New Delhi: As countries around the world move to dismantle often centuries-old laws banning gay sex, Bhutan has become the latest nation to take steps to ease restrictions on same-sex relationships.
The tiny Himalayan kingdom cleared an amendment bill repealing two sections of the penal code that criminalised “unnatural sex” – widely interpreted as gay sex.
Same-sex sexual relations are still outlawed in 68 countries, with the death penalty in place in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia.
Another 27 nations impose maximum penalties of between 10 years and life imprisonment for gay sex.
The United Nations has called on nations to throw out anti-LGBT+ laws, saying that they legitimise discrimination against LGBT+ people and expose them to hate crimes, police abuse, torture and family violence.
Here are the latest nine countries to remove bans on same-sex relations:
- Gabon – Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament voted to decriminalise homosexuality in June 2020. “Forty-eight lawmakers have shaken an entire nation and its customs and traditions,” said one member of parliament, who voted against the revision.
- Botswana – Gay sex was decriminalised in a high court ruling in June 2019, although the government said it would appeal against the ruling.
- Angola – In January 2019, Angola removed a ban on “vices against nature” from its penal code, which had been interpreted as criminalising gay sex.
- India – A colonial-era ban on gay sex was ruled as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in September 2018, decriminalising same-sex relations in the country of 1.3 billion people.
- Trinidad and Tobago – The Caribbean state’s high court overturned its law against “buggery”, which criminalised sexual relations between consenting same-sex partners, in April 2018.
- Seychelles – In 2016, the Indian Ocean island state repealed the parts of its penal code that criminalised same-sex relations.
- Nauru – Homosexuality was legalised by the Pacific island country in 2016, after it accepted recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011.
- Belize – The former British colony’s criminalisation of “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” was ruled as unconstitutional in 2016.
- Mozambique – Two articles in Mozambique’s Portuguese colonial-era penal code criminalising “vices against nature” were repealed in 2014.