10 maps show how different LGBTQ rights are around the world

  • Last week, Ecuador’s highest court issued a ruling, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in the South American country.
  • Business Insider created a series of maps to visualise how gay rights vary around the world.
  • Despite same-sex marriage being legal in the US, homosexuality is still illegal in 35% of countries in the United Nations.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Last week, Ecuador’s highest court issued a ruling, legalizing same-sex marriage in the South American country.

While same-sex couples have been allowed to enter into civil unions in Ecuador for a decade, they still lacked some rights bestowed upon married people.

Plaintiff Efraín Soria, who is president of the Ecuadorian Equality Foundation, told the AP that the ruling is “a joy for our entire community and Ecuador.”

While the decision pushed gay rights one step further, there are still many places in the world where it’s difficult – and in some cases illegal – to be out.

In April, the Sultan of Brunei introduced sharia law to the majority-Muslim nation, making the death penalty possible for anyone convicted of having gay sex. After international backlash,Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said in a televised speech in May that the death penalty would not be imposed in any cases, including those dealing with homosexuality.

The controversy in Brunei is an example of how much of an up-hill battle LGBTQ rights continue to be around the world. For example, gay sex is still illegal in 35% of countries in the United Nations, according to statistics released this year by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

To explain just how much gay rights differ on an international scale, Business Insider created this set of maps to visualise the issue. The results show that while homosexuality is no longer outlawed in the majority of the world, there’s still a long way to go in terms of acceptance and equality for LGBTQ people.


Brunei is the first nation to institute Sharia Law in southeast Asia.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Sharia Law varies from country to country. Technically 11 other countries practice Shariah Law, but they vary in how they punish those convicted of sodomy. In Mauritania, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, sodomy carries the possibility of the death penalty, but offenders are more likely to see jail time. The death penalty is carried out more frequently in such cases in Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.


Religion is an un-ignorable factor in the maps. While the majority of the world has legalised homosexuality, the countries where it is still outlawed are concentrated in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa — areas with majority-Muslim nations.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

According to the Associated Press, “Islamic scholars overwhelmingly teach that same-gender sex is a sin.”

The Quran teaches that homosexuality should be punished but doesn’t detail how. The Prophet Muhammad was reportedly more explicit that homosexuals should be killed in some of his teachings. That’s why some countries that implement Sharia law make homosexuality a capital crime.


Following Trump’s transgender military ban, just 19 countries in the world allow people with gender dysphoria to serve in the military.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

The Netherlands was the first country to allow transgender people to enter the military in 1974, according to CNN. Thailand is one of the more recent countries to accept transgender soldiers, but they’re only allowed to serve in a administrative capacity.


In some countries where homosexuality is legal, there are still several laws in place that make living openly difficult.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

In Russia for example, a federal law passed in 2013 makes it illegal to distribute “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” The country also makes it difficult for sexual orientation-related non-governmental organisations to operate in the country.

Under the 2012 foreign agent law, all organisations that receive any sort of funding from abroad must register as a foreign agent or else be fined.

Maximum, an organisation that operates in the country to help the LGBT community, was fined about 300,000 rubles (about $US4,500) in 2015 for refusing to heed the law because they thought it undermined the work that their employees do.


Only about 13% of UN member countries have legalised gay marriage.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

A few others – including Peru, Italy, and Greece – have only legalised civil unions for same-sex partners so far.


Ecuador was the most recent country to legalise same-sex marriage. The first country to do so was the Netherlands, in 2001.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Sources: ILGA, Fortune


Though it’s too small to show up on the map, the Mediterranean island nation of Malta has also banned conversion therapies, in addition to Brazil and Ecuador.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Source: ILGA


Just 5% of UN member states have written it into their constitutions that sexual orientation-based discrimination is not allowed.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Source: ILGA


More countries have taken strides when it comes to tackling sexual orientation-based discrimination in the workplace.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Source: ILGA


But same-sex couples largely aren’t allowed to adopt outside of the Americas and Europe.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand are exceptions to the rule.

Joint adoption means a same-sex couple can adopt a child together. Second-parent adoption means that one member of a same-sex couple can adopt their partner’s child (such as when one member of a lesbian couple gives birth).

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