Homosexual activity

Homosexuality is illegal in 69 countries and punishable by death in 7.

Loading map of LGBT rights...
  • Legal
  • Illegal (other penalty)
  • Male illegal, female legal
  • Male illegal, female uncertain
  • Illegal (death penalty as punishment)
  • Illegal (up to life in prison as punishment)
  • Illegal (imprisonment as punishment)
  • Unknown, N/A, or ambiguous

Recent Changes

  • May 3 2021Became Illegal (up to life in prison as punishment) in Uganda
  • Feb 17 2021Became Legal in Bhutan
  • Jul 16 2020Became Illegal (up to life in prison as punishment) in Sudan
  • Jun 29 2020Became Legal in Gabon
  • Jan 1 2020Became Legal in Poland
  • Jul 5 2019Became Illegal (imprisonment as punishment) in Gabon
  • Jun 11 2019Became Legal in Botswana
  • Mar 28 2019Became Illegal (death penalty as punishment) in Brunei

Homosexual activity

Homosexual activity refers to consensual sexual activity between individuals of the same sex. While homosexual activity is legal in most countries around the world, there are several countries — mostly in Africa and the Middle East — where it is criminalized to a varying degree. Penalties can range from imprisonment all the way up to death penalty.

Homosexuality is commonly criminalized through sodomy laws (sometimes called a "buggery law" in British territories), which are laws that define sexual acts of crimes. Sodomy laws can sometimes prevent sexual activity between two individuals of the same sex. While some of these laws are not specific to homosexual sex (such as when referring to anal sex), they are usually used to target or criminalize gay people. In practice, these laws are difficult to actually enforce.

In some countries, the language of the criminal codes specifically refers to two men, meaning that lesbian sex is technically legal.

Some sodomy laws and penal codes date back to the 1700s and 1800s. Throughout the 1900s, many countries, US states, and other regions began decriminalizing homosexuality and removing references to homosexuality or sodomy from their criminal codes. This has continued over the past few decades.

Summary

158
Legal
158 regions (68%)
Legal
69
Illegal
69 regions (30%)
Illegal
5
No data, no laws, N/A, or ambiguous
5 regions (2%)
No data, no laws, N/A, or ambiguous
Europe
100%
LEGAL EQUALITY
Legal
52 regions (100%)
Illegal
regions (0%)
No data, no laws, N/A, or ambiguous
regions (0%)
Oceania
71%
LEGAL EQUALITY
Legal
17 regions (71%)
Illegal
7 regions (29%)
No data, no laws, N/A, or ambiguous
regions (0%)
South America
93%
LEGAL EQUALITY
Legal
13 regions (93%)
Illegal
1 regions (7%)
No data, no laws, N/A, or ambiguous
regions (0%)
North America
78%
LEGAL EQUALITY
Legal
28 regions (78%)
Illegal
8 regions (22%)
No data, no laws, N/A, or ambiguous
regions (0%)
Africa
42%
LEGAL EQUALITY
Legal
25 regions (42%)
Illegal
34 regions (58%)
No data, no laws, N/A, or ambiguous
regions (0%)
Asia
50%
LEGAL EQUALITY
Legal
23 regions (50%)
Illegal
19 regions (41%)
No data, no laws, N/A, or ambiguous
4 regions (9%)

Progress over time

Number of countries with equality for homosexual activity over the past 60 years.

Recent changes

Homosexual activity by country

(and dependent territories)

Legal

Homosexual activity is legal in 158 regions.

  1. South America (13)
  2. Argentina 1887
  3. Bolivia 2009
  4. Brazil 1988
  5. Chile 1998
  6. Colombia 2000
  7. Ecuador 1997
  8. Falkland Islands 1989
  9. French Guiana 1791
  10. Paraguay 1997
  11. Peru 1991
  12. Suriname 1910
  13. Uruguay 1933
  14. Venezuela 1997

Illegal (other penalty)

Homosexual activity is illegal (other penalty) in 3 regions.

  1. Asia (2)
  2. Qatar 1915
  3. Saudi Arabia 1932
  4. Africa (1)
  5. Nigeria 1916

Male illegal, female legal

Homosexual activity is male illegal, female legal in 15 regions.

  1. North America (2)
  2. Grenada 1987
  3. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  4. Africa (4)
  5. Mauritius 1838
  6. Namibia
  7. Sierra Leone 1861
  8. Zimbabwe 2006

Male illegal, female uncertain

Homosexual activity is male illegal, female uncertain in 4 regions.

  1. Asia (1)
  2. Myanmar 2016
  3. North America (1)
  4. Jamaica 1864
  5. Africa (1)
  6. Eswatini 2004
  7. Oceania (1)
  8. Tonga 1988

Illegal (death penalty as punishment)

Homosexual activity is illegal (death penalty as punishment) in 7 regions.

  1. Asia (5)
  2. Afghanistan 1976
  3. Brunei 2019
  4. Iran 1979
  5. United Arab Emirates 1987
  6. Yemen 2014
  7. Africa (2)
  8. Mauritania 1983
  9. Somalia 1991

Illegal (up to life in prison as punishment)

Homosexual activity is illegal (up to life in prison as punishment) in 6 regions.

  1. North America (2)
  2. Antigua and Barbuda 1995
  3. Barbados
  4. Africa (3)
  5. Gambia 2014
  6. Sudan 2020
  7. Uganda 2021
  8. South America (1)
  9. Guyana

Illegal (imprisonment as punishment)

Homosexual activity is illegal (imprisonment as punishment) in 34 regions.

  1. Asia (7)
  2. Bangladesh 1860
  3. Malaysia 1826
  4. Maldives
  5. Oman 1974
  6. Pakistan 1860
  7. Sri Lanka 1885
  8. Syria 1949
  9. Oceania (1)
  10. Solomon Islands 1978

No data, no laws, N/A, or ambiguous

Data on homosexual activity is unclear, not applicable, or missing in 5 regions.

  1. Antarctica (1)
  2. Antarctica

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