Listed: the 80-plus states that criminalise homosexuality today

Belize will be first target of new legal rights group.

If you want to understand how half the countries that still criminalise homosexuality came to do so, look no further than the British Empire. The list of 84 jurisdictions across the world, compiled by the newly formed Human Dignity Trust (HDT), includes 42 Commonwealth countries, or 80 per cent of the Commonwealth community.

Almost all imported British laws in place in the late nineteenth century that, at that time, outlawed homosexual acts. It took until the 1967 Sexual Offences Act before England and Wales repealed its own legislation and until the 1980s before Scotland and Northern Ireland did the same. But those laws originally imposed during colonial times remain largely in place elsewhere, even in a post-independence era.

In five countries around the world, same sex sexual conduct carries the death penalty while across the Commonwealth penalities for homosexuality include a 20-year jail sentence plus flogging. According to the HDT, half a dozen Commonwealth countries specify life imprisonment.

Last month the Prime Minister David Cameron used a Commonwealth summit to threaten the withdrawal of British aid from countries that fail to respect gay rights. Human rights barrister and director of HDT Jonathan Cooper refuses to be drawn on "aid conditionality" but says: "Our only purpose is the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the only way to do that is through the rule of law."

Cooper says that the organisation -- which has secured £2m of pro bono work from UK law firms over the next three years -- will aim to initiate at least five, and up to ten, cases a year.

The first case will be heard next month in Belize where the organisation will attempt to help overturn section 53 of the country's criminal code. This asserts that "every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for 10 years."

 

List of countries/regions criminalising homosexuality

Africa
1. Algeria
2. Angola
3. Botswana
4. Burundi
5. Cameroon
6. Comoros
7. Egypt
8. Eritrea
9. Ethiopia
10. Gambia
11. Ghana
12. Guinea
13. Kenya
14. Lesotho
15. Liberia
16. Libya
17. Malawi
18. Mauritania
19. Mauritius
20. Morocco
21. Mozambique
22. Namibia
23. Nigeria São Tomé and Principe
24. North Sudan
25. Senegal
26. Seychelles
27. Sierra Leone
28. Somalia
29. South Sudan
30. Swaziland
31. Tanzania
32. Togo
33. Tunisia
34. Uganda
35. Zambia
36. Zimbabwe

Asia
1. Afghanistan
2. Bangladesh
3. Bahrain
4. Bhutan
5. Brunei
6. some parts of Indonesia (South Sumatra and Aceh Province)
7. Iran
8. Iraq
9. The State of Jammu and Kashmir in India
10. Kuwait
11. Lebanon
12. Malaysia
13. Maldives
14. Myanmar
15. Oman
16. Pakistan
17. Qatar
18. Saudi Arabia
19. Singapore
20. Sri Lanka
21. Syria
22. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (internationally unrecognised)
23. Turkmenistan
24. United Arab Emirates
25. Uzbekistan
26. Yemen
27. Occupied Palestinian Territory

Latin America & Caribbean
1. Antigua and Barbuda
2. Barbados
3. Belize
4. Dominica
5. Grenada
6. Guyana
7. Jamaica
8. St Kitts & Nevis
9. St Lucia
10. St Vincent & the Grenadines
11. Trinidad and Tobago

Oceania
1. Kiribati
2. Nauru
3. Palau
4. Papua New Guinea
5. Samoa
6. Solomon Islands
7. Tonga
8. Tuvalu
9. the New Zealand associate of Cook Islands

 

Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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The most terrifying thing about Donald Trump's speech? What he didn't say

No politician uses official speeches to put across their most controversial ideas. But Donald Trump's are not hard to find. 

As Donald Trump took the podium on a cold Washington day to deliver his inauguration speech, the world held its breath. Viewers hunched over televisions or internet streaming services watched Trump mouth “thank you” to the camera, no doubt wondering how he could possibly live up to his deranged late-night Twitter persona. In newsrooms across America, reporters unsure when they might next get access to a president who seems to delight in denying them the right to ask questions got ready to parse his words for any clue as to what was to come. Some, deciding they couldn’t bear to watch, studiously busied themselves with other things.

But when the moment came, Trump’s speech was uncharacteristically professional – at least compared to his previous performances. The fractured, repetitive grammar that marks many of his off-the-cuff statements was missing, and so, too, were most of his most controversial policy ideas.

Trump told the crowd that his presidency would “determine the course of America, and the world, for many, many years to come” before expressing his gratefulness to President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for their “gracious aid” during the transition. “They have been magnificent," Trump said, before leading applause of thanks from the crowd.

If this opening was innocent enough, however, it all changed in the next breath. The new president moved quickly to the “historic movement”, “the likes of which the world has never seen before”, that elected him President. Following the small-state rhetoric of his campaign, Trump promised to take power from the “establishment” and restore it to the American people. “This moment," he told them, “Is your moment. It belongs to you.”

A good deal of the speech was given over to re-iterating his nationalist positions while also making repeated references to the key issues – “Islamic terrorism” and families – that remain points of commonality within the fractured Republican GOP.

The loss of business to overseas producers was blamed for “destroying our jobs”. “Protection," Trump said, “Will lead to great strength." He promised to end what he called the “American carnage” caused by drugs and crime.

“From this day forward," Trump said, “It’s going to be only America first."

There was plenty in the speech, then, that should worry viewers, particularly if you read Trump’s promises to make America “unstoppable” so it can “win” again in light of his recent tweets about China

But it was the things Trump didn't mention that should worry us most. Trump, we know, doesn’t use official channels to communicate his most troubling ideas. From bizarre television interviews to his upsetting and offensive rallies and, of course, the infamous tweets, the new President is inclined to fling his thoughts into the world as and when he sees fit, not on the occasions when he’s required to address the nation (see, also, his anodyne acceptance speech).

It’s important to remember that Trump’s administration wins when it makes itself seem as innocent as possible. During the speech, I was reminded of my colleague Helen Lewis’ recent thoughts on the “gaslighter-in-chief”, reflecting on Trump’s lying claim that he never mocked a disabled reporter. “Now we can see," she wrote, “A false narrative being built in real time, tweet by tweet."

Saying things that are untrue isn’t the only way of lying – it is also possible to lie by omission.

There has been much discussion as to whether Trump will soften after he becomes president. All the things this speech did not mention were designed to keep us guessing about many of the President’s most controversial promises.

Trump did not mention his proposed ban on Muslims entering the US, nor the wall he insists he will erect between America and Mexico (which he maintains the latter will pay for). He maintained a polite coolness towards the former President and avoiding any discussion of alleged cuts to anti-domestic violence programs and abortion regulations. Why? Trump wanted to leave viewers unsure as to whether he actually intends to carry through on his election rhetoric.

To understand what Trump is capable of, therefore, it is best not to look to his speeches on a global stage, but to the promises he makes to his allies. So when the President’s personal website still insists he will build a wall, end catch-and-release, suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions” “where adequate screening cannot occur”; when, despite saying he understands only 3 per cent of Planned Parenthood services relate to abortion and that “millions” of women are helped by their cancer screening, he plans to defund Planned Parenthood; when the president says he will remove gun-free zones around schools “on his first day” - believe him.  

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland