Global threat faced by gays

By Deborah Hobson

Britain has become one of the most enlightened countres in the world when it comes to gay rights. Last December 'same sex' couples were for the first time able to be effectively 'married' in legally-binding 'civil unions'. Yet homosexuality is currently illegal in more than 80 other countries.

News media and the work of human rights organisations like Amnesty International have made us all too aware of the worldwide persecution of people because of their political beliefs, religion or ethnicity. But less is known about the oppression faced by gay men and lesbians.

Brett Lock, spokesman for gay rights group Outrage!, says: "People are dying just because they love a person of the same sex, and yet we hear precious little condemnation of this in the media or from the mouths of our politicians."

He added: "Prime minister Tony Blair, who otherwise has a good record on gay rights, went on holiday in Egypt while they were rounding us up there."

Here are some of the worst examples of the worlds treatment of gay people.

Africa

Fifteen gay men and two lesbians are awaiting trial in Cameroon after a police raid on a gay bar in the capital city of Yaounde in July. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison. Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt but remains punishable for 'offences against public morality' and more than 200 gay men were jailed in the middlle eastern country in 2001.

Asia

In India, homosexual acts are classed as "unnatural criminal behaviour" and carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Five men convicted of homosexuality in Afghanistan In May 1998 were crushed to death when the authorities made a wall collapse on them.

Caribbean

In Jamaica, gay sex is punishable by 10 years imprisonment with hard labour. More than 30 gay men have been murdered on the island in the past eight years because of their sexuality.
Category: