Tally of nations with anti-gay laws drops to 73

Gay sex is much less widely criminalized than in the past. Back in 2006,  92 countries had anti-gay laws. Now the total is down to 73.  (See list here.)

The latest change came on Jan. 23, when Angola adopted a new penal code that omitted its law against “vices against nature” that had been in effect since 1886, when Angola was a Portuguese colony.

LGBTI rights activists hope upcoming court rulings in Kenya and Botswana will drop the count to 71.

Map of the 73 countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex.
Map of the 73 countries with laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex.

The international movement toward just treatment of LGBTI people worldwide has been slow and unsteady. A year ago the tally was 75 nations with anti-gay laws. Then Trinidad’s High Court overturned the country’s anti-sodomy law and the Indian Supreme Court overturned the nation’s 158-year-old prohibition of sex “against the order of nature.”

A new anti-gay law added Chad to the list, bringing the total back up to 74, but now Angola has dropped it back to 73.

Protest targeting India's anti-gay law, Section 377 (Mujeeb Faruqui photo courtesy of Hindustan Times)
Protest targeted India’s anti-gay law, Section 377, which was overturned in September 2018. (Mujeeb Faruqui photo courtesy of Hindustan Times)

Other countries that recently made progress have included:

  • Belize , where the Supreme Count in August 2016 overturned that nation’s anti-sodomy law as applied to consensual sex.
  • The island nations of Seychelles and Nauru, which both repealed their anti-gay laws in May 2016.
  • Mozambique, on the southeastern coast of Africa, with a population of 24 million. Like Angola, it is a former Portuguese colony. Like Angola, in 2014 it adopted a new Penal Code that omitted the colonial-era anti-homosexuality provision..
  • 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. Both decriminalized homosexuality and were dropped from the blog’s list in 2014.
  • Northern Cyprus, which repealed its anti-homosexuality law in January 2014, eliminating the final European location with such a law. (Northern Cyprus is recognized as a country only by Turkey.)

For more information and this blog’s full list of countries with anti-homosexuality laws, see the article “73 countries where homosexuality is illegal.”


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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