditions, which they hoped would send a message to others that “Being gay is as African as being black.”

Tshepo Cameron Modisane and Thoba Calvin Sithole, both 27, met several years ago while studying in Durban.

Former UKIP MEP reveals she is the UK’s first transgender Parliamentarian


MEP Nikki Sinclaire came out as Britain’s first “sex change parliamentarian” after writing about her gender reassignment journey in a new autobiography.

In her new book entitled ‘Never Give Up,’ the 45-year-old We Demand A Referendum Now MEP wrote about her “great secret” known only to her closest friends and family.

Russian anti-gay law causes international outcry


After the June passage of a law in Russia to ban the promotion of homosexuality to minors there was an international outcry, and debate around whether to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics in February. While the law has been widely condemned by international bodies, a boycott of the games has been generally taken off the table by most officials, and human rights activists.

Coca-cola and McDonald’s agree that the Winter Olympics should not be relocated from Russia

Pope Francis elected and softens stance on homosexuality


In November, US President Barack Obama said he had been “hugely impressed” by Pope Francis’ recent remarks admitting the Roman Catholic Church was “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception.

Speaking to reporters in July during a plane journey back to the Vatican following his trip to Brazil, Pope Francis said that gay people should not be judged or marginalised and should be integrated into society.

Update: PinkNews notes that Malta’s Auxiliary Bishop has since said that Pope Francis was “shocked” by plans to introduce adoption laws for same-sex couples to the country, urging the bishop to do more to speak out against the legislation.