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63 countries where it’s still illegal to be gay

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In an era where significant strides in recognizing LGBTQ+ human rights have been made, it is deeply disconcerting to acknowledge that there are still many countries where it is illegal to be gay. Despite global efforts advocating for inclusivity and equal rights, a number of nations persist in maintaining laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity. The fact that in various corners of the world, LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face legal consequences—including life in prison and the death penalty—solely based on their sexual orientation is a sobering reality that highlights the urgent need for continued advocacy for universal human rights. Read on for a list of countries where it is still illegal to be gay

  1. Afghanistan: Consensual same-sex acts are penalized by up to 2 years in prison.
  2. Algeria: “Acts of homosexuality” carry a prison sentence of between 2 months to 2 years and a fine of 500 to 2,000 Algerian Dinars.
  3. Bangladesh: Homosexual sexual activities are referred to as “unnatural offences” and those found guilty can be punished with up to life imprisonment and are also liable to a fine. 
  4. Brunei: Homosexual sexual activity can result in up to 30 years in prison, and the death penalty can be imposed for acts of anal sex (sodomy). Lesbian acts can result in a fine, imprisonment for up to 10 years, whipping, or a combination of the aforementioned. 
  5. Burundi: Homosexual sexual activity can result in a prison sentence of 3 months to 2 years.
  6. Cameroon: Anyone who has sexual relations with a person of the same sex may be subject to a penalty of 6 months to 5 years in prison and/or a fine.
  7. Chad: Same-sex sexual activities carry a penalty of 3 months to 2 years in prison and a fine.
  8. Comoros: Sexual acts with a person of the same sex can be punished with up to five years in prison and a fine. 
  9. Dominica: Anal sexual intercourse can come with a 10 year prison sentence and potentially forced psychiatric treatment. 
  10. Egypt: There is no law that explicitly criminalizes same-sex sexual activity in Egypt, but discrimination is rife and often gay individuals are penalized for inciting “debauchery”  via soliciting sex work, which can come potentially up to 6 years in prison. 
  11. Eritrea: The maximum penalties for consensual same-sex acts are 3 to 7 years in prison. 
  12. Eswatini: Same-sex sexual activities are prohibited, but no penalty is outlined.
  13. Ethiopia: Same-sex sexual activities are grounds for imprisonment with a minimum sentence of 1 year in prison.
  14. Gambia: “Aggravated homosexuality” such as being a “serial offender” can be charged with life imprisonment. Without “aggravating circumstances,” men could go to prison for up to 14 years, and women up to 5 years.
  15. Ghana: Intercourse between persons of the same sex can result in 3 to 5 years in prison.
  16. Grenada: Same sex sexual activities are punished with up to 10 years in prison.
  17. Guinea: Same sex sexual activities are punished with up to 3 years in prison and a fine.
  18. Guyana: Anal sexual intercourse can carry a life sentence. 
  19. Iran: The death penalty, imprisonment, and/or flogging are the punishments for crimes related to consensual same-sex acts.
  20. Iraq: Same-sex sexual acts are penalized by up to 6 months in prison.
  21. Jamaica: Forced labor and up to 10 years in prison are the punishments for homosexual acts. 
  22. Kenya: Homosexual acts are penalized with up to 14 years in prison.
  23. Kiribati: An up to 14-year prison sentence is the punishment for homosexual acts.
  24. Kuwait: Same-sex sexual intercourse carries a possible imprisonment of up to 7 years.
  25. Lebanon: Same-sex sexual intercourse is punishable by up to 1 year in prison.
  26. Liberia: Same-sex sexual intercourse is punishable by up to 1 year in prison or a fine.
  27. Libya: Up to 5 years in prison is the punishment for same-sex sexual activities.
  28. Malawi: Up to 14 years in prison is the punishment for same-sex sexual acts.
  29. Malaysia: Imprisonment of up to 20 years and flogging are the punishments for homosexual sexual acts.
  30. Maldives: Same-sex sexual acts can carry an 8 year prison sentence. Flogging may also be an additional punishment. 
  31. Mauritania: Same-sex sexual acts committed by adult Muslim men are punishable with death by public stoning. Same-sex sexual acts committed by women are punishable with up to 2 years in prison.
  32. Morocco: Homosexual activities are punishable with up to 3 years in prison.
  33. Myanmar: An up to 10 year prison sentence is the punishment for same-sex sexual acts.
  34. Namibia: While homosexual activity is illegal in Namibia, no maximum penalty is established.
  35. Nigeria: The death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts are legally prescribed in 12 provinces—Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. Homosexual acts could also carry a 14 to 21 year prison sentence and flogging.
  36. Oman: Consensual same-sex acts carry a 3 year prison sentence.
  37. Pakistan: Same-sex sexual acts can carry a life prison sentence, and possibly the death penalty.
  38. Papau New Guinea: Up to 14 years in prison is the punishment for homosexual acts.
  39. Qatar: Same-sex sexual intercourse can carry a 7 year prison sentence. If anal sexual intercourse is practiced “as a profession or for a living” then the punishment is up to 10 years in prison. Courts could impose the death penalty, but the legal certainty is unclear.
  40. Saint Lucia: Up to 10 years in prison is the punishment for homosexual sexual acts.
  41. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Anal sexual intercourse is punished with up to 10 years in prison.
  42. Samoa: Anal sexual intercourse is punished with up to 7 years in prison.
  43. Saudi Arabia: The death penalty and flogging are some of the multiple possible punishments for anal sexual intercourse.
  44. Senegal: Homosexual sexual acts are punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison.
  45. Sierra Leone: Anal sexual intercourse is punished with 10 years to life in prison.
  46. Solomon Islands: Anal sexual intercourse carries a 14 year prison sentence. Same-sex sexual acts carry a 5 year prison sentence.
  47. Somalia: Same-sex sexual intercourse can come with a 3 year prison sentence. It’s also possible that the death penalty could be imposed.
  48. South Sudan: Same-sex sexual intercourse can be punished with up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine.
  49. Sri Lanka: Same-sex sexual intercourse can be punished with up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine.
  50. Sudan: Those who have practiced anal sexual intercourse “for a second time” may be subject to a 7 year prison sentence, and a life imprisonment upon the third conviction.
  51. Syria: Same-sex sexual acts may come with an up to 3 year prison sentence. 
  52. Tanzania: In Mainland Tanzania, same-sex sexual acts can carry a life imprisonment penalty. In Zanzibar, they can come with up to 14 years in prison. Both places can also come with fines.
  53. Togo: Up to 3 years in prison and fines are punishments for same-sex sexual acts.
  54. Tonga: Anal sexual intercourse and attempted anal sexual intercourse can be punished with up to 10 years in prison, or flogging.
  55. Tunisia: Anal sexual intercourse carries an up to 3 year prison sentence.
  56. Turkmenistan: Anal sexual intercourse is punished with up to 5 years in prison.
  57. Tuvalu: Same-sex sexual acts are punished with up to 14 years in prison.
  58. Uganda: Same-sex sexual acts are punished with the death penalty is the person accused is a “serial offender”; if one of the persons involved contracts a “terminal illness”; if one of the persons involved is a “person with a disability or of advanced age.” A life prison sentence is another possible punishment for homosexual acts, as well as court-ordered “conversion therapy.”
  59. United Arab Emirates: Same-sex sexual acts can result in 6 months in prison (no maximum is established). The death penalty could be imposed for consensual anal sexual intercourse.
  60. Uzbekistan: Homosexual intercourse between men is punished with up to 3 years in prison.
  61. Yemen: Same-sex sexual acts between women can carry a 3 year prison sentence. Anal sexual intercourse can be punished with death by stoning, whipping, or imprisonment for 1 year.
  62. Zambia: Same-sex sexual acts can be punished with imprisonment of 15 years to life.
  63. Zimbabwe: Anal intercourse between men can carry a 1 year prison sentence, and a fine may be imposed.

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