76 countries with anti-homosexuality laws (or 71, or 72, or 78)
A total of 72 countries have criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) people, according to a tally by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA.
In a similar tally by the Erasing 76 Crimes blog, a total of 76 countries have such laws. The discrepancy is a matter of categorization, not a disagreement about where such repressive laws apply.
In the view of the Erasing 76 Crimes blog, ILGA’s list only slightly understates the problem. ILGA leaves out Egypt from a “Same-Sex Sexual Acts Illegal” list of 71 countries with anti-LGBT laws, but adds it in an overview statement that “72 states continue to criminalise same-sex consensual activity,” because in Egypt “same-sex sexual relations are de facto severely outlawed.” In fact, Egypt is apparently the world’s top jailer of LGBT people. In this blog’s view, Egypt’s vague but harshly enforced law against “debauchery” is as much an anti-LGBT law as many countries’ vague and often unenforced laws against “unnatural acts.”
ILGA also omits the terrorist regime Daesh, also known as the Islamic State, ISIS and ISIL, which has operated in Syria and Iraq as a harshly anti-LGBT government. Under attack from all sides, its territory has been reduced, but it still controls Raqqa, Syria, which serves as its capital. When Raqqa falls, Daesh will no longer qualify as a de facto country and this blog will remove it from the list below.
ILGA’s figure of 72 countries was down 22 percent from the total of 92 countries in 2006, when the global rights group began documenting the laws that are used to persecute LGBT people.
This blog also includes on its 76-country list:
ILGA includes those three on its “Same-Sex Sexual Acts Illegal” list, but doesn’t include them in its 72-country overview.
As of the publication of the 2016 edition of ILGA’s State-Sponsored Homophobia report, ILGA’s list numbered 75. Both Seychelles and Nauru repealed their anti-gay laws in May 2016. Then, on Aug. 10, 2016, the Supreme Court in Belize overturned that nation’s anti-sodomy law as applied to consensual sex. That brought the ILGA total down to 72.
Uncertainty surrounds the situation in at least three other countries:
This blog’s total would be 78 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:
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.
Here is this blog’s list of 76 countries and independent political entities with anti-homosexuality laws, with links to the blog’s coverage of them.
16 Malawi (enforcement of law suspended)
23 Sierra Leone
25 South Sudan
Asia, including the Middle East
38 Daesh (or ISIS / ISIL)
43 Lebanon (law ruled invalid in one court in 2014 and disqualified for use against same-sex intimacy in another court in February 2017)
49 Palestine/Gaza Strip
51 Saudi Arabia
53 Sri Lanka
56 United Arab Emirates
59 Antigua & Barbuda
61 Dominica (But see “Dominica leader: No enforcement of anti-gay law“)
65 St Kitts & Nevis
66 St Lucia
67 St Vincent & the Grenadines
68 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 occasionally still arrest people on the basis of 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 laws that have been ruled unconstitutional.
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 the list of countries with laws against homosexuality are:
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. In Kazakhstan, both house of parliament passed a bill “On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development,” but the Constitutional Council rejected it in May 2015, saying that the wording was too vague.
As noted above, Libya and Nigeria also have anti-“gay propaganda” laws in addition to their laws outlawing same-sex intimacy.
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