The Staggers 17 November 2011 Listed: the 80-plus states that criminalise homosexuality today Belize will be first target of new legal rights group. Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up 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 It took until the 1967 Sexual Offences Act before England and Wales repealed its own legislation and until the 1980s before Scotland and Northern Ireland did the same.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 Africa1. Algeria 2. Angola 3. Botswana 4. Burundi 5. Cameroon 6. Comoros7. Egypt 8. Eritrea 9. Ethiopia 10. Gambia 11. Ghana 12. Guinea 13. Kenya 14. Lesotho 15. Liberia 16. Libya17. Malawi 18. Mauritania 19. Mauritius20. Morocco 21. Mozambique 22. Namibia 23. Nigeria São Tomé and Principe 24. North Sudan25. Senegal 26. Seychelles 27. Sierra Leone 28. Somalia 29. South Sudan30. Swaziland31. Tanzania 32. Togo 33. Tunisia34. Uganda 35. Zambia 36. Zimbabwe Asia1. 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 India10. Kuwait 11. Lebanon 12. Malaysia13. Maldives 14. Myanmar 15. Oman 16. Pakistan 17. Qatar18. Saudi Arabia 19. Singapore 20. Sri Lanka 21. Syria 22. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (internationally unrecognised) 23. Turkmenistan 24. United Arab Emirates25. Uzbekistan 26. Yemen 27. Occupied Palestinian Territory Latin America & Caribbean1. Antigua and Barbuda 2. Barbados 3. Belize 4. Dominica 5. Grenada 6. Guyana 7. Jamaica 8. St Kitts & Nevis9. St Lucia 10. St Vincent & the Grenadines 11. Trinidad and Tobago Oceania1. Kiribati 2. Nauru 3. Palau 4. Papua New Guinea 5. Samoa 6. Solomon Islands 7. Tonga 8. Tuvalu9. the New Zealand associate of Cook Islands › Morning Call: pick of the papers Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. Subscribe For daily analysis & more political coverage from Westminster and beyond subscribe for just £1 per month!