Who you fall in love with is something that only concerns you. Moreover, there is nothing you can do about it. It happens to you. Men can love men, and women can love women. And if, as a man, you don’t feel at home in your own body and want to become a woman, or the other way around, you can’t do anything about it. If people are discriminated against for that reason, it makes them extremely powerless. Especially if the government doesn’t act against it or if it promotes this discrimination.

What’s the problem?

There are 193 countries in the world that are members of the United Nations.

  • In 70 countries, homosexuality is a criminal offence
  • In 44 countries, the same applies to women
  • In at least six countries you can even be sentenced to death
  • LGBTQ rights are included in the constitution in only 9 countries
  • Same-sex marriage is recognised in 26 countries


In 72 countries it is a crime to have a relationship with someone of the same sex. In 45 countries, people have been arrested for their sexual orientation in the past three years. This is unacceptable. That is why Amnesty is fighting against discrimination against LGBTQ’s. Because if we stop seeing each other as people with the same rights, repression will only increase.

LGBTQs are victims of human rights violations all over the world.

  • LGBTQ’s can be put to death by the state.
  • They regularly have difficulty accessing the labour market, housing or care.
  • They could lose custody of their children.
  • Sometimes LGBTQ’s asylum is refused
  • In captivity, they are often the victims of rape and other forms of torture.
  • In many countries, LGBTQs are threatened because they are campaigning for their rights.

More violence against LGBTQs

Small steps are being taken worldwide to combat discrimination against sexual minorities. In 85 countries, the authorities are taking action to protect them, for example by combating discrimination in job search.

At the same time, however, the last year has seen them being treated in an increasingly hostile manner. We also see violence against LGBTQ’s reviving. Three examples.

Chechnya: no place for gays

In April 2017, the independent and renowned Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta delivered shocking news, which was subsequently confirmed by other reliable sources. The newspaper reported that the authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya had started a witch hunt against (alleged) homosexual men. More than a hundred men were allegedly locked up in secret prisons, tortured and forced to say which other LGBTQ’s they knew. At least three men would have been killed.

In religious-cultural conservative Chechnya, homosexuality is a big taboo. Those who are ‘suspected’ of it run great risks, varying from extortion by the police to (sometimes deadly) violence by the authorities or their own family, which is encouraged by the authorities to ‘restore honour’. The leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, denies the allegations and even the existence of homosexuality in his republic.

Since the witch hunt, many victims and potential victims of homophobic violence have fled or are trying to flee Chechnya. Western countries are only scarcely willing to give them asylum.

Beaten up and squeezed

At the end of April 2017, the British newspaper The Guardian spoke to a number of persecuted Chechen homosexuals. Ismail (not his real name) was arrested by men in military uniform, after he had agreed with another man via social media to meet each other. They drove him to a forest, undressed him and beat him up, breaking his jaw. They also filmed the horrific incident. Then they threatened to put the video online and tell Ismail’s family that he was gay, unless he would give them a large amount of money.

He did. But when the rumours about gay persecution in Chechnya increased, Ismail fled the Russian republic. The police went looking for him and told his mother that he was gay, which is a great shame for his family. Ismail is now afraid that his own family will want to kill him.

What does Amnesty do?

Amnesty took action and organised a petition. In it, we call on the Russian authorities to investigate the disturbing reports about the abduction, torture and murder of homosexual men in the Russian republic of Chechnya. We also call for steps to be taken to protect homosexual men in Chechnya.

Indonesia: 85 floggings for gay couples

In Indonesia, sexual minorities are being treated with increasing hostility. In the province of Aceh, on 17 May 2017, a gay couple was sentenced to 85 caning, not least on the International Day against Homophobia. And that is only because they love each other.

The two men were attacked by their neighbours. They had entered their house, filmed the couple and then handed them over to the Sharia Police. It is the first condemnation of homosexuality by a Sharia court since October 2015, when Sharia law came into force in Aceh.

A cruel and humiliating punishment

Only Aceh knows Sharia law, the rest of Indonesia doesn’t. Penalties include intimacy or sex if you are not married, extramarital sex, the consumption and sale of alcohol, and gambling. Punitive battles are often carried out in public places. There are large crowds who take pictures and videos of it. This contributes to the humiliation and suffering of those who have to endure this already cruel, painful and inhumane punishment. All corporal punishment is prohibited by international human rights.

Bangladesh: men are ‘suspected’ of being gay

On 19 May 2017, an anti-terrorism unit of the police in Bangladesh arrested 28 men on suspicion of homosexuality on the basis of their clothing and behaviour. This is punishable in the country, where the vast majority of the population is Muslim. The men, mostly students between 20 and 30 years old, had travelled from all over the country to the capital, Dhaka.

Every two months they gathered there to party. The police commander said that they would be charged with drug possession – for which life imprisonment or even the death penalty could be imposed – and not with homosexuality, as the arrests took place before sexual activities took place. The police are said to have found illegal drugs and condoms in the suspects.

On 21 July 2017, the last of these men were released on bail.

LGBTQ activist and his friend murdered

In April 2016, 35-year-old Xulhaz Mannan and his friend were murdered in his home in Dhaka. Mannan was an LGBTQ activist and founder of ‘Roopbaan’, the only LGBTQ magazine in Bangladesh. Since his horrific death, many gays and lesbians have left the country after receiving death threats. Many others lead double lives to avoid problems.

LGBTQ rights are human rights

Everyone, anywhere in the world, always has exactly the same human rights. Whether you are white, black, short, tall, male, female, homosexual, heterosexual, transgender or an intersexual person, discrimination is never allowed. This is laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Almost all countries in the world have promised to respect human rights. We continue to remind them of this. Over and over again.

In the UDHR, the rights of LGBTQ’s are not specifically described. But the document leaves nothing to be desired in terms of clarity. All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. That is what Article 1 says. And Article 2 specifies that no distinction may be made between people, ‘without any distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’.

In addition, the human rights of LGBTQs are violated, as laid down, inter alia, in Article 5 of the UDHR (prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment), Article 9 (freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention) and Article 20 (freedom of association and assembly).