79 countries where homosexuality is illegal

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 Updated  Dec. 3, 2015 

“PayPal gets the hypocrite of the year award!” Franklin Graham expounded in his post. “Congressman Robert Pittenger made a great point yesterday: ‘PayPal does business in 25 countries where homosexual behavior is illegal, including five countries where the penalty is death, yet they object to the North Carolina legislature overturning a misguided ordinance about letting men in to [sic] the women’s bathroom? Perhaps PayPal would like to try and clarify this seemingly very hypocritical position.'”

Graham also pointed out that PayPal announced in March that it would explore business opportunities in the Communist nation of Cuba, where homosexuals and transgenders are tortured, jailed and executed.

Map of the 79 countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex.

 

Map of the 79 countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex.

Map of the 79 countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex.

 

75+ (really more like 79 or 81) countries with anti-homosexuality laws

 

 about  150-plus people in jail or awaiting trial in the 76-plus countries with anti-gay laws

 

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA, lists 75 countries with criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people (LGBTIs), but that’s an understatement.

 

This blog’s similar 79-country list is below, including links to the blog’s coverage of each one. A separate article lists the 10 governments with laws providing for the death penalty  for same-sex intimacy.

 

The difference between ILGA’s 75-nation list and this blog’s list of 79+ is that ILGA mentions but does not include four political entities that are on this blog’s list:

 

Indonesia, where two large provinces outlaw homosexual acts; and

Three political entities that have anti-LGBT laws but that aren’t accepted as countries by the international community — the Cook Islands, a self-governing country whose residents all have citizenship in New Zealand; Gaza/Palestine; and the territory of Syria and Iraq that is controlled by Daesh/ISIS/ISIL troops.

This blog’s total would be 81 countries if it were to include Russia and Lithuania, two countries that do not have laws against homosexual acts but do have repressive laws against “propaganda of homosexuality.” Libya and Nigeria have similar anti-propaganda laws, but also prohibit same-sex relations, so they are already on the list.

 

Back in 2012, based on a separate, nearly complete count, St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation cited a total of 76 countries.  That list was used in that year’s Spirit of 76 Worldwide program aimed at repealing those laws. It also inspired the name of this blog — “Erasing 76 Crimes.”

 

These are some of the recent changes in the list:

 

The tiny nations of Palau in the western Pacific Ocean and São Tomé and Príncipe, in the Atlantic Ocean off the shores of central Africa, recently decriminalized homosexuality and were dropped from this list in 2014.

Mozambique’s LGBTI advocacy organization, Lambda, can celebrate the repeal of the country’s anti-gay law, but it has not yet won its battle for official government recognition, which it has been seeking since 2008. (Photo courtesy of Lambda)

Mozambique’s LGBTI advocacy organization, Lambda, can celebrate the repeal of the country’s anti-gay law, but it has not yet won its battle for official government recognition, which it has been seeking since 2008. (Photo courtesy of Lambda)

 

Mozambique, on the southeastern coast of Africa, with a population of 24 million, adopted a new Penal Code in the second half of 2014 and was dropped from this list in early 2015.

 

Lesotho also was dropped from the list after adopting a new Penal Code, which apparently eliminated the nation’s former common-law crime of sodomy.

Iraq was added to the list, although it does not have a civil law against same-sex relations. But in practice Iraq defers to Sharia judges who, as ILGA notes, “continue to order executions of men and  women for same-sex sexual behaviour.”

Chad was briefly added to the list — by mistake — because of a proposed new Penal Code that would provide for 15 to 20 years in prison and a fine of 50,000 to 500,000 CFA francs (US $86 to $860) “for anyone who has sex with persons of the same sex.”  Chad was removed from the list after ILGA realized that the proposed change had been approved in 2014 by Chad’s cabinet, but not by the president.

Daesh (or ISIS / ISIL) was added to the list because it publicizes its executions of  LGBTI people in the the areas of northern Iraq and northern Syria held by its troops.  ILGA states that “the Nusr [‘Victory’ in Arabic] website, which claims to be the website of the Islamic caliphate, has a section on Legal Jurisprudence (evidence-based rules and the penal code). One of the pages under this section is dedicated to “punishment for sodomy”, which states: “the religiously-sanctioned penalty for sodomy is death, whether it is consensual or not. Those who are proven to have committed sodomy, whether sodomizer or sodomized, should be killed…”.

Here is this blog’s list of 79 countries and independent political entities with anti-homosexuality laws, with links to the blog’s coverage of them:

 

Africa

 

1 Algeria

2 Angola

3 Botswana

4 Burundi

5 Cameroon

6 Comoros

7 Egypt

8 Eritrea

9 Ethiopia

10 Gambia

11 Ghana

12 Guinea

13 Kenya

14 Liberia

15 Libya

16 Malawi (enforcement of law suspended)

17 Mauritania

18 Mauritius

19 Morocco

20 Namibia

21 Nigeria

22 Senegal

23 Seychelles. Seychelles does not prosecute anyone under their anti-sodomy law, has promised to repeal it, but has not yet done so. A same-sex wedding was conducted in Seychelles on June 13, 2015, on British territory (the British high commissioner’s residence). Seychelles laws currently have no provision for marriage equality.

24 Sierra Leone

25 Somalia

26 South Sudan

27 Sudan

28 Swaziland

29 Tanzania

30 Togo

31 Tunisia

32 Uganda

33 Zambia

34 Zimbabwe

 

Asia, including the Middle East

 

35 Afghanistan

36 Bangladesh

37 Bhutan

38 Brunei

39 Daesh (or ISIS / ISIL)

40 India

41 Iran

42 Iraq

43 Kuwait

44 Lebanon (law ruled invalid in one court)

45 Malaysia

46 Maldives

47 Myanmar

48 Oman

49 Pakistan

50 Palestine/Gaza Strip

51 Qatar

52 Saudi Arabia

53 Singapore

54 Sri Lanka

55 Syria

56 Turkmenistan

57 United Arab Emirates

58 Uzbekistan

59 Yemen

 

Americas

 

60 Antigua & Barbuda

61 Barbados

62 Belize

63 Dominica (But see “Dominica leader: No enforcement of anti-gay law” )

64 Grenada

65 Guyana

66 Jamaica

67 St Kitts & Nevis

68 St Lucia

69 St Vincent & the Grenadines

70 Trinidad & Tobago

 

In the United States, anti-sodomy laws were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, but they are still on the books in 13 states: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina,  Texas, Utah and Virginia. Conservative state legislators refuse to repeal the laws and, in some cases, police still enforce them.  In the past several years more than a dozen LGBT people were arrested for violating those laws, but the arrestees were freed because prosecutors won’t seek convictions based on defunct laws.

 

Oceania

 

71 Cook Islands

72 Indonesia (Aceh Province and South Sumatra)

73 Kirbati

74 Nauru

75 Papua New Guinea

76 Samoa

77 Solomon Islands

78 Tonga

79 Tuvalu

 

Europe

 

No country in Europe has a law against homosexuality. The last European location with such a law was Northern Cyprus (recognized as a country only by Turkey), which repealed its law in January 2014.

 

Also in Europe and worth mentioning but not on that list of countries with laws against homosexuality are:

 

Russia, which enacted an anti-gay propaganda law in 2013 prohibiting any positive mention of homosexuality in the presence of minors, including online;

Lithuania, which in 2015 considered but has not yet adopted a similar law against “gay propaganda.”

Ukraine, which also considered such a law, did not adopt it and seems to have dropped the issue.

Moldova, which adopted and then repealed such a law in 2013.

In addition, in central Asia, Kyrgyzstan in October 2014 was on the verge of adopting an anti-gay “propaganda” law harsher than that in Russia. If that bill becomes law, any type of distribution of positive information on same-sex relations, not just discussions in the presence of a minor, would become a crime punishable by fines and a jail sentence.

 

 

The ILGA report of 2015 on state-sponsored homophobia and

The ILGA map of countries that recognize and those that reject gay and lesbian rights.

Related information:

 

76 Countries Where Anti-Gay Laws Are As Bad As Or Worse Than Russia’s Each country’s anti-LGBTI law is summarized in a list compiled by BuzzFeed. With photos.

Countries that still criminalise homosexuality  AntiGayLaws.org publishes tables for each continent, citing the language of each country’s anti-LGBTI laws, along with whether the country has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and/or allows the UN to monitor and assess its human rights record.

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