Call them the Dirty Dozen: They are the 11 countries and one militant extremist political jurisdiction where the death penalty applies to the "crime" of loving someone of the same sex.
Extremist religiosity of primarily the fundamentialist varieties of both Islam and Christianity drive enough legislators, religious leaders, and laypeople in these societies to keep their "kill the gays" laws and cultural practices alive. Execution methods and motivations in these 12 countries include beheadings and so-called honor killings, the latter committed against LGBT people by none other than their own family members.
While data collection is difficult because of the opaqueness of prosecutions in these countries, it's clear that Iran and Saudi Arabia are the two governments most guilty of killing people for being gay. However, the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has likely executed more people for being gay or for being accused of being gay than any recognized state has done in recent years.
International LGBT rights advocate and blogger Colin Stewart has been monitoring the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world for several years. His Erasing 76 Crimes blog keeps a tally of nations that criminalize gay and trans people for their mere existence. Stewart said he sees both positive and negative trends surrounding acceptance and oppression of LGBT people worldwide.
"From 2012 to the present, the situation has been fluid," Stewart told The Advocate, referencing the year he retired from a lifelong career in journalism to begin publishing Erasing 76 Crimes. He's hesitant to say things are clearly improving.
"[They're] possibly improving, with a modest reduction in the number of enforced anti-LGBT laws," Stewart said. "Mozambique repealed its law, as have tiny Palau, Lesotho, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Malawi has a moratorium on enforcement of its law during court deliberations on whether it is constitutional."
As he further notes, Uganda's 2014 "jail the gays" law, once billed as a compromise away from an earlier-proposed "kill the gays" law, lasted only a few months before it was overturned.
The following list of countries around the world where you can be sentenced to death just for being LGBT was compiled with information from the U.S. Department of State, Erasing 76 Crimes, and the just-released 2016 edition of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association's annual survey, titled State Sponsored Homophobia 2016: A Wrld Survey of Sexual Orientation Laws: Criminalization, Protection and Recognition.
Let's begin with the most egregious.
WARNING: This article contains graphic photos that may disturb some readers.