New report claims 86 countries criminalise same-sex acts

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The International Lesbian and Gay Association’s 2008 report on state-sponsored homophobia says that to be lesbian or gay risks jail time in 86 countries and death penalty in seven.

The figure normally quoted is 77 countries.

The research deals only with legislation criminalising consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex in private above the age of consent.

Laws dealing with such acts in public, with under aged people, with force or by any other reason are not included.

In addition to those 86 countries there are six provinces or territorial units which also punish homosexuality with imprisonment, said ILGA.

A 30-year-old world federation, ILGA consists of 670 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex groups from more than 100 countries.

“Although many of the countries listed in the report do not systematically implement those laws, their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens needs to hide from the rest of the population out of fear,” said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, co-secretary general of ILGA.

“A culture where hatred and violence are justified by the state and force people into invisibility or into denying who they truly are.

“Whether exported by colonial empires or the result of legislations culturally shaped by religious beliefs, if not deriving directly from a conservative interpretation of religious texts, homophobic laws are the fruit of a certain time and context in history.

“Homophobia is cultural. Homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia are not inborn. People learn them as they grow.”

ILGA’s 2008 report on state homophobia around the world is available at

This year, ILGA has also included a list of countries according to their legislations affecting LGBTI people.

This allows readers to get a quick and comprehensive overview on the legal situation in the world, from countries penalising homosexual activity with death penalty to the few ones allowing adoption for same-sex couples.

Along the same lines, ILGA has published a map on LGBTI rights that can be used to raise awareness of people on the many laws affecting LGBTI people in the world. It is available on

Philipp Braun, co-secretary general of ILGA, said:

“In many cases prejudice against homosexual people is the result of ignorance and fear. This long catalogue of horrors is but a tale of the intolerance against what is foreign and different.

“Decriminalisation of same sex activity is as urgent as ever. The fight for the respect of every minority has to be everyone’s fight.

“We believe that the recognition of sexual minorities as components of our civil societies and the acknowledgement of the equality of their human rights can contribute to learning how to live together, that is, the learning of democracy.

“ILGA is committed to have sexual orientation and gender identity come out and be discussed at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“We believe the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, recently developed by a group of international human rights experts, are a useful tool to frame such a discussion among UN member states.

“It is important to set this debate where it belongs: on the human rights agenda. Altogether 60 countries have publicly supported sexual orientation as an issue at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights/Human Rights Council since 2003.

“Criminalisation of consensual same-sex activity is being challenged by NGOs and states in the current Universal Periodic Review.”