We call LGBTQIA+-friendly (or gay-friendly) the places, policies, people, or institutions that are open and welcoming to all members of the LGBTQIA+ community, actively create an environment that is supportive of these people and their relationships, respectful of all people, that treat all people equally, and are non-judgmental. Canada is the first and Belgium is the 18th most LGBTQIA+-friendly country in the world according to the Gay Travel Index (2021).
These countries, mostly located in Europe and North America, are the main destination of LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers.
Officially, there is no single list of the unsafe countries meant to help authorities who are working with migrants. There are different rankings of the unsafe countries in the world.
There are still 13 countries where being gay is legally punishable by death based on Islamic rules. Yemen, Iran, Brunei, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan in Asia, as well as Mauritania (for Muslim men), Sudan, Nigeria (some areas) and Somalia (some areas) in Africa. Gay people also face extrajudicial killings by state and non-state actors, as in Chechnya in Russia in 2019, though it is denied by the Chechen authorities and Russia.
In most African and Middle eastern countries, high social pressure is also causing LGBTQIA+ individuals to displace. For further details, check out our “World Facts” section.
South Africa is legally the safest country for LGBTQIA+ individuals in Africa. Guinea Bissau also explicitly abolished the criminalization of homosexuality in 1993. There is protection for LGBTQIA+ people in Angola and Mozambique, Seychelles, and some areas of Botswana; Namibia and Mauritius Island have also been reported to be more tolerant.
According to ILGA (2019), Sudan, Mauritania, Nigeria and Somalia are the worst countries for LGBTQIA+ people in Africa. In Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Gambia, homosexuality is punishable with imprisonment, up to a life sentence. In Ethiopia, Eritrea, Chad, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Liberia, Guinea, Senega, Algeria, Libya, and Morocco, homosexuality is punishable with imprisonment for up to 8 years. There is no criminalisation nor protection for LGBTQIA+ people in some other African countries such as DR Congo, Gabon, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, EQ. Guinea, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory coast, Mali, Niger, Djibouti and Madagascar.
Bahrain, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Palestine (in the West Bank) are the only Middle Eastern countries where homosexuality is legal. Some Middle Eastern nations have some tolerance and legal protections for transgender people. For example, the Iranian government has approved sex change operations under medical approval, The Syrian government has approved similar operations back in 2011. LGBTQIA+ rights movements have existed with slow progress in other Middle Eastern nations, including Turkey and Lebanon.
The death penalty for the same gender sexual behaviours exists in the law of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Iran has systematically executed homosexuals after Islamic revelation in 1978.
In Iraq, although homosexuality itself is technically legal since 2003, LGBTQIA+ people can be penalized with up to 6 months in prison, vigilante execution, beatings, torture, and attacks by vigilantes and Sharia courts.
Egypt punishes anyone who "habitually engages in debauchery or prostitution", or who offers, owns, or manages establishments for the purpose of such activities, with up to three years in prison and a fine up to 300 Egyptian pounds (€15).
In Kuwait, men who are engaging in same gender relations can be sentenced to up to seven years of imprisonment.
In 2013, Lebanon became the first Arab country to declassify homosexuality as a disease. Conversion therapy isn't outlawed, but it is discouraged and unsupported by the government.
In Oman, any same gender sexual act is punishable with imprisonment, varying from six months to three years.
In Palestine (only in Gaza) any "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" is punished with a prison sentence of up to ten years.
In Qatar, inducing or seducing a male or a female anyhow to commit illegal or immoral actions is punishable by up to three years.
Saudi Arabia has no written laws but penalizes LGBT activity with up to death.
Syria criminalizes "unnatural sexual intercourse", punishes any crime "against public decency" occurring in public with a prison sentence varying from three months to three years.
United Arab Emirates raping on a female or sodomy with a male shall be punished by death. Also, Abu Dhabi's penal code incriminates unnatural sex acts with up to 14 years in prison.
In Iran, the government enforces the gender binary by suppressing information about homosexuality and encouraging people questioning their sexuality to undergo sex reassignment surgery. Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by lashing or execution. The people who undergo these surgeries are fully accepted by the government but families still often reject family members who undergo sex reassignment surgery. However, transgenders are discriminated against in the job market forcing them into sex work.
According to ILGA-Europe’s annual Rainbow Europe Map – which ranks the legal and policy situation of LGBTQIA+ people in 49 European countries - Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia, Russia, Monaco, Belarus, San Marino and Poland respectively are at the worst countries in Europe to be LGBTQIA+.
Although, because of social challenges, there are a lot of LGBTQIA+ refugees currently coming from Georgia to Europe. Georgia has no clear procedure for legal gender recognition and the situation of LGBTQIA+ human rights defenders is risky in the country. A Georgian passport is enough to travel to Europe, there is no need for a visa to enter Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg, Italy, France and so on.
Depending on your story, the CGRS will decide if you are illegible or not to receive international protection.