Punishable By Death

There are few societies around the world where homosexuals are not persecuted in some way. Namibian President Sam Nujoma regularly calls lesbians and gays "unnatural." Slovakian Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky recently said that gays needed "psychiatric help." But such verbal criticism is mild compared with the strict laws that gays in many countries live with. According to Amnesty International, homosexuals have been jailed in places as varied as Romania, the Caribbean and Malaysia.

Islamic countries are the least tolerant of all, and none more so than Saudi Arabia. There, homosexual acts are punishable by a maximum penalty of death. According to Human Rights Watch, six men were executed in Saudi Arabia last July for sodomy. And in April nine men were sentenced to 2,600 lashes each for transvestism and "deviant sexual behavior." The punishment was to be meted out at 15-day intervals over a two-year period. Why? Because that many lashes in a single session would have killed them.