According to a new report, 80 countries around the world consider homosexuality illegal with five of them punishing homosexual acts with death.

The report is an overview of legislation around the world criminalising consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex in private over the age of consent.

It is published annually by ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, and is based on research by Daniel Ottosson.

It reveals that with Panama decriminalising homosexuality in 2008 and Burundi for the first time in its history criminalising homosexuality in 2009, the world now counts 80 countries with state-sponsored homophobic laws.

Of these, 72 countries and three entities punish consenting gay adults with imprisonment. Five countries – namely Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and parts of Nigeria and Somalia – punish them with the death penalty.

“Homophobia is even more appalling and dangerous – and 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,” said Gloria Careaga, co-secretary general of ILGA, in a statement.

“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 is unacceptable,” she said.

ILGA said that, with the report, it intends 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.

In a speech given in New York December 18, 2008 on occasion of a United Nations Statement signed by 66 countries from all continents against the criminalisation of homosexuality, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, said:

“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.”

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. Founded in 1978, it now has more than 700 member organisations in 110 countries

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