On May 16, 2016 Curve reported: In a new report, Breaking the Silence: Criminalisation of Lesbians and Bisexual Women and its Impacts, it was found that it is illegal to be a lesbian in almost a quarter of all countries in the world.
The study was published as a lead-up to International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. It was produced by the Human Dignity Trust (HDT), a charitable legal organization that works to overturn laws criminalizing homosexuality, wherever they exist in the world.
Breaking the Silence found that laws criminalizing homosexuality exist in 78 jurisdictions worldwide, that’s 40 per cent of all countries. Of these, 80 per cent are Commonwealth countries.
While there has been a general global trend towards decriminalization, at least 44 jurisdictions criminalize consensual same-sex intimacy between women and ten that previously only criminalized gay men have added new criminal sanctions against lesbians.
The study also found that even in places where lesbians aren’t captured by the law, there have been reports of lesbians being subjected to arrest, detention and police abuse as well as severe forms of state-sanctioned family and community abuse.
Due to the combination of gender and sexual orientation, the report found that lesbian and bisexual women are vulnerable to certain kinds of human rights abuses including family violence, forced or pressured heterosexual marriage and “corrective” rape.
The laws criminalizing consensual female-female sexual interaction often run parallel with other laws that impact women, including adultery and abortion laws or laws permitting child marriage or marital rape. The overlap between the discrimination these women face as a result of their sexual orientation, and the ways in which their freedom is limited by their gender, puts these women at a unique risk of experience human rights abuses.