Millions of people continue to live in places that outlaw same-sex relationships and prosecute people for being gay. In five countries and in parts of two others, homosexuality is still punishable with the death penalty, while a further 70 imprison citizens because of their sexual orientation. Even where homosexuality is legal, many countries treat those in same-sex relationships differently, such as having an unequal age of consent or a ban on marriage. In Russia, host of the Sochi Winter Olympics, a law banning the promotion of "non-traditional" sexuality to unders was introduced last year. So, where is it illegal to be gay? Which countries allow same-sex marriages?
The age of consent is the age that a person can legally agree to have sex. A person over the age of consent who has sex with someone under the age of consent can be charged with a crime for having sex with the younger person, regardless of whether or not the younger person agrees to have sex. The age of consent varies between states and countries. In some states, laws are different depending on the gender of the people involved.
Since the s, a number of movements have taken place in the United Kingdom in favour of reforming or abolishing the age of consent , in support of children's rights , gay liberationism or, more recently, "as a means to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections via education and health promotion". In , the first age of consent was set in England , at age 12 Statute of Westminster I. In , the Parliament of Northern Ireland passed the Children and Young Persons Act , which successfully raised the age of consent to Currently, the age of consent for penetrative sex , oral sex and mutual masturbation in the United Kingdom is 16 years.
In Medieval Europe , attitudes toward homosexuality varied by era and region. Generally, by at least the twelfth century, homosexuality was considered sodomy and was punishable by death. Despite persecution, records of homosexual relationships during the Medieval period did exist. This persecution reached its height during the Medieval Inquisitions , when the sects of Cathars and Waldensians were accused of fornication and sodomy, alongside accusations of satanism.