Metro Weekly

72 countries still punish same-sex sexual activity, report finds

Despite decrease in number of countries with explicitly anti-gay laws, homophobic violence remains a threat

Photo Credit: Kevin Goebel/flickr.

Fewer countries ban same-sex relations than did a decade ago, but 72 countries still punish those who engage in homosexual intimacy, according to a new report from a global rights group.

Additionally, the report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association finds that even though more countries have legal protections prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people, homophobic violence and abuse still persist. 

The report finds that same-sex marriage is legal in 23 countries, and 43 have banned hate crimes. There are 124 states — 122 countries, plus Taiwan and Kosovo — where there are no legal penalties for same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults, but 72 where same-sex relations are still punished. In 45 of those states, laws banning such activity apply equally to men and women.

There are also 72 states that currently have some type of law or constitutional protection in place that prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people. 

“Hate crimes [against LGBT people] are being really noticed in the world,” Aengus Carroll, one of the report’s co-authors, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “So protections for people who … are hurt on the basis of sexual orientation are increasing.”

ILGA said attacks against the LGBTQ community are still common, with the most recent example being the anti-gay persecution in Chechnya, where more than 100 men suspected of being gay were rounded up and tortured in secret detention facilities. 

“The ongoing case of Chechnya offers us the most recent, horrific example of such abuses,” Renato Sabbadini, the executive director of ILGA, said in a statement. “Survivors have expressed fears that the social media accounts of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are being hacked and used to identify and contact others who have not yet been arrested.”

Currently, the death penalty is “allowed” for those convicted of same-sex activity in eight different countries. In a 2015 United Nations report, human rights observers detailed various forms of violence, including knife attacks, anal rape, genital mutilation, stoning, and dismemberment, that had been directed against LGBTQ people. And even in countries with laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination, homophobic violence can occur, as it did in the Netherlands, where a married gay couple was beaten for holding hands.

“There’s nowhere in the world at the moment where I would say that LGBT people would feel super safe. Absolutely none,” Carroll said.

“I would like to see that happen through legislative change across the planet, but it’s not going to be easy. We’re going to need to fight for quite a long time.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com