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Age of Consent Chart
A Global Survey of Anti-sex Law and Oppression
Vast Disparity Applied Between Gay and Straight
by Demian
© July 1, 2017, Demian

    Disparity of Ages and Activities Criminalized
    Coming of Age
    Ill Treatment
    U.S. Law
    A Few Points for Clarity
    Age of Consent Chart
    Further Resources


The so-called “age of consent” laws are used to indicate the point at which a human being, under its jurisdiction, is said to be legally old enough to engage in sex. This is often different than the age at which young people are allowed to be soldiers, to vote, imbibe inebriates, drive a car, or make valid contracts — including marriage contracts.

The major reason given for these laws is to protect young people, often called “minors,” from exploitation. Some age-of-consent laws also prohibit showing pornography to minors. Some laws are considered to be beneficial because they prohibit giving drugs (such as alcohol) to minors.

The age of consent differs in every state, and in every country. Globally, the age of consent ranges from 9 (Iran, for instance) to 21 (Western Territory, Australia).

The age of consent laws also are contingent upon various factors, such as the type of sexual activity, the relationship between the two parties, the age and sex of both parties, and other specifics. Some states allow sex for those who are legally married, even though they are below the state’s consent age.

In many parts of the world, those of the same sex are legally required to be older than the consenting age of opposite-sex couples.

Examples include: Albania, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Gibraltar, Hungary, Luxembourg, Moldova, Montenegro, Suriname, and Vanuatu.
This creates unequal treatment, with one set of laws for straights, and another for gay men and lesbians. Curiously, in many countries, lesbians are not mentioned in the sexual behavior laws at all.

Prohibitions against homosexuality are law in 76 out of 195 nations around the world. 76 nations criminalize consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex — even when in private and older than the age of consent. Besides lengthy prison sentences, some also punish with flogging and stoning.

10 of these countries have the death penalty as legal punishment for being a real, or perceived same-sex orientation.

Countries with a death penalty for being same-sex oriented: Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, and Yemen.
Globally, in locations where there are anti-gay laws, the punishments for same-sex intimacy ranges from a few months in prison and/or hundreds of dollars — to 20 years in prison and/or thousands of dollars in fines — to torture and/or death.

In May 2008, the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) published a report called State-sponsored Homophobia. In it, they report that just being lesbian or gay carries a risk of jail time in 86 countries. Also, there are 6 provinces or territorial units which also punish homosexuality with imprisonment. In 7 countries, merely being gay or lesbian carries a death penalty.

In the 86 anti-gay countries that are members of the United Nations, consensual same-sex acts among adults are institutionally criminalize, and thereby promote a culture of hatred.

Rosanna Flamer-Caldera (Sri Lanka)co-secretary general of ILGA:

“Although many of the countries listed in the report do not systematically implement those laws, their mere existence reinforces a culture where a significant portion of the citizens needs to hide from the rest of the population out of fear. A culture where hatred and violence are justified by the State and force people into invisibility, or into denying who they truly are.

“Whether exported by colonial empires or the result of legislations culturally shaped by religious beliefs, if not deriving directly from a conservative interpretation of religious texts, homophobic laws are the fruit of a certain time and context in history. Homophobia is cultural. Homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia are not inborn. People learn them as they grow.”

Disparity of Ages and Activities Criminalized

The huge disparity of viewpoints on the proper age for consent gives the impression that it is arbitrary and capricious. It clearly is subject to vast changes over time. The assignment of an age is usually influenced by historical precedent and social mores, more than science.

Reading the rationales for the consent ages, as well as judicial ruling, gives the impression that psychological discomfort of repressed or moralistic individuals has, for centuries, created a jurisprudence subjecting the enjoyment of non-procreative, physical love, intimacy and joy to the status of criminality.

Coming of Age

Maturation is a personal, individual event. Human beings can mature at varying stages of life. A culture, as well as life events, can also influence maturity. Some people are capable of deciding their own destinies at 12 — others at 35 — still others, never.

While the governmental intent may be to protect youth, the imposition of arbitrary consent standards usually do not address differing maturation rates, or unfair power differentials. One of the major effects of the consent laws — especially as they have been used against gay people — more often results in creating an oppressive means of social control, which can be damaging to youth, and not protective.

A few governments — such as Israel, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Florida, Kansas, Maine, and Delaware — have graduated ages of consent, suggesting that youth in the same age group can have consensual sex, but not with those outside of that age group. This could be a more rational way to address the sexual needs of young people.

Spanish law addresses all ages, of any act that violates a person’s sexual liberty by sexual contact — with or without consent — if this consent is obtained by taking advantage of a relationship of superiority.

One sign of maturity is when a person’s reproductive system is capable of producing progeny, which can begin at 11. It is also interesting to note that human beings are capable of sexual feelings from, at least, the moment they are born, unconnected to reproductive capabilities.

Ill Treatment

For many governments, the age of consent for gay men and lesbians is often set as older than that of those engaged in opposite-sex relationships. Also, harsher punishments are meted out for same-sex than for opposite-sex relationships of similar circumstances.

Historically, in many locations, intimate same-sex relationships were forbidden, and punished by prison, torture, or death. This is still the situation in many countries.

Many of the anti-same-sex laws have been called “sodomy” laws, or “crimes against nature.” This is problematic because no two jurisdictions agree to the exact definition of the word “sodomy.” Some use it to specify anal sex, and some to any same-sex intimacy. Remarkably, some sodomy laws do not include women. Serbia, for instance, never made any laws against lesbians because they believed that lesbians did not exist.

The phrase “crimes against nature” is also confusing, because homosexuality is an integral part of nature. It has been scientifically observed in every part of the animal kingdom, and even in some parts of the insect world.

Besides being a barbaric abridgement of privacy rights, the anti-sodomy laws historically have been used as the excuse to imprison, fire, evict, and remove children for no other reason than the fact that these laws make a gay person potentially capable of illegal acts.

By singling out orientation as a separate category, these laws have been used to control populations, and specifically to oppress gay people. The impact of these oppressive laws not only affects the general population, but has a profound effect in young gay and lesbian people who simply wish to date, or start a family with the partner of their choice.

U.S. Law

Up to 1960, every U.S. state had an anti-sex “sodomy” law. By 2003, 37 states had repealed these laws, or they had been blocked by state courts. It was not until June 26, 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the anti-gay Texas sodomy law, the effect of which was to also remove sodomy laws from the rest of the country.

However, current laws against sex with an underage person is being used by the U.S. Federal legal system to jail people who have had on-line Internet communication with youth, even when no in-person contact has been made. This use of the anti-sex laws essentially turn thoughts into a crime.

After many years of court cases, and a few legislative actions to provide legal marriage for same-sex couples in 40 states and 18 Native American Tribes, the U.S. Supreme Court, on June 26, 2015, declared that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violates the U.S. Constitution. This decision extended the freedom to marry to all same-sex couples nationwide.

This ruling was followed by several states breaking the law and continuing to deny legal marriage for same-sex couples, as well as numerous legislations attempts that were meant to damage the lives of LGBT people.

Since 2013 — before the right to marry was obtained — there has been a record-breaking introduction of 254 anti-gay bill in many U.S. states. These include 104 based on religious exemptions, 34 based on infringement of transgender rights, 62 based on refusing to marry same-sex couples, and 54 miscellaneous anti-gay laws. Of those bills, 20 have been signed into law. There are still 48 active bills (as of July 1, 2016). [See “The Dramatic Rise in State Efforts to Limit LGBT Rights” by Everdeen Mason, Aaron Williams and Kennedy Elliott, July 1, 2016, Washington Post]

A Few Points for Clarity

The chart below references specific sexual acts. This is because this exact sexual language is written into the anti-sex laws. We cannot talk about these laws without talking about the specific sex acts they mean to control or stop.

The chart shows how diverse the age of consent can be, how strikingly different — and arbitrary — the approach can be from country-to-country, and from state-to-state.

The information for this chart was derived from government Web sites, Wikipedia, International Lesbian and Gay Association, and hundreds of news and Web site articles.

If you have a concern about exact age information for a specific location, it would be best to do your own research and get legal advice. This article cannot be construed as legal advice, especially in light of the frequency of statute changes.

The idea for this article was originally inspired by the music record jacket of the European release of “The Age of Consent” by Bronski Beat in 1984. The cover listed the wildly diverse ages of consent in European countries.

Age of Consent Chart
Legal minimum age and status for lesbian and gay male sexual relationships
Plus notes about anti-sex “sodomy” laws and other historical data

Note: Ages could differ because of changes of law, or clerical error.
Also, in many cases, laws are extremely complex and often cannot be reduced to a number.
Country Consent Age Details
Afghanistan 18 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
The “sodomy” law allows for a death sentence.
Albania 14 for straights & lesbians
18 for gay men
Anti-gay beatings reported.
Gay sex was illegal in Albania. In December 1994, Albania considered lowering the gay sex penalty from 10 years prison to a maximum of 3. While is is reported that it is no longer illegal, we have no further reports on the current status.
It was also reported that there is no law regarding a specific age of consent, rather it is determined by a medical examiner.
Algeria 16 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
The “sodomy” law calls for a punishment of 2 months to 2 years prison — 3 years if with person under 18 — and/or 500-2,000 Algerian Dinars. If one of the participants is younger than 18, the punishment for the older person can be raised to 3 years prison and a fine of 10,000 dinars.
Andora 16  
Angola 12/15 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Antiqua (Barbuda) 16 for straights & lesbians
18 for gay men
Argentina 13 with restrictions
16 unrestricted
The age at which there are no restrictions for sexual activities is 18, while the minimum age of consent is 13 regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. For those 13-16, restrictions include abuse, violence, threat, coercion, or harassment in a relationship of dependence, authority or power, or by taking advantage of the fact that the minor, for any reason, couldn’t freely give consent.
It has been reported that Police harassment is common — as are beatings and murders by bashers — and citizens can be denied right to vote because of “unworthiness.”
Waves of police raids of gay and lesbian bars and nightclubs threatened Argentine sexual minorities in 1995 and 1996. While no Argentinian law specifically criminalizes homosexuality, the police use a number of other legal instruments to harass individuals they consider “dangerous.” For example, police edicts, which are not laws as such, but regulations set in place nearly 50 years ago, and applied at the discretion of the Argentine police, have been used extensively to harass sexual minorities.
Buenos Aires and Rosario have legal bans against some forms of anti-gay discrimination. Argentina extends widow/widower pensions to surviving partners of same-sex couples. Four labor unions extend National Security System medical benefits to employees’ same-sex partners; teachers, commerce employees, executives, and air-transport personnel.
In March 2009, Argentina announced that it has abandoned the gay ban, part of a sweeping military reform act that included the way members of the armed forces are put on trial.
On July 22, 2010, Argentina allowed legal marriage. See Argentina Offers Legal Marriage
Armenia 16 for straights
Illegal for gay men
The “sodomy” law calls for a punishment of 5 years prison. It applies only to anal intercourse between men. Lesbians are not mentioned in the sex laws.
Aruba 16 Heterosexual contacts with minors under the age of 16 are only criminal under certain conditions. While there are no “sodomy” laws, homosexual contacts with minors under 16 are punishable with a penalty of up to 4 years prison.
Australia 16-18
varies by territory
      Capitol Territory
      New South Wales 16 On May 2003, NSW lowered the age of consent for gay men from 18 to 16; the same as with heterosexuals and lesbians. Homosexuality was decriminalized in NSW in 1984.
      Northern Territory 16 for straights
18 for gay men
No laws regarding lesbians.
      Queensland 16
18 (anal sex)
The “sodomy” law calls for a punishment of up to 14 years prison, and applies to male or female offenders. Both partners are potentially liable to punishment unless the younger is under 16.
This is the only Australian territory that has a “sodomy” Law. It was enacted in 1990 at the same time as sex between men was decriminalized. When conservatives briefly took over the government in 1997, they changed the definition of the offence from “unlawful anal intercourse” involving a person “not an adult” under Criminal Law (17 years), to “sodomy” involving anyone under 18 years. They simultaneously doubled the penalties.
      South Australia 16 if both are 16 or if both are married to one another
      Tasmania 17 Was illegal until 1994. Transgressors could get 21 years in prison. The territory was forced to change by Australian parliament sexual privacy act.
      Victoria 16 Some reports place the age at 17.
      Western Australia 16 On March 21, 2001, the Acts Amendment Law Reform Bill 2001:
Removed the disapproval of homosexuality and “proselytizing” clauses in the Decriminalization of Sodomy Act of 1989;
Made the age of consent 16 for all. It had been 21 for gay men and 16 for everyone else;
Repealed the Gross Indecency law that only applied to male-male sexual activity in public;
Included sexual orientation in the Equal Opportunity Act 1984;
Allowed same-sex couples joint adoption of children;
Allowed infertile lesbians access to IVF treatment;
Allowed same-sex couples joint registration as birth parents when one was the birth mother;
Recognized same-sex couples for inheritance, cremation decisions, and other health care issues.
Previous to 1989, “sodomy” was punished with up to five years in jail, even with full consent in private.
Austria 14 for lesbians & straights
18 for gay men
The law permits judges to sentence violators up to five years in prison for sex between men who are 14-18 years old. Ruled unconstitutional in July 2002, the Constitutional Court gave legislators until February 28, 2003, to revise the law. Following the ruling, two prominent members of the Greens party said they would immediately seek the abolition of the gay consent law. However, the two governing parties, conservative Austrian People’s Party and the far right Freedom Party, said they would resist any effort to abolish it.
Azerbaijan 16
17 for legal marriage of straight women
18 for legal marriage of straight men
The old Article 113 — inherited from the Soviet era, and which punished anal sex between men with 3-7 years prison — was replaced with a new Article 150 in September 2000, which bans only forcible sexual acts. Lesbians were never mentioned in the old laws.
The minimal age to marry is 18 for men, and 17 for women. In exceptional cases, the marital age can be reduced by one year. (Marriage and Family Code - article 15)
Bahamas 16 for straights
18 for gay men & lesbians
Illegal for gay men who are sexual in public
In 1991, the “Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act” law replaced Sections 390 and 530 Penal Code, which had criminalized homosexual acts between men, with a punishment of up to 10 years prison. Section 529 had criminalized homosexual contacts between women, with a penalty of up to 2 years prison. The new law states that sexual activity between consenting adults of the same sex is not an offence in private, but is an offence in a public place and is punishable by up to 20 years prison. This law clearly discriminate against homosexuals as it does not apply to heterosexuals who are found under the same circumstances. There is also a law regarding indecent exposure, but the effect of that law also changes when the parties involved are of the same sex.
In 1992, a British gay man, who was detained in the Bahamas, left the island after charges of having had sex with another man in a public were dropped. He was subsequently recharged on two charges of gross indecency. He plea bargained as guilty and was granted a conditional discharge for six months. He left the island, but lost his job has a result of the prosecution.
Numerous reports indicate that the Bahamas are extremely hostile to gay men and lesbians in general, and gay tourists in particular.
Homosexuals in the military is not forbidden, however, one would likely be subject to violence if openly gay in this country.
Bahrain 16 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
The “Buggary” law calls for a punishment of 10 years prison. Even if consentual, punishment is required should a partner be less than 14 years old.
In 1956, a new Penal Code was introduced which made “unnatural sexual offences” punishable with up to 10 years prison, with, or without, corporal punishment. This Code remained in force after independence. Until 1956, the Indian Penal Code was used in the British-ruled territories of the Middle East. “Sodomy” had been punished, under Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, by deportation for 20 years, imprisonment for up to 10 years, or a fine.
In 2011, police arrested 127 people, mainly gay men from Gulf countries, for putting on a “depraved and decadent” party with cross-dressers drinking and smoking shisha, Gulf News reported.
Bangladesh 14 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
“Sodomy” law punishes with deportation, fines, and/or up to 10-to-life prison.
Penal Code Section 377: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may be extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine”
On April 25, 2016, Xulhaz Mannan, 35, was hacked to death. He was the editor of Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine, “Roopbaan,” which was launched in 2014. He was employed by the US development agency USAid.
This is the latest of a series of horrific murders of bloggers and activists.
Barbados 16 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Reported to be rarely enforced against private behaviour.
Belarus 14-18 for females, depending on sexual maturity
18 for males
Sex for gay men was legalized on March 1, 1994.
The old code, Article 119-1, which was inherited from the Soviet Union, criminalized anal sex between consenting male adults, even in private, with a punishment of up to 5 years prison. It stated that sexual contacts for lesbians were conditionally considered legal in ages 14-18. This was defined by court experts in sexual crime cases, which depended on the level of sexual maturity.

Sexual contacts for gay men were considered legal if over 18. The law did not specifically refer to homosexuality apart from other code provision regarding criminal prosecution of men who force sex, have sex with those under 18, or used their social position for sex; punishment called for 8 years prison.
Homosexuality is largely hidden as most Belarussians mistakenly consider homosexuality a disease.
Belgium 16 Was 18.
Legal marriage is available for same-sex couples.
Please see our article: Belgium Offers Legal Marriage

All legal Belgium marriages require the parties to both be 18 or older.
Belize 14 legal marriage for straights with parental consent
16 for straights
Legal for gay men & lesbians (was illegal before August 10, 2016)
Reported to be violently hateful toward gay men - and fascinated by lesbians.
Section 53 of the 1981 Criminal Code of Belize stated that “every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.”

On August 10, 2016, the Belize Supreme Court made an historic ruling in favor of gay activist Caleb Orozco, and struck down the country’s anti-sodomy law. This is the first case launched in the Caribbean. The case was brought to court in 2010, and heard in 2013. The more than six-year-long process was spearheaded by Caleb Orozco, and supported by Caribbean allies, activists, advocates, academics, and legal experts. Orozco challenged the law claiming that it infringed on the “Protections of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms” of the individual guaranteed by Belize’s constitution. Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, accepted Orozco’s challenges on all counts, including: The law is a violation of the rights to dignity, privacy, equality and non-discrimination on grounds of sex; There is no public morality justification; International legal obligations must be complied with.
Benin 18 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Bermuda 16 for straights & lesbians
18 for gay men
Section 175 of the Penal Code was repealed in 1994. It used to prohibit homosexual activity between men with a punishment of up to 10 years prison. Attempted homosexual contacts were punished with up to five years prison. A Bermudian gay and lesbian group lobbied to repeal the Code.
Bhutan 18 for straights & lesbians
Illegal for gay men
Punishment for gay men is up to life in prison.
Bolivia 17 It is reported that the Bolivian police are extremely anti-homosexual.
Bosnia-Herzegovina 16
Illegal for gay men
On November 28, 1998, a new penal code was introduced with no reference to homosexuality.
The old “Unnatural Debauchery” law (the old Penal Code of 30 June 1959) declared sex between men illegal in all of the former Yugoslavia.
During the first half of the 70s, the power over penal legislation was devolved from the Federal Republic to the eight states and provinces.
Bosnia-Herzegovina chose to retain the ban, with Section 93.2 of the criminal law, effective from 1977, which made male homosexual conduct illegal and punished by 1 year prison.
There were no references to lesbian relationships.
On september 24, 2008, 10 people were injured when dozens of hooded, bearded men attacked the opening of the first Sarajevo Queer Festival in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The men shouted “Kill the queers.” and “God is great.” while dragging attendees from cars and chasing others on the streets. Some of the local media had campaigned for violence against the festival, urging the organizers be lynched, stoned, doused with gasoline or expelled from the country. Posters appeared in early September advocating “death to gays.” and the festival was denounced by some imams, who objected, in part, to the coincidence of the festival running during Ramadan.
Botswana 14 for straight women
16 for straight men
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
The “Unnatural Offences” law applies only to sex between men, whether public or private, and calls for punishment of 5-7 years prison.
Botswana Penal Code Cap. 08:01:
“164 (Unnatural offences). Any person who –
(a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature;
(b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or
(c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.
165 (Attempt to commit unnatural offences). Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in section 164 is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
166 (Indecent assault of boys under 14). Any person who unlawfully and indecently assaults a boy under the age of 14 years is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.
167 (Indecent practices between males). Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of an offence.”
Brazil 14
Illegal for military gay men & lesbians
Charges can be brought for “corruption of minors” between 14-18 only after a complaint by the minor or by a parent.
Military personnel who engage in gay sex can be sentenced to from 6 months-to-1 year in prison.
As of 1994, the Brasilia federal capital district; the states of Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Sergipe, and Mato Grosso; and 77 cities and towns (Salvador, Sao Paolo etc.) have laws imposing stiff fines against persons, or institutions, found guilty of anti-gay discrimination. Officials have the power to close hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs that repeatedly deny services to gay men and lesbians.
Same-sex couples have the right to inherit each other’s pension and social security benefits. As a result of a court ruling, on June 8, 2000, couples who can prove that theirs is a “stable union” are treated by the National Social Security Institute no differently than a married couple regarding retirement or death. The policy also allows them to declare their partners as dependents on income tax returns.
The border state of Rio Grande do Sul passed a Civil Union legislation in 2004.
Numerous news reports state that police anti-gay harassment is common.
British Virgin Islands 16 On January 1, 2001, the British government, after nearly a decade of cajoling, unilaterally repealed local laws against homosexuality in its dependent overseas territories of Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turk and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
Brunei 13 for married straights
14 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbian
There is a “sodomy law,” with a penalty of up to 10 years prison, or a fine up to $30,000 Brunei dollars. Brunei is an Islamic state on the island of Borneo, located between Malaysia and Indonesia. A British colonial era law criminalizes male homosexuality, and Shari’ah law operates in the country.
The annual summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is to take place in Brunei. According to an April 12, 2013 report in Gay Star News, Brunei excluded LGBT groups from the conference, although those groups had participated at previous ASEAN summits in Phnom Phenh and Jakarta. The ASEAN SOGI Caucus stated that they are “deeply outraged” by the the Brunei organizing committee decision to exclude LGBT concerns from the meeting. “We are disappointed that even in spaces that are meant to foster and uphold democracy and human rights principles by and for civil society organizations, specific sectors of society are being discriminated against and are restricted.”
The Beverly Hills and the Bel Air Hotels, in Los Angeles, California, are owned by the nation of Brunei.
Bulgaria 14 for straights
18 for gay men & lesbians
The Bulgarian Penal Code prohibits “scandalous homosexuality,” homosexuality in public, and activities which may “lead to perversion” (undefined). Violation of these laws can be punished with 1-5 years prison, and/or “social disgrace.”
The Supreme Court (Superior Tribunal of Justice) ruled unanimously to allow a gay man to inherit half the estate of his deceased long-time partner.
Burkina Faso 13
21 for gay men & lesbians
Homosexual activity with someone under 21 is punishable with up to 3 years prison.
Burundi 18 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
The “Immoral Act” law is applied to homosexuality.
It has been reported that Islamic law is enforced, regardless of national law.
Cameroon Illegal for gay men & lesbians The “sodomy” law punishes with up to 5 years prison and/or a fine of CFA 200.000. The penalty is doubled if one of the persons involved is between 16 and 21.
Canada 16, or 18 under certain conditions On May 1, 2008, the “Tackling Violent Crime Act” took effect which raised the age of consent from 14 to 16.
The consent age is 18 if the 16-18-year-old is dependent, under the authority of, or exploited by the older partner.
There are two close-in-age exemptions depending on the age of the younger partner: A youth of 12-13 can consent to sexual activity with an individual less than two years older; A 14-15-year-old can consent to sexual activity with a partner who is less than five years older.
During the 19th century, the age of consent for opposite-sex vaginal intercourse was 12.
In 1886, a law made the “seduction” of a girl over 12, and under 16, “of previously chaste character” a criminal offence; the “seduction” of a female under 18 “under promise of marriage” was also made illegal, and was amended in 1887 to apply to females under 21.
In 1890, the Parliament raised the age of consent to 14. The punishment for anyone who had sexual intercourse with someone younger than 14 was a whipping and life imprisonment, while the punishment for anyone who only attempted to seduce an underage girl was a whipping and prison for two years.
In 1969, oral sex was legalized to have the same age of consent as vaginal sex.
Also in 1969, anal sex was allowed, but with an age barrier set at 21, under section 159.
On May 25, 1995, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that Canada’s higher age-of-consent for anal sex unconstitutionally discriminates.
In May 2008, the age of consent was raised from 14 to 16, when the “Tackling Violent Crime Act” became effective. The new measures still allowed for close-in-age exceptions between 12-16: if there is no more than a two-year gap for those 12-13, or a five-year gap for those 14-15. Anal sex remains illegal with exceptions for those over 18, if they comply with the restrictions set out under section 159.
Section 153 of the Tackling Act prohibits the sexual touching of a person under 18 by a person in three circumstances: if the youth is in a “position of trust or authority” towards the youth, if the youth is in a “relationship of dependency” with him or her, or if the relationship is “exploitative.” While “position of trust or authority” was not defined, courts have ruled that it applies to parents, teachers, and medical professionals. For determining whether or not a relationship is “exploitative,” the Code provides that a judge can consider how old the youth is, the difference in ages between partners, how the relationship evolved, and the degree of control or influence that the older partner has over the youth.
Section 159 criminalized every act of anal intercourse, but provides exceptions for husband and wife, and any two persons 18 years of age or older. These exceptions do not apply if a third adult is present, or if the anal intercourse takes place anywhere but in private. However, courts in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta independently declared Section 159 to be unconstitutional as violations of the equality provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Female homosexuality was never illegal in Canada.
Gay men are allowed in the military.
Legal marriage is available for same-sex couples.
Please see our article: Canada Offers Legal Marriage
Cayman Islands Legal On January 1, 2001, the British government, after nearly a decade of cajoling, unilaterally repealed local laws against homosexuality in its dependent overseas territories of Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turk and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
Numerous reports indicate that the islands are extremely hostile to gay men and lesbians.
Chile 14 (with restrictions) for straights
18 for all
In 1810, the age of consent for opposite-sex activity was 12. In 1976, it was raised to 14. In 1998, same-sex activity was made legal until age 18.
Charges against same-sex partners sexual activity — when one or both are between 14-18-years-old — are rarely enforced, but it carries up to 20 years prison. Frequent police harrasment raids have been reported.
China Traditionally punished under “revolting behavior” laws Strong public disapproval is evident, sometimes by people throw stones at presumed homosexuals.
Homosexuality has never been declared illegal in China, however, authorities have seized homosexuals for sundry charges, and especially in the era of stringent conformity that followed the communist takeover of 1949.
In May 2001, the Chinese Psychiatric Association no longer classified homosexuality as a pathological condition, and said homosexual behavior is not to be considered abnormal. But same-sex desires could still be considered a mental disorder for those unhappy with being gay. The change marks a significant turnaround for China’s mental health establishment, which, as recently as 1994, opposed World Health Organization standards calling for acceptance of homosexuality.
      Hong Kong 16 Male sodomy was punishable by life in prison until August 24, 2005 when Hong Kong High Court Judge Michael Hartmann struck down the Chinese region’s bans on gay sex, calling them discriminatory and unconstitutional. The ruling was appealed by the government and rejected by the Hong Kong Court of Appeal on September 2006. One of the laws now rendered unenforceable punished male “sodomy” with life in prison when one or both of the partners were younger than 21. Another banned “gross indecency” between males when one or both were under 21. The corresponding law for opposite-sex couples was 16.
The case was brought by William Roy Leung, 20, who said the laws discriminated against him. Judge Hartmann called the statutes a “grave and arbitrary interference with the right of gay men to self-autonomy in the most intimate aspects of their private lives.” Hong Kong had charged people under the laws at least 65 times during 2000-2005.
Colombia 14 Police harassment is common, as are beatings and murders by bashers.
The first verdict ever issued by a Family Court in Colombia to recognize inheritance rights for same-sex couples was made in May 2000. Five-year male couple Harold and Dagoberto had lived in Bogota, Colombia. Dagoberto had HIV and was hospitalized several times. As Dagoberto’s family ignored him, Harold was his only caretaker, with Harold constantly by his bedside during the last month of his life in the hospital. Following Dagoberto’s cremation — immediately after the ceremony — his blood relatives took possession of the apartment in which he and Harold had lived, expelling Harold, who was not the legal owner. The ensuing legal battle between Harold and Dagoberto’s father and nephews took two-and-one-half years. Colombia’s Family Court 6 finally ruled that Harold had a right to be considered the sole heir of Dagoberto’s property.
In February 2007, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that spousal property and inheritance rights must be extended to same-sex couples.
On October 4, 2007, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled 7-2 that, effective immediately, same-sex couples can add their partner to their medical insurance plans, as do married couples. They are required to register with a notary. The ruling applies to both private and governmental plans.
On January 28, 2009, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as opposite-sex couples in common-law marriages. The ruling means that civil and political rights such as nationality, residency, housing protection, and state benefits are granted to same-sex partners.
Please see our article: Common Law Marriage: The Colombian Approach
Cook Island 16 for lesbians & straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Costa Rica 18
(Was 15, became 18 in 2014)
LGBT rights in Costa Rica have made significant cultural, social and legal progress since the 1970s. While certain politicians, such as president Óscar Arias, have expressed some support for LGBT rights, Costa Ricans tend to be socially conservative when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity issues, in large part due to the strong influences of the Roman Catholic Church and cultural machismo attitudes.
In 1971, a universal age of consent was established as was a new law that prohibited “scandalous sodomy” but otherwise maintained the legal status of private homosexual sex acts between consenting adults. Article 382 in the Penal Code that mentions “scandalous sodomy” was repealed in 2002, alongside many other laws.
While the Constitution does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, since 1998, “sexual option” is one of the categories in which discrimination is generally prohibited in areas such as employment, provision of goods and services, as well as indirect discrimination, and hate speech:
ARTICLE 48. Costa Rican General Law 7771 – Discrimination
“Who ever applies, arranges or practices discriminatory measures because of race, nationality, gender, age, political, religious or sexual option, social position, economic situation, marital status or by any suffering of health or disease, will be sanctioned with penalty of twenty to sixty days fines. The judge will be able to impose, in addition, the disqualifying penalty that corresponds, of fifteen to sixty days.”
In 2007, Mario Núńez (Libertarian Movement Party) introduced a bill in the Legislative Assembly to ban LGBT people and same-sex couples from adopting or having custody of children. Currently under Costa Rica’s law, gay and lesbian individuals can legally adopt children, but not same-sex couples.
On July 1, 2013, the Legislative Assembly passed a domestic partnership-type of law that gave same-sex couples some of the same rights and benefits given to opposite-sex married couples, such as conjugal visit, health-related decisions, and social insurance.
Croatia 14 for lesbians & straights
18 for gay men
Cuba Legal In 1997, article 303a, which punished “publicly manifested” homosexuality, appears to have been repealed.
After the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, forced labor camps were established in the countryside to which hundreds of homosexuals were sent in 1965 and 1966.
Until the early 1980s, homosexuality was viewed as a form of deviation incompatible with the principles of the Cuban revolution, and sufficient grounds for exclusion from university studies or job positions demanding high degrees of trust.
In September 1997, the Cuban Association of Gays and Lesbians (formed in 1994) was squashed and its members taken into custody from their places of employment.
Cyprus 16 for straights
18 for gay men
The “sodomy” law — contained in Article 171 of the Criminal Code — was repealed in June 8, 2000. The punishment had been up to 5 years in prison. There never were any provisions penalising lesbian sexual relations.
Article 171 continues to be discriminatory and offensive because of these provisions:
1. Age of consent for sexual activity between males was set at 18, while the age of consent for heterosexual activity was 16
2. The revised code penalizes “unnatural acts between males. — also translated as: “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” — performed in public or which involves a person younger than 18” with up to five years in prison. The definition includes acts performed “in public” those which took place “between more than two people or in presence of a third party” This could still lead to imprisonment.
3. Anal intercourse — “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” — “for profit or as an occupation” is an offence, with a punishment of up to 7 years prison.
4. Punishment for “indecent behaviour or invitation or provocation or advertisement aimed at performing unnatural acts between males” carried a sentence of one year in prison.
5. “Unnatural licentiousness,” which was referred to many times in the Greek text of the law — the official translation referred to “unnatural offences” — implied condemnation of sex between men.
The wide scope of these provisions could lead to prison for individuals who exercised their right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association.
After gay activist Alecos Modinos won a legal challenge to Cyprus’ sodomy law in the European Court of Human Rights, it took five years — and severe reprimands from the Council of Europe — before the parliament grudgingly decriminalized private non-commercial homosexual acts between consenting adults in May 1998. It took two more years before the parliament removed the offensive phrase “unnatural licentiousness” and replaced it with “intercourse between men,” in June 8, 2000.
Czech Republic 15 for straights
18 for lesbians & gay men
When Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993, the legal age was 18 for gay men and lesbians, 15 for straights.
Anti-gay hate crimes are common.
Denmark 15 Consent age was 18 for homosexual relations and 15 for heterosexual until 1976 when equal age was applied.
Homosexual acts were punishable by death from 1683-1866. After which the penalty was changed to imprisonment, until 1930 when the ban was totally repealed.
Same-sex couples allowed access to “Registered Partnership” status.
Ecuador 14 On September 28, 2008, the new constitution granted equal rights for same-sex relationships, however, it also baned adoption and defines marriage as only being between a man and a woman. The constitution also baned discrimination based on orientation, gender identity and HIV status. Further, it also imposes a mandate to respect and learn about sexual orientation and gender differences, requiring schools to teach about sexual rights.
Egypt Illegal for gay men & lesbians Egyptian laws do not explicitly outlaw homosexuality, but it is taboo in this conservative, mostly Muslim country. Charges are made such as “offences against public morals and sensitivities” or “violating the teachings of religion and propagating depraved ideas and moral depravity.”
The Cairo Times reported that Zaqaziq, Egypt, male couple Mumin S., 38, and Amir Mohammed Saber Abduh Ali, 18, were arrested in March 2000 following press reports that they had signed a homemade marriage contract. Mumin was charged with “violation of honor by threat” and Ali with “immoral and indecent behavior.” The police found love letters from both men in Mumin’s computer games shop. Even though neither man pressed charges against the other, Judge Hisham Dayf said he could not drop the matter because it was now a social issue of the men having offended religious and moral standards. Their marriage “contract” stood as proof of their “indecent behavior.” Mumin is likely to face at least 6 years imprisonment for “forcing” Ali into sex that was, in reality, consensual. Inflamed political and religious leaders called for various punishments including death for both men, possibly by burning.
In 2002, a Human Rights Watch 144-page report includes testimonies by gay torture victims which described situations in which they were bound, suspended in painful positions, burned with cigarettes, submerged in ice-cold water, and subjected to electrical shocks on their limbs and genitals.
The following excerpt was from a letter sent to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ), and signed by 44 Members of Congress:
“We are writing to express our strong concerns regarding the treatment of homosexual men by the Egyptian government, particularly in light of the report released on March 1, 2004 by Human Rights Watch ... [which] details Egypt’s extensive repression, entrapment, and torture of men who engage in the ‘habitual practice of debauchery’ — the vague legal charge used to criminalize homosexual behavior in Egyptian law.” ... “We regard the repression, entrapment, and torture of individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation to be clear human rights violations. We sincerely hope Egypt will abide by the requirements of the treaties signed and laws in place, and that you personally will speak out against and work to prevent any future incidents of torture, including the torture of homosexual men.”
Eritrea Illegal for gay men & lesbians Punishment for “Unnatural Carnal Offences” — Article 600 — is from 10 days-to-3 years “simple imprisonment”
On October 8, 2004, the Sudan Tribune reported that three western employees working at a luxury hotel in Asmara were expelled from the country. According to the Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed, they were expelled the week before because “they exercised immoral activities, which invade our tradition and culture.”
Estonia 14 for all women
16 for all men
Article 118 of the Estonian Penal Code (inherited from the days of the Soviet Union), which prohibited “anal intercourse between men” was repealed on April 21, 1992. However, the age of consent for homosexual male contacts was fixed at 16, whereas it is 14 for heterosexual contacts.
In Art. 118 sec.-s 1 and 2 of the Penal Code, this was apparently changed to 16 for hetero- and homosexual males. All females can engage in sexual act starting at age 14.

On September 1, 2002, the Estonian legislative body (Riigikogu) created a new penal law. Firstly, there are no articles referring specifically to gay sex directly. It is still punishable to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor (a male or female under 14), to rape a female or male (previous law did not consider rape of males).
Ethiopia Illegal for gay men & lesbians Sections 600 and 601 prohibit homosexual acts between men and between women, with a penalty of 10 days-to-3 years “simple imprisonment.” Penalty may be increased by 5 or more years when the offender “makes a profession of such activities,” or exploits a dependency relation in order to exercise influence over another person. A maximum of 10 years prison can be applied when the offender uses violence, intimidation or coercion, trickery or fraud, or takes unfair advantage of the victim’s inability to offer resistance. The maximum sentence can also be applied when the victim is subjected to acts of cruelty or sadism; when the offender transmits a venereal disease although fully aware of being infected with it; when an adult is charged with committing homosexual acts with persons under 15; or when distress, shame or despair drives the victim to committing suicide.
Faroe Islands 15 On December 15, 2006, the Faroe Islands voted to ban discrimination against gay man and lesbians on the Danish semi-autonomous territory situated between Scotland and Iceland.
Fiji 16 Was illegal for men only.
Old laws:
Section 175: “Any person who has carnal knowledge against the order of nature or permits a male to have the same, imprisonment of 14 years, with or without corporal punishment.”
Section 177: “Indecent practices between males whether in public or private: imprisonment of 5 years.”
On July 11, 2006, Fiji’s high court repealed the country’s dread “sodomy” law. Previously, public or private homosexual activity faced up to 5 years prison, even though Fiji’s 1997 constitution banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Finland 16 Was 18 for gay men & lesbians, 16 for straights.
France 15 Same-sex couples are able to get “PACs” - a domestic partnership status.
Gambia Illegal for gay men & lesbians Africa’s smallest nation. 1.7 million residents; 90 percent Muslim.
Criminal Code 1965-90, Chapter XV, Offences Against Morality Article 144: Unnatural offences Any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the “order of nature;” or has carnal knowledge of an animal; or permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature; is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for a term of 14 years.
On May 15, 2008, the president, Yahya Jammeh vowed to enact anti-gay laws “stricter than those in Iran,” which punishes “sodomy” with death. He stated that homosexuals should leave the country. Calling homosexuality “sinful” and “immoral,” he said that any hotel or lodging tolerating the presence of a homosexual would be closed down and the landlord punished.
In 2014, the President of Gambia delivered an homophobic speech, in which he stated “that plague of vermin called homosexuals,” that that “homosexuality will not be tolerated and will entail the maximum penalty.”
Georgia 16 Legislation before June 2000 followed the corresponding Section 121 from the Former Soviet Union, which only specifically criminalized “buggery” (anal intercourse between men). Lesbian and non-penetrative gay sex between consenting adults was not explicitly mentioned in the law as being a criminal offense.
After June 1, 2000, new law became effective, which decriminalised homosexuality and imposed an age of consent of 16 on everyone.
Germany 16 Was 18 for gay, 14 straights.
In former East Germany, is was 14.
In former West Germany, it was 14 for lesbians, straights, and 18 for gay men.
The horrible Paragraph 175 was repealed in 1968 in East Germany, and in 1969 in West Germany. Same-sex restrictions existed until 1989 in East Germany, and until 1994 in West Germany.
Ghana Illegal for gay men & lesbians Persecution reported.
Gibraltar 16 for straights
18 for gay men & lesbians
Was illegal.
Greece 15 Male homosexual conduct has been legal since 1951. Until 1987 the age of consent was 16 for straights and lesbians, and 17 for gay men. Since then, it has been 15 for everyone.
Up to 1979, homosexual acts “for profit” or “as an occupation” could be punished by 3 months-to-5 years prison. “Seduction” of a male younger than 17 could be punished by 3 months-to-5 years prison.
Under a law passed in 1981, on the pretext of protecting public health, the police are empowered to forcibly require gay men to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
Greenland Legal Same-sex couples allowed access to “Registered Partnership” status.
Guyana 13 for straights & lesbians
Illegal for gay men
Gay male sex, which is called “indecency” in the 1860 “buggery laws” - as well as all attempted anal sex - carries a 10-year prison sentence. Completed anal sex carries a life prison sentence. Lesbian sexual activity is not mentioned.
Honduras Legal Neither prostitution nor homosexual sex is an offence under the Penal Code. However, police frequently charge, or threaten to charge, gay men, transvestites and prostitutes with offending “morality and public decency” if seen expressing physical affection in public. At times, transvestites and prostitutes are charged with “public scandal” merely for being cross-dressed and/or working the street.
On March 29, 2005, the constitution of Honduras was amended banning same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.
Hungary 14 for straights
18 for lesbians
One report stated it was 10 for all.
Iceland 14 Before 1992, was 18 for gay men, 16 for lesbians & straights.
Offers legal marriage. See Iceland Offers Legal Marriage
Same-sex couples previously allowed access to “Registered Partnership” status.
Prohibitive laws governing homosexuality were repealed in 1940. In 1992, the Althing passed an amendment (no. 40/1992) to the clauses in the section on public decency in the penal code of 1940, now renamed “Sexual Offences.” The age of consent was set at 14, and sexual intercourse between individuals of 14 and above was legal as long as both parties consented. No distinction was then made between parties according to sex. All discrimination against homosexuals relating to the age of consent was eliminated.
India Illegal for gay men & lesbians Homosexuality — male or female, even if in private — is punished under “Unnatural offences 377” - which is defined as voluntarily carnal intercourse “against the order of nature” with any man, woman or animal. Punished with life imprisonment, or with prison for up to 10 years, and also pay a fine. Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence. A ruling held that this law also prohibited oral intercourse.
Section 294 of the Penal Code, which penalizes any kind of “obscene behaviour in public,” is also used against gay men.
One of the consequences of these laws is to make it very difficult for males who have sex with males to access sexual health services without fear of jail. It further makes the availability of sexual health services for prisoners difficult. A high level of harassment and violence has been reported that is directed towards gay men, perpetuated by police and the general public. Very often there will be a demand for sex and/or money.
Indonesia Illegal for gay men & lesbians In 2003, the justice ministry drafted an amendment to the criminal code to include acts not currently categorized as crimes, but considered morally unacceptable, such as gay sex, cohabitation, oral sex, extramarital, and nonmarital sex, and sorcery aimed at hurting other people. In addition to Dutch colonial law, the proposed amended criminal code will also adopt Islamic law, international conventions, and tribal laws. The draft law proposed that a couple found guilty of cohabitation receive punishment of up to 2 years prison. A man who impregnates a woman, but refuses to marry her, could spend a up to 5 years in prison. Sodomy and oral sex would receive 3-12 years prison, and gay sex would get 1-7 years prison. A witch doctor or his client found guilty of using black magic to hurt other people, could get up to 5 years prison. Ministry experts are still debating ways to obtain evidence of such acts.
The Jakarta Post, December 22, 2004: “By asking a senior Cabinet minister to convey concerns over the showing of navels on television, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is treading on the ever precarious trinity of sexuality, morality and politics. With increasing regularity the issue of morality and public decency has protruded into the national debate. … Curiously it was not deep cleavage, the odd nipple or see-thru couture which worried him, but navels. Even more incredulously, amidst starvation in Nabire, Papua, active terrorism, and an exhausting list of other life threatening issues, it should be an innocent bellybutton that attracts his attention.”
Iran 9 for straight marriage with parental consent
15 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
Homosexuality is punished by death, prison, and torture. Iran’s criminal code makes sexual intercourse between men or between women a crime punishable by death. The punishment for foreplay is 100 lashes, with execution on the fourth conviction. A non-adult who engages in consensual sodomy is subject to a punishment of a whipping of 74 lashes.
Iran executed two gay teenagers in the summer of 2005. The government said they raped another boy, however, activist groups claim that the rape charge was bogus, and that the two youths were hanged solely for being gay. The Iranian exile gay group Homan claims that, since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, 4,000 have been charged with homosexual acts and have been executed.
From Amnesty International: “A man from Shiraz sentenced to 100 lashes in 2004 for homosexual activities alleged that he had been tortured and threatened with death by security forces.”
From Human Rights Watch: “Men and women suspected of homosexual conduct in Iran face the threat of execution. We have documented brutal floggings imposed by courts as punishment, and torture and ill treatment, including sexual abuse, in police custody.” Opposite-sex couples can marry as young as nine with parental consent.
Iraq Illegal for gay men & lesbians Before the U.S. illegally overthrew the legitimate Iraq government, homosexual behaviour between consenting adults was not a legal offence. However homosexuality is taboo, and there is no visible support for lesbian and gay rights. Under Article 395 of the 1969 Penal Code, the age of consent to sodomy was set at 18. Where the minor is between 15-18 and does not resist the act, the adult may be punished by up to 7 years prison. Where the minor is 14 years or younger, the punishment was up to 10 years.
There has been an increase in anti-gay killings since the U.S. illegally invaded and removed Saddam Hussein from power.
In March 2006, prominent Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for death to gay people.
January 18, 2007, United Nations Assistance Mission report: “Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile toward homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them. There have been a number of assasinations of homosexuals in Iraq.”
Late September 2008, the Baghdad head of the international Iraqi LGBT group was assassinated. Bashar, 27, was gunned down in a barbershop. He was the local coordinator of foreign-funded safe houses for gay men and lesbians, and had saved dozens of lives.
According to Iraqi Lgbt - Communications, UK, since the fall of Saddam, militias loyal to Shi’a clerics Grand Ayatollah al Sistani and Muqtada al Sadr, both of whom have called for homosexuals to be put to death, have carried out their leaders’ wishes. More than 720 gay, lesbian, bi, and trans people have disappeared or been murdered, many of whom have been tortured to death.
aka Republic of Ireland
17 Was 21.
The age of consent has been 17 since the “Criminal Law Amendment Act” of 1935.
Prior to the legalization of homosexuality in predominantly Roman Catholic Ireland, in 1993 (in the wake of the European Court of Human Rights’ decision in Norris v. Ireland (1988)), the media was not allowed to promote it in a positive light (although this prohibition was often ignored particularly by publications such as Hot Press and In Dublin).
This has since been removed, and discriminating against homosexuality is now illegal.
Discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, marital or familial status, religion, race or membership of the travelling community is illegal.
In 2010, the Dáil and the Seanad passed the “Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act,” which recognised civil partnerships between same-sex couples. It permits same-sex couples to register their relationship before a registrar.
A May 6, 2014 Irish poll, by the Sunday Times/Red C, found that 73 percent agreed that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, with 53 percent agreeing strongly. A total of 14 percent strongly disagree with the idea, while 8 percent disagree slightly. The poll found that women were more likely to agree than men by a difference of 16 percent. 60 percent believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.
In April 2012, the Constitutional Convention voted overwhelmingly in favour of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. However, making it available requires an amendment to the Irish Constitution, which is planned to be held in 2015.
Israel 14 (if no more than 3 years difference) Gay sex had been illegal. Once made legal, the age of consent was 18, while for straight sex it was 16. Equal age of consent was instituted in July 2000. At the same time, consensual sex for 14- and 15-year-olds would not be prosecuted as long as there is no more than three years difference between the partners.
Gay men are allowed in the military. Same-sex couples have had increasing recognition by the courts in child custody, workplace benefits, immigration, survivor benefits, and recognition of their legal marriages.
Italy 14 No anti-sodomy laws, but many other hostile anti-gay laws. While the Catholic Church is no longer the official state religion, its erroneous views that homosexuality is both sinful and unnatural hold much power to generate hostility and violence against gay people.
Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) 15 In December 2008, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued asylum to a 32-year-old man based, in part, on the extensive documentation of the horrific conditions faced by gay and HIV-positive Ivoirians. The asylee described the personal violence and abuse he was subjected to because of his sexual orientation. He had been raped and beaten by military and militia members and was subjected to constant verbal and physical abuse by his neighbors, classmates and his own father. His application also describes the lack of protection offered him in his homland, where police participate in the persecution of gay people.
Jamaica Illegal for gay men & lesbians Homosexuality is punishable by up to 10 years in prison at hard labor.
The Offences Against the Person Act prohibits “acts of gross indecency” (generally interpreted as referring to any kind of physical intimacy) between men, in public or in private. The offence of buggery is created by section 76, and is defined as anal intercourse between a man and a woman, or between two men. Most of the prosecutions in fact, involve consenting adult men suspected of indulging in anal sex.
Two gay men were granted asylum in Britain, in November 2002, after presenting evidence of threats, murders, and machete attacks against Jamaican gay men, as well as popular Jamaican music that urged burning, beating, and shooting gay men.
From a Human Rights Watch - November 2004 report:
“On June 9, 2004, Brian Williamson, Jamaica’s leading gay rights activist, was murdered in his home, his body mutilated by multiple knife wounds. Within an hour after his body was discovered, a Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed a crowd gathered outside the crime scene. A smiling man called out, “Battyman [homosexual] he get killed!” Many others celebrated Williamson’s murder, laughing and calling out, “let’s get them one at a time,” “that’s what you get for sin,” “let’s kill all of them.” Some sang “boom bye bye,” a line from a popular Jamaican song about killing and burning gay men.

Jamaica’s growing HIV/AIDS epidemic is unfolding in the context of widespread violence and discrimination against people living with and at high risk of HIV/AIDS, especially men who have sex with men. Myths about HIV/AIDS persist. Many Jamaicans believe that HIV/AIDS is a disease of homosexuals and sex workers whose “moral impurity” makes them vulnerable to it, or that HIV is transmitted by casual contact. Pervasive and virulent homophobia, coupled with fear of the disease, impedes access to HIV prevention information, condoms, and health care.

Violent acts against men who have sex with men are commonplace in Jamaica. Verbal and physical violence, ranging from beatings to brutal armed attacks to murder, are widespread. For many, there is no sanctuary from such abuse. Men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women reported being driven from their homes and their towns by neighbors who threatened to kill them if they remained, forcing them to abandon their possessions and leaving many homeless.”
On November 8, 2007, asylum in the U.S. was granted for a gay man who feared persecution, because of his orientation, if forced to return to Jamaica. In Jamaica, he faced angry mobs carry machetes, stones, knives, and guns, threats to kill him. Upon seeking help, the police threatened to arrest him and told him to leave the country.
During November 2007, gay Jamaicans have been murdered and the government did nothing. Rumors of hostile groups plotting to rid Jamaica of hundreds of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transexuals have sent many into hiding.
Japan 13
However, the Children Welfare Act chapter 34 forbids any act of ‘fornication’ with children (here defined as anyone under 18, with prefectures and districts specifying further details in (largely similar) “obscenity ordinances” such as adding exemptions for sex in the context of a sincere romantic relationship (typically determined by parental approval).
The age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys, with parental consent, or 20 otherwise.
There are no sodomy laws in Japan. Homosexual activity is not a crime.
Jordan 16 The Penal Code of 1951 makes no distinction between sexual intercourse by persons of the same sex or persons of different sexes. However, largely because of the Islamic culture, anti-gay hatred is systemic.
Al-Hussein, the son of a wealthy Jordanian politician, was gay. In 2004, his younger brother found out and threw him down the stairs. While recovering in the hospital from a broken leg and smashed jaw, after getting a visit from his partner, Al-Hussein’s brother shot him in the ankle. A bureaucrat in the Jordanian government, his brother was never prosecuted because it was considered a “family matter.” Under Islamic law, Al-Hussein he had got off lightly: he could have been stoned to death, or murdered by his family in an “honor” killing. He fled to Canada.
Kazakhstan 16 The 1998 criminal code does not prohibit gay sex. Article 121 in the new criminal code only punishes “non-consenting” homosexual relations, including with the use of force and with a minor. Prior to 1997, Article 104 Penal Code of Kazakhstan used to criminalize “buggery.” This legislation followed the corresponding Section 121 from the Former Soviet Union, which only specifically criminalized anal intercourse between men. Lesbian and non-penetrative gay sex between consenting adults were not explicitly mentioned in the law.
Kenya Illegal for gay men & lesbians Sections 162 to 165 of the Penal Code make male homosexual behavior illegal, calling it “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” Punishment is 5-14 years prison. The law does not mention lesbian relations.
Same-sex marriage is forbidden by state Constitutional law.
Reuters, September 30, 1999: “Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has joined a growing list of African leaders to attack gays, saying homosexuality is a ‘scourge’ that goes against Christian teachings and African traditions. Speaking at an agricultural show in Nairobi on Wednesday, Moi said Kenyans should guard against ‘dangerous practices’ such as homosexuality. ‘It is not right that a man should go with another man or a woman with another woman. It is against African tradition and Biblical teachings.’ ”
This Kenya president, like other right-wing radicals, is completely wrong about tradition. Please see our article: Marriage Traditions in Various Times and Cultures
Kuwait Illegal for gay men & lesbians Those taking part in homosexual acts in Kuwait, if they’re under 21, can receive a jail sentence of up to 10 years.
“Health centers conduct the routine medical check to assess the health of the expatriates when they come into the GCC countries. However, we will take stricter measures that will help us detect gays who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states.” - Yousuf Mindkar, Kuwait’s Director of Public Health, told the local daily “Al Rai,” October 7, 2013
Because there is no such thing as a test to detect who is gay, lesbian or bisexual, they will need to create something to fulfill his fantasy. This test will be dangerous and paranoia producing, because of the potential to be jailed based on this fantasy.
The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states include: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia* and the United Arab Emirates. (*also has the death penalty for homosexual acts.)
Kyrgyzstan Legal The new Criminal Code, effective January 1, 1998, decriminalized consenting same-sex adult relations. Article 130 addresses “violent actions of a sexual nature,” and punishes “homosexual, lesbian or other actions of a sexual nature resorting to the use of force or to the threat of force against the victim or against other individuals or taking advantage of the weakness of the victim” and punishes 3-8 years prison. Prior to 1998, anal intercourse had been an offence under the Article 112 Penal Code, in line with the old Section 121 from the Former Soviet Union. Lesbian and non-penetrative gay male sex between consenting adults was not explicitly mentioned.
Latvia Illegal for gay men & lesbians On December 21, 2005, Latvian president, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, signed into law a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Lebanon Illegal for gay men & lesbians Article 534, identifies same-sex sexual relations as “contradicting the laws of nature,” with punishment of up to 1 year prison.
Homosexuality is not tolerated by the government, which cracks down on homosexual activity, nor by the society, which is influenced by the radical religious institutions, which encourages killing known homosexuals.
Liberia Illegal for gay men & lesbians The law defines “voluntary sodomy” as a person who engages in “deviate” sexual intercourse which is a first degree misdemeanour. Gay men and lesbians operate underground, in secret, for fear of exposure that would lead to arrest, prosecution, ostracization, excommunication, and ridicule.
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Illegal for gay men & lesbians  
Lithuania 16 (changed by Lithuanian Criminal Code §151.1 July 2, 2010; previously was 14) In June 1993, the Lithuanian Parliament abolished Article 122.1 of the Penal Code. This article (a remnant of the Soviet era), punished consensual male-to-male sex between adults with a penalty of up to 3 years prison. Article 122.2 Penal Code, which criminalizes (with a penalty of 3-8 years prison) male-to-male sex involving violence, state of helplessness or dependence of one of the persons involved, and male-to-male sex with minors, with a penalty of 3-8 years prison remained in force.
In the period immediately prior to repeal, the law was still enforced: on March 11, 1990, seven men, including one 17-year-old “minor,” were sentenced to 3-8 years prison for male-to-male sexual relations. Three were sentenced in 1990, four in 1991, and was still in the courts in 1992. One of the “guilty” men was chair of the NGO Lithuanian Human Rights Committee. According to the Vilnius-based Lithuanian Gay and Lesbian Information Bureau, his arrest was widely seen as political harassment of the Human Rights Committee. The “minor” served three years in prison.
Luxembourg 14 for lesbians & straights
18 for gay men
Macedonia Legal Under the Penal Code of 30 June 1959, sex between men was illegal in all of the former Yugoslavia. During the first half of the 1970s the power over penal legislation was devolved from the Federal Republic to the eight states and provinces. Macedonia chose to retain the ban, with Section 101.2 of the criminal law, effective from 1977, making male homosexual conduct (“unnatural debauchery”) illegal and subject to a penalty of up to 1 year in prison. There were no references to lesbian relationships.
By September 1997, the Council of Europe confirmed that, as far as the new articles 187 - 195 of the present FYROM Penal Code are concerned, “the provisions on sexual offences do not distinguish between homosexual and heterosexual acts, thus being in accordance with recent legislation in most members states of the Council of Europe.”
On June 7, 1995, the Bar Association in Macedonia voted to ban homosexuals and alcoholics from becoming lawyers. The newspaper Dnevnik reported, on June 15, that the public doesn’t trust them. Gays already licensed to practice law will be allowed to continue.
Malaysia Illegal for gay men Punishable with up to 20 years prison, a fine, and a flogging.
Defined by Unnatural Offences 377: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 20 years and shall also be liable to fine or whipping.”
Section 377a: “Outrages on decency. Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.”
Terms such as “Unnatural Offences,” “intercourse against the order of nature,” “Outrages on decency,” and “act of gross indecency” do not describe legal or scientific conditions. They do not describe anything specific, but rather only describe attitudes and prejudice.
Lesbians are not mentioned in the anti-sex laws.
On November 4, 2007, police raided a Penang sauna, arrested 37 men, and confiscated condoms, lube, gay magazines and porn videos. Police claim it was a “gay sex party,” which could result in charges of engaging in “unnatural acts.”
In October, 2008, Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council issued a fatwa banning lesbian sex and “tomboyism.”
Maldives Illegal for gay men & lesbians Punished by up to life in prison. The Maldives penal code is the same as that of India.
Malta 18  
Mauritania 16 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
Homosexuality is punishable by death.
The Shari’ah law applies. Since 1983, the penal code states that any adult Muslim caught engaging in an “unnatural act” with a member of the same sex is punishable with the death sentence by public stoning.
Mexico Legal It has been widely reported that known gay men have been periodically assassinated with little or no police investigation. The Citizens’ Commission against Homophobic Hate Crimes reported, on July 28, 1998 that 164 homosexuals were murdered in Mexico because of their sexual orientation between 1995-1998. The actual number of killings may be three times higher than what has been documented, said Carlos Monsiviais, report co-author. Three of the 1998 murders were castrated. Anti-gay crimes are rarely solved because of societal homophobia. Monsiviais also blamed the Catholic Church and right-wing organizations for fomenting anti-gay hatred.
In April 1997, Guadalajara Mayor Cesar Coll Carabias issued a police code punishing “practices implying a deviant sex life” with a fine of 21-30 days’ minimum wage, or 25-36 hours in prison. An identical fine was established for people “offending public morality or practicing obscene exhibitionism in public places.” Coll is a member of Mexico’s anti-gay party, the National Action Party (PAN).
On December 12, 1998, Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies voted 473-0, with two abstentions, to delete a Penal Code paragraph that made “homosexualism” an aggravating factor in the “corruption” of minors. The word was replaced with the phrase “sexual practices” thus placing heterosexual and homosexual corruption on equal footing. Legislators also added a paragraph specifying that education about sexuality, or sexually transmitted diseases, cannot be considered as corruption of minors.
Moldova 16 for straights & lesbians
16/18 for gay men
The higher age of consent for gay men applies to male-male anal sex only.
Moldova legalized homosexuality when penal code article 106 was abolished on June 15, 1995 by parliament. The repeal coincided with a debate in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Moldova’s admission to the Council of Europe. It was preceded by extensive lobbying of both the Moldovan government and Council of Europe officials by ILGA activist Kurt Krickler. Prior to the repeal, the old Soviet Union law had applied, under which anal intercourse between men was illegal. The old law had no reference to homosexual acts between women.
Montenegro 14 for lesbians & straights
18 for gay men
Morocco 18 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
As of November 26, 1962, homosexuality is punishable under Section 489 of the Penal Code which allows 6 months-3 years prison, and additional fines of 120-1,000 Dirhams for “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.”
While homosexuality is illegal in Morocco, the area is a popular destination for sex tourists. In October 2004, a 66-year-old British man was jailed for sex. He and the 18-year-old were sentenced to a year in prison. He also had sex with a 16-year-old who was released because he was a minor.
In January 1997, a 28-year-old Moroccan man was granted asylum by the United States, having fled violent beatings at the hands of his father, and the threat of imprisonment by the Moroccan government because he was gay.
Myanmar (formerly Burma) 14 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
The “Unnatural Offenses”:
“377. Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with transportation for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
In May 2001, the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), one of the largest organizations of Burmese democracy activists in exile, and functions virtually as a parallel government with its own defense, welfare, and legal code, voted to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.
Namibia 16 Gay male sex was illegal. Laws against homosexuality were introduced under South African rule in the Criminal Act, in which homosexual acts are described as “unnatural sex crimes.” Not clear whether lesbian acts were included. The last case was tried in the late 80s.
In 1992, section 107 of the Namibian Labour Act, Act No 6 expressly forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.
On June 25 1999, Namibia’s high court ruled that same-sex couples have the same rights as opposite-sex couples. Judge Harold Levy’s decision in the case of German lesbian Liz Frank who was fighting to stay in Namibia with her Namibian partner, Elizabeth Khaxas. Levy ruled: “Not only is this relationship recognized, but the [government] should have taken it into account. I have no hesitation in saying that the long-term relationship between the applicants in so far as it is a universal partnership, is recognized by law.”
Throughout the 90s, there was considerable anti-gay sentiments and legislative proposals from various government individuals. For instance, at the opening of the SWAPO Women’s Council Congress on December 6, 1996, president Sam Nujoma said that all necessary steps must be taken to combat “all influences that are influencing us and our children in a negative way. … Homosexuals must be condemned and rejected in our society.” And on November 6, 1998, The Namibian Minister of Home Affairs, Jerry Ekandjo, revealed that he planed to draft anti-homosexuality legislation. Speaking in the National Assembly, Ekandjo said that the planned legislation would introduce heavy penalties against lesbians and gay men, and that “it will curb against the spread of homosexual practices.” Widespread protest prompted the Ekandjo to announce that there would not be any such legislation.
On July 20, 1999, the National Society for Human Rights, in “Human Rights Report 1998” stated: “Gays and lesbians encountered widespread discrimination, including societal attitudes, hate expression and stigmatisation through name-calling by highranking Government officials.” It was noted that President Sam Nujoma and Ministers Jerry Ekandjo of Home Affairs and Ngarikutuke Tjiriange of Justice “led the gay-bashing crusade, labelling sexual minorities ‘animal-like’ and patients of psychological and biological deviations,” among others.
Nepal Illegal for gay men & lesbians Homosexual sex is a crime punishable by up to 2 years in prison under public offence laws.
On March 27, 2000, Maya Tamang, 18, and Indira Rai, 17, 9th-grade classmates who had vowed their love for and intention to live together, were handed over by their own relatives to police authorities. Unable to convince them to separate, Prem Tamang, a male relative and guardian of Maya, forcibly took them from Indira’s elder sister’s home in Pathari, while a crowd of relatives and neighbors derided their behavior as shameful to their culture and religion. At the station, the two reportedly made a statement to their guardians and the police officials that they “were happy with one another” and “will live together.” It continued: “We will not marry with boys in the future, too. No one will separate us, and no one will stop us from loving each other.”

While in custody, the two women were reportedly subjected to rude and insulting comments about their relationship by police staff. Two days later, the Sub-Inspector allowed their release; only after the two signed a statement agreeing to separate.

At present, the two young women live separately under the custody of these relatives. As news of their relationship spreads locally and throughout the country, the two women have separately emerged as targets of a potentially violent backlash from neighbors and other local people. Several neighbors, aware that the women wish to live together in the future, have said in investigative interviews: “They are garbage in our society, and we must clear them.”
On August 26, 2006, Anil Mahaju, 25, and Diya Kashyap, 21, exchanged marriage vows in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. The guests were mostly activists from gay and lesbian rights groups and a few relatives.
Netherlands (Holland) 12-16 As young as 12 if there is no formal complaint from the teenagers, their parents or the Council for the Protection of Children. Sex between an over and an under 16 year old could jail the older person for up to 8 years for illegal sex or up to 10 years for rape.
Same-sex couples allowed access to “Registered Partnership” status.
Legal marriage is available for same-sex couples.
Please see our article: Netherlands Legal Marriage
New Zealand 16 Allows foreign same-sex partners to receive residency permits.
New Zealand’s Health Funding Authority permits lesbian couples and single women to access state-funded fertility treatments.
Gay people allowed to serve in military.
Nicaragua Illegal for gay men & lesbians  
Nigeria Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
Punishment includes death and death by stoning.
Nigeria’s gay men and lesbians regularly face harassment and arrest. The criminal code bans acts “against the order of nature,” and imposes sentences of up to 14 years for those convicted. In practice, gay men are often arrested and jailed until they can bribe their jailers to let them go. In areas of Nigeria that adhere to Islamic law, Shari’ah, the sentence for homosexual acts is death.
There is a 5-year jail sentence for anyone who has a same-sex wedding — or officiates at one.
Formerly, in parts of the north, prominent men kept harems of what were termed in Hausa “dan daudu,” meaning “men who are wives of men,” to demonstrate that they were truly rich. These old practices contradict the oft-quoted myth that homosexuality was unknown in Nigeria until it was introduced by the Arabs, who brought Islam, and the British colonialists who were followed by Christian missionaries.
In 2014, Nigeria has created laws that criminalizes its LGBTI citizens, as well as their activities and organizations.
Norway 16 Same-sex couples allowed access to “Registered Partnership” status.
Legal marriage is available for same-sex couples.
Please see our article: Norway Offers Legal Marriage
Oman Illegal for gay men & lesbians The Oman newspaper “The Week” was suspended over an article that was deemed to be sympathetic to homosexuals, according to the BBC, early in October 2013.
Pakistan Illegal for gay men & lesbians Homosexuality is punishable under the country’s “sodomy” laws, in this conservative Muslim country. Possible sentences ranging from 2 years-to-life in prison.
Islamic law was re-introduced in 1990, which calls for up to 100 lashes or death by stoning.
An Urdu language newspaper reported that two men were married in October 2005, in a tribal ceremony. The union was between a 42-year-old Afghan refugee and a 16-year-old tribesman in the Khyber region bordering Afghanistan. The older man paid the 16-year-old’s impoverished parents for permission to marry a sum of 40,000 rupees (nearly $700). Tribal leaders in the region told the pair to flee or be killed, because they broke tribal “values and ethics.”
In May 2005, a gay couple in the Khyber region were publicly lashed because they were caught having sex.
In cities like Islamabad and Karachi, gay couples are reportedly more common, but they have no legal protections.
In 1987, the Embassy of Pakistan in The Hague stated that: “In Pakistan homosexuality and/or sexual contacts among women and men are treated as immoral acts. There is no legal protection against discrimination of homosexual women and men in Pakistan. The homosexual individual is not accepted as a decent individual, and homosexual acts constitute an offense punishable with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years. The recorded cases are very few. This fact by itself shows that the offense of this nature is not frequent.”
Palestine 16
Parental consent is required for women to marry, but not for men.
Age of consent for homo- and heterosexual relationships is equal in West Bank.
In Gaza same-sex relations can result in imprisonment from 14 years to life-long.
A widely oppressive environment has been described by many sources.
On October 22, 2004, a Palestinian man described life under the Palestinian Authority: “There is no freedom to speak about my homosexuality. That’s what I’m experiencing in my Palestinian society, as in the rest of the Arab world.” He stated that if a person revealed his homosexuality, he could potentially be “subject to random arrests, torture, and random killings.”
In 2002, the New Republic had an article on being a gay Palestinian. It described police squads that hunt men who have sex with other men. Once caught, some faced Abu Ghraib-like treatment. Many were forced to stand in sewage water up to their necks. Bags filled with feces were put over their heads. At least one man was reportedly starved to death.
Papua New Guinea 12 for straights if older man “believed, on reasonable grounds” that the girl was 16 or older.
16 for straights & lesbians
Illegal for gay men
It is a crime for any male or female person to “indecently” deal with a boy under 14 (Criminal Code section 211). Boys under 17 are not deemed able to consent to acts by another male that, but for their consent, would be indecent assaults (Criminal Code section 243). Also having or allowing carnal knowledge “against the order of nature” is illegal at any age, as are acts of “gross indecency” between males (Criminal Code sections 210 and 212).
Paraguay 14 The age of consent for extramarital intercourse with married female adolescents is 16.
Peru Legal Homosexual acts, in private and between consenting adults, are not illegal. Laws referring to “public morality” are often used against gay men and lesbians.
In January 1993, President Fujimori relieved 117 foreign diplomats, ranking as high as Ambassadors, in an effort to purge members of government he sees as threats to his control. In justifying his decision, Fujimori explained that they were homosexual, and referred to “practicas dudosas sexuales,” doubtful sexual practices. Fifteen of the diplomats came forward as gay, and condemned the government for a decision they characterized as “narrow minded and machistic.” Most of the 117 were not gay nor lesbian, but held positions of power in Peru’s government prior to Fujimori’s presidency, and he saw as potential threats to his reorganization campaign.
In the military and police force the performance of “dishonorable acts of carnal knowledge against the order of nature” — in the barracks or elsewhere — with a person of the same sex can be punished with 60 days-to-20 years imprisonment, and, in some cases, with discharge from the forces (Section 269 of the Military Penal Code of 1988)
In November 2004, Peru’s constitutional court granted gay men and lesbians in the military the freedom to have sex, declaring that the rule which deemed such relations illegal was a breech of privacy and unconstitutional.
Philipines 12 The Philippines ended the ban on gays serving in the military in March 2009. The Armed Forces said that the decision shows the military has a zero tolerance for discrimination among its ranks. But it also warned that despite allowing gays to serve openly, overt homosexual behavior will still not be tolerated.
Pitcairn Island 16  
Portugal 16  
Poland 15  
Puru 14  
Romania 15 After years of struggling with religious and cultural resistance against the decriminalization of homosexual acts required to meet the human rights standards of the Council of Europe, Romania passed a law on August 31, 2000 that makes orientation discrimination illegal and provides for heavy fines. On December 21, 2001, Article 200 of the Penal Code was removed. That law had been used to harass and imprison thousands of Romanian homosexuals.
Russia 16 - regardless of orientation (1996)
(set to 16 in 1996, lowered to 14 in 1998, returned to 16 in 2003)
Reports of widespread hostility to gay men and lesbians.
On April 29, 1993, Russia’s ban on consensual sex between men was legally removed. The decree, signed by President Boris Yeltsin. According to Lev Ivanov, one of the lawyers on the Parliament Legislation Committee that dealt with the legal changes, the publication of the new law means that gay men still in prison under Article 121.1 should be immediately released. Due to the chaotic Russian prison system, it isn’t clear that the government will know who, or where, these hundreds, perhaps thousands, of prisoners are. A team of researchers made up of Russian gay and lesbian activists and two IGLHRC (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is now OutRight Action International) representatives organized to interview prisoners, document sentences and seek their immediate release.

Early in 2008, Tambov mayor Oleg Betin stated: “Tolerance? To hell! Faggots should be torn apart and their pieces thrown to the wind.”
On October 9, 2008, organizers were given a verbal approval to run a gay civil rights march and demonstrations in Tambov (500km southeast of Moscow), Russia. City officials then decided that the city residents did not approve, that police could not secure participants, and that it would cause “traffic problems.”
In 2008, St. Petersburg lawmakers adopted a bill that imposes up to $16,700 in fines for the “promotion of homosexuality.” The bill criminalizes reading, writing, speaking or reporting on anything related to LGBT people. Pride parades, literature, theater, or NGOs that openly serve LGBT people are criminalized. Several ruling party officials voiced their interest to push the law nationwide. By August 2012, more than 75 arrests have been made under the anti-gay gag rule.
In 2010, the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov qualified gay pride parades as “satanic gatherings” and gays as “weapons of mass destruction.”
In August 2012, Moscow courts banned Moscow Gay Pride marches for 100 years.
In August 2012, anti-gay activists used Moscow’s anti-gay gag laws to sue singer Madonna for $10,000,000 in “moral damages” because she spoke up for gay Russians in her August concert.
In August 2012, the punk band “Pussy Riot” was sentenced to two years prison for speaking out against the government in a musical event. The judge cited “homosexual propaganda” in the ruling against the three young women, two of them were moms.
In 2012, the Russian Parliament passed a law banning “homosexual propoganda,” which president Vladimir Putin signed. Critics denounced the law as discriminatory, and said it restricted free speech and assembly. A few months after the law was created, there was a sharp rise in homophobic vigilantism.
In 2013 the Parliament passed a bill banning adoptions by same-sex couples and single people from countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
In September of 2013, a bill was introduced that would strip people of their parental rights who “allow for non-traditional sexual relations.” While this bill has not yet passed, it is expected to, shortly after the Sochi Olympics conclude.
Saint Lucia 18 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
From the U.S. State Department’s “2008 Human Rights Report: Saint Lucia”:
There was widespread social discrimination against homosexuals in the deeply conservative, highly religious society. There were few openly gay people in the country. There were at least two cases of violence against homosexuals, including one young man who was killed when he was hung from a tree because he was openly gay.
There was widespread stigma and discrimination against persons infected with HIV/AIDS, although the government implemented several programs to address this issue, including a five-year program to combat HIV/AIDS. The UN Population Fund also provided support for youth-oriented HIV/AIDS prevention programs. An HIV-positive woman who worked for the government quit in protest over demeaning conditions in the workplace after her supervisor mandated that she use the restroom at specific times only, after which staff would clean the restroom.
From the U.S. State Department’s “2009 Human Rights Report: Saint Lucia”:
The law criminalizes homosexual relations, and there was widespread social discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the deeply conservative society. There were few openly LGBT persons in the country.
There was widespread stigma and discrimination against persons infected with HIV/AIDS, although the government implemented several programs to address this issue, including a five-year program to combat HIV/AIDS. The UN Population Fund also provided support for youth-oriented HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
On March 2, 2011, and American same-sex couple and their friend, vacationing on this Caribbean island, were violently attacked and robbed by assailants who called them “faggots.” The police ignored the crime until one of the victums contacted the Ministry of Tourism.
Saudi Arabia Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
Punishment is death. It has been reported that while the maximum punishment for homosexuality is execution, the government tends to use other punishments, such as fines, prison sentences, and whipping, unless it feels that homosexuals have challenged state authority by engaging in social movements. In other words, the law against same-sex orientation is used as a political weapon to maintain power.
In 1994, religious police detained and tortured a transexual person upon discovering the transition. [This information was related in personal correspondence.] The Saudis apparently use “homosexual” to describe all sexual minorities.
On July 11, 2000 in Abha, Asir, three men — Attiya bin Ubaid Attiya, Rajeh bin Ibrahim Issa and Rajhi bin Hamad bin Ali — were beheaded on charges of sodomy, cross-dressing and same-sex marriage, as well as drugging and raping boys and photographing them for purposes of extortion. In announcing the beheading, the sodomy and cross-dressing charges were described in news reports as “the extreme obscenity of homosexuality and imitating women.”
On July 14, 2000 three men, Abdullah Jabli, Yehya Faraj and Faraj Hajuri, where executed for “committing the extreme obscenity of homosexuality and imitating women” as well as sexually molesting boys. These executions took place in Jizan, near the Yemeni border. The convicted men were all Yemeni.
On October 2, 2007, the two men, who where convited of “sodomy,” received their first set of 7,000 lashes. The daily Okaz newspaper reported on October 4, that the whipping took place in public in the city of Al Bahah, after which the men where returned to prison.
Senegal Illegal for gay men Under the Senegalese Criminal code, homosexual acts are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and to a fine of 100,000-1,500,000 CFA francs (€152-2,287 euros or $221-3,318 USD). The law contravenes provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in force in Senegal since 1978, which provides under Article 17 (1) that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.” In addition, these discriminatory provisions of the Criminal code are contrary to the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights that provides under Article 3 (1) that “every individual shall be equal before the law.”
On February 5, 1008, 10 persons were arrested and detained at the Criminal Investigation Division in Dakar, Senegal. These arrests followed the publication in a monthly magazine of a report concerning homosexuality in Senegal, in which photos of individuals celebrating an alleged “homosexual marriage” were printed. The 10 individuals were interviewed concerning allegations of “indecency and unnatural marriage.” Others appearing in the photos, fearing reprisals, have reportedly fled the country, and are sought by the Senegalese authorities.
In August 2009, two men from Darou Mousty were convicted of illegal sexual acts “against nature.” One was jailed for 2 years, the other for 5. Two other men were also arrested, however, their findings are unknown. The only evidence against the men were denunciations from neighbors.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (now know as OutRight Action International) reports that there have been a series of anti-gay arrests in Senegal since early 2008 for “homosexuality,” “incitement to debauchery,” “corruption of good behavior,” “acts against the order of nature,” “indecent conduct,” and “homosexual marriage.” The group also reports incidents of desecration of gay men’s graves and exhumation of their bodies during 2009.
Serbia 14 Gay male sex was illegal (up to a year in prison) until July 1994. There have been no laws against women because they ignorantly believed that lesbian sex did not exist.
Singapore Illegal for gay men & lesbians Section 377, Unnatural Offences and Section 377A Outrages on Decency provides for 10 years-to-life in prison, plus a fine, for gay sex. Does not apply to women in private. In 1991, the sentencing norm was 2-3 months, but from 1993 onward it was set at 6 months.
Certain lesbian acts are punishable under Section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act which refers to “riotous, disorderly or indecent behaviour” in a public setting, liable on conviction to fine not exceeding $1,000, or imprisonment not exceeding one month. As of 1995, no cases against lesbians have been tried.
The largest number of arrests for homosexual activities are initiated by the police using entrapment. Most are convicted under Section 354 of the Penal Code for “molest,” i.e. the “use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of a person,” where the decoys arrest their victims the moment they are touched on the buttocks or genitals. The crime carries a maximum of two years prison, a fine, caning, or a combination of any two such punishments. When the police decoy is not touched, they use Section 19 (soliciting in a public place) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, which covers both prostitution and soliciting “for any other immoral purpose.” This offence carries a fine of up to $1,000, doubling on a subsequent conviction, including a jail term not exceeding six months. Finally, if the victim uses a symbolic gesture to signal sexual activity, he can be tried under Section 294A of the Penal Code, which covers the commission of any obscene act in any public place to the annoyance of others, which is subject to a maximum of three months jail, a fine, or both.
Since the late 1980s police swoops on homosexual haunts have been routine. There are no official figures for the number of arrests, but during 1990-94 newspapers reported 67 convictions arising from police undercover activities. This is likely to be a minute fraction of the total. Of the 67 cases, 50 were for “molest” (typical punishment from 1993: 2-6 months in prison plus caning, usually three strokes), 11 for soliciting (fines of $200-500) and 6 for obscene acts ($200-800). In 1994, in a “molest” case appeal, Chief Justice Yong Pung How substituted a $2,000 fine for a sentence of four months imprisonment and three strokes of the cane, on the basis that there was some degree of consent among police officers acting as agents provocateur and that imprisonment was rather inappropriate for homosexuals.

An internationally recognized local artist was entrapped in a truly despicable manner, according to a report in the Straits Times, dated November 22, 1997. While the judge was lenient, applying only a small fine to what could have been prison and/or caning. However, the newspaper printed the man’s photograph in a well-orchestrated front-page public humiliation, more befitting a serial murderer than a lonely gay man.
Censorship was reported in 2007, with bannings of such things as speeches and photo exhibits that had gay-related topics.
Slovakia 15 Anti-gay hate crimes are common.
Until 1959, male homosexual acts were prohibited, as was the case in all of the former Yugoslavia.
The 1977 Penal Code decriminalised homosexual acts.
In 1995, the age of consent was set at 14 for all.
In 1999, the code raised the age of consent to 15, and added the condition for “a marked discrepancy between the maturity of the perpetrator and that of the victim.”
Slovenia 16  
Somalia Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
Under Article 409 of the Somali Penal Code, introduced in 1973, sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex is punishable by imprisonment from three months to three years. An “act of lust” other than sexual intercourse is punishable by a prison term of two months-to-two years. Under Article 410 of the Somali Penal Code, an additional security measure may accompany sentences for homosexual acts, usually coming in the form of police surveillance to prevent “re-offending.”
Somalia has not had a functioning central government since the fall of the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, and the enforcement of the national Penal Code has been unclear. In the southern parts of Somalia, Islamic courts rule, having imposed Islamic Shari’ah law punishing homosexual acts with the death penalty or flogging. However, Somaliland, in the north, has declared itself independent, and it still applies the old Penal Code.
According to Identity Kenya, in March 2013, Mohamed Ali Baashi, 18, was buried in the ground up to his chest, and assaulted with rocks Friday in Barawe, about 50 miles from Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The group reportedly tied to the murderous attack was Al Shabaab, which is linked to Al Qaeda. Baashi was charged with sodomy. He admitted to his “crime.” The judge is alleged to have said: “We investigated, and this man did what Muslims shouldn’t do and as a result, he will be stoned to death … because homosexuality is more punishable in Islam.”
“Aid workers and civil rights group privately and publicly say the level of risks, threats and hostility towards gays and lesbians has further complicated and worsened the plight of civilians in Somalia's war-torn landscapes, as well as for refugees in Kenya and their families back home. Abdinoor Farah, a Somali refugee who has lived in Kenya for more than ten years, says armed gangs, including al-Shabaab, have publicised their intent to "enforce harsh punishments" against perpetrators of adultery and homosexuality as a means of attracting funding from religious groups and sects.” - “Gay Somali refugees face death threats” by Noor Ali, Al Jazeera 7 Jul 2013
      Somaliland Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
Somaliland is an unrecognised self-declared de facto sovereign state that is internationally recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia.
Penalties for being homosexual include: expulsion from the country, up to life in prison, and death.
South Africa 16
Equal age of concent since 2007, retroactive to 1994. It was 19 for homosexual acts, but only 16 for heterosexual acts. This was rectified in 2007 by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, which codified the law on sex offences in gender- and orientation-neutral terms and set 16 as the uniform age of consent.
Gay rights have been protected since the 1994 provisional constitution paved the way for a final document approved in 1996. South Africa was the first country in the world to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in it’s Constitution. It bans all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, including hate speech. Anti-discrimination laws are interpreted to include gender identity, and legal gender may be changed after surgical or medical treatment. As of November 2013, it is still the only country to constitutionally protect the civil rights of lesbians and gay men.
There has been limited recognition of unregistered same-sex partnerships since 1998, with full marriage equality in place since 2006.
The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1998. “Sodomy” punishment included up to seven years in prison. Men were not allowed to have casual contact at social gatherings that could be construed as homosexual behavior. Historically, South Africans have been drowned in vats in prisons, burned at stakes, hanged on gallows, tortured and banished as punishment for expressing a sexuality that differed from a heterosexual norm. The former South African military practiced “aversion therapy” on gay men, giving electric shocks to victims while they viewed images of naked men. Now, the country’s military protects the rights of gay and lesbian soldiers. Earlier in 1998, the police were ordered to include a lesbian partner under a female officer’s medical insurance.
South Africa’s common law crime of sodomy was derived from English common law, dating from the reign of Henry VIII, when Parliament passed a sodomy statute to replace the church law that was terminated when the Catholic Church was disestablished by the English Reformation. Although the English common law crime of sodomy prohibited all anal intercourse regardless of the identity of the parties, South Africa had redefined the common law offense to apply only to anal or oral sex between men, regardless whether it occurred in public or private, or whether it was consensual or non-consensual. Various statutes were passed incorporating the common law crime of sodomy in different situations. In addition, a 1957 statute made it a crime for men to engage in any sort of erotic contact in situations where more than two people were present.

The Witwatersrand High Court decided, in May 1998, that the sodomy law violates equality rights by prohibiting men from engaging in conduct that was allowed to sexually-mixed couples and women. In his opinion for the Constitutional Court, Mr. Justice Lori Ackermann went beyond the rationale of the High Court and found that the sodomy law violated the right of privacy, the right of dignity, and the right to equal protection.
In discussing the right of dignity, Ackermann wrote that the sodomy law “punishes a form of sexual conduct which is identified by our broader society with homosexuals. Its symbolic effect is to state that in the eyes of our legal system all gay men are criminals. The stigma thus attached to a significant proportion of our population is manifest. But the harm imposed by the criminal law is far more than symbolic. As a result of the criminal offence, gay men are at risk of arrest, prosecution and conviction of the offence of sodomy simply because they seek to engage in sexual conduct which is part of their experience of being human. Just as apartheid legislation rendered the lives of couples of different racial groups perpetually at risk, the sodomy offence builds insecurity and vulnerability into the daily lives of gay men. There can be no doubt that the existence of a law which punishes a form of sexual expression for gay men degrades and devalues gay men in our broader society. As such it is a palpable invasion of their dignity and a breach of section 10 of the Constitution.”

From the concurring opinion written by Justice Albie Sachs:
“The invalidation of anti-sodomy laws will mark an important moment in the maturing of an open democracy based on dignity, freedom and equality. As I have said, our future as a nation depends in large measure on how we manage difference. In the past difference has been experienced as a curse, today it can be seen as a source of interactive vitality. The Constitution acknowledges the variability of human beings (genetic and socio-cultural), affirms the right to be different, and celebrates the diversity of the nation.”
In 1997, artificial insemination, which was previously limited to married women, was made legal for single women including lesbians. In the 2003, J v Director General, Department of Home Affairs the Constitutional Court ruled that a child born by alternative insemination to a lesbian couple was to be regarded as legitimate, and that the partner who was not the biological parent was entitled to be regarded as a natural parent and to be recorded on the child’s birth certificate.
In 1999, immigrant partners of South African lesbians and gay men were allowed to apply for permanent residence.
In 2002, same-sex partners could adoption children.
A number of High Court judgments determined that the sexual orientation of a parent is not relevant regarding child custody decisions. In 2002, Du Toit v Minister of Welfare and Population Development gave same-sex partners the same adoption rights as married spouses, allowing couples to adopt children jointly and allowing one partner to adopt the other’s children. The adoption law has since been replaced by the Children’s Act, 2005, which allows adoption by spouses and by “partners in a permanent domestic life-partnership” regardless of orientation.
In 2003, the government offered limited domestic partner benefits.
LGBT people are allowed to serve openly in the South African National Defence Force.
Legal marriage is was made available for same-sex couples in 2006.
See our article: South Africa Offers Legal Marriage.
Although the Constitutional and legal system in South Africa theoretically ensure equality, social acceptance is generally lacking, especially outside of urban areas in the eastern half of the country.
South Sudan 18 Campaigns of atrocities against civilians have been attributed to the SPLA. In the SPLA/M’s attempt to disarm rebellions among the Shilluk and Murle, they burned scores of villages, raped hundreds of women and girls and killed an untold number of civilians.
Spain 12 Homosexuality was legalized in 1822. From 1928-32, the offence of “habitual homosexual acts” was punishable. Homosexuality was banned during Franco’s 1939-1975 dictatorship. Spain’s liberal 1978 constitution outlawed sexual discrimination and homosexuality was legalized shortly afterwards. Spain enacted a new Criminal Code, in 1995, which introduced extensive orientation anti-discrimination provisions, and abolished the offence that could apply, under certain conditions, to the “corruption into homosexuality” of those under 18.

The new Code contains clear and non-discriminating provisions for the protection of children and adolescents: an age of consent of 12 (Art. 181f CC) and a ban on seduction by deception until 16 (Art. 183 CC). Moreover it is an offence, for all ages, to violate a person’s sexual liberty by sexual contact with or without consent, if this consent is obtained by taking advantage of a relationship of superiority.
Many cities offer “domestic partner registrations” - no benefits.
Legal marriage is available for same-sex couples.
Please see: Spain Offers Legal Marriage
Sudan Intercourse in Sudan is against the law if not married.
Same-sex couples are not allowed to marry.
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
Male-to-male sex is illegal and a third “offense” is punishable by death.
Under Penal Code 1991 (Act No. 8 1991) the crime is called “sodomy” and is defined thusly: “Any man who inserts his penis or its equivalent into a woman’s or a man’s anus or permitted another man to insert his penis or its equivalent in his anus is said to have committed Sodomy.” A first time offender is subject to a flogging of one hundred lashes and also be liable to five years prison. A second time offender shall be punished with a flogging of one hundred lashes and imprisonment for a term which may not exceed five years. A third time offender he shall be punished with death or life imprisonment.
For gay men, 100 lashes are given for the first offence, with death or a life sentence following the third offence. 100 lashes are also given to unmarried women who engage in homosexual acts. For lesbians, stoning and thousands of lashes are the penalty for the first offence. The issue has divided some religious communities. In 2006, Abraham Mayom Athiaan, a bishop in South Sudan, led a split from the Episcopal Church of Sudan for what he regarded as a failure by the church leadership to condemn homosexuality sufficiently strongly.
In July 2009, more than 12 women were arrested in the capital city of Khartoum for the crime of wearing pants. After admitting guilt and paying a fine, and being flogged 10 lashes, most of the women were released. One women, Lubna Hussein, demanded a trial. When appearing in court, about 100 women supporters ralied outside the courthouse where police sprayed them with tear gas and beat several of the women with batons. The court found Hussein guilty and demanded she pay a £130 fine or spend 30 days in jail. She chose jail, however was released after one night when a union paid the fine. Hussein was not happy to be freed because she claims that there are more than 700 women in jail who have no one to pay for them.
Suriname 16 for straights
18 for gay men & lesbians
While homosexual acts with someone under the age of 18 carries a 4 year prison term, it has been reported that it is hardly ever enforced.
Open expressions of homosexuality are taboo, especially for men. There is less prejudice against lesbians. “Matis” (intimate female friends) are an old and accepted practice amongst the Afro-Surinamers.
Sweden 15 Same-sex couples allowed access to “Registered Partnership: Scandinavian Approach” status.
Switzerland 14-16 Also legal sex for ages 14-15 if partner is less than three years older.
Gay men legal in military.
Tanzania Illegal for gay men & lesbians The Tanzanian Penal code section 154-157 criminalizes homosexuality with a penalty of 30 years-to-life imprisonment. Facing such laws, sexual orientation cannot be disclosed to a health care provider, employer, teachers, or even family without risking criminal sanctions. This threatens family and community support, which may lead to loss of housing, employment and exclussion from school. There are no outreach workers providing HIV prevention information and services due to the fear of being accused of supporting illegal activities, such as “promoting homosexuality.”
Tajikistan 16
Article 141 of the Criminal Code specifies that sex with an underage person can result in deprivation of freedom for 2-5 years.
Homosexual acts for adult males was illegal until July 1999.
Tonga 12 for straights
16 for straights with her consent
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
“Sodomy” is illegal at any age (Criminal Offences Act - section 136).
Turk and Caicos Islands 16 Article 16 of the Constitution bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. There is no legal marriage for same-sex couples.
On January 1, 2001, the British government, after nearly a decade of cajoling, unilaterally repealed local laws against homosexuality in its dependent overseas territories of Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turk and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
It was not until 2011 that anti-discrimination laws in employment, the provision of goods and services, and in all other areas, including indirect discrimination, and hate speech were obtained.
In October 2012, Governor Ric Todd signed the Equality Bill 2012, under which consensual sex between same-sex couples is lawful at age 16 (Part XI Section 84 Homosexual acts in private).
Turkey 18 It has been widely reported that Turkish police routinely raid gay bars, detained transvestites, and ban gay conferences and festivals. Gay men and lesbians in Turkey say they lack legal protections and face social stigma in a Muslim nation with a secular tradition of government that has implemented broad reforms in its bid to join the European Union, but remains heavily influenced by conservative and religious values.

According to Article 104 of the Turkish Penal Code (Türk Ceza Kanunu), sexual intercourse with minors aged 15, 16 and 17 can only be prosecuted upon a complaint. However, if the offender is a person who is forbidden to marry the child by law, or is a person who is obliged to take care of the child due to adoption or foster care, then the prosecution doesn’t require a complaint and the punishment is aggravated.
Article 103 regulates any kind of sexual activity with minors under 15 (or minors under 18 who lack the ability to understand the legal meanings and consequences of such actions) as child sexual abuse.
The Ottoman Empire, a predecessor state to the Republic of Turkey, decriminalized sodomy in 1858. The age of consent in Turkey was set at 15 for both heterosexual and homosexual sex in the 1926 penal code, but this was raised to 18 in 1953. The new penal code of 2004 also set the age of consent for both heterosexual and homosexual sex at 18, with some differences, such as the act of having sexual intercourse with a minor over 15 being punishable upon a complaint.
Uganda Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
Nationwide, sex between men is considered a misdemeanor. Penalty can be five years-to-life in prison. In Islamic Shari’ah law-controlled states, penalty can be death by stoning.
The Penal Code Act of 1950 (Chapter 120) (as amended) Section 145. Unnatural offences.
“Any person who—
(a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature;
(b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or
(c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.”
On September 29, 2005, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. He declared it to be “against the order of nature” — an assertion unsupported by science. Punishment ranges from 5 years-to-life in prison. Early in July 2005, Uganda’s parliament outlawed marriage for same-sex couples. The Minister of ethics and integrity, Dr Nsaba Butuuro, said this must be outlawed because it is “sexually abnormal” and “unacceptable.” Butuuro also disingenuously stated that the Ugandan law does not discriminate against gay people, but at the same time, does not encourage. When introducing the law, Justice Minister Bayo Ojo said it was vital to “avoid such practices spreading to the country from the West.” He stated: “Basically it is un-African to have a (sexual) relationship with the same sex. If you look at the holy books, it is prohibited.” He, like many other fundamentalists, have selective vision regarding what is, and what is not “prohibited.” The law was reported to also ban movements for promoting gay rights, such the Daughters of Jezebel, a lesbian organization.
Uganda’s sodomy laws were inherited from British colonial rule. Punishments were substantially strengthened in 1990. Section 140 of the Penal Code criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Section 141 punishes “attempts” at carnal knowledge with a maximum of seven years imprisonment. Section 143 punishes acts of “gross indecency” with up to five years in prison. Both in Britain and Uganda, these terms were long understood to describe consensual homosexual conduct.
Gay people are routinely arrested on the streets of the capital Kampala. They are often beaten and tortured while in prison. Hundreds of gay men and lesbians have fled the country. Many sought refuge in the United Kingdom, often being denied refugee status, and returned home.
From the Amnesty International 2000 Annual Report:
“In September, following reports in the Ugandan press of a wedding between two men, President Museveni directed the police to arrest and charge all homosexuals. Homosexuality is a crime in Uganda and carries a penalty of life imprisonment. There followed reports of harassment of people for their sexual orientation.”
From the Amnesty International 2000 Annual Report:
“In October, five people were reportedly arrested at a meeting by army and police officers, accused of being homosexual and held illegally for up to two weeks in illegal detention centres, army barracks and police stations before being released without charge. A number of Ugandans fled the country fearing arrest. In November President Museveni stated that homosexuals could live in Uganda as long as they kept their sexual orientation secret.”
In 1994, four lesbians were raped at gunpoint by an unknown number of men, a common extra-legal punishment in Africa for lesbians. A few days earlier, one of the victims had published an article on lesbians in Nigeria.
In 2000, 12 states in the north began implementing strict Islamic Shari’ah laws, which states that gay sex is punishable by stoning to death.
In 2002, an openly gay university student, 21-year-old Innua Yakubu, was clubbed to death by 16 of his fellow students.
In October 2004, the then Minister of Information, publicly supported police harassment of a gay student group at Makerere University. In February 2005, the Media Council, banned a staging of the play “The Vagina Monologues,” by U.S. author Eve Ensler.
On September 29, 2005, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The specific penalties for same-sex couples who wed were supposed to be set in 2006. Current punishment for homosexual behavior runs from five years-to-life imprisonment.
In November 2005, in the Niger Delta, six women aged 12-to-17 were detained by a vigilante group and given 90 cane strokes each, allegedly for having sex with each other.
In January 2006, a mob burned down a Lagos beach bar frequented by gay men.
On September 10, 2008, two well-known male-to-female transgender activists were arrested and held for a week, during which time they were beaten, kicked, denied food, and urged to reveal identities and addresses of other gay activists. Georgina Oundo and Brenda Kiiza were accused of “spreading homosexuality” even though no such laws exist, and the idea itself is impossible. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (now know as OutRight Action International) also reported that during the past 5 years, nearly 12 people have been arrested on charged related to homosexuality, which could bring life in prison.
On March 5, 2009, an anti-gay conference was held in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. In attendance was Exodus International Board member Don Schmierer, International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge, and Defend the Family president Scott Lively. Lively is founder of Watchmen, a Christian, fascist group based in Riga, Latvia. Watchman members in Latvia and Russia have been involved in anti-gay riots and assaults. The conference convener was Stephen Langa, director of the Kampala-based Family Life Network. He has been an associate of Lively’s since 2002. Langa promoted the conference as the kick-off event in a campaign to “wipe out” homosexuality in Uganda. Following the conference, a Kampala newspaper printed the names of locals alleged to be gay, which provoked assaults, arrests, and murders of gay and lesbian Ugandans.
The Associated Press reported on October 19, 2010 that a Ugandan newspaper featured on the front page a list of Uganda’s 100 “top” homosexuals, with a bright yellow banner across it that read: “Hang Them.” Alongside their photos were the names and addresses of the men. according to rights activist Julian Onziema, since published, at least four of the listed gay Ugandans were attacked and many others are in hiding. One person named had stones thrown at his house by neighbors.
A Ugandan lawmaker introduced a bill in 2009 that would have required death for some homosexual acts, and life in prison for others. The legislation was created following a visit by leaders of U.S. conservative Christian ministries that promote fake therapy that claims to change sexual orientation. After an international uproar, the bill was quietly shelved. But gay men and lesbians in Uganda say they have faced a year of harassment and attacks since the bill’s introduction.
Julian Onziema, Sexual Minorities Uganda’s programme director, said the proposed bill led to evictions from apartments, intimidation on the street, unlawful arrests and physical assault. Frank Mugisha, chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said that more than 20 homosexuals have been attacked during 2009-2010 in Uganda, and an additional 17 are in prison. Those numbers are up from the same period two years ago, when about 10 homosexuals were attacked, he said.
In February 2014, president Yoweri Museveni signed a law that imposes penalties of life in prison for homosexuality, marriage between persons of the same sex and “aggravated homosexuality.” It also sets a prison sentence of five-to-seven years for “attempt to commit” homosexual acts, as well as “promotion,” “complicity” and “conspiracy” of homosexuality.
United Kingdom   Sodomy was historically known in England and Wales as buggery, and is usually interpreted as referring to anal intercourse between two males or a male and a female.
In England and Wales, buggery was made a felony by the Buggery Act in 1533, during the reign of Henry VIII.
The punishment for those convicted was the death penalty until 1861.
James Pratt and John Smith were the last two to be executed for sodomy in 1835.
A lesser offence of “attempted buggery” was punished by 2 years of jail and some time on the pillory.
In 1885, Parliament enacted the Labouchere Amendment, which prohibited gross indecency between males, a broad term that was understood to encompass most, or all, male homosexual acts.
Following the Wolfenden report, sexual acts between two adult males, with no other people present, were made legal in England and Wales in 1967, in Scotland in 1980, Northern Ireland in 1982, UK Crown Dependencies Guernsey in 1983, Jersey in 1990 and Isle of Man in 1992.
Originally, the age of consent in England was 12. In 1875, the “Offense Against the Persons Act” raised it to 13 in Great Britain and Ireland.
The “Criminal Law Amendment Act” of 1885 raised it to 16. In 1917, a bill raising the age of consent in Great Britain and Ireland from 16 to 17 was defeated by one vote.
In 1950, the legislature of Northern Ireland passed the “Children and Young Persons Act,” which raised the age of consent from 16 to 17.
The 1957 Wolfenden Committee Report led to the decriminalization of consensual sex between men, however, it required gay men to be at least 21 before engaging in legal sex.
The age was lowered to 18 in 1994, while it was 16 for straights.
The male homosexual age of consent in the United Kingdom was set at 21 in the “Sexual Offences Act” of 1967.
In 1994, consent was lowered to 18 in the “Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.”
Finally, is was lowered equally to 16 in England and Scotland in the “Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act” of 2000.
According to sociologist Matthew Waites, in the 1970s, a number of grass-roots political actions took place in Britain to favor lowering the age of consent, based on claims of children’s rights, gay liberation, or as a way to avoid unwanted pregnancies, or sexually transmitted diseases.
In May 1974, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality suggested a basic age of consent of 16, but 12 “in cases where a defendant could prove the existence of meaningful consent.”
In September 1974, the Sexual Law Reform Society proposed lowering the age of consent to 14, with the requirement that, below the age of 18, the burden of proof that consent for sexual activities between the parties existed would be the responsibility of the older participant.
In 1976, the British political pressure group Liberty published a proposal advocating reducing the age of consent laws to 10, only when both individuals are younger than 14, with a close-in-age exemption of two years if one of the involved individuals is older than 14 but younger than 16.
The report was signed by Harriet Harman, who later went on to become a prominent figure in government and deputy leader of the Labour Party.
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) lists abolition of age-of-consent laws among its immediate demands, with the added provision that there be alternate legal methods to protect children from sexual abuse.
      England 16 Legal age was 16 for opposite-sex relations, and 21 for man-to-man sex until 1994, when it was lowered to 18.
After May 1, 2004, under the Sexual Offenses Act:
- “Buggary” and “gross indecency,” — which applied only to men — was removed as an offense.
- Male group sex was decriminalized.
- Males who had to register as sex offenders for relations with those 16-18-year-olds could apply for removal from the registry.
- Public toilet sex was made a “nuisance” crime, however, violators not required to register as a sex offender.
The ban on gay military members was lifted in 2000.
      Scotland 16  
      Wales 16 On November 30, 2000, the Parliament Act was invoked for only the fourth time since World War I, to override the dissenting House of Lords to equalize the age of consent. In January 2001, the Sexual Offences Amendment Act reduced the age of consent for gay men to 16.
      Northern Ireland 16 Was 21.
United Arab Emirates Illegal for gay men & lesbians Both homosexuality and cross-dressing are illegal in the UAE.
In early February 2006, an UAE court sentenced 11 men to 5 years in jail for taking part in preparations for what prosecutors called a “mass homosexual wedding” in the country. Another man was sentenced to 1 year in jail for “obscenity,” while 14 others were acquitted.
Police had arrested the 26 men in November 2005, in a hotel in Ghantout, a desert region on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway. It was claimed that half of the men — including UAE nationals, Arabs and Asians — were dressed as women.
Ukraine Appears to be 16, although it is not specifically set in any one statute. While same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults in private is legal in Ukraine, prevailing social attitudes are often described as being intolerant of LGBT people, and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for any of the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.
Article 155 states that sexual intercourse with a sexually immature person shall be punishable. Immaturity is irrefutably presumed in those under 14 {Art. 120CC and court rulings}. Those under 14 are considered children in Ukrainian law, additionally those under 16 are considered minors (generally read from all articles and court rulings). However, sexual acts with those under 16 that are considered debauchery can also be prosecuted under Article 156.
As part of the Soviet Union, the criminal code banned same-sex sexuality. In 1991 the law was revised so as to better protect the right to privacy. The law only concerns itself with same-sex sexuality activity when it involves prostitution, persons under the legal age of consent, or non-voluntary behavior, or public conduct that is deemed to be in violation of “public decency” standards.
Transgenderism was generally associated with homosexuality and thus prohibited. In 1996, the national government revised its laws regarding gender identity to allow for, under medical approval, gender reassignment surgery and new personal identification.
There have been frequent reports of harassment, and violence directed at LGBT people in Ukraine. Many LGBT people in Ukraine report feeling the need to lie about their true sexual orientation, or gender identity, in order to avoid being a target for discrimination or violent harassment. Bias-motivated crimes, or hate crimes, against people who are LGBT are frequently reported on in the international press, and while such violence is not legal in Ukraine, there is a perception by that such violence is frequently tolerated by the government, and the Ukrainian police hardly ever detained attackers.
Uruguay 12-15 with restrictions
18 unrestricted
Vanuatu 15 for straights
18 for gay men & lesbians
Venezuela 16  
Western Samoa 16 for straights
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
“Sodomy” is illegal (Crimes Ordinance of 1961 - section 58E). It is illegal for men aged 21 or more to commit “indecent acts” on boys under 16 (Crimes Ordinance of 1961 - section 58C). Also illegal for women aged 21 or more to commit “indecent acts” on girls under 16 (Crimes Ordinance of 1961 - section 58B).
Yemen as young as 8 for straights reported
Illegal for gay men & lesbians
Death penalty allowed by law
Homosexuality is punishable by death.
Homosexuality is illegal in accordance to the country’s Shari’ah legal system. Punishment ranges from flogging to death.
Marriage of 8-to-9-year-old girls to older men is not uncommon in Yemen. 50 percent of girls in Yemen are married before they reach 18. The average marriage age for females is 12-13. Sometimes, girls are forced to marry to settle parental debts.
In 1990, conservative North Yemen merged with Marxist South Yemen, which had set the marriage age for women at 16 and for men at 18.
In 1992, marriage age was set at 15.
However, by 1998, parlament reversed that decision changing the law to say that earlier marriages were acceptable if the husbands did not have sex with their wives.
Yugoslavia Illegal for gay men & lesbians  
Zanzibar Illegal for gay men & lesbians While rarely enforced, homosexuality was already criminalized when a new law was introduced in March 2004, and enacted in August 2004. “Sodomy” between men face up to 25 years in jail, women can get up to 7 years in jail. The law follows the growth of Islam there, and was backed by the Society of Islamic Awareness. Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, claims the law is an attempt to stem the acceptance of lesbians and gays. It hopes to ensure that the island keeps out of the debate over same-sex marriages.
Zimbabwe Illegal for gay men & lesbians President Robert Mugabe frequently attacks homosexuals and lesbians as “worse than dogs and pigs.”
United States 13-18
varies by state
America has had a deeply troubled history of criminalising people and behaviours the majority wish to control or eliminate. Even after the June 26, 2015, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples are Constitutionally guaranteed the freedom to marry, acts of defiance, in the form of refusing to marry same-sex couples, and anti-gay bill creation flourished.
In 1960, every state had an anti-“sodomy” law. By 2003, 37 states had repealed these laws, or they had been blocked by state courts.
“Sodomy,” had been defined differently in each state, and, while both straight and gay people engage in sodomy, it has often been confusingly equated with homosexuality. While sodomy laws had been infrequently invoked, they have often been used as basis for other discriminatory laws and rulings regarding custody and the like, specifically targeting same-sex relationships.
Responding to Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Texas sodomy law on June 26, 2003, and along with it all the rest of the state laws intruding on private adult sexual relations. Of the 13 other states that still had sodomy laws in 2003, four prohibited oral and anal sex only between same-sex couples: Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. The other nine banned consensual sodomy for everyone: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.
While the Supreme Court removed applying sodomy laws to consenting adults in every state, in 2003, the U.S. military continued a policy of being the only American employer required to dismiss those who are openly gay or lesbian, until December 22, 2010, when President Obama signed the landmark repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
      Alabama 16 The “Sexual Misconduct” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003. The unconstitutional “Sexual Misconduct” law called for a punishment of 1 year and/or $2,000; it did not apply to married couples.
In 1854, Alabama enacted the nation’s first law giving a spouse the right to sue for divorce if the other spouse committed sodomy, either before or after the marriage.
      Alaska 16 “Sodomy” law repealed in 1980.
In 1955, Alaska enacted the nation’s first law forbidding the sale of comic books that portray “sexually indecent subject matter such as adultery, homo-sexuality, sadism, masochism or other perversions.”
In 1971, the Alaska legislature, thinking it is removing surplus language in a cleanup of state law, accidentally legalized oral sex. When pointed out to it by the Alaska Supreme Court, the legislature made no effort to correct the “error,” and later repealed the remaining portion of the sodomy law.
      American Samoa 15 American Samoa was acquired by the U.S. in 1899.
In 1963, a criminal code was enacted, based on Georgia’s laws. It excluded lesbians from prosecution for sodomy. The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1979.
      Arizona 18 The “Crime Against Nature” law was repealed May 2001. Previously, the law provided a maximum of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for the misdemeanor crimes of unmarried men and women living together, and “sodomy” (including oral sex; and any sex act not intended for procreation).
In 1962, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a conviction in the only known published sodomy case in which a man arrested for sodomy accused the arresting officer of being attracted to other men.
      Arkansas 16 The “sodomy” law was declared unconstitutional by Polaski County Circuit Court judge in March 2001. It had been illegal only for same-sex couples since 1977. Oral and anal sex was punishable by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The ruling was challenged by the state, but the sodomy law was finally struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court on July 5, 2002. The majority wrote: “We hold that the fundamental right to privacy implicit in our law protects all private, consensual, noncommercial acts of sexual intimacy between adults. Because (the sodomy statute) burdens certain sexual conduct between members of the same sex, we find that it infringes upon the fundamental right to privacy guaranteed to the citizens of Arkansas.” They also noted that the statute “arbitrarily condemns conduct between same-sex actors while permitting the same conduct among opposite-sex actors.”
      California 18 “Sodomy” law repealed - effective 1976.
Extensive rights available via a registration. Please see:
Domestic Partner Registration: California Approach
Legal marriage is available for same-sex couples.
See our article: California Offers Legal Marriage
      Colorado 12 (under common-law marriage)
16 (with parental consent)
The “sodomy” law was repealed 1972.
While Colorado state law requires 16-year-olds to have parental consent before marrying, a June 15, 2006 panel of judges ruled that common law supersedes state law. No Colorado law has modified the common-law-marriage age of consent. That means that, for instance, a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy could enter into a common-law marriage.
In 1945, the Colorado Supreme Court, in upholding a sodomy conviction, became the first in the nation to make a ruling which called the defendant “queer.”
In 1974, the Colorado Supreme Court was the first in the nation to strike down an “offensive solicitation” provision, common in new criminal codes enacted in the early 1970s, that was designed as an exception to the decriminalization of sodomy.
      Connecticut 16 “Sodomy” law repealed 1971.
“Civil Union” is possible - a domestic partnership status.
In 1656, New Haven Colony (later merged into Connecticut) adopted the first law in what later became the United States specifically to outlaw sex between two women, which carried a death penalty. There were no prosecutions.
In 1821, a revision of the state’s colonial-era sodomy law reduced the penalty from death to life imprisonment and, made two other changes to the law. First, that either sex could be the perpetrator, but only a male could be a victim. Second, it referred to “carnal knowledge of a man,” thus probably becoming the first state to outlaw fellatio.
In 1891, the Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed a lower court in granting damages to a man for the injury his teenage son suffered from a sexual relationship with another teenage boy.
In 1970, Connecticut’s Commissioner of Motor Vehicles John Tynan denied a driver’s license to a man with a sodomy conviction on his record, saying the man “is an admitted homosexual” and “his homosexuality makes him an improper person to hold an operator’s license.” Connecticut Attorney General Robert Killian upheld Tynan’s decision. The man who was denied his license later committed suicide.
Legal marriage is available for same-sex couples.
Please see our article: Connecticut Offers Legal Marriage
      Delaware 16 (if with adult under 30, or if married)
One report stated that the age of consent is 12.
The “sodomy” law was repealed 1973.
      District of Columbia 16 The “sodomy” law was reformed in 1993, then repealed completely in 1995. The adultery and fornication laws were repealed in 2004. The law called for punishment of up to 20 years and/or $1,000.
      Florida 16 (if with adult under 24, or if married)
The “Unnatural and Lascivious Act” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003. The unconstitutional “Unnatural and Lascivious Act” called for a punishment of 60 days and/or $500.
Florida’s overtly discriminatory law banning gay people from adopting relied upon the Florida sodomy law as justification. With the Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas decision, that rationalization is no longer valid. However, the “best interest of the child” standard continues to be misused with the effect of breaking up foster families, and preventing gay men and lesbians from adopting.
      Georgia 16 The “sodomy” law was ruled unconstitutional in 1998. It had carried a 1-20 year punishment. Solicitation of sodomy carried 1 year and/or $1,000. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s sodomy law in 1986, ruling that guarantees of privacy do not confer “a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy.” It was finally declared unconstitutional in 1998 with Powell v. State.
      Guam 16 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1976.
In 1933, “sodomy” became a criminal offense in Guam with the creation of a criminal code by the Naval Governor, the first such code in the U.S. to be enacted without legislature.
      Hawaii 16 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1973.
In 1946, the first sodomy-related case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court involved the entrapment of a man by military police into solicitation. The Court refused to hear the case.
There is a an age of consent exemption which allows those 14 and 15 to consent to sex with those less than five years older.
      Idaho 18 The “Crime Against Nature” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003. The unconstitutional “Crime Against Nature” law called for a punishment of 5 years-to-life.
      Illinois 16 Reported to be 17 in some sources.
The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1961, effective in 1962.
      Indiana 16 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1977.
      Iowa 14 Reported to be 16 in some sources.
The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1978.
      Kansas 14 (if no more than four years older)
“Sodomy” law invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003. Even though all couples can engage in identical sexual activities, only same-sex partners were targeted by this law.
The old, unconstitutional “sodomy” law called for punishment of 6 months and/or $1,000.

If one partner is 18 or less, and within four years of age of their consensual partner, they fall under the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” law. This limits the penalty for teen sex to 15 months in jail, and does not require the perpetrator to register as a sex offender. It does not apply to same-sex couples.
Matthew Limon had just turned 18 in the year 2000 when he performed oral sex on another male, who was on the verge of his 15th birthday. Mathew received a 17-year jail sentence in 2001. A three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in February 2002. If Limon’s friend had been female, he would have earned a sentence in the range of 13-to-15 months. On October 21, 2005, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the starkly different penalties violated the federal Constitution’s equal protection clause. It said the state’s “Romeo and Juliet” statute, which limits the punishment that can be imposed on older teenagers who have sex with younger ones, but only if they are of the opposite sex, must also apply to teenagers who engage in homosexual sex. Mr. Limon was released after having spent an extra four years and five months in jail only because he is gay.
At the end of August 2005, The New York Times reported on a newlywed couple in Nebraska. Matthew Koso is 22-years old. His wife Crystal is 14. They have a newborn daughter. Matthew and Crystal became "a couple" when he was 20 and she was 12. Crystal became pregnant, so the couple traveled across state lines into Kansas where it is legal for a 12-year-old to marry. Nebraska officials charged Matthew with statuary rape. The couple’s families are behind the newlyweds. The state attorney general has been flooded with letters in support for the Kosos. Apparently, many people think sexual relations with a 14-year-old is fine if it leads to matrimony.
      Kentucky 14
16 (if male partner is over 21)
“Sodomy” law repealed in 1992 - Commonwealth v. Wasson.
A guide for justices of the peace was published in 1918, which simultaneously stated that:
1) “Sodomy” was synonymous with “sodomy,” “buggery,” and “bestiality.”
2) “Sodomy” was not bestiality.
3) “Sodomy” was unnatural copulation with man or beast, but it also was only unnatural copulation between humans.
      Louisiana 17 The “Sodomy” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003.
The unconstitutional “Crime Against Nature” law called for a punishment of 5 years and/or $2,000.
Previously, two separate courts found that Louisiana’s sodomy law violates the state constitution’s privacy guarantee. State v. Smith was appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court. It was likely State v. Legal would have been appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court, however, the U.S. Supreme Court made that moot in 2003.
      Maine 14-18 The law appears to be rather complicated, have differing consent ages depending on age group and circumstances. It also draws distinctions between “sexual acts” and “sexual contact.”
“Sodomy” law repealed in 1976.
      Maryland 16 “Sodomy” law was declared unconstitutional in 1999. It had carried a punishment of 10 years prison.

The “Unnatural or Perverted Sexual Practices” law was found unconstitutional when applied to non-commercial, heterosexual activity in private in Schochet v. State, 1990. The “Unnatural or Perverted Sexual Practices” law was again declared unconstitutional — this time applying equally to homosexual acts — in Williams v. Glendening, 1998. It had carried a 10 year prison term and/or $1,000 fine.
      Massachusetts 16-18 Law regarding inducing a person to have sexual intercourse — Chapter 272: Section 4 — allows for those age 16 if they are sexually experienced. Only to age 18 if inexperienced.
The “Crime Against Nature” law called for a punishment of 20 years and applied only to anal intercourse. The “Unnatural and Lascivious Acts” law carried a punishment of 5 years and/or $100-$1,000 and applied only to oral sex.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on February 21, 2002, that the state’s sodomy laws do not apply to private consensual acts. GLAD had filed the case in July 2000 on behalf of nine individuals, claiming that the laws were unconstitutional. The state lawyers argued the statutes are used to put an end to public sex, gay rights activists argued that police use them to target gay men, usually with undercover vice-officers, while not similarly targeting straights.
Legal marriage is available for same-sex couples.
See our article: Massachusetts Offers Legal Marriage
      Michigan 16 The “Crime Against Nature” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003.

The unconstitutional “Crime Against Nature” law called for a punishment of 15 years prison.
The “Crime Against Nature” law was invalidated in Michigan Org. for Hum. Rts. v. Kelley on July 9, 1990. While the state did not appeal, in late 1992, there was a decision, in People v. Brashier, of the Michigan Court of Appeals to uphold the statute, which effectively reversed the decision.
      Minnesota 16 A Hennepin County Judge struck down the state’s “sodomy” laws, in May 2001 - Doe, et al. v. Jesse Ventura, et al.. Judge Pierce declared the statute unconstitutional “as applied to private, consensual, noncommercial acts of ’sodomy by consenting adults, because it violates the right of privacy guaranteed by the Minnesota Constitution.” On July 2, 2001, she ruled that the ruling applied to all adult citizens, not just the litigants. The Minnesota attorney general’s office did not appeal the ruling. It had carried a punishment of 1 year and/or $3,000.
      Mississippi 16 The “sodomy” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003.
The “Unnatural Intercourse” law had carried a punishment of 10 years.
      Missouri 14-17 Possible age group variance.
The “sodomy” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003.
The “Sexual Misconduct” law had carried a punishment of one year and/or $1,000 — only same-sex partners were targeted.
      Montana 16 Reported to be 18 in one source.
The “Deviate Sexual Conduct” law was ruled unconstitutional in 1997 - Gryczan v. State. Punishment could be up to 10 years prison and/or $50,000. The law (Statute 45-5-505) also stated: “(3) The fact that a person seeks testing or receives treatment for the HIV-related virus or another sexually transmitted disease may not be used as a basis for a prosecution under this section and is not admissible in evidence in a prosecution under this section.” - This assumed that, first, HIV was a gay-only illness — which it never was — and second, that no one would seek HIV treatment if there was a possibility of being jailed — which is a reasonable assumption.
      Nebraska 16 Reported to be 17 in one source.
The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1978.
      Nevada 16
18 for same-sex relations
The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1993.
      New Hampshire 16
18 (if the adult is in a position of authority over the person and uses this authority to coerce submission, except if legally married)
The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1975.
The 1971, criminal code, which was effective as of 1973, reduced the penalty to a misdemeanor and exempted married couples. In 1975, the sexual assault reform law finally repealed the sodomy law altogether.
      New Jersey 16 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1979.
      New Mexico 17 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1975.
If an adult older than 18 has sex with a minor between 13-16, the adult may be prosecuted for 4th degree criminal sexual penetration. However, there is a “Romeo and Juliet” exception, applied when the 13-16-year-old consents to sex with a person who is no more than 4 years their senior. Nobody younger than 13 can legally consent to sex in New Mexico. Also, there is a spousal exception, which allows a spouse to legally have sex with the minor, although minors must be at least 16 with parental consent, or a family law judge, approving the marriage. If the minor is younger than 16, the minor may only be married if the minor is pregnant, and a family law judge approves.
      New York 17 The “sodomy” law was ruled unconstitutional in 1980 - People v. Onofre. It was finally repealed by the legislature on June 23, 2000.
      North Carolina 16 The “sodomy” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003.
The “Crime Against Nature” law had carried a punishment of 3 years.
      North Dakota 18 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1975.
      Northern Mariana Islands 18 In 1952, “sodomy” was outlawed by Executive Order of the Commissioner of the trusteeship set up by the United Nations. This is the only such U.S. law ever enacted by a civilian executive. The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1983.
      Ohio 16 On May 15, 2002, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned a state law barring same-sex solicitation. Until this time, it was illegal to ask a person of the same-sex to perform a sexual act. The court failed to address the fact that the law was aimed at outlawing homosexual activity. Rather, it addressed the fact that the legislation was not applied evenly, and should have prohibited “all offensive solicitations of sexual activity.”
The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1974.
      Oklahoma 16
close-in-age exemption: 14 if the partner was 18 or younger
An employee of a school system who has sexual conduct with a 16-18-aged student of that school system could face criminal charges in Oklahoma.
The “sodomy” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003. The “Crime Against Nature” law — which was applied only to same-sex couples — had carried a punishment of 10 years.
      Oregon 18 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1974.
      Pennsylvania 16 (for statutory sexual assault)
18 (for corruption of minors)
close-in-age exemption: 13-15 if partner is within 4-years
Teens aged 13-15 can consent to sexual activity with peers within a 4-year age range. People aged 16 and older can legally consent to sexual activity with anyone they choose, as long as the other person does not have authority over them as defined in Pennsylvania’s institutional sexual assault statute.
Like many governments, Pennsylvania’s legal age-of-consent laws are complex and arbitrary. This site spells out some of the laws:
Megan’s Law Website: Crimes Code of Pennsylvania
The “sodomy” law was ruled unconstitutional in 1980 - Commonwealth v. Bonadio. It was repealed by the legislature in 1995.
      Puerto Rico 16 The “sodomy” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003.
The “sodomy” law had carried a punishment of 8-20 years.
In 1937, Puerto Rico enacted the nation’s last sexual sterilization law, which covered “sexual perverts.”

In 1967, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court upheld the sodomy law, saying that the legislators who enacted the law “have read the Holy Scriptures, the Genesis, the Deuteronomy; they know about Sodom, the ancient city of Palestine and its devious sexual practices; they have read Saint Paul, Epistle to the Romans and Saint Thomas — The Summa Theologica — which deal with the matter.” This court shockingly disregarded the Federal Constitutional demand for separation of church and state.

1974, Puerto Rico’s new criminal code created a unique sodomy law in the United States in that anal sex was criminalized between any two persons, but oral sex was criminalized only between people of the same sex.
      Rhode Island 16 The “Crime Against Nature” law — which did not apply to married couples — was repealed in 1998. It carried a punishment of 7-20 years prison.
      South Carolina 14 Reported to be 16 in one source.
The “Buggery” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003. The law — which only applied to same-sex couples — had carried a punishment of 5 years and/or $500.
      South Dakota 16 In 1976, the new criminal code set the age of consent to 13. After some controversy, in 1978, the age was raised to 15.
The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1977.
      Tennessee 18 The “sodomy” law was ruled unconstitutional in 1996.

In Campbell v. Sundquist the Tennessee Appeals Court struck down the state’s “Homosexual Practices Act,” ruling, on January 26, 1996, the state’s same-sex-only sodomy law violated their right to privacy under Tennessee’s Constitution.
The right to privacy was established in “Davis v. Davis” in 1992. The Court had ruled that a Mr. Davis the right to prevent his ex-wife’s donation to a childless couple of frozen embryos created using his sperm. It held that the Tennessee right to privacy included a right to not procreate. The decision was appealed by the state, which the State Supreme Court denied without an opinion.
      Texas 17 The “Homosexual Conduct” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003. The law had called for a punishment of $500.
A Texas court of appeals first overturned the “Homosexual Conduct” law, known as Lawrence and Garner v. Texas, in which Lambda Legal was lead counsel. This was the case brought to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state Republican Party platform explicitly opposed the decriminalization of sodomy, stating that “the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society” and “contributes to the breakdown of the family unit” — two presumption that have never been explained rationally, or proven in any scientific way.
In 1836, Texas outlawed common-law crimes, which included “sodomy.”
In 1907, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was the first in the U.S. to face the question of whether juveniles can receive the same sentence as adults for sodomy. The Court ruled that they can.
In 1973, Texas enacted a new criminal code which renamed the “sodomy” law “homosexual conduct.” This allowed the same sexual acts that any couple can perform to apply only to same-sex conduct. It also set the maximum penalty to a $200 fine, the lowest penalty in the nation, but later increased.
Texas Statute:
“Sec. 21.01. Definitions.
(1) “Deviate sexual intercourse” means:
(A) any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; or
(B) the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object.”
      Utah 16 The age of consent was 14 and raised to 16 in 2000 — largely because of the charges that fundamentalist Mormon clans regularly forced teen-age girls into marriage. These clans also continue to practice polygamy as part of their religion.
The “sodomy” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003. The law had called for a punishment of 6 months prison and/or $299.
      Vermont 15 Age of consent reported to be 16 in one source.
In 1899, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the state’s general common-law reception statute can be used to prosecute sodomy, since the state had no sodomy law at the time.
“Civil Union” is available — a domestic partnership status.
      (U.S.) Virgin Islands 18 However, 16 and 17-year-olds may consent with someone no more than five years older than themselves, and those 13-to-15-year-olds may consent with one another, but not with anyone 16 or older. The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1984.
      Virginia 16 The “Crimes Against Nature” law was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of June 26, 2003. The law had called for a punishment of 5 years prison.
Adultery, and cohabitation are also illegal, and, apparently, enforced sporadically and maliciously.
In 1625, Richard Cornish and another man were hanged for “sodomy” in Virginia. This is the first known death sentence for sodomy in the American colonies, although it is unclear if there was legal authority for the sentence.
In 1777, as a committee was revising the Virginia criminal laws, Thomas Jefferson and other liberals attempted to have the death penalty for sodomy replaced by castration for men and boring a hole through the nose of a woman. The committee rejected their suggestion and retained the death penalty.
In 1812, the Virginia Supreme Court was the first in the nation to decide that emission of semen is not necessary to complete an act of sodomy. This rejected British law on the subject and most U.S. courts later follow Virginia’s lead.
In 1916, the Virginia legislature expanded the state’s “sodomy” law to cover oral sex, and, also made the oral sex provision applicable only to people of the same sex. After the Virginia Supreme Court followed the law, and reversed a heterosexual sodomy conviction, the legislature broadened the law to cover opposite-sex sodomy as well.
      Washington 16/18 While the age of consent is 16, the Revised Code of Washington 9A.44.093 states that it is a crime for a person 60-months or older than the younger person to have sexual intercoarse with the younger person IF ALL of the following conditions exist:
The older person is in a “significent” relationship with the younger person, AND
the older person is in a supervisory relationship within that relationship, AND
uses that supervisory position in order to have sexual intercourse with the younger person.
This statute refers to relationships between persons who become sexually involved 16 or 17-years-olds, and who are in a position of authority over the younger person and use this authority to gain a sexual advantage.
The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1976.
In 1853, the Washington Territory was created out of the Oregon Territory and received all of Oregon’s laws. Oregon’s criminal code did’t mention sodomy. Had the Territory been created just a year later, after Oregon outlawed sodomy, there would have been such a law.
In 1889, Washington was the first state in the U.S. to adopt a Constitution with an explicit right to privacy.
In 1893, after the Washington Supreme Court found that while there was no sodomy law, the common-law offenses statute was sufficient for prosecution, the legislature nevertheless enacted a sodomy law. Governor John Harte McGraw refused to sign the bill, allowing it to become law without his signature, possibly the only time that has happened in U.S. history.
In 1909, Washington enacted the nation’s first law forbidding newspapers from reporting news of sodomy-related crimes.
      West Virginia 16 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1976.
In 1956, West Virginia became the only state to have the breadth of the sodomy law decided by an Opinion of the Attorney General when he decides that the law also outlaws cunnilingus.
      Wisconsin 18 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1985.
In 1959, Wisconsin enacted the only law in the U.S. which forbid those convicted of sodomy from obtaining a driver’s license.
In 1966, Wisconsin Young Democrats became the first political organization in the U.S. to endorse repeal of sodomy laws. The Republican Governor referred to them as “homocrats.”
In 1983, Wisconsin repealed its sodomy law, but, in order to get enough votes, it had to include a disclaimer that the state did not encourage sex outside of marriage, the only such law in the U.S.
      Wyoming 18 The “sodomy” law was repealed in 1977.
From 1868-1977, there were no published sodomy cases in Wyoming, the only U.S. state with this record.
      U.S. Military Legal Was illegal. The most recent anti-gay policy, called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has resulted in a total of 11,092 dismissals — according to a Servicemembers Legal Defense Network report based on data compiled from Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Department of Defense sources. This policy, designed purely from prejudice and hatred, has resulted in huge losses of talent, experience, and expertise. It ran from December 21, 1993 (Department of Defense Directive 1304.26), which went into effect February 28, 1994, and ended on September 20, 2011.
Invalidated old code: “Sodomy” is punishable under U.S. Code Title 10, Section 47, Subchaper X, Sec. 925. Art. 125. It is subject to Court Martial and considered a felony. “Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.”
The U.S. military was the only American government employer that requires dismissal from service for homosexual people — no sexual activity need be proven — the dismissal is based on just being gay or lesbian, or the assumption that a soldier is gay.
From the February 2005, Government Accountability Office report (GAO-05-299):
“From the passage of the homosexual conduct policy statute, in fiscal year 1994, through fiscal year 2003 the military services separated about 9,500 service members for homosexual conduct. This represents about 0.40 percent of the 2.37 million members separated for all reasons during this period. Questions have been raised about the costs of separating service members for homosexual conduct. Also, in the post-September 11th environment, there has been concern about the separation of service members with critical occupations or important foreign language skills in, for example, Arabic.

“The total costs of DOD’s homosexual conduct policy cannot be estimated because DOD does not collect relevant cost data on inquiries and investigations, counseling and pastoral care, separation functions, and discharge reviews. However, DOD does collect data on recruitment and training costs for the force overall. Using these data, GAO estimated that, over the 10-year period, it could have cost DOD about $95 million in constant fiscal year 2004 dollars to recruit replacements for service members separated under the policy. Also, the Navy, Air Force, and Army estimated that the cost to train replacements for separated service members by occupation was approximately $48.8 million, $16.6 million, and $29.7 million, respectively.

“Approximately 757 (8 percent) of the 9,488 service members separated for homosexual conduct held critical occupations, identified by DOD as those occupations worthy of selective reenlistment bonuses. GAO analyzed and selected the top 10 most critical occupations for each year from fiscal year 1994 through fiscal year 2003. About 59 percent of the service members with critical occupations who were separated for homosexual conduct were separated within 2.5 years of service. The typical military service contract is for 4 years of service. Also, 322 (3 percent) of separated service members had some skills in an important foreign language such as Arabic, Farsi, or Korean. A total of 98 service members had completed training in an important language at DOD’s Defense Language Institute and received a proficiency score; 63 percent of such service members had proficiency scores that were at or below the midpoint on DOD’s language proficiency scales for listening, reading, or speaking. Students can graduate from the basic program with proficiencies somewhat below the midpoint of this scale.”
      U.S. Traveling citizens 16
12 if couple less than 4 years apart
It is illegal for an American citizen, or resident, to have sex in another country with someone younger than 16, unless the age difference is less than 4 years, in which case the minimum age is 12. It is possible to go to many countries, have sex without breaking any laws there, and still be prosecuted upon returning home.

Legal conditions frequently change. Additions and corrections are welcome.
Please support these with citations and Web addresses.

Further Resources
      World legal map on LGBT legislations - from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

      Age of Consent - Wikipedia

      Legal Marriage Report - from Partners Task Force

Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage

    Netherlands (2001)
    Belgium (2003)
    Canada (2005)
    Spain (2005)
    South Africa (2005)
    Norway (2009)
    Sweden (2009)
    Iceland (2010)
    Argentina (2010)
    Portugal (2010)
    Denmark (2012)
    France (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    Brazil (2013)
    Uruguay (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    United Kingdom
      (England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
    Luxembourg (2014)
    Finland (2014)
    Ireland (2015)
    United States (2015)
    Colombia (2016)
    Germany (2017)
    Taiwan (2017)
    Malta (2017)
US States & Territories

    Massachusetts (2004)
    California (2008)
    Connecticut (2008)
    Iowa (2009)
    Vermont (2009)
    New Hampshire (2009)
    District of Columbia (2009)
    New York (2011)
    Maine (2012)
    Washington (2012)
    Maryland (2013)
    Rhode Island (2013)
    Delaware (2013)
    Minnesota (2013)
    Illinois (2013)
    Utah (2013)
    New Jersey (2013)
    Hawaii (2013)
    New Mexico (2013)
    Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Oregon (2014)
    Wisconsin (2014)

    Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Pennsylvania (2014)
    Indiana (2014)
    Nevada (2014)
    Virginia (2014)
    Oklahoma (2014)
    Idaho (2014)
    West Virginia (2014)
    Alaska (2014)
    Arizona (2014)
    Wyoming (2014)
    Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Florida (2014)
    Colorado (2014)
    North Carolina (2014)
    South Carolina (2014)
    Montana (2014)
    Alabama (2015)
    U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
      Ruling: All U.S. States must now
      allow same-sex couples the
      freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes

    Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
    Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
    Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
    Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
    Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
    Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
    Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
    Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
    Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
    Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
    Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
    Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
    Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
    Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)

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