The 42 Commonwealth Nations where being gay can land you in prison
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.
Homosexual activity is illegal in Kenya with those convicted facing up to 14 years in prison.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal for men in the Kingdom of Lesotho as a common law offence. Being a lesbian is legal.
Male and female homosexual acts are both illegal in Malawi with those convicted facing up to 14 years in prison. Malawi briefly suspended its anti-gay laws last year but after heavy pressure from the church and conservative groups, the laws were reenacted.
Anal sex is illegal in Namibia but the law is rarely enforced. In 2005 the Deputy Minister Minister of Home Affairs described homosexuals as have “betrayed Namibia’s fight for freedom” and being to blame for the AIDS pandemic in the country.
Nigeria is split between a conservative Muslim north and a conservative Christian south. In both parts of the country gay relations are illegal. In areas where Sharia Law are in affect a person convicted of homosexuality can face the death penalty while in areas where Sharia is not in affect people can face up to 14 years in prison. A Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2007 found that 97% of the country’s population view homosexuality as unacceptable. In June, a report was released stating that 92% of the population polled believed that same-sex marriage should be criminalised.
Male same-sex sexual activity is illegal but the laws are rarely enforced. Being a lesbian is not illegal.
Male homosexual activity is illegal in Swaziland. Being a lesbian is not illegal.
Male homosexual activity is illegal throughout the entire country. Being a lesbian is not illegal apart from in Zanzibar.
Same sex sexual activity is illegal in Zambia with those convicted facing up to 14 years in prison. The government has in place a department to combat homosexuality and protect the population from “abnormal sexual acts”
Anal sex is punishable with up to 14 years imprisonment in the country. It is covered under the same law that prevents people from having sex with animals.
The Maldives operate under Sharia Law and people of same sex sexual acts can receive the death penalty.
While same sex sexual acts are illegal in Mauritius with those convicted facing up to 5 years in prison discrimination protections are in place to prevent someone from being fired for being gay. Also Mauritius was one of the 66 nations to add it’s signature to the UN Declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity which failed to pass.
Male same sex sexual acts are illegal in Nauru with those convicted facing up to 14 years in prison. However in 2011 the government announced plans to decriminalise homosexuality. As of 2013 this has not happened yet but no one has been convicted of homosexual acts since the plans were announced.
Papua New Guinea
Male homosexuality is illegal in Papua New Guinea with those found guilty of partaking in sodomy facing up to 14 years in prison. Although the law is rarely enforced, LGBT people face widespread social stigma and isolation from the rest of society. The AIDS epidemic which has exploded in Papua New Guinea in the past few years has been in part blamed on the homophobic laws and the homophobia in society.
Homosexuality is illegal in Samoa with those convicted facing up to 7 years in prison. This year the Prime Minister reiterated that same-sex marriage would not be made legal in the country. In 2008 the flim Milk was banned from the country on the grounds it broke rules and guidelines.
Although the law is rarely enforced, people in Singapore found guilty of same-sex activity can face up to 2 years in prison, People are permitted to change gender but great social stigma remains.
The Solomon Islands
Those found guilty of partaking in same-sex activity on The Solomon Islands can face up to 14 years in prison. People who attempt to engage in anal sex can face up to 7 years in prison. Attempts to reform the law were made in 2008 but the plans were met with strong opposition and in 2011 the country informed the United Nations that they would not seek to decriminalise same-sex behaviour.
A person convicted of anal sex in Tonga can face up to 10 years in prison.
Male homosexuality is illegal in Tuvalu with those found guilty facing up to 14 years in prison. Female homosexuality is legal but no legal protections or recognition exist for lesbians in the country. The law states that no person shall “commit buggery with another person or with an animal.” The country also makes it illegal for a man to have sexual intercourse with a “female idiot or imbecile woman”.
Antigua and Barbuda
In Antigua and Barbuda same sex activity is illegal for both gay men and lesbian women. Two consenting adults found guilty of the offence can face up to 15 years in prison and no legal protections exist to protect those who are LGBT.
Although the law is rarely enforced, people in Barbados found guilty of same-sex activity can face up to life imprisonment. Homophobia is rife in the country and in recent days a newspaper columnist from the country claimed that “AIDS a punishment” for those that are homosexual.
Same-sex activity has been illegal in Belize since 2003 and those found guilty can face up to 10 years in prison. Despite the fact Belize has faced pressure from the United States to change the law the Prime Minister has remained adamant that gay sex should remain a criminal offence. Earlier this year a case that was brought in 2010 made it to the Supreme Court with British former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith among a team who argued for an overturn of the law.
Same sex acts are a crime in Dominica with those found guilty facing up to 10 years in prison as well a requirement to attend a psychiatric hospital.
In Grenada male homosexuality is a crime and those found guilty can face up to 10 years in prison. While female homosexuality isn’t illegal in the country, no legal rights exist for lesbians.
Same sex activity is illegal in Jamaica for both men and women and those found guilty can face up to 10 years in prison. Jamaica has been described as one of the most homophobic places on earth. PinkNews.co.ukhas reported numerous stories out of Jamaica that show endemic homophobia in all areas of society. Recently, a transgender teenager was murdered and it was later revealed the victim suffered abuse at school and from their parents.
Those convicted of same sex sexual activity face up to 10 years in prison. Attempts have been made to pass discrimination protects into law but strong religious opposition has stopped this from happening.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
It is illegal for gay men to have sex in Saint Kitts and Nevis where those found guilty can face up 10 years in prison. No one has ever been jailed under the law but there are no plans for the law to be overturned. A gay cruise ship was banned from docking on the islands in 2005.
Males homosexuality is illegal on the island of Saint Lucia with those founds guilty facing up to 10 years in prison. It was the only country in the Americas to formally oppose the United Nations declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
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Same-sex activity in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is illegal with those found guilty facing up to 5 years in prison. Those found guilty of anal sex can face up to 10 years in prison. The law is said to be rarely enforced the country.
Trinidad and Tobago
A person convicted of same sex sexual activity in Trinidad and Tobago can face up to 25 years in prison but the laws are rarely enforced.