As 2011 draws to a close, PinkNews.co.uk takes a look back at the most important stories of the last twelve months.

This year saw real change around the world when it came to LGBT rights. Many political milestones were reached, but as some countries progressed, other states faced international criticism for attempts to restrict their citizens’ rights.

10 – 66 boys in Malaysia sent to “gay cure” camp

A Terengganu state official said in April that 66 boys aged between 13 and 17 were identified by teachers as having “effeminate mannerisms”. They were sent on a “self-development course” in the hope of dissuading them from being gay.

9 – Anton Hysen became the world’s only openly gay professional footballer

Anton Hysen became the only professional footballer in the world to come out as gay in March of this year. He said frankly: “I am a footballer. And gay. If I perform as a footballer, then I do not think it matters if I like girls or boys.”

8 – Lesbian couple save 40 teenagers in Norway

Toril Hansen and Hege Dalen were dining on the shores opposite Utoya when the Norwegian island became the scene of a horrific massacre. When they heard shots, the couple got in their boat and started towards the island. They rescued 40 teenagers over four trips, as Anders Breivik fired on their boat.

7 – Australia’s Labor Party changes its platform to support equal marriage

In early December, the Australian Labor Party voted to officially endorse marriage equality, though Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support the move. Despite the platform change, equal marriage remains some way off passing through the Australian parliament, many of whom oppose such a move.

6 – Belgium gets Europe’s first gay male leader

Elio Di Rupo was named the new, openly gay, Prime Minister of Belgium, after the country went a year and a half without a government. Di Rupo becomes the second gay leader of a European country, and the first gay male leader.

5 – Poland’s first gay and trans MPs are sworn in

Poland swore in its first gay and transgender MPs this year. Anna Grodzka said she aimed to seek equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. Robert Biedron, the first openly gay MP,campaigned in favour of legalising abortion, gay marriage and marijuana use.

4 – Ghana’s minister orders the arrest of all gays

In a further example rights abuses sanctioned at state level, this summer, a Ghanaian minister ordered the arrest of all gays and lesbians in the country’s Western Region. Paul Evans Aidoo directed the Bureau of National Investigations and other agencies to find gay people and bring them before the courts, and called on private citizens to turn gay people in.

3 – 250,000 people condemn St Petersburg’s “gay propaganda” law

A quarter of a million people signed a petition calling on world leaders to hold Russia to account for a draft law in St Petersburg, which threatens to silence its gay community. The draft law would fine the promotion of homosexuality alongside the promotion of paedophilia.

2 – UK says it will direct aid away from governments who fail to recognise gay rights

The government confirmed plans this year to redirect aid away from overseas governments who fail to recognise human rights, but has said it will still ensure aid reaches those in need.

The move was described as “satanic” by Robert Mugabe, and Ghana said it would “never support” the legalisation of homosexuality amid fiery reactions to the news and concerns that gays would be blamed for cuts in aid.

1 – The UN passes its first-ever resolution on gay rights

The UN Human Rights Council passed a historic resolution in June, calling for universal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. It was the first time the body had passed a resolution which focused specifically on sexual orientation and gender identity, effecting its 193 member states.

In December, the UN’s Human Rights Council published its first ever report detailing rights abuses against LGBT people around the world, through violence and discriminatory laws, and a benchmark set of recommendations all countries should adopt to protect their citizens.

If you enjoyed this article on the top stories of 2011, take a look at our lists for the most important events in the USA and the UK, as well as the strangest stories of the year.