Activist countries

Countries where LGBTQ people face the death penalty urged to abolish it

Protesters in London against the death penalty in Iran. (John Keeble/Getty)

A number of leading LGBTQ+ organizations have called on 11 countries to end the threat of the death penalty as punishment for gay people.

ILGA Asia, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and five other organizations have condemned the use of violence against LGBTQ+ people in a statement issued on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT ), which takes place on Tuesday, May 17. .

In the statement, LGBTQ+ organizations note that 70 countries around the world continue to criminalize same-sex sexual relations, including 22 Asian countries.

ILGA Asia said 11 countries – Afghanistan, Brunei, Darussalam, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen – retain the death penalty for LGBTQ+ people. Eight of these countries are in Asia.

According to Human Dignity Trust, the death penalty is applied in Iran, northern Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen, and remains a “legal possibility” in Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Imposing the death penalty on LGBTQ+ people violates the “right to life”

Anti-LGBTQ+ laws and capital punishment disproportionately affect ethnic or religious minorities and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, the organizations said.

“The continued existence and imposition of the death penalty for consensual same-sex sexual activity is a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Daron Tan , associate international legal adviser. at the ICJ.

Tan said such laws violate many human rights and can also impede access to healthcare systems.

Ajita Banerjie, research fellow at ILGA Asia, called for the decriminalization of same-sex sexual relations worldwide and said the death penalty should be abolished in all circumstances.

“Furthermore, we urge the authorities of all countries that maintain the death penalty to introduce a moratorium on its use, a necessary first step towards the abolition of the death penalty.

“Finally, we call on the authorities to ensure that all necessary safeguards are in place to ensure access to legal representation and fair trials for those currently facing the death penalty as a result of their commitment. real or supposed in consensual homosexual sex.”

The United Nations and other human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the use of the death penalty in many countries around the world.

In December 2020, the UN General Assembly called on states that still apply the death penalty to ensure that it is not applied “on the basis of discriminatory laws or as a result of discriminatory application or arbitrariness of the law”.

Two gay men were executed in Iran earlier this year

Even in countries where the death penalty is not applied against LGBTQ+ people, many continue to be arrested and sentenced for having consensual sex.

Some countries maintain arbitrary “immorality” laws that target members of the LGBTQ+ community, including Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, and Oman.

There was widespread outcry in January when a human rights network said two gay men had been executed in Iran after spending six years on death row.

The two men, named Mehrdad Karimpour and Farid Mohammadi by the Human Rights Activists news agency, had been sentenced to death for “forced sex between two men”.

Two other men were reportedly executed on similar charges in Iran in July 2021.