Where do each of the G20 countries stand on LGBT rights?

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.




LGBT Rights Record – Poor

In Japan, there are currently no laws against homosexuality, but there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships or legal protection against discrimination. Japanese culture and the major religions in Japan, however, do not have a history of hostility towards LGBT individuals.




LGBT Rights Record – Good

LGBT rights vary upon region in Mexico but many positive changes have taken place since 2001. Same sex marriage is legal in Mexico City and Quintana with civil unions available in other cities across the country. Since 2003 discrimination protections have existed to protect people from discrimination in the workplace. Conservative attitudes do still exist in areas of the country, recently a Mexican Congresswoman came under fire when she argued against equal marriage because “gay people do not look each other in the eye during sex.”




LGBT Rights Record – Very Poor

International attention has focused on Russia over the past few months over increasingly anti-gay measures taken by the government. While same-sex activity is legal in Russia recently passed laws make illegal for people to positively promote “non traditional” relationships and Russia has banned same-sex couples (where they live in Russia or abroad) from adopting children. Russia has faced international backlash for their stance due to the Winter Olympics set to take place there next year. In a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Russia defended its anti-gay laws by claiming that they were not homophobic because they targeted all people regardless of sexual orientation. Russia has been further criticised for human rights violations over the signing of a law that bans protests and demonstrations throughout the duration of the Winter Olympics.

The laws enacted by the Russian Government will apply to both Russians and Foreigners raising concerns that athletes and tourist visiting Russia shall not be safe during the Games. President Putin has sought to allay fears despite the fact that lawmakers say that the laws cannot be suspended.

Saudi Arabia


LGBT Rights Record – Extremely Poor

Under strict sharia law LGBT rights are completely unrecognised in Saudi Arabia. Homosexuality is punished with imprisonment, corporal punishment and capital punishment. Saudi Arabia has harshly cracked down on homosexuality and those who politically advocate for LGBT rights. Last year the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia despite already punishing homosexuality with the death penalty in some cases banned gays from attending any of its schools.

South Africa


LGBT Rights Record – Very Good

Since the fall of the Apartheid Government, South Africa has allowed the advancement of LGBT rights. It became the first country to write up a constitution that outlawed discrimination against gay people. It became the fifth country in the world and the first country in Africa to legalise equal marriage. It was announced earlier this week that South Africa was going to enact new hate crime legislation to protect LGBT people from hate speech and verbal attacks. People have had the legal right to legally change gender since 2003 and while discrimination protections do exist it has been reported that trans people are discriminated against in the workplace.

South Korea


LGBT Rights Record – Poor

Same sex relations are legal in South Korea but recognition of LGBT citizens are limited. Efforts to include protection of sexual orientation in the Anti-Discrimination Act have been controversial and thus far unsuccessful. General awareness of homosexuality remained low among the Korean public until recently, with increased awareness and debate coming to the issue, as well as gay-themed entertainment in mass media and recognizable figures and celebrities coming out in public. But Korean gays and lesbians still face difficulties, and many prefer not to reveal their gay identity to their family, friends or co-workers.



LGBT Rights Record – Poor

Homosexual relations are legal in the Republic of Turkey since 1858, but the law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its civil rights laws and there is no legal recognition for same-sex couples currently. The situation in regard to LGBT rights in Turkey has been improving in the 21st century, with proposals to introduce legislation against anti-LGBT hate crimes and discrimination, as well as to constitutionally allow the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. On 12th August 2013 the commission which is drafting the new constitution has agreed to provide constitutional protection against discrimination of LGBT people.

United Kingdom


LGBT Rights Record – Good

LGBT rights have been greatly enhanced since 1997 with laws equalising the age of consent, servicemen and women being able to serve openly in the military, discrimination protections, adoption rights for same-sex couples in England, Wales and Scotland and same-sex marriage as of 2013 in England and Wales with Scotland expected to soon follow suit. In Northern Ireland however there is no sign that same-sex marriage will soon be available and same-sex couples are not eligible to adopt children. People have been able to legally change their gender since 2004 with trans people having to provide evidence to Gender Recognition Panel which is provided for both on the NHS and private healthcare. Activist have expressed concern that those seeking to legally change their gender any marriages they are apart of are annulled. With the passage of equal marriage this issue has still not been resolved.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been a strong advocate of LGBT rights pushing through equal marriage despite opposition from within his own party as well as warning countries that receive foreign aid that it would be subject to how they treat LGBT people. David Cameron has become the first leader to confirm that he will raise the issue of LGBT rights with President Putin while at the G20. He has expressed concerns about the treatment of LGBT people in Russia and in regard to the Sochi Olympics has said that the best way to challenge the homophobia is to attend the Games and make a stand. 

United States of America


LGBT Rights Record – Good

LGBT rights in the United States vary greatly on a state-by-state basis. Sexual activity between consenting adults has been legal nationwide since 2003.

Under President Barack Obama the United States has seen a shift both politically and culturally when it comes to LGBT rights. As of 2013, thirteen of the 50 US states recognise equal marriage with several counties in New Mexico now doing the same. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have both publicly gone on record to say that they support same-sex marriage. It has been reported that President Obama is set to meet gay rights leaders in Russia while attending the G20. In August the Obama administration cancelled a meeting in Moscow citing the recent passage of anti-gay legislation as part of the reason for the cancellation. 

Despite strong equal marriage laws, there is still a lack of federal anti-discrimination legislation. The Employment Non Discrimination Act is still pending in the US Senate, which would protect against discrimination in the workplace based on gender identity or sexuality.

The European Union


LGBT Rights Record – Good

LGBT rights in the European Union are protected under its treaties and law. Homosexuality is legal in all EU states and discrimination in employment has been banned since 2000. However EU states have different laws when it comes to any greater protection, same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption.

Acceptance of homosexuality by society is high in European Union countries, with Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic being the top three countries among the studied countries in a global Pew Research Center study.

Country ratings courtesy of Out4Russia. which launched last week and allows users to lobby G20 governments into action against the Russian law.

Comments (0)

MyPinkNews members are invited to comment on articles to discuss the content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Please familiarise yourself with our community guidelines to ensure that our community remains a safe and inclusive space for all.

Loading Comments