Sixty-nine countries worldwide still criminalise consensual same-sex activity and at least half are actively using those laws to persecute LGBTIQ people, a new report has found.
That’s according to global advocacy group ILGA World’s latest update to their State-Sponsored Homophobia report, released this week.
“As of December 2020, 69 UN member states continue to criminalise same-sex consensual activity,” ILGA World research coordinator Lucas Ramón Mendos said.
“This year, Gabon backtracked from the criminalising provision it passed in 2019. [The law was] the shortest-lived of its kind in modern history.
“Last week, Bhutan’s parliament approved a bill to decriminalise consensual same-sex relations. It may soon be signed into law.”
In July, Sudan repealed its death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts.
However Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia still punish same-sex sexual relations with the death penalty.
Mendos said ILGA World have also verified at least 34 UN member states actively enforced laws criminalising LGBTIQ people in the last five years.
However he warns the true number is possibly much higher.
“Wherever such provisions are in the books, people may get reported and arrested at any time,” he said.
“Even just under the suspicion of having sex with someone of the same gender.
“Courts actively prosecute and sentence them to jail, public flogging, or even death.”
ILGA World reports LGBTIQ persecution around the world
Police in Constantine, Algeria arrested 44 people in July over an alleged “same-sex wedding” between two men.
They claimed the event was only a birthday party. However in September, authorities jailed four individuals involved.
In Indonesia there are multiple accounts of gay men punished with public whipping in conservative Aceh (pictured above) and nationwide raids targeting gay people in recent years.
In Burundi in October 2017, police arrested numerous people for “engaging in homosexuality” and forced them to pay exorbitant bribes for release.
Official government records in Morocco show authorities charged 170 individuals with “homosexuality” in 2018.
ILGA World also reported several arrests and prosecutions of gay people in Sri Lanka under laws banning “unnatural” sex.
In Cameroon, ILGA World reported police targeted nearly 1,800 people with arrests, extortion, and violence based on their sexual orientations.
Police reportedly also practice forced anal examinations on those suspected of gay sex.
A court in Yemen found a gay man guilty of “sodomy” in October and punished him with 100 lashes in public.
Egypt has seen numerous accounts of arrests, detention and torture in recent years for “debauchery” or other charges targeting LGBT individuals.
In Kenya in August, neighbours violently assaulted and police later arrested two gay men.
LGBTIQ safe spaces dramatically shrunk due to COVID-19 pandemic
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic left many LGBTIQ people struggling to survive, ILGA World’s program director Julia Ehrt said.
“For our communities, safe spaces dramatically shrunk overnight,” Ehrt said.
“Some governments took advantage of these circumstances and stepped up efforts to oppress, persecute, scapegoat, and to violently discriminate against us.
“In many places where laws were already a cause of inequality, things have only got worse.”
Ehrt said in Poland, homophobic local authorities have declared so-called “LGBT-free zones” in large swathes of the country.
And in Indonesia, debunked and dangerous sexuality and gender “conversion” practices are on the rise.
Ehrt said explicit legal protections against violence and discrimination are more important than ever to protect LGBTIQ people.