ILGA ~ INTERNATIONAL LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANS AND INTERSEX ASSOCIATION
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Report and Map on State Sponsored Homophobia
A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults
The report is a collection of legislation criminalizing consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex in private over the age of consent, while the map gives an overview of the legal lesbian and gay situation in the world.Today, 80 countries around the world consider homosexuality illegal; five of them punish homosexual acts with death.
Homophobia is the fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. It is the hatred, hostility, or disapproval of homosexual people. While appalling and dangerous – and at times murderous – when it is found in individuals, formal or informal groups, it makes life for Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex (LGBTI) persons a misery, often leading these to a devastating feeling of insecurity even within their families of origin. Homophobia is even more appalling and dangerous – and again murderous – when found in the very letter of the law. When discrimination and hatred are enshrined in the texts meant to sanction the social pact embodied by a State, a homosexual knows that there is nowhere to turn to for help. Many of us have known what it means to live in a State like that – a mixture of terror and sense of betrayal, a disorientation and sheer disbelief when trying to understand what is supposedly wrong with oneself. These feelings, and the knowledge of the physically and mentally painful consequences of State sponsored homophobia, are so unbearable that almost always self-denial seems to be the only possible – albeit deceiving - way out.
Whereas no one should be discriminated against, nor persecuted, nor killed on the basis of sexual orientation, we all know that the chances of a total eradication of homophobia, or racism, or other forms of hatred, from humankind are not too high, to say the least. Probably, there will be always a few individuals infected with the virus of homophobic hatred, as there will be always rapists, torturers and murderers. What is unacceptable, however, is the idea of a State condoning, sanctioning and encouraging these practices, particularly when the same State proclaims to abide by the principles of the Human Rights Declaration. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, said in her historic speech on the occasion of the – equally historic – UN Statement signed in New York last December by 66 countries against the criminalization of homosexuality, that ―there are those who argue that because sexual orientation or gender identity are not explicitly mentioned in any of the conventions and covenants, there would be no protection. My response is that such a position is untenable in legal terms, which is confirmed by the evolving jurisprudence. The principle of universality admits no exception. Human rights truly are the birthright of all human beings.
This is why, for the third year, ILGA is publishing an annual report on state sponsored homophobia throughout the world. We want to name and shame the States, which at the end of the first decade of the 21st century still treat their LGBTI citizens like lesser persons, unworthy of consideration. The unworthiness rests entirely on these States, for theirs is the shame of depriving a significant number of their citizens of dignity, respect and the enjoyment of equal rights.
In this report you will find that no less than 80 countries around the world consider homosexuality illegal and that in 5 of them - Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen - and in parts of Nigeria and Somalia, homosexual acts are punishable with death. Although many of the countries listed in the report do not systematically implement their homophobic laws, their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens needs to hide from the rest of the population out of fear. And this is exactly the problem – many governments may believe that they only cause individual suffering by meting (or by threatening to mete) out their punishment, but what they do not seem to realize is how the homophobic ideology entrenched in their law leads more and more people to take ―the law‖ in their own hands and organize themselves to act against the very life of LGBTI people. These governments may well lull themselves into believing that such acts of violence by non-governmental agents are not their responsibility, but they are indeed. It is the same kind of self-deception which makes them cry out against a homosexual orientation as ―totally extraneous to their national culture, a ―poisoned gift imported from the decadent west, without noticing the paradox of enforcing – at the same time – homophobic laws, which represent the worst legacy of their colonial past or of a religion imported from elsewhere.
ILGA is a world-wide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people everywhere. Founded in 1978, it now has more than 670 member organizations. Every continent and approximately 110 countries are represented. ILGA is to this day the only international non-governmental community-based association focused on fighting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity as a global issue.