Gay Marriage and Obama: International Reaction

President Obama’s historic support for marriage equality has become ‘the shot heard around the world.’

“President Obama joins the British Prime Minister and the new French President in backing same-sex marriage. It’s an unstoppable global trend, with more and more countries planning to end the ban on gay couples getting married. There is growing momentum for same-sex marriage in many countries, from Cuba to Nepal, Denmark, Australia and Columbia,” said UK-based human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“Obama’s support will boost the worldwide campaign for marriage equality and, through media reporting of his support, raise awareness of gay marriage among billions of people in every corner of the earth,” Tatchell said.

“This is incredibly important, it’s excellent news. The United States is a global leader on everything, and that includes gay rights,” Julio Moreira, president of the Rio de Janeiro-based Arco-Iris gay rights group, told the AP. “This will force other nations like Brazil to move forward with more progressive policies.”

Thai activist Natee Teerarojjanapongs told The Guardian: “I was starting to lose hope in fighting for gay marriage legalisation in Thailand, but now Barack Obama’s endorsement is rekindling my fire and is giving me the encouragement to go on.”

The AP quoted negative reactions based on religious views from Peru and Egypt, but also quotes Sasha Mohammed, 30, in Toronto. He said:

“This stance will shape the way the rest of the world views the U.S., and will eventually force the way Americans see things to change. It is, after all, impossible to overtly hold onto your prejudices when everyone around you condemns you for it.”

Six U.S. states and the District of Columbia already allow gay and lesbian marriages. Full marriage equality is in place now in ten countries worldwide. It is being pushed forward in a number of countries, including Australia, where Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is opposed, was asked for her reaction:

“I’ve made my mind up and my position on this is well known,” Gillard told reporters in Canberra. “I think it just reinforces this as a matter that people form their own views on, a deeply personal question people will think about, work their way through it; obviously President Obama has and he’s announced a decision.”

“If Barack Obama can support marriage equality in an election year, in a country where support for the issue is lower than in Australia, then our national leaders have no excuses,” said Australian Marriage Equality campaign director Rodney Croome.

“Australia is lagging behind other comparable countries and it’s time for our national leaders to catch up to their counterparts overseas.”

Germany is another country which may soon have marriage equality; it now has a form of civil unions. Its openly gay foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle said:

“I welcome this not just personally but also in the name of the German government. It’s okay to marry gay.”

African leaders have yet to react less than a day after the comments. But it took some time after the Obama administration announced in December that it would integrate LGBT human rights into its foreign policy for that reaction, which was universally negative in Africa.

However, the AP had this reaction from someone selling Obama memorabilia in Dakar, Senegal: “I really like Barack Obama as a president, but not this latest declaration.”

“Obama’s comments will provide another opportunity for religious fundamentalists to raise their homophobic rhetoric,” Damian Ugwu, regional Africa programme coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission told The Guardian.

“In Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, these remarks are going to get a lot of bashing.”

But LGBT rights supporters in Kenya and Uganda thought they would do good. ”The fact that these comments come from Obama make it much harder for people in Kenya to sit back and say that gay rights are just a western idea,” said Monica Mbaru, a gay rights activist in Kenya told The Guardian.

“If it had been say President Clinton, people would have said homosexuality is just a white disease, but with Obama there is an ownership for the people here. Just like we have heard statements from others like Desmond Tutu, these are African elders who resonate with the local people, and their statements are taken very seriously – they are opinion shapers in this region.”

“We will be definitely be using his comments to try and get more support from communities in Kenya,” she said.

Negative reaction can also be expected from the Vatican and from many majority Muslim nations. Ibrahim Ali, an independent member of Malaysia’s Parliament and leader of a rights group for the country’s majority Malay Muslims, told the AP:

“They can practice this in America if they want, since it’s their right, but we are still very concerned, because whatever America practices, it often wants other countries to follow suit,” he said.

Related stories:

BREAKING: Obama Embraces Marriage Equality

Same Sex Marriage & Pres. Obama: Cultural Waves, or Ripple?

Push to Legalize Gay Marriage in Ohio Begins

Photo credit:


Bartley Deason
Bartley Deason4 years ago

Robby K wrote:
"Paul B- exactly- he's not courageous- he did it for the votes...

Robby, just WHAT votes would those be? Do you think he will run for a third election? Your statement reeks of ignorance and biasness.

Bartley Deason
Bartley Deason4 years ago

Detlef K. wrote:
"It's the 'privileged elite' and the 'useful idiots' of our socialists today that are pushing this agenda... and it is wrong. Everyone knows it.

Everyone? Really? There must be a whole lot of "privileged elite" and "useful idiots" in this country, as the "agenda" is picking up steam throughout the nation, as well as the many other countries in this world. Det, buddy, you are out of date and slipping further behind everyday. Before long there will be just you and Steve R./Jacob ? plus Elaine A. left to defend your bigoted beliefs.

Beth K.
.5 years ago

Dianne P.

There is church marriage and civil marriage. Church marriage is a choice, but you still have to have a state issued marriage cert, and be married by a state ordained minister.

Civil marriage is a legal option, and can be done by any county clerk with $10 worth of paperwork.

Stop confusing the two. Believe whatever garbage your church feeds you about the man and woman only crap, and have a ceremony there or not - no one cares.

Civil marriages should be available to everyone. Seperation, remember?

Diana P.
Diana P5 years ago

Marriage is between a man and woman. Gay people have the rights to be together but should have a legal commitment ceremony not marriage. If splitting up they should go through a commitment reversal similar to a divorce. They do deserve to be together and deserve to have all benefits that a married couple has. I now pronounce you husband & husband or wife & wife?

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

every social revolution, has a root or a spark. Once it starts, change happens.

Pamylle G.
Pamylle G5 years ago

"Obama can support this as much as he wants to, it still doesn't make it morally right".

But it absolutely IS morally right & sound to grant equal rights to all the despite the prejudice of others. We know that by the "Golden Rule" - almost every religion & philosophy recognizes that we should "do unto others" as we would like to be treated.

The truth of the matter: you may hold dear a text which has been mistranslated, heavily edited and interpreted for you by the small-minded, but YOU don't know what God thinks. Really, you don't, and it's arrogant to believe that you do.

Ray C.
Ray C5 years ago

the British Prime Minister draft Gay Marriages in the Queen's speech to come before Parliament in the next 12 months, however, Gay Marriages was indeed deleted from the Queen's Speech and therefore will not become before Parliament in the next 12 months, I feel by deleting the Gay Marriages from the Queen's speech it was the right thing to do.

As Cameron is the person who indeed write's the Queen's Speech and that Cameron would be the person to delete Gay Marriages from the Queen's speech, this could not in anyway be seen as supporting Gay Marriages.

Dennis Warren

The German foreign minister had a great t-shirt quote-"It's okay to marry gay"! 50 years from now, this will be thought of in the same realm as the women's suffrage movement and the civil rights movement; it is about human rights and equality, not "special rights" as the rethugs, teahadists and fundies would have you believe. Good for O, and remember, NEVER VOTE RETHUG!

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

good to hear the international impact of this historic statement

Frances C.
Frances C5 years ago

President Obama has brought back the good standing and respect from the rest of the civilized world. The respect we lost under Bush/Cheney.