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An Indian transgender, in the background, holds a placard during a protest after the country's top court ruled that a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality will remain in effect in India in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. The Supreme Court threw out a 2009 New Delhi High Court decision that struck down the law as unconstitutional, dealing a blow to gay activists who have argued for years for the chance to live openly in India's deeply conservative society. A recent TV poll found that over 70 per cent of Indians believe homosexuality should be illegal. (Altaf Qadri/AP)
An Indian transgender, in the background, holds a placard during a protest after the country's top court ruled that a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality will remain in effect in India in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. The Supreme Court threw out a 2009 New Delhi High Court decision that struck down the law as unconstitutional, dealing a blow to gay activists who have argued for years for the chance to live openly in India's deeply conservative society. A recent TV poll found that over 70 per cent of Indians believe homosexuality should be illegal. (Altaf Qadri/AP)

Around the world, LGBT people still struggling for acceptance Add to ...

The global picture for gays and lesbians is grim reading – and often a life-and-death reality for those involved.

Of the 78 countries where homosexual activity is criminalized, five countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen – make it a crime punishable by death. Parts of Nigeria and Somalia have similar laws.

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In the remaining countries, gays and lesbians could face lengthy prison terms – including 10 countries such as Barbados and Sierra Leone, where life in prison is a possible outcome.

Prison sentences aside, gays and lesbians could also face hefty fines, hard labour (Mozambique and Angola), compulsory psychiatric treatment (Dominica) and whipping (Malaysia).

Most of the countries that have criminalized homosexual activity are in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. But there are exceptions in those regions in each region – such as in South Africa and Jordan, where there is no criminalization of same-sex relations.

There are also some signs of change. Governments in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have expressed a desire to repeal laws that outlaw same-sex activity.

But even where there is no criminalization of homosexual activity between two consenting adults, people belonging to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities can still face persecution.

Russia put in place a law this year that criminalized any positive portrayal of homosexuality online and in the presence of children. The law has put LGBT activists on the defensive and fearing for their safety. Ukraine is contemplating a similar law.

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