The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, the international body that was created out of what was formerly the British Empire. The Commonwealth states that its core values are “democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and opportunity for all.” However, freedom, peace and the opportunity for all are clearly denied to LGBT people in 42 of the 54 countries that are member states.
11 of the countries where being gay can result in a prison sentence have the Queen as the Head of State. Here are all of the countries that are members of the Commonwealth where being gay results in time behind bars:-
Section 377, a colonial-era section of the Penal Code which bans homosexuality, was re-enacted by India’s Supreme Court in December 2013. In January the same court rejected an appeal against the decision.
In Pakistan same-sex sexual activity has been illegal since 1860. The laws are applied differently depending on what of region of the country you’re in with some areas carrying sentences of 2 – 10 years. Homosexuality is widely viewed with hatred and disdain in Pakistan with no expectation of change happening in the near future. Interestingly, Pakistan in among the biggest searches for for gay porn and is said to have a large underground gay community.
Both male and female homosexuality are illegal in Uganda with little to no legal protections existing for the LGBT community. A male convicted of same-sex activity can face up to life behind bars while a woman can face up to seven years. The laws against homosexuality in Uganda are already some of the harshest in the region but MP David Bahati has sought to imposed a death penalty for some people convicted for homosexuality. Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadager promised to enact the laws as a Christmas gift to the Ugandan people because the vast majority of the population demanded homosexuality to be punished.
People convicted of same-sex activity in Bangladesh can receive fines and up to in prison to life imprisonment. LGB people are subject to abuse and discrimination in society is prevalent. Transgender people are however allowed to vote and have been able to since 2008 but social stigma is still an issue for the community.
Male same-sex activity is illegal in Brunei with those convicted facing execution. In April the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah gave approval to Brunei’s revised penal code, which urges death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity.
The Government of Malaysia has retained the colonial laws criminalising homosexuality although they are rarely enforced. If a person is convicted of same-sex sexual activity they can face up to 20 years in prison, fines and whippings.
Men convicted of same-sex sexual activity can face up to 14 years in prison. Female homosexuality is not illegal in the Seychelles but the usual social stigmas still apply.
Homosexual activity is illegal in Sri Lanka but since no one has ever been convicted under the law.
Same-sex activity is illegal in Bostwana and carries a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.
Same sex sexual activity is illegal in Cameroon with those convicted facing up to 5 years in prison. In 2011 two men were arrested on suspicion of homosexuality based entirely on the way they dressed and spoke.
Gay sex is illegal in The Gambia and those convicted can face up to 14 years in prison. The Gambia came under the spotlight earlier this year when a lesbian asylum seeker faced deportation from the UK to the country where she feared she would be persecuted for being gay. The President of The Gambia last year attacked foreign countries who he claimed were trying to use aid as a means to bribe countries into accepting homosexuality. David Cameron said that countries that persecuted LGBT could face cuts in aid.
Same-sex sexual activity between men is illegal in Ghana with those found guilty facing up to 3 years in prison. A newspaper in the country made a claim last year that over 82% of the population abhorred homosexuality.