In the 2014 Gay Travel Index released yesterday by the publishers of Spartacus International Gay Guide, the United States jumped 8 rankings while India fell 15 rankings. The index is designed to provide travelers insight into a countries legal and social acceptance of members of the LGBT community.
The United States Supreme Courts repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, and its rejection of California’s attempts to ban same-sex marriage are credited for the United State’s rise in the rankings. It is likely that with the growing number of states approving same-sex marriage that the United State’s ranking will continue to rise next year.
In addition to the United States, countries like Panama (+15), Taiwan (+14), Fiji (+14), Brazil (+8), Thailand (+8), Chile (+8), Malta (+8), New Zealand (+5) and Uruguay (+3), each saw their ranking rise. The index’s authors again cited new laws or constitutional changes that support LGBT equality and anti-discrimination for the approved rankings.
Following a ruling by India’s High Court overturning law making sex with persons of the same gender a punishable offense, India ranking fell to 105 on the index. It was the largest drop in rankings of any country.
According the the U.S. State Department, an 1861 colonial-era law, known as Section 377 of India’s penal code, makes homosexual acts illegal in India. A 2009 New Delhi High Court ruling decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults. However, in December 2013, the Indian Supreme Court overturned the 2009 decision, again criminalizing homosexual acts. In its ruling, the Supreme Court stated such a change to the law must be made through the legislative process, not a court decision. Although prosecution under Section 377 is rare, LGBT visitors may wish to avoid drawing attention.
The new index ranks 138 countries worldwide. Topping the list are Sweden, Belgium, France, Netherlands and United Kingdom. At the bottom of the list are Jamaica, Jordan, Russia, United Arab Emirates and Iran.
The complete listing of all of the countries can be found online at: spartacusworld.com/gaytravelindex.pdf.