In response to the deadly attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement of support for the victims, including a condemnation of the attack for "targeting persons as a result of their sexual orientation."
It was the council's first official statement ever on gay rights or LGBT issues. Surprisingly, Egypt and Russia both signed on to the statement, despite their own ant-gay laws. As Jules Suzdaltsev explains in today's Seeker Daily report, there are many places in the world where it's illegal to be gay.
In fact, according to the U.N., homosexuality is a crime in at least 75 countries, 13 of which impose the death penalty for homosexual acts. Anti-gay laws are most pervasive in Africa and the Middle East.
Uganda's infamous anti-gay laws include provisions first introduced by British colonial rulers in the 19th century. Those prejudices were further inflamed by American Christian missionaries who taught that homosexuals preyed on and recruited children. As a result, thousands of Ugandans have been sentenced to life in prison for homosexual acts in private.
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Iran enforces capital punishment for homosexual intercourse. Gay women are lashed 50 times for their first three offenses, with further convictions punishable by death. Human rights groups estimate that between four thousand and six thousand people have been executed for homosexual acts since Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Afghanistan also strictly forbids homosexuality. While under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, the country routinely executed gay men and women, although now lengthy prison sentences are more common. Anti-gay laws aren't exclusive to the Middle East, either. Russia recently pass an infamous anti-gay propaganda law and Belize has outlawed same-sex activity since 1988.
The United Nations and several human rights organizations worldwide have launched initiatives to decriminalize homosexuality. While there has been some limited success, the worst offenders have yet to make any movement toward reform. Interestingly, in 2014 the U.N. itself voted to recognize all same-sex marriages among its staff, allowing them to receive U.N. benefits.
-- Glenn McDonald
Reuters: U.N. Security Council condemns Orlando gay nightclub massacre
Washington Post: Here are the 10 countries where homosexuality may be punished by death
Independant: How Uganda was seduced by anti-gay conservative evangelicals
Human Rights Watch: Russia: Anti-LGBT Law a Tool for Discrimination