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1996 in LGBT rights

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List of years in LGBT rights (table)

This is a list of notable events in the history of LGBT rights that took place in the year 1996.



  • 8 – South Africa becomes the first nation in the world to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution.[1]
  • 20 – In Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court of the United States rules 6–3 that Colorado's Amendment 2, which would have voided existing gay rights laws in Colorado and prevented any new gay rights laws from taking effect, is unconstitutional.[2]
  • 21 – Hungary legalizes same-sex unions, first among the ex-communist countries, and fifth country worldwide. The Parliament voted 207–73 in favor for the bill.[3]




  • 10 – The United States Senate passes the Defense of Marriage Act (85–14) and rejects prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in the private sector (49–50).[6]
  • 15 – The European Parliament calls for an end to anti-gay discrimination.
  • 21 – United States President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law. DOMA allows individual states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions[7] and creates federal definitions for the terms "marriage" and "spouse".[8]


  • 3 – In Baehr v. Miike Hawaii judge Kevin S.C. Chang rules in favor of the plaintiffs and enjoins the state of Hawaii from refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[9] The following day Chang stays his ruling, acknowledging the "legally untenable" position couples would be in should the Hawaii Supreme Court reverse him on appeal.[10]


  • November 18 – Evelyn Hooker, whose research helped lead to declassifying homosexuality as a mental illness (b. 1907)[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stychin, C. (1996). Constituting Sexuality: The Struggle for Sexual Orientation in the South African Bill of Rights. Journal of Law and Society, 23(4), 455-483. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1410476 doi:1
  2. ^ Romer v. Evans, 517 US 620 (United States Supreme Court May 20, 1996).
  3. ^ Merin, Yuval (2002). Equality for same-sex couples: the legal recognition of gay partnerships in Europe and the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 131. ISBN 9780226520339.
  4. ^ "Supreme Court Vacates Cincinnati's Anti-Gay Amendment" (Press release). Lambda Legal. June 17, 1996. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  5. ^ Able v. United States of America, 88 F3rd 1280 (United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit July 1, 1996).
  6. ^ "H.R. 3396 (104th): Defense of Marriage Act". govtrack. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  7. ^ "28 U.S. Code § 1738C.Certain acts, records, and proceedings and the effect thereof". Cornell Law School. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  8. ^ "1 U.S. Code § 7 - Definition of "marriage" and "spouse"". Cornell Law School. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  9. ^ Baehr v. Miike, Circuit Court for the First Circuit, Hawaii No. 91-1394
  10. ^ Oshiro, Sandra (December 6, 1996). "Hawaiian judge puts same-sex marriage ruling on hold". The Nation. Thailand: Reuter. p. A12. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
  11. ^ "Evelyn Hooker: In Memoriam". psychology.ucdavis.edu. Retrieved January 12, 2018.