Updated Jan. 16, 2015
76+ (more like 78) countries with anti-homosexuality laws
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 78-country list is below, including links to this blog’s coverage of individual countries.
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 2013 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.
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 78 countries and independent political entities with anti-homosexuality laws, with links to the blog’s coverage of them:
17 Malawi (enforcement of law suspended)
25 Sierra Leone
27 South Sudan
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
43 Lebanon (law ruled invalid in one court)
49 Palestine/Gaza Strip
51 Saudi Arabia
53 Sri Lanka
56 United Arab Emirates
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.
59 Antigua & Barbuda
62 Dominica (But see “Dominica leader: No enforcement of anti-gay law” )
66 St Kitts & Nevis
67 St Lucia
68 St Vincent & the Grenadines
69 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.
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;
- 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.
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.)