The following country profiles are derived in part from sections of the Human Rights Watch 2022 World Report that relate to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and (LGBT) people.

This is a living document which will be updated regularly to reflect new events and further Human Rights Watch research. Last updated: May 26, 2022

The following country profiles provide information on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in 132 countries around the world. They are derived in part from sections of the Human Rights Watch 2022 World Report that relate to the rights of LGBT people. We have supplemented the World Report information with additional country profiles for all other countries that criminalize consensual same-sex conduct or gender expression, and for some other countries in which notable events related to LGBT rights took place in recent years. Where Human Rights Watch has undertaken specific work on intersex issues, this has been included.

The country profiles accompany a series of maps that show which countries criminalize consensual same-sex conduct or gender expression, the language of such laws, and the populations targeted, along with another series of maps showing where same-sex marriage or civil unions are legalized. Our hope is that the three resources will be of use to researchers, advocates and legal professionals interested in comparative analysis of the legal and social environments facing LGBT people around the world, as well as those who wish to take a deeper dive into the developments in a particular country.

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Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, LGBT people and others who do not conform to rigid gender norms have faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety and lives since the Taliban took full control of the country on August 15, 2021. Taliban members threatened or attacked LGBT people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. More »

Algeria

Same-sex relations are punishable under article 338 of the penal code by up to two years in prison. Restrictions on freedom of association also pose obstacles to the work of LGBT groups. More »

Angola

In a positive step, Angola’s new penal code, which came into force on February 10, 2021, no longer criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct. Parliament had passed the new legislation in January 2019 to replace the obsolete penal code of 1886, but the president did not sign it into law until November 2020. More »

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda’s 1995 Sexual Offences Act criminalizes the act of “buggery” between consenting adults with a sentence of 15 years in prison, and acts of “serious indecency” with up to 5 years. Human Rights Watch has documented anti-LGBT violence and threats faced by gay men and trans women in Antigua and Barbuda. More »

Argentina

In 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage at a national level. The Civil Marriage Law allows same-sex couples to enter civil marriages and affords them the same legal marital protections as different-sex couples, including adoption rights and pension benefits. Since 2010 more than 20,000 same-sex couples have married nationwide. More »

Armenia

LGBT people in Armenia face harassment, discrimination, and violence. During the 2021 June pre-election period, politicians pandered to homophobia to advance their campaigns by targeting LGBT people as a threat to the family, to national identity, and even national security. Some accused civil society organizations of destroying national values and spreading LGBT “propaganda.” Public debate around the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) descended into tirades against LGBT people by some public officials, who similarly falsely suggested that the convention aims to promote “LGBT propaganda” and legitimize same-sex marriage. The criminal code does not recognize animus due to sexual orientation or gender identity as aggravating criminal circumstances in hate crimes. More »

Australia

Three Australian states passed bills in 2020 and 2021 prohibiting conversion therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In August, Queensland issued a law prohibiting health service providers from performing conversion therapy, defined as “a practice that attempts to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” on any person. More »

Austria

Austria conducted its first same-sex marriages on January 1, 2019. More »

Azerbaijan

In April 2020, police detained around 14 gay men and transgender women, claiming they engaged in illegal sex work. More »

Bahrain

Although no law explicitly criminalizes same-sex relations, authorities have used vague penal code provisions against “indecency” and “immorality” to target sexual and gender minorities. There is no law that prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or sexual orientation. More »

Bangladesh

Section 377 of the Bangladeshi penal code punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” by up to life imprisonment. The government has taken some positive steps in recent years, such as declaring legal recognition of a third gender category for hijras, and community visibility has increased. In November 2020, a religious charity in Dhaka opened an Islamic school for hijras, which activists heralded as “a beacon of hope” for the community. More »

Barbados

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 10 years in prison. In 2016, then-Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of Barbados claimed the Sexual Offences Act only applies in cases of non-consensual sex, but the buggery laws make no distinction between consensual and non-consensual sex, and their application is not conditioned on lack of consent.  More »

Belarus

Belarus’ 2017 Law on the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development may be used to restrict dissemination of neutral or positive information about LGBT people as “discrediting the institution of the family.” In September 2020, a leaked document signed by health ministry officials suggested the government was considering imposing civil and criminal penalties for disseminating “information that discredits the institution of family and marriage.” More »

Belize

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 »

Bhutan

A bill that would repeal parts of Bhutan's penal code that criminalize same-sex conduct was introduced in the upper house of Parliament in January 2019. The lower house of Parliament voted in June 2019 to repeal two sections of the country's 2004 criminal code, which made “unnatural sex” between consenting adults illegal. More »

Bolivia

In 2010, Bolivia passed a law that provides legal protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. More »

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The second-ever Sarajevo Pride march scheduled to take place in August 2020, was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Sarajevo Open Center (SOC), a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) and women’s rights group, informed Human Rights Watch that it observed an increase in online threats against activists around the time of the planned march. In the context of the Covid-19 lockdown, SOC documented several cases of parental violence toward LGBTI children. More »

Botswana

On November 29, 2021, in a unanimous decision, the Botswana Court of Appeal issued a ground-breaking judgment decriminalizing adult consensual same-sex conduct. The court found that the Penal Code provisions outlawing “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” (sections 164(a) and (c)) were unconstitutional as they violated the right to privacy, the right to liberty, security of person and equal protection under the law, and the right to freedom from discrimination.

More »

Brazil

President Jair Bolsonaro has a long history of anti-LGBT comments as well as vocal opposition to comprehensive sexuality education on the grounds that it constitutes “early sexualization.” The president and members of his cabinet continue to peddle such rhetoric. In 2020, President Bolsonaro accused the World Health Organization of incentivizing homosexuality through its sexuality education guidelines, while the then Minister of Education denounced sexuality education and attributed homosexuality in young people to “maladjusted families.” More »

Brunei

On April 3, 2019, Brunei’s Syariah Penal Code (2013) went into effect. The draconian law punishes liwat (any form of anal intercourse) or zina (sex outside of marriage) between partners of any sex, with death by stoning (articles 68, 69, 82, 85, 86). More »

Burundi

Burundi punishes consensual same-sex sexual relations between adults with up to two years in prison under article 567 of the penal code. Article 29 of the Constitution of Burundi explicitly bans same-sex marriage. More »

Cameroon

Cameroon’s penal code punishes “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” with up to five years in prison. Police and gendarmes continu to carry out arrests and harassment of people they believe to be LGBT. According to Cameroonian LGBT rights organizations, at least six LGBT people were in prison as of February 2021 on homosexuality charges, including transgender women who were arrested on the basis of gender expression. More »

Canada

In 2021, Canada banned so-called “conversion therapy,” or practices that aim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.     More »

Central African Republic

The Penal Code (2010) does not outlaw consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults in private. But article 85, which outlaws public indecency, has a discrepancy in sentencing for homosexual acts in public (six months to two years) and heterosexual acts in public (between one month and one day to six months, and a fine). More »

Chad

In 2017, Chad’s president signed into law a new Penal Code that, for the first time, prohibits consensual same-sex relations. Article 354 of the new Penal Code punishes “sexual relations with a person of one’s sex” with three months to two years in prison and a fine. More »

Chile

In recent years, several laws enacted by Congress have advanced in the recognition of LGBT people rights.

A gender identity law took effect in December 2019. It allows transgender people over 14 years old to change their name and gender in the civil registry without undergoing surgery.

More »

China

While China decriminalized homosexual conduct in 1997, it lacks laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and same-sex partnership is not legal. More »

Colombia

In recent years, authorities have taken several steps to recognize the rights of LGBT people. In June 2015, the Justice Ministry issued a decree allowing people to revise the gender noted on their identification documents without prior judicial approval. In November 2015, the Constitutional Court ruled that Colombians cannot be barred from adopting a child because of their sexual orientation. In 2016, the court upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry. More »

Comoros

Comoros’s penal code punishes “impudent acts” or “acts against nature” with two to five years in prison and a fine. More »

Cook Islands

Cook Islands’ penal code punishes sodomy and “indecent acts between males” with five to seven years in prison. More »

Costa Rica

In 2016, Costa Rica requested that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issue an interpretation of the right to privacy and the right to equal protection under the American Convention on Human Rights in connection with LGBT rights claims. In a landmark 2017 opinion, the court stated that all rights applicable to heterosexual couples should extend to same-sex couples. Then, in 2018, the Costa Rican Constitutional Court followed that opinion and ruled in favor of marriage equality. On May 26, 2020, a lesbian couple was the first same-sex couple to marry in Costa Rica, as marriage equality became legal in the country.

More »

Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire does not criminalize same-sex conduct, and the 2019 criminal code removed references to acts between members of the same-sex as an aggravating factor in cases of public indecency. An antidiscrimination provision in Côte d’Ivoire’s new constitution, promulgated in January 2017, does not include protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Incidents of discrimination against LGBT persons, including physical assaults, are common. A 2019 marriage law explicitly bans marriage between people of the same-sex. More »

Cuba

Article 42 of the 2019 Cuban Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. However, many LGBT people suffer violence and discrimination, particularly in the country’s interior. In its 2020 report on Cuba, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights noted allegations that police often refuse to investigate anti-LGBT attacks and that LGBT people have been fired or excluded from university education due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. More »

Dominica

Section 16 of the 1998 Sexual Offences Act punishes same-sex conduct between two consenting adults with 10 years in prison, and Section 14 punishes any person who commits “gross indecency” with 5 years in prison. More »

Ecuador

On June 13, 2019, Ecuador’s highest court ruled to recognize same-sex marriage, declaring the country’s marriage legislation discriminatory and unconstitutional and buttressing its argument with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights landmark 2017 opinion. In July 2019, the Civil Registry registered the first same-sex marriage. Civil unions had been recognized since 2008 but did not accord the full range of rights enjoyed by married couples, including the ability to adopt children. More »

Egypt

Egypt continues to arbitrarily arrest and detain people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and subject them to torture and ill-treatment in detention, including forced anal examinations. More »

El Salvador

LGBT people are targets of violence by police, gangs, and others. Between October 2019 and April 2020 alone, at least seven trans women and two gay men were murdered in El Salvador, with details in the cases suggesting the killers had been motivated by hatred based on the victims’ gender identity or sexual orientation. Official statistics released in January 2020 showed 692 cases of violence against LGBT and intersex people from January 2015 to June 2019. In May 2019, the Ombudsperson’s Office published a report documenting 19 unsolved murders of LGBT people, primarily transgender women, between 2009 and 2016. More »

Eritrea

Eritrea’s 2015 penal code punishes homosexual conduct with five to seven years in prison. More »

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)

A colonial-era law criminalizes “sodomy” with an unspecified sentence. More »

Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s criminal code punishes homosexual acts with up to 15 years in prison. More »

Gabon

In July 2020, Gabon’s parliament voted to repeal a law, passed in July 2019, that had outlawed sexual relations between persons of the same sex for the first time. More »

Gambia

Consensual same-sex sexual activity for both men and women is illegal in Gambia and carries a sentence of between 5 and 14 years in prison. In October 2014, then-President Yahya Jammeh signed into law an amendment to the Criminal Code that introduced a new offense of “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life imprisonment. The amendment defines “aggravated homosexuality” to include serial offenders or persons with a previous conviction for homosexuality, or a person with HIV having same-sex sexual relations.
More »

Georgia

Georgia’s 2014 Law on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination enumerates sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for protection, and Georgian law provides sanctions for hate crimes against LGBT people. However, in practice, LGBT people and LGBT rights activists in Georgia continue to face hostile social attitudes and discrimination.

More »

Germany

Germany’s Transsexuals Law (Transsexuellengesetz) specifies that trans people need to provide a local court (Amtsgericht) with two expert reports in order to change their name and gender marker on official documents. The reports must attest to “a high degree of probability” that the applicant will not want to revert to their previous legal gender. In their 2021-2025 coalition agreement, the parties that formed the German government in December 2021 committed to repealing this law and making legal gender recognition in Germany based on self-determination.   More »

Ghana

Ghana’s 1960 Criminal Offences Act, section 104(1)(b), criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct between adults and contributes to a climate of fear and violence for LGBT Ghanaians. Lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender men in Ghana are frequently victims of domestic violence and coerced marriage. Homophobic comments by religious and traditional leaders in some cases incite violence towards people on the basis of real or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity More »

Grenada

Article 430 of Grenada’s Criminal Code of 1987 defines “any grossly indecent act” as a misdemeanor. Article 431 punishes “unnatural connection” with a sentence of ten years, a provision that has been interpreted in at least three cases to include consensual anal intercourse between same-sex persons. More »

Guatemala

Guatemala has no comprehensive civil legislation protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, nor a legal gender recognition procedure for transgender people.

More »

Guinea

Guinea’s penal code punishes undefined indecent acts or acts against nature with six months to three years in prison. More »

Guyana

Guyana criminalizes “acts of gross indecency” between men with two years in prison (article 352). The criminal code sentences any person convicted of “buggery” to life in prison (article 354). More »

Haiti

LGBT people suffer high levels of discrimination in Haiti. No comprehensive civil law protects against discrimination. More »

Honduras

LGBT people in Honduras are frequently the targets of violence and discrimination. They face violence from gangs, the national civil police and the military police, members of the public, and their own families, as well as extortion by gangs and discrimination in schools and in the workplace. More »

Hungary

The Hungarian government actively undermines the rights of LGBT people. In 2020, under the banner of ‘family values’, Hungary banned adoption by same-sex couples, barred transgender people from changing their legal gender and refused to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (known as the Istanbul Convention). In 2021, Hungary passed a law which equates homosexuality with pedophilia and bans ‘promotion and portrayal of homosexuality’ and gender diversity to under-18s, in sexuality education, films, or advertisements.

More »

India

India’s Supreme Court decriminalized same-sex conduct in 2018 by striking down a colonial-era sodomy law. In 2020, the central government published the draft Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules and sought comments from civil society. The text had been criticized for requiring a high burden of proof of gender identity, including a medical exam, for an applicant to change their legal gender. More »

Indonesia

Since the government-driven anti-LGBT crackdown began in 2016, arbitrary police raids on private LGBT gatherings, assisted by militant Islamists, have derailed public health outreach efforts to vulnerable populations. Men who have sex with men had already experienced a spike in HIV rates in recent years. Authorities increasingly use Indonesia’s anti-pornography law as a pretext for police raids and prosecutions of LGBT people. Indonesia’s central government has never criminalized same-sex behavior, but no national laws specifically protect LGBT people against discrimination. More »

Iran

Under Iranian law, same-sex conduct is punishable by flogging and, for men, the death penalty. Although Iran permits and subsidizes sex reassignment surgery for transgender people, no law prohibits discrimination against them. More »

Iraq

Iraq’s criminal code does not explicitly prohibit same-sex sexual relations, but Article 394 of the penal code makes it illegal to engage in extra-marital sex, a violation of the right to privacy that disproportionately harms LGBT people. Article 401 holds that any person who commits an “immodest act” in public can be imprisoned for up to six months, a vague provision that could be used to target sexual and gender minorities, although such cases have not been documented. More »

Israel

In August 2019, an Israeli judge ruled that billboard companies cannot reject homophobic political advertisements after two companies denied space on the outside wall of a Jerusalem hotel to a far-right party, Noam. The ads linked gay people with child trafficking. More »

Italy

In November 2020, the lower house of parliament voted in favor of a bill that would make discrimination or incitement to violence “based on sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity” a crime, and make such bias an aggravating factor in sentencing. More »

Jamaica

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. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued decisions in two cases calling on Jamaica to repeal these laws. More »

Japan

Japan’s national government does not recognize same-sex unions and mandates sterilization as a prerequisite for transgender people’s legal recognition. In January 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2004 Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases Act, which requires that transgender people be sterilized to obtain documents reflecting their gender identity, was constitutional, stating that there is a “need to avoid abrupt changes in a society where the distinction of men and women have long been based on biological gender.” More »

Jordan

Jordan has no laws that explicitly criminalize same-sex relations. The penal code includes vague “immorality” provisions that could be used to target sexual and gender minorities, as occurred on at least one occasion in 2014. More »

Kazakhstan

LGBT people in Kazakhstan routinely face harassment, discrimination, and the threat of violence. Kazakhstan’s constitution and laws do not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and there is no stand-alone anti-discrimination law. More »

Kenya

Kenya punishes consensual same-sex relations with up to 14 years in prison. The High Court rejected a constitutional challenge to the ban in May 2019. Activists are appealing the ruling.  More »

Kiribati

Kiribati punishes “buggery” with up to 14 years in prison. More »

Kuwait

The penal code criminalizes sexual relations outside marriage, and article 193 punishes consensual same-sex relations between men by up to seven years in prison. In February 2022, the Constitutional Court invalidated a 2007 penal code provision that prohibited “imitating the opposite sex in any way.” The law was used against transgender people, who faced imprisonment or a fine. More »

Kyrgyzstan

LGBT people face ill-treatment, extortion, and discrimination by state and non-state actors. More »

Lebanon

LGBT people were part and parcel of the nationwide protests that began on October 17, 2019. By taking their struggle to the streets, through chants, graffiti, and public discussions, LGBT people moved demands for their rights from the margins to mainstream discourse.

More »

Libya

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

Malawi

Section 153 of Malawi’s penal code provides that any person found guilty of committing an “unnatural offence/offence against the order of nature” is subject to up to 14 years in prison, with or without corporal punishment. More »

Malaysia

Discrimination against LGBT people remains pervasive in Malaysia. Federal law punishes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” with up to 20 years in prison, while numerous state Sharia laws prohibit both same-sex relations and non-normative gender expression, resulting in frequent arrests of transgender people. More »

Maldives

The Maldivian penal code criminalizes adult, consensual same-sex sexual conduct. The punishment can include imprisonment for up to 8 years and 100 lashes and applies equally to men and women. More »

Mauritania

Article 308 of the penal code prohibits homosexual conduct between Muslim adults and punishes it with death by public stoning for men. If between two women, then the law prescribes imprisonment for three months to two years and a fine. More »

Mauritius

Mauritius punishes sodomy with up to five years in prison. Three cases challenging the constitutionality of the law are currently pending before the Supreme Court. More »

Mexico

Twenty-six of Mexico’s thirty-two states allow same-sex marriage and twelve allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The Supreme Court has ruled that prohibitions on same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption are unconstitutional, which means that in the remaining states, couples can file an amparo (injunction) to marry or adopt, although doing so can be costly. More »

Morocco

Consensual sex between adults who are not married to one another is punishable by up to one year in prison. Moroccan law also criminalizes what it refers to as acts of “sexual deviancy” between members of the same sex, a term that authorities use to refer to homosexuality more generally, and punishes them with prison terms of up to three years. More »

Mozambique

Since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Mozambique in 2015, 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 »

Myanmar

Myanmar’s penal code punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with up to 20 years in prison and a fine. LGBT people are also arbitrarily detained or threatened with arrest under section 35 of the Police Act, which punishes “any person found between sunset and sunrise having his face covered or otherwise disguised” with up to three months in prison. More »

Namibia

Namibia criminalizes sodomy and “unnatural sexual offences” between men. The sentence is unspecified. More »

Nepal

Nepal has a record of progressive legal protections for LGBT people, including landmark Supreme Court rulings. However, these rulings are not consistently implemented by officials. More »

Netherlands

The Netherlands issued its first non-binary passport in October 2018. More »

Nigeria

Nigerian laws, policies, and political discourse continue to reinforce intolerance with regard to same-sex relations and gender nonconformity. Nigerian law criminalizes same-sex conduct as well as any “public show of same-sex amorous relationship,” same-sex marriages, and the registration of gay clubs, societies, and organizations. More »

Occupied Palestinian Territory

A British Mandate-era law still in force in Gaza punishes “unnatural intercourse” of a sexual nature, understood to include same-sex relationships, with up to 10 years in prison, although Human Rights Watch has not documented detentions for same-sex conduct. More »

Oman

Oman promulgated a new penal code in January 2018 that criminalizes non-normative gender expression. More »

Pakistan

In the early stages of municipal lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistani officials and political leaders expressed explicit support for transgender communities. More »

Panama

Panama has no comprehensive civil legislation protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, nor does it have a procedure for legal gender recognition. More »

Papua New Guinea

The 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. While there is little information on actual convictions, the law is sometimes used as a pretext by officials and employers to harass or extort money from gay and lesbian people in Papua New Guinea, including gay refugees. More »

Peru

Same-sex couples in Peru are not allowed to marry or enter into civil unions. Bills to recognize these rights are pending in Congress. In November 2020, the Constitutional Tribunal denied recognition to a same-sex marriage contracted abroad. More »

Philippines

The Philippine Congress failed in 2021 to pass pending legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, education, health care, housing, and other domains. It also has not passed legislation recognizing same-sex partnerships and extending benefits to same-sex couples. More »

Poland

Polish authorities’ crackdown on LGBT rights activists continued throughout 2021. Under the Law and Justice Party (PiS) government the independence of the judiciary has been severely eroded, and civil society and the media have been under sustained assault. The government has cast LGBT rights as a dangerous and subversive ideology, while local authorities have declared ‘LGBT-ideology free zones’.

More »

Qatar

Qatar’s penal code criminalizes “sodomy,” punishing same-sex relations with imprisonment between one to three years. More »

Russia

Russian authorities continue to use the “gay propaganda” law as a tool for discrimination. In December 2019, a court fined feminist and LGBT activist Yulia Tsvetkova 50,000 rubles (US$665) for violating the “gay propaganda” law over LGBT-friendly and feminist posts in two social media groups which she administered. In February 2021, Tsvetkova was indicted on pornography charges for posting body-positive drawings of nude women on social media. She faces up to six years in prison if convicted. In November 2021, Russia’s justice ministry designated the Russian LGBT Network, (a prominent group supporting the rights of LGBT people), as a “foreign agent”. And in February 2022, the justice ministry filed a lawsuit seeking to “liquidate” Sphere Foundation, the legal entity under which the Russian LGBT Network operates, arguing the group’s activities run contrary to “traditional values.” A court swiftly rejected the case.

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Rwanda

Rwanda is one of a few countries in East Africa that does not criminalize consensual same-sex relations, and the government’s policies are generally seen as progressive. However, in practice, LGBT people have reported facing stigma. Rwandan authorities rounded up and arbitrarily detained over a dozen gay and transgender people, sex workers, street children, and others in the months before a planned June 2021 Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference. More »

Samoa

Samoa punishes sodomy with up to five years in prison. 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 »

Senegal

Article 319 of Senegal’s penal code punishes “acts against nature” with a person of the same sex with up to five years in prison. Human Rights Watch and its Senegalese partner organizations identified 38 cases between 2011 and 2016 in which police arrested people based on their perceived sexual orientation and charged them with “unnatural acts” under article 319 of the Criminal Code. More »

Serbia/Kosovo

Attacks, threats, and smear campaigns against LGBT people and activists continued in 2021. The Centre for Equality and Liberty of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Community in Kosovo (CEL), in October expressed concern about inadequate investigations into threats and hate speech against LGBT people and activists, particularly on social media. More »

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s 1861 law punishes buggery with up to life in prison. More »

Singapore

On March 30, 2020, the Singapore High Court dismissed three cases seeking to strike down a colonial-era law that makes consensual same-sex conduct a crime. More »

Solomon Islands

The penal code of the Solomon Islands punishes buggery and indecent practices with up to 14 years in prison. More »

Somalia

Somalia’s penal code – the revision of which has been pending for the last four years – punishes same-sex intercourse with imprisonment of between three months and three years. More »

South Africa

The constitution prohibits unfair discrimination by the state or by any person, on several enumerated grounds including gender and sexual orientation. The constitution guarantees equality before the law, and equal protection and benefit of the law. Since the adoption of the constitution in 1996, the government has implemented laws and policies to ensure equal rights and protections for LGBT people in line with the constitution. More »

South Korea

The LGBT rights movement in South Korea is growing but continues to face hostility and severe discrimination, especially in the armed forces. More »

South Sudan

South Sudan punishes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” with up to 10 years in prison and a fine, under section 248 of its 2008 Penal Code Act. More »

Spain

In May 2021, the lower house ofparliament rejected a bill that would have allowed for legal gender recognition based on self-identification for transgender and non-binary people, including children. More »

Sri Lanka

Sections 365 and 365A of Sri Lanka’s penal code criminalize consensual same-sex conduct. 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. The act also punishes “whosoever shall attempt to commit the said abominable crime” with up to four years in prison. More »

St. Lucia

According to 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. Under the same code, a person who commits “buggery” with the consent of another person can be sentenced to 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

In July 2020, Sudan’s Sovereign Council amended the penal code, removing the death penalty and lashing as punishments for consensual same-sex conduct and many other offenses. More »

Syria

Article 520 of the Syrian Penal Code of 1949 prohibits “unnatural sexual intercourse,” punishable by imprisonment by up to three years. More »

Taiwan

In May 2019, lawmakers in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, a landmark decision, making Taiwan the first country in Asia to pass marriage equality legislation, albeit with some limitations on adoption rights. More »

Tajikistan

LGBT people face discrimination in Tajikistan, although same-sex conduct is not criminalized. No law protects against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. More »

Tanzania

Tanzania’s Sexual Offenses Special Provisions Act of 1998 makes consensual adult same-sex conduct punishable by up to life imprisonment. The authorities frequently arrest people on suspicion that they are LGBT, although prosecutions under the law are rare. The government has shut down drop-in centers serving LGBT people and other key populations and has banned distribution of water-based lubricant, an HIV prevention tool. Several government officials and politicians in both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar have threatened mass arrests of LGBT people. The government has not followed through on a pledge to international donors to formally ban forced anal examinations, a discredited method of “testing” for signs of same-sex intercourse. President Suluhu Hassan took measures to respond to some rights concerns, but the government continued to restrict media and civic space, arbitrarily arrest journalists and critics of the government, enforce a discriminatory ban on pregnant students in schools, and undermine the rights of women and children.  More »

Thailand

Thailand enacted a Gender Equality Act in 2015, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender expression, but trans people continue to face discrimination. Despite being a popular destination for gender-affirming health care, Thailand continues to lack a procedure by which transgender people can change their legal gender. More »

Togo

Togo’s Penal Code punishes indecent acts or acts against nature with one to three years in prison and a fine. More »

Tonga

Tonga’s Criminal Offenses Act punishes sodomy with up to ten years in prison and whipping. Tonga also prohibits “any male person” from “impersonat[ing]a female” while soliciting for an immoral purpose, prescribing a fine and up to one year in prison as punishment. More »

Trinidad and Tobago

In April 2018, the High Court ruled sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act that criminalize “buggery” and “serious indecency” unconstitutional on grounds that they violated fundamental rights including privacy and family life. The court also found that the laws were not protected from challenge by the savings clause in the constitution. More »

Tunisia

uring protests that took place in Tunisia in January 2021, the security forces repeatedly targeted LGBT and intersex (LGBTI) activists and singled them out for mistreatment. The targeting involved arbitrary arrests, physical assaults, threats to rape and kill, and refusing access to legal counsel. At the same time, social media users harassed LGBTI activists, “outing” them and revealing their personal information, including home addresses and phone numbers, and threatened them with violence. More »

Turkey

The government has remained restrictive towards the public activities of LGBT rights groups with local authorities banning events including the 2021 Istanbul Pride march for a seventh year running and police violently dispersing those who attempt to assemble. In an April 19, 2019 ruling, an Ankara court struck down a blanket ban on public events in Ankara by LGBTI rights groups imposed by the Ankara governor in 2017, and in March 2020, a district court ruled that a second ban on LGBTI activities in Ankara that authorities had instituted in 2018 was unlawful and struck it down too. However, activists report that individual bans on public LGBTI events have continued to be imposed in the city and elsewhere in Turkey, although in the context of the covid-19 pandemic few events were held. 

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Turkmenistan

Adult consensual same-sex conduct is a criminal offense under Turkmen law, punishable by penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment on the first offense, and 5 to 10 years if repeated. In September 2021, according to Turkmen News, police in Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan’s second largest city, detained approximately 20 men suspected of having sex with other men. In August, police in Turkmenabat detained a well-known barber and stylist in a similar raid and allegedly tried to compel him to name other men believed to be gay. In May 2020, a Turkmen court sentenced a popular entertainer and several others to two years’ imprisonment on sodomy charges. More »

Tuvalu

Tuvalu punishes sex between males with up to 14 years in prison. More »

Uganda

Uganda’s colonial-era law prohibits “carnal knowledge” among people of the same sex, and crackdowns on LGBT activists and ordinary people continue. During the 2020/2021 presidential election campaign, President Yoweri Museveni sought to discredit his political opposition by linking them with “homosexuals.” More »

Ukraine

Throughout 2021, far-right groups and individuals carried out hate attacks against LGBT people, which authorities often failed to investigate.

In May 2021, parliamentary committees began discussing a bill that would increase liability for discrimination. In April, the Health Ministry lifted restrictions against gay people on donating blood. In May, LGBT activists held a pride march in Kyiv in support of transgender people, under police protection. Far-right activists organized a counter protest but did not attack the march.

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United Arab Emirates

Article 358 of the Penal Code criminalizes a “flagrant indecent act” and any saying or act that offends public morals. A 2020 decree amending the penal code changed the punishment from a minimum of six months to a fine of Dh1,000 to Dh50,000 (US$270-$13,000). If it is a repeated offense, the punishment is up to three months’ imprisonment or Dh100,000 ($27,000). More »

United Kingdom

In September 2020, the government released the long-awaited results of a national consultation on the Gender Recognition Act. Despite a majority of respondents indicating they would prefer the medical requirements, including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, for legal gender recognition for trans people to be removed, the government retained them while removing some administrative barriers and lowering the fee. The prime minister appointed a special envoy on LGBT rights, tasked with championing LGBT equality at home and abroad.

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United States

The administration of President Joe Biden has taken swift steps to restore rights limited by the Trump administration, instructing federal agencies to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan’s criminal code punishes consensual sex between men with up to three years in prison. Men in Uzbekistan who are suspected of engaging in consensual same sex conduct face arbitrary detention, prosecutions, imprisonment as well as homophobia, threats and extortion.

 

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Venezuela

Venezuela has no comprehensive civil legislation protecting people from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, though it provides protection from discrimination in employment and housing. For example, the Labor Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, while a housing law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in this sector. More »

Vietnam

Vietnam has supported LGBT rights initiatives at the United Nations and made some modest progress at home. In 2014, the National Assembly removed same-sex unions from a list of forbidden relationships; however, the update did not allow for legal recognition of same-sex relationships. In 2015, the National Assembly updated the civil code to remove the prohibition in law that prevented transgender people from changing their legal gender; however, it did not provide for a transparent and accessible procedure for changing one’s legal gender.

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Yemen

Yemen’s penal code prohibits same-sex relations. More »

Zambia

Zambia’s penal code punishes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” with seven years to life in prison. Section 155 criminalizes sex between men with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and section 158 criminalizes acts of “gross indecency” both between men and between women with a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. More »

Zimbabwe

Restrictive legislation, section 73 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, 2004, which punishes consensual same-sex conduct between men with up to one year in prison or a fine or both, contributes to stigma and discrimination against LGBT people.  More »