100s are in prison for being gay

(This page is revised — again and again — as new information is received. Latest update: October 19, 2017)

Egyptian defendants in courtroom cage during trial (Photo courtesy of DT News)

Egyptian defendants in courtroom cage during 2014 trial (Photo courtesy of DT News)

Worldwide, hundreds of people are in prison or awaiting trial for allegedly violating laws that punish those who are born gay, lesbian or bisexual.

The prison sentences that have been imposed range up to nine years, which is actually toward the lower end of punishments that are on the books in the 76-plus countries where homosexuality is currently illegal.

In the past, this blog tried to keep track of individual cases of LGBTI prisoners and defendants, but the number of cases turned out to be too great to continue. Now, the blog will provide an overview of the most repressive countries and, when possible,  will update the list with news of arrests that violate the human rights of LGBTI people.

Finding out about specific cases remains difficult, especially in countries without a free press. Even though this list is depressing, it provides only a narrow window into one of many types of injustice affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, sometimes with fatal results. (See the section “Other injustices facing LGBTI people” below and the separate article “10 nations where the penalty for gay sex is death.”)

At present, the most egregious violators of LGBTI peoples’ human rights include these countries:

  • Egypt (“one of the world’s biggest jailers of gay men,” where LGBTI community leaders estimate that as many as 500 LGBTI people have been sent to prison.)
  • Saudi Arabia (In one recent year, religious police reportedly arrested and convicted a total of 260 people.)
  • Morocco (Dozens of trials for same-sex intimacy are cited by LGBTI rights advocates each year, but are rarely reported in the media.)
  • Nigeria (Dozens of arrests have been reported, but Nigerian media rarely follow up with reports about any subsequent trials).

And possibly:

  • India (almost 1,500 people were arrested in 2015 under India’s colonial-era anti-gay law, but it was unclear how many of those arrests were actually for sexual assault rather than for consensual same-sex relations.)
  • Tunisia (Ongoing arrests and trials of Tunisian citizens on homosexuality charges have been strongly criticized by local LGBTI rights groups.)



L'intérieur de la prison centrale. (Photo de Camerpress.com)

LGBT prisoners often are imprisoned at Yaounde Central Prison. (Photo courtesy of Camerpress.com)

Cameroonian law provides for sentences of up to five years for homosexual activity.

Cornelius Fonya: Seized by a mob that took him to police

9 years in prison. Sentenced Nov. 20, 2013.

Police in the coastal city of Limbe arrested Cornelius Fonya on Oct. 29, 2012, on homosexuality charges after a mob seized him and delivered him to the police station. He pleaded not guilty and was unable to raise the money demanded for bail. In 2013, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for having sexual relations with a 19-year-old youth. The usual maximum in Cameroon for same-sex relations is a five-year sentence, but the penalty is doubled for sex with someone between ages 16 and 21.


Egyptian police typically arrest LGBT people on charges of “sexual immorality” or “debauchery,” which Egyptian courts have ruled includes consensual homosexual activity.

One of the world’s biggest jailers of gay men

Leaders of the underground LGBTI community in Egypt say that their country has become one of the world’s biggest jailers of gay men, with as many as 500 behind bars on “morals” charges. The New York Times estimates that “at least 250 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been arrested in a quiet crackdown” since 2013.

Human Rights Watch stated in October 2017: “In Egypt, police routinely round up gay and bisexual men and transgender women, actively seeking them out and entrapping them on dating apps and through social media. One Cairo-based organization has documented the prosecution of at least 34 people for consensual same-sex conduct in the past 12 months.”

Police made several more arrests after rainbow flag was hoisted during a concert on Sept. 22, 2017.

In 2016, the advocacy group Solidarity with Egypt LGBTQ+ published a tally of 274 victims of anti-gay trials and hate crimes that made the news. Some of those arrests are listed below:

14 unidentified men arrested in gym/sauna
On Oct. 11, 2013, 14 men were arrested for allegedly engaging in gay sex at a gym/sauna in the El-Marg district in northeastern Cairo. No report of their release has been received, so they are included here as still in prison.

4 men sent to prison for 3 to 8 years for ‘deviant parties’
A court sentenced four men to up to eight years in prison on April 7, 2014, for practicing homosexuality, a judicial official said. Prosecutors had accused the men of holding “deviant parties” and dressing in women’s clothes. Three were sentenced to eight years and the fourth to three years in prison.

3 to 9 years in prison after police raid a party
Ten people were arrested in November 2013 at party in a residential area of the western Cairo suburb known as 6 October City. One male defendant was sentenced to nine years in prison; other male defendants, to three years. One woman was acquitted.


Under a colonial-era law from 1861, intercourse between two people “against the order of nature” is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. India’s High Court ruled against enforcement of that law in 2009, but the Supreme Court reinstated it in December 2013.

Almost 1,500 people were arrested in 2015 under Section 377, India’s colonial-era anti-gay law, but it was unclear how many of those arrested, if any, were involved in consensual same-sex relations. In 2014, a total of 587 people were arrested under Section 377.


Iranian law provides for the death penalty in some cases of consensual same-sex relations both for men and women. Overall, Iran imposes the death penalty more often than any other country except China, but it is unclear how often — or if — it is applied for consensual homosexual activity.

Oct. 9 arrests in Kermanshah, Iran (Photo courtesy of Mehr News Agency)

Oct. 9, 2013, arrests in Kermanshah, Iran (Photo courtesy of Mehr News Agency)

24 reported arrested and detained
Arrests were made Oct. 8, 2013. The 25 people arrested were reportedly blindfolded and taken to an unknown location. Within a few days they were freed on bail to await trial.

Revolutionary guards in Iran’s Kermanshah province made at least 24 arrests (“dozens”) at a birthday party. They claimed that the arrests resulted from a lengthy investigation into a “a network of homosexuals and devil-worshippers.” In an update several weeks after the arrests, activist analyst Scott Long noted that “these cases can drag on for years without a hearing.” He added, “My guess is that a lot of [the people arrested] have gone into hiding (i.e. moved to other cities) or, since Kermanshah is near the border, crossed into Iraq — or even to Turkey to claim refugee status.”


Under Malawian law, homosexual activity is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

3 men serving prison terms of 10 to 14 years
LGBTQI advocates fault police actions

Amon Champyuni, Mathews Bello and Musa Chiwisi were convicted and sentenced in 2011 for violating Malawi’s anti-sodomy law. They are now serving sentences ranging from 10 to 14 years. The country’s High Court is reviewing the constitutionality of the anti-sodomy law, and Malawi’s justice minister has responded by instructing police to stop making arrests for alleged violations of it.

But the three men remain in prison on the basis of the previous convictions while the High Court reviews their cases.

Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia (Photo via Photobucket.com)

Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia (Photo via Photobucket.com)


Under Malaysian law, a prison sentence of up to 20 years is provided for “intercourse against the order of nature,” including homosexual activity.

Opposition politician stymied by prison sentence for sodomy

A Malaysian court in March 2014 sentenced opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in prison on sodomy charges, overturning an earlier acquittal and ending his hopes of contesting a local election. He was offered asylum abroad, but declined.


Under Moroccan law, a prison sentence of up to three years is provided for homosexual activity.

Dozens of arrests go unreported in Morocco

Most homosexuality-related trials in Morocco are not publicized. According to an Associated Press account, the Ministry of Justice reported that 81 such trials occurred in 2011. The Moroccan LGBT activist group Kifkif says that more than 5,000 homosexuals have been put on trial since the country’s independence in 1956. That’s an average of about 86 per year. This blog has not been able to verify those figures.

The LGBT support group Aswat said that it tallied 19 prosecutions on homosexuality charges during the first three months of 2016.


Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert via Wikimedia Commons)

Then President Goodluck Jonathan signed Nigeria’s so-called “Jail the Gays Bill” in early January 2014. (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert via Wikimedia Commons)

Nigerian law provides for sentences of up to 14 years for homosexual activity. In parts of northern Nigeria where sharia law applies, the death penalty can be applied for same-sex intercourse between males, at least in theory. A 2014 national law provides for prison sentences of 14 years for getting married to a member of the same sex and 10 years for belonging to a gay organization, supporting same-sex marriages, or making a public display of same-sex affection.

Compiling a comprehensive list of people incarcerated for violations of anti-gay laws in Nigeria is currently impossible. Nigerian newspapers typically report arrests and sometimes the opening of trials of LGBT people, but not the outcome of those events.

Arrests linked to the “Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Law”

A wave of dozens of arrests were reported during an anti-gay frenzy related to the enactment of the so-called Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Law in early January 2014. That sweeping law provides for 10-year prison sentences for public displays of same-sex affection, belonging to a gay organization, or supporting same-sex marriages. About 32 were reported arrested in southern Nigeria — the Christian section of the country. No further information or updates were available. For purposes of this list, half of them are assumed to have been freed without further legal constraints; of the other half, six are assumed to be in prison awaiting trial and 10 freed on bail awaiting trial.

Among the reported cases:


Same-sex intimacy is legal in Russia, but the country’s anti-“gay propaganda” law sometimes leads to the arrest of people who publish positive information about homosexuality.

The greatest human rights abuses against LGBT people have occurred in Chechnya, where about 100 allegedly LGBT people were reportedly detained in early 2017 and at least three reportedly were killed.


Under sharia law, the death penalty can be imposed for homosexual activity in Saudi Arabia.

News of arrests for homosexuality is rarely reported in Saudi Arabia, but the practice is reportedly common. In one year recently, religious police reportedly arrested and convicted a total of 260 people on homosexuality-related charges, including charges of cross-dressing, wearing make-up and seeking homosexual encounters.

35 arrested at party

Police and security officers of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice arrested 35 people on April 4, 2014, at a party near Jeddah that was allegedly for homosexuals. No further word of the arrestees has been received. For this list, with some basis in previous incidents, it is presumed that 20 of them remain in prison and 15 were foreigners who were soon deported.

Twitter user sentenced to 3 years
Prison and whipping for seeking men online

In July 2014, a 24-year-old man was sentenced to three years in prison and 450 lashes by a court in Saudi Arabia for using his Twitter account to meet with gay men.


Under Senegalese law, a prison sentence of one to five years is provided for homosexual activity.

Journalist’s partner imprisoned for gay sex
The more famous of the pair was released

Matar Diop Diagne, the partner of noted journalist Tamsir Jupiter Ndiaye, was convicted of committing “acts against nature” and sentenced to a three-year prison sentence without parole in October 2012. Ndiaye received a four-year prison sentence for gay sex and assault on Diagne, but was released after 14 months. Diagne remained in prison, while Senegalese journalists wondered why he had been forgotten and speculated that he would be released before long.


Under Tanzanian law, at least on paper, same-sex intimacy between men is punishable by prison sentences of 30 years to life.

The Tanzanian government began an anti-homosexuality campaign in 2016, including arrests of people seeking to fight HIV/AIDS in the LGBT community. Dozens of men suspected of being gay have been arrested and taken hospital for anal exams that allegedly confirm their homosexuality.

In July 2016 sexual lubricants were banned by the government on the theory that they encourage homosexuality.

In September 2017, eight men and 12 women were arrested in a hotel in Zanzibar, where they were attending an HIV/AIDS training session.

In October 2017, police in Dar es Salaam arrested 12 men on homosexuality charges in the Peacock Hotel, accusing them of “promoting homosexuality.”


Under Article 230 of the Tunisian penal code, same-sex intimacy is punishable by up to three years in prison. In addition, people convicted of intentionally and publicly promoting “indecency” can be imprisoned for six months and fined 48 dinars (about US $30).

Among the recent incidents in Tunisia:

In December 2016, two men, ages 20 and 21, were each sentenced to 8 months in prison for homosexuality, despite undergoing abusive anal tests that came out negative.

In January 2017, a 19-year-old and a 25-year-old were sentenced to two months in prison for “feminine behavior.”

In March 2017, a 21-year-old student and a 38-year-old filmmaker were jailed while awaiting their trial on homosexuality charges.

In April 2017, a gay couple was arrested on homosexuality charges on the basis of private messages that the men exchanged on Facebook.



Ugandan law provides for up to a life sentence for same-sex intercourse. (The new Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, before it was overturned, also provided for a life sentence for anyone who “touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.” That law also provided for sentences of five to seven years for “promoting homosexuality” and for any action that “in any way abets homosexuality and related practices.”)


Here are some ways to give a boost to the struggle to release these prisoners and to repeal all anti-homosexuality laws:

Readers, please suggest other steps to take.


Of necessity, the lists above omit many types of injustices that confront LGBTI people worldwide. Here are a few of the omissions:

The lists above do not include people who were executed in one of the seven countries where homosexual activity is a capital crime. (In Iran, three people were executed in 2011 for homosexual activities, according to Amnesty International.)

The lists do not include the dozens of gay men who reportedly have been killed by death squads in Iraq without any government interference and sometimes with help from police.

The lists do not include the many people who die of AIDS each year in countries where LGBTI people are excluded from HIV prevention programs. Nor do they include the countless heterosexual women who die of AIDS after contracting HIV from their closeted gay or bisexual husband in countries where homosexuals are stigmatized.

Matthew Shepard, who was killed in 1998, apparently because he was gay. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Matthew Shepard, who was killed in 1998, apparently because he was gay. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The lists do not include lesbians and gays, such as Tyler Clementi of Rutgers University in the United States, who commit suicide because of the scorn they suffer or the unwarranted shame they feel because of who they are.

The lists do not include people killed by bigots because they are gay, such as Matthew Shepard in the United States in 1998, and an alleged 249 people in Peru during 2006-2010.

They do not include people killed because they are working for gay rights, such as Daniel Zamudio in Chile and Thapelo Makutle in South Africa in 2012 and perhaps David Kato in Uganda in 2011.

They also do not include lesbian and bisexual women who suffer “corrective rapes” or sexual assaults because of their sexual orientation.

72 thoughts on “100s are in prison for being gay

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  6. Great work you’re doing Colin. One question: You concede that your figure of 27 is probably an extreme understatement of the number of people who are behind bars or awaiting trial on anti-homosexuality charges. But if you had to hazzard a guess – and allowing for detentions on other pretexts such as loitering, lewd behaviour, inappropriate touching, same-sex co-habiting, publishing pro-gay statements, corrupting public morals, outraging public decency, licentious dancing, cross-dressing, wearing v-necks (!), etc, etc. – do you think the actual figure would be well into hundreds, or even thousands?


    • It would be purely a guess, and not even a very educated guess, because there’s so little to go on — I would guess 100s. So little is known about what happens in Saudi Arabia, but I’ve seen an unconfirmed report of 100 actions against LGBT people in a year. Multiply that unconfirmed number by the number of other strict Muslim countries without a free press. Then add in detentions on pretexts such as those you list. We can easily imagine a total near 1000 or more.


      • I guess there’s far more than 1000… Much much more… So saying “19 in prison for being gay, 15 more awaiting trial” is just confusing and diminishing the importance.


      • Hi, Charles,

        I almost agree with you. As the article stated, “Listing 37 people is probably an extreme understatement of the number of people who are behind bars or awaiting trial on anti-homosexuality charges, but finding out about specific cases is difficult, especially in countries without a free press.” But can you provide any specifics that the article could include? Conceivably a headline could say more, but it would need to be based on more than a guess.

        — Colin Stewart, editor of this blog


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  28. I agree with these laws. America was founded as a Christian nation. People today spit on our ancestors graves by letting this country fall apart the way it is. And now it the “in” thing to be homosexual or bisexual. I’m not the morality police but it doesn’t take a genius to know that homosexuality is immoral and unnatural. Now in America people are forced chemicals and endocrine disrupters hidden in food, drinks and “medicines” that is changing the male brain making them to act and think more feminine and inhibiting testosterone. More people then ever are becoming gay and it’s not because they were born that way.. Do your homework even animals frogs and polar bears are becoming transgender from the contaminants in the water.
    Each country and nation is its own and no other country really have no business interfering with another country’s laws but everyone knows Americans can’t mind their own business with their “white hero” complex. And that’s not racist “white hero” is an actual term. I don’t know that these people should be murdered but they certainly need to be told that it’s wrong.. When you break the law their are consequences, they knew the law and decided to break it but now they don’t want to deal with the concequences. Would this be a story if it was about people imprisoned for stealing food? Probably not a story, and yet food is a necessity, but having sexual intercourse out of lust is not a necessity and yet these lusty people chose to break the law and do so.. It’s not about love. I love my friends dearly but I would not engage in sexual acts with them. In short, this isn’t a story. Being gay is immoral and how a country deals with that is its own issue. You don’t see spokes people from other country’s coming to America to try to stop gay marriage, gay tv, gay agenda and the teaching of gay sex ed in our public elementary schools.. At least these other country’s stand for something… What do you stand for? You can’t be okay with everything because there is a difference between right and wrong and today nobody wants to hurt anyone’s feelings and just say no, but you have to, their has to be boundaries or else chaos will consume..


    • Very interesting opinion, “Stand for something”.
      Let’s not forget there is heterosexual lust too (e.g. pornography); also, is it lust if a man and a woman have a relationship when they are infertile so can’t have children?

      What I would like to know though is how these chemicals in food/drink/medicine are only turning a minority of people and animals homosexual. How do you explain that?


    • yes it is immoral to me it is also even I am a gay,, i dont engage to sexual acts that fast,,, I think of the consequences too,,but lets see the other side,, If you a STRAIGHT guy engaged on a sexual act with other woman even if your married or not,, what would be the consequences?? is it not immoral also??? IF your a good thinker about your article,, you should take into consideration the depth of punishment or that CONSEQUENCES fair on both sides,, YES it IS IMMORAL but WILL YOU KILL THEM??? A MOB HITTING YOU TO DEATH???WHAT IF A STRAIGHT GUY WHO IS IMMORAL OF BEING SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO OTHER WOMEN AS MY FATHER DID SUFFERS THE SAME PUNISHMENT? AND IF YOUR A GENIUS TO SAY THAT IT IS THE CHEMICALS IN THE FOODS AND WATER,, THEN WHY ARE THErE so many NO DRUGS to prevent becoming feminine or GAY, LESBIAN, etc..NO GENIUS EVER DISCOVERED THAT AND THAT THEORY OF YOURS,..
      lets talk about government too,, you said that America was founded as a Christian nation,, and You stand for something that being GAY is immoral,, but isnt it written that judging your brothers sin is immoral too though your are a sinner also?? wow what a genius you are, it is simply if you dont like it,, go away but do not hurt them.


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  37. im also a gay,,they did discriminate you, even your family,, I dont know why cant we just be Straight and be Straight, but I cant,,Is it Gods plan??? it is written in the BOOK that we shall die,, BUt by what mean?? it is not death that they take out our life literally but by just simply discriminating us, hurt us,, ItS already DEATH isnt it?? when God said that we are the GRAPES of this world,, so that means we are GRAPES??? of course not,, MISUNDERSTANDING that leads to DEATH,, and as it is written you shall not judge one another because no one not one is righteous that there is only one judge and its GOD,, who are you to decide what God did to us??? its our sin if you think it is but when you look into a woman and imagined sex with her, isnt that already a sin?? as it is written??? YOU STUPID PEOPLE DONT KNOW ABOUT THE PARABLES OF GOD WHICH IS A SECRET OF HEAVENS HE REAVEALED TO US,,, He said that if your arm cause you to commit sin,, will you literally cut it?? if your eyes cause you to commit sin, will you take it out and burn it?? waht it means is that the wrong deeds is what you gonna cut and burn,,IGORANCE,, so IGNORANT PEOPLE THAT EVEN A PRESIDENT OF THOSE COUNTRIES DONT KNOW how come you became a president??,, you really want war?? lets create a bigger, wider war,,is a vial of virus more powerful than SARS or MERS enough in each of those country to have our revenge for them?? we cant create a nuke or abomb, so lets make some more research,, what about a toxic chemical into their water supply?? YOU THINK WE ARE EVIL? so be it,,,,,,,,.


    • The debased mind cant even understand the ways of the creator because he gave you over to your own ways because of your sin and turning away from HIS ways. I can see you really haven’t a clue about your creator and don’t know HIS word but only what you like to think, the debased mind. If you want to stay in your sin and lose the rewards of what Messiah died for it is your free will and Yah will let you have because HE’s disgusted with it, An abomination as HE put it. But don’t try to sell that debase mind on others that truly Love OUR Creator. Quit doing Satan’s Bidding. Below is scripture pertaining to Gay behavior

      Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
      Rom 1:23 and changed the esteem of the incorruptible Elohim into the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds and of four-footed beasts and of reptiles.
      Rom 1:24 Therefore Elohim gave them up to uncleanness in the lust of their hearts, to disrespect their bodies among themselves,
      Rom 1:25 who changed the truth of Elohim into the falsehood, and worshipped and served what was created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amĕn.
      Rom 1:26 Because of this Elohim gave them over to degrading passions. For even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature,
      Rom 1:27 and likewise, the men also, having left natural relations with woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing indecency, and receiving back the reward which was due for their straying.
      Rom 1:28 And even as they did not think it worth- while to possess the knowledge of Elohim, Elohim gave them over to a worthless mind, to do what is improper,


    • so geisha dat what you think and knw. Normally is asin before God for being a gay. so if i were you i will withdraw that statement.


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    • That’s not your decision to make,Only God’s decision to make that judgment.I’m gay and God has no problems with gay lifestyles because if I die from him for being a homosexual then why am I still alive?You Christian homophobes make it very difficult for us to live our lives as who we are that you will initiate hate,ignorance and violence and spreading it nationwide all around the world including on online social media websites like Facebook and Yahoo.And you dare call us perverts and say that homosexuality is disgusting?You homophobes are always repeating yourselves in your homophobic speech thinking that heterosexuals are saints compared to homosexuals and saying that God created Adam and Eve,not Adam and Steve.Is that all you homophobes can come up with to say to us?Damn,you homophobes are not only ignorant but also annoying.I hope the LGBT organizations repeal all anti-gay laws in foreign countries like Iran,Nigeria and India,free the people who was arrested and attacked by homophobes and avenge the ones who died in the hands of homophobes just for being gay.


  39. In USA people loose their jobs if they say openly that they support traditional marriage. The US LGBT Nazi movement is behind all the heterophobia propaganda.


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  52. This is due to ISLAMIC Sharia Law. The Quran called for killing homosexuals. If you let Muslim Syrian Refugees into USA, the same thing that happens in Muslims countries could happen to the homosexual communities here in America. It already has. San Bernardino attackers killed a gay man. I don’t believe it was on accident.


    • Just an FYI, the Quran is the Old Testament (Christian holy text), the Old Testament is the Torah (Jewish holy text). It’s literally all the EXACT.SAME.BOOK. You can’t pin these things on one population of people and their religion and say their book tells them to, because it’s not true. The Old Testament in the Bible DOES NOT call for the killing of homosexuals, and neither does the Quran, and neither does the Torah. The “rules” in those books may mean a totally different thing than what we say they mean because it was written by different people in a different time and society. It’s also not OK in any way to say “If you let Muslim Syrian Refugees into the USA, the same thing that happens in Muslims countries could happen to the homosexual communities here in America.” because it won’t. If that were the case, it’d already be happening here, because our books are the same, and are therefore calling for the same thing. I don’t care what your religion or political preference is, you have no scapegoat for your hate. It’s simply there. And if you own up to it, you’ll be a step forward for this country. And the thing I’m talking about, in your case, is the fact that you’re using your fear of the Muslim religion as an excuse for a prejudice against people from Syria, and your prejudice against the Muslim religion and it’s people.
      Also, the only Muslims harming people (i.e. ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc.) are extremists. That’s not what the Quran calls for; it calls for peace and love and justice and equality, just like Christians and Jews do.


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