The Most Difficult Places in the World to Be Gay

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Even though the world is slowly becoming a more welcoming place for gay people, there are still many places where same-sex relationships are considered criminal behavior. According to the  to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s latest report, 70 members of the United Nations punish people for being gay as of March 2019.

To commemorate the Stonewall riots in 1969 that launched the gay rights movement June was chosen as LGBT Pride Month. As Pride Month begins, 24/7 Tempo has created a list of the countries where it is difficult to be gay. 

To compile the list, we reviewed the 13th edition of the ILGA report “State-Sponsored Homophobia” released in December 2019. We also reviewed the Pew Research story “A global snapshot of same-sex marriage.” Data on population, gross national income per capita, percentage of people living below national poverty line, and literacy rate were gathered from the World Bank. The amount of U.S. aid was gathered from


Many of the countries on this list are predominantly Muslim countries that implemented Islamic rules or Sharia law as part of their penal code. A few countries are also Christian countries located in Oceania. Geographically, most of the countries are in the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia.

Since the last edition of the ILGA report, Angola, Trinidad & Tobago, and India repealed laws criminalizing same-sex conduct. However, Chad went in the other direction and criminalized such acts in 2017. The ILGA report says that of the 70 U.N. nations that criminalize same-sex relationships, 26 criminalize only such acts between men; the remaining 44 criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity among all genders.

There are six U.N. member nations that impose the death penalty on consensual same-sex sexual acts: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia. In five other U.N. members, the death penalty could be imposed as a possible punishment: Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. These are the countries where being gay is legally punishable by death.

More and more countries are recognizing same-sex marriages. To date, 31 out of the 195 nations in the world have legalized same-sex marriage. Here are the countries where same-sex marriage is officially legal.

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