Updated June 13, 2014
76+ (more like 81) countries with anti-homosexuality laws
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA, lists 77 countries with criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people (LGBTIs), but that’s an understatement.
A more realistic, 81-country list is below, including links to this blog’s coverage of individual countries.
The ILGA total as of early 2013 was 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, the Turkish-controlled northern portion of Cyprus, and the Cook Islands, a self-governing country whose residents all have citizenship in New Zealand.
On Dec. 11, 2013, that total increased by one — to 82 countries with anti-homosexuality laws — when the Supreme Court of India reversed a lower court ruling that had suspended enforcement of the law. But in January 2014, North Cyprus repealed its law, thus returning the total to 81.
The 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.”
Here is the list of 81 countries and independent political entities with anti-homosexuality laws, with links to coverage in this blog:
17 Malawi (enforcement of law suspended)
24 Sao Tome
27 Sierra Leone
29 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
45 Lebanon (law ruled invalid in one court)
51 Palestine/Gaza Strip
53 Saudi Arabia
55 Sri Lanka
58 United Arab Emirates
Two Asian/Middle Eastern countries were listed separately by ILGA in early 2013 under the heading “Legal status of homosexual acts unclear or uncertain”:
- In Iraq, there is no law against homosexual acts, but homophobic violence is unchecked and self-appointed sharia judges reportedly have imposed sentences for homosexual behavior.
- In India, enforcement of the law against homosexual activity had been suspended by court action, but the Supreme Court overturned that ruling on Dec. 11, 2013, so India is back on the main list of countries with anti-homosexuality laws.
61 Antigua & Barbuda
64 Dominica (But see “Dominica leader: No enforcement of anti-gay law” )
68 St Kitts & Nevis
69 St Lucia
70 St Vincent & the Grenadines
71 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 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;
- Kyrgyzstan, which on June 17, 2014, was on the verge of adopting an anti-gay propaganda law similar to that in Russia. If that bill becomes law, any type of distribution of information on same-sex relations would become a crime punishable by fines and a jail sentence.
- 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.
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.)