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Laws regarding the LGBT
community in countries
outside of North America

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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, increased concern for human rights, and accurate knowledge of the cause of sexual orientation emerges.

In the case of Nigeria, the death penalty is imposed in the northern, predominately 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: "British Honduras." 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. 2,3 More 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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2019-JUN-18: Iceland passed transgender law:

The Parliament passed a law that expands the rights of transgender persons and recognizes non-binary people -- those who do not identify themselves as either male or female. The vote was 45 in favor, 0 opposed, and three abstentions.

Non-binary transgender persons will be able to register with a third gender option: "X."

Owl Fisher, a Icelandic transgender activist and chair of Trans Iceland who helped write the new law. He was quoted in the Guardian that the new law:

"... has the potential to make Iceland the world leader on LGBTI rights."

“Iceland has just passed one of the most progressive laws on trans and intersex rights without any public conflict,” they said.

The law was also supported by Amnesty International, Children’s Protection Services and the Women’s Rights Organisation of Iceland. 5

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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 criminalizing homosexuality," Pink News, 2016-AUG-10, at:
  5. Vic Parsons, "Iceland adds third gender option and strengthens trans rights in unanimous vote," Pink News, 2019-JUN-25, at:

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Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality/bisexuality > Laws > Outside North America > here

Home > "Religious laws > Homosexual laws > Outside North America > here

Home > Religious hatred & conflict > Homosexual laws > LBGT laws outside North America > here

Home > Human rights > LBGT laws outside North America > > here

Home > Transgender/Transsexual > LBGT laws outside North America > here

Original posting: 2009-JUL-03
Latest update: 2019-JUN-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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