The Singapore LGBT encyclopaedia Wiki

Laws affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people vary greatly by country or territory—everything from legal recognition of same-sex marriage or other types of partnerships, to the death penalty as punishment for same-sex romantic/sexual activity or identity.

LGBT rights are considered human rights by Amnesty International[1] and civil rights by some.[2] LGBT rights laws include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • government recognition of same-sex relationships (such as via same-sex marriage or similar unions)
  • allowing LGBT adoption
  • recognition of LGBT parenting
  • anti-bullying legislation and student non-discrimination laws to protect LGBT children and students
  • immigration equality laws
  • anti-discrimination laws for employment and housing
  • hate crime laws providing enhanced criminal penalties for prejudice-motivated violence against LGBT people
  • equal age of consent laws
  • equal access to assisted reproductive technology
  • access to sex reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy
  • legal recognition and accommodation of reassigned gender
  • laws related to sexual orientation and military service
  • allowing men who have sex with men to donate blood

As of March 2017, 22 countries, most of them located in the Americas and Western Europe,Template:Efn recognize same-sex marriage and grant most of (if not all) the other rights listed above to its LGBT citizens.

Anti-LGBT laws include, but are not limited to, the following: sodomy laws penalizing consensual same-sex sexual activity with fines, jail terms, or the death penalty; anti-"lesbianism" laws; and higher ages of consent for same-sex activity.

In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed its first resolution recognizing LGBT rights, which was followed up with a report from the UN Human Rights Commission documenting violations of the rights of LGBT people, including hate crime, criminalization of homosexuality, and discrimination. Following up on the report, the UN Human Rights Commission urged all countries which had not yet done so to enact laws protecting basic LGBT rights.[3][4]

As of May 2016, 16 countries have an unequal age of consent law.[5]

As of August 2016, 72 countries as well as five sub-national jurisdictionsTemplate:Efn have laws criminalizing homosexuality,[5] with most of them located in Asia and Africa. In 2006 that number was 92.[5]

History of LGBT-related laws[]

Template:See also Template:LGBT rights Template:LGBT sidebar

Ancient Celts[]

According to Aristotle, although most "belligerent nations" were strongly influenced by their women, the Celts were unusual because their men openly preferred male lovers (Politics II 1269b).[6][7] H. D. Rankin in Celts and the Classical World notes that "Athenaeus echoes this comment (603a) and so does Ammianus (30.9). It seems to be the general opinion of antiquity."[7] In book XIII of his Deipnosophists, the Roman Greek rhetorician and grammarian Athenaeus, repeating assertions made by Diodorus Siculus in the 1st century BC (Bibliotheca historica 5:32), wrote that Celtic women were beautiful but that the men preferred to sleep together. Diodorus went further, stating that "the young men will offer themselves to strangers and are insulted if the offer is refused". Rankin argues that the ultimate source of these assertions is likely to be Poseidonius and speculates that these authors may be recording "some kind of bonding ritual ... which requires abstinence from women at certain times".[7]

Ancient India[]

Throughout Hindu and Vedic texts there are many descriptions of saints, demigods, and even the Supreme Lord transcending gender norms and manifesting multiple combinations of sex and gender.[8] There are several instances in ancient Indian epic poetry of same sex depictions and unions by gods and goddesses. There are several stories depicting love between those of the same sex, especially among kings and queens. Kamasutra, the ancient Indian treatise on love talks about feelings for same sexes. Transsexuals are also venerated e.g. Lord Vishnu as Mohini and Lord Shiva as Ardhanarishwara (which means half woman).[9]

Ancient West Asia[]

Ancient Israel[]

The ancient Law of Moses (the Torah) forbids men lying with men (intercourse) in Leviticus 18 and gives a story of attempted homosexual rape in Genesis in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities being soon destroyed after that. The death penalty was prescribed. In Deuteronomy 22:5, cross-dressing is condemned as being "abominable".

Ancient Persia[]

In Persia homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were tolerated in numerous public places, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, bathhouses, and coffee houses. In the early Safavid era (1501–1723), male houses of prostitution (amrad khane) were legally recognized and paid taxes. Persian poets, such as Sa’di (d. 1291), Hafiz (d. 1389), and Jami (d. 1492), wrote poems replete with homoerotic allusions. The two most commonly documented forms were commercial sex with transgender young males or males enacting transgender roles exemplified by the köçeks and Sufi spiritual practices in which the practitioner admired the form of a beautiful boy in order to enter ecstatic states and glimpse the beauty of God.

Ancient Mesopotamia[]

In Assyrian society, sex crimes were punished identically whether they were homosexual or heterosexual.[10] An individual faced no punishment for penetrating someone of equal social class, a cult prostitute, or with someone whose gender roles were not considered solidly masculine.[10][11] Such sexual relations were even seen as good fortune.[12] However, homosexual relationships with fellow soldiers, slaves, royal attendants, or those where a social better was submissive or penetrated, were treated as bad omens.[13][14] Middle Assyrian Law Codes dating 1075 BC has a particularly harsh law for homosexuality in the military, which reads: "If a man have intercourse with his brother-in-arms, they shall turn him into a eunuch."[15][16][17]

Ancient Rome[]

The "conquest mentality" of the ancient Romans shaped Roman homosexual practices.[18] In the Roman Republic, a citizen's political liberty was defined in part by the right to preserve his body from physical compulsion or use by others;[19] for the male citizen to submit his body to the giving of pleasure was considered servile.[20] As long as a man played the penetrative role, it was socially acceptable and considered natural for him to have same-sex relations, without a perceived loss of his masculinity or social standing.[21] The bodies of citizen youths were strictly off-limits, and the Lex Scantinia imposed penalites on those who committed a sex crime (stuprum) against a freeborn male minor.[22] Acceptable same-sex partners were males excluded from legal protections as citizens: slaves, male prostitutes, and the infames, entertainers or others who might be technically free but whose lifestyles set them outside the law.

"Homosexual" and "heterosexual" were thus not categories of Roman sexuality, and no words exist in Latin that would precisely translate these concepts.[23] A male citizen who willingly performed oral sex or received anal sex was disparaged, but there is only limited evidence of legal penalties against these men, who were presumably "homosexual" in the modern sense.[24] In courtroom and political rhetoric, charges of effeminacy and passive sexual behaviors were directed particularly at "democratic" politicians (populares) such as Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.[25]

Roman law addressed the rape of a male citizen as early as the 2nd century BC, when a ruling was issued in a case that may have involved a man of same-sex orientation. It was ruled that even a man who was "disreputable and questionable" had the same right as other citizens not to have his body subjected to forced sex.[26] A law probably dating to the dictatorship of Julius Caesar defined rape as forced sex against "boy, woman, or anyone"; the rapist was subject to execution, a rare penalty in Roman law.[27] A male classified as infamis, such as a prostitute or actor, could not as a matter of law be raped, nor could a slave, who was legally classified as property; the slave's owner, however, could prosecute the rapist for property damage.[28]

In the Roman army of the Republic, sex among fellow soldiers violated the decorum against intercourse with citizens and was subject to harsh penalties, including death,[29] as a violation of military discipline.[30] The Greek historian Polybius (2nd century BC) lists deserters, thieves, perjurers, and "those who in youth have abused their persons" as subject to the fustuarium, clubbing to death.[31] Ancient sources are most concerned with the effects of sexual harassment by officers, but the young soldier who brought an accusation against his superior needed to show that he had not willingly taken the passive role or prostituted himself.[32] Soldiers were free to have relations with their male slaves;[33] the use of a fellow citizen-soldier's body was prohibited, not homosexual behaviors per se.[34] By the late Republic and throughout the Imperial period, there is increasing evidence that men whose lifestyle marked them as "homosexual" in the modern sense served openly.[35]

Although Roman law did not recognize marriage between men, and in general Romans regarded marriage as a heterosexual union with the primary purpose of producing children, in the early Imperial period some male couples were celebrating traditional marriage rites. Juvenal remarks with disapproval that his friends often attended such ceremonies.[36] The emperor Nero had two marriages to men, once as the bride (with a freedman Pythagoras) and once as the groom. His consort Sporus appeared in public as Nero's wife wearing the regalia that was customary for the Roman empress.[37]

Apart from measures to protect the prerogatives of citizens, the prosecution of homosexuality as a general crime began in the 3rd century of the Christian era when male prostitution was banned by Philip the Arab. By the end of the 4th century, after the Roman Empire had come under Christian rule, passive homosexuality was punishable by burning.[38] "Death by sword" was the punishment for a "man coupling like a woman" under the Theodosian Code.[39] Under Justinian, all same-sex acts, passive or active, no matter who the partners, were declared contrary to nature and punishable by death.[40]


E. E. Evans-Pritchard recorded that in the past male Azande warriors in the northern Congo routinely took on young male lovers between the ages of twelve and twenty, who helped with household tasks and participated in intercrural sex with their older husbands. The practice had died out by the early 20th century, after Europeans had gained control of African countries, but was recounted to Evans-Pritchard by the elders to whom he spoke.[41]

Feudal Japan[]

In feudal Japan, homosexuality was recognized, between equals (bi-do), in terms of pederasty (wakashudo), and in terms of prostitution. The younger partner in a pederastic relationship often was expected to make the first move; the opposite was true in ancient Greece. In religious circles, same-sex love spread to the warrior (samurai) class, where it was customary for a boy in the wakashū age category to undergo training in the martial arts by apprenticing to a more experienced adult man. The man was permitted, if the boy agreed, to take the boy as his lover until he came of age; this relationship, often formalized in a "brotherhood contract",[42] was expected to be exclusive, with both partners swearing to take no other (male) lovers. The Samurai period was one in which homosexuality was seen as particularly positive. Later when Japanese society became pacified, the middle classes adopted many of the practices of the warrior class.


Anthropologists Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe reported that women in Lesotho engaged in socially sanctioned "long term, erotic relationships" called motsoalle.[43]

Papua New Guinea[]

In Papua New Guinea, same-sex relationships were an integral part of the culture until the middle of the last century. The Etoro and Marind-anim for example, even viewed heterosexuality as wasteful and celebrated homosexuality instead. They believed that in sharing semen, they are sharing their life force, yet women simply wasted this force any time they didn't get pregnant after sex. In many traditional Melanesian cultures a prepubertal boy would be paired with an older adolescent who would become his mentor and who would "inseminate" him (orally, anally, or topically, depending on the tribe) over a number of years in order for the younger to also reach puberty.[44]

Global LGBT rights maps[]

LGBT-related laws by country or territory[]


style="background-color: #Template:Main other; font-size:87%; padding:0.2em 0.3em; text-align: center; " | List of countries or territories by LGBT rights in Africa
Template:LGBT rights table Africa


style="background-color: #Template:Main other; font-size:87%; padding:0.2em 0.3em; text-align: center; " | List of countries or territories by LGBT rights in the Americas
Template:LGBT rights table Americas


style="background-color: #Template:Main other; font-size:87%; padding:0.2em 0.3em; text-align: center; " | List of countries or territories by LGBT rights in Asia
Template:LGBT rights table Asia


style="background-color: #Template:Main other; font-size:87%; padding:0.2em 0.3em; text-align: center; " | List of countries or territories by LGBT rights in Europe
Template:LGBT rights table Europe


style="background-color: #Template:Main other; font-size:87%; padding:0.2em 0.3em; text-align: center; " | List of countries or territories by LGBT rights in Oceania
Template:LGBT rights table Oceania

See also[]

Template:Portal Template:Div col

  • Buggery
  • Civil union
  • Heterosexism
  • Homophobia
  • Intersex human rights
  • Movements for civil rights
  • Transphobia
  • List of human rights articles by country
  • List of LGBT rights articles by region
  • List of transgender-rights organizations
  • LGBT people in prison
  • Religion and homosexuality
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Sexual revolution
  • Socialism and LGBT rights
  • Societal attitudes toward homosexuality
  • Status of same-sex marriage
  • Yogyakarta Principles

Template:Div col end




  1. Template:Cite web
  2. Template:Cite web
  3. Template:Cite news
  4. Template:Cite web
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Template:Cite web
  6. Template:Cite book
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Template:Cite book
  8. ritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex, p. 40
  9. Template:Cite web
  10. 10.0 10.1 Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective, by Martti Nissinen, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 24–28
  11. The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies, by James Neill, McFarland, 27 Oct 2008, p.83
  12. Homosexuality in the Ancient Near East, beyond Egypt, HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE BIBLE, Supplement, By Bruce L. Gerig
  13. Pritchard, p. 181.
  14. Gay Rights Or Wrongs: A Christian's Guide to Homosexual Issues and Ministry, by Mike Mazzalonga, 1996, p.11
  15. Template:Cite web
  16. The Nature Of Homosexuality, Erik Holland, page 334, 2004
  17. Template:Cite web
  18. Eva Cantarella, Bisexuality in the Ancient World (Yale University Press, 1992, 2002, originally published 1988 in Italian), p. xi; Marilyn B. Skinner, introduction to Roman Sexualities (Princeton University Press, 1997), p. 11.
  19. Thomas A.J. McGinn, Prostitution, Sexuality and the Law in Ancient Rome (Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 326.
  20. Catharine Edwards, "Unspeakable Professions: Public Performance and Prostitution in Ancient Rome," in Roman Sexualities, pp. 67–68.
  21. Amy Richlin, The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor (Oxford University Press, 1983, 1992), p. 225, and "Not before Homosexuality: The Materiality of the cinaedus and the Roman Law against Love between Men," Journal of the History of Sexuality 3.4 (1993), p. 525.
  22. Plutarch, Moralia 288a; Thomas Habinek, "The Invention of Sexuality in the World-City of Rome," in The Roman Cultural Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 39; Richlin, "Not before Homosexuality," pp. 545–546. Scholars disagree as to whether the Lex Scantinia imposed the death penalty or a hefty fine.
  23. Craig Williams, Roman Homosexuality (Oxford University Press, 1999, 2010), p. 304, citing Saara Lilja, Homosexuality in Republican and Augustan Rome (Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 1983), p. 122.
  24. Williams, Roman Homosexuality, pp. 214–215; Richlin, "Not before Homosexuality," passim.
  25. Catharine Edwards, The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome (Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 63–64.
  26. As recorded in a fragment of the speech De Re Floria by Cato the Elder (frg. 57 Jordan = Aulus Gellius 9.12.7), noted and discussed by Richlin, "Not before Homosexuality," p. 561.
  27. Richlin, "Not before Homosexuality," pp. 562–563. See also Digest 48.5.35 [34] on legal definitions of rape that included boys.
  28. Under the Lex Aquilia. See McGinn, Prostitution, Sexuality, and the Law in Ancient Rome, p. 314.
  29. McGinn, Prostitution, Sexuality and the Law in Ancient Rome, p. 40.
  30. Sara Elise Phang, Roman Military Service: Ideologies of Discipline in the Late Republic and Early Principate (Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 93.
  31. Polybius, Histories 6.37.9 (translated as bastinado).
  32. Phang, The Marriage of Roman Soldiers, pp. 280–285.
  33. Phang, The Marriage of Roman Soldiers, p. 3.
  34. Williams, Roman Homosexuality, p. 112 et passim.
  35. Phang, The Marriage of Roman Soldiers, pp. 285–292.
  36. Juvenal, Satire 2; Williams, Roman Homosexuality, p. 28.
  37. Suetonius Life of Nero 28–29; Williams, Roman Homosexuality, p. 279ff.
  38. Michael Groneberg, "Reasons for Homophobia: Three Types of Explanation," in Combatting Homophobia: Experiences and Analyses Pertinent to Education (LIT Verlag, 2011), p. 193.
  39. Codex Theodosianus 9.7.3 (4 December 342), introduced by the sons of Constantine in 342.
  40. Groneberg, "Reasons for Homophobia," p. 193.
  41. Template:Cite journal
  42. Template:Cite book
  43. Template:Cite book
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External links[]

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