LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

World Day against Death Penalty: 7 countries still put people to death for same-sex acts

Today is World Day against Death Penalty. This is also the first European Day against Death Penalty as proclaimed by the Council of Europe on 27 September 2007.

The Council of Europe is the only region of the world de facto free from the death penalty as all its members have either abolished the death penalty or instituted a moratorium on executions. Belarus (outside the CoE) is the only country that still has the death penalty actively on its books.

The death penalty is still carried out in other regions of the world and in seven countries the death penalty is applied for consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex. These countries are:

  •     Iran
  •     Mauritania
  •     Saudi-Arabia
  •     Sudan
  •     United Arab Emirates
  •     Yemen
  •     Nigeria (death penalty applies to 12 Northern provinces with Sharia law)

ILGA and ILGA-Europe welcome and encourage the debate on the complete abolition of the death penalty and draw attention to the fact that 7 countries punish consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex.

Philipp Braun, Co-Secretary General of ILGA, said :

“The value and dignity of every human being is the centre of the universal human rights philosophy. Each person is unique and entitled to the most precious right guaranteed by Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the right to life. The very existence of the death penalty is in direct contradiction with these principles and completely diminishes the dignity and value of a human being. Sentencing people to death for love and/or affection towards persons of the same sex is even more barbaric and draconian. ILGA calls on the seven countries which kill people simply because they fall in love with persons of the same sex to immediately revise their laws and to abolish the death penalty for consensual acts between adults of the same sex.

Philipp Braun further added:

“We urge the United Nations to use all its powers and authority to uphold the value and dignity of each and every individual. ILGA welcomes the fact that the UN Human Rights Commission in 2003 and 2004 already voted as part of its resolution “on the question of the death penalty” to condemn the death penalty for non-violent acts such as sex between consenting adults. The right to life is universal and absolute, it cannot be negotiated, conditioned or justified, there is no national relativism in this matter and no country should be allowed or tolerated for killing people.”

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said :

“The Council of Europe can be proud to be the only death penalty-free region of the world – which is making abolition a condition for the admission of Belarus. But Europe cannot ignore the fact that countries in other regions of the world put people to death for falling in love and expressing affection. Europe should employ all its political and economic authority, powers and influence in relations with those countries which continue sentencing to death lesbian, gay and bisexual and people. There cannot be any justification for working with and providing support and assistance to those countries.

We urge the European organisations such as the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Organisations for Security and Cooperation in Europe as well as each and every European country not to ignore the death penalty for same-sex acts in seven countries and use all available means for addressing this issue with those countries.”


For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs (ILGA-Europe) at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375
Stephen Barris (ILGA) at + 32 2 502 2471

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA is the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people worldwide. ILGA-Europe is the European Region of ILGA.

(2) Latest ILGA-Europe’s Newsletter is dedicated to the issue of LGBT people’s right at the UN/global level and contains updated map “LGBT Rights in the World”. This Newsletter and the map are available at ILGA-Europe’s website:

(3) In April 2007 ILGA published the report “State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults” by Daniel Ottosson:

(4) In 2005 ILGA-Europe published a report “Rights, not crimes” which looks into the role of the EU institutions can play towards countries which criminalise and provide death sentence for consensual same-sex acts: