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LGBTI laws in countries outside of North America

Their origins and recent changes

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The term "LGBTI" is an acronym for "Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual, Intersexual.

Countries specifying the death penalty for same-sex behavior:

The eight countries that execute sexually-active gays and lesbians -- Bahrain, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and part of Nigeria -- are all predominately Muslim. They derive their laws from a combination of Muslim Sharia law and the country's culture. The laws are unlikely to change anytime soon, unless democracy, an independent judiciary, and increased concern for human rights emerges.

In the case of Nigeria, the death penalty is imposed in the northern, Muslim, area of the country. Long jail sentences are imposed in the southern, Christian, area of the country.

Countries that were formerly British colonies:

Many countries that were formerly colonies of Britain incorporated an anti-sodomy law into their legal code. These included: Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. 1

India is typical of these countries. Section 377 of their penal code dates from 1861. Now 148 years old, it still criminalizes "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." The law was placed on the books long before scientists established that same-sex sexual behavior is natural; all mammals engage in it, as well as many other animals.

Other countries inherited the same British law, but have since decriminalized private same-sex activities between adults. These include Australia, Canada, Fiji, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Canada has since gone much further towards establishing equal rights for all. The country made marriage available in mid-2005 to all loving, committed couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex.

Belize was also once a British colony. On 2016-AUG-10, their Supreme Court declared, as unconstitutional, a law which had criminalized homosexuality

2009-JUL-02: New Delhi, India: Same-sex behavior decriminalized:

The New Delhi High Court issued a 105 page judgment, ruling stating that the 148-year-old law prohibiting consensual same-sex sexual acts by adults was: discriminatory, a "violation of fundamental rights," and thus unconstitutional. It carries a jail sentence of up to ten years.

Although the ruling only applies to India's capital city, the government of India is expected either to appeal the decision to the country's Supreme Court, or to repeal the 1861 law -- Section 377 of India's penal code. 2,3More details.

2016-AUG-10: Additional countries have decriminalized same-gender sexual behavior:

So far in 2016, three additional countries have decriminalized homosexual activity:

  • Seychelles in 2016-MAY; located East of Africa and just south of the Equator.

  • Nauru in 2016-MAY; located almost on the equator, east of Papua New Guinea.

  • Colombia in 2016-APR; located in the northwest corner of South America.

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This image is provided for general information only. If you are considering travel to another country we strongly recommend that you obtain up-to-date information on the status of protection/recognition/persecution laws in that country. Laws change frequently.

References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "LGTBI rights in the world." International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), 2008-MAY, at:
  2. "New Delhi court overturns gay sex ban," The Dallas Morning News, 2009-JUL-03, at:
  3. "New Delhi Court Decriminalizes Homosexuality," NPR, 2009-JUL-02, at:
  4. Joseph Patrick McCormick, "Belize Supreme Court strikes down law criminalising homosexuality," Pink News, 2016-AUG-10, at:

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Original posting: 2009-JUL-03
Latest update: 2016-AUG-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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