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
China1,444,216,107
India1,393,409,038
United States332,915,073
Indonesia276,361,783
Pakistan225,199,937
Brazil213,993,437
Nigeria211,400,708
Bangladesh166,303,498
Russia145,912,025
Mexico130,262,216
Japan126,050,804
Ethiopia117,876,227
Philippines111,046,913
Egypt104,258,327
Vietnam98,168,833
Dr Congo92,377,993
Turkey85,042,738
Iran85,028,759
Germany83,900,473
Thailand69,950,850
United Kingdom68,207,116
France65,426,179
Tanzania61,498,437
Italy60,367,477
South Africa60,041,994
Kenya54,985,698
Myanmar54,806,012
South Korea51,305,186
Colombia51,265,844
Uganda47,123,531
Spain46,745,216
Argentina45,605,826
Sudan44,909,353
Algeria44,616,624
Ukraine43,466,819
Iraq41,179,350
Afghanistan39,835,428
Canada38,067,903
Poland37,797,005
Morocco37,344,795
Saudi Arabia35,340,683
Uzbekistan33,935,763
Angola33,933,610
Peru33,359,418
Malaysia32,776,194
Mozambique32,163,047
Ghana31,732,129
Yemen30,490,640
Nepal29,674,920
Venezuela28,704,954
Madagascar28,427,328
Cameroon27,224,265
Ivory Coast27,053,629
North Korea25,887,041
Australia25,788,215
Niger25,130,817
Taiwan23,855,010
Sri Lanka21,497,310
Burkina Faso21,497,096
Mali20,855,735
Malawi19,647,684
Chile19,212,361
Romania19,127,774
Kazakhstan18,994,962
Zambia18,920,651
Syria18,275,702
Guatemala18,249,860
Ecuador17,888,475
Senegal17,196,301
Netherlands17,173,099
Cambodia16,946,438
Chad16,914,985
Somalia16,359,504
Zimbabwe15,092,171
Guinea13,497,244
Rwanda13,276,513
Benin12,451,040
Burundi12,255,433
Tunisia11,935,766
Bolivia11,832,940
Belgium11,632,326
Haiti11,541,685
South Sudan11,381,378
Cuba11,317,505
Dominican Republic10,953,703
Czech Republic10,724,555
Greece10,370,744
Jordan10,269,021
Azerbaijan10,223,342
Portugal10,167,925
Sweden10,160,169
Honduras10,062,991
United Arab Emirates9,991,089
Tajikistan9,749,627
Hungary9,634,164
Belarus9,442,862
Papua New Guinea9,119,010
Austria9,043,070
Israel8,789,774
Switzerland8,715,494
Serbia8,697,550
Togo8,478,250
Sierra Leone8,141,343
Hong Kong7,552,810
Laos7,379,358
Paraguay7,219,638
Libya6,958,532
Bulgaria6,896,663
Lebanon6,769,146
Nicaragua6,702,385
Kyrgyzstan6,628,356
El Salvador6,518,499
Turkmenistan6,117,924
Singapore5,896,686
Denmark5,813,298
Republic Of The Congo5,657,013
Finland5,548,360
Norway5,465,630
Slovakia5,460,721
Oman5,223,375
Palestine5,222,748
Liberia5,180,203
Costa Rica5,139,052
Ireland4,982,907
Central African Republic4,919,981
New Zealand4,860,643
Mauritania4,775,119
Panama4,381,579
Kuwait4,328,550
Croatia4,081,651
Moldova4,024,019
Georgia3,979,765
Eritrea3,601,467
Uruguay3,485,151
Mongolia3,329,289
Bosnia And Herzegovina3,263,466
Jamaica2,973,463
Armenia2,968,127
Qatar2,930,528
Albania2,872,933
Puerto Rico2,828,255
Lithuania2,689,862
Namibia2,587,344
Gambia2,486,945
Botswana2,397,241
Gabon2,278,825
Lesotho2,159,079
North Macedonia2,082,658
Slovenia2,078,724
Guinea Bissau2,015,494
Latvia1,866,942
Bahrain1,748,296
Equatorial Guinea1,449,896
Trinidad And Tobago1,403,375
Timor Leste1,343,873
Estonia1,325,185
Mauritius1,273,433
Cyprus1,215,584
Eswatini1,172,362
Djibouti1,002,187
Fiji902,906
Reunion901,686
Comoros888,451
Guyana790,326
Bhutan779,898
Solomon Islands703,996
Macau658,394
Luxembourg634,814
Montenegro628,053
Western Sahara611,875
Suriname591,800
Cape Verde561,898
Maldives543,617
Malta442,784
Brunei441,532
Belize404,914
Guadeloupe400,020
Bahamas396,913
Martinique374,745
Iceland343,353
Vanuatu314,464
French Guiana306,448
New Caledonia288,218
Barbados287,711
French Polynesia282,530
Mayotte279,515
Sao Tome And Principe223,368
Samoa200,149
Saint Lucia184,400
Guam170,179
Curacao164,798
Kiribati121,392
Micronesia116,254
Grenada113,021
Saint Vincent And The Grenadines111,263
Aruba107,204
Tonga106,760
United States Virgin Islands104,226
Seychelles98,908
Antigua And Barbuda98,731
Isle Of Man85,410
Andorra77,355
Dominica72,167
Cayman Islands66,497
Bermuda62,090
Marshall Islands59,610
Northern Mariana Islands57,917
Greenland56,877
American Samoa55,100
Saint Kitts And Nevis53,544
Faroe Islands49,049
Sint Maarten43,412
Monaco39,511
Saint Martin39,234
Turks And Caicos Islands39,231
Liechtenstein38,250
San Marino34,017
Gibraltar33,698
British Virgin Islands30,421
Palau18,169
Cook Islands17,565
Anguilla15,117
Tuvalu11,931
Wallis And Futuna11,094
Nauru10,876
Saint Barthelemy9,907
Saint Pierre And Miquelon5,766
Montserrat4,977
Falkland Islands3,533
Niue1,619
Tokelau1,373
Vatican City800

LGBT Rights by Country