ILGA publishes 2008 report on State-sponsored Homophobia
Being lesbian or gay is risking jail time in 86 countries and death penalty in 7.
May 17th is the International Day against Homophobia. ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Association, has chosen this date to launch a yearly report on State homophobia around the world, available at http://www.ilga.org/
The impressive collection of laws presented in this report is an attempt to show the extent of State-sponsored homophobia in the world.
In 2008, no less than 86 member states of the United Nations still criminalize consensual same sex acts among adults, thus institutionally promoting a culture of hatred. Among those, 7 have legal provisions with death penalty as punishment. To those 86 countries, one must add 6 provinces or territorial units which also punish homosexuality with imprisonment.
With this publication, the International Lesbian and Gay Association, a 30 year old world federation which gathers over 670 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex groups from over 100 countries hopes to raise awareness about this reality which extent remains unknown to the vast majority of people.
The research, conducted by Daniel Ottosson, only deals with legislation criminalizing consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex in private above the age of consent. Laws dealing with such acts in public, with under aged people, with force or by any other reason are not included. Nor does it include countries where such acts are legal. References to all legislation can be found in the foot notes, the foot note list and the source list in the end of the report.
This year, ILGA has also included a list of countries according to their legislations affecting LGBTI people. This will allow readers to get a quick and comprehensive overview on the legal situation in the world: from countries penalising homosexual activity with death penalty to the few ones allowing adoption for same sex couples.
“Although many of the countries listed in the report do not systematically implement those laws, their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens needs to hide from the rest of the population out of fear. A culture where hatred and violence are justified by the State and force people into invisibility or into denying who they truly are.
Whether exported by colonial empires or the result of legislations culturally shaped by religious beliefs, if not deriving directly from a conservative interpretation of religious texts, homophobic laws are the fruit of a certain time and context in history. Homophobia is cultural. Homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia are not inborn. People learn them as they grow.”
Quotes from Philipp Braun (Germany), co-secretary general of ILGA:
“In many cases, "prejudice against homosexual people” is the result of ignorance and fear. This long catalogue of horrors is but a tale of the intolerance against what is foreign and different.
“Decriminalization of same sex activity is as urgent as ever. The fight for the respect of every minority has to be everyone’s fight. We believe that the recognition of sexual minorities as components of our civil societies and the acknowledgement of the equality of their human rights can contribute to learning how to live together, that is, the learning of democracy”
“ILGA is committed to have sexual orientation and gender identity come out and be discussed at the United Nations Human Rights Council. We believe the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, recently developed by a group of international human rights experts are a useful tool to frame such a discussion among UN member States. It is important to set this debate where it belongs: on the human rights agenda. Altogether 60 countries have publicly supported sexual orientation as an issue at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights/Human Rights Council since 2003. Criminalization of consensual same sex activity is being challenged by NGOs and States in the current Universal Periodic Review.”
News in this report
As of February 1, 2008 sodomy is decriminalized in Nicaragua. The prohibition in former article 204 has been repealed as of the new Penal Code, law No. 641, published in the State Gazette No. 232 of December 3, 2007. In addition, the new code makes it an aggravating circumstance if any of the crimes prohibited under the code are based on sexual orientation. A prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation is also part of the new Penal Code.[i] Therefore the section on Nicaragua has been removed from this report.
New in the report are also sections on Comoros, Burkina Faso and Niger. It has been found out that Comoros indeed has a prohibition of same-sex acts, both male and female, and Burkina Faso and Niger are included as they have laws that can be used against sexual acts between persons of the same sex. The Gambian law has hereto been modified in the year 2005 to include sexual acts between women, and the modified law is now included in the report.
For more information on State Sponsored Homophobia and legislations affecting LGBTI people, ILGA’s activities around the world and at the United Nations, please contact:Stephen Barris / ILGA: 00 32 2 502 24 71