by Madalina Olteanu, Bucharest

by Madalina Olteanu, Bucharest

Homosexuality and the death penalty

29 Mar, 2019

by Madalina Olteanu, Bucharest

Brunei's new law that regulates death by stoning for homosexuality and adultery has stirred controversy, since it would become the only country in Asia to approve such a barbaric punishment. Now, the main problem is that Brunei is the only country in Asia to do it, and not in the world.

The death penalty for homosexuality around the world

As we all know, homophobia is still present in today's society, but to what extent? To answer that, I can only name the states in which the death penalty for homosexuality still exists: Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Somalia. Most of these states recognize Sharia, an Islamic set of religious principles, as a legitimate form of law. However, their penal codes don't expressly prohibit homosexuality, but judges have sentenced LGBT+ members to death citing the Sharia.

Struggles in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, homosexuality is associated with sexual abuse and prostitution because of the inhumane practices in the military. Similar to the gay practices in Greece, Afghan boys are kidnapped and forced by grown men to perform different dances or sexual acts while dressed in women's clothes. These activities are still reported in several parts of Afghanistan and officials declared that they cannot be completely stopped, as many adult men involved in these practices hold powerful warlord positions. This practice is called bacha bazi and, in theory, it is illegal.

Regulations in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality and cross-dressing are seen as immoral and are severely punished with fines, prison, the death penalty and even torture. In 2011, a Romanian football player called Mirel Radoi was fined 20,000 Saudi Riyals and suspended for two matches after calling a Saudi Arabian football player 'gay' - needless to say, the mere idea of homosexuality is considered to be appalling.

Iran's controversy

In Iran, the situation is quite unusual - male same-sex sexual activity can be punishable by death, if the parties are adults and consenting, while female same-sex sexual activity between adults is punishable by 50 lashes; for them, execution is enforced only on the fourth occasion. In comparison, the punishment for sodomy when it comes to underage boys is that of 74 lashes.
Surprisingly, Iran allows sex reassignment surgery, and, even more, it is partially paid by the government. There is quite a dissonance between this and the fact that, according to some human rights activists, between 4,000 and 6,000 gays have been executed in Iran since 1979.

A painful conclusion

The good side of all this (although good is too big of a word) is that people are showing their outrage publicly and protesting for a better future. For instance, George Clooney started a boycott of several luxury hotels linked to Brunei. He declared that he is aware of the little impact it will probably have, but encouraged people not to remain indifferent in the face of human rights violations - and this is the attitude that everyone should adopt, if we truly want to see a change in the world.