There are 71 jurisdictions around the world that still criminalise private, consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex. Almost half of these are Commonwealth countries.

Of these jurisdictions, 43 criminalise same-sex activity between women. Even where women are not specifically criminalised, lesbians and bisexual women are often arrested or threatened with arrest.

Laws that criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people put them beyond the protection of the law, fostering a climate of fear and violence. Blackmail, extortion, and physical and sexual violence is commonplace.

Téa Braun, Director, Human Dignity Trust

There are 11 jurisdictions in which the death penalty is imposed (Iran, Northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen) or at least a legal possibility (Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE). Executions have been reported in ISIS-held territory in Iraq and Syria in recent years but, following reports of ISIS’s defeat in the region, these jurisdictions are no longer listed among the jurisdictions with the death penalty.

Transgender people are vulnerable to arrest, prosecution and harassment under a range of laws. In addition to being captured under laws criminalising same-sex intimacy due to misgendering, at least 15 jurisdictions criminalise the gender expression and/or identity of transgender people through ‘cross-dressing’, impersonation and disguise laws. In at least 26 countries, authorities use public order, vagrancy and misdemeanour offences to harass, arrest and prosecute transgender people. Blackmail, extortion, and physical and sexual violence is commonplace.


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