LGBT Rights by Country

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LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. LGBT, or LGBTQ+ (a common variant), are used as an umbrella term for topics pertaining to sexual and gender identity. It is used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual and non-cisgender instead of exclusively applying to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, such as those who identify as queer or intersex individuals.

Other variants of LGBT include LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA, and LGBTQIA+. Differences in the variants do not necessarily represent differences in politics within the community but are rather just preferences among individuals and groups.

LGBT people around the world face inequality, discrimination, and violence. Rights affecting those who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community vary greatly by country or jurisdiction. LGBTQ+ rights encompass everything from the death penalty to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

LGBTQ+ Rights in the United States

The U.S. has made great strides in LGBTQ+ rights over the years. Although the U.S. Supreme Courts have legalized many LGBTQ+ rights, jobs, housing, and service discrimination still exist and rights continue to vary by jurisdiction. The U.S. has no federal law outlawing discrimination nationwide.

The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights laws to explicitly state sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. By including this language, the Act would provide explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people nationwide and all areas of life such as housing, education, employment, public spaces and services, and federally funded programs among other things.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been fighting for LGBTQ+ rights since 1936 and brings more LGBTQ+ cases than any other national organization.

Some of the greatest victories for the LGBTQ+ community in the United States are the legalization of gay marriage and the legalization of adoption of children by same-sex couples. Gay marriage legalization expanded from one state in 2004 to all fifty states in 2015 through federal court rulings, state court rulings, state legislation, and direct popular votes. The Supreme Court struck down all bans on same-sex adoption in 2016, legalizing it in all 50 states.

Despite significant progress, the United States still has a way to go for LGBTQ+ rights.

LGQBTQ+ Rights Around the World

LGBTQ+ rights vary greatly between countries. In some countries, homosexuality is illegal, while in others it is legal but organizations and promotion of “nontraditional sexual relations” are illegal. In a few countries, homosexuality can receive a death penalty.

Homosexual activity is a capital offense in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, and Somalia.

Transgender individuals can join the military in only 19 countries: Canada, Bolivia, French Guiana, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand. Thailand allows transgender individuals to join only in administrative positions.

Only Ecuador, Brazil, and Malta have outlawed conversion therapies nationwide. Conversion therapy is not outlawed in the United States nationwide; however, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine have statewide bans.

Only 5% of the United Nations member states have written into their constitutions that sexual orientation-based discrimination is prohibited. These states include Ecuador, Mexico, Portugal, Bolivia, South Africa, Sweden, and Nepal.

Most of Europe and South America have taken steps to tackle sexual orientation-based discrimination in the workplace, as well as some other countries around the world. In general, same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt outside the Americas, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.

The Netherlands was the first country to allow same-sex marriage in 2001 and Ecuador is the most recent country to legalize it. Same-sex marriage is not legalized in the majority of Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. Only 13% of UN member states have legalized gay marriage and a handful recognize civil unions, including Peru, Greece, and Italy.

According to the LGBTQ+ Danger Index, below are the ten best and safest countries in the world for LGBTQ+ people. The index is based on each country’s LGBT rights for its citizens.

1. Sweden

Sweden is the most gay-friendly country in the world. Sweden has legalized same-sex marriage, worker protections for both gender identity and sexual orientation, constitutional protections against discrimination, and criminalization of violence against LGBTQ+ people. Additionally, same-sex couples are allowed to adopt in Sweden.

2. Canada

Canada ranks second as the most LGBTQ+-friendly nation in the world. Unlike Sweden, Canada has worker protections for sexual orientation only, not including gender identity. Canada was the first country outside of Europe and the fourth country in the world to legalized gay marriage on July 20, 2005. Additionally, same-sex couples can adopt and there are constitutional protections against discrimination of LGBTQ+ people.

3. Norway

Norway is the third-most LGBTQ+-friendly nation. Norway has legalized gay marriage and has worker protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity. Norway has broad protections for discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, rather than constitutional protections, and has criminalized hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. Like Sweden and Canada, Norway allows for joint and second-parent adoption for same-sex couples.

4. Portugal

Portugal ranks fourth on the list. Portugal became the sixth European country and the eighth country in the world to legalize gay marriage on May 17, 2010. In 2016, same-sex couples became eligible to adopt. Additionally, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are all allowed to join the Portuguese military. The LGBTQ+ has constitutional protections against discrimination as well as worker protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity.

5. Belgium

Ranking fifth on the list is Belgium. Belgium was the second country in the world to legalize gay marriage behind the Netherlands. Same-sex couples have equal adoption rights as opposite-sex couples and LGBT people are not banned from the military. Belgium offers broad protections for LGBTQ+ people against discrimination and has worker protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

6. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is the sixth-most LGBTQ+-friendly country in the world. On March 29, 2014, the UK legalized same-sex marriage. Laws to allow same-sex couples to adopt passed in England and Wales in 2005 and Scotland in 2009. Since 2000, LGBT people have been allowed to openly serve in the military and discrimination based on sexual orientation has been prohibited since 2010. The British military also grants same-sex couples the same rights to housing and allowances as it does to opposite-sex couples.

7. Finland

Finland, the third Nordic country on the list, the seventh-most LGTBQ+-friendly country in the world. Same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption have been legal since March 1, 2017. Finland has worker protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity and has broad protections against discrimination.

8. France

France was the 13th country to legalize gay marriage on May 18, 2013. Same-sex couples have also been legally able to adopt since the same-sex marriage law took effect. France offers worker protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals are allowed to serve openly in the military. In 2004, the National Assembly approved an amendment to existing anti-discrimination laws to include homophobic comments as illegal.

9. Iceland

Iceland ranks ninth for LGBTQ+ friendliness. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Iceland in 2010 by a unanimous vote to define marriage as between two individuals. Since 2006, same-sex couples have had equal access to adoption and IVF (in vitro fertilization) as opposite-sex couples. In 2018, Iceland passed a law banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics.

10. Spain

Finishing the top ten list of the most LGBTQ+-friendly countries is Spain. In 2005, Spain legalized both same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. Spain has nationwide worker protections for sexual orientation only; however, some autonomous communities in Spain have banned discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to serve openly in the Spanish Armed Forces.

The ten worst countries for LGBT rights are:

  1. Nigeria
  2. Qatar
  3. Yemen
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. Tanzania
  6. Iran
  7. Sudan
  8. Barbados
  9. Malaysia
  10. Malawi

These countries have no LGBTQ+ protections. Homosexuality in these countries is subject to imprisonment, stoning, flogging, and, in some countries, can result in the death penalty.

LGBT Rights by Country

Rank Country 2021 Population
1China1,444,216,107
2India1,393,409,038
3United States332,915,073
4Indonesia276,361,783
5Pakistan225,199,937
6Brazil213,993,437
7Nigeria211,400,708
8Bangladesh166,303,498
9Russia145,912,025
10Mexico130,262,216
11Japan126,050,804
12Ethiopia117,876,227
13Philippines111,046,913
14Egypt104,258,327
15Vietnam98,168,833
16Dr Congo92,377,993
17Turkey85,042,738
18Iran85,028,759
19Germany83,900,473
20Thailand69,950,850
21United Kingdom68,207,116
22France65,426,179
23Tanzania61,498,437
24Italy60,367,477
25South Africa60,041,994
26Kenya54,985,698
27Myanmar54,806,012
28South Korea51,305,186
29Colombia51,265,844
30Uganda47,123,531
31Spain46,745,216
32Argentina45,605,826
33Sudan44,909,353
34Algeria44,616,624
35Ukraine43,466,819
36Iraq41,179,350
37Afghanistan39,835,428
38Canada38,067,903
39Poland37,797,005
40Morocco37,344,795
41Saudi Arabia35,340,683
42Uzbekistan33,935,763
43Angola33,933,610
44Peru33,359,418
45Malaysia32,776,194
46Mozambique32,163,047
47Ghana31,732,129
48Yemen30,490,640
49Nepal29,674,920
50Venezuela28,704,954
51Madagascar28,427,328
52Cameroon27,224,265
53Ivory Coast27,053,629
54North Korea25,887,041
55Australia25,788,215
56Niger25,130,817
57Taiwan23,855,010
58Sri Lanka21,497,310
59Burkina Faso21,497,096
60Mali20,855,735
61Malawi19,647,684
62Chile19,212,361
63Romania19,127,774
64Kazakhstan18,994,962
65Zambia18,920,651
66Syria18,275,702
67Guatemala18,249,860
68Ecuador17,888,475
69Senegal17,196,301
70Netherlands17,173,099
71Cambodia16,946,438
72Chad16,914,985
73Somalia16,359,504
74Zimbabwe15,092,171
75Guinea13,497,244
76Rwanda13,276,513
77Benin12,451,040
78Burundi12,255,433
79Tunisia11,935,766
80Bolivia11,832,940
81Belgium11,632,326
82Haiti11,541,685
83South Sudan11,381,378
84Cuba11,317,505
85Dominican Republic10,953,703
86Czech Republic10,724,555
87Greece10,370,744
88Jordan10,269,021
89Azerbaijan10,223,342
90Portugal10,167,925
91Sweden10,160,169
92Honduras10,062,991
93United Arab Emirates9,991,089
94Tajikistan9,749,627
95Hungary9,634,164
96Belarus9,442,862
97Papua New Guinea9,119,010
98Austria9,043,070
99Israel8,789,774
100Switzerland8,715,494
101Serbia8,697,550
102Togo8,478,250
103Sierra Leone8,141,343
104Hong Kong7,552,810
105Laos7,379,358
106Paraguay7,219,638
107Libya6,958,532
108Bulgaria6,896,663
109Lebanon6,769,146
110Nicaragua6,702,385
111Kyrgyzstan6,628,356
112El Salvador6,518,499
113Turkmenistan6,117,924
114Singapore5,896,686
115Denmark5,813,298
116Republic Of The Congo5,657,013
117Finland5,548,360
118Norway5,465,630
119Slovakia5,460,721
120Oman5,223,375
121Palestine5,222,748
122Liberia5,180,203
123Costa Rica5,139,052
124Ireland4,982,907
125Central African Republic4,919,981
126New Zealand4,860,643
127Mauritania4,775,119
128Panama4,381,579
129Kuwait4,328,550
130Croatia4,081,651
131Moldova4,024,019
132Georgia3,979,765
133Eritrea3,601,467
134Uruguay3,485,151
135Mongolia3,329,289
136Bosnia And Herzegovina3,263,466
137Jamaica2,973,463
138Armenia2,968,127
139Qatar2,930,528
140Albania2,872,933
141Puerto Rico2,828,255
142Lithuania2,689,862
143Namibia2,587,344
144Gambia2,486,945
145Botswana2,397,241
146Gabon2,278,825
147Lesotho2,159,079
148North Macedonia2,082,658
149Slovenia2,078,724
150Guinea Bissau2,015,494
151Latvia1,866,942
152Bahrain1,748,296
153Equatorial Guinea1,449,896
154Trinidad And Tobago1,403,375
155Timor Leste1,343,873
156Estonia1,325,185
157Mauritius1,273,433
158Cyprus1,215,584
159Eswatini1,172,362
160Djibouti1,002,187
161Fiji902,906
162Reunion901,686
163Comoros888,451
164Guyana790,326
165Bhutan779,898
166Solomon Islands703,996
167Macau658,394
168Luxembourg634,814
169Montenegro628,053
170Western Sahara611,875
171Suriname591,800
172Cape Verde561,898
173Maldives543,617
174Malta442,784
175Brunei441,532
176Belize404,914
177Guadeloupe400,020
178Bahamas396,913
179Martinique374,745
180Iceland343,353
181Vanuatu314,464
182French Guiana306,448
183New Caledonia288,218
184Barbados287,711
185French Polynesia282,530
186Mayotte279,515
187Sao Tome And Principe223,368
188Samoa200,149
189Saint Lucia184,400
190Guam170,179
191Curacao164,798
192Kiribati121,392
193Micronesia116,254
194Grenada113,021
195Saint Vincent And The Grenadines111,263
196Aruba107,204
197Tonga106,760
198United States Virgin Islands104,226
199Seychelles98,908
200Antigua And Barbuda98,731
201Isle Of Man85,410
202Andorra77,355
203Dominica72,167
204Cayman Islands66,497
205Bermuda62,090
206Marshall Islands59,610
207Northern Mariana Islands57,917
208Greenland56,877
209American Samoa55,100
210Saint Kitts And Nevis53,544
211Faroe Islands49,049
212Sint Maarten43,412
213Monaco39,511
214Saint Martin39,234
215Turks And Caicos Islands39,231
216Liechtenstein38,250
217San Marino34,017
218Gibraltar33,698
219British Virgin Islands30,421
220Palau18,169
221Cook Islands17,565
222Anguilla15,117
223Tuvalu11,931
224Wallis And Futuna11,094
225Nauru10,876
226Saint Barthelemy9,907
227Saint Pierre And Miquelon5,766
228Montserrat4,977
229Falkland Islands3,533
230Niue1,619
231Tokelau1,373
232Vatican City800

LGBT Rights by Country