Where Is It Illegal To Be Gay?

In the aftermath of the June 2016 attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the UN Security Council issued a statement condemning the targeting of persons based on their sexual orientation This was the first time the United Nations took an official stance on LGBT discrimination, and perhaps surprisingly, it garnered support from a number of countries that outlaw homosexuality, including Egypt and Russia

So, where do these draconian laws exist? Where is it illegal to be gay? Well, according to the UN, homosexuality is a crime in at least 74 countries, 13 of which impose the death penalty for the alleged “crime” These laws exist are most pervasive in Africa and the Middle East, where lengthy prison sentences, forced psychiatric treatment, whippings, hard labor and death by public stoning are all common punishments for homosexuality Some of the most notable anti-gay laws exist in Uganda, where individuals can face life in prison for homosexual acts in public or in private These laws were first introduced by Uganda’s British colonial rulers in the 19th Century, and retained through the country’s independence in 1962 But they largely went unenforced until the early 2000s, when American Christian Missionaries popularized the idea that gay people sought to destroy their society by preying on and recruiting children as homosexuals

This has also been directly linked to Uganda’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality, or “kill the gays” bill, which, in 2014, which originally made homosexuality punishable by death The bill was subsequently overturned, and no later versions have successfully made it through parliament But an arguably worse place to be gay is Iran, which enforces capital punishment for homosexual intercourse The law makes a distinction for gay women, who are lashed 50 times for their first three offenses, but for any further offenses the punishment is still death Gay men can also be whipped for lesser acts, like kissing or holding hands

Iran’s anti-gay laws stem from their adherence to Sharia Law, which is a strict interpretation of the teachings of Islam The Quran explicitly states that sex between men should be punished, however it does not specify how, and later adds that those who repent should be left alone Still, human rights groups estimate that between four thousand and six thousand people have been executed for such acts since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979 Afghanistan also adhere’s to Sharia Law, and, in effect, strictly forbids homosexuality While the country was under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, gay men and women were routinely executed

However since the extremist group was toppled by US forces, Afghanistan has generally punished homosexual acts with a prison sentence And although capital punishment is still enshrined in their legal code, it has reportedly gone unenforced since 2001 But these laws are not exclusive to Africa and the Middle East In 2013, Russia enacted the infamous anti-Gay Propaganda Law, which prohibits discussion or display of any non-traditional sexual behavior in a non negative light, in order to, according to the Russian government, protect minors Belize has outlawed same-sex activity since 1988, and today, their Immigration Act bars gay men and women from even entering the country

The United Nations and various human rights organizations have made efforts to decriminalize homosexuality, however the worst offenders have yet to reform their anti-gay laws

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