Thursday, February 21, 2019
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79 countries where homosexuality is illegal

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA, lists 78 countries with criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people (LGBTIs), but that’s a slight understatement.

A similar 79-country list is below, including links to this blog’s coverage of individual countries.

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The ILGA total as of early 2014 would 81 countries if you included Indonesia, where two large provinces outlaw homosexual acts, as well as political entities that aren’t fully accepted by the international community — Gaza/Palestine and the Cook Islands, a self-governing country whose residents all have citizenship in New Zealand. Unlike this blog, ILGA also includes the Central African Republic in its tally, because of its law against same-sex intimacy in public places.

That total would actually be 82 countries if you were to include Russia, which does not have a law against homosexual acts but is in the midst of an anti-gay crackdown on the basis of its new law against “gay propaganda.”

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.”

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.

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
10 Ghana
12 Guinea
13 Kenya
14 Lesotho
15 Liberia
16 Libya
17 Malawi (enforcement of law suspended)
18 Mauritania
19 Mauritius
20 Morocco
21 Mozambique
22 Namibia
23 Nigeria
24 Senegal
25 Seychelles
26 Sierra Leone
27 Somalia
28 South Sudan
29 Sudan
30 Swaziland
31 Tanzania
32 Togo
33 Tunisia
34 Uganda
35 Zambia
36 Zimbabwe

Benin had been included in some editions of the ILGA report, but homosexuality is not illegal there, though the age of consent is higher for same-sex relations than for heterosexual relations. It was removed from this list in May 2014.

Asia, including the Middle East

37 Afghanistan
38 Bangladesh
39 Bhutan
40 Brunei
41 India
42 Iran
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

One Middle Eastern country, Iraq, was listed separately by ILGA in 2014 under the heading “Legal status of homosexual acts unclear or uncertain.” In Iraq, there is no civil law against homosexual acts, but homophobic violence is unchecked. Militias and self-appointed sharia judges reportedly have imposed sentences for homosexual behavior.

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.  Reportedly, in the past few 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 one, Northern Cyprus,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;
  • Ukraine, which has considered, but so far has not adopted a similar law against “gay propaganda.”
  • 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.

For more information, download the ILGA report on state-sponsored homophobia and maps 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 law summarized in a list compiled by BuzzFeed. With photos.)

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