8:58 AM PDT 7/9/2013 by Scott Roxborough, Chris Godley
The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act was hailed as a victory for gay rights worldwide. The decision has been credited for pushing same-sex marriage back up the political agenda in several countries. But how does the world, as shown through its films and TV, see gay relationships? Here's THR's gay marriage world tour.
There were huge, sometimes violent, protests against France's gay-marriage law, which passed in May. A couple of weeks later, Abdellatif Kechiche's graphic depiction of a lesbian love story, Blue is the Warmest Color, won France's greatest cinema honor, the Cannes Palme d'Or. The reception across France, ahead of the film's wide release, however, has been mostly positive.
The U.S. Supreme Court's defeat of DOMA means fewer gay couples will likely be heading north to Canada for their nuptials. Same-sex marriage has been legal their since 2005 Canuck filmmakers have embraced the subject of gay relationships in several award-winning titles, including Jean-Marc Vallee’s sleeper hit C.R.A.Z.Y. in 2005. The story of a gay boy growing up in a conservative family in 1960s and 70s Quebec won the best Canadian feature at the Toronto International Film Festival.
India only just decriminalized homosexuality, striking down a law dating back to colonial times. Bollywood depictions of gay love still tend towards comedy and farce, such as this 2008 box office hit Dostana (Friendship) about two straight guys who pretend to be gay to secure a Miami apartment. When they both fall for their female roommate, hilarity ensues. A sequel is expected next summer.
Britain's leading commercial channel ITV, chose this sitcom about an aging, bickering gay couple to attempt to revive its comedy line-up. Co-created by Will & Grace executive producerGary Janetti and British playwright Mark Ravenhill, it stars British acting legends Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi. While critically panned, the series started strong, drawing 5.78 million viewers on its premiere, though ratings slumped to less than half that for the remainder of the first season.
There's nothing to laugh about in Russia's treatment of homosexuals. President Vladimir Putin recently signed signed legal amendments banning child adoptions by same-sex couples and a new law bans so-called “gay propaganda” aimed at minors. Depictions of gay relationships in the Russian media are few and far between but Stelko (The Glass), pitched as Russia's first lesbian TV series, recently premiered online. So far only two episodes have been produced and the creators say with no funding forthcoming out of Russia, they will have to look elsewhere for financing.
Germany: "Aimee and Jaguar"
The German period drama Aimee and Jaguar explores a real-life relationship between two women: a Nazi supporter and a Jew, in war-torn Berlin. It won two German film awards for its leads, actresses Maria Schrader and Juliane Kohler and earned a Golden Globe nomination. Germany has had civil partnership laws on the books for more than a decade now but a new law currently making its way through the Bundestag would give gay marriage equal legal and tax status.
Italy: "As Good As You"
Heavily Roman Catholic Italy has been a Western European holdout on the gay marriage issue, but there is new impetus, with several proposed bills that would allow same sex couples to marry or at least grant them equal legal status. The issue is still divisive, however, as seen by the protests that accompanied last year's release of Good As You, a comedy featuring the stories of four gay and lesbian couples. A Catholic political group called for a boycott of the film and demonstrations accompanied screenings across the country.
Britain: Stephen Fry, Alan Carr, Graham Norton
Brits likely won't officially get same-sex legislation until the Fall when a the Queen gives “royal assent” to a bill granting legal equality between gay and straight marriages. But gay culture is already mainstream. Three of Britain's top TV presenters: Stephen Fry, Alan Carr and Graham Norton are all openly gay and established members of the media elite. Since her performance at the London Olympics last summer, you can add BBC Sports reporter Clare Balding, a lesbian, to that long list.
Thailand: "Iron Ladies"
It's perhaps no surprise that this off-beat sports film – the real-life story of a Thai men's volleyball team, made up largely of gay and transgender players, which won the national championships – was a box office hit. Thailand, a culture famous for its tolerant attitude towards the LGBT community, abounds with gay cinema. More surprising is the fact that Thailand still doesn't recognize gay marriage. A civil partnership bill expected to pass this year should change that.
Spain: "All About My Mother"
Gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples is legal in Spain and gay characters abound in the country's film and TV landscape. Most famously in the work of Spain's best-known director Pedro Almodovar. His Oscar-winning All About My Mother is a tour-de-force of gay and transgender culture, that connects the most extreme outliner lifestyles to the universal values of family, love and friendship.
Germany: "Maybe, Maybe Not"
Gay couples have entered the media mainstream in Germany but in the movies, homosexual love is still often played for laughs. The comedy-of-manners Maybe, Maybe Not (1994) features husky hetero star Til Schweiger (of Inglorious Basterds fame) shaking up with a gay man after his girlfriend kicks him out. In a twist, he starts to fall for the guy.
Ireland: "Breakfast on Pluto"
The Irish government has promised to hold a referendum on gay marriage on the Emerald Isle next year. But the country's filmmakers have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to the depiction of LGBT lifestyles. After the gender-bending of his Oscar-winning 1992 drama The Crying Game, Neil Jordan again looked at life through the lens of a transwoman, played by Cillian Murphy in an Golden Globe-nominated performance.
Taiwan: "The Wedding Banquet"
Long before Brokeback Mountain, Taiwanese director Ang Lee made this Oscar-nominated 1993 drama about a gay man in a happy relationship whose traditional parents want him to marry a woman. Lee's home country remains one of the most progressive Asian nations in terms of gay rights. Taiwan was the first Asian country to try and legalize gay marriage (in 2003) but the law has still to pass.