Either 69 or 73 countries have anti-gay laws

Human Rights Watch has published a valuable new resource focusing on 69 countries with anti-gay laws.

Human Rights Watch map pinpoints 69 countries with anti-gay laws. Different colors indicate different sentences the countries threaten, up to a death sentence, in black. (Click the image to see the HRW report.)
Human Rights Watch map pinpoints 69 countries with anti-gay laws. Different colors indicate different sentences the countries threaten, up to a death sentence, in black. (Click the image to see the HRW report.)

The report #OUTLAWED “The love that dare not speak its name” lists the nations that outlaw same-sex relations between consenting adults and criminalize forms of gender expression. It includes interactive maps and links to countries’ penal codes.

HRW’s list of 69 countries with anti-gay laws is mostly the same as this blog’s list of 73 such countries.

In addition to HRW’s 69 nations, the Erasing 76 Crimes list includes:

Afghanistan. In 2017, ILGA’s report “State-Sponsored Homophobia” stated about Afghanistan, “Although the Afghan Penal Code does not contain any explicit provisions on the criminality of consensual same-sex sexual acts, Article 130 of the Constitution does allow recourse to be made to Sharia law, which prohibits same-sex sexual activity in general, and indeed any sexual contact outside marriage. Afghanistan’s Sharia law criminalises same-sex sexual acts with a maximum of the death penalty. A BBC article of late 2016 confirms that LGBT people live in constant fear of this or other severe persecutory penalties and they are forced to hide their identities. A high-profile scholar is quoted ‘there was broad consensus amongst scholars that execution was the appropriate punishment if homosexual acts could be proven’, and this is consistent with a history of such repression in Afghanistan. ”

Public caning of a gay couple -- a sharia court's punishment for their homosexual activity -- was carried out May 23 outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)
Public caning of a gay couple — a sharia court’s punishment for their homosexual activity — was carried out May 23, 2017, outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)

Indonesia. The HRW report notes that “in Indonesia, Aceh province is semi-autonomous and criminalizes same-sex conduct under Sharia (Islamic law).” The laws in Aceh province and other Indonesian locations are the reason that it’s included in this blog’s list.

Memorial at a Pride Walk in 2017 focuses on the murder of Iraqi actor/model Karar Nushi, who had been accused of being gay (Photo courtesy of Pride Walk)
Memorial at a Pride Walk in 2017 focuses on the murder of Iraqi actor/model Karar Nushi, who had been accused of being gay (Photo courtesy of Pride Walk)

Iraq. The ILGA report stated, “Non-State actors in Iraq including Sharia judges, are known to order executions of men and women for same-sex sexual behaviour, despite the fact that Iraq’s civil code is silent on same-sex sexual behaviour, and the country’s legal system does not defer to the Sharia court. It is also known that both police and militias have frequently kidnapped, threatened and killed LGBT people, as documented by OutRight since 2014. …” See also this blog’s coverage of Iraq.

United Arab Emirates. HRW provides detailed information about the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but does not list it among the 69. As HRW stated, the UAE “has no federal law against homosexual conduct, but several emirates, each of which has its own penal code, do so, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. The UAE’s federal penal code includes a vague ban on any ‘indecent or disgraceful act,’ without further explanation.”

HRW has also published the third edition of its SOGI Country Profiles, including brief descriptions of the status of LGBTI people in 112 countries. Those nations include the 69 nations with anti-gay laws plus others that were the locations of major events, positive or negative, relating to LGBT rights in 2018.

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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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