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 It took until the 1967 Sexual Offences Act before England and Wales repealed its own legislation and until the 1980s before Scotland and Northern Ireland did the same.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

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

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

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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Stability is essential to solve the pension problem

The new chancellor must ensure we have a period of stability for pension policymaking in order for everyone to acclimatise to a new era of personal responsibility in retirement, says 

There was a time when retirement seemed to take care of itself. It was normal to work, retire and then receive the state pension plus a company final salary pension, often a fairly generous figure, which also paid out to a spouse or partner on death.

That normality simply doesn’t exist for most people in 2016. There is much less certainty on what retirement looks like. The genesis of these experiences also starts much earlier. As final salary schemes fall out of favour, the UK is reaching a tipping point where savings in ‘defined contribution’ pension schemes become the most prevalent form of traditional retirement saving.

Saving for a ‘pension’ can mean a multitude of different things and the way your savings are organised can make a big difference to whether or not you are able to do what you planned in your later life – and also how your money is treated once you die.

George Osborne established a place for himself in the canon of personal savings policy through the introduction of ‘freedom and choice’ in pensions in 2015. This changed the rules dramatically, and gave pension income a level of public interest it had never seen before. Effectively the policymakers changed the rules, left the ring and took the ropes with them as we entered a new era of personal responsibility in retirement.

But what difference has that made? Have people changed their plans as a result, and what does 'normal' for retirement income look like now?

Old Mutual Wealth has just released. with YouGov, its third detailed survey of how people in the UK are planning their income needs in retirement. What is becoming clear is that 'normal' looks nothing like it did before. People have adjusted and are operating according to a new normal.

In the new normal, people are reliant on multiple sources of income in retirement, including actively using their home, as more people anticipate downsizing to provide some income. 24 per cent of future retirees have said they would consider releasing value from their home in one way or another.

In the new normal, working beyond your state pension age is no longer seen as drudgery. With increasing longevity, the appeal of keeping busy with work has grown. Almost one-third of future retirees are expecting work to provide some of their income in retirement, with just under half suggesting one of the reasons for doing so would be to maintain social interaction.

The new normal means less binary decision-making. Each choice an individual makes along the way becomes critical, and the answers themselves are less obvious. How do you best invest your savings? Where is the best place for a rainy day fund? How do you want to take income in the future and what happens to your assets when you die?

 An abundance of choices to provide answers to the above questions is good, but too much choice can paralyse decision-making. The new normal requires a plan earlier in life.

All the while, policymakers have continued to give people plenty of things to think about. In the past 12 months alone, the previous chancellor deliberated over whether – and how – to cut pension tax relief for higher earners. The ‘pensions-ISA’ system was mooted as the culmination of a project to hand savers complete control over their retirement savings, while also providing a welcome boost to Treasury coffers in the short term.

During her time as pensions minister, Baroness Altmann voiced her support for the current system of taxing pension income, rather than contributions, indicating a split between the DWP and HM Treasury on the matter. Baroness Altmann’s replacement at the DWP is Richard Harrington. It remains to be seen how much influence he will have and on what side of the camp he sits regarding taxing pensions.

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has entered the Treasury while our new Prime Minister calls for greater unity. Following a tumultuous time for pensions, a change in tone towards greater unity and cross-department collaboration would be very welcome.

In order for everyone to acclimatise properly to the new normal, the new chancellor should commit to a return to a longer-term, strategic approach to pensions policymaking, enabling all parties, from regulators and providers to customers, to make decisions with confidence that the landscape will not continue to shift as fundamentally as it has in recent times.

Steven Levin is CEO of investment platforms at Old Mutual Wealth.

To view all of Old Mutual Wealth’s retirement reports, visit: products-and-investments/ pensions/pensions2015/