The countries where homosexuality is still illegal

Qatar World Cup ambassador describes homosexuality as ‘a damage in the mind’

Gay marriage
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An ambassador for the World Cup in Qatar has warned that homosexual football fans who attend the tournament “will have to accept our rules”.

In an interview with German broadcaster ZDF, former Qatari international Khalid Salman described homosexuality as “a damage of the mind”. Although “everybody will accept that they come here” for the World Cup, he said, being gay “is haram” – forbidden under Islamic Sharia law.

His comments have raised “further concerns over human rights and LGBTQ+ treatment in the country”, where homosexuality is illegal, said Sky Sports.

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Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter said last week that handing the tournament hosting rights to Qatar during his reign at the football governing body had been a “mistake”. Criticism of that decision has increased following Salman’s warning, which Germany and Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka described as “oppressive” and “from a different millennium”.

Yet Qatar is one of dozens of countries worldwide that still criminalise same-sex relations, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association:

The Americas

  • Barbados
  • Dominica
  • Grenada (male only)
  • Guyana (male only)
  • Jamaica (male only)
  • St Kitts and Nevis (male only)
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines

Gay rights are constitutionally enshrined in most of South and North America. However, there are exceptions, mostly in the Caribbean.

In 2018, Trinidad and Tobago rolled back sodomy laws, but The Economist said “the political power of Caribbean churches frustrates gay-rights activists” and “Caribbean governments have sought to block regionwide efforts to protect sexual minorities”.


Most countries in Europe have no laws preventing homosexual activities. But Hungary last year passed a law “banning the portrayal or promotion of homosexuality among under-18s”, the BBC said.

Hungary does not recognise same sex marriage, has banned same-sex couples from adopting children and passed a law preventing people from legally changing their gender.

In July, the European Parliament “voted in favour of urgent legal action” over the law banning the depiction of homosexuality to under-18s, the broadcaster added.

Human Rights Watch has also warned that so-called “LGBT Ideology Free Zones” or anti-LGBT “Family Charters” in almost 100 Polish regions, towns and cities also breach the countries “legal obligations under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and a European Council directive for equal treatment in employment and occupation”.


  • Algeria
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Egypt (de facto criminalisation)
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Kenya (male only)
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Malawi
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius (male only)
  • Morocco
  • Namibia (male only)
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone (male only)
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Swaziland (male only)
  • Tanzania
  • Togo (male only)
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe (male only)

“Across much of Africa, gay people face discrimination, persecution, and potentially even death,” Newsweek said. Homosexuality carries a sentence of capital punishment in Mauritania, Sudan, southern Somalia and northern Nigeria.

Amnesty International has warned that “legal rights are diminishing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people across the African continent”.

Asia and the Middle East

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh (male only)
  • Bhutan (male only)
  • Brunei (male only)
  • Indonesia (in some areas)
  • Iran
  • Iraq (de facto)
  • Kuwait (male only)
  • Lebanon (male only)
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Myanmar (male only)
  • Oman
  • Pakistan (male only)
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore (male only)
  • Sri Lanka
  • Syria
  • Turkmenistan (male only)
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan (male only)
  • Yemen

In the overwhelmingly Islamic Middle East, it is quicker to highlight the countries that do not currently have anti-gay laws than those that do. In several nations same-sex relations are punishable by death.

Bahrain, Israel and Jordan are the only countries in the region that do not outlaw homosexuality. Even in these countries, police protections offered to sexual minorities are minimal and vigilante justice often prevails.

Asia has a mixed record on gay rights. Many countries on the continent have never passed any form of anti-gay legislation, including Cambodia, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos and the Philippines. Japan decriminalised homosexuality almost 140 years ago


  • Cook Islands (male only)
  • Kiribati (male only)
  • Papua New Guinea (male only)
  • Samoa (male only)
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga (male only)
  • Tuvalu (male only)

Oceania is a continent of sharp contrasts when it comes to anti-LGBT laws. Six of the 14 countries of the continent have passed anti-gay legislation. Kiribati and the Solomon Islands are the harshest enforcers of these laws, with sentences of up to 14 years for homosexual acts.

List accurate as of November 2022

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