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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Suriname may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Suriname. Since 2015, hate speech and discrimination in employment and the provision of goods and services on the basis of sexual orientation has been banned in the country. Same-sex marriage and civil unions are not recognised by law. Nevertheless, Suriname is legally bound to the January 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling, which held that same-sex marriage is a human right protected by the American Convention on Human Rights.[2]

Suriname (orthographic projection).svg
StatusLegal since 1869, but the age of consent isn't equal[1]
Gender identityNo
Discrimination protectionsYes, sexual orientation protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex couples

While homosexuality tends to be viewed as a taboo topic, the situation and attitudes have slowly changed in recent years.[3]

Legality of same-sex sexual activityEdit

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Suriname since 1869.[4] The age of consent for heterosexual intercourse is 16, while the age of consent for homosexual intercourse is 18.[5]

Recognition of same-sex relationshipsEdit

Recognition of same-sex unions in South America
  Other type of partnership
  Country subject to IACHR ruling (Venezuela: only Guaidó administration accepts jurisdiction of IACHR)[6]
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal, though penalties not enforced

Same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships are not possible in Suriname.

Discrimination protectionsEdit

In March 2015, the Government introduced hate speech legislation which includes sexual orientation as a ground for non-discrimination complaints. Specifically, articles 175, 175a and 176 of the Surinamese Penal Code were updated to include sexual orientation.[7][8] Violation of this law can result in a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine. In addition, articles 176c and 500a forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment and the provision of goods and services.[9] Despite the protective legislation, the LGBT community continues to face discrimination from society. In 2014, the Government explicitly excluded LGBT people from a social security legislation. According to the United States Department of State, some members of Parliament and the then-Vice President spoke out openly against LGBT persons, comparing homosexuality to a "disease" and inciting hatred and violence. Additionally, in 2015, there were reports of societal discrimination against the LGBT community in the areas of employment and housing.[4]

Gender identity and expressionEdit

In January 2017, the Eerste Kantongerecht (one of 3 Courts of First Instance in Suriname) granted a transgender woman the right to have her gender formally changed with the Central Bureau of Civil Affairs and ordered the registry to officially change her registration to reflect her amended status.[10] The Association of Pentecostal Churches in Suriname (VVPES) and the Suriname Islamic Association (SIV), which had protested against and opposed the right to recognize a gender change, indicated they would "accept the verdict".[11][12] In February 2017, the Central Bureau of Civil Affairs formally appealed the court ruling.[13]


Suriname's first public gay rights march took place on 11 October 2011 (National Coming Out Day, Nationale kom-uit-de-kastdag in Dutch) in Paramaribo, following MP Ronny Asabina's comments against homosexuality in June. Two members of the National Assembly, including Harish Monorath, attended the event.[14] It was partly organized by Suriname Men United, the largest gay men's organization in the country.

Other LGBT groups include PAREA and the LGBT Platform Suriname. Both are active in raising awareness of LGBT people, organising seminars with the police force on recognizing anti-LGBT violence, and pressing for the legal recognition of same-sex couples.[3][15]

In late 2016, Justice Minister Jennifer van Dijk-Silos organized several public hearings in collaboration with civil society in Suriname to discuss the expansion of the rights of LGBT people.[7]

Public opinionEdit

A 2010 opinion poll carried out by Vanderbilt University showed that 20.3% of the Surinamese population supported same-sex marriage.[16]

In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, an LGBT social network, published its first Gay Happiness Index (GHI). Gay men from over 120 countries were asked about how they feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how do they experience the way they are treated by other people and how satisfied are they with their lives. Suriname was ranked 46th with a GHI score of 48.[17]

Summary tableEdit

Same-sex sexual activity legal   (Since 1869)
Equal age of consent  
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only   (Since 2015)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services   (Since 2015)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)   (Since 2015)
Same-sex marriages  
Recognition of same-sex couples  
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples  
Joint adoption by same-sex couples  
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military  
Right to change legal gender   (Court decision pending)
Access to IVF for lesbians  
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples   (Commercial surrogacy is illegal for all couples regardless of sexual orientation)
MSMs allowed to donate blood  

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Inter-American Court endorses same-sex marriage". Agence France-Presse. Yahoo7. 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b Gay Life in Suriname
  5. ^ What is the Suriname Age of Consent?
  6. ^ "Reingreso de Venezuela a la jurisdicción de Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos". Exmanen ONU Venezuela (in Spanish). 3 June 2019.
  7. ^ a b Suriname Should Do the Right Thing on LGBT Rights at the UN
  8. ^ Human Rights Situation for LGBTI Persons and Sexual Rights in the Republic of Suriname
  9. ^ "Wetboek van Strafrecht" (PDF). 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Case SRU-K1-2017-2". 11 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Transgender wins case for sex change recognition". The Daily Herald. Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  12. ^ Leeuwin, Wilfred (11 January 2017). "Yvanna Hilton mag als vrouw door het leven" (in Dutch). Paramaribo, Suriname: De Ware Tijd. Archived from the original on 12 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  13. ^ "Suriname appeals transgender verdict".
  14. ^ Reuters (12 October 2011). "Suriname holds first gay rights march". News24.
  15. ^ Suriname Debates Equal Rights
  16. ^ Support for Same‐Sex Marriage in Latin America
  17. ^ The Gay Happiness Index. The very first worldwide country ranking, based on the input of 115,000 gay men Planet Romeo