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 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-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 significant economic incentive for rural, unskilled women with 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. Thirteen states allow and regulate prostitution. Some cities have “tolerance zones,” acting as red-light districts, which would enable 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 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.

Countries Where Prostitution Is Legal 2020

Country Prostitution Status Population 2020
IcelandLimitedly legal341,243
ArmeniaLimitedly legal2,963,243
IrelandLimitedly legal4,937,786
NorwayLimitedly legal5,421,241
SwedenLimitedly legal10,099,265
AustraliaLimitedly legal25,499,884
MalaysiaLimitedly legal32,365,999
CanadaLimitedly legal37,742,154
FranceLimitedly legal65,273,511
United KingdomLimitedly legal67,886,011
JapanLimitedly legal126,476,461
United StatesLimitedly legal331,002,651
BelizeLegal397,628
MaltaLegal441,543
LuxembourgLegal625,978
CyprusLegal1,207,359
EstoniaLegal1,326,535
LatviaLegal1,886,198
SloveniaLegal2,078,938
UruguayLegal3,473,730
PanamaLegal4,314,767
New ZealandLegal4,822,233
Costa RicaLegal5,094,118
SlovakiaLegal5,459,642
FinlandLegal5,540,720
DenmarkLegal5,792,202
SingaporeLegal5,850,342
El SalvadorLegal6,486,205
KyrgyzstanLegal6,524,195
NicaraguaLegal6,624,554
BulgariaLegal6,948,445
ParaguayLegal7,132,538
SwitzerlandLegal8,654,622
IsraelLegal8,655,535
AustriaLegal9,006,398
HungaryLegal9,660,351
HondurasLegal9,904,607
PortugalLegal10,196,709
GreeceLegal10,423,054
Czech RepublicLegal10,708,981
Dominican RepublicLegal10,847,910
CubaLegal11,326,616
BelgiumLegal11,589,623
BoliviaLegal11,673,021
SenegalLegal16,743,927
NetherlandsLegal17,134,872
EcuadorLegal17,643,054
GuatemalaLegal17,915,568
ChileLegal19,116,201
VenezuelaLegal28,435,940
PeruLegal32,971,854
PolandLegal37,846,611
ArgentinaLegal45,195,774
SpainLegal46,754,778
ColombiaLegal50,882,891
KenyaLegal53,771,296
ItalyLegal60,461,826
GermanyLegal83,783,942
TurkeyLegal84,339,067
EthiopiaLegal114,963,588
MexicoLegal128,932,753
BangladeshLegal164,689,383
BrazilLegal212,559,417
IndonesiaLegal273,523,615
IndiaLegal1,380,004,385
Saint Kitts And NevisIllegal53,199
DominicaIllegal71,986
Antigua And BarbudaIllegal97,929
Saint Vincent And The GrenadinesIllegal110,940
GrenadaIllegal112,523
Saint LuciaIllegal183,627
BarbadosIllegal287,375
BahamasIllegal393,244
SurinameIllegal586,632
GuyanaIllegal786,552
Trinidad And TobagoIllegal1,399,488
LithuaniaIllegal2,722,289
AlbaniaIllegal2,877,797
JamaicaIllegal2,961,167
CroatiaIllegal4,105,267
LiberiaIllegal5,057,681
United Arab EmiratesIllegal9,890,402
JordanIllegal10,203,134
HaitiIllegal11,402,528
RwandaIllegal12,952,218
CambodiaIllegal16,718,965
RomaniaIllegal19,237,691
North KoreaIllegal25,778,816
AngolaIllegal32,866,272
Saudi ArabiaIllegal34,813,871
AfghanistanIllegal38,928,346
IraqIllegal40,222,493
UgandaIllegal45,741,007
South KoreaIllegal51,269,185
South AfricaIllegal59,308,690
ThailandIllegal69,799,978
IranIllegal83,992,949
EgyptIllegal102,334,404
PhilippinesIllegal109,581,078
ChinaIllegal1,439,323,776