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99 who are in prison for being gay, 148 more awaiting trial

Maurice Okello and Anthony Oluku (Photo courtesy of NTV)
Maurice Okello and Anthony Oluku are awaiting trial in Uganda on homosexuality charges. (Photo courtesy of NTV)

Worldwide, at least 99 people are currently in prison for allegedly violating laws that punish those who are born gay, lesbian or bisexual. In addition, at least 148 other people are awaiting trial on charges related to homosexuality.

Those are the latest tallies in this blog’s updated list of victims of 76-plus countries’ repression of LGBTI people.

The prison sentences that have been imposed range up to nine years, which is toward the lower end of punishments that are on the books in the 76-plus countries where homosexuality is currently illegal. As many as 11 people currently awaiting the outcome of their trials in Uganda and Zambia face the possibility of life sentences.

Listing 247 people is probably an extreme understatement of the number of people who are behind bars or awaiting trial on homosexuality-related charges, but finding out about specific cases is difficult, especially in countries without a free press.  Where the latest information is unavailable, some estimates of  cases’ current status are included in the figures above and are explained in the detailed list.

The list provides a narrow window into just one of many types of injustice affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, sometimes with fatal results. (See the section “Other injustices facing LGBTI people.”)

At present, the lists are led by:

  • Nigeria (an estimated 23 people in prison and 15 free awaiting trials)
  • Egypt (an estimated 13 in prison and 47 free awaiting trials)
  • Saudi Arabia (an estimated 22 in prison, according to specific reports; hundreds of other cases cited without any specifics)
  • Gambia (12 recently reported as arrested and detained during ongoing investigations)
  • Morocco (8 specific cases of people imprisoned; dozens more people reportedly arrested and tried)
  • Lebanon (7 people in jail awaiting charges; 20 more released on bail awaiting court action)
  • Cameroon (6 people in prison; 12 free awaiting court action)

Other countries on the list are Iran (24 awaiting court action), India (13 awaiting court action), Uganda (11 awaiting court action), Malawi (3 in prison), Zambia (3 awaiting court action), United Arab Emirates (2), Zimbabwe (2), Ghana (2), Senegal (1) and Malaysia (1).

For details, read the case-by-case specifics on this blog’s page “99 imprisoned for being gay, 148 more awaiting trial.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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