On May 15, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) launched the 12th edition of its flagship publication, State-Sponsored Homophobia – A World Survey of Sexual Orientation Laws: Criminalisation, Protection and Recognition.

This year the report is co-authored by Aengus Carroll and Lucas Ramón Mendos.

Download State-Sponsored Homophobia 2017
in English – in Spanish

EDIT (May 19) –  In an earlier version of the report,  Slovenia was listed as a State with marriage equality: however, it only has strong partnership legislation. Entries on the country were amended to reflect that. References to the Penal Code of Iran were updated to reflect amendments that came into force in 2015.

Since its first edition in 2006, State-Sponsored Homophobia has offered a comprehensive compilation of useful and credible data on laws affecting people worldwide on the basis of their sexual orientation. This release comes just ahead of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia to be celebrated on May 17, and it is a fundamental resource in the hands of human rights defenders, researchers, civil society organisations, governmental and UN agencies, allies and media striving for a more just and inclusive society.

“As of May 2017, 72 States continue to criminalise same-sex consensual activity, and in 45 of these States the law is applied to women as well as men,” Carroll notes. “Although law that criminalises same-sex sexual practice is slowly annually decreasing – with Belize and Seychelles being the most recent to repeal such laws in 2016 – persecution and deep stigmatisation persist in many States. On the other hand, enactment of specific legislation that protects us from discrimination and violence has significantly expanded in recent years, and the real test facing States is meaningful implementation of those laws. Although laws that recognise our relationships and families are also on the increase, less than 25% of the world’s States recognise or protect us – that is a sobering thought.”

It is an unavoidable truth that full equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual persons is unfortunately still very far from reach.

“A simple look at the maps and charts included in the report – illustrating where criminalisation, protection and recognition laws exist – starkly indicates the absence of positive provisions in most parts of the world. These maps and overview charts are available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French and Russian on ILGA’s website. We hope that making these materials available in all 6 United Nations’ official languages will help deliver this information to a wider readership,” observes co-author Mendos. “They offer food for thought on how States are faring when it comes to denying or upholding our rights, to scapegoating our communities, or situating us on ideological battlefields in national and international political spaces.”


There are currently 8 UN member States (or parts thereof) where death penalty occurs as a punishment for same-sex consensual sexual acts, and a further 5 States where although the death penalty is technically possible, it is never implemented. In 14 other countries the maximum penalty can vary from 14 years to a life sentence in jail.

This edition of State-Sponsored Homophobia includes a category looking at sexual orientation-related NGOs: in 25 States there are active barriers to the formation, establishment or registration of such organisations, and 22 States have ‘morality’ or ‘promotion’ laws that actively target public promotion or expression of same-sex and trans realities.


“With the ongoing rise in the use of digital devices, deployment of these laws becomes all the more sinister,” comments Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director at ILGA. “The ongoing case of Chechnya offers us the most recent, horrific example of such abuses, as survivors have expressed fears that the social media accounts of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are being hacked and used to identify and contact others who have not yet been arrested.”