Geneva, 22 March 2023 – Over the past thirty years, 49 UN member States have decriminalised consensual same-sex acts, according to data released today by ILGA World. However, criminalising laws remain a reality for one-third of countries worldwide.
This and much more data can be found in the ILGA World Database, a platform launched today by ILGA World compiling laws, news, and references to human rights bodies and advocacy opportunities with the United Nations related to LGBTI people worldwide.
Thanks to this free, interactive, and collaborative platform, everyone can track current progress and backlash around sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics issues in 193 UN member States and 47 non-independent territories.
Hard-won advances are indeed taking place in many UN member States: 7 of them now have introduced nationwide restrictions to unnecessary interventions on intersex minors; 20 allow for legal gender recognition based on self-determination; 11 of them ban so-called ‘conversion therapies’ at the national level. Marriage equality is now a reality in 33 UN member States. Laws that protect people from hate crimes on the grounds of their sexual orientation exist in 58 UN member States, but only 37 do so based on gender identity, 9 on gender expression, and 5 on sex characteristics.
“Accessing data about LGBTI populations – historically left out, uncounted, and unrepresented - has always been difficult,” said ILGA World research coordinator Lucas Ramón Mendos. “Building upon four decades of experience that our organisation has in compiling this kind of information, ILGA World is now sharing it with everyone, giving free access to a platform that is grounded in data and research, and that systematises 4,300 legal sources and more than 7,000 references from United Nations mechanisms.”
The ILGA World Database features updated information about laws (including judicial decisions, executive orders and bills in the making) that affect LGBTI people worldwide - divided into 18 legal categories and more than 100 topics, and visualised in interactive global and regional maps. Every State and jurisdiction worldwide has its own profile with laws, upcoming advocacy opportunities for human rights defenders, and a selection of the latest LGBTI news. Activists can track developments in every human rights body within the United Nations, monitor deadlines to engage with them, and integrate any entry into their research or policy work.
“Grassroots organisations often can only count on little resources to remain updated with global developments, or to find information that they can use in their advocacy or campaigning work”, commented Julia Ehrt, Executive Director at ILGA World. “The ILGA World Database is a game-changing, powerful source of information in their hands.”
A simple look at data is all it takes to see how true equality is still very far from reach for many LGBTI people worldwide: 6 UN member States legally impose the death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts, and there is no legal certainty of its application in 5 more States. At least 51 countries have restrictions on freedom of expression related to sexual and gender diversity issues, including in educational settings.
“Simply put, this data speaks, and provides everyone accessing it with the missing pieces of evidence of how lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex persons are still left behind in many areas of life,” commented Luz Elena Aranda and Tuisina Ymania Brown, co-Secretaries General at ILGA World. “With the ILGA World Database, our lived realities can be documented, programmes and services can be advocated for. The Database brings to light valuable data that is missing in current LGBTI advocacy. Combining it with our stories and our activism is how we will make the world a better and more equal place for our LGBTI communities globally”.
Key figures sourced from the ILGA World Database (as of 15 March 2023)
64 UN member States criminalise consensual same-sex relations: 62 of them criminalise de jure (laws criminalising consensual same-sex sexual acts); 2 criminalise de facto (in practice, relying on other laws)
The death penalty is the legally prescribed penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts in 6 UN member States: Brunei, Mauritania, Iran, Nigeria (12 provinces), Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. In 5 more (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates), there is no full legal certainty.
Freedom of expression and freedom of association
At least 51 UN member States have laws, rules, and regulations that outlaw forms of expression related to sexual and gender diversity issues. In at least 11 of them, laws are specifically designed to apply to education, and in 25 they specifically regulate content disseminated through media
At least 55 UN member States present legal barriers to registering and operating organisations openly advocating the rights of LGBTI people
Constitutional protection from discrimination
UN member States whose Constitution includes protection from discrimination
based on sexual orientation: 12
based on gender identity: 5
based on gender expression: 1
based on sex characteristics: 0
11 UN member States have nationwide bans on ‘conversion therapies’. In addition, 7 have indirect regulations, and 6 have subnational bans only
Marriage and adoption
Marriage equality is a reality in 33 UN member States and in Taiwan
Same-sex couples can adopt a child together in 33 UN member States. A person in a same-sex couple can adopt the child of their partner in 35 UN member States
7 UN member States ban non-vital medical interventions on intersex children
Legal gender recognition
20 UN member States allow legal gender recognition based on self-determination In other 4, it is a reality only in some states or provinces.
Non-binary gender markers in identity documents are available in up to 20 UN member States
Hear from human rights defenders how the ILGA World Database will be a game-changer to their work!
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