Travel
6 min

Gay around the world

A country by country look at the legality of gay sex

Africa

Algeria: Illegal.. Fine and/or up to three years in jail. Police and army harassment common. Fundamentalists assassinate homosexuals and honour killings by family members are common

Angola: Illegal. Penalty unclear

Benin: Illegal. Penalty unclear

Botswana: Illegal. Up to seven years imprisonment

Burkina Faso: Technically legal, but can be prosecuted under other laws

Burundi: Technically legal, but is punished as “immoral act.” Islamic law may also be enforced

Cameroon: Illegal. Fine and/or five years imprisonment

Cape Verde: Legal since 2004

Central African Republic: Legal

Chad: Situation unclear

Comoros: Situation unclear

Congo: Legal

Djibouti: Illegal. Penalty unknown

Egypt: Theoretically legal, but prosecuted under laws against promiscuity, prostitution and immorality. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of gay men have been arrested and horribly tortured, even if they’re not charged

Equatorial Guinea: Legal

Eritrea: Illegal. Up to three years imprisonment

Ethiopia: Illegal. Up to three years imprisonment

Gabon: Legal. Higher age of consent for homosexual activity

Gambia: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men can face 14 years imprisonment

Ghana: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men illegal, penalty unclear

Guinea: Illegal. Fine and/or three years imprisonment

Guinea Bissau: Legal

Ivory Coast: Legal. Higher age of consent for homosexual activity

Kenya: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men can face 14 years imprisonment

Lesotho: Situation not clear

Liberia: Illegal, but usually only treated as a misdemeanour

Libya: Illegal. Up to five years imprisonment

Madagascar: Legal. Higher age of consent for homosexual activity

Malawi: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Penalty for gay men unclear

Mali: Legal, but can still face two years imprisonment under other laws

Mauritania: Illegal. Penalty can be death

Mauritius: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men face up to five years imprisonment

Morocco: Illegal. Fine and/or three years imprisonment

Mozambique: Illegal. Three years imprisonment and hard labour

Namibia: Lesbianism not prohibited. Penalty for gay men unclear. Namibian president says that he wants gays and lesbians arrested, imprisoned and deported

Niger: Legal. Higher age of consent for homosexual activity

Nigeria: Illegal. Up to 14 years imprisonment. But with much of country under sharia law, gays and lesbians can both be stoned to death. A new law to prevent gay marriage will make it illegal even to support homosexuality in the country

Reunion: Legal

Rwanda: Legal. Higher age of consent for homosexual activity

Sao Tome and Principe: Situation unclear

Senegal: Illegal. Fine and/or five years imprisonment

Seychelles: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Penalty for gay men unclear

Sierra Leone: With much of country controlled by rebel forces, legal situation is largely unclear

Somalia: Illegal. Up to three years imprisonment. Islamist rebels and warlords control much of country and some gays may have been killed under sharia law

South Africa: Legal, homosexuality protected in constitution. At 19, age of consent for homosexuality is three years higher. Same-sex marriage will be legal by the end of this year

Sudan: Illegal. Penalty can be death, especially in parts of country where sharia law may be in effect

Swaziland: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men face fine and/or imprisonment

Tanzania: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men can face 14 years imprisonment. In Zanzibar, gay men can face 25 years and lesbians seven

Togo: Illegal. Up to three years imprisonment

Tunisia: Illegal. Up to three years imprisonment

Uganda: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men can face life imprisonment

Zaire: Unclear

Zambia: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men can face 14 years imprisonment

Zimbabwe: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men can face three years imprisonment. Have been mob attacks on gays and lesbians. President Mugabe has repeatedly attacked gays, calls them worse than pigs and dogs.

Americas

American Virgin Islands: Legal

Antigua & Barbuda: Situation unclear

Netherlands Antilles: Legal

Argentina: Legal

Aruba: Legal

Bahamas: Legal. But queer sexual activity in public can mean 20 years in prison. No such law exists for heterosexuals. Age of consent higher for homosexuals

Barbados: Illegal, but not enforced

Belize: Situation unclear

Bermuda: Legal, but age of consent higher

Bolivia: Legal

Brazil: Legal. But homophobic killings are common. In some states, homosexuality is protected in the constitution

Canada: Legal. Gay marriage allowed, although government is bringing forward motion to reconsider. Age for anal sex is 18, as opposed to 14 for non-anal sex

Cayman Islands: Legal

Chile: Legal, but age of consent higher

Colombia: Legal

Costa Rica: Legal in private, but “scandalous” activity prohibited

Cuba: Legal

Dominica: Illegal. Penalty is unclear

Dominican Republic: Legal

Ecuador: Legal. Homosexuality protected in constitution

El Salvador: Legal

Falkland Islands/Malvinas: Legal

French Guyana: Legal

Greenland: Legal

Grenada: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Penalty for gay men unclear

Guadeloupe: Legal

Guatemala: Legal

Guyana: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men can face life imprisonment

Haiti: Legal

Honduras: Legal, but police often lay morality and public decency charges. Constitutional ban on gay marriage and adoption

Jamaica: Lesbianism may not be prohibited, but a number of lesbians have been murdered. Gay men face up to 10 years of hard labor, and have also been murdered

Martinique: Legal

Mexico: Legal

Nicaragua: Situation unclear

Panama: Legal

Paraguay: Legal

Peru: Legal. Constitutional court recently granted gay soldiers right to have sex, including in barracks

Puerto Rico: Legal. Sodomy only legalized in 2003

Saint Kitts And Nevis: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Penalty unclear for gay men

Saint Lucia: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men face 25 years imprisonment. “Buggery” is illegal, up to 25 years imprisonment, law applies to men and women, straight and gay

Saint Vincent And The Grenadines: Illegal. Penalty unclear

Surinam: Legal. Higher age of consent for homosexual activity

Trinidad And Tobago: Illegal. “Buggery” illegal, up to 10 years imprisonment. Separate law provides up to 20 years for gays and lesbians

Turks And Caicos Islands: Legal

United States Of America: Legal. Age of consent varies. Some states or towns prohibit gay marriage, domestic partnerships, adoption and antigay legislation. Massachussets allows gay marriage

Uruguay: Legal

Venezuela: Legal.

Asia/Pacific

Afghanistan: Uncertain.Much of country under control of Taliban and Islamist warlords

Australia: Legal. But state of Queensland sets age of consent for anal sex at 18, as opposed to 16 for non-anal sex. Penalty up to 14 years

Bangladesh: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men may face life imprisonment

Bhutan: Illegal. Up to life imprisonment

Brunei: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men could face up to 10 years imprisonment

Burma/Myanmar: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men face fine and/or 10 years imprisonment. One of the largest democracy activist organizations in exile has voted to decriminalize same-sex relations

Cambodia: Legal

China: Legal

Cook Islands: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to 14 years imprisonment

Fiji Islands: Situation unclear

French Polynesia/Tahiti: Legal

Guam (USA): Legal

Hong Kong: Legal

India: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men face up to 10 years imprisonment, but usually much lighter sentence

Indonesia: Legal. Higher age of consent for homosexual activity

Japan: Legal

Kazakhstan: Legal

Kiribati: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to14 years imprisonment

Kyrgyzstan: Legal

Laos: Situation unclear

Macao: Legal

Malaysia: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men face up to 20 years imprisonment, possible caning and fine

Maldives: Illegal. Up to life imprisonment

Marshall Islands: Illegal. Up to 10 years imprisonment

Micronesia: Legal

Mongolia: Legal

Nauru: Situation unclear

Nepal: Situation unclear, especially with country torn between army and Maoist rebels

New Caledonia: Legal

New Zealand: Legal

Niue (New Zealand Associated State): Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to 10 years imprisonment

North Korea: Situation unclear

Pakistan: Illegal. Up to death, especially if sharia law is applied, as is allowed, or depending on part of country

Palau: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Penalty for gay men unclear

Papua New Guinea: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to 14 years imprisonment

Philippines: Legal

Singapore: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men face up to life imprisonment

Solomon Islands: Illegal. Up to 14 years imprisonment

South Korea: Legal

Sri Lanka: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to 12 years imprisonment

Taiwan: Legal

Tajikistan: Legal

Thailand: Legal

Tokelau (New Zealand Associated State): Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to 10 years imprisonment

Tonga: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to10 years imprisonment

Turkmenistan: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to2 years imprisonment

Tuvalu: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to14 years imprisonment

Uzbekistan: Lesbianism not prohibited. Gay men face up to 3 years imprisonment

Vanuatu/New Hebrides: Legal

Vietnam: Legal

Western Samoa: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men can face up to seven years imprisonment.

Europe

Albania: Legal

Andorra: Legal

Armenia: Legal

Austria: Legal

Azerbaijan: Legal

Belgium: Legal. Gay marriage is legal

Belarus: Legal

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Legal

Bulgaria: Legal

Croatia: Legal

Cyprus: Legal

Czech Republic: Legal

Denmark: Legal

Estonia: Legal

Faroe Islands: Legal

Finland: Legal

France: Legal

Georgia: Legal

Germany: Legal. In some states, homosexuality is protected in the constitution

Greece: Legal. Only male prostitution is illegal

Hungary: Legal

Iceland: Legal

Ireland: Legal

Italy: Legal

Latvia: Legal. But gays face harassment and violence from police, Christian fundamentalists and neo-Nazis. A pride parade in Riga in July was banned by city council and the courts. A gay religious service was attacked by protestors who threw shit at participants

Liechtenstein: Legal

Lithuania: Legal

Luxembourg: Legal

Macedonia: Legal

Malta: Legal

Moldavia: Legal

Monaco: Legal

Montenegro: Legal

Netherlands: Legal. Gay marriage is legal

Norway: Legal

Poland: Legal

Portugal: Legal. Higher age of consent for homosexual activity. Homosexuality protected in constitution

Romania: Legal

Russia: Legal. But gays face harassment, violence and even murder from police, Christian fundamentalists and neo-Nazis. Moscow’s Gay Pride parade in May was attacked by Orthodox Christians and fascists, while police stood by, or even helped the attackers. Homosexuality is illegal in the Chechen Republic and the penalty may be death

San Marino: Legal

Serbia: Legal. Higher age of consent for homosexual activity

Slovakia: Legal

Slovenia: Legal

Spain: Legal. Gay marriage is legal

Sweden: Legal. Homosexuality protected in constitution

Switzerland: Legal

Turkey: Legal

Ukraine: Legal

United Kingdom: Legal

Vatican City: Homosexuality is not actually prohibited.

Middle East

Bahrain: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men can face up to 10 years

Iran: Illegal. Homosexuals can face death. Iran has publicly hanged a number of gay men over the past few years

Iraq: Situation unclear

Israel: Legal, but queers face condemnation, harassment and possible violence from Jewish, Muslim and Christian fundamentalists. The recent World Pride Day, which was supposed to be held on Aug 10, faced death threats, including a flyer that offered a reward to anyone who killed a participant. The flier included instructions on how to make bombs. The parade was cancelled due to the war in Lebanon, say organizers, although other events were to continue

Jordan: Legal

Kuwait: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men face up to seven years imprisonment

Lebanon: Illegal. Up to one year imprisonment

Oman: Illegal. Up to three years imprisonment

Palestine: Legally unclear. But social taboo is overwhelming. Many homosexuals are murdered by their families. Many flee to Israel or other countries

Qatar: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Penalty for gay men is uncertain, but at least up to five years imprisonment

Saudi Arabia: Illegal. Gay men face torture, flogging and possible execution

Syria: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men face up to one year imprisonment

United Arab Emirates: Lesbianism may not be prohibited. Gay men can face death

Yemen: Illegal. Penalty can be death.