Report: Vast majority of Muslim world still criminalises homosexuality

The Muslim world and non-Muslim African nations lead the way in criminalising homosexuality, a new report has confirmed.

The annual State Sponsored Homophobia report found that the death penalty is the legally prescribed punishment for consensual same-sex sexual acts in Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria (12 Northern states only), Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Under the Iran Islamic Penal Code, the death penalty can be imposed for acts of liwat (sodomy), tafkhiz (rubbing penis between thighs or buttocks), and musaheqeh (lesbian sex). Article 237 of the Penal Code also criminalises “homosexual acts of a male person,” which includes “kissing or touching as a result of lust.” This is punishable by 31 to 74 lashes.

There is no codified Penal Law in Saudi Arabia with Sharia law being the law of the land. All sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal and the penalty for a married man who engages in consensual same-sex intercourse is generally understood to be death by stoning.

Under Article 82 of the Syariah Penal Code Order in Brunei, the death penalty can be imposed for acts of liwat (sodomy). Section 92 criminalises musahaqah (lesbian acts), which can result in a fine, imprisonment for up to 10 years, whipping, or a combination thereof.

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal under the Sharia-based Criminal Code in Mauritania with men being liable to receive the death penalty and women being subject to a “correctional sentence of 3 months to 2 years’ imprisonment and a fine.”

Article 264 of the Penal Code in Yemen criminalises liwat (sodomy), which is defined as “the contact of one man to another through his posterior” and determines that “both sodomites whether males or females are punished with whipping of one hundred strokes if not married.” The Article further states that it is “admissible to reprimand it by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, punishment by stoning to death if married.”

And 12 Northern Nigerian states (Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara) have adopted Sharia Penal Codes, which to varying degrees and contexts prescribe the death penalty for same-sex sexual activity.

Sources indicate that the death penalty may be imposed for consensual same-sex conduct (although there is less legal certainty on the matter) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia (including Somaliland) and the United Arab Emirates.

Consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults in private is illegal in the vast majority of Muslim nations and are usually are sanctioned by fines or prison sentences.

However, homosexuality is legal in the following majority Muslim countries: Niger, Jordan, Kazakstan, Kyrgystan, the West Bank, Tajikistan, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina and Turkey.

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