Gender Inequality

What you need to know about LGBT rights in 11 maps

These maps chart LGBT rights progress around the world.

These maps chart LGBT rights progress around the world. Image: REUTERS/Darren Ornitz

Alex Gray
Senior Writer, Formative Content
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Gender Inequality

Australians have voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage. The non-binding postal vote saw 61.6% of people support allowing same-sex couples the right to marry.

The Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said his government would aim to get legislation passed by Christmas.

Some 12.7 million people - nearly 80% of eligible voters - took part in the poll.

LGBT rights: a long way to go

According to Equaldex, there are 73 countries where homosexual activity is illegal.

And only five countries in the world – Bolivia, Ecuador, Fiji, Malta and the UK – have constitutions that explicitly guarantee equality for citizens on the basis of sexual orientation as well as gender identity, according to a recent UCLA study.

Meanwhile, the changing political climate under the Donald Trump administration has prompted concern among gay and transgender groups about what might happen to LGBT rights in the US.

These 11 maps, collated by Equaldex, show the state of LGBT rights across the world.

Where is homosexuality still illegal?

The latest Equaldex research shows that consensual sexual activity between individuals of the same sex is legal across much of the northern hemisphere. But across swathes of Asia, Africa and the Middle East it remains illegal.

In some countries, it is punishable by death – in Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan.

In other countries, it’s illegal only for men. For example, in Turkmenistan, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe homosexuality is illegal for men but legal for women. In no country is it the other way round.

LGBT rights like homosexual activity are still illegal in some countries of the world
LGBT rights like homosexual activity are still illegal in some countries of the world Image: Equaldex

Where can same sex couples get married?

Despite many countries legally recognizing LGBT rights, some of them still outlaw same-sex marriage. This map shows the clear East/West divide between where you can marry a same-sex partner and where you can’t. Colombia legalized same sex marriage in the last year, but it became illegal in Botswana.

Germany legalised same-sex marriage earlier this year, as did Malta, Bermuda and Finland.

Recent changes in laws regarding legalization of same sex marriage and similar LGBT rights
Recent changes in laws regarding legalization of same sex marriage and similar LGBT rights Image: Equaldex

Changing gender

The right to change gender is legal throughout most of the world, but in most places only after surgery. It is still illegal in around 20 countries.

Legality of gender changing LGBT rights is subject to surgery in most countries.
Legality of gender changing LGBT rights is subject to surgery in most countries. Image: Equaldex

LGBT rights for adoption

Across much of the world, same-sex couples cannot legally adopt a child. In those countries where same-sex adoption is legal, many stipulate that couples must be married, or can only do it if they are single. In some cases, they can only adopt stepchildren.

Status of LGBT rights for adoption
Status of LGBT rights for adoption Image: Equaldex

LGBT rights against discrimination

Banning discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity is illegal in only a handful of countries.

Much of the world offers no protection at all.

Most of the world provides no LGBT rights for discrimination protections
Most of the world provides no LGBT rights for discrimination protections Image: Equaldex

Employment discrimination

There are only a few parts of the world where employers are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Only a few countries provide LGBT rights against employment discrimination
Only a few countries provide LGBT rights against employment discrimination Image: Equaldex

LGBT rights for housing discrimination

Although source information is patchy, it’s clear that the LGBT community continues to face discrimination when trying to find appropriate housing.

LGBT rights - housing discrimination
LGBT rights - housing discrimination Image: Equaldex

Military

A surprising number of countries don’t discriminate against LGBT people joining the military.

US President Donald Trump announced in the summer a ban on transgender personal serving in the military, but at the end of October 2017 a judge blocked the ban.

Status of LGBT rights to join the military
Status of LGBT rights to join the military Image: Equaldex

Blood donations

Several countries made blood donations by gay men legal in the last year, but many are still subject to deferrals (a waiting time before a man can donate after having sex).

According to Equaldex, blood donation by gay men became legal in countries including Romania, Georgia, Venezuela, Ethiopia and Ireland.

But it was banned in Norway, and a one-year deferral period was introduced in Switzerland.

Blood donations by LGBT people are subject to deferral periods in several countries
Blood donations by LGBT people are subject to deferral periods in several countries Image: Equaldex

Age of consent

Last year, the age for consent for heterosexuals and homosexuals was made equal in Australia and Belize. In the US the law remains unclear in several states.

LGBT rights to consent
LGBT rights to consent Image: Equaldex

LGBT rights for conversion therapy

Many places in the world continue to allow conversion therapy, which attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation.

Conversion Therapies are largely legal around the world
Conversion Therapies are largely legal around the world Image: Equaldex

Equaldex is a collaborative LGBT rights website launched in 2014. The crowdsourced project works a lot like a ‘LGBT Wikipedia’ – anyone can join, edit and amend information. Other users are encouraged to authenticate the accuracy of each update and the information becomes verified as site usage increases.

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Related topics:
Gender InequalityHuman Rights
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