Special Report

Countries Where Being Gay Is Legally Punishable by Death

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Same-sex relations of any kind are illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to seven years in prison. Muslims in the country, for whom Sharia law applies, may face the death penalty if they are engaging in extramarital sex, regardless of whether the affair is between men, women, or a man and a woman.

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Saudi Arabia

Relations between people of the same sex — whether men or women — can be tried as capital crimes in Saudi Arabia. The punishment can also be flogging, but that depends on the perceived seriousness of the wrongdoing. The sentence for first-time offenders is often lashing or some prison time, while those caught more than once can be executed.

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Same-sex relationship are not recognized in Afghanistan. Gay men and women live in fear. The subject of homosexuality is a taboo. It’s almost never talked about and it is perceived as immoral, un-Islamic, and even as a disease. Honor killings, where relatives kill the gay man or woman to restore the family’s honor, are not unheard of. They can also be executed under local Sharia law. These laws are more likely to be enforced in Taliban, rural, and/or isolated communities.

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Intercourse between people of the same sex is illegal in Somalia. Such acts can result in prison terms from three months to three years. The punishment for other gay activities, defined as “acts of lust,” is also imprisonment but between two months and two years. In 2012, a newly adopted provisional constitution made Sharia law “the supreme law of the country,” making homosexuality a crime that can be punished by flogging or the death penalty.

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Relationships between men are illegal in Sudan (the law is not clear about those between women.) Sodomy is prohibited and punishable by flogging and/or five years in prison. The punishment for a third conviction is death. Acts that are not sodomy but deemed indecent by authorities are punishable by 40 lashes and possible prison time for up to a year.

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