Sexuality is Not a Crime

The criminalization of people based on their sexual orientation contravenes international and regional human rights treaties.

Such systematic discrimination reinforces the disadvantages experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and can be used as justification for violence against them, whether on the street, at home, or in prison.

Sexuality is Not a Crime

The criminalization of people based on their sexual orientation contravenes international and regional human rights treaties.

Such systematic discrimination reinforces the disadvantages experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and can be used as justification for violence against them, whether on the street, at home, or in prison.

In such countries, homophobic and transphobic individuals or groups take these laws as permission to target lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, organizations and events. Amnesty has documented cases where law enforcement officials have arbitrarily arrested individuals on the basis of allegations about sexual orientation, rumors of sexual behavior or objection to gender presentation, with few, if any, consequences for torture or other ill-treatment.

People detained or imprisoned solely because of their homosexuality – including those individuals prosecuted for having sex in circumstances which would not be criminal for heterosexuals, or for their gender identity – are considered to be prisoners of conscience.

Amnesty International calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality where such legislation remains, including a review of all legislation which could result in the discrimination, prosecution and punishment of people solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

This includes:

  • "Sodomy" laws or similar provisions outlawing sexual conduct between people of same-sex or transgender individuals;
  • Discriminatory age-of-consent legislation;
  • Public order legislation used as a pretext for prosecuting and punishing people solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Laws banning the “promotion” of homosexuality which can be used to imprison lesbian, gay, bisexual, same-sex practicing and transgender individuals and human rights defenders.
  • All legislation under which a person may be killed by the state on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
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