In this article, we will be taking a look at the 12 most LGBT-friendly countries in Asia. To skip our detailed analysis of LGBT-friendly companies, you can go directly to see the 5 Most LGBT-Friendly Countries in Asia.
Over the past few decades, LGBT people have seen rapid acceptance in societies all over the world when compared to the past. According to data by Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 32 countries have legalized same-sex marriages, and a few others have recognized same-sex civil unions. However, most of these consist of American and European countries. The European Court of Justice required all countries in the European Union to recognize same-sex marriages in 2018. Meanwhile, the United States established the right to same-sex marriage in 2015, and in 2022 the House passed another bill protecting same-sex marriage as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Asia still has a long way to go when it comes to LGBT rights. In Brunei, acts of homosexuality can face punishments including the penalty of death by stoning. In the Aceh province of Indonesia and in Saudi Arabia, punishment can be in the form of caning or lashes. Furthermore, a number of countries have prison sentences as a form of punishment for homosexuality. In December 2022, Indonesia, which was seen as one of the more progressive countries outside of the Aceh province, also released new legislation banning sex outside marriage which will have worse consequences for LGBT people who are not allowed to marry legally.
However, progress has been seen in some countries. In 2019, Taiwan became the first country to enact marriage equality in Asia, and more recently, Thailand passed a registration bill for same-sex couples that provides them with the same rights as heterosexual couples. With more discussions around issues and higher awareness, Pride marches have sprung up in a number of countries to show support for the LGBT community. Similarly, a number of Non-Profit Organizations as well as youth organizations have started taking the lead in pushing for increased rights for the LGBT communities of their respective countries. Unilever PLC (NYSE:UL), British American Tobacco plc (NYSE:BTI), and General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) are examples of some multinational companies that support LGBT rights and operate in Asia.
According to the LGBT+ Pride Survey of 2021 conducted by Ipsos across 27 countries, 80% of the people surveyed identified as heterosexual while 3% identified as homosexual, 4% identified as bisexual, 1% identified as pansexual or omnisexual, 1% identified as other, 1% identified as asexual, and 11% did not respond. When it came to gender identity, the global country average of those who replied with something other than male or female was 2%, and this identity was more prevalent in members of Gen Z. The Asian countries in the survey included India, Turkey, Malaysia, and China.
Let’s now take a look at the 12 most LGBT-friendly countries in Asia.
In order to shortlist the countries for this article, we looked at a number of criteria to determine their friendliness towards LGBT people. First, we considered the rankings of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Asia on surveys such as the LGBT Equality Index in Asia. We also looked at research conducted on LGBT-friendly countries by the Pew Research Center and UCLA’s Williams Institute, focusing on the data for Asian countries. We considered the legislation laws for each country in Asia to see if homosexuality is legal, if same-sex unions are allowed, if LGBT people are allowed to serve in the military, if there are anti-gay discrimination laws, and if same-sex couples are allowed to adopt. We also looked at the number of LGBT-led events in the countries, especially Pride marches, and the scale of these marches. Lastly, we also looked at a number of rankings done by LGBT people and came up with our rankings below based on the consensus rankings of the sources mentioned above.
Homosexuality was legalized in 1993 in Mongolia, and the country has also passed a few laws banning anti-gay discrimination. The military also allows citizens to enlist despite their sexual or gender orientation. Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, also has an annual Pride event that spans ten days and includes an ‘Equality Walk’ parade, a film festival, and a public concert.
Homosexuality was legalized in Nepal in 2017. According to Human Rights Watch, Nepal is a beacon for LGBT rights for LGBT progression in Asia. The country has changed over 100 laws to eliminate discrimination against LGBT people. The Queer Youth Group organizes pride parades in Nepal including the Nepal Pride Parade, the Queer Womxn Pride, the Queer Indigenous Pride, and the Trans Pride Parade. The other main events in Nepal are the Mr. Gay Handsome beauty pageant and the Gaijatra LGBT Pride Parade hosted by the Blue Diamond Society. The government has also had discussions to legalize gay marriage in the country.
10. South Korea
Homosexuality was never illegal in South Korea. However, the level to which it is LGBT-friendly depends on the region of South Korea you are in. Some areas do have protection laws from discrimination established, and transgender people are allowed to change their legal gender. Its capital, Seoul, is one of the largest cultural hubs for queer people in Asia. It has thousands of participants in its Pride parade as well as one of the largest LGBT festivals in the world. Seoul is also home to more than 2 gay villages in Homo Hill and Jongno. It also hosts the Seoul Drag Parade, the Seoul Queer Festival, the Korea Queer Film Festival, and the I Am Seoul circuit parties annually. While South Korea does not have any national anti-discrimination laws against LGBTQ people, it did vote in favor of an anti-discrimination resolution in the UN.
Unilever PLC (NYSE:UL), British American Tobacco plc (NYSE:BTI), and General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) are examples of some LGBT-friendly companies that operate in South Korea.
Homosexuality has been legal in Israel since 1963, and unregistered cohabitation has been allowed since 1994. The country also recognizes foreign same-sex marriages and also allows same-sex couples to adopt. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, has stated that he is proud to lead a country that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual or gender orientation, and this shows in the legal system as well, which has banned all anti-gay discrimination. The Tel Aviv Pride is also a week-long event hosted annually in the second week of June with a number of gay-friendly events taking place throughout the city. 5% of Israel’s lawmakers are openly gay, which is the 4th highest figure in the world according to the political scientist Andrew Reynolds.
Homosexuality was declared legal in India in 2018, and while same-sex marriage is not legal yet, the fight for legalizing it has been ongoing in the country. A number of petitions have been sent to the Supreme Court by same-sex couples. In a global survey conducted in 2021, 3% of the people in the country identified as homosexual, and 4% of them identified as bisexual. The Mumbai Pride is the annual LGBTQIA pride march held annually along with the Bangalore Pride, the Delhi Pride, and the Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk. It also hosts the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival. Bars such as the PDA Martini Bar in Delhi and the Pink Sky Bar in Bangalore also host gay nights regularly.
Singapore’s parliament legalized homosexuality in 2022. Anti-gay discrimination laws are in effect, and LGBT people are allowed to serve in the military as well. While same-sex marriage is not allowed, the country is known to be friendly to LGBT with events such as IndigNation, Singapore’s Pride parade that has been held annually since 2005. It also hosts an annual event, Pink Dot SG, that promotes an end to discrimination. Pink Fest is another event held by the LGBTQ community with more than 60 activities including queer film festivals such as Pink Screen. The country is also host to a number of LGBT-friendly clubs including Dorothy’s and Taboo Club.
Unilever PLC (NYSE:UL), British American Tobacco plc (NYSE:BTI), and General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) are examples of some LGBT-friendly companies that operate in Singapore.
Homosexuality is widely accepted in Japan, having been legal since 1880. While not all, a number of cities do have anti-gay discrimination laws in place and Japan’s military allows LGBT people to enlist in the forces. While same-sex marriage has not been legalized yet, some of the cities in the country have started issuing ‘Partnership Certificates’. The country’s signature LGBT event is the Tokyo Rainbow Pride which takes place over a week. Other events include Sapporo Rainbow Pride, Kansai Rainbow Fiesta, and Rainbow Reel Tokyo. Japan’s capital, Tokyo, is known to be very LGBT-friendly with over 300 gay bars, with a higher density in the Shinjuku district. Some of the famous bars include AiiRo, Suzu Bar, and Campy. Other places including Nagasaki, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Kyoto have well-known queer hangout establishments as well.
Click to continue reading and see the 5 Most LGBT-Friendly Countries in Asia.
Disclosure: None. 12 Most LGBT-Friendly Countries in Asia is originally published on Insider Monkey.
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