There IS a point to this, and in a day or so you’ll see what it is.
It came about because I was troubled by and thinking about something one of my oldest friends said. And since research is my reflexive response to nearly any form of brain activity, I did some research.
I looked for a chronological progression of major groups’ human rights under law—and couldn’t find any. They were fragmented into a dozen different lists.
So I bloody well made my own.
It isn’t comprehensive, but I intend to keep updating and expanding it.
Those rights for which I could find listings or information are here. Each right is listed only once (not once per country).
Only the entire country first granting national rights that it did not later revoke is listed (states and territories are not).
References to the actual documentary or proclamatory grant of right are only listed where I could confirm them.
Human Equality Under the Law
1215 AD. England. Male members of the nobility have rights that even the king can’t overrule. (Magna Carta.)
1275 AD. England. All male landowners—women can't own property—have rights under the law. (Statute of Westminster 1275.)
1772. England. Slavery is illegal. (It is "so odious that nothing can be suffered to support it but positive law."—Lord Mansfield, R. v. Knowles, ex parte Somersett, Court of King's Bench.)
1776. France. Women can be admitted to trade guilds.
1788. France. Widows of noblemen are allowed to vote, without a male guardian’s presence, in the Assembly of the Estates.
1791. France. Homosexual sexual activity between consenting adults is legal. (French Penal Code of 1791.)
1833. Britain. Slavery and the slave trade are criminal. (Slavery Abolition Act, 3&4 Gulielmi IV, cap. LXXIII.)
1839. Britain. Mothers can be the guardians of their children after a divorce. (Custody of Infants Act 1839.)
1859. Canada. Married women can own property in their own names.
1863. United States. The military service of former slaves and free men of color is acknowledged and formalized. (A separate Army department for “Colored Troops” is formed.)
1868. United States. Women are allowed to study if they wish to and if a school will admit them.
1868. United States. All persons born in the US, including freed slaves and people of color, are citizens. (Fourteenth Amendment.)
1868. United States. All citizens have the right to due process and equal protection of the laws. (Fourteenth Amendment.)
1869. Britain. Unmarried women may vote in local elections.
1870. Britain. Unmarried women can attain legal majority (legal recognition of adulthood—of control over body, decisions, and actions).
1870. United States. Male citizens are eligible to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”. (Fifteenth Amendment.)
1874. France. An all-female workers union is acknowledged.
1878. Britain. A woman can cite abuse as grounds for a divorce.
1880. United States. It’s a violation of Equal Protection to exclude black men and women from juries. (Strauder v. West Virginia.)
1882. Britain. Married women can have independent property and legal majority. (Married Women's Property Act 1882.)
1882. France. Women and men both have a right to elementary school.
1884. Canada. Married women have control over their own property.
1894. Britain. Married women can vote in local elections.
1896. United States. Women can be admitted to the bar.
1919. Britain. Women can’t be barred from any profession, post, or civil office on the grounds of sex. (Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919.)
1920. United States. Women have the same voting rights as men. (Nineteenth Amendment.)
1935. United States. All subjects taught at state universities and professional schools must be available to all students. (Murray v. Pearson.)
1941. United States. All employees of defense contractors are entitled to equal treatment and training. (FDR, Executive Order 8802, the Fair Employment Act.)
1942. United States. Depriving a person of the right to marry a person of the same skin color and opposite sex is unconstitutional. (Skinner v. Oklahoma.)
1944. United States. All registered party members are entitled to vote in party primaries, regardless of skin color. (Smith vs. Allwright.)
1948. United States. Conditions of land use that restrict land ownership or tenancy by race are unconstitutional. (Shelley v. Kraemer.)
1951. United States. The US Army begins racial desegregation.
1954. United States. Laws which enforce racial segregation are a violation of Equal Protection. (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans.)
1954. United States. Equal protection extends to all racial classifications, including those not “Black” or “White”. (Hernandez v. Texas.)
1964. United States. Racial or sexual segregation in employment, education, government or housing, and on public property, is illegal. (Civil Rights Law of 1964.)
1967. United States. Depriving a person of the right to marry on the basis of the skin color of the chosen partners is unconstitutional. (Loving v. Virginia.)
1969. United States. Native Americans are protected under the Bill of Rights. (Indian Civil Rights Act.)
1969. United States. States can’t assume jurisdiction over Native American land. (Indian Civil Rights Act.)
1973. United States. People can’t be institutionalized based on sexual preference. (The entry on homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder is removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.)
1982. France. The age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual sexual activity is the same.
1983. United States. Private schools with racially discriminatory admissions policies are not tax-exempt. (IRS Revenue Ruling 71-447.)
1985. France. It’s illegal to deny employment or services based on sexual orientation.
1988. United States. Recipients of federal funds must comply with civil rights laws in all areas, not just in the particular program or activity that received federal funding. (Civil Rights Restoration Act.)
1994. Canada. Asylum is granted to homosexuals fearing for their safety in their home countries.
1994. United States. Programs aimed at “converting” GLBT men and women lose medical backing. (The American Medical Association denounces therapies “based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”)
1994. United States. Heavier sentences mandated in convictions resulting from federal prosecution of hate crimes committed on the basis of a person's race, color, religion, or nation origin when engaging in a federally protected activity. (USC: Title 28 §994.)
1997. Britain. Same-sex couples have the same immigration rights as opposite-sex couples.
1999. France. Same-sex couples can have recognized civil unions.
2000. Britain. Openly gay individuals are no longer banned from serving in the armed forces.
2003. United States. Laws enacted or enforced just to ban homosexual sex are unconstitutional. (Lawrence v. Texas.)
2005. Canada. Same-sex marriages are legally recognized.
2005. Canada. Same-sex couples’ adoptions are legally recognized.