LGBT rights in Asia

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Same-sex sexual activity legal
  Other type of partnership (or unregistered cohabitation)
  Foreign same-sex marriages recognized
  No recognition of same-sex couples
  Restrictions on freedom of expression
Same-sex sexual activity illegal
  Not Enforced
  Penalty
  Life in prison
  Death penalty

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Asia are limited in comparison to many other areas of the world. Same-sex sexual activity is outlawed in at least twenty Asian countries. While at least nine countries allow same-sex people to serve in the military, only Israel provides a wider range of LGBT rights - including same-sex relationship recognition.

In the Islamic regimes of Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, homosexual activity is punished with the death penalty.[1][2] The legal punishment for sodomy has varied among juristic schools: some prescribe capital punishment; while other prescribe a milder discretionary punishment such as imprisonment. In some relatively secular Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia,[3] Jordan and Turkey this is not the case.

Egalitarian relationships modeled on the Western pattern have become more frequent, though they remain rare. Same-sex intercourse officially carries the death penalty in several Muslim nations: Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Iran, and Yemen.[2][4]

Legislation by country or territory

This table:

Central Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (Sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Yes Legal since 1998[5] No No Emblem-question.svg No[6] No No
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan Yes Legal since 1998[5] No No No Emblem-question.svg No No
Tajikistan Tajikistan Yes Legal since 1998[5] No No No Emblem-question.svg No No
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan No Male illegal
Penalty: up to 2 year prison sentence
Yes Female always legal[5]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No No
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan No Male illegal
Penalty: up to 3 year prison sentence
Yes Female always legal[5]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No No

Middle East[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (Sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Bahrain Bahrain Yes Legal since 1976[5] No No No No No No
Iraq Iraq Yes Legal since 2003[7] No No No No No No
Israel Israel Yes Legal since 1988
+ UN decl. sign.[5][8]
Yes Unregistered cohabitation No / Yes Cannot be performed in the country, but foreign same-sex marriages are recognised Yes Yes since 1993 Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination [9][10] Yes Full recognition of gender's ID without a surgery or medical intervention [11]
Jordan Jordan Yes Legal since 1951[5] No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Kuwait Kuwait No Male illegal
Penalty: Fines or up to 6 year prison sentence
Yes Female always legal[5][12]
No No No No No No
Lebanon Lebanon Yes Legal since 2014[13] No No No No No No
Oman Oman No Illegal
Penalty: Fines and prison sentence up to 3 years (only enforced when dealing with "public scandal")[5]
No No No No No No
State of Palestine Palestinian territories
(Gaza)
No Male illegal
Penalty: Up to 10 years imprisonment
Yes Female always legal[5]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No No
State of Palestine Palestinian territories
(West Bank)
Yes Legal since 1951 (as part of Jordan)[5] No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Qatar Qatar No Illegal
Penalty: Fines, prison sentence up to 7 years. Death penalty offense. (applies to Muslims only)[5]
No No No No No No
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia No Illegal
Penalty: Prison sentences of several months to life, fines and/or whipping/flogging, castration, torture or death can be sentenced on first conviction. A second conviction merits execution.[5]
No No No No No No
Syria Syria No Illegal
Penalty: Prison sentence up to 3 years (law in de-facto suspended)[14][5]
No No No No No No
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates No Illegal under federal law
Penalty: deportation, fines or prison time (unclear if the death penalty applies)
Illegal in the emirate of Dubai
Penalty: Up to 14 years imprisonment
Illegal in the emirate of Abu Dhabi
Penalty: Up to 10 years imprisonment[5]
No No No No No No
Yemen Yemen No Illegal
Penalty: Unmarried men punished

with 100 lashes of the whip or a maximum of one year of imprisonment, married men with death by stoning. Women punished up to three years of imprisonment; where the offense has been committed under duress, the punishment is up to seven years detention.[5]

No No No No No No

South Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (Sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Afghanistan Afghanistan No Illegal
Penalty: Long imprisonment or death penalty (no known cases of death sentences have been handed out for same-sex sexual activity after the end of Taliban rule)[5]
No No No No No No
Bangladesh Bangladesh No Illegal
Penalty: 10 years to life imprisonment[5]
No No No No No Yes A third option (hijra) beside male and female[15]
Bhutan Bhutan No Illegal
Penalty: Prison sentence up to 1 year (not enforced)[5]
No No No No No No
India India No Illegal nationwide since 2013
Penalty: Up to 10 years imprisonment (not enforced)[16][17][5]
No No explicit recognition.[18] No No explicit recognition.[18] No No[19] No Yes "Third gender" recognised by Supreme Court[20]
Iran Iran No Illegal
Penalty: For men 74 lashes for immature men and death penalty for mature men of sound mind and is consenting. For women 50 lashes for women of mature sound mind and is consenting. Death penalty offense after fourth conviction.[5]
No No No No No Yes Legal gender recognition in Iran is legal if accompanied by a medical intervention.[21]
Maldives Maldives No Illegal
Penalty: For men the punishment is banishment for nine months to one year or a whipping of 10 to 30 strokes. For women is house arrest for nine months to one year.[5]
No No No No[citation needed] No No
Nepal Nepal Yes Legal since 2007
+ UN decl. sign.[5]
No No Under consideration No Under consideration Yes Yes Supreme Court ruled discrimination laws apply to homosexuals Yes "Third gender" cards have been issued since September 2007, legally protected class[22]
Pakistan Pakistan No Illegal
Penalty: 2 years to life sentence[5]
No No No No No Yes 'Third gender' officially protected from discrimination by Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2010
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka No Illegal
Penalty: Fine and up to 10 years imprisonment (not enforced)[5]
No No No No[citation needed] No No

East Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (Sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
China China
(People's Republic of)
Yes Legal since 1997[5] No No No Emblem-question.svg No Yes Transsexuals allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery.
Hong Kong Hong Kong
(Special administrative region of China)
Yes Legal since 1991[5] No No No Emblem-question.svg
The People's Republic of China is in charge of Hong Kong's defence affairs. Regardless of sexual orientation, military personnel are not recruited from Hong Kong.
Yes Government employment, goods and services only Yes Transsexuals allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery.
Japan Japan Yes Legal since 1880
+ UN decl. sign.[5]
No No No Yes[citation needed] No No nationwide protections, but some cities ban some anti-gay discriminations[5] Yes Transsexuals allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery and in case that the transsexual has no child under 20 years old
Macau Macau
(Special administrative region of China)
Yes Legal since 1996[5] No No No Emblem-question.svg
The People's Republic of China is in charge of Macau's defence affairs. Regardless of sexual orientation, military personnel are not recruited from Macau.
Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Emblem-question.svg
Mongolia Mongolia Yes Legal since 1961
+ UN decl. sign.[5]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
North Korea North Korea Yes Legal
(no laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[5]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg Unknown although there are heavily obeyed gender roles for both male and female. See Let's trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle
South Korea South Korea Yes Legal
(no laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)
+ UN decl. sign.[5]
No No No Yes Due to conscription, but gays subject to discrimination No Yes Transsexuals allowed to change legal gender

Southeast Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (Sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Brunei Brunei No Illegal
Penalty: Fines and imprisonment up to 10 years or death by stoning[5]
No No No No No No
Burma Burma No Illegal
Penalty: Up to life sentence[5]
No No No No No No
Cambodia Cambodia Yes Legal
(no laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[5]
No No Technically prohibited, though there has been at least one recorded case of a legally registered and recognized same-sex marriage No[citation needed] Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
East Timor East Timor Yes Legal since 1975
+ UN decl. sign.[5]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Indonesia Indonesia Yes Legal nationwide expect;
No Illegal in the provinces of Aceh Province and South Sumatra (applies only to Muslims)[23][24][5]
No No No No[25] No Yes Transsexuals allowed to change legal gender
Laos Laos Yes Legal
(no laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[5]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Malaysia Malaysia No Male illegal
Penalty: fines, prison sentence (2-20 years), or whippings

Yes Female always legal[5]

No No No No No No
Philippines Philippines Yes Legal nationwide except;
No Illegal in Marawi City (applies to Muslims only)[26][5]
No (Pending)[26] No Yes/No Step-adoption only No Since 2009 Yes No national protections, but Cebu[27] Quezon City, Davao[28] and Albay have anti-discrimination ordinances[29] No National bill pending but still not made into law Emblem-question.svg
Singapore Singapore No Male illegal
Penalty: up to 2 years prison sentence (not enforced since 1999)
Yes Female legal since 2007[5]
No No No Yes Due to conscription, but gays are not allowed to go to command school or serve in sensitive units. No Yes Transsexuals allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery.
Thailand Thailand Yes Legal since 1956
+ UN decl. sign.[5]
No (Proposed)[30] No No Yes Since 2005 Yes No
Vietnam Vietnam Yes Legal
(no laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[5]
No Yes(but without protection by the law) Emblem-question.svg Emblem-question.svg Emblem-question.svg Yes Sex-change recognized for sex assignment for persons of congenital sex defects and unidentifiable sex

Partially recognized or unrecognized states[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex relationships Same-sex marriage Same-sex adoption Allows gays to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination (sexual orientation) Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Taiwan Taiwan
(China, Republic of)
Yes Legal since 1895[31] No (Proposed) No (Pending) No (Pending) Yes Due to military draft Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination (in work and education) Yes Transsexuals allowed to change legal gender. Surgery no longer a requirement beginning in 2015[32]


See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Asia from a Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Perspective (2013).
  2. ^ a b MV Media (20 April 2014). "Brunei: Sultan institutes death penalty for homosexuality". Muslim Village. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Rough Guide to South East Asia: Third Edition. Rough Guides Ltd. August 2005. p. 74. ISBN 1-84353-437-1. 
  4. ^ "7 countries still put people to death for same-sex acts". ILGA. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, authored by Lucas Paoli Itaborahy, May 2014
  6. ^ "Kazakhstan Says No to Gays in Military". Eurasianet. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Iraq: Sexual Orientation, Human Rights and the Law
  8. ^ LGBTQ Timeline
  9. ^ "Law prohibiting discrimination in products, services, and entry to businesses" (in Hebrew). Israeli Economy Ministry. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  10. ^ "El Al vs. Yonatan Danilovich" (in Hebrew). Supreme Court of Israel. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  11. ^ "Israel recognizes sex changes without operation". Supreme Court of Israel. Retrieved 2015-01-23. 
  12. ^ Kuwait Law
  13. ^ Lebanon Just Did a Whole Lot More Than Legalize Being Gay
  14. ^ Syria, Middle East
  15. ^ Bangladesh government makes Hijra an official gender option
  16. ^ "India’s Supreme Court Restores an 1861 Law Banning Gay Sex". The New York Times. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  17. ^ CIVIL APPEAL NO.10972 OF 2013 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.15436 of 2009), Supreme Court of India, retrieved on 15 April 2014
  18. ^ a b "Lesbian marriages, born of a legal loophole, stir debate in India". 
  19. ^ "Being gay still a crime in the military". StratPost. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  20. ^ Supreme Court recognizes transgenders as 'third gender', The Times of India, retrieved 15 April 2014
  21. ^ "CBC News - Film - Iran's gay plan". Cbc.ca. 26 August 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  22. ^ "Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity References". U.S. Department of State Human Rights Reports for 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  23. ^ "Aceh passes stoning law". The Straits Times. 14 September 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  24. ^ Rough Guide to South East Asia: Third Edition. Rough Guides Ltd. August 2005. p. 74. ISBN 1843534371. 
  25. ^ "Sacking Sergeant SNF, Court: Homosex a Threat to Army". Detik. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  26. ^ a b "Philippines: Congress Approves Anti-Discrimination Bill". Iglhrc.org. 24 January 2004. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  27. ^ PNA, PNA. "Passage of Cebu's anti-discrimination law lauded". Local News. Sun Star Publishing, Inc. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  28. ^ http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/324189/davao-council-bans-discrimination-vs-gays-minority-differently-abled
  29. ^ "Gay Filipinos and Rainbow - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos". Lifestyle.inquirer.net. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  30. ^ Same-sex marriage may come true under Thai junta
  31. ^ Taiwan
  32. ^ Gender reassignment rule to be changed

External links[edit]