LGBT rights around the world

In almost 80 countries around the world being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender is illegal. This means that over 2.7 billion people live in countries where being gay is a crime. In at least five of these countries, identifying as LGBT is still punishable by death.

Here, we look at some countries around the world who have differing views on LGBT rights.


Back in 2007, Nepal hit the headlines when the Supreme Court ordered the government to abolish laws that discriminate against sexual minorities. This gave people who don’t identify as either male or female the opportunity to identify themselves as a third sex on things like citizenship papers, job applications and education. It is thought that Nepal led the way with this ruling, becoming one of the first countries to offer this third option on its census forms. The country has also added a third gender category to its passports since the ruling.


On 1st November 2013, Germany became the first country in Europe to put a third gender option box on the forms used to register babies. This allowed parents of babies who do not have “clear gender-determining physical characters” to choose a third blank box rather than registering them as male or female. However, Germany is facing mounting pressure to legalise same sex marriage - something which they still have not done.


Brazil has a reputation as being a friendly, welcoming and sexually diverse country, with Sao Paulo hosting the world’s largest gay rights parade. However, the conservative streak within the country runs deep, and transgender people are often left unprotected. In 2014 news stories showed that the amount of homophobic/transphobic attacks and killings in Brazil hit one a day, with almost half of these cases involving transvestites and transsexuals. The country is trying to pass a law to protect gay and trans Brazilians, but some fundamentalist Christian politicians are causing setbacks to its progress.

The UK

In 2000, the UK Armed Forces removed its ban on LGBT individuals openly serving their country. The Equality Act 2010 brings together the existing equality laws, and in some ways extends them. This Act has been designed to extend the amount of transsexual people who are protected, meaning that a transsexual person no longer has to prove that they’re under medical supervision in order to qualify for protection. From 29th March 2014 same-sex weddings have been legal in England, Wales and Scotland, although Northern Ireland are yet to come to a conclusion regarding making same-sex marriages legal.

United States

The United States have had quite a journey when it comes to LGBT rights. Before 1993 lesbian and gay people were not allowed to serve in the US military, before this progressed into the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy - which stated that they could serve as long as they didn’t disclose their sexual orientation. This policy was repealed in 2010, and since 2011 openly lesbian, gay and bisexual people have served in the military. However, transgender servicemen are still banned from serving openly, as the Department of Defense medical policies consider gender identity disorder to be a medically disqualifying condition. A huge change came this year, on the momentous occasion when same-sex marriage became legal in all states, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling.