Singapore upholds gay sex ban - but where else are LGBT+ relations illegal?

Monday, 30 March 2020 11:58 GMT
Same-sex relations are criminalised in 70 countries worldwide, many of them in Africa

By Beh Lih Yi

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 (Openly) - A Singapore court on Monday upheld a colonial-era law that punishes sex between men after it threw out petitions that challenged the ban that could see gay men jailed for up to two years.

The high court rejected the cases filed by three gay men who argued the rarely-enforced law was unconstitutional, saying it "remains important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs".

Here are key facts about where same-sex relations remain illegal around the world:

- Same-sex relations are illegal in 70 countries around the world, with a large number of these countries in Africa.

- Gabon in central Africa became the 70th country to ban gay sex when it passed a law last year with penalties of six months in prison and fine of 5 million CFA francs ($8,500)

- In May last year, a Kenyan court upheld a law criminalising gay sex dating back to British rule. Advocates are challenging that ruling.

- Six countries impose the death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts - Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia.

- Another 26 nations impose maximum penalties for same-sex sexual relations of between 10 years and life imprisonment.

- Uganda said last October that it would not impose the death penalty for gay sex after its plan to reintroduced a bill colloquially known as "Kill the Gays" sparked outcry.

- Brunei in Southeast Asia also backtracked on similar plan last year after intense criticism.

- Many of the states criminalising gay sex are Commonwealth countries with the law originating from British colonial times. In 2018, former British prime minister Theresa May said she deeply regretted Britain's role and "the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today".

- The Singapore petitions were launched after India scrapped a similar law in 2018, with the court overturning the ban. Both are former British colonies.

- Gay sex between adults is legal in 123 of the 193 member states of the United Nations. Countries that have most recently decriminalised homosexuality included Botswana, Angola and India.

- Same-sex marriage is legal in 27 United Nations member states.

Source: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) (Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

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