LGBT rights in Asia

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Asia (orthographic projection).svg
Asia
StatusLegal in 28 out of 49 states
Legal in all 4 territories
Gender identityLegal in 27 out of 49 states
Legal in 1 out of 4 territories
MilitaryAllowed in 7 out of 49 states
Allowed in 2 out of 4 territories
Discrimination protectionsProtected in 9 out of 49 states
Protected in 3 out of 4 territories
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsRecognized in 2 out of 49 states
Recognized in 2 out of 4 territories
RestrictionsSame-sex marriage constitutionally banned in 4 out of 49 states
AdoptionLegal in 2 out of 49 states
Legal in 0 out of 4 territories

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 eight countries have enacted protections for LGBT people, only Israel and Taiwan provide a wider range of LGBT rights - including same-sex relationship recognition.

In Afghanistan, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates 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 Azerbaijan, Jordan, and Turkey, homosexuality is legal, but usually socially unacceptable.

Egalitarian relationships modeled on the Western pattern have become more frequent, though they remain rare.[2][3][4] Cambodia, East Timor, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Cyprus (excluding Northern Cyprus) are viewed as the most open to the LGBT community in Asia. Japan, Israel, Thailand, Taiwan and Nepal are the major players in legislation. As of 2019, only Taiwan, the British Overseas Territories of Akrotiri and Dhekelia and the British Indian Ocean Territory have legalized same-sex marriage.

In a 2011 UN General Assembly declaration for LGBT rights, state parties were given a chance to express their support or opposition on the topic. Only Armenia, Georgia, Cyprus, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, and East Timor expressed their support. They were later joined by Vietnam and the Philippines. State parties who expressed opposition were Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Maldives, North Korea, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Syria, Afghanistan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Other Asian parties did not show support or opposition.

The first and only LGBT political party in the world, Ladlad, was established in the Philippines in 2003.

In 2016, during an African-led coalition to dislodge the recently established UN expert on LGBT issues, the majority of Asian nations backed to retain the role of the UN LGBT expert, with only Muslim nations, with the addition of China and Singapore, declaring their opposition.

In 2019, a survey by The Economist found 45% of respondents in the Asia-Pacific believed that same-sex marriage is inevitable in the region, while 31% of respondents disagreed. Furthermore, three-quarters of those surveyed reported a more open climate for LGBT rights compared to three years ago. Of those reporting an improving climate for LGBT people, 38% cited a change in policies or laws. Meanwhile, 36% said coverage of LGBT issues in mainstream media was a major factor. The top reasons cited for diminishing openness was anti-LGBT advocacy by religious institutions.[5][6]

Asia
Same-sex sexual activity legal
  Marriage
  Other type of partnership
  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 or unclear
  Penalty
  Life imprisonment
  Death penalty

Legislation by country or territory

This table:

Central Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Afghanistan Afghanistan No 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).[1]
No No No No No No
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan Yes Legal since 1998[1] No No Constitutional ban since 2016[7] No Emblem-question.svg No Yes Requires sex reassignment surgery[8][9]
Tajikistan Tajikistan Yes Legal since 1998[1] No No No Emblem-question.svg No Yes Requires sex reassignment surgery[10][9]
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan No Male illegal
Penalty: up to 2 years imprisonment.
Yes Female always legal[1]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No No
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan No Male illegal
Penalty: up to 3 years imprisonment.
Yes Female always legal[1]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No No

Eurasia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Abkhazia Abkhazia
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal after 1991 No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Akrotiri and Dhekelia Akrotiri and Dhekelia
(Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom)
Yes Legal since 2000
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
Yes Civil partnerships since 2005 Yes Legal since 2014 Emblem-question.svg Yes UK responsible for defence Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[11] Emblem-question.svg
Armenia Armenia Yes Legal since 2003
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
No No/Yes Constitutional ban since 2015;[12][13] same-sex marriages performed abroad recognized since 2017[14] No No[15] No No
Republic of Artsakh Artsakh
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 2000 No No Constitutional ban since 2006[16] No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Yes Legal since 2000[1] No No No No No No
Cyprus Cyprus Yes Legal since 1998
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
Yes Civil unions since 2015 No No No Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[17] No
Georgia (country) Georgia Yes Legal since 2000
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
No No Constitutional ban passed but yet to take effect No Emblem-question.svg Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[18] Yes Requires sterilization and sex reassignment surgery for change[19]
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Yes Legal since 1998[1] No No No No[20] No Yes Requires sex reassignment surgry, sterilization, hormone therapy and medical examinations[9]
Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 2014[21][22][1] No No No No Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[21][22] Emblem-question.svg
Russia Russia Yes Male legal since 1993
Female always legal[23][1]
No Illegal in practice in Chechnya, where homosexuals are abducted and sent to concentration camps based on their perceived sexual orientation. See Gay concentration camps in Chechnya for more information.
No No Constitutional ban proposed[24] No No[citation needed] No Yes Requires sterilization and sex reassignment surgery for change[19]
South Ossetia South Ossetia
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal after 1991 No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Turkey Turkey Yes Legal since 1858[1] No No No No Proposed[25][not in citation given] No Proposed[25] Yes Requires sterilisation and sex reassignment surgery for change[26]

West Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Bahrain Bahrain Yes Legal since 1976[1] No No No No No No
Iran Iran No No Illegal
Penalty: 74 lashes for immature men and death penalty for mature men (although there are recorded cases of minors who were executed because of their sexual orientation).[27] For women, 50 lashes for women of mature sound mind and if consenting. Death penalty offense after fourth conviction.[1]
No No No No No Yes Legal gender recognition legal if accompanied by a medical intervention[28]
Iraq Iraq Yes Legal since 2003[29] No No No No No No
Israel Israel Yes Legal since 1963 (de facto), 1988 (de jure)[30]
+ UN decl. sign.[1][31]
Yes Unregistered cohabitation since 1994. No/Yes Foreign same-sex marriages are recognized and recorded in the population registry Yes Since 2008[32] Yes Since 1993 Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[33][34][35] Yes Full recognition of gender's ID without a surgery or medical intervention;[36] equal employment opportunity law bars discrimination based on gender identity[37][38][37][39]
Jordan Jordan Yes Legal since 1951[1] No No No Emblem-question.svg No Yes Allowed since 2014[40]
Kuwait Kuwait No Male illegal
Penalty: Fines or up to 6-year prison sentence.
Yes Female always legal[1][41]
No No No No No No
Lebanon Lebanon No Illegal under Article 534 of the Penal Code. Some judges have ruled not to prosecute individuals based on the law, however, this has not been settled by the Supreme Court and thus homosexuality is still illegal.[42] No No No No No Yes Legal gender change allowed, but sex reassignment surgery required[43]
Oman Oman No Illegal
Penalty: Fines and prison sentence up to 3 years (Only enforced when dealing with "public scandal").[1]
No No No No No No
State of Palestine Palestine
(Disputed territory)
West Bank:
Yes Legal since 1951 (As part of Jordan)[1]
Gaza:
No Male illegal
Penalty: Up to 10 years imprisonment.
Yes Female always legal[1]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No No
Qatar Qatar No No Illegal
Penalty: Fines, up to 7 years imprisonment,[1] or death penalty.[44]
No No No No No No
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia No 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.[1]
No No No No No No
Syria Syria No Illegal
Penalty: Up to 3 years imprisonment (Law de facto suspended)[45][1]
No No No No No Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates No No Illegal under federal law
Penalty: deportation, fines, prison sentences or death penalty.[44]
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.[1]
No No No No No No/Yes Sex reassignment surgery legal, but only for intersex people[46][47][48]
Yemen Yemen No 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.[1]
No No No No No No

South Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Bangladesh Bangladesh No Illegal
Penalty: 10 years to life imprisonment.[1]
No No No No No Yes A third gender option (hijra) besides male and female is available[49]
Bhutan Bhutan No Illegal
Penalty: Prison sentence up to 1 year (Not enforced).[1] (decriminalization pending)[50]
No No Proposed No No No No
British Indian Ocean Territory British Indian Ocean Territory
(Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom)
Yes Legal since 2001
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
Yes Civil partnerships since 2005 Yes Legal since 2014 Emblem-question.svg Yes UK responsible for defense Emblem-question.svg Emblem-question.svg
India India Yes Legal since 2018[51] No Proposed No Proposed No Proposed No Proposed[52] Yes Bans some anti-gay giscrimination (in state and government bodies only) Yes A third gender option (hijra) besides male and female is available; transgender people have a constitutional right to change gender[53]
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, it is house arrest for nine months to one year.[1]
No No No No No No
Nepal Nepal Yes Legal since 2007
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
No Proposed No Proposed No Proposed Yes Since 2007[citation needed] Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination Yes Gender change legal since 2007[54]
Pakistan Pakistan No Illegal
Penalty: 2 years to life sentence (Not enforced).[1]
No No No No No Yes Right to change gender; transgender and intersex citizens have legal protections from all discrimination and harassment[55]
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka No (Ruled ruled unenforcable by the Supreme Court, various outlets report it as decriminalized under the Sri Lankan legal system)[56][57] No No No No Yes[58][59] Yes Transgender persons can change their legal gender and name after completion of medical intervention[60][61]

East Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of relationships Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
China China Yes Legal since 1997[1] No No No Emblem-question.svg No Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
Hong Kong Hong Kong
(Special administrative region of China)
Yes Legal since 1991[1] No/Yes Same-sex marriages registered overseas for government benefits and taxation, and limited recognition of local cohabiting partners No No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[62] Emblem-question.svg China responsible for defence Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination (government discrimination only) Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
Japan Japan Yes Legal since 1880
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
No No No Yes The Japan Self-Defense Forces allow gay people to enlist.[63] No/Yes No nationwide protections, but some cities ban some anti-gay discrimination[1] Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
Macau Macau
(special administrative region of China)
Yes Legal since 1996 No No No Emblem-question.svg China responsible for defence Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Emblem-question.svg
Mongolia Mongolia Yes Legal since 1961
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
No No No Emblem-question.svg Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender
North Korea North Korea Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in North Korea)[1]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg Unknown, although there are heavily obeyed gender roles for both male and female. See also: "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 South Korea)
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
No No No No No/Yes Protection from discrimination varies by jurisdiction in some areas, including Seoul Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender
Taiwan Taiwan Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[64]
Yes check.svg[65] Yes check.svg Legal since 2019[66][67][68] No/Yes Stepchild adoption only Yes Yes Constitutionally bans all anti-gay discrimination Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender[69]

Southeast Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of relationships Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGB people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Brunei Brunei No No Illegal
Penalty: Death penalty (in abeyance), imprisonment and 100 lashes for men. Caning and 10 years prison for women.[70]
No No No No No No
Cambodia Cambodia Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[1]
No/Yes Partnerships recognized in certain cities No There has been at least one recorded case of a legally registered and recognized same-sex marriage; constitutional ban No/Yes Officially banned, but numerous same-sex adoptions have taken place Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
East Timor East Timor Yes Legal since 1975
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Indonesia Indonesia Yes Legal nationwide, except;
No Illegal in the provinces of Aceh, South Sumatra, and the city of Palembang (Applies only to Muslims);[71][72][1] Age of consent discrepancy
No No No No[73] No Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
Laos Laos Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[1]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Malaysia Malaysia No Illegal
Penalty: fines, prison sentence (2-20 years), or whippings.[1][74]
No No No No No Yes A 2016 court ruling recognizes gender changes as fundamental constitutional rights[75]
Myanmar Myanmar No Illegal
Penalty: Up to life sentence (Not enforced).[1]
No No No No No No
Philippines Philippines Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[76][1][77]
No Pending[76] No Pending[78] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[79] Yes Since 2009 No/Yes In certain cities and provinces,[80] including Cebu City,[81] Quezon City, and Davao City;[82][83]
National bill pending
No[84]
Singapore Singapore No Male illegal
Penalty: up to 2 years prison sentence (Not enforced since 1999); Court decision pending.
Yes Female legal since 2007[1]
No No No No/Yes Due to conscription, but gays are not allowed to go to command school or serve in sensitive units No Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
Thailand Thailand Yes Legal since 1956
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
No Pending[85] No No Pending[86] Yes Since 2005 Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination Yes Transgender people allowed to change gender.[87][88] Anti-discrimination protections for gender expression.[74]
Vietnam Vietnam Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[1]
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
No No No Yes Irrespective of one's sexual orientation No Yes Gender changes recognized and officially practised since 2017;[89][90] previously, gender changes were only allowed for persons of congenital sex defects and unidentifiable sex



See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]