The topic of LGBTQ rights and equality is not going away anytime soon. If you live in a developed country then you should consider yourself lucky because you have almost the same amount of rights and freedom as straight people. Of course there is so much more to work on; the social stigma, deep-rooted hate, and intolerance of some people is ridiculous and saddening. Yet at least gay people can live in the country and proclaim their gayness without running the risk of being killed or put into jail. There are some countries in the world that can punish homosexuals and even supporters with the death penalty. You can read all about it in our list of 15 Countries That Will Kill You For Being LGBTQ.
Some experts say that about 10% of the population falls within the categories of LGBTQ, while others estimate that the number is twice as high: 20%. In the United States, about 2% of the population identifies as gay or lesbian, while about 1% say that they are bisexual. When it comes to identifying as an LGBTQ person in America, about 3.5% of the population say so. Yet over 8% of Americans have participated in same-sex behavior of some sort, showing that many people have a natural inclination to sexually explore the same sex. In fact, there is a test called the Kinsey Scale that can calculate where a person falls on the LGBTQ spectrum. We have seen more and more celebrities come out as bi, queer, or whatever they want to be. We are bound to see more acceptance of this in the future, hopefully in the countries on our list as well.
Pakistan is an interesting place because there is a younger generation that is trying to break the mold and those long-held traditions. They are activists and firm supporters of the LGBTQ community and equal rights. And yet there are others who cling to their old-school ways of thinking and deem homosexuality to be wrong, something that poisons a person’s heart and mind. There are even medical practitioners who claim that they can “cure” people of their homosexuality. Same sex relationships, marriages, and sexual intercourse is frowned upon by the Pakistani government and can be punished with fines, jail time, and maybe even death. But things are rapidly changing, and this is one country that we hope will continue to challenge these social taboos and fight for the freedom and equality everyone deserves. On a positive note, transgender men in Pakistan have resources to help them practice safe sex and meet supportive communities.
Haven’t heard of Mauritania? That’s okay; a lot of people haven’t. This country is known officially as the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. It is in northwestern Africa, bordering Mali and Algeria. You can probably already understand why LGBTQ people don’t feel welcome here: Islamic law abounds, and some people take these traditions and values into their own hands. In the case of Mauritania, people can be arrested for simply being gay. If they engage in sexual acts with a person of the same sex, the death penalty applies. This is because of the influence that Islamic Shari’a law has in Mauritania. The country has a history of authoritarian rule, a strict military presence in the government, and a slow introduction of basic human rights. Things are changing, but it’s happening at such as slow pace that we aren’t sure when LGBTQ rights will be recognized. As of right now, gays are still afraid to come out.
In some regions of Malaysia, the LGBTQ community is just as feared as ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq). Yet ISIS is the group that is killing people; gays and LGBTQ supporters simply want equal rights and freedom to be themselves. They aren’t hurting anyone. Therefore it seems ridiculous that the Malaysian government in some regions of the country have imposed strict laws and regulations against homosexuals. The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, is heading an effort to spread a message that homosexuals need to either be killed off or they need to repent and change their ways. It is a dangerous message that could be deadly in the wrong hands. According to Razak, the LGBTQ community symbolizes and supports values that are not in line with Islamic law. Malaysia is made up mostly of Muslims, and Shari’a law plays a role in judicial government, meaning that gays could face the death penalty.
We need to put an asterisk on Afghanistan, because the tide is changing in this country. Let’s start out with the traditional views in Afghanistan. There are plenty of extremist Muslims in this nation who deem homosexuality to be wrong and punishable by death. For cases of sodomy between two unmarried people or two people of the same sex, the death penalty may be put into place. There are also instances of people in Afghanistan being brainwashed by the Islamic State and its Shari’a laws, which blatantly denounce homosexuality as a huge sin worthy of instant death. As ISIS gains a foothold in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries, it is no surprise that anti-LGBTQ sentiments and attitudes are running rampant. There is good news though. Afghanistan is one of those Middle Eastern nations in which more tolerance is being witnessed. There are devout Muslims who practice love and tolerance; what they deem “the true Quran.”
11. United Arab Emirates
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a person can be arrested and detained simply for being gay. It doesn’t matter whether they were caught engaging in homosexual acts or not; if they are gay, they are prime bait for UAE’s anti-LGBTQ laws. If you are a citizen of the UAE, you can be put to death for being gay. For visitors the punishment is less severe: deportation, a fine, serving time behind bars. Still, it seems like something out of an outlandish nightmare for a person to be killed or punished simply for the way that they are. The UAE is another one of those nations that believe homosexuality to be a lifestyle choice. On a side note, another illegal activity for anyone – gay or straight, is sharing a bed with someone when you both aren’t married to each other. Forget about seeing Dubai, because it’s just not worth it.
You may not have thought of Gambia when it comes to anti-LGBTQ laws, but this small African country has some intense attitudes against gays. For about 20 years, Gambia has been under the dictatorship – we mean Presidency of Yahya Jammeh. In 2015, President Jammeh spoke out against gays and the LGBTQ community, saying that he would slit the throats of any gay men he encountered. He also stated that if he finds a married man who wants to go on to marry another man, they will never be seen again…and “no white person can do anything about it.” Those are strong words, so it is no wonder why homosexuals in Gambia are downright terrified and trying to flee the country. Gambia is tiny, and it receives aid from some countries in the West. In 2014, the European Union stopped sending aid and supporting Gambia because of President Jammeh’s extremely hateful speech and practices.
This country has been in the news a lot recently for the refugee crisis. It is not just political upheaval that is wreaking havoc on Yemen. Their stance on LGBTQ issues is another red flag for the country. Yemen is one such nation in which the attitudes and mindsets of the people may be harsher than what the officials have put into law in the first place. Gay men fear for their lives in Yemen, and often have to hide themselves away or pretend to be someone they’re not on a day-to-day basis. Families are known to shun their children if they come out as gay, and being a homosexual is considered to be a social outcast or undesirable. Yemen is an extremely conservative country, and homosexuality is still punishable by death there. For those who harbor even more hate against the LGBTQ community, they start their own militia groups and go about killing gays themselves.
We may think that anti-LGBTQ laws pervade only the Middle Eastern countries, but there are nations in Africa that have criminalized homosexuality as well. Take for instance Nigeria, where a gay person can face up to 14 years behind bars, simply for being gay. In February 2016, the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan signed the Anti-Gay Bill, which declared that same-sex marriage and relationships were illegal and that violation of the law could result in over a decade of jail time. Pro-LGBTQ countries from around the world (mostly in the West) tried to get the Nigerian President to change his mind and overrule the Anti-Gay Bill, but to no avail. Homosexuals in this African country must continue living out their lives in private and in intense fear. Even gay rights groups and activists could face the consequences of this new bill. Merely supporting equal rights could get you in trouble.
In Uganda, there is a legal measure called the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was sponsored by David Bahati. Hate continues to be whirled against gays and supporters of LGTBQ rights. Not only are LGTBQ people try to fight for their rights, but they are promoting civil rights, equality, and freedom as well. These things may be hard to come by in a developing nation like Uganda. The Anti-Homosexuality Act has been nicknamed the “Kill the Gays” bill, which unfortunately is a pretty accurate description. Activists in Uganda are taking a cue from the United States and paying attention to the ways this country managed to create more love and acceptance of gays. For instance, it is always best to start small and then work your way up. Uganda hopes to start making LGBTQ appearances at small events and then grow bigger and bigger. They’re hoping focusing on constitutional rights will help.
Killing homosexual people is not frowned upon in Iraq. In fact, certain militia groups in this country have started their own campaigns to spread more hate and intolerance at the LGBTQ community. They also take it upon themselves to find homosexuals and subject them to torture and killings. They will even kill men they suspect of being gay or who don’t appear to be manly. These groups are made up of civilians and they were not put together by the Iraqi government. Still, legal officials have been slow to address the issue, even as more and more gay people are beaten and murdered. Baghdad was a hotspot for these killings, and the sentiment soon spread to other cities throughout Iraq. It also doesn’t help that many of Iraq’s neighbors also support anti-LGBTQ laws. There is a widespread fear of men becoming feminized and softened; there is actually a belief that men can catch “gayness.”
This African nation still sees homosexuality as something modern and evil, even though gays have been around since basically the beginning of time. In Sudan, traditional and outdated manners of thinking still exist, and they tend to run the morality of the government. Therefore, anti-LGBTQ laws persist in this country, and being gay can be a scary thing to deal with. Sudan is a country that sticks to Shari’a law, which has firm and established roots in Islamic tradition.TheShari’a laws dictated the regulations and practices of the judicial government of Sudan, which means that sexual activities between two people of the same sex is severely outlawed. Both men and women are subjected to the death penalty if it is revealed that they had sex with someone of the same sex. Unmarried women in same-sex relationships suffer whippings, while lesbians get whipped and stoned. Usually the death penalty is for a 3rd offense.
As you might imagine, being gay in Iran is a huge risk to one’s safety. If anyone finds out that you’re gay or that you support LGBTQ rights, then you run the risk of being outed and revealed to the authorities. After that, an even more grim fate awaits you. Unbelievably, Iran is one of the few countries in the world that still punishes LGBTQ sentiments and lifestyles with death. Because Iran is rooted in Islamic law, there are many devout Muslims who see homosexuality as something morally wrong; it is something to be avoided. Anyone who is gay or expresses tolerance for LGBTQ actions should be whisked away from the country – sometimes in the form of the death penalty. Things are slowly (and we mean slowly) changing. Sex between two men used to be completely outlawed, but now it is accepted (although the man who initiated the sex will be subjected to a whipping). If two men have sex together and one or both of them is married, the death penalty goes into effect.
If you haven’t heard of it, Qatar is a tiny country on the Persian Gulf. It’s a peninsula located northwest of the United Arab Emirates. Qatar is yet another country where being LGBTQ could kill you. A present-day example would be that of a man called “Majid” who was shaken by the Orlando gay nightclub shooting in the summer of 2016. He noticed that a lot of his friends, family, and neighbors were happy that all of those gay people died, and this disturbed “Majid” because he identifies with the LGBTQ community. The really scary thing is that there are homosexual people in Qatar who are still in the closet and support the anti-gay laws for fear of being killed. In a country where extreme gay hate is the norm, expressing anything less can be a problem. There is also a belief among Qatari people that being homosexual is a lifestyle choice, which is why gays are so looked down on (and killed).
The country of Somalia is already a pretty scary place. We have heard reports of people being taken hostage and being captured by Somali pirates. Add to the list of horrors the anti-gay laws in this nation. At the start of 2016, a Somali woman was outed for being a lesbian. She decided to flee her country in order to avoid certain death, so she headed to Uganda (unfortunately that’s another country with a strict anti-LGBTQ mindset). The woman goes by the false name Sahra in order to protect her identity. She is a firm LGBTQ supporter and activist, which makes her a dangerous person in countries like Somalia. She is just 22 years old, but she is finding it hard to get the support that she wants and needs. Most of her family members shunned her, and her friends are too scared to hang around her. She is just one of maybe thousands of LGBTQ people in Somalia.
1. Saudi Arabia
Whether people in Saudi Arabia choose to come out in person, online, or in any other way, they are facing a huge risk to their lives. Men and women in this Middle Eastern country have been arrested and detained for dressing as the opposite sex or flying a gay pride rainbow flag. And while there are supposedly governmental groups that oppose these strict laws and regulations against the LGBTQ community, no one is really doing anything about it. Would you want to go against the law and risk your own life? There are however, members of the online community in Saudi Arabia who are voicing their personal opinions against the anti-LGBTQ mindset. They take to Twitter and other social media outlets to proclaim that they won’t be torn down. Citing the “love is love”, they say that the homophobia in the Middle East needs to stop. Time will tell if they are successful.