India Rules That Sexual Orientation Is A Right. Dozens Of Other Countries Need To Catch Up

India Rules That Sexual Orientation Is A Right. Dozens Of Other Countries Need To Catch Up

On August 24, India’s Supreme Court ruled that privacy is now a fundamental right for every citizen of the country. The landmark ruling’s impact is significant, especially for members of the LGBTQ community who now have protection against discrimination on account of their sexual orientation.

Per Buzzfeed News, the judgment states: “The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population cannot be construed to be ‘so-called rights’… Their rights are not ‘so-called’ but are real rights founded on sound constitutional doctrine.”

The ruling, which was delivered by a panel of nine male judges, also stipulates that sexual orientation is a part of one’s identity, and it is the government’s job to protect all identities.

It’s also important to note that, even with protections in place, true equality isn’t a guarantee in India or elsewhere. Northern Ireland, for example, still doesn’t support same-sex marriage, while same-sex adoption is illegal in Italy and a handful of other European countries. But the court’s decision is still landmark, and it (hopefully) marks a turning point.

Below is a list of a handful of nations where there aren’t protections in place for members of the LGBTQ community, in the hopes of offering a window into the global problem.


Guyana is the only country in South America where homosexual acts are still illegal and carry a possible punishment of life imprisonment. However, recently there have been efforts to decriminalize homosexual acts, and the Guyana Chronicle reports citizens are expected vote on the matter in the coming months.

Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan

As of March 2017, the World Economic Forum stated that homosexuality is punishable by death in Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan. Married men in Yemen may be sentenced to death by stoning.


The death penalty for homosexuality remains on the books in Sudan, but is no longer enforced. However, homosexuality is still punishable by up to life in prison.

Papua New Guinea and The Solomon Islands

In both of these Melanesian countries, homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. However, in Papua New Guinea, homosexuality is only illegal for males and permitted for females. The same holds true for the Micronesian country of Kiribati.

Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu

In this Polynesian trio, homosexuality is illegal for men, but not women. Though there are varying prison sentences in place, they are not enforced.

Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Singapore

In the above countries, homosexuality is illegal for men, but not for women. The punishments vary from prison sentences to fines. However, a prison sentence in Singapore reportedly hasn’t been enforced in nearly two decades.

And so many more.

Homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment in the following African countries: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Tunisia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Cameroon, Chad, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Prison sentences vary from a few months to a few years, and some countries, like Algeria, also impose a fine.

A key point to note here is that there is often a difference in the sentences and punishments given to males versus those given to females. In countries such as Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, it is illegal for men but reportedly legal for women.

There are many more countries — Indonesia, Oman, Russia, to name a few — where LGBTQ people aren’t legally protected or face criminal charges.

Organizations such as the United Nations’ Free and Equal campaign are fighting to move countries — and the citizens they represent — off the list.

Learn more about the campaign here.

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  1. Mandy
    August 27, 07:42 Reply

    Like play like play, India is just couldn’t taking huge strides to achieving equality. First it was their transgender community, now this.
    Will African nations ever get to this? ??

  2. Canis VY Majoris
    August 27, 12:26 Reply

    Considering their massive population?. This is very much needed ?. Now gay men can stop pretending, I hope.

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