US doesn't make list of safest countries for LGBTQ+ rights in 2023 – USA TODAY

Uganda enacted one of the harshest anti-gay laws in the world last week, a bill known as the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023. It imposes a life sentence for engaging in “same-sex sexual acts,” and the death penalty for gay sex in certain circumstances, such as while infected with an illness like HIV or for having sex with a person with disabilities or a minor. (LGBTQ+ advocates in the U.S. condemn the implication of LGBTQ+ people as groomers or pedophiles.)
It came days before the start of Pride Month, a global event in June that celebrates LGBTQ+ communities around the world. But while the Uganda law has drawn international condemnation and even sparked a fight among a couple of U.S. conservatives, it is not an outlier. The LBGTQ+ community remains heavily criminalized in many parts of the world.
Indeed, around the world, being LGBTQ+ can lead to whippings or other punishments that seem outdated. In Russia, being gay has been legal since 1983, but there are still fines for a lack of “traditional values.”
Here’s a global overview of where sexual and gender minority rights are threatened:
‘Horrific’:Biden, Cruz slam Anti-homosexuality Bill in Uganda that includes death penalty
Of 193 countries in the United Nations, 64 still criminalize same-sex acts, according to a database run by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). “Same-sex acts” is the phrase used by this and other human rights monitoring organizations.
By region, this criminalization breaks down as follows:
Across the world, criminal sentences for same-sex acts, certain forms of sexual orientation and minority gender expression can range from fines or several months in prison to life in jail, from whipping to the death penalty. In some countries, laws are vague and open to interpretation. In others, it’s the exact opposite. In Russia, for example, where same-sex acts have been legal since 1993, the government actively targets LGBTQ+ people and communities through discriminatory propaganda and fines for not having “traditional values.”
Where there is the death penalty for same-sex acts:
Prison, fines, or whipping for minority forms of sexual or gender expression:
Countries that in recent years decriminalized same-sex relationships:
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to fully legalize same-sex marriage. It did so in 2001. The U.S. was the 17th country to legalize same-sex unions, which it did in 2015.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 34 places around the world:
Where same-sex marriage was legalized in the last year:
Where there are pledges to legalize same-sex marriage in 2023:
Countries in Africa where same-sex marriage is legal:
Places in Asia where same-sex marriage is legal:
The Spartacus Blog’s Gay Travel Index advises LGBTQ+ vacationers on which countries they can expect to be most safe in, where their rights are most protected, and where to avoid. Among the criteria assessed: anti-discrimination legislation, marriage/civil partnerships, whether adoption is allowed, transgender rights, infrastructure, views on conversion therapy, religious influence, local hostility, and laws surrounding prosecution.
The U.S. came in at 35 out of 199 global destinations.
LGBTQ+-friendly travel destinations in 2023:
Where not to go as an LGBTQ+ vacationer, according to the index:
The most LGBTQ+-friendly U.S. states in 2023:
The worst U.S. states to be an LGBTQ+ vacation, per the index:
Human rights campaigners have long complained that U.S. Christian evangelical organizations have pushed policies, laws and public opinion that discriminate against sexual and gender minorities and reproductive rights for people across the world. A 2020 investigation by openDemocracy, for example, found that U.S.-based Family Watch International had, for a decade, been coaching high-ranking African politicians and religious and civic leaders to oppose sexuality education across the continent. Family Watch International also had a hand in shaping Uganda’s 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, according to openDemocracy.
Amount spent globally by U.S. groups on anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ influence campaigns since 2008:
Amount spent by U.S. groups on anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ influence campaigns in Africa since 2008:
Amount requested by the Biden administration in 2023 for foreign assistance programs that promote gender equity and equality worldwide for those who face discrimination:
Still, according to a recent analysis by the Brookings Institution, these programs chiefly focus on “enabling conditions” for women and young girls “to exercise voice and agency in their homes, workplaces, communities and public life.” There is comparatively less understanding, according to the Brookings analysis, about how to deploy these funds for international programs that close rights gaps for sexual and gender minorities.
Ugandan LGBTQ+ rights activists filed a lawsuit in the country’s Constitutional Court challenging the bill. The Biden administration said it was considering imposing sanctions and visa restrictions. The European Union urged Uganda to revoke the bill and protect the rights of all Ugandans and said the law would impact Uganda’s ties with international partners. A coalition of major companies including Google and Unilever said the law would curb investment flows to Uganda and deter tourism. One Kenyan lawmaker applauded the bill’s passage.
Sources: ILGA database, Human Rights Watch, Human Dignity Trust, Human Rights Campaign, openDemocracy, U.S. Agency for International Development

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