It’s still illegal to be gay in 72 countries, new human rights report finds

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The number of countries banning same-sex relationships has declined over the last decade, a new human rights report has found, but attacks against LGBT people are still common in many nations.

The report, released today by global rights group the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), found that same-sex relationships remain a crime in 72 countries around the world, down from 96 in 2002.

The report also found that eight UN member states carry the death penalty for same-sex activity, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, and Sudan. There are 19 countries where ‘morality’ laws actively prohibit public ‘promotion’ of gay or transgender lifestyles, and 25 states ban the formation of LGBT rights groups.

Gay sex illegal infographic

The report pointed to the situation in Chechnya, which “offers us the most recent, horrific example of such abuses”, according to ILGA Executive Director Renato Sabbadini.

There was some optimism in the report, however, which found that 23 countries now legally recognise same-sex marriage. Recently, same-sex marriage laws in Slovenia and Finland came into place at the beginning of 2017.

It also noted that more countries have in recent years implemented “specific legislation that protects us from discrimination and violence”.

“It is an unavoidable truth that full equality for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons is unfortunately still very far from our reach,” the report wrote.

The report comes ahead of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, due to be celebrated on Wednesday.

The report is published amid mounting international outrage about the LGBT rights situation in Chechyna, which attracted global headlines last month when it was reported to have opened concentration camp-style prisons for gay men.

More than 100 gay men were “detained” for being gay as part of a nationwide “purge”, Russian newspapers reported.

A Chechen government spokesperson later denied that there are any gay people in the country to detain, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone doesn’t exist in the republic”.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation in England and Wales of sex between two consenting men over the age of 21.

It’s still illegal to be gay in 72 countries, new human rights report finds
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has overseen the state’s crackdown on gay men

The Sexual Offences Act 1967 did not cover the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces.

Homosexual acts were only decriminalised in Scotland by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 and in Northern Ireland by the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982.

The age of consent for homosexual sex was reduced to 18 in 1994 and only equalised with heterosexual sex at 16 with the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act of 2000.

Earlier this year, an MP sought to remove one of the last UK-wide laws that discriminate against people for having gay sex.

The Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill, which was submitted by Tory MP John Glen last week, would address one of the last remaining homophobic measures in UK law.