Across the globe, there are over 70 countries where being gay or having sex with someone of the same sex is illegal. There are a few places where you might expect same-sex relationships to be against the law. Nevertheless, we’ve found a few surprising exceptions.

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Many of the world’s anti-gay countries tend to be in Arabic regions, eastern Asia and central Africa, however, we’ve found some surprises in and amongst the homophobic countries where it’s legal to have a same-sex relationship. Although homosexuality may be legal in these nations it mustn’t be inferred that LGBT+ people do not face discrimination due to their sexuality or gender expression.


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Despite being in the centre of one of the most homophobic and anti-gay regions of the world, it’s not illegal to be gay in the majority of Iraq. Same-sex relationships became legal in 2003. However, it is worth noting that despite the legality of sexual intercourse between men it was illegal in areas controlled by ISIS between 2014 – 2017. There were many reports of executions of gay men, or men thought to be gay by ISIS fighters during 2015 and 2016.

LGBT+  people are subject to widespread discrimination and have no legal recognition of their relationships and are banned from serving in the military.

Homosexuality was not always illegal in Iraq during the Ancient Mesopotamia times (3500 BC) the Šumma ālu, an Akkadian tablet, includes this code, where it regarded male homosexuality positively, even stating,

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“If a man copulates with his equal from the rear, he becomes the leader among his peers and brothers”

Nevertheless, when the land came under British administration, the country was given a ban on sodomy.

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NEXT: Indonesia

About the author: Jake Hook
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.