As the western nations grapple with the question whether same-sex marriage should be made legal or not, homosexuality still finds great resistance in many regions around the world. While most citizens in such nations attribute the resistance as just a cultural thing, the reality is that a major cause of it is adherence to their religious teachings.
Recently, Russia passed an anti-gay bill that stigmatizes homosexuals by banning homosexuality being taught to children. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community won’t be able to hold gay pride rallies as a result of this act. With Russia hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the pressure is on them from the international community to soften their stance on same-sex relationships.
According to an international survey by Pew Research Center this year, the global divide on homosexuality varies considerably from region to region. Countries which are more secular, and where religion doesn’t play a greater role in people’s lives, were found to be the most tolerant as far as homosexuality is concerned. Moreover, secular nations were also found to be amongst the richest countries in the world; some of the exceptions were Russia and China.
In contrast, only a small percentage of the population in poorer countries is ready to accept homosexuality as part of their society. It was also found that religion plays a central role in people’s lives in most of these poorer countries.
The age of the respondents was also a major deciding factor, with the youth offering more accepting views of homosexuality than the elders. While gender differences weren’t a deciding factor, in those nations where they were, women were consistently found to be far tolerant of homosexuality than men.
This list details the 10 least gay-friendly countries in the world, and how they treat their homosexual citizens.
10. Kenya: 90% opposed to same-sex relationships
Homosexuality is widely considered as a taboo and repugnant to the moral values and cultural diversity of Kenya. A staggering 90% of Kenyans surveyed by Pew Research Center were opposed to allowing same-sex relationships in their society. According to Kenyan law, sex between males is considered illegal, and it can carry a penalty up to 14 years in prison, which can extend up to 21 years if the sex is non-consensual. Though the law doesn’t state explicitly about sex between women, lesbians also face arrests. Despite the hurdles, there are several organizations that are working towards protecting and improving LGBT rights in Kenya.
9. Palestinian Territories: 93% opposed to same-sex relationships
The Palestinian territories are one of the most ravaged regions in the world; they include the West Bank region and the Gaza Strip. Naturally, with constant war and widely prevalent poverty, religion plays a great role to console a large section of the populace. However, even with 93% of the survey respondents not ready to accept homosexuality in the society, it is interesting to note that homosexuality is not illegal inside Palestinian territories. However, as far as LGBT rights are concerned, it is a different matter altogether. Despite the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict in the region, LGBT Jews and Arabs are one of the least prejudiced people in the region. There are some gay bars within the region where cross-cultural relationships are a common sight.
8. Indonesia: 93% opposed to same-sex relationships
Homosexuality faces prejudice and many legal challenges in Indonesia that aren’t faced by non-LGBT people. The traditional behavior combined with religious intolerance makes homosexuality and cross-dressing a taboo in Indonesia. As a result of widely held public opinion against homosexuality, it also impacts the policy-making in the country. According to Indonesian law, gay marriages and civil unions aren’t recognized by the government, and they aren’t eligible for legal protections enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples either. Also, same-sex couples aren’t allowed to adopt a child, and there are no rules in place to protect LGBT from discrimination. Nevertheless, the LGBT rights movement in Indonesia has become more visible in the last couple of years.
7. Tunisia: 94% opposed to same-sex relationships
Located in the north-western part of the African continent, Tunisia is the smallest country in North Africa. A large proportion of Tunisians are Muslims, whose traditional Islamic mores and attitudes look down upon homosexuality as sinful and immoral. According to Tunisian law, sex between consenting adults of same sex is illegal, and the punishment includes imprisonment for up to three years. The LGBT rights movement in Tunisia is almost non-existent, with many homosexuals choosing to marry someone from the opposite gender and live a quiet-yet-sad life. However, over the recent years, the proliferation of Internet in Tunisia has made the LGBT rights movement slightly more visible.
6. Egypt: 95% opposed to same-sex relationships
Egypt has been grabbing international headlines over the past few years thanks to the revolution and wide-spread political protests happening in the region. Egyptian sexologist Heba Kotb believes that 10 to 12% of the Egyptian population could be comprised of homosexuals. Nevertheless, there is widespread discrimination against LGBT community in Egypt, with 95% of the Pew Research Center survey respondents believing that homosexuality should not be allowed in Egyptian society. According to an article posted on ynetnews.com, the Arab Spring revolution and social media groups on the Internet have made it possible for many homosexuals in the country to come out of the closet. The LGBT rights movement in Egypt is looking stronger than ever, especially after the 2011 revolution.
5. Ghana: 96% opposed to same-sex relationships
Under Ghanaian Criminal Code, any sexual act between males is considered illegal, while the same between females is uncertain. Sexual activity between men who are over 16-years-old is termed as a misdemeanor, and it is punishable with imprisonment up to three years. Moreover, Ghanaian law doesn’t have any provisions to protect its citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to many news reports, the LGBT community is constantly subjected to harassment by the Ghanaian police authorities. Despite pressure from international community to stop the discrimination of homosexuals and transgender people, Ghanaian government has refused to address the LGBT rights issue in the nation.
4. Uganda: 96% opposed to same-sex relationships
The LGBT community has virtually no legal rights in Uganda. Under the Ugandan Penal Code, carnal activity between same-sex couples can carry punishment up to life imprisonment for men, and up to 7 years imprisonment for women. Despite the international community moving towards accepting homosexuality, the Ugandan Parliament has chosen to revise the anti-homosexuality bill to bring in harsher punishment, including death penalty for “repeat offenders.” With 96% of those surveyed agreeing that homosexuality shouldn’t be a part of Ugandan “national culture,” the LGBT community there has an uphill battle to win. The living conditions of LGBT community in Uganda are one of the worst in the world.
3. Senegal: 96% opposed to same-sex relationships
Senegal, a country in West Africa where homosexuals face widespread discrimination. The LGBT community in Senegal faces many legal challenges that are not faced by non-LGBT citizens. According to Senegal’s law, sexual activity between people of same sex is punishable with imprisonment of between 1-5 years, with an additional fine of 100,000 to 1,500,000 francs. Not only are same-sex relationships not recognized in Senegal, but they are also not protected against discrimination. Senegal has prosecuted against homosexuals in the past, and the government continues to hold its stance even to this day. Nevertheless, with mounting pressure from the international community, the country is expected to soften its stance on discrimination against homosexuals, if not eliminate it altogether.
2. Jordan: 97% opposed to same-sex relationships
Though homosexual relationships are frowned upon by many in Jordan, it is legal to have sex with the same gender since 1951. As a result, there are many homosexual-themed journals and publications prevalent in the media. Nevertheless, the widespread discrimination faced by the LGBT community has forced many to remain in the closet, fearing backlash from their family and friends. Even though Jordan features very high in this list, the LGBT rights movement in Jordan is on par with many secular and affluent nations. However, there are no laws to protect homosexuals from discrimination, nor are same-sex couples allowed to adopt a child. Gays and lesbians are also not allowed to serve openly in the military.
1. Nigeria: 98% opposed to same-sex relationships
The LGBT community in Nigeria faces widespread discrimination in all walks of life. Moreover, Nigeria has a very poor record as far as human rights are concerned, including LGBT rights. With a largely orthodox population of Muslims and Christians, violence against homosexuals is commonplace in the country. The Muslim-dominated northern states in the country have adopted Shari’a law, according to which the maximum punishment for sexual activity between men or women is death by stoning. In contrast, the southern states have adopted a comparatively relaxed 14 years imprisonment as punishment. Since Nigeria has failed to uphold the rights of its citizens, several international human and civil rights organizations, including the United Nations, have criticized the country for its brazen attitude towards the LGBT community.