The official name of the southwestern Asian country of Brunei is the "Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace". This nation of less than half a million people is governed by an Islamic monarchy which is led by a Sultan. This former colony of the United Kingdom became a sovereign state of its own in 1984. Because of its strict adherence to Muslim law, the citizens of Brunei face harsh, and sometimes even deadly consequences, for breaking religious rules. The government of Brunei has deemed the death penalty as being a justified punishment for crimes such as rape, defaming Muhammad, adultery, rejecting Islam, and sodomy. According to a 2014 law, homosexuality is officially illegal in Brunei as well, and those individuals found guilty of this “crime” are regularly stoned to death.
Qatar is an Islamic country located next to Saudi Arabia in southwest Asia. The nation’s legal system is composed of a mix of civil and Sharia law. The latter refers to Islamic beliefs derived from the religious texts of the Quran and the Hadiths. Because homosexuality is illegal in the nation, members of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) community their are forced to conceal their respective sexual orientations, and live in hiding for fear of intolerance, hatred, and the ever present threat of violence and death. Anyone suspected of being gay is subject to discrimination, harassment, and even legal penalties of up to seven years in jail. If found guilty of homosexual practices, followers of the stricter sects of the Muslim faith face death sentences per religious wall. In Qatar, same-sex marriages and adoptions are illegal, and homosexuals are not allowed to serve in the country’s military.
The Islamic nation of Pakistan was created after the 1947 partition of former British India. Today, the country’s population has reached almost 200 million people. As in similar Muslim countries where Islamic doctrine strictly influences law, homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan, and sexual acts involving those partners of the same gender have been against the law there since 1860. Some residents of this conservative country harbor the belief that not only is homosexuality unnatural, but that it's also a disease. Despite risks including discrimination, harassment, and various personal, social, and legal repercussions, Pakistan nonetheless has a sizable, yet largely concealed, LGBT community, especially in its urban areas. Despite its repressive laws, in 2009 Pakistan's supreme court granted civil rights to its transsexual citizens.
Mauritania is an Islamic Republic located in western Africa. The country is known for its high rates of poverty and poor human rights record. Issues such as slavery, child labor, and the practice of female genital mutilation are among the major problems facing citizens of Mauritania still today. Islamic Sharia law is practiced in the nation, and consequently homosexual relations are illegal. Men found guilty of committing this “offense" face a possible death sentence, while women convicted of being lesbians are routinely jailed. The prevailing attitude in Mauritania is that homosexuality is taboo, and therefore members of the LGBT community should have no protection under the law. Queer citizens must hide their orientation, or face a number of dire consequences in terms of religious, social, and legal persecution.
Afghanistan is an Asian country with a population estimated to be almost 33 million people. Sexual activity between same gender partners is illegal in the nation, and those found guilty of such offenses face the possibility of receiving a death sentence. Because the majority of Afghan residents are Muslims, Islamic law plays a large part in all aspects of life in Afghanistan, including in the social, political, and legal arenas. Ironically, despite prevailing taboos against homosexuality, native Afghan culture still allows for the acceptance of an institutionalized form of male bisexual practice. Afghan men (mostly members of the militia) who kidnap young boys and force them to serve as sexual slaves, or those who buy sexual favors from them, are viewed as participating in behavior that's tolerated by the local community. Such pedophile activity is perceived as not stemming from a homosexual orientation, but rather as a blatant example of male dominance within society. Sadly, this means that many children are legally sexually abused, just as same-sex adult couples are ruthlessly persecuted.
Somalia can be found situated in the Horn of Africa. In 1988, the country declared homosexuality to be illegal, with those found guilty of committing such acts facing a range of harsh punishments, including prison terms and even the possibility of receiving a death sentence. Members of the local Somalian LGBT community live in constant fear of being discovered, outed, and publicly persecuted. Gay and lesbian citizens in Somalia can’t live openly for fear of being subjected to such state-sanctioned punishments as lashings. Homosexual Somalians also risk becoming victims of so called "honor killings", which are traditionally carried out by fellow family members who view their relatives' homosexual orientations as being something that has brought shame on the family to the point of deserving death.
Sometimes referred to as the "Giant of Africa", Nigeria was once a British colony until gaining its independence in 1960. In recent years, Nigeria has been in the news due to the nation’s Ebola crisis, as well as being victims of continuing terrorist attacks and the kidnapping of women and children by the Islamic group Boko Haram. Nigeria’s legal system is comprised of a mix of Common Law (with roots in its past as a British colony), Customary Law (stemming from indigenous practices and traditions), and Sharia Law (or Islamic religious law). Human rights are sourly lacking in Nigeria, with widespread abuses, such as child marriage, sexual slavery, domestic violence, and ethnic and religious discrimination, being commonplace. Specific punishments deemed appropriate for homosexual acts include imprisonment, lashing, and even stoning.
The Arab country of Yemen boasts of possessing a culturally rich and influential history. Over the years, this ancient nation has played a major role in the development of the southwestern region of continental Asia. Unfortunately, in the modern era Yemen has also become known for its poor human rights record, as well as rampant political corruption. Homosexuality is illegal according to the country's legal system, and has been deemed as being a felony offense punishable by imprisonment, or physical penalties such as flogging. In areas in Yemen where Sharia law is practiced, male citizens can be sentenced to death for sexual activities involving same gender partners. The country has also enacted a law forbidding citizens from forming gay clubs or attending LGBT-related meetings. Yemen’s government has even gone so far as blocking LGBT-related web sites, as well as prohibiting similarly themed magazines.
Sudan is located in northeastern Africa, and is home to approximately 40 million residents. The country operates under a strict system of Sharia law. Those found guilty of capital crimes are routinely subjected to flogging, stoning, and even crucifixion. Human rights abuses in the nation include issues relating to female genital mutilation, slavery, child marriage, and the lack of a free press. Citizens convicted of committing homosexual acts are most often punished with 100 lashes and up to five years in prison. Despite the dangers of being identified as part of Sudan’s homosexual community, in 2012 the country’s first LGBT organization was formed. Called "Rainbow Sudan", it serves as a valuable resource for the persecuted local homosexual community.
2. Saudi Arabia
The Asian nation of Saudi Arabia is known for its rich oil reserves and successful banking industry. Its government is officially known as an absolute monarchy, with a dictator chosen in accordance with Islamic hereditary lines. A variety of international groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have consistently condemned Saudi Arabia’s legal system, which operates without jury trials, and is notorious for imposing severe punishments on its citizens. According to Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Sharia law, not only are homosexual acts considered illegal, but so too are all manner of extramarital sexual relations. Personal freedom ranges from minimal to nonexistent in the nation, with barbaric practices such as torture and crucifixion still taking place on a regular basis.
The Islamic nation of Iran is traditionally known as Persia. The country has been home to such ancient civilizations as the Persians, Medians, and Parthians, as well as the Assyrian and Timurid Empires. Iran’s government is presided over by the Islamic Consultative Assembly, which includes three distinct branches. These are the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary. In Iran, the institution of marriage is viewed strictly to be a legal union between one male and one female. Homosexuality is illegal there, with gay men often being sentenced to the death penalty. If found guilty, lesbians are subjected to 100 lashes, unless its a repeat offense, in which case it may result in the woman being put to death. Interestingly, however, despite strong social and legal taboos against homosexual activities, since 1987 transgender Iranian citizens have been legally allowed to officially change their genders, and are even provided with publicly-funded sex change operations.
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