Five Muslim countries where being gay is not a crime


1. MALI Gays in this African nation might face local homophobia, but the law  is on their side. In 2010, a Malian volunteer for the Peace Corps wrote  that she looked up the laws dealing with sexuality, and saw that Article  179 of the Malian penal code did not specify heterosexual or homosexual  sexual activities, but instead decried public indecency. She said that  she was relieved because most “countries in Africa, 38 to be exact, have  laws against homosexuality and some with the death penalty.”

2. JORDAN Jordan was under the Ottoman Empire, where homosexuality was  decriminalized 75 years earlier, but between 1922 and 1945 the country  was a subject mandated by the League of Nations. However, in 1951 the  new nation made homosexuality legal. “Jordan is considered an open  minded country, and when coming to cities, the tolerance is even  higher,” said the editor of My.Kali, a gay magazine that is based in the capital, talking to the Italian-based e-Zine Il Grande Colibri. “And considering the fact that it’s an Islamic country, the morality of the culture could be a huge pressure to many people to remain discreet, but it never stopped many of my friends and other LGBTQ people to come out and show who they are,” he added.

3. INDONESIA In Indonesia being gay has been legal since, well, forever. No,  really, the country never had any legal prohibitions against  homosexuality, at least since its founding as a nation. Further, the  country has the longest running LGBT organizations in Asia. Despite  having the largest Muslim population, Indonesia has remained a great  example of the importance of the separation of religion and state. On  the other hand, Singapore (non-Muslim) and Malaysia (Muslim), who are  neighbors to Indonesia, have laws that make it illegal to be gay. The  later two have both been colonized by the British Empire.

4. TURKEY In 1858, the Ottoman Caliph decriminalized homosexuality. This  affected many countries in three continents. When Turkey became a solo  nation in 1920, it didn’t see a need to change this law. Omer Akpinar,  who is with KAOS LG, which is one of the largest LGBT organizations in  Turkey, told Mashable that their organization was never censored.  Jack Scott, a British writer who moved to Turkey with his partner and  who is the author of Perking the Pansies: Jack and Liam Move to Turkey, said his “obvious union with Liam has never attracted bad publicity from any Turk,” talking to the real estate company Quest Turkey.


5. ALBANIA Being gay has been legal in Albania since 1995. This pre-dominantly  Muslim nation has been in the forefront of gay rights in the Balkans. In  2013, ILGA Europe said that the country was the friendliest nation to  the gays in the area, as it has a welcoming government and an  anti-discrimination law. Kristi Pinderi, who is with the LGBT  organization Pink Embassy, says that the anti-discrimination law  is “important because in theory a teacher, for example, who is  transgender, and decides to go and teach wearing a dress, I can’t  imagine what the reaction would be, but the law protects that need, if  there is a need like that,” talking to the organization International Day Against Homophobia. Other countries with a large Muslim population and where  homosexuality is legal include Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia and  Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Ivory  Coast, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Niger, Northern Cyprus,  Palestine, and Tajikistan.


These are five Muslim countries where being gay is not a crime. What  do they have in common? None of them were colonized by the British  Empire. Many countries in the Global South, whether Muslim or otherwise,  are generally using colonial laws that pre-date their local penal codes  to criminalize romantic love between consenting same-sex couples.

Whether in West Africa, or Southeast Asia, in the heart of Europe or the  Middle East, these countries remind us that the conversation on gay  rights is not as clean cut as some might have imagined it to be. READ FULL

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