Let’s celebrate: List of anti-LGBT nations shrinks again

Map of the 76 countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex.
Map of the 76 countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex.

76 countries with anti-homosexuality laws (or 72 or 78)

The Supreme Court in Belize has overturned the nation's anti-homosexuality law. (Photo courtesy of StLuciaNewsOnline.com)
The Supreme Court in Belize has overturned the nation’s anti-homosexuality law. (Photo courtesy of StLuciaNewsOnline.com)

This week’s decision by the Belize Supreme Court to overturn that nation’s anti-sodomy law has shrunk the list of nations with anti-LGBT laws once again.

By this blog’s tally, the total is now 76 countries with criminal laws against sexual activity.

Or the total is 72 countries, as listed by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA.

Belize, with a population of about 330,000, is the latest to drop off the list.

Before that came Mozambique, on the southeastern coast of Africa, with a population of 24 million. It adopted a new Penal Code in 2014 and was dropped from this blog’s list in early 2015.

Small island nations have been busily modernizing their laws.

Both Seychelles, in the western Indian Ocean, and Nauru, in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, repealed their anti-gay laws in May 2016.

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, also decriminalized homosexuality recently and were dropped from the list in 2014.

The main difference between the revised ILGA total of 72 nations and this blog’s list of 76+ is that ILGA mentions but does not include four political entities that are on this blog’s list:

  • Indonesia, where two large provinces outlaw homosexual acts; and
  • Three political entities that have anti-LGBT laws but that aren’t accepted as countries by the international community — the Cook Islands, a self-governing country whose residents all have citizenship in New Zealand; Gaza/Palestine; and the territory of Syria and Iraq that is controlled by Daesh/ISIS/ISIL troops.

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.”

For more details, see this blog’s list of 76 countries and independent political entities with anti-homosexuality laws. That list includes links to the blog’s coverage of news related to LGBTI rights in each country.

Related list, also down by one:

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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