The following country profiles are derived primarily from sections of the Human Rights Watch 2018 World Report that relate to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. The report, released in January 2018, documented events of 2017.

The countries are all listed below in alphabetical order. This compilation is not comprehensive. The 2018 World Report includes 102 countries in which Human Rights Watch has a substantial body of work, but in a small number of those countries, we have not addressed LGBTI issues. Other countries not included in the World Report have been added to this list to reflect specific research we have conducted on LGBTI issues in those countries. Because our work on intersex issues is relatively new, for most countries we have limited our reporting to LGBT issues.

This is a living document which will be updated regularly to reflect new events and further Human Rights Watch research. Last updated: April 16, 2018

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Algeria's penal code criminalizes same-sex relations with a prison sentence of two months to two years. More »

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda's 1995 Sexual Offences Act criminalizes the act of buggery between consenting adults More »


In 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. More »


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face harassment, discrimination, and violence. More »


In November 2017, the Turnbull government held a non-binding postal survey on same-sex marriage, putting the lives and identities of LGBT people up to public debate. More »


On December 4, 2017, the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled that the government and Parliament have until January 1, 2019, to introduce legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry. More »


In September 2017, authorities detained dozens of people presumed to be gay or bisexual, as well as transgender women, on dubious disobedience charges. More »


Same-sex conduct between adults over 21 years has not been criminalized since the repeal of the 1955 British-imposed Penal Code in 1976. More »


Although the government took some steps in recent years, such as declaring legal recognition of a third gender category for hijras, policy implementation remains weak and sexual and gender minorities remained under constant pressure and threat. More »


Chapter 154 of the 1992 Sexual Offences Act punishes any person who commits "buggery" with life imprisonment, and any person who commits an "act of serious indecency" with 16 years in prison. More »


In July 2017, a vaguely worded law on "protecting children from information harmful for their health and development" entered into force. More »


In 2016 the Belize Supreme Court became the first Commonwealth Caribbean Court to hold that laws that criminalize same-sex intimacy were unconstitutional, affirming the rights of LGBT people in Belize to dignity, privacy, and equality before the law. More »


In May 2016, the Plurinational Assembly passed a bill that allows people to revise the gender noted on their identification documents without prior judicial approval. More »

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Between January and September 2017, Sarajevo Open Centre, an LGBT rights organization, documented 39 cases of hate speech, mostly on social networks and online portals, seven cases of discrimination, and 23 cases of hate crimes towards LGBT people. More »


In October 2017, Botswana's High Court ruled that a transgender man should be allowed to hold official documents that reflect his gender identity, the culmination of a 7-year case for legal recognition supported by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. More »


The national Human Rights Ombudsman's Office received 725 complaints of violence, discrimination, and other abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the first half of 2017. More »


Bulgaria's 2004 Protection against Discrimination Act prohibits all direct or indirect discrimination on many grounds, including sexual orientation. More »


Prime Minister Trudeau's government has taken significant steps domestically to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, including passing legislation to protect transgender people from discrimination, creating a non-binary gender option on passports, and welcoming LGBTI refugees, including those fleeing persecution in Chechnya. More »


In June 2017, after four years of deliberation, the Senate passed a bill recognizing the right to gender identity and submitted it to the lower house, Chamber of Deputies, for consideration. The bill allows for unmarried individuals over 18 years old to legally change their name and gender marker on their government-issued identity documents and requires medical certification. More »


While China de-criminalized homosexuality in 1997, it lacks laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Same-sex partnerships are not legally recognized. More »


In recent years, authorities in Colombia have taken several steps to recognize the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. More »

Costa Rica

On January 9, 2018, the Inter American Court of Human Rights affirmed, in a landmark advisory opinion at the request of Costa Rica, that the American Convention on Human Rights requires countries to allow same-sex couples access to civil marriage, and all of the rights and benefits that derive from it. More »

Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire does not criminalize same-sex conduct, although the criminal code establishes higher minimum sentences for public indecency for same-sex couples. More »


The 1998 Sexual Offences Act punishes same- sex conduct between two consenting adults with 10 years in prison. More »


Same-sex couples are not allowed to marry in Ecuador. More »


Between September 2017 and January 2018, security forces arrested over 100 people suspected of being gay or transgender after a few activists raised rainbow flags, a sign of LGBT activism, at a concert in Cairo. More »

European Union

In May 2017, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland warned that attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are widespread in Europe and highlighted the need for strong and effective anti-discrimination laws. More »


President Barrow's government has promised not to prosecute same-sex couples for consensual sexual acts, which sharply contrasted with Jammeh's hate-filled rhetoric toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. More »


A new constitution promulgated in October 2017 defined marriage "as a union of a woman and a man," entrenching the definition that had existed for years in the civil code. Rights groups feared that using the constitution to reinforce a barrier to same-sex marriage could feed widespread homophobia. The Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, said the clause should not be interpreted "as prohibiting same-sex partnership" and urged Georgia to provide legal recognition of civil unions for same-sex couples. More »


On Friday June 30, 2017, the German Bundestag voted in favor of marriage equality with 393 yes votes, 226 no votes, and four abstentions. More »


Ghana has taken substantial positive steps in its treatment of LGBT people. More »


In October, Greece's parliament passed legislation to amend the country's law on legal gender recognition, eliminating the requirement for applicants to undergo medical tests in order to change their gender marker on official documents, but maintaining some discriminatory elements. More »


Article 430 of Grenada's Criminal Code of 1987 defines "any grossly indecent act" as a misdemeanor. More »


In April 2017, lawmakers presented a legislative proposal, supported by over 30,000 signatures, to explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage. More »


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons continue to suffer high levels of discrimination. More »


Homophobic and transphobic violence is a major problem in Honduras. More »


In August 2017, the Supreme Court, in its ruling that privacy is a fundamental right, gave hope to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in India by stating that section 377 of India's penal code, which effectively criminalizes same-sex relationships between consenting adults, had a chilling effect on "the unhindered fulfilment of one's sexual orientation, as an element of privacy and dignity." More »


On April 30, 2017, police raided a private gathering in Surabaya, arrested 14 men, subjected them to HIV tests without their consent, and detained them on charges of holding a sex party under Indonesia's vague and discriminatory anti-pornography law. More »


Under Iranian law, same-sex conduct is punishable by flogging and, for men, the death penalty. More »


Iraq's criminal code does not prohibit same-sex intimacy. However, since early 2009, Human Rights Watch has documented kidnappings, executions, and torture by militia groups in Iraq against men who are gay or perceived to be gay. More »


In Gaza, "unnatural intercourse" of a sexual nature, understood to include same-sex relationships, is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison under the British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance No. 74. More »


Sections 76, 77, and 79 of Jamaica's Offences Against the Person Act (1864) criminalize both consensual and non-consensual sex between men, and punish same-sex conduct with a sentence of up to 10 years in prison or hard labor. More »


In December 2016, the National Personnel Authority, which handles rules and policies involving national government officials, revised its interpretation of rules on prohibiting sexual harassment to include harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. More »


In July 2017, high-level Jordanian officials used an inquiry into the legality of a Jordanian online magazine to issue statements against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. More »


Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people hide their sexual orientation or gender identity out of fear of reprisals or discrimination. More »


Constitutional challenges regarding Kenya's anti-homosexuality laws and the use of forced anal examinations remained pending before the courts. More »


Adultery and extramarital intercourse are criminalized, and same-sex relations between men are punishable by up to seven years in prison. More »


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people continued to experience ill-treatment, extortion, and discrimination by both state and non-state actors. More »


Article 534 of the penal code punishes "any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature" with up to one year in prison. More »


The penal code prohibits all sexual acts outside marriage, including same-sex relations, and punishes them with up to five years in prison. More »


Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is pervasive in Malaysia. More »


In 2015, Malta adopted a gender identity recognition bill that allows transgender people to attain legal recognition of their gender identity on the basis of self-identification, and not any examinations. More »


Same-sex marriage has been legal in Mexico City since 2010. More »

Morocco/Western Sahara

Moroccan courts continued to jail persons for same-sex conduct under article 489 of the penal code, which stipulates prison terms of six months to three years for "lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex." More »


Two years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Mozambique, and in spite of a November 2017 court decision that declared unconstitutional a law with vague "morality" provisions that had been used to justify denying registration to LGBT groups, the government has still not registered the country's largest such group, Lambda. More »


LGBT rights activists have been able to advocate for crucial protections and visibility in Nepal. In a 2004 Supreme Court case in which the petitioner attempted to disband a sexual health and rights group called the Blue Diamond Society, the government maintained that homosexuality was not a criminal issue, and the case was dismissed. More »


The passage of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act (SSMPA) in January 2014 effectively authorized abuses against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in 2017. The law has undermined freedom of expression for LGBT people, human rights organizations, and others. More »


Oman's penal code provides for six months to three years in prison for consensual sex between two people of the same sex. More »


Violent attacks on transgender and intersex women in Pakistan continued in 2017, with unidentified assailants frequently targeting those involved in activism. In August, unknown gunmen shot dead a transgender woman in Karachi. More »

Papua New Guinea

The PNG criminal code outlaws sex "against the order of nature," which has been interpreted to apply to consensual same-sex acts, and is punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment More »


Same-sex couples in Peru are not allowed to marry or enter into civil unions. In February, a group of lawmakers introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. It remained pending in Congress at time of writing. More »


Students across the Philippines experience bullying and discrimination in school because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In late 2016, Human Rights Watch documented a range of abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students in secondary school. More »


In September 2017, the Polish parliament passed a law with adverse effects on civil society organizations. It establishes a government-controlled body in charge of overseeing the distribution of public funds to NGOs. More »


Qatar's penal code punishes "sodomy" with one to three years in prison. More »


Authorities continued to enforce discriminatory policies and laws against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. More »

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has no written laws concerning sexual orientation or gender identity, but judges use principles of uncodified Islamic law to sanction people suspected of committing sexual relations outside marriage, including adultery, extramarital and homosexual sex. More »


Attacks on and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and activists occurred regularly in Serbia. In Kosovo, activists reported an increase of hate speech online against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in October 2017, in connection with Gay Pride in Pristina. More »


The rights of Singapore's LGBT community are severely restricted. Sexual relations between two male persons remains a criminal offense, and there are no legal protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. More »


Somalia's penal code, currently being revised, punishes same-sex intercourse with a period of imprisonment between three months and three years. More »

South Africa

In September 2017, the Western Cape High Court ruled that divorce is not a precondition to transgender people amending the gender marker on their official documents. The Legal Resources Centre (LRC), a South African NGO, filed the case against the Department of Home Affairs on behalf of three couples, including one couple who had their marriage deleted from the National Population Register, and two others whom the department advised to divorce in order to give effect to their gender rights. More »

South Korea

Education ministry officials in Seoul stated in February 2017 that South Korea's new national sex education curriculum would not mention homosexuality. This follows the development in 2015 of a plan to train district education officials around the country on new sex education guidelines that do not mention sexual minorities. More »

Sri Lanka

State and non-state discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) population persisted. More »

St. Kitts and Nevis

St. Kitts and Nevis' Offences Against the Person Act punishes the "abominable crime of buggery" with a sentence of up 10 years in prison or hard labor. More »

St. Lucia

In the 2004 Criminal Code of St. Lucia, any act of "gross indecency" committed by people of the same sex is punishable by 10 years in prison. More »

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

In the 1990 Criminal Code of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Section 146 punishes "buggery" with 10 years in prison, and Section 148 punishes an "act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex" with five years in prison. More »


Sudan's 1991 penal code criminalizes same-sex sexual activity with harsh penalties such as life in prison or death. These restrictions severely impede the ability of groups who work on LGBT issues to register as NGOs. More »


Article 20 of the Swazi Constitution provides for equality before the law and non-discrimination, but does not prevent discrimination on the grounds of sex, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity. More »


In a May 2017 ruling, Taiwan's Constitutional Court paved the way for marriage equality, striking down the legal definition of marriage as "between a man and a woman." More »


In mid-2016, the government initiated an unprecedented crackdown on the rights of LGBT people and their advocates. Senior government officials threatened to arrest gays and their social media followers and to deregister organizations "promoting" homosexuality. They banned the distribution of water-based lubricant, raiding and closing drop-in centers and private clinics that provide services targeting key populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers, and people who use drugs. More »

Trinidad and Tobago

Sections 13 and 16 of Trinidad and Tobago's Sexual Offences Act criminalize same-sex conduct between consenting adults, punishing "buggery" between adults with 25 years in prison and "an act of serious indecency" between two adults with five years in prison. More »


Article 230 of the penal code punishes consensual same-sex conduct with up to three years in prison. Anal testing is used as the main form of evidence in order to convict men of sodomy. Shams, a Tunisian LGBTI association, said that at least 10 men were prosecuted under article 230 in various parts of Tunisia in 2017, and two were sentenced to two years in prison. More »


Homosexual conduct between men is a criminal offense under Turkmen law, punishable by a maximum two-year prison sentence. The Criminal Code does not mention female same-sex acts. More »


Same-sex conduct remained criminalized under Uganda's colonial-era law, which prohibits "carnal knowledge" among people of the same sex. Concerns remain that the 2016 NGO law effectively criminalizes legitimate advocacy on rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. More »


Ukraine has taken several significant steps to improve the protection and inclusion of the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In February 2017, the Ministry of Health proposed a medical form for patients choosing a family doctor, which acknowledges transgender people and allows people to choose whether to indicate their gender. More »

United Arab Emirates

Article 356 of the penal code criminalizes (but does not define) "indecency" and provides for a minimum sentence of one year in prison. UAE courts use this article to convict and sentence people for zina offenses, which include same-sex relations as well as consensual heterosexual relations outside marriage. More »

United Kingdom

The governor of Bermuda, a UK overseas territory, signed a law in February 2018 that strips same-sex couples of the right to marry. More »

United States

In the first five months of 2017, legislators in several states introduced more than 100 bills that would attack or undermine LGBT rights. In March 2017, North Carolina partially repealed a 2016 law requiring transgender people to use government facilities according to their sex assigned at birth and barring local governments from prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people. The 2017 provisions bar local governments from passing transgender-inclusive policies and prohibit local non-discrimination ordinances from protecting LGBT people until 2020. More »


Consensual sexual relations between men are criminalized, with a maximum prison sentence of three years. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face deep-rooted homophobia, transphobia and discrimination. More »


Section 73 of the Criminal Law Act punishes consensual same-sex conduct between men with up to one year in prison or a fine or both. More »