Countries Where Prostitution Is Legal 2021

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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. Under the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, it is legal to communicate with the intention of selling sex; however, it is illegal to communicate with the intention of buying sex and illegal to purchase sex services. It is legal for sex workers to advertise their own services, but not others' services. It is also illegal to sell sex near any area where a minor (under 18) could reasonably be expected to be present, such as schools, playgrounds, etc. These are just a few of the provisions in the law.

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 2021

Country Prostitution Status 2021 Population
IcelandLimitedly legal343,353
ArmeniaLimitedly legal2,968,127
IrelandLimitedly legal4,982,907
NorwayLimitedly legal5,465,630
SwedenLimitedly legal10,160,169
AustraliaLimitedly legal25,788,215
MalaysiaLimitedly legal32,776,194
CanadaLimitedly legal38,067,903
FranceLimitedly legal65,426,179
United KingdomLimitedly legal68,207,116
JapanLimitedly legal126,050,804
United StatesLimitedly legal332,915,073
BelizeLegal404,914
MaltaLegal442,784
LuxembourgLegal634,814
CyprusLegal1,215,584
EstoniaLegal1,325,185
LatviaLegal1,866,942
SloveniaLegal2,078,724
UruguayLegal3,485,151
PanamaLegal4,381,579
New ZealandLegal4,860,643
Costa RicaLegal5,139,052
SlovakiaLegal5,460,721
FinlandLegal5,548,360
DenmarkLegal5,813,298
SingaporeLegal5,896,686
El SalvadorLegal6,518,499
KyrgyzstanLegal6,628,356
NicaraguaLegal6,702,385
BulgariaLegal6,896,663
ParaguayLegal7,219,638
SwitzerlandLegal8,715,494
IsraelLegal8,789,774
AustriaLegal9,043,070
HungaryLegal9,634,164
HondurasLegal10,062,991
PortugalLegal10,167,925
GreeceLegal10,370,744
Czech RepublicLegal10,724,555
Dominican RepublicLegal10,953,703
CubaLegal11,317,505
BelgiumLegal11,632,326
BoliviaLegal11,832,940
NetherlandsLegal17,173,099
SenegalLegal17,196,301
EcuadorLegal17,888,475
GuatemalaLegal18,249,860
ChileLegal19,212,361
VenezuelaLegal28,704,954
PeruLegal33,359,418
PolandLegal37,797,005
ArgentinaLegal45,605,826
SpainLegal46,745,216
ColombiaLegal51,265,844
KenyaLegal54,985,698
ItalyLegal60,367,477
GermanyLegal83,900,473
TurkeyLegal85,042,738
EthiopiaLegal117,876,227
MexicoLegal130,262,216
BangladeshLegal166,303,498
BrazilLegal213,993,437
IndonesiaLegal276,361,783
IndiaLegal1,393,409,038
Saint Kitts And NevisIllegal53,544
DominicaIllegal72,167
Antigua And BarbudaIllegal98,731
Saint Vincent And The GrenadinesIllegal111,263
GrenadaIllegal113,021
Saint LuciaIllegal184,400
BarbadosIllegal287,711
BahamasIllegal396,913
SurinameIllegal591,800
GuyanaIllegal790,326
Trinidad And TobagoIllegal1,403,375
LithuaniaIllegal2,689,862
AlbaniaIllegal2,872,933
JamaicaIllegal2,973,463
CroatiaIllegal4,081,651
LiberiaIllegal5,180,203
United Arab EmiratesIllegal9,991,089
JordanIllegal10,269,021
HaitiIllegal11,541,685
RwandaIllegal13,276,513
CambodiaIllegal16,946,438
RomaniaIllegal19,127,774
North KoreaIllegal25,887,041
AngolaIllegal33,933,610
Saudi ArabiaIllegal35,340,683
AfghanistanIllegal39,835,428
IraqIllegal41,179,350
UgandaIllegal47,123,531
South KoreaIllegal51,305,186
South AfricaIllegal60,041,994
ThailandIllegal69,950,850
IranIllegal85,028,759
EgyptIllegal104,258,327
PhilippinesIllegal111,046,913
ChinaIllegal1,444,216,107

Countries Where Prostitution Is Legal 2021