Where is it illegal to be gay?

Published: February 10, 2014

Millions of people continue to live in places that outlaw same-sex relationships and prosecute people for being gay. In five countries and in parts of two others, homosexuality is still punishable with the death penalty, while a further 70 imprison citizens because of their sexual orientation.

 
Even where homosexuality is legal, many countries treat those in same-sex relationships differently, such as having an unequal age of consent or a ban on marriage. In Russia, host of the Sochi Winter Olympics, a law banning the promotion of "non-traditional" sexuality to under-18s was introduced last year.
 
So, where is it illegal to be gay? Which countries allow same-sex marriages? Explore the map of UN member states below to find out. Countries are coloured and categorised by their most anti-gay or pro-equality laws. 
 
Legal status of same-sex relationships
 
The legal status of people in same-sex relationships depends very much on where they live. At one end of the spectrum there are those countries that punish homosexuality with the death penalty – Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen – as well as in parts of Nigeria and Somalia. At the other end, there are those countries where gay couples have the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.
 
However, the categorisation of countries according to their approach to gay rights is not without problems. Some states have conflicting laws on same-sex relationships, simultaneously having laws that punish and protect, while other countries have different laws in different regions. This is reflected in the key.
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