There are many countries around the world that have made great strides in recognizing and protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. However, there are still some countries where homosexuality remains illegal, often leading to severe punishment or social persecution. In this article, we will explore 15 countries where it is illegal to be gay, providing a brief description of their laws, societal views, and potential consequences faced by LGBTQ+ individuals.
The predominantly Muslim country of Afghanistan considers homosexuality illegal under Sharia law. The conservative society frowns upon LGBTQ+ individuals, and punishments can range from imprisonment to even death. The lack of legal protection makes it extremely difficult for LGBTQ+ individuals to live openly and safely.
The Shariah law of Brunei, the country’s Islamic penal code, punishes homosexuality. Implemented in 2019, the law allows for punishment of homosexual acts with whipping and even stoning to death. International outcry against these harsh penalties has made little impact on Brunei’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights.
The Iranian legal system, based on Islamic law, deems same-sex relations as illegal and punishable by death. Iranian society is heavily influenced by religious conservatism, creating an oppressive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals. Despite facing severe consequences, many continue to advocate for their rights from within the country or in exile.
The crime of homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment or death in Sudan. Although public opinion remains deeply conservative, Sudan has shown some signs of progress in recent years, such as repealing the death penalty for sodomy in 2020. However, LGBTQ+ individuals still face significant challenges in Sudanese society.
5. Saudi Arabia
There are severe punishments that can result from same-sex relationships in Saudi Arabia, including lashings, imprisonment, and execution. The conservative kingdom adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic law, which leaves little room for LGBTQ+ rights. Social stigma and discrimination are pervasive, making it challenging for LGBTQ+ individuals to live openly.
It is illegal to be homosexual in Somalia and it is punishable by imprisonment or death. The country’s legal system is heavily influenced by Islamic law, and conservative societal attitudes contribute to a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ individuals. Unfortunately, this situation is further compounded by the ongoing instability and violence in the region.
Yemeni law criminalizes homosexuality, with penalties ranging from imprisonment to death. The country’s deeply conservative society, rooted in tribal customs and Islamic teachings, has little tolerance for LGBTQ+ individuals. The ongoing civil war in Yemen only serves to exacerbate the difficulties faced by the LGBTQ+ community.
In Nigeria, same-sex relations are illegal and can result in severe punishment, including imprisonment or death. In addition to national laws, some northern Nigerian states have implemented Sharia law, which prescribes even harsher penalties for homosexuality. Discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ individuals remain widespread throughout the country.
Mauritania’s interpretation of Islamic law punishes homosexuality with death. The conservative society shows little tolerance for LGBTQ+ individuals, leaving them vulnerable to discrimination and persecution. While the death penalty has not been recently applied, the threat of imprisonment remains very real.
10. United Arab Emirates
In the United Arab Emirates, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment, deportation, and even death. Although the country is known for its modern cities and luxurious lifestyle, traditional attitudes and conservative Islamic values continue to shape its laws and social norms, making life difficult for LGBTQ+ individuals.
The punishment for homosexual acts in Qatar ranges from imprisonment to flogging. Despite being a rapidly modernizing nation, Qatar adheres to conservative Islamic values and strict legal interpretations. This creates an unwelcoming environment for LGBTQ+ individuals who face significant social stigma and limited legal protections.
In Pakistan, same-sex relations are illegal under the country’s Islamic laws, with punishments including imprisonment, fines, or corporal punishment. The conservative society holds deep-rooted prejudices against LGBTQ+ individuals, making it difficult for them to live openly without fear of discrimination or violence.
Those involved in homosexual acts could face harsh penalties, including long prison terms. The predominantly Christian country harbors conservative attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals, leading to widespread discrimination and social stigma. Despite these challenges, grassroots organizations continue to fight for LGBTQ+ rights and social acceptance in Kenya.
Neither secular nor Sharia laws criminalize homosexuality in Malaysia. Penalties for engaging in same-sex relations can include imprisonment, fines, and even corporal punishment. The predominantly Muslim society holds conservative views on LGBTQ+ rights, and public opinion remains largely unfavorable towards the community.
The act of having same-sex relations is illegal in Tanzania. A person who violates this law may be imprisoned for up to 30 years or for life. The East African country is characterized by conservative social and religious values, which contribute to widespread discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. The Tanzanian government has also targeted LGBTQ+ organizations and activists in recent years, making advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights even more challenging.
In many countries, LGBTQ+ individuals continue to face significant challenges, including criminalization, discrimination, and violence. As we have explored in this article, these challenges are often deeply rooted in conservative social, religious, and cultural values.