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LGBT rights in Asia Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Asia

LGBT rights in Asia
Asia homosexuality laws.svg
StatusLegal in 29 out of 50 states
Legal in 7 territories
Gender identityLegal in 23 out of 50 states
Legal in 1 territory
MilitaryAllowed in 9 out of 50 states
Allowed in 2 territories
Discrimination protectionsProtected in 14 out of 50 states
Protected in 4 territories
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsRecognized in 4 out of 50 states
Recognized in 4 territories
RestrictionsSame-sex marriage constitutionally banned in 5 out of 50 states
AdoptionLegal in 2 out of 50 states

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, Cyprus and Taiwan provide a wider range of LGBT rights – including same-sex relationship recognition. In Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen homosexual activity is punished with the death penalty.[1][2] In addition, LGBT people also face extrajudicial executions from non-state actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.[3][4] Egalitarian relationships modeled on the Western pattern have become more frequent, though they remain rare.[2][5][6] As of 2021, only Taiwan, the British Overseas Territories of Akrotiri and Dhekelia the British Indian Ocean Territory, and certain cities in Israel have legalized same-sex marriage, though India provides equal rights equilavent to marriage rights to LGBTQ live-in couples anagolous to cohabitation in western countries.

Historical discrimination towards homosexuality in much of the region includes when Genghis Khan banned homosexual acts in the Mongol Empire and made them punishable by death.[7][8] Many Asian countries have collectivist cultures, wherein aggression is generally accepted by society if it is used to protect the honor of a family. Homosexuality is generally considered to be dishonorable, so homophobic aggression in the name of protecting familial honor is common.[9] The Fatawa-e-Alamgiri of the Mughal Empire mandated a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

In a 2011 UN General Assembly declaration for LGBT rights, state parties were given a chance to express their support, opposition or abstention on the topic. Only Armenia, Cyprus, East Timor, Georgia, Israel, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam expressed their support. State parties who expressed opposition were Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. State parties that expressed abstention were Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Myanmar, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. 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 mostly Muslim majority 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.[17][18]

Laws regarding homosexuality in Asia
Same-sex sexual activity legal
  Marriage performed
  Foreign same-sex marriages recognized
  Other type of partnership
  Legal guardianships or unregistered cohabitation
(stripes: non-binding certificates)
  Limited foreign recognition (residency rights)
  No recognition of same-sex couples
  Restrictions on freedom of expression
Same-sex sexual activity illegal
  Prison on books, but not enforced
  Prison
  Death penalty on books, but not enforced
  Enforced 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 LGBT people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Yes Legal since 1998[19] No No No Yes Since 2022[20] No Yes[21]
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan Yes Legal since 1998[19] No No Constitutional ban since 2016[22] No Emblem-question.svg No Yes Requires sex reassignment surgery[23][21]
Tajikistan Tajikistan Yes Legal since 1998[19] No No No Emblem-question.svg No Yes Requires sex reassignment surgery[24][21]
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan No Male illegal
Penalty: up to 2 years imprisonment.
Yes Female always legal[19]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No No
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan No Male illegal
Penalty: up to 3 years imprisonment.
Yes Female always legal[19]
No No No No No No

Eurasia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGBT 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.[19]
Yes Civil partnerships since 2005 Yes Legal since 2014 Emblem-question.svg Yes UK responsible for defence Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[25] Emblem-question.svg
Armenia Armenia Yes Legal since 2003
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
No No/Yes Constitutional ban since 2015[26][27]. Foreign same-sex marriages are recognized since 2017. No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples. No [28] No No
Republic of Artsakh Artsakh
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 2000 No No Constitutional ban since 2006[29] No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Yes Legal since 2000[19] No No No No No No
Cyprus Cyprus Yes Legal since 1998
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
Yes Civil cohabitation since 2015[30] No No Yes[31] Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[32] Yes Forbids some discrimination based on gender identity.[33]
No Gender change is not legal.
Georgia (country) Georgia Yes Legal since 2000
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
No No Constitutional ban passed but yet to take effect (Court decision pending) No Emblem-question.svg Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[34] Yes Requires sterilization and sex reassignment surgery for change[35]
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Yes Legal since 1998[19] No No No Yes[36] No Yes Requires sex reassignment surgery, sterilization, hormone therapy and medical examinations[21]
Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 2014[37][38][19] No No No No Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[37][38] Yes Legal, requires surgery for change[39]
Russia Russia Yes Male legal since 1993
Female always legal[40][19]
No Illegal in practice in Chechnya, where homosexuals are abducted and sent to concentration camps based on their perceived sexual orientation.
No No Constitutional ban since 2020[41] No Yes[42] No Yes Requires sterilization for change[35]
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[19] No No No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples. No No Yes Requires sterilisation and sex reassignment surgery for change[43]

West Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of same-sex unions Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGBT 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.[19]
Yes Civil partnerships since 2005 Yes Legal since 2014 Emblem-question.svg Yes UK responsible for defence Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[44] Emblem-question.svg
Armenia Armenia Yes Legal since 2003
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
No No/Yes Constitutional ban since 2015[45][46]. Foreign same-sex marriages are recognized since 2017. No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples. No [47] No No
Republic of Artsakh Artsakh
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 2000 No No Constitutional ban since 2006[48] No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Yes Legal since 2000[19] No No No No No No
Bahrain Bahrain Yes Legal since 1976[19] No No No No No Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery.[49]
Cyprus Cyprus Yes Legal since 1998
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
Yes Civil cohabitation since 2015[30] No No Yes[31] Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination[32] Yes Forbids some discrimination based on gender identity.[33]
No Gender change is not legal.
Egypt Egypt No Male de jure legal, but de facto illegal since 2000
Penalty: Up to 17 years imprisonment with or without hard labour and with or without fines under broadly-written morality laws.[19][50]
No No No No No No
Georgia (country) Georgia Yes Legal since 2000
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
No No Constitutional ban passed but yet to take effect No Emblem-question.svg Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[51] Yes Requires sterilization and sex reassignment surgery for change[35]
Iran Iran No No Illegal
Penalty: 74 lashes for immature men and death penalty for mature men (Although there are documented cases of minors executed because of their sexual orientation)[52]. For women, 100 lashes for women of mature sound mind and if consenting. Death penalty offense after fourth conviction.[19]
No No No No No Yes Legal gender recognition legal if accompanied by a medical intervention[53]
Iraq Iraq Yes/ No Ambiguous. [54]
Illegal under paragraph 401 of public indecency law
Penalty: Up to 6 months imprisonment and a fine, or vigilante executions, beatings or tortures. [55]
No No No No No No
Israel Israel Yes Legal since 1963 (de facto), 1988 (de jure)[56]
+ UN decl. sign.[19][57]
Yes Unregistered cohabitation since 1994. No/Yes Foreign same-sex marriages are recognized and recorded in the population registry Yes Since 2008[58] Yes Since 1993; Includes transgender people[59] Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[60][61][62] Yes Almost full recognition of gender's ID without a surgery or medical intervention (Excluding changing gender and name in birth certificate) ;[63] equal employment opportunity law bars discrimination based on gender identity[64][65][66]
Jordan Jordan Yes Legal since 1951[19] No No No Emblem-question.svg No Yes Allowed since 2014[67]
Kuwait Kuwait No Male illegal
Penalty: Fines or up to 6-year prison sentence.
Yes Female always legal[19][68]
No No No No No No
Lebanon Lebanon Yes / No Ambiguous. 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.[69] However, a 2017 court ruling claims that it is legal, but the law against it is still in place.
Penalty: Up to 1 year imprisonment (rarely enforced).
No No No No No Yes Legal gender change allowed, but sex reassignment surgery required[70]
Northern Cyprus Northern Cyprus
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal since 2014[37][38][19] No No No No Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination[37][38] Yes Legal, requires surgery for change[39]
Oman Oman No Illegal
Penalty: Fines and prison sentence up to 3 years (Only enforced when dealing with "public scandal").[19]
No No No No No No Laws against forms of gender expression.
State of Palestine Palestine
West Bank:
Yes Legal since 1951 (As part of Jordan)[19]
Gaza:
No Male illegal
Penalty: Up to 10 years imprisonment.
Yes Female always legal[19]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No No
Qatar Qatar No No Illegal
Penalty: Fines, up to 7 years imprisonment[19] Death penalty for Muslims.
No No No No No No
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia No No Illegal
Penalty: Prison sentences of several months to life, fines, castration, torture or death can be sentenced on first conviction. A second conviction merits execution.[19]
No No No No No No Laws against forms of gender expression.
South Ossetia South Ossetia
(Disputed territory)
Yes Legal after 1991 No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Syria Syria No Illegal in the Syrian Arab Republic
Penalty: Up to 3 years imprisonment (Law de facto suspended)[71][19]
No No No No No Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender
Turkey Turkey Yes Legal since 1858[19] No No No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples. No No Yes Requires sterilisation and sex reassignment surgery for change[72]
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates No No Death, life in prison, floggings,[73] fines, deportation, chemical castration,[74][75] forced psychological treatments,[76] honor killings,[74] vigilante executions,[77][78] beatings,[79][80] forced anal examinations,[81] forced hormone injections,[82] and torture.[79][83] No No No No No No In September 2016, the Government passed Federal Decree No 4, a series of changes to reduce doctors' criminal liability. The new law allows doctors to perform medical intervention on intersex people so as to "correct" their sex, effectively removing either the male or female genitalia. Sex reassignment surgery remains illegal. [84][85][86] Laws used to criminalize gender expression.
Yemen Yemen No No Illegal
Penalty: Unmarried men punished with 100 lashes of the whip or a maximum of one year of imprisonment, stoning for adultery is not enforced. Women punished up to three years of imprisonment; where the offense has been committed under duress, the punishment is up to seven years detention.[19]
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 LGBT people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Afghanistan Afghanistan No No Illegal
Penalty: Death penalty[87]
No No No No No No
Bangladesh Bangladesh No Illegal for males and females
Penalty: 10 years to life imprisonment (Not enforced).[19]
No No No No No Yes A third gender option (hijra) besides male and female is available[88]
Bhutan Bhutan Yes Legal since 2021.[89] No No 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.[19]
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[90] Yes All unmarried couples including LGBTQ couples given equal rights to married couples No Proposed (under consideration) No Proposed No Proposed[91] Yes Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity prohibited nation-wide[92][93][94] Yes A third gender option (hijra) besides male and female is available; transgender people have a constitutional right to change gender[95][94]
Maldives Maldives No Illegal
Penalty: Up to 8 years imprisonment, house arrest, lashings and fines[96]
No No No No No No
Nepal Nepal Yes Legal since 2007
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
No Proposed No Proposed No Proposed Yes Since 2007[citation needed] Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination Yes/No Change to third gender "O" legal since 2007, unable to change to male or female[97]
Pakistan Pakistan No Illegal
Penalty: 2 years to life sentence (Not enforced).[19]
No No No No Yes Transphobia illegal

No Homophobia/biphobia is not illegal

Yes Right to change gender; transgender and intersex citizens have legal protections from all discrimination and harassment[98]
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka No Illegal under Article 365
Penalty: Up to 10 years imprisonment with fines.[19] (Not enforced) Legalization proposed
No No No No No Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender after sex reassignment surgery or medical intervention[99]

East Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in: Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of relationships Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGBT people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
China China Yes Legal since 1997[19] No/Yes "Legal guardianship" since 2017 No No Yes No Yes/No Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery. However, it is difficult to change the gender information of educational attainments and academic degrees for lack of legal procedures, even after sex reassignment surgery[100], which has caused discrimination against well-educated trans women[101].
Hong Kong Hong Kong Yes Legal since 1991[19] 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[102] Emblem-question.svg The central government of China is responsible for the defense of Hong Kong.[103] 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.[19]
No * Symbolic recognition in some jurisdictions. No Proposed No Yes The Japan Self-Defense Forces allow gay people to enlist.[104] Yes No nationwide protections, but some cities ban some anti-gay discrimination[19] Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
Macau Macau Yes Legal since 1996 No No No Emblem-question.svg The central government of China is responsible for the defence of Macau. Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Emblem-question.svg
Mongolia Mongolia Yes Legal since 1961
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
No No No Emblem-question.svg Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender but only after sex reassignment surgery
North KoreaNorth Korea Yes / No Ambiguous, punishable through Articles 193 and 262 regarding obscenity and decency laws.[dubious ]
Penalty: Unknown
No No No Emblem-question.svg10-year celibacy required.[105] No No
South Korea South Korea Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in South Korea)
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
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 but usually requires sex reassignment surgery
Taiwan Taiwan Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the country)[106]
Yes check.svg[107] Yes check.svg Legal since 2019[108][109][110] No/Yes Stepchild adoption only Yes Yes Constitutionally bans all anti-gay discrimination Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender but only after sex reassignment surgery[111]

Southeast Asia[edit]

LGBT rights in Same-sex sexual activity Recognition of relationships Same-sex marriage Adoption by same-sex couples LGBT people allowed to serve openly in military? Anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation Laws concerning gender identity/expression
Aceh Aceh (autonomous territory of Indonesia) No Illegal
Penalty: 100 strokes of the cane or 8 years in prison[112]
No No No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples No The central government of Indonesia is responsible for the defense of Aceh. Yes Follows the law of the central Indonesian government. Yes Follows the law of the central Indonesian government.
Brunei Brunei No No Illegal
Penalty: Death penalty (in abeyance), 1 year imprisonment and 100 lashes for men. Caning and 10 years prison for women.[113]
No No No No No No Laws prohibit forms of gender expression.
Cambodia Cambodia Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the country)[19]
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 since 1993 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.[19]
No No No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples Emblem-question.svg Yes Bans some anti gay discrimination, Hate crime protections since 2009.[114] Emblem-question.svg
Indonesia Indonesia Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the country, except in Aceh) [19][115]
No No No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples No Not explicitly prohibited by Law (de jure), Illegal (de facto) Yes Limited protection following legal process by the authorities.[116] 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 have ever existed in the country)[19]
No No No Emblem-question.svg No Emblem-question.svg
Malaysia Malaysia No Illegal
Penalty: fines, prison sentence (2-20 years), or whippings.[19][117]
No No No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples No No No Generally impossible to change gender. However, a 2016 court ruling recognizes gender changes as fundamental constitutional rights[118] Forms of gender expression are criminalized.
Myanmar Myanmar No Illegal
Penalty: Up to 20 years in prison (Not enforced). [19] Legalization proposed
No No No No No No
Philippines Philippines Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the country)
+ UN decl. sign.[119][19][120]
No[119] No[121] No LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[122][121] Yes Since 2009 Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination in certain cities and provinces,[123] including the City of Manila,[124]Cebu City,[125] Quezon City,[126] and Davao City;[127]
No
Singapore Singapore Yes Male legal since 2022
Female legal since 2007
No No Emblem-question.svg Ambiguous, a gay Singaporean man with a male partner in 2018 won an appeal in court to adopt a child that he fathered through a surrogate.[128] Yes Yes Protections against anti-gay discrimination, harassment and violence[129] Yes Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
Thailand Thailand Yes Legal since 1956
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
No[130] No No[131] Yes Since 2005 Yes Bans all anti-gay discrimination No[132]

Yes Anti-discrimination protections for gender expression.[117]

Vietnam Vietnam Yes Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity have ever existed in the country)[19]
+ UN decl. sign.[19]
No No No LGBT individuals may adopt, not same-sex couples[133] Yes Irrespective of one's sexual orientation Yes Bans some anti-gay discrimination Yes Gender changes recognized and officially practised since 2017;[134][135] previously, gender changes were only allowed for persons of congenital sex defects and unidentifiable sex


See also[edit]

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