Countries Where Prostitution Is Legal 2020

Prostitution is the practice, business, or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone in exchange for payment. There are an estimated 42 million prostitutes around the world.

Prostitution occurs in a variety of forms and its legality varies from country to country. Its legality reflects different opinions on exploitation, gender roles, ethics and morality, freedom of choice, and social norms.

There are different types of legality when it comes to prostitution. Prohibitionism means that prostitution is illegal. Neo-abolitionism considers prostitution to be violence against women, and so the clients and pimps are prosecuted, not the prostitute. Abolitionism considers prostitution to be legal; however, public solicitation, operating brothels, and pimping are prohibited. The legalization of prostitution allows prostitution and employment of prostitutes to be legal but is regulated. Decriminalization of prostitution treats prostitution like any other labor and is subject to minimal or no special regulations. Some countries have different local laws regarding prostitution.

Prostitution is seen as a major issue for religious groups and causes controversy within feminist activism. Some feminists believe that prostitution harms women and reinforces stereotypical views about women as sex objects. Other feminists believe that prostitution is a valid choice for women who wish to engage in it.

Prostitution in Canada is legal with strict regulations. Sex work cannot be operated on a premises (such as a brothel), and cannot be solicited in public. However, working as independent sex workers and soliciting services in private is legal.

In Thailand, prostitution is illegal, however, laws are ambiguous and unenforced. Sex work in Thailand is a big economic incentive for rural, unskilled women who have financial obligations such as dependents or debts.

In Germany, prostitution is legal and taxed. Germany also allows brothels, advertisements, and job offers through HR companies. Germany passed the Prostitutes Protection Act in 2016, which was intended to protect prostitutes by requiring a permit for all prostitution trades and a prostitute registration certificate.

The legality of prostitution in Australia varies considerably between states and territories, which each have their own laws. In Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, sex work is legal and regulated. In Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania, independent sex work is legal and not regulated, but brothels are illegal.

Prostitution is legal under federal law in Mexico. The country’s 32 states enact their own prostitution policies. 13 of the states allow and regulate prostitution, and some cities have “tolerance zones,” acting as red-light districts, which allow regulated prostitution. Pimping is illegal in most parts of Mexico.

Where is prostitution legal in the United States? Prostitution is illegal in every state except for some counties in Nevada. Prostitution is illegal in the following counties: Clark, Douglas, Eureka, Lincoln, Pershing, and Washoe. Las Vegas and Reno are within these counties, meaning prostitution is illegal in both cities; however, most prostitution in Nevada occurs illegally in both Reno and Las Vegas. Brothels are permitted in counties where prostitution is legal, and both brothels and prostitutes are subject to federal income taxes.

Below is a table of 100 countries around the world and each of their legal stances on prostitution. Prostitution is legal in 53 of these countries, limited legal in 12, and illegal in 35.

Country Prostitution Status Population 2019
CambodiaIllegal16,486,542
ChinaIllegal1,433,783,686
CroatiaIllegal4,130,304
DominicaIllegal71,808
AngolaIllegal31,825,295
Antigua And BarbudaIllegal97,118
GrenadaIllegal112,003
GuyanaIllegal782,766
HaitiIllegal11,263,077
IranIllegal82,913,906
IraqIllegal39,309,783
JamaicaIllegal2,948,279
AfghanistanIllegal38,041,754
JordanIllegal10,101,694
North KoreaIllegal25,666,161
South KoreaIllegal51,225,308
LiberiaIllegal4,937,374
BahamasIllegal389,482
LithuaniaIllegal2,759,627
BarbadosIllegal287,025
PhilippinesIllegal108,116,615
RomaniaIllegal19,364,557
RwandaIllegal12,626,950
Saint Kitts And NevisIllegal52,823
Saint LuciaIllegal182,790
Saint Vincent And The GrenadinesIllegal110,589
Saudi ArabiaIllegal34,268,528
South AfricaIllegal58,558,270
SurinameIllegal581,372
ThailandIllegal69,625,582
Trinidad And TobagoIllegal1,394,973
United Arab EmiratesIllegal9,770,529
AlbaniaIllegal2,880,917
UgandaIllegal44,269,594
EgyptIllegal100,388,073
BulgariaLegal7,000,119
ChileLegal18,952,038
ColombiaLegal50,339,443
Costa RicaLegal5,047,561
CubaLegal11,333,483
CyprusLegal1,198,575
Czech RepublicLegal10,689,209
DenmarkLegal5,771,876
Dominican RepublicLegal10,738,958
EcuadorLegal17,373,662
El SalvadorLegal6,453,553
EthiopiaLegal112,078,730
EstoniaLegal1,325,648
FinlandLegal5,532,156
GermanyLegal83,517,045
GreeceLegal10,473,455
ArgentinaLegal44,780,677
GuatemalaLegal17,581,472
HondurasLegal9,746,117
HungaryLegal9,684,679
IndiaLegal1,366,417,754
IndonesiaLegal270,625,568
IsraelLegal8,519,377
ItalyLegal60,550,075
AustriaLegal8,955,102
KenyaLegal52,573,973
KyrgyzstanLegal6,415,850
LatviaLegal1,906,743
LuxembourgLegal615,729
MaltaLegal440,372
MexicoLegal127,575,529
BangladeshLegal163,046,161
NetherlandsLegal17,097,130
New ZealandLegal4,783,063
NicaraguaLegal6,545,502
BelgiumLegal11,539,328
PanamaLegal4,246,439
ParaguayLegal7,044,636
PeruLegal32,510,453
PolandLegal37,887,768
PortugalLegal10,226,187
BoliviaLegal11,513,100
SenegalLegal16,296,364
SingaporeLegal5,804,337
SlovakiaLegal5,457,013
SloveniaLegal2,078,654
SpainLegal46,736,776
SwitzerlandLegal8,591,365
BrazilLegal211,049,527
TurkeyLegal83,429,615
BelizeLegal390,353
UruguayLegal3,461,734
VenezuelaLegal28,515,829
CanadaLimitedly legal37,411,047
FranceLimitedly legal65,129,728
IcelandLimitedly legal339,031
AustraliaLimitedly legal25,203,198
IrelandLimitedly legal4,882,495
JapanLimitedly legal126,860,301
MalaysiaLimitedly legal31,949,777
ArmeniaLimitedly legal2,957,731
NorwayLimitedly legal5,378,857
SwedenLimitedly legal10,036,379
United KingdomLimitedly legal67,530,172
United StatesLimitedly legal329,064,917