Americans oftentimes have gay pride parades to celebrate gay rights — but on the other side of the world, being gay can be a death sentence.
Even though gay marriage was legalized in all of the United States in 2015, other countries and cultures still deny members of the LGBT+ community their basic rights because of their sexual orientations and gender identities.
According to the ILGA — the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association — same-sex relationships are illegal in 74 countries. In some countries, violence directed toward LGBT+ people and corrective rape are commonplace.
“Back home in Nigeria, being gay is worse than murdering someone,” junior Abigail Mania said. “People don’t seem to understand.”
Nigerian people can face up to 14 years of imprisonment for being homosexual. In Chad, a country that borders Nigeria in Africa, people can be imprisoned for up to 20 years for being openly homosexual.
“I remember I used to go to boarding school in Nigeria and if they found a gay student, they used to beat them up with canes,” junior Richard Emiko said.
Mauritius, a small country in the Indian Ocean, equates the crime of sodomy with bestiality in their laws and each is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years. Sudan punishes people convicted of sodomy with flogging and after three offenses with a death sentence or life imprisonment. Iran punishes same-sex relationships with penalties that range from whipping to the death penalty. Saudi Arabia punishes same-sex relationships among men with stoning to death for married men and 100 lashes of the whip for unmarried men.
In 13 countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, having same-sex relationships is punishable by death. These laws restricting same-sex relationships are primarily because of religion.
“When I came out to my father, he disowned me, moved cities, and put me back into the foster care system because he found me as a disgrace to his Christian religion,” junior Amari McCof said.
Most of the 47 countries that recognize same-sex marriage are in Western Europe, but there are some in South America and other parts of the world as well. Even though these countries allow same-sex marriage, some of them have restrictions on adoption and other things, such as giving blood. Although these privileges are taken away from same sex couples, 73 countries do have protection laws for LGBT+ people.
Although same sex marriage was legalized in all 50 states in the United States, Californians are typically thought of as more accepting of the various sexual orientations and gender identities.
A lot of the stigma around sexual orientation is because of religion, but other things, such as gender, also influence these views. Many laws regarding same-sex relationships are focused on men, but some countries are developing equal laws for women too.
While the United States and the Western world is quickly removing restrictions and laws regarding the criminalization or inferiority of LGBT+ people, some countries in the other parts of the world are slowly moving toward equal rights and acceptance while others remain stagnant.
In Colombia, a country that is predominantly Catholic, same-sex couples recently received the right to adopt. In Jamaica, a country where violence and discrimination towards members of the LGBT+ community is common, activists are beginning to call for change. Malta became the first country to prohibit normalizing gender surgeries on intersex babies, Mozambique decriminalized homosexuality, Nepal recognized a third gender on their passports, Taiwan gave same-sex couples some of the same rights as straight couples, Vietnam began to allow people to register as a gender not on their birth certificate, China still censors homosexuality but in 2014 they outlawed conversion therapy.
Even with the progression towards equality across the world, LGBT+ people are struggling for their rights in certain areas. In certain countries people are becoming more accepting of other sexual orientations and gender identities, but there is still a long way to go in the more rural and religious places of the world.
Khaled Alameldin contributed to this article.