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The nations where it's still criminal to be gay (as India marks an awkward anniversary)

Celebrations in the Indian city of Gauhati in 2019 came a decade after the first decriminalisation but only months after it was reinstated for a second time. Credit: AP

Tuesday marks 10 years since India decriminalised gay sex, but it's unlikely the milestone will be celebrated.

That's because the 2009 lower court ruling was short-lived; overturned within a few years by the nation's Supreme Court.

Their 2012 judgment effectively re-established the British colonial-era law Section 377, which saw gay sex punished by up to 10 years in jail.

It took another six years - in September 2018 - before India's top court finally brought the nation in line with the majority of the world and struck down the law.

Yet there are still dozens of countries where same-sex relationships are outlawed.

Where in the world is it still criminal to be gay?

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) listed the following nations in its 2019 map of criminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults.

The shades of yellow (de facto criminalisation) through to brown (effective or possible death penalty) show the nations which still outlaw gay relationships in 2019. Credit: ILGA

Some countries have varying levels of punishments because of regional differences in law.

De Facto criminalisation: 2

Iraq, Egypt

Up to eight years imprisonment: 31

Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Guinea, Senegal, Namibia, Botswana*, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Oman, Syria, Lebanon, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, Comoros, Mauritius, Eswatini, Bhutan, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Cook Islands

10 years to life in prison: 26

Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St Vincent and Grenadines, St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Brunei, Soloman Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga

Effective death penalty: 6

Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran

Possible death penalty: 5

Mauritania, UAE, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gambia

*Since the list was published Botswana scrapped its law, banning gay sex in June.

How has India's flip-flopping laws on gay relationships affected British Asians?

British-born Reeta Loi said the changing laws of the motherland have a profound affect on attitudes in the UK's Indian community, which she believes is more conservative than the counterparts in India.

"Our identity can be challenged because of the motherland," she told ITV News.

Ms Loi is CEO of Gaysians, which overseas a UK alliance of more than 20 British Asian LGBT+ organisations.

She said even those not born in India still "hold onto whatever piece you have of your homeland", so remembers the 2012 reversing of the decriminalisation as "terrible, horrifying (and) heartbreaking that you're not accepted for being who you are.

"To see that change was heartbreaking but to see it come back (in 2018) was wonderful."

The Supreme Court's reversal was met with major protests among India's LGBT population. Credit: AP

The musician and writer travelled to DJ at the Pride Parade in Bombay before the second decriminalisation and remembers a "sombre" mood, with onlookers "standing watching rather than cheering".

Returning in 2019 after the law change, she joined scenes of "elation and joy".

"There were five times more people and it was celebratory. Everyone had really gone to town with their outfits," she said.

Ms Loi said it mirrored the scenes in the UK.

"We British Asians had a party, celebrating with south Asian queer performers. It's the closest thing we've had to our own pride."

Ms Loi hopes India remains true to its newly enshrined law, which she said is based on values which are centuries old.

Members of India's LGBT community continued pride parades in early 2018 in spite of the law re-enforcing gay sex as criminal. Credit: AP

Homosexuality has "always been part of the (Indian) culture", she said. "It's only modern history and the British colonial law (which changed it)."

Despite the decriminalisation in India, Ms Loi believes more needs to be done to change hearts and minds in the UK, among her parent's generation but also some younger people in the British Asian community.

"India has moved on in so many ways but diaspora communities haven't," she said.

The law changed in 2018 after a petition of gay people who said they were living in fear of being harassed and prosecuted by police. Credit: AP

"Our parents' generation are far less liberal than their counterparts in India. It's really concerning, really alarming."

She points to a recent report which found British south Asians twice as likely as any other group in UK to disapprove of same-sex relationships.

"They're the values they believe in. There's a lot of work here to be done here."

A timeline of India's difficult relationship with homosexuality

1861: British India introduces section 377, based on 16th century law called the Buggery Act. It states: "Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with 1[imprisonment for life], or with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine."

1994: India's first AIDS activist movement, AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan, seeks to decriminalise homosexuality.

2001: An NGO, Naz Foundation, files a second petition at the Delhi High Court in the hopes of legalising gay sex.

2003: The Delhi High Court refuses to consider the petition.

Section 377 was overturned in 2009 by the Delhi High Court after protests. Credit: AP

2009: Homosexuality is decriminalised as the Delhi High Court overturns the colonial law.

2012: On March 27, the Supreme Court reverses the verdict.

2013: Section 377 is reinstated and gay sex is criminalised making it punishable with up to life imprisonment.

2015: A member of the Indian National Congress party, Shashi Tharoor, introduces a bill to decriminalise homosexuality and it is voted down twice.

2018: Gay sex is decriminalised.