LGBT rights in Guam

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StatusLegal since 1978
GenderTransgender people allowed to change gender
DiscriminationYes, both sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (employment only)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage since 2015

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Guam have improved significantly in recent years. Same-sex sexual activity has not been criminalized since 1978 and same-sex marriage has been allowed since 2015. The U.S. territory now has discrimination protections in employment for both sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, federal law has provided for hate crime coverage since 2009. Gender changes are also legal in Guam.


The Chamorro people have traditionally accepted homosexuality and transgender people. Chamorro society was a very sexually tolerant society, where homosexuality was never viewed as taboo. It has been described as openly bisexual, though this is disputed.[1][2] The Chamorro word for a gay man is mamflorita (literally little flowers), whereas lesbian is malalahi (literally women acting like men).[3]

Following Spanish colonization in the 17th century, and the subsequent Westernization and Americanization of Guam in the 20th century, it incorporated the Western concepts of sexuality and gender, which until recently stigmatized LGBT people.

Laws regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Private, adult, consensual and non-commercial homosexual acts have been legal in Guam since a reform of the Criminal Code in 1978.[4]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Guam became the first overseas territory of the United States to recognize and perform same-sex marriages in June 2015. On June 5, 2015, Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood of the United States District Court for the District of Guam ruled that Guam's prohibition on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. She cited the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Latta v. Otter striking down identical bans in Idaho and Nevada.[5][6][7][8] The territory began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples four days later. The Legislature passed the Guam Marriage Equality Act of 2015 on August 11, 2015, making Guam's marriage laws gender-neutral.[9]

In 2009, a measure was introduced into the Legislature of Guam that would have given same-sex couples some of the same legal rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex married couples.[10] It was not voted on.[11]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Following Guam's legalization of same-sex marriage, adoption rights for same-sex couples have also been legal. Additionally, lesbian couples have access to IVF.[12]

Birth certificates[edit]

In May 2017, the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services announced it would list both same-sex parents on birth certificates. This came after a same-sex couple were initially denied the right to list both their names on their child's birth certificate.[13]

Discrimination protections and hate crime law[edit]

In August 2015, the Legislature unanimously passed Bill 102-33, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment.[14] Federal law covers hate crimes on both sexual orientation and gender identity since 2009, under the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Gender identity or expression[edit]

Gender changes are legal in Guam.[15] In order for transgender people to change their legal gender in Guam, they must provide the Office of Vital Statistics a sworn statement from a physician that they have undergone sex reassignment surgery. The Office will subsequently amend the birth certificate of the requester.

In May 2018, Senator Fernando Esteves introduced a bill to make it easier for transgender individuals to change their legal gender. Under the proposed bill, transgender people seeking a legal gender change would have to receive judicial permission and send the Office of Vital Statistics a letter confirming their gender identity. The letter must also include documentation from a certified psychologist, social worker, therapist or other licensed professional affirming that the applicant's request reflects their sex or gender identity. Surgery is not required.[16][17] In December 2018, the Legislature decided to postpone a vote on the bill until issues regarding medical and law enforcement processes are dealt with.[18]

Blood donation[edit]

Since 2015, gay and bisexual men in Guam have been allowed to donate blood following a one-year deferral period.[19]

Living conditions[edit]

Guam is regarded as tolerant and accepting of LGBT people, with very few reports of societal discrimination or harassment.[20] According to a April 2015 poll conducted by students from the University of Guam, 55% of Guam residents were in favor of same-sex marriage, while 29% opposed it and 16% were undecided.[21]

Since the 1990s, there has been a visible LGBT social scene, with a handful of nightclubs and social functions organized locally. Guam Pride has been held annually since 2017, attracting a few hundred people.[20]

Guam is a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, and has recently begun commercializing itself as a tourist destination for LGBT people.[20][22]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1978)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1978)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 2015)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages Yes (Since 2015)
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes (Since 2015)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2015)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2015)
LGB people allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (Since 2011)
Transgender people allowed fo serve openly in the military Yes (Since 2018)
Right to change legal gender Yes
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No/Yes (Since 2015; 1 year deferral period)


  1. ^ Gay Guam
  2. ^ Matriarchal traditions endure from pre-colonial Guam
  3. ^ Gender identity and Sexual Identity in the Pacific and Hawai'i: Introduction
  4. ^ "Gay rights map: Notes on the data". BBC News. February 5, 2014. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
  5. ^ Court strikes down Guam's same-sex marriage ban
  6. ^ "Guam becomes first US territory to recognise same-sex marriage". The Guardian. 5 June 2015.
  7. ^ Guam officially approves same-sex marriage
  8. ^ Federal judge strikes down Guam’s same‑sex marriage ban
  9. ^ Legislature passes Marriage Equality Act
  10. ^ "Guam Considers Recognizing Gay Unions". On Top Magazine. August 18, 2009. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  11. ^ Aguon, Mindy (February 24, 2011). "Gay community hopeful for Guam civil unions". Kuam News. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  12. ^ IVF AROUND THE WORLD: Which Countries Treat Lesbian Couples?
  13. ^ Gay couple wins battle Birth certificate to get both parents' names
  14. ^ Marriage Equality and Employment Nondiscrimination Acts Pass
  15. ^ Guam National Center for Transgender Equality
  16. ^ Bill allows gender change on birth certificate. The Guam Daily Post, May 31, 2018
  17. ^ Bill No. 291-34
  18. ^ Lawmakers raise concerns with gender-change bill. The Guam Daily Post, December 12, 2018
  19. ^ FDA overturns 30-year ban on blood donations by gay men Reuters
  20. ^ a b c Hundreds join Pride March
  21. ^ UOG Poll: 55% Support Gay Marriage, Pacific News Center, April 22, 2015
  22. ^ Denight: Celebrate continued growth of Guam's tourism industry