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State-sponsored homophobia in a third of UN countries

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State-sponsored homophobia in a third of UN countries

Homosexuality is still a crime in 72 nations and punishable by death in eight, as noted in an annual report on state-sponsored homophobia.

That means over one-third of United Nations (UN) member-countries in the world criminalize same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults.

State-sponsored homophobia around the world

The report was released last week by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). The ILGA is a Geneva-based group committed to the fight for equal rights for the global LGBT community.

“With the ongoing rise in the use of digital devices, deployment of these laws becomes all the more sinister,” ILGA executive director Renato Sabbadini said in a statement.

“The ongoing case of Chechnya offers us the most recent, horrific example of such abuses, as survivors have expressed fears that the social media accounts of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are being hacked and used to identify and contact others who have not yet been arrested,” he said.

The ILGA stated that they are aware of recent arrests made in countries where same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults are illegal—the law also applies to women in 45 of those countries.

State-sponsored homophobia: Aceh, Indonesia

Two men accused of having sex with each other were each sentenced last Wednesday to 85 lashes in public in the province of Aceh, Indonesia.

Although homosexuality has been illegal in the province since 2014, this is the first time citizens are being punished for it.

News reports said that vigilantes had caught the two men naked in bed, and that the two had pleaded not to be reported to the Shariah police.

The two were then beaten– the attack recorded on video– and later taken to the police station.

The maximum sentence for the crime is 100 lashes. The court sentenced the men to 85 lashes each because they apologized for their actions.

Human rights activists called the punishment excessive and a dangerous turn of events in Aceh.

State-sponsored homophobia in action

Homosexuality– but not gay marriage– is legal in most of Indonesia. Aceh is the only province in the country that has formally adopted Shariah (legal code of Islam).

Indonesia is a highly decentralized country: local and provincial governments sometimes adopt laws that are far more conservative than the national government would.

Until this year, the national government had the right to unilaterally cancel discriminatory local legislation. The constitutional court took away that power, arguing it was excessive.

Activists say the court decision will make it much more difficult for the national government to repeal discriminatory local laws like ones in Aceh.

The fight against state-sponsored homophobia

To date, only 63 countries have existing LGBT protection laws and only 23 countries recognize same-sex marriage.

So while a number of countries have recognized same-sex marriage, the war for the basic human rights of LGBT people is far from over.

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