Seventy-two countries and territories worldwide continue to criminalise same-sex relationships, including 45 in which sexual relationships between women are outlawed, according to a report issued on Thursday.

There are eight countries — Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, Syria — in which homosexuality can result in a death penalty, and dozens more in which homosexual acts can result in a prison sentence, the annual report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) said.

Southern and east Africa, the Middle East and south Asia persist with the most draconian approaches. Western Europe and the western hemisphere are the most tolerant, the Guardian quoted the report as saying.

Same-sex relations, which are variously criminalised under laws covering sodomy, buggery and “acts against nature” among others, could lead to a prison sentence in 71 states in all.

Altogether, more than 120 countries have decriminalised homosexuality.

A co-author of the ILGA report, Aengus Carroll, said it remained the case that there was “no country in the world where LGBT people are safe from discrimination, stigmatisation or violence”.