12/12/2013 02:06 EST | Updated 02/11/2014 05:59 EST

Gay rights push will press on despite 'disappointing' setbacks

The gay rights campaign was dealt two major blows this week, but activists insist the fight for equality isn't losing ground.

On Wednesday, India's Supreme Court reinstated a gay sex ban that enables the jailing of homosexuals and makes the act punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The next day, Australia's high court struck down a law that had started allowing the country's first gay marriages. The court ruled the Australian Capital Territory Act (ACT), which allowed same-sex marriage in the nation's capital and surrounding area, couldn't stand alongside the federal Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Rodney Croome, an activist with Australian Marriage Equality, called the decision "devastating" to the couples whose marriages will now be nullified — but vowed the movement will press on.

"This is just a temporary defeat," he said in a written statement.

"The ACT’s law facilitated the first same-sex marriage on Australian soil and showed the nation the love and commitment of same-sex couples ...The marriages in the ACT prove that this reform is not about politics, but about love, commitment and fairness."

'A step in the wrong direction'

Jacqueline Hansen, a campaigner with Amnesty International, called the two decisions disappointing.

"[There's] not much more to say other than that ... We've seen some great progress in other countries. There's been some real successes and causes for hope and these two decisions are a step in wrong direction," she said.

"There's more work left. We really still need to keep up the fight for equality and for privacy and for dignity in the LGBTQ community."

Despite the recent setbacks, Hansen says the movement overall is moving forward.

"I think weeks like this, we can't forget the successes because it's easy to be overwhelmed by the negative rulings [but] I think they strengthen people's resolve to do more," she said.

"I think that the LGBT community and allies will continue working until there's equality and there's respect ... until the LGBT community can live in dignity and safety."

But it's clear, Hansen said, the fight is far from over.

"Obviously we want marriage equality but in many countries we're still at the point where people can't even have a pride parade ... where's it's not even safe to hold a pride parade," she said.

"There's still so much that we need to do and it's beyond just marriage equality ... This is a human rights issue."

An 'Australia-specific judgment'

David Rayside, a political science professor who works with the University of Toronto's Bonham Centre of Sexual Diversity Studies, says Australia's decision is in no way a blow to the gay marriage movement.

He says the ruling is less a question of human rights and more an issue of whether federal or state governments have the constitutional power to legislate same-sex marriage.

"In broader terms, it's not a setback [for the gay marriage movement] I don't think. This ruling was really just about federalism in Australia. It wasn't a great surprise. Australia has a long history of opposing same-sex marriage under the current party," he said.

"It's a very particular, Australia-specific judgment that has to do with Australia's legal framework."

He doubts the decisions in Australia or India will have much of an impact on the gay rights movement globally — a movement he says is only gaining momentum.

"We know from Canada, Europe and the U.S. that predicting gay marriage 20 years ago would be been unimaginable," he said.

"If you'd asked anyone if gay marriage would become as widespread as it is, they couldn't have predicted it."

Same-sex marriage is still illegal in more than 70 countries, and same-sex acts are punishable by death in seven of those countries.

In the U.S., same sex marriage is legal in 15 states and pending in Illinois, where the law is slated to come into effect in June.