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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.

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

In Afghanistan, Brunei, 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]

Homosexuality laws in Asia
Same-sex sexual activity legal
  Marriage performed
  Foreign same-sex marriages recognized
  Other type of partnership
  Legal guardianships or unregistered cohabitation
(stripes: nonbinding certificates)
  No recognition of same-sex couples
  Restrictions on freedom of expression
Same-sex sexual activity illegal
  Prison on books but not enforced
  Prison
  Life imprisonment
  Death penalty on books but not applied
  Death penalty

Legislation by country or territory

This table:

Central AsiaEdit

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     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]
           
  Kyrgyzstan   Legal since 1998[1]     Constitutional ban since 2016[7]         Requires sex reassignment surgery[8][9]
  Tajikistan   Legal since 1998[1]             Requires sex reassignment surgery[10][9]
  Turkmenistan   Male illegal
Penalty: up to 2 years imprisonment.
  Female always legal[1]
           
  Uzbekistan   Male illegal
Penalty: up to 3 years imprisonment.
  Female always legal[1]
           

EurasiaEdit

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
(Disputed territory)
  Legal after 1991            
  Akrotiri and Dhekelia
(Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom)
  Legal since 2000
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
  Civil partnerships since 2005   Legal since 2014     UK responsible for defence   Bans some anti-gay discrimination[11]  
  Armenia   Legal since 2003
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
   /  Constitutional ban since 2015;[12][13] same-sex marriages performed abroad recognized since 2017[14]    [15]    
  Artsakh
(Disputed territory)
  Legal since 2000     Constitutional ban since 2006[16]        
  Azerbaijan   Legal since 2000[1]            
  Cyprus   Legal since 1998
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
  Civil unions since 2015         Bans all anti-gay discrimination[17]  
  Georgia   Legal since 2000
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
    Constitutional ban passed but yet to take effect       Bans all anti-gay discrimination[18]   Requires sterilization and sex reassignment surgery for change[19]
  Kazakhstan   Legal since 1998[1]        [20]     Requires sex reassignment surgry, sterilization, hormone therapy and medical examinations[9]
  Northern Cyprus
(Disputed territory)
  Legal since 2014[21][22][1]           Bans all anti-gay discrimination[21][22]  
  Russia   Male legal since 1993
Female always legal[23][1]
  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.
    Constitutional ban proposed[24]    [citation needed]     Requires sterilization and sex reassignment surgery for change[19]
  South Ossetia
(Disputed territory)
  Legal after 1991            
  Turkey   Legal since 1858[1]         Proposed[25][failed verification]   Proposed[25]   Requires sterilisation and sex reassignment surgery for change[26]

West AsiaEdit

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   Legal since 1976[1]            
  Iran     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]
            Legal gender recognition legal if accompanied by a medical intervention[28]
  Iraq   Legal since 2003[29]            
  Israel   Legal since 1963 (de facto), 1988 (de jure)[30]
+ UN decl. sign.[1][31]
  Unregistered cohabitation since 1994.  /  Foreign same-sex marriages are recognized and recorded in the population registry   Since 2008[32]   Since 1993   Bans all anti-gay discrimination[33][34][35]   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][39]
  Jordan   Legal since 1951[1]             Allowed since 2014[40]
  Kuwait   Male illegal
Penalty: Fines or up to 6-year prison sentence.
  Female always legal[1][41]
           
  Lebanon   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]             Legal gender change allowed, but sex reassignment surgery required[43]
  Oman   Illegal
Penalty: Fines and prison sentence up to 3 years (Only enforced when dealing with "public scandal").[1]
           
  Palestine
(Disputed territory)
West Bank:
  Legal since 1951 (As part of Jordan)[1]
Gaza:
  Male illegal
Penalty: Up to 10 years imprisonment.
  Female always legal[1]
           
  Qatar     Illegal
Penalty: Fines, up to 7 years imprisonment,[1] or death penalty.[44]
           
  Saudi Arabia     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]
           
  Syria   Illegal
Penalty: Up to 3 years imprisonment (Law de facto suspended)[45][1]
            Transgender people allowed to change legal gender
  United Arab Emirates     Imprisonment, fines, flogging, execution, and deportation;[46][47][48][49][50][51][52]             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. [53][54][55]
  Yemen     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]
           

South AsiaEdit

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   Illegal
Penalty: 10 years to life imprisonment.[1]
            A third gender option (hijra) besides male and female is available[56]
  Bhutan   Illegal
Penalty: Prison sentence up to 1 year (Not enforced).[1] (decriminalization pending)[57]
    Proposed        
  British Indian Ocean Territory
(Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom)
  Legal since 2001
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
  Civil partnerships since 2005   Legal since 2014     UK responsible for defense    
  India   Legal since 2018[58]   Proposed   Proposed   Proposed   Proposed[59]   Bans some anti-gay discrimination (in state and government bodies only)   A third gender option (hijra) besides male and female is available; transgender people have a constitutional right to change gender[60]
  Maldives   Illegal
Penalty: Up to 8 years imprisonment, house arrest, lashings and fines[61]
           
  Nepal   Legal since 2007
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
  Proposed   Proposed   Proposed   Since 2007[citation needed]   Bans all anti-gay discrimination   Gender change legal since 2007[62]
  Pakistan   Illegal
Penalty: 2 years to life sentence (Not enforced).[1]
            Right to change gender; transgender and intersex citizens have legal protections from all discrimination and harassment[63]
  Sri Lanka   (Ruled unenforcable by the Supreme Court, various outlets report it as decriminalized under the Sri Lankan legal system)[64][65]          [66][67]   Transgender persons can change their legal gender and name after completion of medical intervention[68][69]

East AsiaEdit

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   Legal since 1997[1]   "Legal guardianship" since 2017           Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
  Hong Kong   Legal since 1991[1]  /  Same-sex marriages registered overseas for government benefits and taxation, and limited recognition of local cohabiting partners     LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[70]   China responsible for defence   Bans some anti-gay discrimination (government discrimination only)   Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
  Japan   Legal since 1880
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
        The Japan Self-Defense Forces allow gay people to enlist.[71]  /  No nationwide protections, but some cities ban some anti-gay discrimination[1]   Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
  Macau   Legal since 1996         China responsible for defence   Bans some anti-gay discrimination  
  Mongolia   Legal since 1961
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
          Bans some anti-gay discrimination   Transgender people allowed to change legal gender
  North Korea   Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in North Korea)[1]
            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   Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in South Korea)
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
         /  Protection from discrimination varies by jurisdiction in some areas, including Seoul   Transgender people allowed to change legal gender
  Taiwan   Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[72]
 [73]   Legal since 2019[74][75][76]  /  Stepchild adoption only     Constitutionally bans all anti-gay discrimination   Transgender people allowed to change legal gender[77]

Southeast AsiaEdit

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     Illegal
Penalty: Death penalty (in abeyance), imprisonment and 100 lashes for men. Caning and 10 years prison for women.[78]
           
  Cambodia   Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[1]
 /  Partnerships recognized in certain cities   There has been at least one recorded case of a legally registered and recognized same-sex marriage; constitutional ban  /  Officially banned, but numerous same-sex adoptions have taken place      
  East Timor   Legal since 1975
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
           
  Indonesia   Legal nationwide, except;
  Illegal in the provinces of Aceh, South Sumatra, and the city of Palembang (Applies only to Muslims);[79][80][1] Age of consent discrepancy
       [81]     Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
  Laos   Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[1]
           
  Malaysia   Illegal
Penalty: fines, prison sentence (2-20 years), or whippings.[1][82]
            A 2016 court ruling recognizes gender changes as fundamental constitutional rights[83]
  Myanmar   Illegal
Penalty: Up to life sentence (Not enforced).[1]
           
  Philippines   Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[84][1][85]
  Pending[84]   Pending[86]   LGBT individuals may adopt, but not same-sex couples[87]   Since 2009  /  In certain cities and provinces,[88] including Cebu City,[89] Quezon City, and Davao City;[90][91]
National bill pending
 [92]
  Singapore   Male illegal
Penalty: up to 2 years prison sentence (Not enforced since 1999); Court decision pending.
  Female legal since 2007[1]
       /  Due to conscription, but gays are not allowed to go to command school or serve in sensitive units     Transgender people allowed to change legal gender, but only after sex reassignment surgery
  Thailand   Legal since 1956
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
  Pending[93]     Pending[94]   Since 2005   Bans all anti-gay discrimination   Transgender people allowed to change gender.[95][96] Anti-discrimination protections for gender expression.[82]
  Vietnam   Legal
(No laws against same-sex sexual activity has ever existed in the country)[1]
+ UN decl. sign.[1]
        Irrespective of one's sexual orientation     Gender changes recognized and officially practised since 2017;[97][98] previously, gender changes were only allowed for persons of congenital sex defects and unidentifiable sex



See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit