Singapore announced on Sunday that it will repeal a law criminalising gay sex but in many other parts of the world homosexuality is illegal and sometimes subject to the death penalty.
According to a report published in 2020 by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), homosexuality was prohibited in 69 countries, including 11 where it is punishable by death.
Here is an overview.
Around 30 African countries ban homosexuality, with Mauritania, Somalia and Sudan having the death penalty for same-sex relations.
South Africa is the sole nation on the African continent to allow gay marriage, which it legalised in 2006.
Gay sex is decriminalised in only a handful of countries: Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique and the Seychelles.
Middle East: repressed
Several countries in the conservative region still have the death penalty for homosexuality, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Israel leads the way in terms of gay rights, recognising same-sex marriages that are performed elsewhere although not allowing such unions in the country itself. Gay couples can adopt children.
Lebanon is also more tolerant than other Arab countries.
Taiwan, first in Asia
While much of Asia is tolerant of homosexuality, Taiwan became the first in the region to allow gay marriage after a landmark ruling by its Constitutional Court in 2017.
Vietnam decriminalised gay marriage celebrations in 2015 but stopped short of full legal recognition for same-sex unions.
Thailand in June took a step towards same-sex marriage when lawmakers gave initial approval to legalising same-sex unions.
In 2018, India’s Supreme Court decriminalised gay sex.
Gay marriage and adoption are allowed in New Zealand and Australia.
Europe, gay marriage pioneers
The Netherlands in 2001 became the first country in the world to allow gay couples to marry.
Since then, 17 European countries have followed: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia and Switzerland.
Some countries allow only gay civil partnerships, including the Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary and Italy.
In Russia, homosexuality was considered a crime up to 1993 and a mental illness until 1999. Now legal, a 2013 law however punishes the promotion of homosexuality among minors.
In Hungary, a law passed in 2021 made “promoting” homosexuality or gender change to minors punishable by a fine.
A number of countries allow same-sex couples to adopt.
Assisted reproduction for lesbian couples is allowed in 12 European countries.
Progress in the Americas
Canada was the first American country to authorise same-sex marriage and adoptions in 2005, and 10 years later the United States legalised gay marriage nationwide.
In Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile and Uruguay allow same-sex marriage.
Mexico’s federal capital was the pioneer in the region, authorising gay civil unions in 2007 and marriages in 2009. Nearly half of its 32 states have followed.
Cuba will hold a referendum in September on whether to adopt a refreshed family law, which would include for the first time legalisation of same-sex marriage.
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