This post is written by Hariharan Kumar of Jindal Global Law School
India has been recently added to the list of countries that criminalize homosexuality after the Naz Foundation Judgment yesterday. The Delhi High Court in 2009 had decriminalized the act and on appeal the Supreme Court held that it is the prerogative of the Parliament to decide whether s. 377 of the IPC is unconstitutional or not. It is for the Parliament to amend the laws. Hence, as a result, India has criminalized homosexuality once again. This law i.e. s. 377 which punishes unnatural offences has been in place since the British Raj. As is evident in the above map, mostly the Muslim majority countries have criminalized the act and in some countries, the ‘offender’ is given the death penalty as the punishment. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Mauritiana have decided to give the highest punishment i.e. death penalty to the person indulging in homosexual activities.
Here is a list of countries that have enacted legislations to allow same sex marriages.
23 countries in the world having some of the highest Human Development Index performances have recognized the rights of LGBT persons right to marriage or civil union. dozens of other countries does not provide right to marriage, but do not criminalize homosexuality either.
1. Netherlands: On April 1, 2001 the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, with the same rights as heterosexuals. This law also includes the right to adopt.
2. Belgium: Homosexual couples in Belgium have almost the same rights as heterosexuals. They won the right to marry in 2003 and in 2006 parliament voted into law a bill allowing homosexual couples to adopt children.
3. Spain: In 2005 Spain became the third member of the European Union to pass a law allowing same-sex marriages. Gay couples can adopt children, whether they are married or not.
4. Canada: Canada adopted a national law allowing gays to marry and adopt in July 2005, though most provinces had already allowed same-sex unions before that date.
5. South Africa: The country legalised same-sex unions and adoptions by gay couples in November 2006, becoming the first African nation to do so. South Africa is the only African country to have legalized gay sex and marriage even now. There are also countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and many others that have criminalized this act.
6. Norway: A 2009 law allowed homosexuals to marry and adopt children. Civil partnerships have existed in the country for 20 years.
7. Sweden: Sweden’s homosexuals have been allowed to wed in religious or civil ceremonies since May 2009.
8. Portugal: Under a 2010 law Portugal legalized gay marriage, while excluding the right to adoption.
9. Iceland: Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir married her long-time partner in June 2010 as a new law legalizing homosexual marriages came into force. Same-sex couples who have lived together for at least five years have had the right to adopt children since 2006.
10. Argentina: Gays in Argentina became the first on the South American continent to be able to wed and adopt, after legislation passed on July 14, 2010.
11. Denmark: Denmark, the first country in the world to allow gay couples to enter into civil unions in 1989, voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing homosexuals to marry in the state Evangelical Lutheran Church in June 2012.
12. Uruguay: Uruguay voted in April to allow same-sex marriages nationwide, making it only the second Latin American country to do so.
13. New Zealand: New Zealand on April 17 became the first Asia-Pacific country to legalise same-sex marriage, after a decades-long campaign.
14. France: France became the 14th nation in the world to legalize same sex marriage after President Hollande signed the measure into law. This law also allows gays to adopt children.
15. United States & Mexico: Gay couples can marry in sixteen US states, as well as in the capital Washington. The States that legalize same sex marriages by a Court order are California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and New Jersey. While in the states of Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, the State Legislature passed laws making same sex marriage legal. In the states of Maine, Maryland and Washington, same sex marriage was made legal by popular vote. Parts of Mexico also allow same-sex marriage.
16. Brazil: Brazil this month gave a de facto green light to same-sex marriages after its National Council of Justice ruled that government offices could issue marriage licenses to gay couples without having to wait for Congress to pass a law allowing gay unions. Recently, Rio De Janeiro hosted mass gay weddings for 130 couples.
17. Britain: Britain: Same-sex couples in Britain have had the right to live in civil partnerships since 2005 and recently in July 2013, gay couples have been given the right to marry. It is expected that the first gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies will take place by summer next year. Interestingly, Prime Minister David Cameroon’s Conservative Party was one of the opponents to the Bill.
A number of other countries have adopted laws that recognise civil partnerships and give couples more or less the same rights as heterosexuals. Countries to have recognised civil unions without yet accepting gay marriage include Germany (2001), Finland (2002), the Czech Republic (2006), Switzerland (2007) and Colombia and Ireland (both 2011).
List of countries/regions criminalizing homosexuality
23. Nigeria São Tomé and Principe
24. North Sudan
27. Sierra Leone
29. South Sudan
6. Some parts of Indonesia (South Sumatra and Aceh Province)
9. India (after yesterday’s ruling)
18. Saudi Arabia
20. Sri Lanka
22. Northern Cyprus (internationally unrecognized)
24. United Arab Emirates
27. Occupied Palestinian Territory
Latin America & Caribbean
1. Antigua and Barbuda
8. St Kitts & Nevis
9. St Lucia
10. St Vincent & the Grenadines
11. Trinidad and Tobago
4. Papua New Guinea
6. Solomon Islands
9. Cook Islands
Countries having Anti- Gay laws
Recently, Russia was in the news for passing a law against gays. But it is not the only country having anti- gay laws. Some of the other countries having such laws are as follows:
Cameroon- Homosexuals, especially gay men, are regularly prosecuted in Cameroon, and it sometimes takes as little as a text message to another man expressing love or having an appearance perceived as overly effeminate to be put behind bars. Homosexual conduct there is punishable with a fine and up to five years in jail.
Uganda- Uganda, home to some of the harshest anti-gay laws in Africa—with sentences for homosexuality ranging from 14 years to life imprisonment—some political forces have been seeking to pass an “Anti-Homosexuality Bill.” The bill has been tabled for now.
Burundi- In April 2009, Burundi’s lower house of government passed a law outlawing homosexual activity, with prison sentences for the convicted ranging from two months to three years.
Iran- Under the penal code of the Islamic Republic of Iran adopted after the 1979 revolution, death is a potential punishment for homosexuality. Kissing another man or woman in public may result in 60 lashes. International human rights groups have collected evidence that Iran has executed men on homosexuality charges, and documented cases of arrests, imprisonment, and physical abuse of LGBT persons based on their sexual orientation or association with other members of LGBT community. An amendment of Iran’s penal code in May 2013 criminalized homosexual identity, rather than specific acts, making it punishable by 31 to 74 lashes.
Qatar- Qatari law considers homosexuality a criminal offense that’s punishable by up to seven years in jail (or a life term when one of the parties is under 16 years of age).
Jamaica- The Offenses against the person Act was instituted in 1864 in Jamaica. While almost never enforced, the laws carry with them a sentence of up to ten years of hard labor. “Buggery,” an archaic British term for sodomy, is limited to males, and lesbian relations do not face criminal sanction
Death Penalty for being Gay
Currently, the nations that prescribe capital punishment for homosexuals are Iran, Mauritania, the Republic of Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. South Sudan, the world’s newest country, may become a sixth nation to do so, while, if religious extremists have their way, Uganda may become the seventh. The death penalty also is carried out against homosexuals in certain parts of Somalia and Nigeria.
Gays in Military?
The Palm Center, a research institute that focuses on sexual minorities in the armed services, curates a list of countries that allow gays (both men and women) to serve in the military are USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Uruguay, South Africa, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania, all of Scandinavia and rest of Europe west of the Czech Republic (sans Portugal). In total, there are 26 countries that allow gays to serve in their military.